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Today's Washington Post carried a letter strongly defending Hans Von Sponeck, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. This letter was a response to Assistant Secretary of State's James Rubin's criticisms, which are finally on record. Both the defense and Rubin's earlier comments are below. Count Von Sponeck, by the way, knows full well the penalties for challenging brutal authority: his father was among those German officers who tried to kill Hitler during World War II. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA ### http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-11/08/049r-110899-idx.html DOING HIS JOB ADMIRABLY Monday, November 8, 1999; Page A20 State Department spokesman James Rubin impugned the integrity and professionalism of a dedicated civil servant when he charged that Hans von Sponeck, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, exceeded his authority by criticizing the Security Council's sanctions policy and by investigating civilian casualties from U.S.-British bombing raids in Iraq's "no-fly" zones [news story, Nov. 3]. During my career in the U.S. Foreign Service, I served with Count von Sponeck. He was U.N. Development Program resident representative to Pakistan during the administrations of two corrupt prime ministers, and he regularly challenged both about their failure to deliver basic resources to social development. This is not common practice for the senior U.N. diplomat in a major capital. Count von Sponeck also has been blunt and critical with his counterparts in the Iraqi government, including the highest levels of the Iraqi leadership. When Mr. Rubin says, "Mr. von Sponeck has undermined the role of the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq," he means that the count has not been an advocate for Pentagon policies. When Mr. Rubin says, "We do not have confidence in his leadership of this effort," he means that Count von Sponeck is not an advocate of allied air-war efforts in Iraq. At a time when much of the world worries that Western policies toward Iraq punish the poor and the defenseless for the horrors of their leaders, we should be pleased to have such a capable and effective advocate for the disenfranchised. JOHN STUART BLACKTON Cairo The writer is an adviser to Egypt's Ministry of Justice. ##### (Note: State Department briefings are available by drilling-through the calendar at the following address: <http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/index.html>. The following segment is snipped from <http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/9911/991105db.html>) --- QUESTION: Earlier this week you leveled some criticism against the UN humanitarian relief official in Iraq, Mr. Von Sponeck. Could you please restate, for the record today, what the US is unhappy about as regards his performance, and what do you hope or expect to see happen as a result of this public criticism? MR. RUBIN: The statements that I made accurately reflected our views as to his shortcomings in his current post, and they basically fall into three categories. First of all, on the direct question of, is he managing and leading the humanitarian Oil-for-Food Program effectively, we think that he has not been as forceful and as direct as he should be, in confronting the Iraqi Government, with the fact that enormous quantities of food and medicine remain in warehouses, undistributed. And then the Iraqi Government proceeds to complain that there are effects on its own population, when it is not distributing the food and medicine that has been purchased. We think Mr. Von Sponeck has not been direct and forceful in pushing the Iraqi Government to release that food and medicine, distribute it so that its own citizens can get the food and medicine it needs. Secondly, the Security Council has imposed a sanctions regime on Iraq, imposed nine years ago. The Security Council has repeatedly - that is, all the countries of the world, acting through the Security Council -- has repeatedly reaffirmed that sanctions policy, with the ban on imports and exports that it entails. So the world has spoken; the Security Council has spoken; and we do not believe it is appropriate for a UN official, whatever private views he's entitled to have, to challenge the position the United Nations Security Council has taken about the wisdom of the sanctions regime. That decision has been made, and to question it exceeds his competence and authority. Thirdly, he has issued reports about subjects he knows even less about, which is the effect of civilian casualties throughout Iraq in the no-fly zones. He has relied almost exclusively on Iraqi reports for what damage was done, even though we have a nine-year history of Iraq using elaborate propaganda and misrepresentation in such cases. And one shouldn't rely on an Iraqi account of what happens in any circumstance related to the United States or the United Nations relations with Iraq. So those are our views. Our views are obviously strongly held. We do not believe that this gentleman deserves to be leading this important effort. We will continue to make our views known to Secretary General Annan, and we will continue to make our views known to him that there are a number of areas where he is very poorly advised on the situation in Iraq, with respect to other aspects. -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***