Merchant of Death
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The Ineffectiveness of the UN Travel Ban Lists
Well, if we needed further evidence of the lack of effectiveness of the United Nations travel ban lists (supposedly obligatory lists that ban the individual from traveling from his/her home country), we need look no further.

Just ask Gen. Mohammad Basqer Zolqadr, a Iranian Revolutionary Guard general and deputy interior minister. He publicly and happily violated the UN ban with a recent official visit to Russia. He not only traveled to Russia unimpeded despite being on the recently-mandated ban under Resolution 1747 because of his role in Iran's nuclear program, but he bragged that the six-day sojourn showed just how ineffective the resolution is.

"Despite resolution 1747 which imposed a travel ban on some members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, including me, I traveled to Russia and no restriction was applied," Zolgadr crowed on returning home.

He is right. Without real international cooperation, the ability to violate the travel ban lists with impunity only add to the problem they are supposed to be tackling. Once those on the list understand there are no penalties attached to violating the international norm, their stature grows and that of the controlling body diminishes.

Unfortunately, one of the primary countries that has shown no willingness to enforce the international sanctions it has backed for public consumption on the Security Council, is Russia. Like so many cases in recent weeks (Somalia, Lebanon, Iran), Russia has shown no regard for international law or anything other than mercenary considerations in its weapons sales and

Among those who routinely violate the travel ban in Viktor Bout, who resides in Moscow, but has traveled to Europe (Moldova and elsewhere), Beirut, Cyprus and other points.

However, Russia is not alone. Yousef Nada, Idriss Nasreddin and other leaders of the international Muslim Brotherhood, under the same restrictions for their support of Islamist terrorism, travel unfettered around the globe.

Sometimes they use different passports, but often they do not even have to bother to do that. Nada visited Liechtenstein to try to change the names of some of his shell companies after his assets were frozen. Nasreddin travels around Africa, where his supposedly-frozen businesses still thrive.

The problem with non-functional international sanctions is that no one is ever punished for not adhering to them. So the impunity of those who violate them simply make the enacting body a laughing stock. Without international cooperation, coordination and willpower, the efforts will not work. And there is very little of any of the above.

This is true in asset freezes, travel bans, name and shame campaigns and other measures the U.N has tried to take. If no one pays attention to enforcement, it is better to not enact them.

To my knowledge, and officially up to 2005 no one reported stopping anyone on an international travel ban list trying to enter any country. That is a pretty abysmal record.

If people's whose names are on lists can travel unimpeded, one can only imagine the ease with which those whose names are not on any list move. If we won't stop the known bad guys from moving, how will we track and stop the unknown bad guys? Most likely we will not.
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