Date: Sun, 1 Feb 98 13:49:01 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: HUMAN RIGHTS: UN Committee Opposes Economic Embargoes
Article: 26847

/** ips.english: 393.0 **/
** Topic: HUMAN RIGHTS: UN Committee Opposes Economic Embargoes **
** Written 2:41 PM Jan 29, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

UN Committee Opposes Economic Embargoes

By Gustavo Capdevila, InterPress Service, 26 January 1998

GENEVA, Jan 26 (IPS)—The Committee for the Rights of the Child joined the list of UN agencies and officials questioning the application of unilateral or multilateral economic sanctions.

In its first yearly period of sessions, which ended Friday, the Committee stated the air embargo imposed on Libya by the UN Security Council, damaged the national economy particularly affecting children.

For the first time since the approval of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in September 1990, the Committee working for its application showed concern over the effects of embargoes and economic blockades on children.

However, back in July, the Committee itself had ignored the situation of Cuba, suffering an embargo imposed by the United States, despite the Caribbean delegation explaining the difficulties the measure was causing.

But this time round the 10 independent experts making up the committee listened to the complaint lodged by Salem Quateen, director of the Legal Affairs Department and of Libya's Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Department.

Quateen said the children of Libya are suffering as a result of the UN embargo imposed on the country. This measure, he said, prevents Libyan children from the full enjoyment of their basic and essential rights.

In response, the Committee said the imposition of the UN Security Council air embargo on Libya has had adverse effects on the economy and many aspects of the daily life of local people.

The Committee Statement coincided with a report from the Libyan government, denouncing the embargo as an obstacle to the exercising of the health and education rights of the population.

The Security Council imposed a weapons ban on Libya in 1992, banning international flights and ordering a reduction in the number of Libyan diplomatic personnel abroad due to allegations of terrorism.

A later resolution by the same body, in November 1993, toughened up the sanctions ordering the freezing of Libyan funds and financial resources in other countries and banning the supply of equipment for refining and transporting oil to Libya.

These measures were promoted by the United States and Great Britain, both of which blamed Libya for the attack which destroyed a Panam airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Some 270 people were killed in the explosion, 189 of them US citizens.

Other UN bodies had already criticised sanctions the organisation itself had imposed on Iraq.

The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Commitee, complained in November of the effects suffered by civil society under the Security Council embargo on Irak following the Gulf War in 1991.

Up until now, as far as economics were concered, the Child Rights Committee had limited itself to examining the effects of internal politics on the child population.

The Committee habitually calls on the member States to fulfil the clauses of the Convention whereby they promise to consider the greater interests of children in approving economic policies and budgeting.

Yuji Hirano, from Japan's Federation for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, said the committee members always demand each State apply the economic rights “as far as available resources allow.”

In the audiences with each State, the Committee members ask what percentage of the budget is spent on child well-being, like health and education, and ask for comparisons with defence spending and other sectors of the budget.

Hirano said the Committee reminds governmental delegates they should apply the “20/20 principle” which recommends investing 20 percent of international co-operation in the social sector along with a similar proportion of national resources.

But despite criticism of the embargo, the Commitee final report also included recommendations for the Libyan government to adapt national legislation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For instance, the Committee demanded Libya eliminate the term “illegitimate child,” for children born out of wedlock, from all the legislation, policies, programmes, norms and administrative instructions dictated by the State.

The supervisory body also showed concern over the increase of chronic malnutrition, rickets and diarrhea in the country and demanded the adoption of measures to ban corporal punishment in the home.

The Committee also examined the application of the Convention in Ireland and the Federation of Micronesian States.

The second of the three annual sessions of the Committee will be held from May 18 to June 5, to study the yearly reports from Hungary, North Korea, Fiji, Japan, the Maldives and Ecuador.