Report On the Activities of FI/OP: Sanctions Against Iraq

July 31 - April 18, 2000
Palais des Nations, Geneva

The sanctions against Iraq became a major issue at the August meeting of the UN Sub-Commission in Geneva. Speaking at the August 2000 session, the Permanent Delegate of the Dominicans at the UN. Philippe LeBlanc OP, made a strong statement on behalf of Franciscans International and Dominicans for Justice and Peace, asking the international community to bring an end to sanctions against Iraq. The call to end sanctions had also been made by Pope John Paul II and by the Synod of Bishops of Asia in 1998. Our statement asked the international community to take all means possible to bring an end to the sanctions which weigh heavily on the children of Iraq and to guarantee the respect of the rules of international humanitarian law in their regard.

Our statement which focused on the humanitarian concerns of the sanctions was delivered under item 11 of the agenda of the Sub-Commission which deals with the rights of children. It set the climate for the ensuing discussion which included a debate on a working paper by a Belgian expert Marc Bossuyt on the adverse consequences of economic sanctions. In reaction to Bossuyt's paper, Sub-Commission members made strong statements condemning the sanctions against Iraq from a humanitarian perspective. Subsequently, the Sub-commission adopted two strong resolutions condemning sanctions on the basis of their humanitarian impact on the people of the country.

In spite of the devastating reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, the World health Organization, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Program and many NGOs, nothing has been done to put an end to the violations of the most fundamental rights of the children of Iraq. The humanitarian disaster is such that UNICEF reports that more than 500,000 children under five years old have died as a result of the embargo, between 1991 and 1995. and there are still 5000 children dying every month in Iraq.

The UN Sub-Commission adopted two strong resolutions on sanctions. During the debate on the first resolution ""Human rights and humanitarian consequences of sanctions, including embargoes"(E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/L.9), one of the independent experts Paulo Pinheiro (Brazil) stated publicly that a strong resolution was needed and that the UN Sub-Commission was in good company since Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Franciscans International, Cardinal Etchegeray and the Asian conference of Bishops had already made strong statements against the sanctions. The Sub-Commission adopted by consensus a second resolution entitled "Humanitarian situation in Iraq" (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/L.32).

Summary Links Sub-Commission 2000:
Mexico, Pakistan, Iraq, indigenous peoples, economic and social rights
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UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights: Fifty-second session
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UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights: Fifty-second session