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Assessing the Lawfulness of Non-military Enforcement: The Case of Economic Sanctions, Proceedings of the 89th Annual Mtg. of ASIL 350 (1995)


I was dispatched to Haiti three times in the course of the military dictatorship there. As a human rights observer, I was able to travel widely through Haitian Hispaniola and to meet people in every social stratum, from General Cedras, his staff and their wealthy supporters, through to the poorest people in the countryside; and I was able to benefit from the insights of observers in the diplomatic corps and the NGO community. From the fIrst moment, it was apparent to me, as I believe it would have been to anyone who had the opportunity to see things on the ground, that the techniques the international community had selected to expel the usurpers-economic and propagandistic sanctions- were not working and could not work. The wealthy elite and the military command were waxing rich off the contraband industry the economic sanctions had spawned. The rest of the population, which had been deprived of its popularly elected government and whom we were supposed to be helping, was-without exaggeration-starving to death. The shard of social and economic infrastructure that had survived the Duvaliers and the indistinguishable succession of their would-be clones was rapidly decomposing. I need not elaborate; you are all familiar with the details. Incredibly, the response of the international community to this situation was to tighten and intensify the economic sanctions, make the diplomacy more threatening and the propaganda more shrill. That, of course, only made things worse. Finally the world came to its senses. The economic instrument ceded place to the military instrument and an invasion was mounted. It worked in days, if not hours. It probably would have worked even more quickly, thoroughly and economically had it been done sooner.

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