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http://scripts.ireland.com/search/highlight.plx?TextRes=sanctions&Path=/news paper/newsfeatures/2001/0728/nf4.htm Saturday, July 28, 2001 UK envoy fails to justify Iraq sanctions ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- --- The British government stands rightly accused of inflicting misery on the people of Iraq, argues Hans von Sponeck , a former United Nations official there On January 27th, 2000 the British House of Commons released a document. Prepared by a group of MPs from all parties, it concluded that the "blunt instrument" of economic sanctions against Iraq essentially had failed to achieve its objectives. Instead it had inflicted enormous human costs on innocent civilians. Since then much evidence from reputable institutions such as the Red Cross, Caritas, Care, UNICEF and others has been added to substantiate what the MPs had pointed out and what had caused two UN officials in charge of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, Denis Halliday and myself, to resign. Our resignations were in protest over a flawed international Iraq policy and the conversion of the UN from an instrument of conflict resolution to an instrument of conflict promotion. This reality makes it hard to understand why the British Foreign Office does not equip its ambassadors better to argue their case. The British ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts, in his letter (The Irish Times, July 21st) uses the same misleading and easily refutable lines of past British argument read elsewhere. It is correct that $23.5 billion was approved for humanitarian supplies. What Sir Ivor does not mention is that less than $11 billion had actually arrived in Iraq during a four-year period - only about $100 per person per year. Sir Ivor's government also knows that the unusually complicated procurement mechanism maintained under sanctions causes delays and slippage in the use of funds. His government knows why allocations for health and education budgets fluctuate from phase to phase. Sir Ivor repeats what his government has often and simplistically advanced as an explanation for better conditions of life in the Kurdish areas outside Baghdad's control. The British Foreign Office knows, too, that it is not simply a case of Baghdad's absence. Sanction regulations are applied in these areas much more loosely. Cash can be disbursed and local procurement is possible. The Kurdish areas on a per capita basis get a larger share of oil revenue for their programmes. The hilly Kurdish region has a more temperate climate and therefore a better epidemiological situation. There are many NGOs active, unlike elsewhere in Iraq, and there is substantial cross-border trade with Turkey and Iran. Sir Ivor should have mentioned these factors when explaining why the Kurdish areas are better off. He refers to Iraq's "illegal" income from the sale of oil outside the oil-for-food programme. He is correct in his criticism that some of these funds are spent on luxuries and not on education and health. These, however, are minimal amounts. His government is surely aware that in Iraq, like anywhere else, it costs money to run a nation. Sanctions make no provision for any recurrent cost budget. I am not at all an apologist for the government of Iraq when I ask where should funds come from for the payment of civil servants, teachers' salaries, for the up-keep of schools and hospitals, for roads, bridges and other infrastructure. But depriving Iraq of such "extra" income to defray legitimate national costs, as proposed by the UK/US "smart" sanction resolution, would have indeed done what Sir Ivor argues it would not: choke legitimate civilian trade and humanitarian assistance. Fortunately, the UN Security Council last month decided to shelve this initiative. My hope is that this will clear the path for dialogue and end the dreadful battle between Iraq and a US/UK-led UN Security Council, fought on the backs of the Iraqi people. Until this happens, I am afraid, Sir Ivor, the UK will be rightly blamed for prolonging an agony. Hans von Sponeck is a former Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq Nathaniel Hurd Iraq Sanctions Project (ISP) Associate Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) 162 Montague Street, 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA Tel.: 718-237-9145, x 21 Fax: 718-237-9147 Mobile: 917-407-3389 Personal E-Fax: 707-221-7449 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.cesr.org/isp *The contents of this message may contain personal views which are not the views of ISP, unless specifically stated* -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk