USA*ENGAGE Disappointed in Declaration of National Emergency

Tuesday, 20 May 1997

IEEPA allows the president to declare a national emergency when there is an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States. Since 1993, the United States has utilized IEEPA to declare or continue 37 "national emergencies." During the same period, the U.S. has imposed a total of 61 unilateral sanctions on 35 nations.

"IEEPA was designed to give the president the authority to protect America from foreign threats. While many of these emergency declarations are appropriate - particularly those related to terrorism and other genuine threats to our national security - it is extremely difficult to see how Burma represents an extraordinary threat to the United States," Kittredge continued. "Today's action is unnecessary, and will only serve to continue the proliferation of unilateral economic sanctions as a primary tool of U.S. foreign policy."

"The U.S. too often relies on 'go it alone' sanctions that rarely influence foreign governments in a constructive way, yet always undermine the competitiveness of American interests -- to the benefit of our foreign competitors. Unfortunately, the use of IEEPA declarations has made it easy to impose sanctions with little congressional scrutiny.

"The evidence is clear that engagement is almost always more effective than unilateral sanctions in promoting positive change. Unilateral sanctions carry many costs - for American workers, farmers and companies, and for American cridibility. It is time to start judging sanctions not on emotional or political grounds, but by whether they will actually help advance our national interests and accomplish our foreign policy goals. In our view, only a handful of the dozens of unilateral measures sdopted by the U.S. in recent years come close to meeting this test," Kittredge concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a broad-based coalition representing 490 small and large American businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations. The organization supports American engagement overseas as the best means to promote human rights, values and American interests. Coalition members are undertaking a sustained effort to support greater overseas involvement by the United States at all levels -- political, diplomatic, economic, charitable, religious, educational and cultural -- and to seek alternatives to the use of unilateral economic sanctions.


Contact: Eric Thomas or Kim McCreery at 202-822-9491