HL Deb 15 March 1999 vol 598 cc65-6WA
Baroness David

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy on sanctions. [HL1528]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The Government have recently completed a wide-ranging review of their sanctions policy. All Whitehall departments with an interest in sanctions were involved in the review.

As a result, the Government have decided to launch a new policy of better targeted "smarter" sanctions. This will sharpen the focus and effectiveness of sanctions whilst trying to minimise their impact on ordinary people, including children, and on our own commercial and economic interests.

Apart from the threat of or use of force, which will remain essential in the more extreme cases, sanctions are the only coercive measure available to the international community to respond to challenges to international peace and security. The review concluded that they will remain an important tool of our foreign policy.

The review also concluded, however, that better targeting would be likely to enhance the effectiveness of international sanctions and minimise the risk of harm to ordinary people. A range of sanctions, of varying type and severity, is available and different measures may be selected depending on particular circumstances. Comprehensive sanctions should be reserved for cases where the objective is to isolate and contain a very serious transgressor.

The review concluded that, although the circumstances in which sanctions are imposed vary from case to case, there are a number of broad principles that should normally be followed. Sanctions should:

  • be targeted to hit the regime, rather than ordinary people.
  • include exemptions to minimise the humanitarian impact on innocent civilians.
  • have clear objectives, including well-defined and realistic demands against which compliance can be judged, and a clear exit strategy.
  • have effective arrangements for implementation and enforcement by all states, especially by neighbouring countries.
  • avoid unnecessary adverse impact on UK economic and commercial interests.
  • The review also agreed a revised set of inter-Departmental procedures for the efficient imposition, amendment and lifting of sanctions, as WA 66 well as for their enforcement and monitoring. These will further improve co-ordination between Whitehall departments on sanctions issues.

I shall keep the House informed of current sanctions and their scope on a yearly basis. All new sanctions or any amendments to existing sanctions will be announced at the time. We shall shortly be laying in the Library of the House a list of all sanctions imposed by the UK. An updated version will be laid in the Library annually (or more frequently if policy changes require a revision).