Monday, January 21, 2013

ASIC Registration complete


The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has today approved our registration as an Australian Registrable Body, which means we now have official recognition as an incorporated entity with authority to operate throughout Australia and its Territories.

Our ARBN is 162 022 979.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sanctions do more harm than good


Article by CIWI Member Ramesh Thakur, published in
The Australian
January 4, 2012
(Access published article here)


SANCTIONS became popular as a bridge between diplomacy and force for ensuring compliance with UN demands, yet their track record in ensuring compliance is pitiful. They inflict pain on citizens while imposing questionable costs on leaders.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan acknowledged that "humanitarian and human rights policy goals cannot easily be reconciled with those of a sanctions regime". Sanctions all too often are a poor alibi for, not a sound supplement to, a good foreign policy. They are ineffective, counterproductive, harmful to the economic interests of those imposing sanctions, damaging to relations with allies, morally questionable, yet difficult to lift once imposed.

The target country can choose from a range of sellers in the international market place. Iran has progressively shifted its trade patterns from North America and Europe to Asian partners and is now exploring Latin American prospects. It is virtually impossible to secure universal participation in embargoes and difficult to police their application in participating countries. The incentive to make large profits by circumventing sanctions is more powerful than the motive for enforcing them, and a variety of means and routes exist to camouflage sanctions-busting contacts: think AWB and Saddam Hussein.

Sanctions offer an easy scapegoat for ruinous economic policies: economic pain is simply blamed on hostile and ill-intentioned foreigners. Sanctions create shortages and raise prices in conditions of scarcity. The poor suffer; the middle class, essential to building the foundations of democracy, shrinks; the ruling class extracts fatter rents from monopoly controls over the illicit trade in banned goods. Moreover, scarcity increases the dependence of the population on the distribution of necessities by the regime, giving leaders yet more leverage over their people.

Once imposed, ineffectual sanctions fall into a termination trap. Sanctions on Cuba remain in place, not because they serve any purpose, not because they are achieving their original goals, but because of the power of a domestic electoral lobby with a crucial swing vote in Florida.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, the highest-ranking member of Iran's political elite living in the US, notes that since the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in 2006 "the number of centrifuges increased eight times. Instead of one enrichment facility, Iran now possesses two facilities. Additionally, the fact the unilateral US sanctions are not readily reversible exacerbates Iran's scepticism about Washington's real intentions behind sanctions and removes any incentives for co-operation with the West".

Support for sanctions rests in their image as a humane alternative to war. Yet they cause death and destruction through structural violence -- starvation, malnutrition, the spread of deadly diseases, curtailed access to medicines -- that can exceed the cleaner alternative of war. John Mueller and Karl Mueller argued in Foreign Affairs that sanctions caused more deaths in the 20th century than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

Sanctions have succeeded sometimes, including persuading Libya to give up on weapons of mass destruction. National drug regulators will ban any drug that betrays, say, a 10 per cent serious side-effect. Yet with sanctions we seem prepared to tolerate an 80 per cent failure rate, some with grave consequences.

Sanctions have failed to change policy and behaviour in Fiji (the New Year concessions are not due to sanctions), North Korea, Burma, India and Pakistan (for the 1998 nuclear tests), Iran or Cuba. China and Russia are too big to punish; Pakistan, central Asia and Turkey (for its invasion of Cyprus) are too-valuable allies to be sanctioned. Perversely, we did impose sanctions on Vietnam for ridding us of the monstrous Khmer Rouge.

Not one of the five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-licit nuclear powers has been sanctioned for violating Article 6 obligations to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Nor have any of the three belligerent countries for their illegal aggression against Iraq in 2003. In the 1980s, the UN imposed sanctions on Libya for the Lockerbie bombing, under US pressure, while Washington promoted the military officer responsible for shooting down a commercial Iranian aircraft.

Remarkably, no Western country has ever been subjected to any coercive action, economic or military, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Is Chapter 7, then, a tool to be used only by the West against the rest, provided they are weak and vulnerable non-allies such as Burma, neither a major power with clout like China nor an ally like Israel? And will such an equation continue to be acceptable standard operating procedure with the centre of gravity of the emerging global order shifting east and south?

