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Here is the summary of a paper entitled "Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future" by the Global Policy Forum.
The Security Council is the United Nations' most powerful body. It has "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." Five powerful countries sit as "permanent members" along with ten other member states, elected for two-year terms. Since 1990, the Council has dramatically increased its activity and it now meets in nearly continuous session. It dispatches military operations, imposes economic sanctions, mandates arms inspections, deploys human rights and election monitors and more.
The Security Council has maintained comprehensive economic sanctions on Iraq since August 1990. The international community increasingly views the sanctions as illegitimate and punitive, because of well-documented humanitarian suffering in Iraq and widespread doubts about the sanctions' effectiveness and their legal basis under international humanitarian and human rights law.
2. A Flawed Policy
In the early 1990s, many policy makers saw comprehensive economic sanctions, imposed under Resolution 687, as an ethical and non-violent policy tool. Though Iraq sanctions produced some significant disarmament results, they failed to achieve all their policy goals and they have deeply harmed powerless and vulnerable Iraqi citizens. The Security Council implicitly accepts such a negative assessment, since it no longer uses comprehensive economic sanctions in other security crises.
3. Warnings of Civilian Harm
Civilian suffering in Iraq is not an unexpected collateral effect, but a predictable result of the sanctions policy. Security Council members have received warnings of the humanitarian emergency in Iraq and the damage done by sanctions since shortly after the Gulf War. Warnings have come from three Secretary Generals, many UN officials and agencies including UNICEF, WHO and WFP, and two Humanitarian Coordinators who have resigned in protest. A Select Committee of the UK House of Commons offered a very negative judgment as well.
4. Causes of Suffering
Sanctions are not the sole cause of human suffering in Iraq. The government of Iraq bears a heavy burden of responsibility due to the wars it has started, its lack of cooperation with the Security Council, its domestic repression, and its failure to use limited resources fairly. However, the UN Security Council shares responsibility for the humanitarian crisis. The United States and the United Kingdom, who use their veto power to prolong the sanctions, bear special responsibility for the UN action. No-fly zones, periodic military attacks, and threats of regime-change block peaceful outcomes, as do vilification of Saddam Hussein, pro-sanctions propaganda, and other politicization of the crisis. Though real concerns about Iraq's security threat undoubtedly are legitimate, commercial interests, especially control over Iraq's oil resources, appear to be a driving force behind much of the policy making.
Sanctions advocates proposed Oil-for-Food under Resolution 986 as a temporary solution to the humanitarian crisis. Oil-for-Food materially improved conditions in Iraq in contrast to the early days of the sanctions. But Oil-for-Food failed to resolve the humanitarian crisis, much less provide a long-term solution for Iraq. Punitive deductions for war reparations weaken the program as do unacceptable delays in delivery (less than 60%f of all items ordered from oil sales since December 1996 have actually arrived in Iraq). Politically motivated blocks and "holds," imposed almost entirely by the United States, have plagued the program as well. Consequently, there has been little repair and renewal of Iraq's badly-deteriorated infrastructure, including water treatment, electricity, and public health. Oil-for-Food has failed to improve sufficiently the nutrition and health of Iraqi citizens, who continue to suffer from conditions drastically worse than the pre-sanctions period. Less than $200 per year per capita has arrived in Iraq under the program. Studies have amply documented a substantial rise in mortality of children, five years of age and under and credible estimates suggest that at least 400,000 of these young children have died due to the sanctions. Various reforms, including Resolution 1284 have proven ineffective in addressing these problems.
6. Smart Sanctions?
The United States and the United Kingdom recently proposed "smart sanctions" as an answer to critics. This reform, embodied in Security Council Resolution 1409, offers small improvements, but it has little in common with the "targeted sanctions" that experts have proposed in recent years. Targeted sanctions would directly impact Iraq's leaders, by freezing their assets and preventing their international travel, without damage to ordinary Iraqis. Resolution 1409 is grossly inadequate as a solution to the Iraq crisis. The enormous Goods Review List of items with possible military use suggests further blockage of goods and delays, as well as disappointingly little substantial advance. Meanwhile, a dispute over pricing methods has greatly reduced Iraq's oil sales, drastically depleting the funds of the humanitarian program, while the United States threatens to attack Iraq and impose a change of regime.
7. International Law
The Security Council has clear obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, which provide means to assess its sanctions record. A number of policy papers by UN agencies and bodies, as well as studies by legal scholars, have determined that the Council is in serious violation of its responsibilities in the case of Iraq. The Council has committed both procedural and substantive violations, by failing to conduct regular assessments of the humanitarian impact of the sanctions and by directly violating a number of important rights including the rights of children to protection and the right to life itself.
