International Law and Interventionism
in the 'New World Order'. From Iraq to Yugoslavia
Selected papers from Madrid International Conference
"Interventionism against International Law: From Iraq to Yugoslavia.
Recoursing to economic sanctions and war in the New World Order"
Table of contents
INTRODUCTION: Arab Cause Solidarity Committee
PROLOGUE. ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON
THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ: FIRST DEGREE MURDER OR MANSLAUGHTER?
Denis J. Halliday
THE LEGAL AND HUMANITARIAN ACTIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS
AGAINST IRAQ PURSUANT TO THE GULF WAR
EMBARGO AS AN INTERVENTION MECHANISM AND A TOOL OF INNER
POLITICAL CHANGE: WHICH ARE THE PRIORITY, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OR CIVIL AND
SANCTIONS, STRIKES AND 'OIL-FOR-FOOD' PROGRAM: HUMANITARIANISM
OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER
THE USE OF FORCE IN THE NEW INTERNATIONAL ORDER: ON PROBLEMATIC
NATURE OF THE CONCEPT OF 'HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION'
LEGAL LIMITS ON THE POWER OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL AND
PROBLEMS OF REFORM
VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. THE UN'S
ROLE IN UPHOLDING THE PRINCIPLES OF ITS CHARTER
Emilia Horta Herrera
INTERVENTIONISM AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
Esperanza Orihuela Calatayud
NATO AGRESION AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA AS AN ASSAULT OF INTERNATIONAL
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND NEEDED ACTIONS
EPILOGUE. RECOLONIZING IRAQ
Economic sanctions on the people of Iraq:
First degree murder or manslaughter?
Denis J. Halliday
UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, UN assistant secretary general, visiting
Professor at the Pennsylvania Swarthmore College US; Ireland
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends I am particularly honoured
to be speaking at this the inaugural session of this conference. I am also
somewhat nervous. Not because I am new to public speaking, but because I
am a layman surrounded by distinguished international jurists. It is like
being in the surf with sharks circling just beyond the waves. However, falling
back on the concept that certain bliss accompanies ignorance I will
briefly speak to the issue of United Nations economic sanctions on the people
of Iraq as a clear case of genocide a crime against humanity. I will
also touch on the incompatibility of such sanctions with the spirit of the
United Nations Charter and similar instruments of international law requiring,
as a result, the establishment of some form of oversight in respect of the
output of the Security Council.
During my visit to Paris in January of this year , to speak publicly
about the terrible impact of United Nations economic sanctions on the people
of Iraq, I used the term genocide for the first time. I did so at a briefing
for the press corps to describe a catastrophic situation that I had come
to consider nothing less than genocidal. And it was picked up by some journalists
and used for headlines in the Paris newspapers and then similarly by one
or two international wire services. Thereafter, during that visit, I was
made to feel by some that I had crossed an invisible line of impropriety!
I was criticized by a few for using the term in regard to the impact of
economic sanctions themselves. It seemed also that it was deemed inappropriate
particularly in respect of Iraq. Since then I have observed that the term
genocide offends many in western media and establishment circles when it
is used to describe the killing of others in an environment for which we
are ultimately responsible, such as in Iraq. To be even handed, I must admit
I was praised by others for having said what I said. Perhaps for most, the
term genocide is too emotive and too intimate to our democratic obligation
to accept responsibility for even the most disagreeable actions undertaken
by our respective governments. For others, it was no more than an overdue
recognition of the crimes against humanity on going.
I was certainly not the first to use the term genocide to describe the
extensive loss of life in Iraq under present circumstances. Former US Attorney-General
Ramsey Clark, the British author Geoff Simons and a number of British Members
of Parliament critical of Labour Government sanctions and military policy,
have employed the term to convey their perception of the Iraq situation.
Since the Spring of this year, the term has been used frequently by the
establishment in the UK and the USA together with the mass media to describe
the plight of Albanians in Kosovo and the killing of the people of East
Timor. The first identification apparently justified NATO aggression and
the bypassing of the United Nations, resulting in NATO missile attacks,
use of Depleted Uranium shells and targeting of civilian infrastructure.
Attacks that apparently served to increase the death rate of Albanian civilians.
The latter, resulted in the international community taking action via the
Security Council too slowly although in keeping with the national sovereignty
provisions of the Charter. Clearly for these deadly situations despite their
historical involvement, those in the establishment using the term genocide
did not feel in anyway responsible. Only last week, I was reminded of this
during a BBC interview. Others commit genocide, we do not.
