PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Press release of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
Five hundred and five parliamentarians (of which 135 are women) coming from 108 countries present at the 104th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Jakarta recommend in a resolution today that "comprehensive economic sanctions are to be avoided as far as possible because they inflict suffering on too many innocent persons; the preferred solution is targeted sanctions which directly affect the political leaders of the country in question; such approaches are particularly suited to financial sanctions (e.g. freezing bank accounts abroad), travel restrictions and arms embargoes".
In the resolution "Are embargoes and economic sanctions still ethically acceptable, do they still work, and are they suited to achieving their purpose in an even more globalised world?", the 104th Conference "considers that economic sanctions should be avoided as far as possible but that they may be a useful and legitimate instrument which enables the Security Council to ensure international peace and security and, that whenever they have to be imposed, they should be carefully devised and properly implemented".
It recommends that the design of the sanctions themselves should be considerably improved: "objectives must be clearly defined and realistic, which implies that objective criteria for the partial or full lifting of sanctions must be stipulated at the outset".
"The activities subject to restrictions must also be defined as precisely as possible, in order to avoid any ambiguity as to the scope of sanctions and thus facilitate their application, particularly when arms embargoes or financial restrictions are involved", also decided the Conference.
It also makes the following recommendations: "the Security Council must assess the undesired impact of the sanctions it intends to impose, evaluating both their humanitarian impact on the population of the country concerned and their economic impact on other countries, particularly neighbouring ones" and "Provision should be made from the start for humanitarian exceptions in order to protect the most vulnerable groups in the country concerned".
The 104th Conference "calls on the Security Council to assess UN sanction regimes currently in force, including the one applied against Iraq, in the light of the principles set out above".
The Conference "calls on States to exercise the utmost circumspection when using economic sanctions within the framework of their foreign policy, to remain attentive to the humanitarian repercussions of such measures, which may be enormous, as can be seen from the case of Burundi, and to refrain in any event from actions which are contrary to the will of the international community, as expressed by the United Nations General Assembly or Security Council".
It further "categorically opposes the adoption, by a State (or group of States), of laws or other measures with extraterritorial effect which are aimed at obliging third party States or their nationals to apply economic sanctions adopted by it, as occurred in the case of Cuba".
The 104th Conference "demands that medicines and foodstuffs be systematically excluded from any multilateral or unilateral sanctions imposed on any country" and "urges States to envisage the elaboration, within the framework of the United Nations, of an instrument of international law codifying the humanitarian standards to be respected when economic sanctions are introduced, whether by the United Nations or by States, and providing for possibilities of appeal to a juridical body".
Finally, it "calls on parliaments and parliamentarians to exercise fully their legislative function and their right of oversight vis-à-vis their governments with regard to questions relating to economic sanctions".
The Conference adopted the resolution by 834 votes in favour, 245 against and 159 abstentions. The vote took place after a separate vote had taken place amending a paragraph calling for lifting of sanctions. The amendment which read: "calls on the Security Council to lift the United Nations sanctions of a global economic nature, including those imposed on Iraq, and to reassess all other sanctions regimes currently in force in the light of the principles set above" was adopted by 595 votes in favour, 517 votes against and 105 abstentions.
The 104th Conference in Jakarta also unanimously adopted a resolution entitled "the prevention of military and other coups against democratically elected governments and against the free will of the peoples expressed through direct suffrage, and action to address grave violations of the human rights of parliamentarians".
It "strongly condemns all attempts, successful or otherwise, to overthrow democratically elected government by military or other undemocratic means" and "vigorously condemns all individuals who abuse the human rights of parliamentarians and other citizens in the course of their involvement in military and other coups".
The Conference "urges all parliaments to exhort their respective Governments to bring about the international isolation of regimes which come to power through the undemocratic overthrow of elected governments, by considering the application of effective sanctions and other practical measures".
It further "calls on all parliaments to adopt, where feasible, new legislation and/or constitutional amendments strictly to enforce appropriate punishment against those individuals involved in the undemocratic overthrow of elected government, particularly when violence is used and to ensure that the punishment of those having committed such acts would not be quashed and would not be subject to a statute of limitations".
The Conference "urges all parliaments and governments to rise above any differences that may exist between ruling and opposition parties and to unite in resisting all attempts and actions aimed at destroying the system of parliamentary democracy by force of arms or other forcible measures" and also "urges all parliaments and governments to ensure the full and equitable participation of all sectors of society, including women, minorities and vulnerable groups, in democratic and democratising processes".
It "commends the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians for its invaluable work in defending the human rights of members of Parliament, and calls on all member parliaments actively to support its work, particularly through appropriate follow-up action on individual cases of human rights violations suffered by fellow parliamentarians which the Committee examines under its public procedure".
Finally, the Conference "requests that the Secretary General of the IPU examine the feasibility of establishing a mechanism for monitoring and denouncing violations of human rights and civil liberties, and subsequently report to the governing bodies of the IPU at their next session".
The "financing for development and a new paradigm of economic and social development designed to eradicate poverty" was also subject to a resolution adopted without a vote by the 104th Conference.
The Conference "stresses that debt cancellation for HIPCs and debt relief for other developing countries should be granted immediately and focus almost exclusively on poverty reduction measures that take account of the predicament of women, especially in rural areas, and on the eradication of inequalities".
It "endorses proposals aimed at stemming short-term capital flows which have especially dramatic consequences for production in developing countries, and in particular supports the idea of a tax on short-term capital flows that could be allocated to a world solidarity fund managed by the United Nations, and requests the Inter-Parliamentary Union to invite the international financial institutions to present a report on the technical arrangements for, and the consequences of, the establishment of such a tax at the next Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Cuba".
The 104th Conference "stresses the need to direct national efforts away from military priorities and international trade and weapons, and towards more productive and peaceful objectives, bearing national security implications in mind".
Finally, it "reaffirms that the struggle against poverty and inequality requires the existence of an effective, democratic and transparent State which is respectful of human rights; and emphasises that this struggle must promote civil and political liberties in order to empower the poor to claim their social, economic and cultural rights, and must also combat corruption, which always hits the poor hardest".
The IPU, founded in 1889 and based in Geneva, currently has 140 member parliaments affiliated and 5 regional parliamentary organisations associated. It also has a Liaison Office with the UN in New York.