8. Conclusion & Policy Recommendations
A solution to the crisis in Iraq must be based on a comprehensive agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq in which many important and interrelated issues would be addressed. The United Nations must begin with five steps:
* Comprehensive economic sanctions must be lifted,
* The UN "escrow account" must be eliminated,
* Free trade (excepting military goods) must be re-established,
* Foreign investments in Iraq must be permitted, and
* Foreign assets of Iraq must be unfrozen so as to normalize its external economic relations
Such change will not be free of risk. The government of Iraq cannot be counted on to make benign and peaceful policy choices, or to promote automatically the well-being of its people. In this context
* Robust weapons monitoring must be reintroduced, to insure disarmament and eliminate production programs for mass destruction weapons,
* Disarmament in Iraq must be complemented by regional approaches to disarmament, especially elimination of mass destruction weapons and weapons programs in other regional states
The Government of Iraq must give firm assurances to the international community, as a part of reciprocal undertakings, that
* It will renounce all plans to buy, build or use weapons of mass destruction and related delivery systems
* It will cooperate fully with ongoing UN arms inspection arrangements
* It will establish friendly and cooperative relations with neighboring countries
* It will take all necessary steps to address the humanitarian emergency as soon as funds become available to do so
* It will honor minority rights, including offering special status to the Kurdish areas, and it will take steps to honor its human rights obligations.
If the government of Iraq fails at any time to provide adequate means for inspection and arms control, then:
* Narrowly-targeted sanctions, including financial and travel penalties, should be directed at Iraq's leaders,
* Time limits must be part of such a new sanctions regime,
* Clear criteria for lifting and modification must also be part of the new sanctions regime,
* Regular humanitarian assessments must also be part of the new sanctions as well, so that the Council will be aware of any possible impact on the broader Iraqi population.
If Iraq is to return to normalcy, and if it is to be persuaded to agree to international accords, it must be freed from constant military pressure, threats and intimidation. The Security Council's decisions, not unilateral action by one or two powerful states, must prevail. In this framework
* "No-Fly zones" must be eliminated and aerial threats and attacks halted,
* Unilateral military attacks must be ruled out as completely unacceptable and illegal, and
* Other efforts directed towards "regime change," including force build-ups, military aid to opposition forces, and covert destabilization and assassination campaigns must cease.
Further elements in the design for post-sanctions Iraq are also required, in order to address immediate humanitarian concerns, long-term development needs and safeguards for minorities. In such a framework:
* Emergency relief, to bring a speedy end to the human suffering, must be put in place with the help of the international community,
* Large-scale physical reconstruction, to build a new infrastructure for Iraq, must be set in motion, including foreign investments, and
* Safeguards for minorities such as the Kurds must be introduced, including federative structures and possibly a UN presence to monitor and promote human rights in the post-sanctions era.
Source: Global Policy Forum
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THE GOOD NEWS
FIGHT WITH PC BRINGS SWAT TEAM
A 32-year-old Boulder, CO man who had his patio door open was overheard screaming threats and seen waving what appeared to be a handgun, prompting a maintenance worker to call police.
Officers evacuated the man's apartment building and called SWAT officers.
Turns out that the man was simply upset at his computer - he called it a "bitch" he "wanted to kill," police said - and the gun was a plastic pellet gun, not the .45-caliber automatic handgun it was made to resemble.
"It was alarming and concerning and expensive for us, but the man's conduct didn't warrant any criminal charges," Deputy Police Chief Dave Hayes said.
Hundreds of people driving nearby were detoured as police officers directed traffic to keep residents of the complex from going home. Many people watched from sidewalks...
So be nice to you computer!
BARTCOP POLITICAL HUMOR
This political humor site starts by saying:
"It's not for everyone...
If you like war, recession and the rich getting richer you're not going to like what you read here"
Then it explains what you'll find:
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DIGITAL NEWS ARCHIVE
Did you happen to witness the Great Depression?
Or, perhaps you were there for the ominous rise of Hitler?
Maybe you even shared in the excitement at the first atom-bomb test?
If not, look at British Pathe Film Archive! The site provides digitized archives of news, sport, social history and entertainment films.
Old newsreels made new:
FUTURE IS NOW
ANOTHER STAR TREK DEVICE
You've seen a universal translator on shows like Star Trek, but now similar translating devices are being deployed in military situations here on contemporary Earth.
U.S. troops have handheld computers designed to enable quick translations of time-sensitive intelligence from some of the world's most difficult tongues, such as Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi - normally a painstaking task.
The devices, some already tested in the Balkans and Afghanistan, range from Palm-style handhelds that use English-language cues to play prerecorded foreign phrases, to a two-way voice translator that allows speakers of different languages to "hold a shaky conversation."
Army intelligence has also purchased 1,500 briefcase-sized document scanners that can make on-the-spot translations of written words from such languages as Dari, Pashto and Arabic.
The portable devices are one facet of a broad machine translation effort that combines private industry and universities with military, intelligence and police under the Language and Speech Exploitation Resources, or LASER, a program taking on one of the toughest challenges in computing. The head of that program believes that universal voice translations that go beyond narrow military confines will take decades to perfect.
The development of a real Star Trek-like "universal translator" appears to be only a few decades away, but let's hope by then it will be deployed in a much more peaceful context.
POWERS OF TEN
Have you ever seen that video animation where they show a human standing on earth and then they zoom out until they show the entire earth and then the entire solar system and ultimately you see entire galaxies. Then they shift into reverse and start zooming in until they are back on earth on a human scale again?
Well here is a website that has a similar animation where you can view the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then you move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tree. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.
POWERS OF TEN
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THE PUNCH LINE
DIETS AND DYING
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.