The children of Iraq are suffering unspeakable horrors as a
direct result of economic sanctions against Iraq and as a result
of illnesses, disabilities and deformities apparently caused by
the radioactive residue from bullets and other weapons containing
depleted uranium (DU) used by the United States during military
operations against Iraq.
In our statement under item 9, Margarita Papandreou of Women for
Mutual Security presented some aspects of the effects of
sanctions on Iraqi children. She is an eyewitness to the
overwhelming tragedy of these children, and like any who sees it
who has any sense of humanity, is compelled to work day and night
to bring instant aid. We also presented Dr. Horst Gunther, whose
work proves beyond doubt the use of bullets containing depleted
uranium by US forces in Iraq.
We are pleased that the Sub-Commission, in its decision 1995/107,
also expressed its concern regarding the need of the Iraqi
children, women and disabled persons for urgent humanitarian
relief, and that the WHO, UNICEF, FAO and UNHCR have reported on
the catastrophic consequences of the sanctions.
At this session, International Educational
Development/Humanitarian Law Project joins with World Muslim
Congress, Women's International Christian Federation, American
Association of Jurists, General Arab Women Federation, Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom, International League
for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, International Movement
for Fraternal Union Among Racism and Peoples, Disabled Peoples'
International, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among
Peoples, World Movement of Mothers, North-South XXI, Pax Christi
International, Union of Arab Jurists, World Peace Council and
Centre-Europe-Tiers Monde in a written statement submitted under
item 10 to condemn the sanctions against Iraq because of the
extreme suffering of the Iraqi children. We note data from the
FAO showing that more than 560,000 children have already died
since the war ended and that the current monthly figure of deaths
of small children surpasses 5,000 with another 5,000 for persons
over the age of 14.
Women for Mutual Security, Canadian Women for Peace,
International Action Center, International Commission of Inquiry
on Economic Sanctions, the Japanese/Arab Cultural Association,
Friendship Society Between Japanese Children and Arab Children,
World Development Movement (UK), Yellow Cross International
(Germany) and more than twenty other groups also join in the call
for immediate medical and humanitarian aid for Iraqi civilians
and full disclosure and compensation for victims of weapons or
waste containing depleted uranium.
The Iraqi children have an absolute right to relief from the
hardship of war and to life-sustaining food and medical relief.
Sanctions cannot be used to deprive children from these rights
even if the intended purpose of sanctions seeks to address other
issues. The International Court of Justice, in its decision of 27
June 1986 (Nicaragua v. US), ruled that Common Article
3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 provides a minimum standard
for all countries and in all armed conflict situations. The
sanctions are a part of the war against Iraq, and therefore fall
under review of this binding legal principle. In addition to the
International Court of Justice ruling, we remind the Commission
that basic principles of humanitarian law are jus
cogens and may not be abrogated in any way. This principle
is also part of the UN Charter, which in its Article 1, sec. 3,
mandates international action for pressing humanitarian concerns.
Madame Papandreou joins us in welcoming the work of another
former first lady, Madame Graca Machel, and her important work on
the impact of war on children. We ask Madame Machel to carry out
an investigation of the tragic situation of the Iraqi children
and incorporate it into her report to the General Assembly this
year. We urge careful review of the medical effects of the use of
depleted uranium and the continued presence in Iraq of tons of
bullets containing depleted uranium left by the US forces. That
review should also investigate that many American children born
after the war also have disabilities and deformities linked to
the exposure of their fathers or mothers to depleted uranium
during their military duty. In investigating the use of depleted
uranium, Madame Machel could carry out a joint mission with the
Commission's rapporteur on toxics Madame Fatma Ksentini. We will
submit a complete dossier to Madame Ksentini and ask
her to report on this to the 53 session of the Commission.
We attach to this statement a report by Dr. Beatrice Boctor for the International Commission of Inquiry on Economic Sanctions which provides a summary of the findings of the WHO and documents other violations of the rights of children.