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a) UN Report: Iraq Sanctions Ineffective, "Unequivocally Illegal". b) U.S. Reponds.

Tuesday, a report for the UN Subcommission on Human Rights stated that
economic sanctions against Iraq have led to "a humanitarian disaster
comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decades."   The report also
notes that for the Security Council to continue with sanctions while knowing
they caused an untold number of Iraqis to die was "unequivocally illegal"
under international law.

The U.S. has now responded "angrily", and this story is attached as well.

Thanks to Rania Masri for the original post of what could be a major (and
extremely useful) report ...  And if anyone succeeds in tracking down
Bossuyt's full document, could they please post the link ASAP?  Thanks!

Tuesday August 15 3:28 PM ET

U.N. Report: Sanctions Ineffective 

By NAOMI KOPPEL, Associated Press Writer 

GENEVA (AP) - Economic sanctions aimed at changing government policy are
usually ineffective and often illegal under international law, according to
a U.N.-commissioned report released Tuesday.

``The theory behind economic sanctions is that economic pressure on
civilians will translate into pressure on the government for change. This
theory is bankrupt both legally and practically,'' said the report by
Belgian law professor Marc Bossuyt.

The worst case is Iraq, where 10 years of U.N. sanctions driven by the
United States and Great Britain has led to ``a humanitarian disaster
comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decades,'' Bossuyt said in
his report for the U.N. Subcommission on Human Rights.

Bossuyt said the Security Council's decision to continue sanctions while
knowing they caused an untold number of Iraqis to die was ``unequivocally
illegal'' under international humanitarian law.

The 40-year U.S. trade blockade on Cuba, which caused its people to suffer,
was also illegal on humanitarian grounds, Bossuyt said.

He said sanctions should carry a time limit to achieve an aim, and should
not be targeted at civilians. Alternatives include freezing the foreign
assets of the ruling elite, and bans on imports of luxury goods.

Bossuyt's report comes amid a growing movement to end the sanctions in Iraq
on moral grounds. Varied calls to end the sanctions have come from the
Vatican, U.S. peace activists, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, former
weapons inspector Scott Ritter, and two former U.N. humanitarian
coordinators, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who resigned in protest
of the sanctions policy.

On Tuesday, the current head of U.N. humanitarian programs in Iraq, Benon
Sevan, said an oil-for-food program that allows Iraq to sell limited amounts
of oil for some humanitarian goods and to fund Gulf War reparations and U.N.
operations can never be a substitute for normal economic activity in Iraq.

Others are more critical.

In the May/June 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, American political
scientists John Mueller and Karl Mueller said economic sanctions in Iraq,
which they call the true ``weapons of mass destruction,'' are far more
deadly than the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that the sanctions
are aimed at eradicating.

Strict trade sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait are
being kept in place until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq is free of
weapons of mass destruction.

Aid distribution under the oil-for-food program has been plagued by delays
as members of the Security Council, particularly the United States, raise
questions about whether items ranging from sprinkler parts to agricultural
chemicals could have military uses.

As a result, some medicines and basic equipment such as chlorinators to
purify drinking water are forbidden by the sanctions. Bad water has created
an epidemic of dysentery and infectious diseases, resulting in thousands of
child deaths.

UNICEF said the number of child deaths has doubled since the sanctions.

US hits at UN expert calling Iraq sanctions illegal  
GENEVA, Aug. 17 - The United States lashed out angrily on Thursday at a
U.N.-commissioned report by a Belgian international law professor that
called the U.N. trade sanctions against Iraq illegal.     
       In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Subcommission that is currently
meeting in Geneva, Marc Bossuyt said the sanctions, which were imposed on
Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, were ''unequivocally illegal.'' 
       Bossuyt also said in his report that the sanctions were to blame for
a humanitarian disaster in Iraq ''comparable to the worst catastrophes of
the past decades.'' 
       George Moose, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told
the U.N. forum that Bossuyt's claim that the sanctions were illegal was
''incorrect, biased and inflammatory.'' 
       ''The United States has worked hard to ensure that the welfare of the
Iraqi people is protected, in stark contrast to the appalling behaviour of
an Iraqi regime which has shown itself to be completely insensitive to the
suffering of its own people,'' Moose said. 
       The United States strongly opposes any lifting of sanctions which
have now entered their 11th year, and maintains that Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein is responsible for the suffering of his people. 
       Iraqi officials say that a U.N. oil-for-food deal that allows Baghdad
to pay for essential food and medicine supplies through crude oil exports,
but has been dogged by delays, has done little to alleviate the people's
       Iraq has rejected a U.N. resolution which could ease the sanctions if
Baghdad allowed the return of international arms inspectors checking on
weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors have been barred since they left
Iraq on the eve of a U.S.-British bombing campaign in December 1998. 
 Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.  
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