Amnesty International UK SECTION



 Working Party A - Mandate and Strategy


This AGM:

Noting that AI recognises that international humanitarian organisations have provided evidence that the physical integrity of Iraqi civilians is being threatened at last partially as a result of the UN sanctions, blockades and embargoes imposed on that country, with the continuing effect of causing thousands of excess deaths every month, totally hundreds of thousands since 1990 (AI index: MDE 14/010/1999);

Noting that AIís policy on this matter permits it to "express its concern" and mention the recommendations of other organisations, but falls short of letting AI make specific judgements or issue its OWN recommendations for action in any given case; that is, AI still officially takes "no position" whether or not civil rights are violated by specific sanctions, blockades and embargoes;

Noting that AI could oppose human rights abuses that arise from sanctions, blockades and embargoes but continue to take "no position" on sanctions, blockades and embargoes in general;

Decides that AI should campaign urgently on the issue of human rights abuses arising from particular sanctions, blockades and embargo regimes where there is sufficient evidence from internationally recognised organisations.

AND that the UK Section will therefore press the International Executive Committee (IEC) to urgently extend its definition of how AI can "express its concern" to include making its OWN recommendations and judgements on abuses that occur, and to permit actions based on these recommendations.


An amendment proposed by the Board was DEFEATED. THE MOTION WAS CARRIED WITHOUT AMENDMENT.
 Working Party B - Actions and Campaigns


This AGM:

Noting that AI has stated that the organisation strongly supports the position of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that human rights "must be taken into account when designing an appropriate sanctions regime", and that "effective monitoring should be undertaken throughout the period that sanctions are in force", and that those imposing sanctions must take measures "to respond to any disproportionate suffering experienced by vulnerable groups within the targeted country.

Noting that Amnestyís International Secretariat has approved the production and dissemination of a petition to the members of the UN Security Council expressing concern "about the humanitarian situation in Iraq since the imposition of UN economic sanctions in 1990", in particular "the reported deaths of thousands of children under the age of five", and that the petition urges the members of the Security Council of the UN to "give urgent attention to the recommendations of its own Humanitarian Panel and other UN agencies and take all necessary measures to protect the rights of the civilian population."

Noting that Amnestyís acknowledgement and public statements of concern about the evidence of large scale human suffering in Iraq provided by organisations such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation, and the urgent need for this suffering to be addressed;

Decides that a copy of the petition to the members of the UN Security Council regarding the effects of sanctions on Iraq should be sent to all local groups for action as they see fit;

This AGM welcomes the petition to the members of the UN Security Council and instructs the Board to make urgent representations to the Security Council on behalf of the AGM and to publish an article on the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi people in the Journal.


An amendment proposed by the Board to delete paragraph 4 was not accepted as friendly and was defeated overwhelmingly.



WHEREAS Amnesty International USA section passed a motion in the terms attached in its AGM in March 2000, and;
  1. That motion refers to the implementation of International Humanitarian law to Amnesty Internationalís work on Iraq and resolved that some economic measures are a violation of International Humanitarian law and fall within Amnesty Internationalís mandate and;

  3. Resolved that the board of AIUSA should ask that the International Executive Committee to write a letter to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General calling on the UN to de-link economic measures from military sanctions in the terms stated.

ENDORSES that motion and ASKS the Board of AIUK section to write to the International Executive Committee expressing support for the AIUSA Sectionís motion and requesting them to write a letter to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General in similar terms.

Proposerís Notes

The resolution passed the AGM of AIUSA in the middle of March this year refers to particular articles of international humanitarian law, which have been referred to by AIIS when it has released public statements about the bombings being carried out by UK/USA forces in Iraq and the humanitarian crisis faced by the general population as a result of the imposition of UN sanctions.

In its report Iraq: Victims of Systematic repression Index [MDE 14/10/99] Amnesty International states: that various UN agencies have documented the devastating effect of sanctions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO); and that the UN sanctions have crippled Iraqís economic infrastructure resulting in the breakdown of the fabric of society, acute poverty and malnutrition and the reported deaths of over half a million children under the age of five.

The report also says: Amnesty International strongly supports the position of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that "inhabitants of a country do not forfeit basic economic, social and cultural rights by virtue of any determination that their leaders have violated norms relating to international peace and security".

This motion calls upon the IEC to write to the UN Security Council to separate and de-link certain economic measures (e.g. foodstuffs, medicines and medical equipment, water purification and electricity generating equipment) from measures preventing the importation of military equipment, since the former are effectively prevented at present.

Resolution regarding application of International Humanitarian Law to AIís work on Iraq

WHEREAS: Amnesty Internationalís mandate calls on it to promote awareness of and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments; and

WHEREAS: Amnesty International takes no position on the use of force to resolve the international disputes. However, acknowledging the ongoing armed interventions in Iraq, it has called on the government of the United States and its allies to ensure the maximum protection of civilian lives under international humanitarian law. Ai specifically cited the Fourth Geneva Convention and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, stating that the fundamental principle of the protection of civilians is part of customary international law and therefore binding on all states; and

WHEREAS: The effects of two wars and continued bombings by the United States and the UK have inflicted serious damage on the infrastructure of Iraq, including water purification, oil production and communication facilities, thus amplifying the impact of the economic embargo and diminishing the effectiveness of the humanitarian aid that does reach Iraq. While exact numbers and proportionate assignment of blame vary, research by several international organisations and UN agencies indicates that these economic measures effectively have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians Ė particularly children. Three top UN officials responsible for administering the food and aid programmes have resigned in protest that the limitations of the importation of food, medicine and other items indispensable to the survival of the civilian population have led to these deaths; and

WHEREAS: While Article 41 of the United Nations Charter authorises the Security Council to decide on "measures not involving the use of forceÖ" including economic measures, these measures were created to be used in lieu of armed intervention. These measures cannot be applied during armed interventions without conforming to international humanitarian law; and

WHEREAS: Article 54 of Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions, states:

  1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.

  3. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive;" and
WHEREAS: Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

WHEREAS: An AIUSA Resolution called on AI take all possible steps within its existing mandate to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that some economic measures including the embargo on the importation of food stuff, medicines, and spare parts to repair water purification and electrical generating equipment, and other items essential for civilian life, in the context of armed interventions, are a violation of International Humanitarian Law, and therefore fall within Amnesty Internationalís mandate; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AIUSA Board ask the International Executive Committee to write a letter to the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General calling on the UN to de-link the economic measures from the military sanctions by lifting restrictions on the importation of basic food stuffs, medicines and parts to repair water purification and electrical generating equipment, and other items essential for civilian life and that this letter be made public.

Submitted by: David Schoon (GULRAN Co-ordinator)

Seconded by: Jill Knight, Iraq Co-ordinator


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