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NZ policy change on economic sanctions ?
19 April 2000
As you may be aware, representatives of the New Zealand government have made several
statements condemning economic sanctions in the past couple of days. On Monday, Trevor
Hughes (NZ Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council) made a statement to the Security Council during the debate 'General Issues Relating to Sanctions'.
He said, amongst other things, "The increasing frequency with which sanctions are
being used has helped to highlight some serious shortcomings." He developed this
theme further by pointing out that while the elites in authoritarian regimes manage
to evade the effects of the sanctions on themselves ... "sanctions can cause serious humanitarian
distress for ordinary people, and if sustained over a long period of time, severe
damage to the local infrastructure ... NZ believes the Security Council needs to
develop, as a priority, a more focussed and refined approach to reduce the unintended
consequences of sanctions, especially the incidence of humanitarian suffering".
Later in his speech he pointed out that economic sanctions in some cases ... "may
have contributed to devastating suffering and long-term degradation for civilian
populations, far in excess even of the kind of damage which might be inflicted by
armed conflict or war".
He argued for a more selective approach to sanctions - 'smart' sanctions ... "that
would target the interests of regimes and elites identified as responsible for threats
to peace and security"; that food, medical and other humanitarian supplies should
be better defined and excluded from sanctions; that there must be ... "clear exit strategies
identifying the actions required to suspend or remove sanctions"; and that mechanisms
to regularly monitor and assess the impact of sanctions be put in place.
Yesterday Phil Goff issued a media statement 'New Zealand pushes for change on UN
sanctions' which re-iterated some of the points made by Trevor Hughes. Up until this
point there had been no reference to specific countries, but in the meeting with
Denis Halliday and later in media interviews, Phil Goff referred to Iraq and said that while
the NZ government would not act unilaterally against the sanctions, they would work
to persuade others that the sanctions on Iraq have to go.
If you have not already done so, you could write or fax Phil Goff and Matt Robson
with your views on these statements.
Points you could make include:
* congratulations on these statements;
* urge them to use diplomatic pressure at every available opportunity to ensure the
speedy removal of the economic sanctions against Iraq, and the other countries subjected
to them including Yugoslavia;
* emphasise that this will go some way towards re-establishing New Zealand's reputation
as a nation capable of independent thought and action on foreign policy;
* ask for a commitment that NZ navy frigates will not be sent to the Gulf in the future
to take part in the blockade to enforce the sanctions.
Contact details: letters should be addressed to the relevant person and posted (no
stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.
a) Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade - tel (04) 471 9370, fax (04)
b) Matt Robson, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade - tel (04) 470 6561,
fax (04) 495 8462;
c) if you would like to contact Cabinet (collectively) - tel (04) 471 9743, fax (04)
Trevor Hughes's speech is available from PMA by email or here; Phil Goff's media release
is available from PMA by email or here; the Green party statement is available from
PMA by email or here. For more information on Iraq, see PMA's Stop Killing the People of Iraq index page.
The recent paper from the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research on
the effect of the sanctions on Yugoslavia is available from PMA by email or here.
See also PMA's NATO bombing / Yugoslavia index page.
Brief background on Iraq:
Every month more than 5,000 children die in Iraq from starvation, diseases of malnutrition,
and lack of medical supplies caused by economic sanctions. Every few days, US and
British warplanes bomb within their self-declared 'no-fly zones' killing and injuring civilians and further destroying the infrastructure on which life depends. More
than 1.5 million Iraqi people have died since 1991 because of the sanctions and the
bombing. Both are clear breaches of the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Protocols
relating to the Protection of Civilians.
Previous New Zealand governments supported the economic sanctions by sending navy
frigates to take part in the blockade of Iraq in 1995, 1996 and 1999. They also sent
a six person boarding party to work on US navy ships in the Gulf in 1999.
Return to PMA front page.
Link to subject listing of alerts.
Link to the main page on Iraq.
Link to the main page on the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and its aftermath.