fyi - hope this not duplicated, best, f.
World Conference on
"Lifting the Sanctions Imposed Upon Iraq"
7-9 October, 2001
Commodore Hotel -Le Meridien
The Middle East Council of Churches organized an international conference on "Lifting the Sanctions Imposed Upon Iraq." This was convened in Beirut from the 7th to the 9th of October, 2001. Forty individuals participated: religious leaders (both Christian and Muslim), delegates from governmental organizations, and representatives of international, regional and local humanitarian organizations. They came from countries in the Arab world, Europe and North America.
Under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of State, Mr. Bishârah Marhaj, the conference opened with an address by Bishop Kyrillos Bustros, President of the Middle East Council of Churches for the Catholic family. He was followed by Dr. Nundhir al-Allûsî, member of the Office for Foreign Affairs of Iraq's Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. He, in turn, was followed by Mr. Hans Von Sponeck, formerly the United Nations' coordinator for humanitarian assistance in Iraq. Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour, General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches then spoke, and the conference patron, the Minister of State, Mr. Bishârah Marhaj, concluded the opening session.
Over the next two days of the conference, participants listened to presentations and testimonies concerning the effects of the sanctions on Iraq over the past eleven yeas. They discussed working papers and documents on the Iraqi sanctions that have been in place for over eleven years. What these sanctions have produced is an increase in human suffering, the undermining of healthcare and the standard of living, and what these have caused in the way of a rising mortality rate that has seen over one and a half million Iraqis die, the majority of whom are children and infants.
Participants also discussed what means may be used to lift the Iraqi sanctions in a final manner, and to bring this humanitarian disaster - the effective genocide of the Iraqi people - to a halt. It must be considered an explicit violation of international covenants and agreements, rendering the human conscience sleepless.
Although the regional and international environment was overburdened with crisis and violent acts, the debates and discussions of the conference proceeded in an atmosphere of harmony, openness and frankness. For this reason representatives turned to the events in Palestine, expressing their encouragement for the Palestinian Intifâdah that stands up against the Israeli occupation. They called for the cessation of the daily violence mounted by Israel. They also for Palestinians being enabled to recover their occupied land and all their legitimate rights that include their right to found their own state with its capital in Jerusalem.
Given the current international environment, especially that created by the battle against terrorism, the participants condemned the terrorist attacks against the American people in New York and Washington. They spoke for evolving a clear definition of terrorism that, on the one, hand distinguishes between blind terrorism that strikes at innocent civilians (a type of violence that can only be condemned), and, on the other hand, patriotic resistance which any people may pursue in order to assert their legitimate rights, to liberate occupied land, and to defend themselves.
The participants also called upon the international community, through its official organizations, to take upon itself the issue of combating terrorism so that no one state or coalition of states may exercise its own methods in combating terrorism without adhering to the international laws and covenants, and to ensure that the innocent are not punished for the crimes of the guilty. Justice cannot be achieved through vengeance. That way the use of armed force only breeds a blind and violent response. Furthermore, religions should not be exploited to fuel political and economic conflicts. Finally, the international community must not content itself only with repressing the manifestations of violence, but also must work toward irradicating its causes - poverty, injustice, oppression and other things of that nature.
Returning to the issue of lifting the Iraqi sanctions, the conference expressed the following decisions and made the following recommendations:
1. It is necessary to lift the oppressive sanctions against Iraq immediately and without preconditions. Any decision that does not mean and final end to the suffering of the Iraqi people - such as that called "smart sanctions" or the "oil for food and medicines deal" - is essentially no solution to that suffering nor is it, as this conference proclaims, a substitute for ending the sanctions and bringing an end to the plundering of Iraq's national wealth in the name of compensations and other objectives.
2. The United Nations is asked to revise the constitution of the International Court of Justice in a manner that enables it to investigate the persecution of states through decisions by the Security Council. In particular this relates to those decisions issued under article seven of the UN's charter.
3. The conference demands that Anglo-American aggression and aerial bombardment within the no-fly zone in northern Iraq and in the south of the country end forthwith. These acts are illegal. The conference also demands that neighboring states forbid aggressive aircraft the use of their bases and facilities.
4. The conference calls upon Arab and international airlines to resume regularly scheduled flights to and from Baghdad without seeking the prior agreement of Committee 661. There is no international decision that forbids civilian airlines from flying to Iraq. The conference also welcomed the initiatives of Arab and foreign delegations who have helped break the illegal air embargo.
5. The conference applauds the stand taken by Arab states and states in other parts of the world to reject the notion of "smart sanctions." It calls upon them to work at lifting and terminating the sanctions by taking unilateral action, and thereby bring to an end the suffering of the Iraqi people.
6. The conference called for organizing a world day of solidarity with the Iraqi people. This would be the 13th of February every year in memory of the massacre in the 'Âmariyyah shelter in Iraq.
7. The conference expressed its thanks to the Middle East Council of Churches for the efforts and services it has expended since 1991, not least of which being its relief and development program in Iraq. Thanks are also its due for maintaining fraternal relations with other ecumenical councils throughout the world, and for informing them about what is really happening in Iraq. This is particularly significant given the fact that western media for the most part obscure the facts or ignore them or even pervert them. The conference also encourages western delegations to visit Iraq to see first hand the situation there. Finally, the conference urged the General Secretariat of the Middle East Council of Churches to create a committee to follow up on the above recommendations.