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NZ policy change on economic sanctions ?

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NZ policy change on economic sanctions ?

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Kia ora,

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) 495 8444;

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) 472 6332.

Copies of Trevor Hughes’s speech are available from PMA by post or fax; copies of Phil Goff’s media release are available from PMA by email, fax or post. For more information on Iraq, see PMA’s Stop Killing the People of Iraq index page at

Copies of a recent paper from the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research on the effect of the sanctions on Yugoslavia are available from PMA by email, post or fax. See also PMA’s NATO bombing / Yugoslavia index page at

For material you want faxed or posted to you, please send your fax number or an SAE to PMA.

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.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Peace Movement Aotearoa PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand tel +64 4 382 8129, fax +64 4 382 8173, pma@xtra.co.nz http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/ the national networking group for peace people <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>


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