At the outset, I would like to thank you for your initiative in convening this briefing on “The Evolution of Sanctions”. This is a trademark of your Presidency and Australia’s tenure in the Security Council, as well as a follow up to your close engagement in the recently concluded High Level Review of UN Sanctions which was sponsored by your country, along with Greece, Norway, Germany and Sweden.
The high number of participation from Member States, including my country, and other stakeholders in the High Level Review is a strong recognition of the important role UN sanctions can play in the maintenance of international peace and security. This Review also reminded us that improving the effectiveness of sanctions requires a constant dialogue with those affected and those in charge of their implementation.
We welcome the respective briefings from Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General of Political Affairs, who heads the Department that is the focal point in the UN system on sanctions issues, and from Dr. Jürgen Stock Secretary-General of Interpol, an important partner in the effective implementation of sanctions imposed by this Council. I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Stock on his appointment.
Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council is empowered with sanctions, as one of the important set of tools that it can use to carry out its mandate. These have become more targeted and more sophisticated to better serve their remedial and preventive purposes. From 1966, when the Security Council first imposed sanctions on the Southern Rhodesia, to most recently in 2014, when targeted sanctions were imposed in Yemen against those obstructing its stability, sanctions have continuously evolved in order to respond to emerging threats to peace and security.
However, we all recognize that the first condition for the effectiveness of a sanctions regime is to ensure that they are fully and faithfully implemented by Member States. The increasing sophistication and complexity of the targeted sanctions measures that we enact require that we account for the practical challenges associated with implementation, which in our view, include the following:
First, we know that the legally binding nature of Council’s sanctions is not in itself sufficient to ensure its effective implementation. A commitment to compliance requires that sanctions are perceived as just and contributing to peace and stability. However, what is often the case on the ground is the lack of knowledge about sanctions and the perception that they are punitive rather than preventive as stated by some of my colleagues. We therefore see a need to put in place, from the imposition throughout the life of a sanctions regime, effective communication between Sanctions Committees and the affected countries and regions on the purpose of the sanctions. A regional consensus on the necessary and legitimacy of a sanctions regime can go a long way to ensure that it is effectively implemented.
Second, presently, the large majority of sanctions regimes are in Africa. Very often, the targeted states and their neighbors do not have the institutional capacity to implement the sanctions; and it is therefore a challenge to translate those measures into a national regulatory system. There is thus a need to renew efforts and focus towards ensuring that these crucial actors are better assisted in capacity building and accessing technical assistance.
Third, as we know, the range of actors involved in the implementation of sanctions is broad and continuously expand as the sanctions evolve. Therefore, this Council should encourage cooperation and coordination with neighboring states, regional and sub-regional organizations and international organizations. All those stakeholders must join efforts to first and foremost promote the basic principle that sanctions are intended to help Member States, not to undermine them.
Fourth, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Rwanda would wish to contribute that the decision about the sanctions Committees to be chaired by newly elected members should be made at an early stage as this will allow the members to prepare adequately, as they do not have time to carry out appropriate handover with the outgoing Chairpersons of the subsidiary bodies and to chose their national experts to be included in their Security Council Teams.
There is also a need to avail also at an early stage comprehensive information on the sanctions regimes to incoming members. We are only provided with initial information by the Security Council Affaires Division (SCAD) in November or December, which is very helpful, and we basically learn on the job, while already assuming the chairmanship of the sanctions Committees. We therefore call on this Council to change this system to give more time for preparation of new members, who should be adequately informed on the sanctions implementation mechanisms, and given the means to keep track of the evolution of sanctions.
My fifth and last point is on the Groups or Panels of Experts. We underscore their crucial support to the work of the Sanctions Committees, as they act as their eyes and ears on the ground. It is therefore important to have minimum standards for the selection and training process of these experts, which also need to reflect a balanced geographical distribution. It is also important that Experts execute their mandate in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
As we have stated in the past, Member States play a critical role in the implementation of sanctions. It is therefore essential that when they are mentioned in a report of the Group or Panel of Experts, they are provided with an opportunity to review the preliminary draft of the report and put forward relevant comments and responses they may have, with a view to enable the Group or Panel to adjust the conclusion by reflecting the positions of the said Member States in the report. This is a fundamental and indispensable step in legitimizing the procedural and substantive components of the reporting of the Groups or Panels of Experts. We note that such a heightened standard can only serve to increase the credibility of those Groups or Panels, and to bolster the collaborative efforts of the Member States and the Sanctions Committees.
To conclude Mr. President, Rwanda reiterates its views that Security Council sanctions play a prominent role in the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security. We further believe that the Council can benefit from holding regular briefings on the general issues of sanctions, with the participation of national, regional and international actors, in order to take on the challenges impeding the effective use of sanctions.
I thank you.