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RE: [casi] inspections and lifting of sanctions

Dear Daniel,

You are right:

> While this was the intention of the original resolutions, the security
> council can simply decide to change the rules and lift sanctions, yes?

I append a letter that I wrote to the editor of the Boston Globe in response
to a 12 April article that they wrote suggesting that there was a need for

> My question is: are the BBC [and others] simply ignorant, or is it likely
> that sanctions will not be dropped until inspectors have been in Iraq for
> a while? If the former, can we just ignore the media, or will they have
> any impact on policians? If the latter, which countries are likely to
> oppose sanctions-lifting, and what can we do about it?

1. yes, the journalists who report these claims are ignorant.  While there
are a lot of fine details in the Iraq case, this level of ignorance is a bit
surprising to me as it displays a failure to understand a very basic feature
of the UN Charter.  The media should not be ignored: they will misinform
others, including policy makers.  I would start by correcting the outlets
that have made the error.

2. I don't think that anyone in the Security Council knows what steps
they'll be taking next.  The Security Council's authority to take Chapter
VII measures, e.g. use sanctions, derives from its responsibility to uphold
international peace and security.  In 1991, when the sanctions were extended
by SCR 687, it argued that the Iraqi government needed to take certain
steps, including disarmament, to restore international peace and security.
Now, however, Iraq is de facto governed by Occupying Powers, the US and the
UK.  Presumably they would not argue that their rule poses a threat to
international peace and security.  Unless they could argue that non-state
actors in Iraq do, the argument for maintaining Chapter VII measures is
strongly weakened, I think.  My sense is that any threat from non-state
actors would involve transport of weapons or troops across Iraq's borders.
Comprehensive economic sanctions, already a blunt instrument, seem even more
blunt if designed to prevent this.  Border controls seem much more


Colin Rowat

work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham |
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Dear Editor,

The Security Council diplomats who claimed that sanctions on Iraq cannot be
lifted until Iraq is certified disarmed are mistaken ("Inspections required
to end sanctions, UN says", 12 April).

The UN Charter gives the Council singular freedom of action: it can override
its own previous resolutions and is not bound by precedent.  These unchecked
powers were granted to allow the Council to focus to the greatest extent
possible on its primary responsibility: maintaining international peace and

To impose economic sanctions, the Council must find either a threat to or a
breach of international peace and security.  The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
was clearly a breach; in 1991, the Council argued that international peace
and security's restoration required sanctions.

Now, though, Iraq will be governed by a body of the US' choosing.  Unless
that body threatens international peace and security, the argument for
non-military sanctions is all but removed.

The US must press to remove non-military sanctions. They have harmed Iraqis
for far too long; retaining them will lead Iraqis to believe that they have
been conquered, not liberated.

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