ORGANIZATION FOR THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
5 route des Morillons, CP 2100. 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Telephone & Fax: 788.62.33
ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fifty - sixth session ( 20 March - 28 April 2000)
9: Question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in
any part of the world
of human rights in Iraq
Few weeks ago, two senior United Nations humanitarian
officials submitted their resignation to the Secretary-General of this
great institution that represents humanity’s aspirations in this
difficult and dangerous time. These
two distinguished officials are UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq,
Mr. Hans von Sponeck, and Ms. Jutta
Burghardt, Director of the UN World Food Programme for Iraq.
Both officials explained to the media through several press
conferences that they submitted their resignation in protest against the
policy of “oil for food” which resulted in a true humanitarian
tragedy for the Iraqi people.
Although the American spokesman for the State Department
expressed happiness and relief for the departure of Mr. Sponeck because
of his repeated criticism of the embargo measures and the sanctions
imposed on Iraq, the French foreign ministry spokesman, on the other
hand, expressed France’s respect and recognition for the efforts Mr.
Sponeck exerted, and admitted that Mr. Sponeck’s assessment of the
humanitarian situation in Iraq was consistent with the documented
reality on ground as reported by observers currently present in Iraq.
Apparently, the conscience of the two UN international
officials who resigned could no longer bear the overwhelming silence and
indifference to the tragedy caused by the Security Council resolutions.
A tragedy whose victims are the Iraqi people from every
denomination and background, and whom for a decade, have had to pay
dearly for unjust Security Council resolutions based on collective
punishment and resulting in unbearable human suffering.
Mr. Sponeck made public statements saying that the “oil for
food” programme does not meet nor satisfy the basic needs of the Iraqi
people. Also, that a
significant part of the Security Council resolution of last January
cannot be implemented. That’s
because there is ambiguous and perhaps even intentional mixing of civil
humanitarian considerations (which are the main objectives) with
American and British political policies concerning disarmament of Iraq.
He wondered how long the tormented Iraqi people would remain
subjected to this game of dirty politics!
It is also worthwhile to mention that the former UN
Coordinator at the “food for oil” programme had submitted his
resignation as well two years prior to Mr. Sponeck’s resignation and
had made similar statements as those made by him.
Nonetheless, the American spokesman for the State Department,
supported by similar British reiteration, added no insight into the
problem except America’s insistence to continue imposing the sanctions
on Iraq. Although everyone
knows that these sanctions have been in vain after ten years of American
desperate and questionable attempts to carryout its underhanded
political will. An ill will
which we think does not truly represent the American people’s spirit
which is reflected through random acts of kindness as depicted in
episodes of rescuing cats on tree branches and dolphins drifting ashore
by the tide.
International public opinion bears American and British
politicians the responsibility for the tragic humanitarian consequences
especially the dangerous and dramatic rise in the rate of child and
infant mortality due to the sanctions imposed.
In the view of international public opinion, no means to an end
can ever justify this horrific burden of human sacrifice.
International public opinion which unquestionably denounced
Iraq’s involvement in a neighboring country, is unaware yet of the
true and essential reasons that made Iraq react in this manner.
Hence, until the whole truth is revealed, international public
opinion is being misled into compliance without prior determination of
or speculation into the alleged enormity of Iraq’s doing and whether
it is worth starving and killing children in a series that has lasted
for ten years. In fact,
there is wide deluding and deliberate obscuring of the subject by the
Many international offenses and mistakes made by leaders and
peoples throughout human history have taken place up to
modern/contemporary time. Some
of these offenses and mistakes violated native American Indians, black
Africans, Hiroshima victims, the massacre of Jews and gypsies in Europe,
Britain’s illegal drugs scandal in China, the western use of depleted
uranium (DU) weapons of mass destruction during the Gulf War by USA and
Britain, and the Israeli bombing of civilians in Lebanon and destruction
of its infrastructure which is still taking place.
Nonetheless, the international community did not ever go as far
in its retaliation as starving a nation of people for days and months
and years and killing children without mercy or sympathy.
Recently, we heard that seventy American congressmen called
for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq.
People of goodwill have waited for this step, which genuinely
conveys the great human spirit that transpires every now and then in our
This is the impressive and remarkable human spirit, which
should prevail in our human society in order to achieve peace on earth
and revive brotherhood and sisterhood throughout its regions.
The resignation of Sponeck, Burghardt, and former senior UN
officials in protest against the human tragedies befalling the Iraqi
people due to the repressive sanctions should alert those whose numb
conscience has been robbed of its humanity.
Since the members of international non-governmental
organizations represent the people of the world, it is their obligation
to raise the consciousness and conscience of the human spirit.
NGOs must constantly and firmly call upon the human spirit since
without it no peace on earth can be achieved.
So let our strong joint appeal to the international community be
in this meeting today for the immediate lifting of sanctions which have
been imposed on the Iraqi people and the children of Iraq, once and for
all, as of today and not tomorrow.