DISSENTING VOICE.AN INTERVIEW WITH DENIS HALLIDAY Denis J. Halliday was the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq from 1 September 1997 until he resigned in 1998. After his resignation he spoke out about the inequities he considered the Oil-for-Food Programme imposed on the people of Iraq. , FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
At the end of 1998 Denis Halliday resigned from the United Nations as Assistant Secretary-General, after a thirty-four year career. His departure was prompted by the Security Council's continued program of economic sanctions Economic sanctions are economic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas. against Iraq; a program that Halliday describes as `a genocidal act'.
At the time of his resignation, Halliday was the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. He takes care to get his former job title right, politely pointing out that he was not Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Relief. `Relief' is not a word we use, because relief implies assistance. And there was no assistance.
The combination of ten years of sanctions and the absence of humanitarian relief have ensured the devastation of Iraq.
The impact is horrendous. Today in Iraq you have a very high child mortality rate -- 131 over 1000 live births. The comparable figure in Australia is about 5 or 6 over 1000 live births. One in seven children die before the age of five due to other food or nutritional problems; or waterborne disease problems such as diarrhoea or dehydration; or lack of immunity to simple childhood diseases, because mothers are malnourished mal·nour·ished
Affected by improper nutrition or an insufficient diet. and unable to breastfeed breast·feed or breast-feed
v. breast-fed , breast-feed·ing, breast-feeds
To feed (a baby) mother's milk from the breast; suckle.
To breastfeed a baby. . The healthcare system itself is badly damaged and doctors must make decisions about whether to treat three people or one, knowing that if three are treated they will all die, because they never have enough resources to deal with all the cases.
Then you've got huge malnutrition problems. There is acute malnutrition which often leads to death; and you have chronic malnutrition in young children, which if sustained for two or three years, leads to permanent physical and/or mental damage. We have created a whole generation of young Iraqis who are never going to be `complete'.
Such statistics were unheard of Not heard of; of which there are no tidings.
Unknown to fame; obscure.
See also: Unheard Unheard in Iraq prior to the imposition of sanctions. As a wealthy oil state it had high standards of public health and education, and a growing professional class. Yet its dependence on wealth derived from oil exports, in addition to the destruction wrought by eight years of war with Iran, made it extremely vulnerable to the effects of sanctions. As Halliday explains:
At the time of the first sanctions regime of 1990, Iraq imported some 70 per cent of its foodstuffs foodstuffs npl → comestibles mpl
foodstuffs npl → denrées fpl alimentaires
foodstuffs food npl → . The agricultural sector and health sector, likewise, imported all the basics: basic drugs, fertilisers, pesticides. All of this stopped overnight, so to speak. That's a condition for famine in a very short space of time.
In addition to a lack of infrastructure, food and basic medicines, the health crisis in Iraq has been compounded by the toxic fallout from the Gulf War; specifically, exposure to depleted uranium Depleted Uranium (DU) is uranium remaining after removal of the isotope uranium-235. It is primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238. In the past it was called by the names Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38, but these have fallen into disuse. (DU) used by the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and the British forces. Halliday estimates some 340 tonnes of DU were used during the slaughter in Iraq, in breach of the Geneva Convention Geneva Convention Declaration of Geneva Global village A standard established in 1864 regarding the conduct of the military towards medical personnel, and obligations of medical personnel during acts of war. and protocols on warfare.
The Iraqis who have been exposed to DU have paid a staggering price. There is a surgeon in a hospital in Basra, a member of the British Royal College of Physicians The Royal College of Physicians of London was the first medical institution in England to receive a Royal Charter. It was founded in 1518 and is one of the most active of all medical professional organisations. , who believes that over 40 per cent of the population living in the south -- in the Basra area -- will develop cancer in their lives.
The contamination of water supplies, earth and air by DU has also resulted in the birth of an increasing number of deformed Iraqi children. Halliday claims that similar health problems have been found in US, British and Australian service people exposed to DU during service in the Gulf. `I believe of 1400 Australian veterans, over 200 are ill today', he says. `And as in the United States, the government is not taking any responsibility for them. In the States, you have American kids born deformed because their fathers were exposed to DU.'