More recently, in a class I am teaching at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
we discussed the appropriateness of using of the term genocide to describe
the human crisis in Iraq. We reviewed with some care the definition as set
out by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
of 1948. We noted the clear reference to the expression intent as being
essential in any determination of genocide. In considering UN Security Council
Resolution 687, we did not find intent spelled out in the text of 1991.
No one questioned if the justification provided some years ago by the then
Ambassador to the UN and now Secretary of State for the deaths of some five
hundred thousand Iraqi children implied genocidal intent.
The choice for the class in respect of the consequences of Resolution
687 was one between de jure, or de facto genocide, or as one student suggested,
a choice between first degree murder or manslaughter. Thus the title of
this piece. The class looked between the lines of the Resolution, but the
majority of students gave the original drafters the benefit of the doubt,
and likewise those member states that supported and continue to support
the imposition of the uniquely comprehensive and devastating economic sanctions
that Resolution 687 represents, particularly devastating coming as it did
on top of the civilian-targeted bombing and missile attacks by the Gulf
War allies. However, some including myself consider that by the deliberate
continuation of the UN economic sanctions regime on Iraq, in full knowledge
of their deadly impact as frequently reported by the Secretary-General and
others, the member states of the Security Council are indeed guilty of intentionally
sustaining a regime of genocide.
The information provided by the various organizations of the United Nations
system FAO, WFP, UNICEF, and WHO who have carried out surveys
using international experts of infant and child mortality rates in Iraq
under economic sanctions underlines that we have de facto genocide.
They have provided data showing the very significant increase in mortality
rates over the years since Resolution 687 was imposed. We have also been
given data by WHO showing significant increases in the deaths of adults,
particularly amongst the aged in need of sophisticated drugs no long available
We have WHO figures showing extraordinary increase in the incidence of
various cancers, including leukemia in children, since the use of depleted
uranium by the UK and USA during the Gulf War. We know the sad human cost
today in Iraq of unclean water, collapsed electric power generation and
failed sanitation systems, as reported initially by the mission of then
Under Secretary-General and now President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari in
1991, and many times since by UNICEF and WHO.
The informally termed Oil-for-Food programme, which as you know is fully
funded by Iraq via limited oil sales under UN auspices, was designed to
prevent further deterioration, not more than that. The Security Council-approved
but heavily constrained importation of limited and basic foodstuffs, medicines
and drugs into the country, has done little more than maintain high mortality
rates and massive malnutrition as the recent UNICEF report advised. Apart
from considerable nutritional shortfalls, including lack of adequate animal
proteins within that programme, we have not seen the Security Council allow
oil revenues to seriously repair the damage caused by the bombing of civilian
infrastructure of 1991, 1996 and as recently as December 1998. By this denial,
the Security Council has determined with deliberation to block adequate
repair of water, power and sewage systems so critical in the battle to save
the lives of countless infants and children. In other words, the Security
Council through its member states has knowingly the necessitated that food
be consumed alongside foul water, thereby creating a source for water-borne
diseases leading to thousands of deaths, particularly of infants and children.
Likewise, adequate hard currency has not been available for re-equipping
of hospitals and other health care facilities; and agricultural food production
capacity remains starved of essential imported requirements. In short, the
Security Council has denied Iraq its right to adequately import and at the
same time its right to repair, and rebuild that civilian infrastructure
so critical for human well being, indeed for life itself. I speak of civilian
infrastructure that was illegally destroyed in breech of the Geneva Conventions
and Protocols by the Gulf War allies, in the first place.
The Security Council has in effect illegality twice-over violated international
law. Firstly, the targeting of men, women and children noncombatants
and civilian via missile attacks and bombing of civilians and civilian
infrastructure in 1991 and thereafter. And secondly, in an even more deadly
and sustained manner of warfare, killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi
children, and adults, by the ongoing regime of comprehensive economic sanctions.
An embargo backed up by the massive military presence of the US throughout
the Middle East. A military presence not only intimidating to the women
and children of Iraq, but equally to many millions of peoples and their
governments throughout the Region. Whether one wishes to term economic sanctions
no Iraq a form of warfare or not, crimes against humanity or not, the imposition
of genocide or not, the sustained imposition of these sanctions constitute
the punishment of millions, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, of
innocent human beings. Whatever the terminology, whatever the semantics
used, the results are indisputably contrary to the spirit and the word of
numerous international legal instruments.
With, or without original intent, the impact of economic sanctions constitutes
genocide. Whether it is de jure or de facto genocide, the semantics are
irrelevant to those people of Iraq who have seen their children die, their
parents die and their own health and the health of most, deteriorate into
a state of physical malnutrition, a condition of near national depression
and an environment of social collapse.
