Resolution of Leeds University Union: non-military sanctions on Iraq

Annual General Meeting, 8th February 2001

[CASI Internet version prepared 15th April 2001]

Proposed by: Ahmed Al-Ani. Seconded by: Parminder Singh.

This AGM of LUU Notes that:

  1. The UN imposed economic sanctions on 6th August 1990, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
  2. The stated purpose was to bring the invasion to an end.
  3. In March 1991 a UN mission to Iraq reported a situation of 'near-apocalyptic' destruction in the wake of the Gulf war with 'most means of modern life support...destroyed or rendered tenuous.'
  4. A decision was still made to maintain sanctions on 3rd April 1991 in UN Security Council resolution 687; this also modified the terms of the import embargo to permit food and 'supplies for essential need.'
  5. Resolution 687 created a new set of obligations that Iraq had to meet in order for sanctions to be lifted. This included destruction of its chemical, biological and long-range weapons and an acceptance of liability for all war-related losses and damages.
  6. UN resolution 712 of l9th September 1991 allowed for a partial lifting of the embargo which would have enabled Iraq to sell some oil and to use its proceeds for humanitarian purposes. In return, Iraq would have been subject to strict UN monitoring of the contacts and distribution of humanitarian goods bought with the oil revenue.
  7. The proceeds from the oil-for food sales are paid into a UN managed bank account. The programme runs in 6-monthly phases. For the first six phases the UN imposed an artificial cap on the value of oil sales permitted under the programme. A resolution on l7th December 1999 finally removed the cap. There was never any humanitarian rationale for the existence of a cap since the Security Council controls the bank account, approves every purchase contract and monitors the distribution of supplies inside Iraq.
  8. First oil for-food resolution/UN resolution 706 was adopted on l8th August 1991. By then an estimated 47,000 excess deaths among children under five years of age had already taken place (data collected by a Harvard-based international study team during August 1991).
  9. A July 1991 UN report had estimated that it would cost $22bn to restore power, oil, water, sanitation, food & Health. The same report produced an estimate of $6.86bn over a year period, for a cost of bringing about a situation of 'greatly reduced social services.'
  10. 706 and its successor 712 (l9th September 1991) capped sales at $3.2bn a year, for which 30% was to be deducted for payment to the compensation fund.
  11. A US official explained oil-for-food was 'a good way to maintain the bulk of sanctions and not be on the wrong side of a potentially emotive issue' [Independent, 24th July 1991].
  12. UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator Hans von Sponeck stated that the oil-for-food totals less than 70 cents per day per person. FAO estimates that there are 800,000 children with chronic malnutrition. Chronic malnutrition caused by inadequate public health infrastructure (destroyed by the war and sanctions) and inadequate family purchasing power (unemployment and currency devaluation caused by sanctions).
  13. The reason for the sanctions was for the weapons to be destroyed. In March 1991 former head of UN weapons inspections team in Iraq said 'Today, Iraq no longer possesses arms of mass destruction.'
  14. 'Iraq (now) simply lacks the stocks of chemical and biological agent needed to have any militarily significant effect. Tens and thousands of munitions would be required, and at best Iraq has but a few hundred' [Scott Ritter - former UN Weapons Inspector and US Marine].
  15. Raymend Zalinskas a former UN Weapons Inspector has said that inspectors had wiped out any possible chemical and biological sites in Iraq by 1995. 'UNSCOM has destroyed all the chemical facilities, and also all known chemical weapons. In the biological area, UNSCOM has destroyed biological weapons facilities.'
  16. Denis Halliday, former head of oil-for-food programme in Iraq has said '(End the sanctions) because of the harm they are doing to the people of Iraq. What we are doing is incompatible with the UN charter and any programme that does the damage that it does is unacceptable.'
  17. On l4th February 2000 the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq Hans von Sponeck resigned in protest of the sanctions. In his resignation statement von Sponeck said 'How long can the civilian population be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done? 'The way out is to lift the embargo, and delink the disarmament discussion from the humanitarian discussion.'
  18. On the l8th September 2000 Rt Hon Menzies Campbell MP in his address to the Liberal Democrat conference said 'it should now become the policy of the British Government that sanctions other than those directly relevant to military or military related equipment should be lifted...Non-military sanctions do not hurt President Saddam Hussein and the elite who surround him.

The AGM of LUU Believes that:

  1. Open and equal access to education, food, safe water and decent medical care regardless of nationality or race is an essential component of a civilised society.
  2. That all non-military sanctions on Iraq are at core a war against the health of ordinary families in Iraq: they are destroying a society.
  3. That all people have a right to a democratically elected leader.
  4. That the sanctions have affected the lives of millions, including some members of the union.
  5. This is an internationalism issue that we must educate people about.

This AGM of LUU Resolves to:

  1. Raise awareness amongst students of the issues surrounding economic sanctions on Iraq.
  2. Have members of executive and council to write to the Lords, local MPs etc urging them to support the lifting of all non-military sanctions and encourage other members of the union to do so also.
  3. Work with NUS and Leeds University in informing students of actions we are taking.
  4. To campaign against the non-military sanctions imposed on Iraq.
  5. Support fund-raising activities in and around the Union in aid of the people of Iraq.