We should get smart about how we use sanctions

Evening Standard

Governments rarely want to be seen to be doing nothing in the face of a humanitarian challenge. This is the dilemma presented by the terrible pictures out of Homs – but such challenges evidently go far beyond Syria. Because going to war is rarely an option, this has led to an increasing reliance on the use of economic sanctions. Given London’s leading role as a world financial centre, when taken by the UK such measures can have a strong effect.

Yet how and when should we use such sanctions? Can we make greater use of them? In particular, there is a growing case for better use of “smart” sanctions – the subject of an important call today from my colleague Dominic Raab MP.

The UK’s current use of sanctions can be divided into three broad categories. First, economic sanctions used as an instrument of policy, helping us to achieve our overseas objectives. For instance, the UK has joined with other European countries and the US in prohibiting exports to Iran that might assist its nuclear programme.

Likewise, the UK also employs sanctions against countries with woeful human rights records. Thus we have sanctions in place against Zimbabwe and Burma. Here the aim is to withhold tangible benefits, pending an improvement in the country’s behaviour. Indeed, Burma’s military regime has made a number of positive steps in recent months, in part because it is seeking to remove itself from the international community’s blacklist.

However, the UK’s use of “smart sanctions”, measures targeting specific individuals, has been somewhat lacking. We should try to make greater use of this third option.

The case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who drew public attention to fraud by government officials, is a case in point. Instead of being applauded by the Russian government, Magnitsky was thrown into prison in 2009, where he died after almost a year, following a shocking lack of medical support. Yet despite widespread international condemnation, Russia’s government has made no effective response.

This needs to be addressed. The United States Congress is currently considering legislation to compel Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take action against anyone she believes to have been complicit in Magnitsky’s death. Such action would include freezing financial assets and denying or revoking travel visas. Such targeted sanctions would have a heavy impact on those found to be responsible for Magnitsky’s death, while having no effect on innocent third parties.
Dominic Raab is calling for a backbench debate so that MPs can debate the prospect of the UK adopting identical measures. He has my strong support: a discussion of this kind is long overdue.

We must always consider the use of sanctions on a case-by-case basis. A balance must be struck each time, for there is a cost to Britain of cutting itself off from trade links and other commercial opportunities. For instance, it is easier to sanction Zimbabwe for its human rights abuses than it is to sanction China.

However, when specific individuals have been identified as having carried out grave breaches of human rights, there can be no case for failing to act: we must do so.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP was Foreign Secretary 1995-97. hairy girls займы на карту без отказа zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php hairy women

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