The question posed in the title of this statement: Does the genocidal
impact of economic sanctions on Iraq represent first degree murder as in
intent, or manslaughter as in negligence resulting nevertheless in death?
I leave to those here more competent that I. However, I would like to address
one of the tragedies of the Iraq crisis, over and above the massive loss
of life namely, the irreparable damage it has done to the integrity and
credibility of the United Nations itself.
By sustaining economic sanctions on Iraq in full knowledge of the deadly
consequences, the member states of the Security Council have undermined
the very basis of the Organization itself the Charter. That is not
to deny that the device of economic sanctions is provided for in Chapter
7 of the Charter it is. One could query the intentions and goals in
the minds of the victors of World War II when these provisions were drafted
in 1945, at a time when the infant UN was proportionally more heavily made
up of large and powerful than small and weaker member states. Then, as it
is today, the concept of economic sanctions, bilateral but also multilateral,
is more attractive and viable to the powerful, the larger bully boy states,
than to the smaller potential victims.
Regardless, the prolonged and uniquely comprehensive nature of the economic
sanctions on Iraq, and economic sanctions regimes imposed elsewhere in the
world, have thwarted the very spirit and principles of the United Nations
Charter the preamble of which calls inter alia for the well being of
all humanity. for the health and well being of himself (herself) and of
his (her) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services"; that "motherhood and childhood are
entitled to special care and assistance"; and that "everyone has
the right to education".
In reality, there are numerous international conventions neglected by
the continuation of economic sanctions regardless of human cost, not least
of which is the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights are
intentionally denied every time an Iraqi child is without nutritious and
plentiful food, a place in which to live decently, adequate medical attention
and a good education. A sanctions generation of Deprivation has been created
by the Security Council. The denial by the Security Council of the rights
of an Iraqi child to have opportunities for the future, to life itself destroys
what the United Likewise, prolonged economic sanctions neglect the rights
spelled out in Articles 25 and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, providing for individuals " ...the right to a standard of living
adequate Nations is mandated to represent and facilitate throughout the
Combating this incompatibility between the Charter and instruments of
international law with the impact of Security Council Resolution 687, would
appear to call for several actions. One might be an initiative by the larger,
fully representative and more democratic General Assembly to seek the advice
of the International Court of Justice and by so doing, begin to meaningfully
assert its oversight function in respect of the work of the powerful yet
small and less democratic Security Council. Another might be the establishment
of an NGO to watch the impact of Security Council resolutions worldwide
and to monitor their incompatibility with the Charter, Universal Declaration
of Human rights and other international legal instruments.
In conclusion, the de facto genocidal impact of the regime of economic
sanctions on the people of Iraq violates the legal instruments that are
fundamental to the credible continuation of the United Nations. The Organization
urgently needs the protection of an oversight device or devices in regard
to the output of the dangerously out-of-control Security Council. In the
meantime, men and women of conscience, with moral posture and integrity
will continue to demand the termination of crimes against humanity, indeed
genocide, in respect of Iraq.
Executive summary and needed actions
A widely attended international Conference with more than 450 participants
under the theme: Interventionism Against International Law: From Iraq to
Yugoslavia was held in Madrid on the 20th -21st of November 1999. The Conference
was organised by the Spanish Campaign for Lifting the Sanctions on Iraq.
Thirty five speakers who are experts and academics in international law,
international politics, humanitarian work and media engaged participants
in active discussions and commentary following brief presentations of main
points of their papers. The inaugural speech entitled Economic Sanctions
on the people of Iraq: First Degree Murder or Manslaughter? was given by
Denis J. Halliday, former UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq and UN Assistant
The main topics covered by the Conference included: Economic Sanctions:
legal aspects, genocidal impact, a tool of political intervention; Activities
of UNSCOM in Iraq; Limitations of Oil-for-Food Programme (986 Security Council
SC resolution), Sanctions Committees role in hindering the programme;
SC violations of International Law and UN Charter, legal limits on the power
of the Security Council, problems of reform of the UN, US manipulation of
the SC; legal aspects of humanitarian intervention; manipulation of the
media; sovereignty in the New World Order, selectivity and double standards,
globalisation and US domination.
The general consensus and main points of conclusions of the Conference
are presented in the following summary.
