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Burma: Sanctions

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on a UN arms embargo against Burma; and when this subject will next be raised at the UN Security Council. (159114)

In his statement of 15 October, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said we will begin discussions with our partners about proposals for a UN arms embargo. We are taking this forward at official level.

No date has yet been agreed for further discussions in the UN Security Council, but we expect the Security Council to discuss Burma again when Professor Gambari, the UN Secretary-General’s envoy, returns from the region.

An EU arms embargo is already in place. In response to the Burmese Government’s failure to exercise restraint in their treatment of the demonstrations, on 15 October EU Foreign Ministers agreed to implement stronger restrictive measures against that regime. The EU is prepared to review, amend or reinforce these measures in the light of developments on the ground.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the effectiveness of the new package of EU sanctions announced in the EU Council Conclusions on Burma/Myanmar on 15 October will be (a) monitored, (b) assessed and (c) reviewed; and if he will make a statement. (159867)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The EU monitors and evaluates sanctions through its range of geographical and thematic working groups. For Burma, the relevant working group is the Committee for Asia (known as COASI). Formal legal reviews of EU sanctions are also undertaken by the Foreign Relations Counsellors Working Party (known as RELEX).

We will be working closely with all our European partners to ensure that this new package of EU sanctions will be properly monitored, assessed and reviewed, which includes addressing any risk that goods might be diverted or re-exported to Burma. The EU is prepared to review, amend or reinforce measures in the light of developments on the ground.

We are discussing a range of broader measures with our EU colleagues that target sources of revenue for the regime, but do not hurt the civilian population. We do not exclude introducing a total ban on future investment if the regime does not make concessions on dialogue.

Whether the EU measures against the Burmese regime are strengthened or relaxed in future will depend on the regime’s willingness to allow a real political transition to begin.