28 June 2000
Student group briefs MPs on Iraq for sanctions debate
The Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq, a student society at the Cambridge
University, has issued a briefing to MPs on Thursday's sanctions debate
in Westminster Hall. The debate follows February's publication of the
International Development Select Committee's report on "The Future
of Sanctions". The debate will focus on this report and the government's
May response. As both the report and the response gave considerable attention
to the sanctions on Iraq, Thursday's debate is likely to as well.
"We ask some basic questions that any coherent Iraq policy must
answer", explains CASI's policy adviser Colin Rowat. "To our
knowledge, these have yet to be answered by the government. We hope that
Thursday's debate will provide an opportunity to do so. At the same time,
we must be aware that people have been asking good questions and reporting
on the damage inflicted upon innocent Iraqi civilians for nearly a decade.
Yet Britain continues to support the economic sanctions." In August
1999, Unicef estimated that an additional half million Iraqi children
under five had died over 1991 to 1998, about 171 a day.
CASI's briefing asks the government five questions:
1. to explain its optimism in December's Security Council Resolution,
publicly touted by the government as a breakthrough;
2. what its contingency plans are in the event that December's resolution
is less effective than hoped at relieving suffering in Iraq;
3. to comment on a recent statement by Richard Butler, the former chief
UN weapons inspector, who claimed that "sanctions as now applied
to Iraq have been utterly counterproductive for this disarmament purpose"
and called them "a bankrupt and harmful instrument";
4. whether it supports the European Parliament's call for the deliberately
ambiguous terms of December's resolution to be clarified; and
5. to explain the role of the 120 day waiting period in December's resolution.
CASI, founded in 1997, is a non-political organisation concerned exclusively
with the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions on Iraq. It does not
support Saddam Hussein's regime and is not opposed to military sanctions
on Iraq. In 1999 it organised the UK speaking tour of Denis Halliday,
the first UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, who resigned in 1998.
In November it hosted an international conference on the sanctions and
has now published the proceedings.