Military actions against Iraq and Yugoslavia and the imposition of sanctions
are directly linked to neo-liberal globalisation and economic domination
efforts manifested in new organisations and projects such as World Trade
Organisation (WTO), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Middle
East Project, etc. Enforced economic globalisation entails the dismantling
of national productive sectors with the ultimate aim of creating safe haven
for free enterprise/global corporations that will deprive the vast majority
of the populace of their economic and social rights, mainly with the South
but also in the North. For the first time this century a single power, the
US, is in a position of supremacy and is free to dictate its will as a Global
Dictator. In such uni-polar world, the US was able to manipulate the UN
and use it to extract pseudo international legitimacy to cover its premeditated
aggression against Iraq and to fulfil its goal of direct military occupation
of the Gulf region.
The UN was used to impose comprehensive sanctions on Iraq that deprive
it from exercising its right to human development. These vicious sanctions
target especially the poor, children and elderly as the most vulnerable
segments of the society. In other situations, the US found it convenient
to exclude the UN and deny its authority by resorting to unilateral action:
imposing no-fly zones in Iraq, military actions in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan,
Libya, Sudan, etc.
One feature of such New World Order is the deliberate selectivity and
double standards used by the lone policeman of the world. Thus, under the
pretext of ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, sanctions are causing
hundreds of thousands of children under five to perish, while Israel stockpiles
its nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal. Such double standards extend
to criteria of democracy used in different situations. It is clear that
we are confronting a deliberate coercive well designed new scheme for domination
of Third World countries and enforcement of US hegemonic position among
industrialised countries in the post Cold War era.
COMPROMISE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
The US attempts to compromise the existing international institutions
and in particular principles of general international law are obvious since
they constitute key obstacles to the full imposition of the so-called New
World Order. Most of these principles are enshrined in the UN Charter, in
particular the principles of self-determination, of sovereignty, equality
of all states, solving all international disputes by peaceful means, illegality
of the use or threat of use of force against the territorial integrity,
non-intervention in issues that are within the realm of domestic jurisdiction
of states (Articles 1 and 2 of the Charter).
The participants consider recent military actions, as well as economic
sanctions, taken by the promoters of the New Order are in flagrant contradiction
with the fundamental principles of International Law and expressed their
strongest rejection of attempts to promote what has been described as an
"emerging new rule of international law" in accordance of which
certain states enjoy what they characterise as a right or even a duty to
carry out military humanitarian intervention because of actual or alleged
human rights violations with recognised boundaries of other states. Such
interventions, disguised under the attractive label of humanitarianism,
are easily exposed as aggressive acts. States involved in such illicit acts
should not be absolved their responsibilities under international law. The
Conference drew a clear distinction in regard to actions taken by the international
community, e.g.: in the case of the racist apartheid regime in accordance
with the core principles of international human rights law and within the
provisions of the UN Charter.
The Conference expressed profound dissatisfaction and concern at recent
statements by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, which give direct or indirect
support to the Western inspired concept of humanitarian intervention and
other statements that endorse new concepts in the field of international
law that clearly undermine the key principle of state sovereignty in favor
of individual sovereignty thus violating current international judicial
order and giving a justification of selective unilateral action. In this
regard it was noted that the UN Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection
of Human Rights in its resolution 1999/2 of 20 August 1999 expressed "its
firmest convictions that the so-called duty or right to carry out humanitarian
intervention [...] is judicially totally unfounded under current general
international law and [...] cannot be considered as a justification of violations
of the principles enshrined in Article 2 of the Charter of the UN".
Thus the Conference refused to accept the proposition that human rights
of individuals or minorities may be protected by bombing the territories
where they live. Proper means in accordance with the UN Charter and human
rights law should only be used to secure all human rights to all individuals
in all societies. The Conference totally regrets the violation by NATO
in the case of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and by the US and UK in the
cases of Iraq and other states of international humanitarian law, in
particular those contained in the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative
to the protection of civilians in a time of war of 12 August 1949. Violators
of the provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide should be brought to trial to the proper international
US MANIPULATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL
Starting with Desert Storm in 1991, the US has come to increasingly dominate
the SC to promote its interest in an intimidation, coercion, bribery as
detailed in the memoir of former US State Department Secretary James Baker.
This caused many to question the unrepresentative and antidemocratic nature
of the SC and to the obvious need for genuine reform. The Conference stressed
the fact that SC actions must be consistent with the Charter, and underlined
the limitation of power of the SC, which currently acts as its own limit
with unrestrained powers. This raises the necessity of legal oversight and
balance of powers within the UN system. The International Court of Justice,
as the highest judicial body of the UN, should review SC actions according
to the Charter and general principles of international law. The act of genocide
in Iraq a clear violation of the UN Charter has been perpetrated
by the US dominated SC in the name of the international community, which
this points to the need for reforming the SC.