Beyond the destruction of infrastructure, acute and chronic malnutrition, and other health problems -- as catastrophic as these are -- Halliday draws attention to other, less immediately obvious consequences of the sanctions. Their social impact has been no less devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. , with massive increases in family breakdowns, and in the numbers of children taken out of school to beg, steal or prostitute themselves.
Rising inflation and the devaluation devaluation, decreasing the value of one nation's currency relative to gold or the currencies of other nations. It is usually undertaken as a means of correcting a deficit in the balance of payments. of the currency as a result of the sanctions have halted social and economic progress. Halliday highlights this point with the example of women, particularly women in professional employment, who under Ba'ath Party Ba'ath party (bä`äth), Arab political party, in Syria and in Iraq. Its main ideological objectives are secularism, socialism, and pan-Arab unionism. rule had begun to prosper, but now find their salaries worthless. `Young people who are educated are without expectations, without hope, without jobs.'
The frustration and disillusion dis·il·lu·sion
tr.v. dis·il·lu·sioned, dis·il·lu·sion·ing, dis·il·lu·sions
To free or deprive of illusion.
1. The act of disenchanting.
2. The condition or fact of being disenchanted. of these people will have political consequences, not only for United Nations operations within Iraq, but more broadly. Halliday likens the present situation in Iraq to that of post-World War One Germany:
We are pushing Iraq into a fundamentalist, rightist right·ism also Right·ism
1. The ideology of the political right.
2. Belief in or support of the tenets of the political right.
right political situation, rather as happened after the First World War through the Versailles Treaty with Germany, which led to the rise of fascism in Europe.
There are young, angry men and women -- members of the Ba'ath Party -- who are frustrated with a lack of future opportunities, frustrated with the United Nations and frustrated with their own government -- because they feel that the leadership has compromised too often. Saddam seems too moderate because he has backed down repeatedly at the request of the United Nations for [weapons] inspections and so on. They're ready for something a bit more dramatic. This is going to be a real problem for the future, because these people are the future of Iraq.
More immediately, there are consequences for peace in the Middle East. Halliday puts it bluntly: `To think of Middle East peace without Iraq is rubbish.'
The sanctions have had little or no impact in terms of weakening the Iraqi regime. Halliday argues that the United States and United Kingdom, through their manipulation of the UN Security Council have actually strengthened the Iraqi dictatorship, by diminishing the population's capacities to resist. The sanctions, moreover, have actually created a situation of dependence. As Halliday explains:
In Iraq, we have what's known as the Oil for Food program, which allows Iraq to sell a certain amount of oil. The revenue goes to the United Nations. Through a contracting process, the government is allowed to import certain foodstuffs, medicines and drugs, which are then paid for by the United Nations from this account. This of course makes for even more dependency of the people on the government, because this is what they live on.
The chronic shortage of resources in Iraq means that the little aid that does get through as a result of this program is used for currency. People use food either to get money or to barter for shoes or clothes for their children. So they are not even getting the calorific calorific
generating heat measurable in calories. intake that this program is supposed to provide.
Given the obvious futility of sanctions, Halliday harbours no doubts regarding their political logic. He dismisses the suggestion of UK and US officials that they are part of continuing efforts to disarm Iraq. The Australian former UN Weapons Inspector Richard Butler ''Richard Butler may refer to:
The sanctions are being continued because they [the US and the UK] want to suppress Iraq. They do not want reasonable leadership in Iraq -- they don't trust Iraq. They are afraid that Iraq will undermine their best interest -- i.e. access to oil. And they certainly don't trust Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein
(born April 28, 1937, Tikrit, Iraq—died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) President of Iraq (1979–2003). He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. Following participation in a failed attempt to assassinate Iraqi Pres. , who off course, ironically, was their ally. He fought the Ayatollah Khomeini Noun 1. Ayatollah Khomeini - Iranian religious leader of the Shiites; when Shah Pahlavi's regime fell Khomeini established a new constitution giving himself supreme powers (1900-1989)
Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, Khomeini, Ruholla Khomeini on their behalf. They gave him military intelligence, they gave him chemical weapons. The US sold him the biological capability. So, for the US to now say that they can't deal with this guy is unacceptable.
