The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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At their recent Annual General Meetings, the USA and UK sections of Amnesty International passed resolutions regarding the organization's response to the human rights violations arising from the UN sanctions against Iraq. The AIUSA resolution is attached, and the AIUK resolutions follow as text. AS I WILL EXPLAIN MORE FULLY FOLLOWING THE TEXT OF THE UK RESOLUTIONS, THESE RESOLUTIONS DO NOT REPRESENT THE POLICY OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. WE ARE ONLY TWO SECTIONS OF AN INTERNATIONAL GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT. WE DO NOT ACT INDEPENDENTLY OF THE ORGANIZATION: WE FORMULATE OUR OWN VISION OF WHAT THE ORGANIZATION SHOULD DO, THEN MAKE OUR CASE AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL. THESE RESOLUTIONS ARE AN INDICATION OF THE VIEWS OF THE MEMBERSHIP IN THESE TWO SECTIONS. IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHAT THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE WILL DECIDE. >------------------- >AIUK AGM >Motion A2 > >NOTING That AI recognises that international humanitarian organisations >have provided evidence that the physical integrity of Iraqi civilians is >being threatened at least partially as a result of the UN sanctions imposed >on that country, with the continuing effect of causing thousands of excess >deaths every month, totalling hundreds of thousands since 1990 (AI index: >MDE 14/010/1999); > >NOTING That AI’s policy on this matter permits it to "express its concern" >and mention the recommendations of other organisations, but falls short of >letting AI make specific judgments or issue its OWN recommendations for >action in any given case; that is, AI still officially takes “no position” >whether or not civil rights are violated by sanctions, blockades and >embargoes; > >NOTING that AI could oppose human rights abuses that arise from sanctions, >blockades and embargoes but continue to take "no position" on sanctions, >blockades and embargoes in general; > >DECIDES That AI should campaign urgently on the issue of human rights >abuses arising from particular sanctions regimes where there is sufficient >evidence from internationally recognised organisations; > >And that the UK section will therefore press the International Executive >Committee to urgently extend its definition of how AI can "express its >concern" to include making its OWN recommendations and judgments on abuses >that occur, and to permit actions based on these recommendations. > PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY --------------- ------------------- >AIUK AGM >Motion B3 > >NOTING that it is the policy of Amnesty International to strongly support >the position of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights >that human rights “must be taken into account when designing an appropriate >sanctions regime”, that “effective monitoring should be undertaken >throughout the period that sanctions are in force”, and that those imposing >sanctions must take measures “to respond to any disproportionate suffering >experienced by vulnerable groups within the targeted country”; > >NOTING that Amnesty’s International Secretariat has approved the production >and dissemination of a petition to the UN Security Council expressing >concern “about the humanitarian situation in Iraq since the imposition of UN >economic sanctions in 1990”, in particular “the reported deaths of thousands >of children under the age of five”, and that the petition urges the Council >to “give urgent attention to the recommendations of its own Humanitarian >Panel and other UN agencies and take all necessary measures to protect the >rights of the civilian population”; > >NOTING Amnesty’s acknowledgement and public statements of concern about the >evidence of the large scale human suffering in Iraq provided by >organisations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, and the >urgent need for this to be addressed; > >DECIDES That a copy of the petition to the UN Security Council regarding >the effects of sanctions on Iraq should be sent to all local groups for >action as they see fit; > >This AGM welcomes the petition to the members of the UN Security Council and >instructs the Board to make urgent representations to the Security Council >on behalf of the AGM and to publish an article on the impact of sanctions on >the Iraqi people in the Journal. PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY >----------------------- >--------------------- > AIUK AGM Emergency Motion EM3 Whereas Amnesty International USA section passed a motion in the terms attached in its AGM in March 2000, and: 1) That the motion refers to the implementation of International Humanitarian law to Amnesty International's work on Iraq and resolved that some economic measures are a violation of International Humanitarian Law and fall within Amnesty International's mandate and; 2) Resolved that the board of AIUSA should 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 economic measures from military sanctions in the terms stated. THIS AGM: ENDORSES that motion and ASKS the board of AIUK section to write to the International Executive Committee epressing support for the AIUSA Section's motion and requesting them to write a letter to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General in similar terms. [AIUSA motion was then attached] PASSED -------------------- Background on AI's mandate: Amnesty International has a very specific and limited mandate. Our active mandate (on which we do research and mobilize our international membership to act) is to work for the release of prisoners of conscience (those imprisoned because of their race, gender, religion, political views, and other non-violent expression), for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners, and against the use of torture and execution in all cases. We also work in a more general sense to promote international human rights instruments, and the values enshrined in them. This promotional work is much more limited, and we do not conduct research or actively campaign on it. In keeping with this mandate, Amnesty International does not and never has taken a position on war or economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool. This is not to minimize the importance of the devastating consequences that can arise, but simply a matter of us sticking to what we do. There are many human rights beyond those on which Amnesty actively campaigns. There has been much discussion about what AI can and should do regarding these sanctions, which are so unprecedented. It has been difficult to determine how AI can take a position on these sanctions without first changing its policy on sanctions in general, and setting standards for our involvement in reviewing all sanctions regimes. Amnesty is an international, grassroots organizations with a democractic structure. There is no one person or entity within this organization that can just decide to change things. Change does not happen quickly. This situation may indeed cause us to make changes which set standards for our involvement with sanctions. Until then, we do what we can, and keep trying to find ways to do more. If you would like to see AI news releases regarding Iraq, I recommend you take a look at the AIUSA Iraq webpage: http://amnestyusa.org/countries/Iraq Beth Ann Toupin AIUSA Iraq Country Specialist