MEDIA MANIPULATION OF INFORMATION
The Conference reviewed the extensive manipulation of news by the global
corporate media and the inherent conflict of interests of media establishments
that result in an ill-informed and even deceived public with regard to critical
issues. The spin placed on events and the new vocabulary of deliberate ambiguity
and deception and sometimes the advanced knowledge of events by the media
were discussed, and the potency of the media as a weapon of mass deception
GENOCIDAL IMPACT OF COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
The genocidal impact of economic sanctions on Iraq were reviewed, including
the horrific infant, child and adult mortality and the wide spread malnutrition
directly resulting from prolonged deprivation of adequate nutrition, clean
water and proper sanitation. Deliberate destruction by Gulf War allies of
key civilian infrastructure and continued hindrance of reconstruction and
development in various sectors in Iraq are the key elements in the continuation
of genocide. Painful social consequences include domestic discord, high
dropout of school children, increase in crime and heavy on social burdens
The oil-for-food programme (986 SC resolution) has done no more than
stopping further deterioration. In effect this means sustaining high mortality
and widespread malnutrition, without providing the necessary means for reconstruction.
Moreover, the oil-for-food programme itself has been prevented from achieving
even its limited potential as a result of the obstacles presented by the
661 Sanctions Committee. The 661 Sanctions Committee has consistently delayed
approval of some contracts and refused others, particularly those related
to infrastructure rehabilitation and the oil production sector. It was noted
that such deliberate policies of depriving the Iraqi people from using their
own resources shatters claims by the US that they have no quarrels with
the Iraqi people but only with their leader. A report issued by General
Accounting Office (GAO) of the US Government (GAO/NSIAD-95-116) clearly
identifies " five basic categories of targets, one of which is population"
and, the report continues, "...attacks on targets such as television
and radio stations and electric power generation and distribution facilities,
would degrade the will of the civilian population".
The Conference was briefed on UNSCOM and its invasive practices, which
had damaged UN integrity and compromised Iraqi sovereignty by using spies
for purposes beyond its mandate. The Conference noted also the fact that
the UN has not applied paragraph 14 of SC resolution 687 concerning the
disarmament of the Middle East region from weapons of mass destruction.
The legality of economic sanctions on Iraq following withdrawal from Kuwait
was questioned, as well the hidden agenda of the US, including its objective
to gain control of Iraqi oil to further its influence over European Union.
The criminal use of depleted uranium in Iraq, with its subsequent far-reaching
environmental implications and the well-documented cause for the spread
of cancer and congenital deformations, was also addressed by the Conference.
The Conference learned of continuous and illegal bombing and missile
attacks by the US and UK on the no-fly zones of Northern and Southern Iraq,
the continuing invasion of Iraq by Turkey a member of the NATO
and the total disregard of the national sovereignty of Iraq through actions
to remove the head of the state.
THE CASE OF YUGOSLAVIA
The legality of NATO extensive bombing of civilian targets was questioned
and the contradictions of such actions with Charter provisions were expressed.
The Conference clearly refused the so-call New Strategic Concept of the
NATO adopted in its Washington Summit.
Similar to the case of Iraq, the media blackout and distortions gave
a spin to the news to hide facts and to camouflage the true objectives of
the US and NATO, which is the fragmentation of Yugoslavia to pave the way
for integration within NATO. The so-called humanitarian intervention caused
untold harm and deaths to the very people the US and NATO claimed to save.
It was stressed again that efforts to protect human rights have to adhere
to humanitarian law and the UN Charter.
The Conference called for the following actions:
Considering the continued sanctions on Iraq as a criminal act
Immediate lifting of sanctions on Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Cessation of US and UK aggression against Iraq and putting an
end to the so-called no-fly zones.
Full compensations of damages caused by aggression and sanctions
imposed against Iraq and Yugoslavia.
SC resolutions must be fully consistent with the UN Charter.
Development of mechanism to ensure limits of power and judicial
oversight of the Security Council and continued research on these topics.
Condemnation of the US manipulation of SC decisions and the bypassing
of SC and resorting to unilateral use of military and economic power to
commit aggression or to enforce sanctions on the countries such as Afghanistan,
Sudan and Cuba.
Exposing the true nature of the so-called humanitarian intervention
as a political tool to extend hegemony in the New World Order.
Persistent efforts towards the removal of weapons of mass destruction
in the Middle East, without selectively and including Israel.