16 Restrictive measures against Zimbabwe|
|Common Position amending Common Position 2008/135/CFSP renewing restrictive measures against Zimbabwe
|Legal base||Article 15 EU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration||EM of 15 January 2009
|Previous Committee Report||None; but see 29110 HC 16-xxix (2007-08), chapter 12 (10 September 2008)
|Discussed in Council||26/27 January 2009 General Affairs and External Relations Council
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
16.1 In 2004 the EU adopted Common Position 2004/161/CFSP. This
imposed an arms embargo, assets freeze and travel ban, with certain
exemptions on Zimbabwe. Council Common Position 2008/135/CFSP,
adopted on 18 February 2008, extended Common Position 2004/161/CFSP
until 20 February 2009. The new Common Position did not include
any amendments or additional measures; the Annex listing the individuals
subject to targeted measures was updated (two names were added;
the names of two individuals amended; the name of one deceased
individual was removed).
16.2 The objective of these restrictive measures
is to encourage the targeted persons to reject policies that lead
to suppression of human rights, of the freedom of expression and
of good governance. The measures are to be monitored and modified
as necessary according to whether the objectives have been met
in the context of political developments in Zimbabwe.
16.3 In the first part of 2008, the EU and wider
international community condemned the events in Zimbabwe surrounding
the Presidential elections.
16.4 Most recently, in an Explanatory Memorandum
of 26 August 2008, the then Minister for Europe at the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (Mr Jim Murphy) said that a further package
of targeted measures was needed "to provide an incentive
to the Mugabe regime to engage earnestly on a mediated political
process leading to free and fair elections"; the 22 July
GAERC had accordingly adopted Common Position 2008/632/CFSP which:
the criteria for the asset freeze and travel ban which were different
in Common Position 2004/161/CFSP;
tightened the exemptions to the travel
ban to make it more difficult for designated individuals to attend
inter-governmental meetings in Europe; and
listed a further 37 individuals and,
for the first time, 4 entities who will be subject to the targeted
16.5 The Minister recalled that, in April 2008, EU
partners had agreed to discuss a further package of measures should
the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate. He regarded this further
agreement as important, by signalling to the Zimbabwean regime
that the EU represented a united front and were prepared to take
further measures if no progress on the democratic process was
reached; failure to agree this follow-up would have been interpreted
by the Zimbabwean regime as a weakening of the EU position and
would have been capitalised upon, especially since attempts to
get sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe at the UN were vetoed by
China and Russia.
16.6 The Minister stated that the UK had pressed for
tough new sanctions on Zimbabwe following the "stolen election"
in March 2008; discussions in Brussels had not been "straightforward",
but the Common Position represented a first step in this process.
The Government strongly supported the designation of further individuals
associated with the Zimbabwean regime and its campaign of violence
during the election campaign; all were specifically targeted because
of their involvement in repressive policies or activities in Zimbabwe
(which included beatings, torture, corruption and misappropriation
of resources); and the new listings showed that the EU was prepared
to act against those that actively disrupted the democratic process.
The UK had led in discussions at the EU to act for the first time
against entities associated with the regime; targeting them would
maintain pressure on the regime to engage in serious negotiation.
16.7 At that time, the then Minister felt that it
was still too early to gauge the impact of the recently extended
travel ban and assets freeze on further individuals and entities;
however, he felt that "the fact that Mr Mugabe is even negotiating
with the opposition leader does show that he is reacting to international
pressure". Stating that the UK had "led the debate in
the EU to tighten the restrictions to the travel ban exemptions",
and that this debate "was complicated because Member States
which host international organisations have obligations to permit
access under international law", the then Minister said that
while the Government "did not achieve the blanket ban we
we did succeed in making attendance at future
inter-governmental meetings in Europe subject to a consensus decision
The Government had also, he said, "again pressed hard for
the GAERC conclusions
to threaten further appropriate measures in September if there
is no improvement to the situation on the ground"; the Government
favoured "tougher sanctions targeted on the economic interests
of the regime" and would "use upcoming Ministerial opportunities
to secure support for this approach if there is no progress in
the mediation process." The Government was also "considering
the feasibility of disrupting the operation of specific regime
front companies", which he defined as "parastatals that
have direct links to the Government of Mugabe and are engaged
in active support for his policies". The then Minister concluded
by noting that:
"To date, an agreement has yet to be reached
in the mediation talks between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.
Should there be no agreement, we believe pursuing further measures
in the autumn represents the best realistic option for applying
pressure on the regime."
16.8 Following its meeting on 22 July 2008 (on which
day the House rose for the summer recess), the Committee wrote
to the Minister, acknowledging the need for further targeted measures,
having been forewarned by him on 18 July 2008 of the likelihood
of such measures being adopted at the 22 July GAERC.
16.9 At its meeting on 10 September 2008, the Committee
subsequently cleared 2008/632/CFSP, which it reported to the House
because of the widespread interest in the situation in Zimbabwe.
The draft Common Position
16.10 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 15 January
2009, the Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (Caroline Flint) recalls the "stolen election"
in Zimbabwe in March 2008 and the subsequent Government pressure
for further targeted restrictive measures to be imposed on Zimbabwe.
The Minister says that:
"After a proposed power-sharing deal in
late Summer 2008, the EU refrained from imposing further measures
to permit progress to be made between Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai. However little progress has been made, and the social,
economic and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated.
"The draft Common Position extends the restrictive
measures (arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban) for a further
year. It also lists a number of individuals and entities associated
with the Zimbabwean regime who have contributed to, or are complicit
in, activities that seriously undermine democracy, respect for
human rights and the rule of law. For all those listed, it has
been considered necessary and proportionate to impose financial
and travel restrictions and where entities have been designated,
it has been assessed that the restrictions will have minimal economic
impact on ordinary Zimbabweans and could not justifiably be portrayed
as 'economic sanctions'."
16.11 The Minister concludes by saying that the draft
Common Position is due to be considered at the General Affairs
and External Relations Council on 26 and 27 January 2009.
16.12 Although no questions arise, we are reporting
this further extension because of the widespread interest in the
House in developments in Zimbabwe.
16.13 We now clear the document.
76 In a separate letter to our counterparts in the
House of Lords, the Minister explained that Member States may
now only justify granting exemptions from the travel ban on the
grounds of: urgent and compelling humanitarian need; or, in exceptional
circumstances, on the grounds of attending intergovernmental meetings,
including those promoted by the EU, where a political dialogue
is conducted which will make a direct, immediate and significant
contribution to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in
Available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/gena/101956.pdf;
see pages 11-13. Back