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Amnesty International

fyi friends,

AI USA passed the following recommendation at their Annual 
General Meeting last week:



WHEREAS:  Amnesty International’s mandate calls 
on it to promote awareness of and adherence to 
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 
other internationally recognized human rights 
instruments; and

WHEREAS:  Amnesty International takes no 
position on the use of force to resole international 
disputes.  However, acknowledging the ongoing 
armed interventions in Iraq, it has called upon the 
governments of the United States and its allies to 
ensure the maximum protection of civilian lives 
under international humanitarian law.  AI 
specifically cited the Fourth Geneva Convention 
and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva 
Conventions, stating that the fundamental principle 
of the protection of civilians is part of customary 
international law and therefore binding on all 
states; and

WHEREAS:  The effects of two wars and continued 
bombings by the United States and the United 
Kingdom have inflicted serious damage on the 
infrastructure of Iraq, including water purification, 
oil production, and communication facilities, thus 
amplifying the impact of the economic embargo 
and diminishing the effectiveness of the 
humanitarian aid that does reach Iraq.  While exact 
numbers and proportionate assignment of blame 
vary, research by several international 
organizations and UN agencies indicates that 
these economic measures effectively have resulted 
in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians 
particularlychildren.  Three top UN officials 
responsible for administering the food and aid 
programs have resigned in protest that the 
limitations on the importation of food, medicine and 
other items indispensable to the survival of the 
civilian population have led to these deaths; and

WHEREAS:  While Article 41 of the United Nations 
Charter authorizes the Security Council to decide 
on “measures not involving the use of force…” 
including economic measures, these measures 
were created to be used in lieu of armed 
intervention.  These measures cannot be applied 
during armed interventions without conforming to 
international humanitarian law; and

WHEREAS: Article 54 of Protocol I Additional to 
the Geneva Conventions, states:
Starvationof civilians as a method of 
warfare is prohibited.
It  is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove 
or render useless objects indispensable to the 
survival of the civilian population, such as 
food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the 
production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, 
drinking water installations and supplies, and 
irrigation works, for the specific purpose of 
denying them for their sustenance value to the 
civilian population or to the adverse Party, 
whatever the motive, whether in order to 
starve out civilians, to cause them to move 
away, or for any other motive; and

WHEREAS:  Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva 
Convention states:  “No protected person may be 
punished for an offense he or she has not 
personally committed.  Collective penalties and 
likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism 
are prohibited.” 

WHEREAS:  A 1999 AIUSA Resolution called on 
AI to take all possible steps within its existing 
mandate to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

economic measures including the embargo on the 
importation of foodstuffs, medicines, and spare 
parts to repair water purification and electrical 
generating equipment, and other items essential 
for civilian life, in the context of armed 
interventions, are a violation of International 
Humanitarian Law, and therefore fall within 
Amnesty International’s mandate; and

Board ask the International Executive Committee 
to write a letter to the UN Security Council and the 
UN Secretary General calling on the UN to de-link 
the economic measures from the military sanctions 
by lifting restrictions on the importation of basic 
foodstuffs, medicines and parts to repair water 
purification and electrical generating equipment, 
and other items essential for civilian life, and that 
this letter be made public.

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