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The latest annual report of the UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Max van der Stoel, on human rights in Iraq (referred to recently by Harriet in her postings), can be found at http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/ TestFrame/5d0983c1727027ac8025673f0056c924?Opendocument Since Van der Stoel's reports are frequently mis/cited by the UK government & its apologists, a few of my interpretative comments follow: Max van der Stoel has not been to Iraq since January 1992. He works entirely through the use of secondary material, reports, testimony &c. This is because the Iraqi government refuses to let him visit, contravening its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights. So whilst this fact does not look good on the Iraqi government, it casts some doubt on some of Van der Stoel's claims (as he himself acknowledges: §2). This also explains why so much of van der Stoel's reports are dedicated to the Kuwaiti missing persons (28 out of 88 paragraphs in this case). The first third of the report concerns extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, including the 'prison cleansing' campaign (2,500 prisoners have been executed since Autumn97); military action and the use of assassination against the population of the so-called Southern Marshes, and Shi'ites; and discrimination against Kurds. The next third concerns the right to food, health care, and the rights of the child. All the information here is collected from other UN reports, especially the Secretary-General's reports. Van der Stoel appears reluctant to apportion blame here; on the whole, he mentions the problems caused by the international embargo in the same breath as the inefficiency of the Government of Iraq: eg §43: " the greater needs among the population of the southern governorates ..... are not adequately addressed either under the terms of the "oil-for-food" programme or under other programmes administered by the Government of Iraq from its other resources." He repeatedly states that "all available resources have not been used to ensure the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights" (eg at §82), but of course this statement means nothing. Note that it is not within the Special Rapporteur's mandate to investigate abuses by other countries against Iraqi civilians. Nowhere does he (or has he, in his other reports) say that the suffering is primarily the Iraqi government's fault, as the UK government has claimed he said. Neither has he made any comments about the continuation of sanctions - he could not make such a comment, as his mandate is solely to investigate the Iraqi government's actions. He makes the following points: * The food basket has proved to be inadequate, with those in Southern Iraq probably suffering more; however, the quality is improving due to the government's recent addition of new foods to it. * The inadequate supply of medicine is "mostly because of poor procurement planning and stock management" (§34). He does not say why he believes this, and this conclusion cannot be derived from any of the other reports he cites. * Water supplies remain a major problem "because of the incompatibility between supplies delivered and contracts signed, and the lack of cash, transportation and qualified technicians required to implement the programme." (§35) * Medicine distribution remains inefficient (no causes are mentioned); however, in the case of "medicines for the treatment of leukaemia: there have so far been two contracts approved by the 661 Committee (under Phase III) which were only recently cleared for funding." (§41). * Criticism is levelled at the government of Iraq for not allowing UN humanitarian observers full access to sites, and preventing random interviews with Iraqi civilians. * Childhood diseases, malnutrition and increased early entering of the work market are recorded, but again, blame is not apportioned. The final issue dealt with is the remaining 622 cases of missing people from the invasion of Kuwait, 90% of whom are Kuwaiti. 6000 people who were taken by Iraq during the war have so far returned to Kuwait (largely through the Red Cross), and Iraq has given 'incomplete replies' about 112 others. ---------------------------------------- Glen Rangwala The Graduate Attic Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Free School Lane Cambridge CB2 3RQ Tel: 44 (0)1223 334535 Fax (shared): 44 (0)1223 334550 Home tel: 44 (0)1223 462187 ---------------------------------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html