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On 10 February the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development (the Committee) released its report, The Future of Sanctions (the Report). While the Government usually responds to Select Committee reports within two months, their Response to this report has only just been published now. This, I am told, reflects the number of government departments involved in drafting the response. CASI's website (http://welcome.to/casi) links to both of these documents. They may be found by following the "Info Sources" link on the sidebar and then looking for "The British government". The Government Response addresses each paragraph of the Committee Report in the order raised in the Report. I excerpt some of the main points from the Response, especially those applying to Iraq. I do not comment on the Response other than to note now that it signals no willingness to admit responsibility for the consequences of its policies in Iraq or interest in changing them. I have only limited my editorial remarks in the interests of time this evening; I certainly hope that the Response will be discussed by this discussion group. Colin Rowat ****************************************************** Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq http://welcome.to/casi fax 0870 063 5022 are you on our announcements list? ****************************************************** 393 King's College www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~cir20 Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)7768 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)8700 634 984 Summary of Response as it bears on Iraq ---------------- "The Government fully agrees with the conclusion of the Committee that the responsibility for the plight of the Iraqi people must ultimately lie with the Iraqi leadership". Humanitarian exemptions, it explains, were built into the sanctions from 1990, but the Iraqi government has refused to comply with its obligations. The Iraqi government hindered the 1991 "proto-oil-for-food" and delayed implementation of "oil for food" in 1995. The government of Iraq has failed to act on recommendations by the UN in a variety of ways and otherwise does not take all steps that it might to improve the humanitarian situation. "The Government does not accept the claim that sanctions do not impact on the Iraqi regime" but does admit that "there is evidence of the regime using resources for the benefit of the elite and not the majority". "The Government fully shares the Committee's concerns about the humanitarian situation in Iraq and agrees that the international community has a responsibility to the Iraqi people". The response then explains the benefits of SCR 1284, passed in December as a result of British efforts. "The resolution also offers Iraq the prospect of the suspension of sanctions if it co-operates. Iraq and its allies often claim that Iraq has nothing to hide. If that is so, then Iraq has everything to gain by accepting resolution 1284". In the same sentence that it "shares the Committee's concerns over the high rates of child and maternal mortality which are being reported" it notes "that any statistics are dependent on Government of Iraq input and that UNICEF's figure is based on the considerable assumption that, were it not for sanctions, the substantial reduction in death rates in under fives in the 1980s would have continued throughout the next 10 years". The Committee's concern about the lack of information of the consequences of the sanctions on Iraq is turned into an appeal to the government of Iraq to "to allow greater access by NGOs" On the human rights situation in Iraq, it reports on the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur, who recently concluded that "he had observed no improvement in the situation of human rights in Iraq. In fact the overall human rights situation was worsening". "The Government shares the view that Saddam Hussein and other members of his regime should be brought to account for the atrocities they have committed over the years. The Government supports INDICT and other organisations which seek to bring them to justice". While recognising that "every effort should be made by the international community, when imposing future sanctions regimes, to ensure that these are carefully designed to have the maximum impact on the target regime, while minimising the risk of harm to ordinary people" it concludes that "In the case of Iraq, comprehensive economic sanctions have, for the past nine years, significantly reduced the threat from Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction". In response to the Committee's recognition "that sanctions, unless carefully targeted, have the capacity to kill more children than armed warfare" and its call for the use of "International human rights instruments" to measure and justify sanctions regimes, the Response, "agrees that sanctions regimes should always be designed to be in conformity with international human rights instruments". "The Government takes financial sanctions very seriously, and expends considerable effort in implementing them. Standards of implementation are already high, but we are nonetheless constantly reviewing how its effectiveness might be enhanced." "The Government has no powers to sequestrate or to seize Iraqi assets; we only have powers to freeze them. The Bank of England has acted promptly upon all information received in its quest to freeze the funds of the Iraqi regime, and as of December 1999 746 million US dollars in Iraqi assets in the UK had been frozen." Discussing the importance of assisting post-sanctions countries' reintegration, the Response explains that, "[w]hen sanctions on Iraq are lifted, the initial need for outside assistance will be partly offset by the country's large oil resources. The international community will want to ensure at that time that adequate humanitarian supplies are reaching those who need them. The Government of Iraq will need to allow greater access to Iraq by NGOs for a comprehensive reconstruction programme to operate effectively". In general, the Government believed that time-limited sanctions were "unlikely to be effective." -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi