Sanctions should in future be more refined so they hurt the leaders of rogue states rather than their populations, says the executive chair of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraqi weapons inspections, Richard Butler.
Mr. Butler said in an interview at the State of the World Forum in San Francisco yesterday (October 28)that gaining access to the Swiss bank accounts of leaders would be one way of putting pressure more directly on them, rather than on their citizens.
Mr. Butler is head of the organization charged with ridding Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. The sanctions on Iraq's exports and imports were put in place by the U.N. Security Council in 1990. Some observers have blamed the sanctions for causing severe malnutrition there.
He said Iraq had been very successful in spreading the notion, "in a rather propagandist way", that sanctions had had an awful effect on the Iraqi people, but at the same time the Iraqi leadership was, "awash with money."
"I've been working quite hard at [U.N.] headquarters with others to try to design sanctions that wouldn't hit the ordinary people but would hit the leadership."
He added: "There are a lot of people looking at the issue of sanctions as an instrument to bring about conformity to the law, trying to refine them to hurt the leaderships with bank accounts, not the ordinary people," he said.
Asked how those refined sanctions might work, he said: "Swiss bank accounts and things like that. I think that's the future. I think the future in the Security Council will be more sophisticated design of sanctions, to try and mitigate the effects on innocent people and to target those who really are the criminals. And I think that's the future and I hope it comes soon."
He said the sanctions regime was, "very heavy law", but the Security Council had originally envisaged in 1991 that it would only need to be in place for six months.
"And why it's taken eight years is because he [Saddam Hussein] has made it so."
Mr. Butler dismissed as "bullshit" criticism of the sanctions by the former head of the U.N.'s humanitarian mission in Iraq, Denis Halliday, who has said the sanctions were incompatible with the U.N. Charter and the U.N. Convention on Human Rights.
Mr. Halliday earlier this month told a bipartisan ad hoc United States congressional committee that 5,000-6,000 children were dying unnecessarily every month due to the impact of the sanctions.
"The leadership has always had in their hands the key to get out of sanctions. It's called disarmament. Iraq sends out reams of material saying this is a wicked thing being done to them by the world community. I tell you it is being done to them by their own leader. He could have turned that key."
"That man has traded the welfare of 22 million people for his preference to have a biological weapons program."