Against this formidable list of non-sanctions, dubious sanctions and the failure of sanctions, the list of successful outcomes of sanctions policies is thin and patchy. France used it successfully against New Zealand in punishment for those who sunk the Rainbow Warrior being tried, convicted and imprisoned: how dare they! Sanctions advocacy relies on an ideological faith in the instrument quite disconnected from the mass of evidence since before World War II -- Italy in Abyssinia -- that point to their futility rather than utility.

The trend to smart sanctions that impose travel bans on leaders and freeze their overseas bank accounts and assets shows that we can learn. But even their success remains to be proven.

Ramesh Thakur is professor of international relations in the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, and adjunct professor in the Institute for Ethics, Governance, and Law, Griffith University

Name change approved


We have today received advice from Consumer Affairs Victoria that our application to change the name of our organisation has been approved, so we are now registered under the Victorian Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 as “Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry Inc.”

The need for a name change arose because, in response to our application to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for registration as a Registrable Australian Body, which our Victorian-registered body requires in order to enable it to operate nationally, ASIC advised:

In accordance with subsection 601DC(1) of the Corporations Act 2001, ASIC is unable to register the body for the reason(s) outlined below:

The name in the opinion of ASIC, in the context in which it is proposed to be used, is unacceptable as it is considered to suggest a connection with a department, authority or instrumentality of the government of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of Australia.

We are now in a position to re-apply to ASIC for registration as a Registrable Australian Body, which we expect to do next week.

Australia strengthening sanctions against Iran


Comment by Paul Barratt

It is ironic that, as announced in this morning’s edition of The Age (see here), the world champion payer of kick-backs to Saddam Hussein now has "key responsibility" for enforcing sanctions against Iran - the "crippling sanctions” which Hillary Clinton in particular has been so keen to see from the moment she became Secretary of State.

This development causes me considerable sadness because during the early years of the Islamic Revolution and into the 1980s I was involved as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade, reporting to a very strong Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister) Doug Anthony, in decisions that, unlike most Western countries, we would maintain diplomatic relations with Iran, would keep our Embassy open, and would keep the Trade office therein open. We maintained business as usual throughout the most turbulent years of the revolution, including during the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis. We managed to maintain the principle that the Australian national interest was separate and distinct from anyone else's national interest, and a matter for us to decide, right up to the George W. Bush era when the Howard Government threw it all away (and in so doing reduced our usefulness to our American ally as well as ourselves).

It causes me pain also because we are participating in sanctions which

(1)  Have no valid basis. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and the only legitimate objective for the international community is to get Iran to live up to its obligations under the Treaty (permit effective IAIA inspections), not to force them to abandon enrichment.

(2)  Will produce no useful outcome. Iran simply will not agree, for reasons of history and national interest, and some reasons specific to the history of its nuclear relations with the West – see my November 2009 post on Australia Observer which summarises the reasons why.

(3)  Accordingly, will impose poverty and misery on ordinary Iranians without producing any useful outcomes, even by the standards of those who want to force Iran to abandon the pursuit of an independent nuclear fuel cycle.

It remains the settled view of the US Intelligence Community that Iran has not as yet decided to embark on acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

These sanctions are about US politics, not international security, and indeed they are more likely to undermine international security by raising the likelihood of conflict breaking out unintentionally.  To take just one scenario, read my April 2009 post Choke point: the Strait of Hormuz.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Proposed new name


Today Iraq War Inquiry Group Inc. held a Special General Meeting to consider a proposed name change.

The need for a name change has arisen because, in response to our application to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for registration as a Registrable Australian Body, which our Victorian-registered body requires in order to enable it to operate nationally, ASIC advised:

In accordance with subsection 601DC(1) of the Corporations Act 2001, ASIC is unable to register the body for the reason(s) outlined below:

The name in the opinion of ASIC, in the context in which it is proposed to be used, is unacceptable as it is considered to suggest a connection with a department, authority or instrumentality of the government of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of Australia.

In response to this situation, at today’s Special General Meeting members voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to change the name of the organisation to “Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry”.

The next step will be to apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria for the name change, following which we will re-apply to ASIC for registration as a Registrable Australian Body.