Keeping the regime of economic sanctions in place is also necessary justification for maintaining the highlevel US military presence in the region. Although formal hostilities against Iraq ceased in 1991 Halliday says that the bombing of Iraq There have been several bombings of Iraq:
coerce, force, hale, pressure, squeeze - to cause to do through pressure or necessity, by physical, moral or intellectual means :"She forced him to take a job in the city"; "He squeezed her for the population.'
The pettiness and vindictiveness that surround the application of the economic sanctions add weight to Halliday's assessment. He cites cases in which non-governmental organisations in the United States supplying medical aid and toys to Iraqi children have been indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted. by the US Attorney General and threatened with twelve-year prison sentences and fines of over a million dollars, in addition to the $160,000 that they have already paid. In Australia, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War has broken the sanctions regime, illegally taking in medicines. They could be prosecuted for doing so, although thus far the Australian Government has chosen not to.
Whilst in Australia, Halliday met with Federal Members of Parliament, including the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer Alexander John Gosse Downer, MP (born 9 September 1951), Australian politician, became Foreign Minister of Australia in March 1996 This makes him the longest serving Foreign Minister in Australian history. . Although a number of MPs expressed a concern to see Australia adopt a different stance to that of Washington, which, in Halliday's view, it `follows slavishly slav·ish
1. Of or characteristic of a slave or slavery; servile: Her slavish devotion to her job ruled her life.
2. to the point of embarrassment', it was not backed up by political will. Meanwhile, he says, `the Howard Government as represented by Mr Downer down·er
A depressant or sedative drug, such as a barbiturate or tranquilizer. is perfectly happy with the Washington position'.
The continued use of sanctions against Iraq will inevitably have implications for the future legitimacy of United Nations operations. At present, the United Kingdom and the United States are the only members of the Security Council to support the continuation of sanctions against Iraq. The other members abstain, thereby allowing the sanctions and their genocidal consequences to continue.
Not surprisingly, Halliday is concerned about the US domination of the Security Council, the damage that is being done to the UN's credibility and its capacity to realise in practice the principles upon which it was formed.
The US use the UN for their own ends. If it suits, they use it, if it doesn't suit, they use something else, like they did NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. . They have manipulated and corrupted the Security Council, putting tremendous pressure on other countries to go along, or at least, at worst, abstain [from actively opposing sanctions]. And they get away with this kind of abuse of their position within the Security Council.
Such action undermines and threatens the [UN] Charter itself, which calls for high standards of behaviour.... Article 25 was very specific on the fundamental human rights. These human rights have been demolished by the economic and social sanctions regime by the Security Council. Likewise the Geneva Conventions Geneva Conventions, series of treaties signed (1864–1949) in Geneva, Switzerland, providing for humane treatment of combatants and civilians in wartime. , the Rights of the Child, the Rights of Women, Economic and Social Rights -- destroyed, undermined, diminshed by the Security Council itself.
In the long term, Halliday argues that the United Nations needs to be reformed to make it more democratic, and to get involved in crises instead of waiting for a war and then sending in peace-keepers. `Even the invasion of Kuwait The Invasion of Kuwait, also known as the Iraq-Kuwait War, was a major conflict between the Republic of Iraq and the State of Kuwait which resulted in the 7 month long Iraqi occupation of Kuwait could have been anticipated', he says.
More immediately, Halliday proposes a carrot and stick Carrot and stick (also spelled "carrot-and-stick") is an idiom used to refer to the act of rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. The carrot represents the edible reward, while the stick refers to a punishing switch. approach to address the situation in Iraq: an end to economic sanctions and the resumption of oil exports, along with a continued program of inspections and military sanctions. In addition, he calls for massive capital investment in Iraq -- around $100 billion -- to rebuild the economy. He concedes that it is a messy solution and `probably illegal', but believes it is the best option in the current circumstances.
Background information http://dfg-vk.de/english/book60.htm http://oneworld.org/ni/issue316/contents.htm Updates http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/fc/world/iraq http://www.geocities.com/iraqinfo/
`Report of the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility Delegation to Iraq', March/April 1999 http://wpsr.org/mideast/
With thanks to Mark Zirnsak.