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For some strong general comments on economic sanctions and their impact on children, see Graša Machel, "Impact of Armed Conflict on Children", 26 August 1996 (although note that the report's Iraq comments ignore the numerous problems with SCR 706). In 1993, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and subsequently the General Assembly (1) requested a report on the impact of armed conflict on children. Then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali appointed Machel as the expert responsible for the report. Machel was "Mozambique's first post-independence Minister for Education...is President of the Foundation of Community Development and Chairperson of the National Organization of Children of Mozambique...and was awarded the 1995 Nansen Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions on behalf of refugee children" (1). 1. General Assembly Resolution 48/157, A/Res/48/157, 20 December 1993, http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r157.htm 2. http://www.unicef.org/graca/graca.htm For biographical information, see also http://www.upeace.org/bio_machel.htm See below for the sanctions section. Main Url: http://www.unicef.org/graca/ Full Text: gopher://gopher.un.org/00/ga/docs/51/plenary/A51-306.EN * Note that the full text includes the reporting mandate E. Sanctions 127. The present report focuses on armed conflict, but a closely-related issue that also has a serious impact on children is the imposition of economic sanctions. In recent years, economic sanctions have been seen as a cheaper, non-violent alternative to warfare. In his follow-up report to "An Agenda for Peace" (A/50/60), the Secretary-General of the United Nations recognized that sanctions raise the ethical question of whether suffering inflicted on vulnerable groups in the target country is a legitimate means of exerting pressure on political leaders. Since 1991, under Article 41, Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the international community has collectively imposed sanctions on Iraq, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Haiti. In addition, countries can and have employed bilateral sanctions. In the post-cold war era, it seems likely that sanctions will play an increasingly important part in international policy. Governments are reluctant to commit troops and funds to international military intervention and see sanctions as a safer recourse that can be applied at lower cost to the embargoing power. While not necessarily the case, sanctions also appear less deadly than military action for the population of the target country. 1. Humanitarian exemptions 128. In theory, most sanctions regimes exempt critical humanitarian supplies from general embargoes. In practice, sanctions have so far proved blunt instruments. Humanitarian exemptions tend to be ambiguous and are interpreted arbitrarily and inconsistently. They often cause resource shortages; disrupt the distribution of food, pharmaceuticals and sanitation supplies; and reduce the capacity of the public health system to maintain the quality of food, water, air, and medicine. Delays, confusion and the denial of requests to import essential humanitarian goods cause resource shortages. While these effects might seem to be spread evenly across the target populations, they inevitably fall most heavily on the poor. Those with power and influence will usually have ways of acquiring what they need, while the general population struggles to survive with what remains. While adults can endure long periods of hardship and privation, children have much less resistance, and they are less likely to survive persistent shortages. Studies from Cuba, Haiti and Iraq following the imposition of sanctions each showed a rapid rise in the proportion of children who were malnourished. In Haiti after 1991, for example, one study indicated that the price of staple foods increased fivefold and the proportion of malnourished children increased from 5 to 23 per cent. 30/ 129. Even when exemptions are permitted, the conditions applied may be unacceptable to the Government in power. Indeed, those Governments and authorities against which sanctions are imposed are rarely personally affected and may be precisely those less responsive to the plight of their people. Iraq since 1990 has experienced the most comprehensive regime ever imposed. In order to mitigate some of the effects on health and nutrition, the Security Council adopted resolution 706 (1991) to permit the use of frozen Iraqi funds to purchase food and medicine, stipulating that these supplies had to be purchased and distributed under the supervision of the United Nations. The Iraqi Government considered these conditions unacceptable and only started to discuss them in 1995. Meanwhile, the situation for children has deteriorated. Over the past five years, infant mortality is thought to have tripled. 31/ The "oil-for-food" procedures contained in Security Council resolution 986 (1995) present an opportunity to mitigate the negative impact of sanctions on Iraqi children. To take full advantage of this opportunity, however, all currency generated through oil sales should be dedicated to humanitarian and civilian purposes. 130. In the interests of children, the international community should cease to impose comprehensive economic sanctions without obligatory and enforceable humanitarian exemptions and agreed mechanisms for monitoring the impact of sanctions on children and other vulnerable groups. Any measures taken should be precisely targeted at the vulnerabilities of the political or military leaders whose behaviour the international community wishes to change. These actions could include an arms embargo, the freezing of all corporate and individual overseas assets, the stopping of certain kinds of economic transactions, the suspension of air links and other forms of communication and the isolation of countries from the rest of the world through cultural, academic and economic boycotts. 2. The need for child impact assessments and monitoring 131. Sanctions should be judged against the standards of universal human rights, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The primary consideration must always be the potential human impact, which should influence the imposition and choice of sanctions, the duration, the legal provisions and the operation of the sanctions regime. Sanctions should not be imposed without advance assessment of the economic and social structure of the target country and the ability of the international community to sustain continuous monitoring. 132. Monitoring systems make it possible to assess the impact of the embargo on health and well-being. At minimum, such assessments should measure changes in access to essential medicines and medical supplies (especially items that may serve both civilian and military purposes such as chlorine for water purification or lab reagents for health screening and testing), water quality and quantity, the nutritional state of children and the infant mortality rate. 133. When targeted sanctions are imposed, humanitarian exemptions should be formulated with clear guidelines. At the same time, in order to help vulnerable groups, the established agencies should formulate appropriate humanitarian assistance programmes. If essential humanitarian goods are denied to the population, the sanctioning powers have a responsibility to assure new sources of supply. When the Security Council imposes sanctions, it should also simultaneously provide resources to neutral, independent bodies to monitor the situation of vulnerable groups. In the event that the position of children deteriorates, the United Nations should assume responsibility for redressing the situation. 134. Since many of the effects of sanctions, particularly the health impact, may only become evident over a period of years, no sanctions regime should be allowed to continue indefinitely. When the Security Council imposes sanctions, it should also clearly define the circumstances under which they should be lifted. If the sanctions fail to produce the desired result within a predetermined period, they should be replaced by other measures. 3. Specific recommendations on sanctions 135. The expert submits the following recommendations on sanctions: (a) The international community should ensure that whenever sanctions are imposed they provide for humanitarian, child-focused exemptions. The international community should establish effective monitoring mechanisms and child impact assessments. These must be developed with clear application guidelines; (b) Humanitarian assistance programmes of the United Nations specialized agencies and of NGOs should be exempt from approval by the Security Council Sanctions Committee; (c) A primary concern when planning a targeted sanctions regime should be to minimize its impact on vulnerable groups, and particularly children. Sanctions or other measures taken by the Security Council should be precisely targeted at the vulnerabilities of those whose behaviour the international community wishes to change; (d) The Security Council Sanctions Committee should closely monitor the humanitarian impact of sanctions and amend sanctions immediately if they are shown to cause undue suffering to children. Nathaniel Hurd Iraq Sanctions Project (ISP) Associate Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) 162 Montague Street, 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA Tel.: 718-237-9145, x 21 Fax: 718-237-9147 Mobile: 917-407-3389 Personal E-Fax: 707-221-7449 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.cesr.org/isp *The contents of this message may contain personal views which are not the views of ISP, unless specifically stated* -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk