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Diplomacy in Action

95. Ambassador Bolton letter responding to "The Black Hole of the U.N. Blacklist" (October 6, 2006)


U.N. Rightly Imposed Sanctions on Terrorists

David Crawford’s Oct. 2 Politics & Economics article “The Black Hole of a U.N. Blacklist” is short on fact and long on opinion; It should have appeared as an editorial. The U.N. Security Council has rightly imposed sanctions on hun­dreds of al Qaeda members and the Taliban. These sanctions have made it harder for terrorists to acquire weap­ons, move freely around the world, and finance their plots. Member states have frozen $150 million in terrorist assets, which Mr. Crawford fails to acknowl­edge.

Mr. Crawford’s central argument is that terrorists are stripped of their assets without hearings or the right to appeal. He profiles three men under U.N. sanc­tions for supporting al Qaeda and high­lights that none of them has been crimi­nally convicted by a court. Obviously, the U.N. is not a court, and sanctions are not a criminal punishment. Terrorist designations made by the Security Council are based on international security and pol­icy considerations, and they are de­signed as a preventive tool to cripple ter­rorists and their networks.

Mr. Crawford is wrong when he claims that individuals under U.N. sanc­tions cannot appeal the decision. In the United States, those designated have the right to challenge the decision through administrative channels or by turning di­rectly to the court system, and many have done so. However, every challenged designation has been upheld by U.S. courts, including at the appellate level. The U.N. has also lifted sanctions, in cases where the individual severed his ties to al Qaeda.

Mr. Crawford is also wrong in stating that the Security Council does not de­bate designations. In fact, they are de­bated extensively, usually over a period of many months. By way of example, we approved sanctions for Saad al-Fagih, a known associate of Osama bin Laden, Abdelghani Mzoudi, a member of the Hamburg cell that planned 9/11, and Ma­moun Darkazanli, a known al Qaeda financier. These are the same three people Mr. Crawford cites to prove the system is broken. I believe they prove the sys­tem is working. Mr. Crawford would have known these facts if he had called the U.S. Mission to the U.N. to ask. But he didn’t.

John R. Bolton
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
New York

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