|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.29, 19.7.01, p3|
MEPs are intensifying their campaign for a partial lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War to ease their effect on the country's ordinary citizens. According to a report prepared for the European
Parliament's foreign affairs committee, the measures have had a "perverse effect" because they have made civilians "hostages of a government that uses the generalised embargo to maintain a political system based on oppression and terror".
Drafted by UK Liberal Emma Nicholson, the report is likely to be endorsed by the full assembly after the summer break.
Belgium, the current holder of the EU's presidency, is also working towards securing less indiscriminate sanctions than those introduced after Operation Desert Storm in 1991. "We're looking at how we can affect the leaders of the country and not the people," said Olivier Alsteens, spokesman for foreign minister Louis Michel.
The minister is working with External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten to ascertain if the groundwork for a breakthrough can be laid before the next UN General Assembly meeting in late September.
But the Belgian initiative is hindered by the lack of any consensus among the Union's 15 members on the issue.
Several national governments are growing frustrated with the UK because it has continuously echoed Washington's insistence that the sanctions should not be relaxed until Baghdad proves it is complying with obligations to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction. However, the US and Britain were set to introduce a new proposal yesterday (18 July) at the meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Rome to rework the UN sanctions. It would mean relaxing restrictions on civilian goods imports but tightening them on military items.
The Nicholson report says that a new approach towards Iraq should incorporate the experiences gained from the "smart sanctions" imposed on Serbia during the Milosevic era, which involved providing energy supplies to towns where opposition parties were in control.
It states that food and medicines should be provided to the Iraqi people but there should be no weaponry sent there and exports of 'dual use' equipment - which have both a military and civilian potential - should be rigorously scrutinised. The 'oil-for-food' system already in place has been counterproductive, the report adds. It has led to billions of euro being held in foreign bank accounts, which Baghdad has refused to use for humanitarian purposes.
The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, has calculated that 650,000 Iraqi children have perished, mainly from curable diseases, because they have been deprived of vital medicines since the Gulf War. "We're not against the application of sanctions in principle but we demand that they should have no effect on children," said UNICEF representative Benoit Melebeck.
MEPs are intensifying their campaign for a partial lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War to ease their effect on the country's ordinary citizens.
|Countries / Regions||Middle East|