The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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The Labour Party in the UK is currently in the process of producing the guidelines for its foreign policy. A couple of weeks ago, they produced the 2nd edition of a consultation document, "Britain in the world". They have invited submissions from interested groups. UK-based groups (& even individuals) may want to consider sending comments on this consultation document, regarding economic sanctions. WHAT'S IN THE DOCUMENT? The document is 49 pages long. Although there are the expected platitudes, it makes detailed and quite direct points. Of course, the vast majority has little relevance to economic sanctions - major sections on Europe, the international financial institutions &c. The major sections that sanctions-based groups may want to comment on are "promoting global social justice", "strengthening intl institutions" and "global security". The only direct reference to Iraq / sanctions is in this latter section: "in Iraq, we have diminished Saddam Hussein's ability to threaten his neighbours .... we are continuing to work in the UNSC to see a resumption of monitoring ... which could lead to a boost to the humanitarian help given to the people of Iraq & the prospect of a suspension of sanctions" (p.34). However, there are many other sections of relevance to sanctions, such as those on international strategies of promoting women's & children's rights, international humanitarian law, action through the Security Council, and the linkages between conflict & poverty. OVERVIEW OF PROCESS The 1st, shorter, consultative document was circulated in Feb 1999, as part of the policy development process, with comments invited from groups and individuals. Due to its relative obscurity, surprisingly few groups took up the opportunity to make submissions. The 13 groups that did send comments are formally listed in the document: they include a few of the majors (Oxfam, BBC World Service), standard campaigning groups (Campaign against Arms Trade, Pensioners for Peace) and a few specialist campaigning groups (Tamil Eelam, UK Working Group on Landmines). Individuals who sent formal comments are not listed, which makes me think that their views are not particularly taken into account. The views put forward by these groups are stated & analysed in the 2nd consultative document (albeit indirectly: "many submissions commented upon..." &c), and occasionally they are quoted - clearly, they were taken quite seriously if they sent in 'serious' comments. In light of the responses to the 2nd consultation document, a 3rd document will be produced; if approved by the National Policy Forum in July, it will be put to the Party Annual Conference in September. It is intended that, if approved, this document will form part of the Labour Party manifesto for the next election. Basically, this is the stage at which detailed comments on aspects of British foreign policy should be submitted. A FEW IDEAS This isn't really an opportunity to write "oppositional" comments, such as wholesale critiques of British policy towards Iraq. But is could be an opportunity to make direct, limited suggestions for the future principles by which foreign policy is to be conducted. For what it's worth, I recommend something along these lines: - that the UK has promoted the concept of "smart sanctions" as an acceptable means of dealing with certain opponent states. - that, with the proliferation of sanctions regimes internationally, this is becoming a major element in foreign policy; and therefore should be mentioned and elaborated in the 3rd document. - that the proposals laid out by the government for future sanctions regimes could go further in specific ways: eg there could be a public acknowledgement that sanctions should be assessable by the standards of international humanitarian law (this is not really the current situation; at the moment, one cannot say that "sanctions are illegal under the Geneva conventions" &c, as traditionally, this applies only in times of war); that there should be on-going monitoring of the effects of sanctions on civilians; that there should be clear criteria for dual-use goods in sanctions regimes; that the requirements of public accountability demand that far more information is released by the government into their actions on sanctions committees. I recognise that this will have very little immediate impact on the situation in Iraq, but it is an opportunity to have a voice in preventing future sanctions regimes of this nature. Comments can be as brief or as long as you like, though should preferably be under a page in length. Comments need to be put on to a standard form. The document is not available on the web at the moment (only the 1st edition is there, via http://www.labour.org.uk/; the 2nd edition is substantially altered), but it can be ordered by phone, on 0870 590 0200. I can provide more info if anyone is interested. Best wishes Glen. ---------------------------------------- Glen Rangwala Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Free School Lane Cambridge CB2 3RQ UK Tel: 44 (0)1223 334535 Fax (shared): 44 (0)1223 334550 Home tel: 44 (0)1223 462187 ---------------------------------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi