NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS ON SANCTIONS
Sanctions are measures designed to compel governments or political factions to comply with the requirements established by the Security Council when those measures are considered to be necessary to the maintenance of international peace and security. They are intended to apply pressure on those governments or political factions. This pressure is felt in two different situations: When sanctions are adopted (and sometimes even before they are adopted) and when they are implemented effectively.
1.Adoption of sanctions
The adoption of sanctions must be rapid in order clearly to convey the determination of the Council (no hesitation by the international community).
The SC might, thus, be urged to reach a rapid decision on sanctions (to send a signal of its determination). This speed may imply insufficient reflection and therefore be detrimental to the adequacy of the design of the sanctions to be applied in a particular situation. Furthermore, when Council members envisage the adoption of sanctions mainly as a means to apply pressure, to send a strong signal to persuade governments or political factions, members should not underestimate the need of coherence and adequacy of the rules they are adopting, in the efforts to reach a prompt decision.
This is particularly important to bear in mind if the Council considers to adopt sanctions and defer their application to a later stage. On one side, this will apply the intended pressure upon the targeted State or faction. On the other side it will allow them for a certain time to comply with the SC requirements, or to abstain from a certain behavior (e.g. the sanctions imposed to Unita and, more recently, the sanctions against Iraq). The Council, in our view, should consider more often the adoption of these measures with suspended or conditioned application, as they are important means for preventive action towards the maintenance of international peace and security.
In the present international situation sanctions are increasingly being made use of as instruments of the SC. My delegation considers that, in this context, targeted sanctions are the right approach (we have recent examples of this: in the case of Angola, Sierra Leone and Iraq).
Targeted sanctions should be designed on a case by case basis. This is, in our view, inherent to the notion of targeted sanctions. Each situation has its particularities and the same type of sanctions may have different effects in differing circumstances.
If the SC wants a particular government or political faction to change its behavior, which is seen to be endangering international peace and security, it should adopt measures that have a direct effect on the agents themselves: travel limitations, restrictions on international financial transactions, freezing of assets and other measures that may isolate them in the international community.
It would be helpful if we could foresee with a certain degree of accuracy, when adopting those measures, how much they would affect those agents. To this purpose the Council, when considering the adoption of sanctions, should consider receiving technical assistance through projections of the implementation of the sanctions, according to the type or types of measures envisaged. Members would be able to anticipate the effects, the difficulties and perhaps identify other more adequate alternatives. The proposed measures would be evaluated and weighted in the context of what would be the ultimate goal of the Council (this would allow for the consideration of the notion of proportionality of the sanction vis a vis the goals).
2. Effective implementation of sanctions
Sanctions implementation must be effective. This requires clear rules, a coherent framework, and adequate measures of implementation to achieve the intended goals.
The responsibility for the implementation of sanctions lies mainly with States. But we must recognize the particular role that is being increasingly deferred to Sanctions Committees. They are competent to assist States in their task of implementing sanctions. They are also competent to monitor their application or to decide on the exemptions. Their important role requires expertise.
There are currently 7 Committees. In the context of this multiplicity the possibility of merging Committees with similar functions could be considered. This would be beneficial in terms of better management of the existent resources and improvement of the participation capacity of their members. Equal tasks of several Committees could be conferred advantageously to one single Committee, both in terms of expertise and efficiency. (These were some of the ideas put forward during a gathering of the chairmen of the Sanctions Committees in April).
In this context consideration should be given to the establishment of a unity, in the secretariat, to assist the existing Committees in terms of implementing evaluation measures, providing technical assistance to the members, presenting proposals to unify and improve the procedures and gathering information. For this purpose, this unity should be accorded the necessary resources.
But the efficient implementation of sanctions is not a direct result of an adequate legal regime and a competent Committee and Secretariat. Once again the Council should look at its recent experience and recognize the importance of cooperating, in the implementation of sanctions, with regional organizations. One should bear in mind the case of the former Yugoslavia, where the excellent cooperation with EU, OSCE, NATO and other regional organizations have helped the Security Council to achieve main goals in that area. The case of Burundi is also a very impressive example of the importance of the role of the OAU in what concerns the implementation of sanctions. Recently in the case of Sierra Leone the Council recognized the important role of ECOWAS in the framework of the implementation of sanctions.
But we shall be cautious when accepting sanctions established at regional level. Proliferation of these measures with regional effects should be avoided. The Security Council is the competent organ to consider the need to apply sanctions, on behalf of the international community. With its global perspective of the international situation it manages to exercise the particular responsibility in it with a certain sense of distance from the situations. Regional direct initiatives in this context may be counterproductive and thus frequently degenerate in conflicts with neighboring countries, in their efforts of imposing sanctions, or in reaction to them.
When implementing sanctions regimes, we should underline the positive contribution, that in certain cases, Non Governmental Organizations, can bring in achieving the objectives of the Security Council. They may, in fact, play a very important role gathering relevant information, which, subsequently, is conveyed to the Committees. This might be of crucial importance, in certain situations where, as during arms embargoes, it is difficult for Committees to obtain that information from other sources. We know how inefficient these Committees have been to date.
Allow me to make one remark on a common aspect of sanctions regimes: Humanitarian exemptions. When implementing sanctions, humanitarian exemptions should be clearly identified and swiftly granted. But, from the beginning, from the conception of a new sanctions regime, the humanitarian consequences should be weighed by the SC vis a vis the goals the Council is pursuing. The internal effects of the measures adopted in the population should be considered, as well as their external effects in the neighboring countries. We must bear in mind that frequently the population has no possibility of altering or influencing any internal change. One cannot also forget, when designing sanctions, that neighboring countries play a fundamental role in their implementation.
In our view, the punitive element is not the most relevant one when applying sanctions. Sanctions are not repressive instruments as such. Rather, they serve as a means of prevention (general and particular). They can be used, and indeed they have been used the case of arms embargoes is a demonstrative example of it - as instruments of preventive diplomacy. But, mainly, they serve as means to induce a behavior towards a certain result. Sanctions are instruments that aim, in the end, at the full reintegration of a particular State in the international community.
The Council should be able to consider all these aspects when reviewing sanctions. In the course of these reviews, which should be periodical, an evaluation should be made of the effects of sanctions as well as of the results achieved. This would help the Council to consider adjustments, if needed, to the measures in force, bearing in mind the results it intends to achieve.
Sanctions can be effective instruments. It is not true that they no longer serve the purpose for which they were created. Those who are the object of sanctions feel their effect and react strongly to resist them. That is why they engage in extended diplomatic negotiations in order to convince the international community to put pressure on the Council to lift sanctions.
Many ideas and suggestions were put forward here today. They deserve further consideration. They need to be further explored. I thank the initiative of the Chinese presidency in taking this matter under discussion, and if I can dare abuse of your patience - which is known to be also a Chinese tradition - I would ask if the presidency could provide us with a kind of summary or general outline of what has been said. This would allow a more efficient follow up of the matter, which I am sure we all agree deserve to be undertaken.