The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Revised letter to Peter Hain

Dear CASI:

I rewrote my letter. This is the version I'll send.



Peter Hain, MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

From: Dr. Eric Herring

                                                        29 September 1999

Dear Mr. Hain:

Sanctions on Iraq

I saw you on Newsnight on 22 September, and was very 
concerned about many of the claims you made during that 
programme. They were claims which the Foreign and 
Commonwealth Office has been making for quite some time 
despite repeated refutations from many independent and UN 

I would like to mention briefly just two here.

First, you drew a parallel with the case of South Africa 
(on which you were a wonderful campaigner). However, there 
are important differences, most notably that it is 
extremely unlikely that ordinary Iraqis are in favour of 
the sanctions, and the scale of suffering in Iraq due to 
the sanctions (partly due to the fact that the were 
accompanied by an economically devastating war) is 
dramatically higher.

Second, it is true that conditions in the north of Iraq 
which is UN-controlled are much better than the centre and 
south of the country where the programme is administered 
directly by the Iraqi government and monitored by the UN. 
The dispute is over what explains that contrast. Taking the 
standard FCO line, you attributed all of the suffering to 
Saddam Hussein and none to the sanctions. However, UNICEF 
explicitly rejects this: 

        the difference in the current rate [of child 
mortality] cannot be attributed to the differing ways the 
Oil-for-Food Program is implemented in the two parts of 
Iraq. The Oil-for-Food Program is two and a half years old. 
Therefore it is too soon to measure any significant impact 
of the Oil-for-Food Program on child mortality over the 
five year period of 1994-1999 as reported in these surveys. 

Caroline Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, says there 
are a number of reasons for the difference - sanctions have 
been more easy to evade in the north, agriculture is easier 
there, and it has been receiving aid for a much longer 
period.  Indeed aid began arriving in the north in 1991 
whereas it began to arrive in the rest of the country only 
in 1997, and in large quantities only from the spring of 
1998. In addition, according to Richard Garfield, a 
Columbia University epidemiologist who has studied the 
effects of the sanctions on Iraq,  the north gets 22 per 
cent more per capita from the oil sales programme; gets 10 
per cent of the funds raised in cash (unlike the centre and 
south which gets only commodities); and gets aid from 34 
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) compared to eleven in 
the centre and south.  On this basis, the narrative that 
the difference is caused by harsher sanctions rather than 
harsher Saddam is much more plausible.

        It is clear that Saddam Hussein could do a lot more 
to cut the infant mortality rate in the centre and south 
(for example through targeted nutrition programmes). 
However, though he is undoubtedly vile, this does not prove 
that he is deliberately keeping infant mortality high. The 
UN consistently lambasts both sides for not doing more. 
Kofi Annan stated in May 1999: ‘more can be done ... to 
address the unacceptably high levels of child and maternal 
mortality, particularly in the south and centre of Iraq, 
through expedited implementation of targeted nutrition 
programmes and expeditious approval by the Security Council 
Committee of applications in water and sanitation and other 
key sectors such as health, which have a direct bearing on 
the unacceptably high malnutrition levels.’ Similarly 
Executive Director of the UN Ofifce of the Iraq Programme 
Benon Sevan complained to the Security Council in July 1999 
that 'The improvement of the nutritional and health status 
of the Iraqi people through [a] multi-sectoral approach ... 
is being seriously affected as a result of [the] excessive 
number of holds placed on supplies and equipment for water, 
sanitation and electricity.' Just as we must not jump to 
the conclusion that those Security Council members 
responsible for the holds are deliberately keeping infant 
mortality high, so we must not jump to the conclusion that 
Iraq is deliberately keeping infant mortality high. Both 
would require much more direct, as opposed to ambiguous and 
disputed circumstantial evidence. Furthermore, even if the 
Iraqi government did optimise the effectiveness of its 
humanitarian programmes, the situation would still be dire: 
the UN has stated repeatedly and consistently that the 
scale of resources envisaged in the oil sales programme is 
totally inadequate. 

In addition to being briefed by the FCO, I strongly urge 
you to seek independent counsel on these matters. Please 
find enclosed a research paper which I hope will be of some 
value to you and which deals with many of these and other 
issues. I will be continuing to do research on the 
sanctions on Iraq in the next few years and would be happy 
to supply you with further material.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Eric Herring

Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT
the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list
*** Archived at ***

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]