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International Herald Tribune statement

The following statement appeared in a full-page advertisement in the International Herald Tribune newspaper on 20th March 2002, signed by over 250 public figures and organisations.


We, the undersigned, representing a wide international consensus, demand the immediate lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq.

The sanctions regime imposed on the people of Iraq for over a decade is one of the great injustices of our time. It has brought starvation and disease to millions of innocent Iraqis. UNICEF has shown that economic sanctions have contributed to the death of half a million children. For the period 1990 to 2000, UNICEF found that of 188 countries surveyed, Iraq suffered the worst change in mortality levels amongst children under five years old. Child mortality rates in Iraq actually more than doubled during the decade.

This is not simply a crime against the children of Iraq and millions of Iraqi families. It is a violation of internationally recognised human rights and humanitarian standards.

Plunged into mass poverty, Iraqis need jobs and living wages. The UN Security Council's own 'Humanitarian Panel' concluded in 1999 that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq will continue until there is a 'sustained revival of the Iraqi economy'. Yet the sanctions are designed to damage the Iraqi economy and prevent such a revival.

The 'smart sanctions' proposed by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, and the latest Security Council resolution on Iraq, are still economic sanctions . Although they are claimed to ease restrictions on humanitarian imports, they do not allow the economic revival so desperately needed . No foreign loans, no foreign investment, no access to foreign exchange, and no Iraqi exports other than oil are permitted under the resolution. Nor will resources become available for teachers and civil servants, or for the rehabilitation and upkeep of the shattered infrastructure, hospitals and schools. The proposed 'smart sanctions' are not the solution to the economic and social catastrophe facing ordinary Iraqi citizens, but a grim perpetuation of a failed policy.

We demand an end to the suffering. The global conscience demands an end to the economic sanctions NOW.


View list of signatories.


UNICEF half a million deaths statistic: UNICEF press release of 12 August 1999 (CF/DOC/PR/1999/29), accompanying the preliminary results of the 1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys , included the following paragraph:

Ms. Bellamy [UNICEF Executive Director] noted that if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under-five in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to 1998. As a partial explanation, she pointed to a March statement of the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues which states: "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war."

UNICEF under five mortality rates comparison: Internal UNICEF document based on figures from UNICEF's 'The State of the World's Children 2001'. For Iraq's 1990 under five mortality rate, see this page on UNICEF's website.

UN Humanitarian Panel report quotation: appears in paragraph 58 of the Humanitarian Panel report (Annex II of UN document S/1999/356).

The "latest Security Council Resolution on Iraq" is SCR 1382.