U.N. is growing concerned about effects of sanctions

December 19, 1993|By New York Times News Service

UNITED NATIONS -- Concern is rising at the United Nations over the human and financial cost of the embargoes the Security Council has imposed on Yugoslavia, Iraq and Haiti.

While the leaders of those countries are responsible for the actions that led to the embargoes, it is common citizens who suffer the most. United Nations members are paying more than $800 million a year to ease the pain sanctions cause poor and vulnerable groups in those countries.

The countries that traded most with Yugoslavia and Iraq, including Turkey and Jordan and struggling East European nations such as Hungary and Romania, say the Security Council's actions cost them billions of dollars of income for which they receive no compensation.

"Sanctions may be the best weapon the Security Council has, but they are a blunt weapon that punishes people who aren't to blame," Jan Eliasson, the U.N. aid coordinator, said at a recent conference at Princeton University.

Many participants at the conference said isolating Belgrade and Baghdad economically had not yielded many political dividends, and the military rulers of Haiti have refuse to yield power despite an oil embargo.

The Security Council has imposed trade embargoes on Iraq and Yugoslavia, banned oil deliveries to Haiti and the Angolan rebel movement, as well as arms sales to South Africa, Somalia, Angola and Mozambique.

In each case, the council set up a committee of all 15 council members to oversee the embargo and consider exemptions.

The Yugoslavia sanctions committee is by far the busiest, receiving 16,000 requests for exemptions so far this year, four times as many as the Iraq committee. About 60 percent of these are notices from groups planning to send food and medicine.

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