Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq


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Press release

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.


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