Wed. May 3, 2000
2203 Rayburn House Office Building,
Distinguished Members of Congress, Ladies, and Gentlemen;
We are all aware of the letter signed by some 72 courageous members of Congress to President Clinton calling for the de-linking of economic from military sanctions, and for the lifting of economic sanctions on the people of Iraq. We have heard the statement of Congressman Bonior lamenting the economic sanctions-caused deaths of Iraqi children, which he characterized as infanticide.
More recently we have listened to Congressman Hall, just returned from witnessing the situation in Iraq, expressing his concern for the humanitarian crisis. And this afternoon, we have heard Hans von Sponeck, until last month the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, describe the human calamity ongoing in Iraq today on account of widespread deprivation caused by U.S.-driven economic sanctions.
What these sources have confirmed is that economic sanctions are a blunt and deadly instrument, and that the devastation is felt by the people, not the leadership. Prolonged economic sanctions directly and indirectly cause death, malnutrition, and social destruction in respect of the innocent, the children and others who are blameless for the bad decisions of government.
The case of Iraq is the most glaring failure of this otherwise legitimate device provided for in the UN Charter, under Chapter 7, Article 41, to enforce standards of behavior consistent with the requirements of the Charter itself. Sadly, in the case of the children and adults of Iraq, we find that the results of Security Council decisions as impacting on the ground are incompatible with the spirit and intent of the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments of international law.
The Iraq crisis is uniquely prolonged, unjustified by the laws of proportionality, and unacceptable to millions around the world, to many member states of the General Assembly, and, not surprisingly, to millions of Americans who are informed. I underline "not surprisingly," as this great country has a history of reaching out with enormous generosity of resources and spirit to other peoples in need. The very basic human needs that are no longer available to the children and adults of Iraq.
Iraq does not want American charity. Iraq needs the opportunity to restore the standard of living enjoyed by its people as of 1990. The unfortunate reality is that not enough of your constituents are informed about the deadly impact of economic sanctions to demand your focus on policy change. Thus, distinguished members of Congress, as you are fully informed, the burden of positive change is primarily yours.