Quotes by and about Denis Halliday

On the policy of sanctions on Iraq:

"...a totally bankrupt concept...It doesn't impact on governance effectively and instead it damages the innocent people of the country," [BBC]
In a recent interview with The Independent in Baghdad he said Iraq's infrastructure was collapsing and it would take 10 to 20 years to restore it. He said the obvious response was "to lift sanctions and pump in money" and humanitarian aid was "only Band-Aid stuff." [IND]
"We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral." [Independent, 15th Oct. 1998]

Sanctions as a United Nations policy:

"The incompatibility with the spirit and letter of the charter constitutes a tragedy for the United Nations itself, and severely threatens to undermine the UN's credibility and legitimacy as a benign force for peace and human well-being throughout the world." [CH]
The council needs a legal watch-dog, an international authority higher than the International Court so that its actions would ensure acceptable standards consistent with the United Nations Charter, the Declaration on Human Rights and the Rights of the Child. [IT]

Human casualties of the sanctions:

"The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed to me only ten days ago that the monthly rate of sanctions-related child mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand per month. They believe this is an underestimate, since in rural parts of Iraq children are not registered at birth, and if they die within six weeks of birth, they are never registered." [CH]
"I think six, or seven thousand [children dying per month] is a perfectly accurate figure. UNICEF supports that also." [JR]
"These figures on malnutrition are serious. We're looking at a country where 30% of its kids are malnourished, 20% probably chronically. That's generational damage. These children are never going to be the same, they're going to have mental and physical stunting. This is criminal activity. I don't think the UN should be associated with that, nor anybody else." [JR]

Impact of sanctions on families in Iraq:

"sanctions have had a serious impact on the Iraqi extended family system. We're seeing an increase in single-parent families, usually mothers struggling alone. There's an increase in divorce. Many families have had to sell their homes, furniture and other possessions to put food on the table, resulting in homelessness. Many young people are resorting to prostitution." [CH]

On the claim that the Iraqi regime does not care about its own citizens:

"That's absolute garbage, the fact is that before Saddam Hussein got himself into trouble in Iran, and then of course in Kuwait, they had invested massively in civilian infrastructure. Health care clinics, rural clinics, education, 10,000 schools scattered throughout the country, an educational and healthcare system which was the envy of all its Arab neighbours. Iraq had a very widespread food distribution system of its own before we got involved." [JR]

On the reasons for his resignation:

"Malnutrition is running at about 30 percent for children under 5 years old. In terms of mortality, probably 5 or 6 thousand children are dying per month. This is directly attributable to the impact of sanctions, which have caused the breakdown of the clean water system, health facilities and all the things that young children require. All of this is just not acceptable. I don't want to administer a program that results in these kind of figures. Sanctions are being sustained by member states, knowing of this calamity. I wanted to be in a position to speak out on sanctions and the dreadful impact that they are having on the people - particularly the children - and the future of Iraq." (ITT)

On disarming Iraq:

"I support a very active programme on disarmament and arms control for Iraq, and of course every other country in the world... That does not require economic sanctions...I think we've got to take the risk and give up economic sanctions while hanging on to the disarmament programme and allow the Iraqis to get on with rebuilding their country." [Rose]

On the political future in Iraq:

Mr Halliday argued that the "alienation and isolation of the younger Iraqi generation of leadership" did not bode well for the future. [BBC]
"[Sanctions are creating] a new generation of Iraqis that don't anything about the Western world, and are alienated against Europe, North America and the West generally. ... We're breeding a new type of Taleban in Iraq by forcing this alienation from what's going on in the world ... this is a very dangerous approach." [JR]

On the Gulf War damage to Iraq:

"I was taken aback by the decay and damage. [The coalition forces] very deliberately set about destroying the civilian infrastructure of the country. They went way beyond the military. They destroyed schools, and hospitals and bridges, and roads, places of employment, factories, consumer, industry and so on. That's left massive unemployment to this day. They destroyed railways, domestic airports, including not just the production of oil which they bombed and missiled again and again, but they also wiped out Iraq's capacity to produce potable water, the sewerage systems were heavily damaged, water treatment plants were damaged. It was a very all-comprehensive attack. And that is still rather apparent today." [JR]

On the recent (December 1998) bombing of Iraq:

Former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday said Thursday US-British air strikes on Iraq were "an absolute tragedy" for the people of Iraq. ... He said the bombing action had gone "way beyond" what the United Nations intended. ...Even if the entire civilian and military infrastructure was destroyed they could still continue to manufacture "appalling weapons," he said. ... The attacks were a "very short term solution with long term consequences," [AFP]


BBC On-line, 30th September 1998: ‘UN official blasts Iraq sanctions’
Speech delivered by Denis Halliday on Capitol Hill, 6th October 1998
Article by Denis Halliday published in The Irish Times, 19th Dec. 1998
AFP report: Friday December 18, 1:53 AM: ‘Former UN official in Iraq says bombing is "absolute tragedy"’
The Independent, 23rd July 1998. (‘UN official quits in row over aid to Iraq’, by Patrick Cockburn)
Transcript of interview of Denis Halliday by freelance journalist Jeremy Rose, 10th December 1998
Interview with In These Times, November 1998

[More about Denis Halliday's UK Speaker tour]