ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND DEVELOPMENT
International Progress Organization
Studies in International Relations, Vol. XXIII
Papers presented at the International Panel Discussion on "Economic
Sanctions and their Impact on Development"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
International Progress Organization, Vienna, 1997. All
The NGO Committee on Development, since its founding in 1995, has sought to promote an open debate on development-related issues among non-governmental organizations, with the aim of furthering the goals of the United Nations and creating a heightened public awareness of problems related to North-South relations. Previous seminars, on the problems of poverty, on the North-South conflict, on the results of such U.N. conferences as UNCED and HABITAT, have all served that same goal. The NGO Committee would like to contribute to a debate sine ira et studio, to a dialogue that is detached from vested interests and from positions dictated by power politics.1
The following facts can be stated in regard to the issue of sanctions and their impact on development:
Since the end of the East-West conflict, economic sanctions are increasingly used by the Security Council as a means to enforce its resolutions on the basis of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. This new "era" of enforcement measures was initiated by the sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990. The sanctions régimes as practiced by the Security Council have led to large-scale impoverishment in the directly targeted countries and to severe economic backlashes in the affected regions (apart from the political destabilization of whole regions that results from economic deprivation as we can see in the case of Turkey, the country most affected by the sanctions against Iraq).
Without making a value statement, one is forced to acknowledge the following normative conflicts in regard to the multilateral sanctions as defined in the U.N. Charter and established in the practice of the Security Council since 1990:
(a) There is an obvious conflict between the general goals of the Security Council − preservation of peace and security on a global level as stated in Art. 24 of the Charter − and the norms of certain international legal instruments and charters such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), to mention only a few.2
(b) Apart from these normative contradictions and incompatibilities on a strictly legal level, there exists a conflict between the above-mentioned goals of the Security Council and the political and social mission of the United Nations Organization in regard to economic development, particularly in regard to the organization's assistance to each member country in the use of its resources for development and for development aid.
Apart from the legal, human rights and general normative aspects mentioned above, the impact of economic sanctions on development can be assessed on three different levels (this relates to multilateral as well as bilateral sanctions in spite of their different legal nature):
(a) first, sanctions have a direct impact on the development of the targeted country (the "classical" cases in the present geopolitical constellation being those of Cuba, Iraq and Libya);
(b) secondly, sanctions subsequently affect the development prospects of the countries of the region whose economies interact with the economy of the targeted country; they may also have a profoundly destabilizing impact on the social and political situation in countries throughout the region (this being specifically demonstrated by the developments in South-East Anatolia in Turkey);
c) sanctions may have an indirect impact on the development of countries of the Third World insofar as potential donor countries are effectively "taken out of business." This is clearly demonstrated by the absurd situation in which a potentially rich country such as Iraq is forced to dismantle its development projects in the Third World and is itself made to depend on humanitarian aid that otherwise could be earmarked for the least developed countries. Comprehensive economic sanctions, when imposed in connection with the military destruction of a country's infrastructure, lead to impoverishment and starvation that needlessly absorbs international humanitarian capacities, as the whole world can see in the case of Iraq.
For NGOs committed to the goals of and working with the United Nations, the following U.N. resolutions are of special importance when dealing with the issue of comprehensive economic sanctions (whether bilateral or multilateral):
− the General Assembly's resolution on the issue of economic coercion, dealing with bilateral sanctions ("Economic Measures as a Means of Political and Economic Coercion against Developing Countries", res. 210 [XLVI] of 20 December 1991);
− the Declaration of the International Conference on Nutrition (1992), according to which food must not be used as a tool for political pressure; and more recently
− the Rome Declaration on World Food Security of 13 November 1996, adopted
by the World Food Summit of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the
United Nations (FAO) which reaffirmed the 1992 Declaration ("Food
should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure").
Of particular relevance for the evaluation of the question of economic sanctions in terms of their legal and economic ramifications is the joint statement issued by the heads of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs on 28 October 1996 concerning the consequences of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.3 Special attention should also be paid, in this regard, to a report of the World Health Organization in March 1996, from which I quote:
Very rarely has the impact of sanctions on millions of people been documented. Severe economic hardship, a semi-starvation diet, high levels of disease, scarcity of essential drugs and, above all, the psycho-social trauma and anguish of a bleak future, have led to numerous families being broken up leading to distortions in social norms.4
It is within this scope, as set by the WHO and other U.N. agencies, that the NGO Committee would like to discuss the issue of sanctions and development.
The consequences of comprehensive sanctions régimes (whether bilateral or, even more gravely, multilateral, such as those imposed in the name of the United Nations) have implications far beyond their stated goal (the restoration of peace and security as prescribed by Art. 39 of the U.N. Charter); they have far-reaching implications for the economic development, the health conditions, social stability and security not only of the present but even of the future generations of the peoples in the affected regions. This requires a high sense of responsibility and moral commitment on the part of the international decision-makers. In addition, the sanctions policy and régime, as it has been shaped by the Security Council since the end of the East-West polarity (since 1990 to be exact), has a particular impact on North-South relations in general and, in this regard, on world peace as a whole. If sanctions are perceived as serving as a kind of "hunger weapon" against developing countries whose infrastructure is not yet sufficiently developed as to make them self-sufficient, one should not be surprised if new tensions and conflicts result from such policies, thereby depriving whole peoples of their right to development.
Generally speaking, the issue of development cannot be separated from that of a just world order, and in particular a just international economic order. The issue of sanctions and development must, therefore, be of concern to all who believe in the basic goals of the United Nations as solemnly proclaimed in the Preamble to the U.N. Charter. The policy of comprehensive sanctions must be reevaluated in the light of a comprehensive analysis of its costs in terms of development, basic human rights and world peace, all of which are intrinsically linked.
1. The Committee invited to the international panel discussion on "Economic Sanctions and Development" the representatives of countries targeted or affected by sanctions (Cuba, Iraq, Libya, Turkey) and the Permanent U.N. Representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the European Union. Only the first group accepted the Committee's invitation.
2. For a detailed documentation see Hans Köchler, The United Nations Sanctions Policy and International Law. Just World Trust, Penang: 1995.
3. Grave concern expressed over deteriorating conditions in Iraq, news release, ICEF/1834, IHA/607, WFP/1038, 28 October 1996.
4. The Health Conditions of the Population in Iraq since the Gulf Crisis. World Health Organization, March 1996, Conclusions, par. 7, p. 17.
Sanctions and Development: Some Hypotheses
As development is a comprehensive societal process, the separation between its material and immaterial, intellectual and factual components remains more or less analytical in nature. Nevertheless, it might be useful to concentrate on one particular aspect of this many-sided issue. With a view to aiding clarity and precision, I have attempted to formulate my ideas in terms of some hypotheses, which, I hope, can serve to better explain the impact sanctions may have on the development of the targeted countries.
1. Underdevelopment is a threat to international peace and security as well as to freedom and democracy at the national level. Sanctions which necessarily involve punitive and/or coercive measures against particular targeted countries are consequently bound to impede their rates of growth and development. The widening gap between the more and the less developed countries would result in power inequalities, thereby allowing for (if not inviting) domination and hegemony. It would leave the door open for powerful countries to resort to force to resolve their conflicts with smaller and less powerful countries as exemplified in the U.S. practice vis-à-vis such countries as Libya, Panama and Grenada. This power inequality led the French philosopher Baudrillard to conclude that the U.S.-Iraq war in 1991 did not occur, because such an unbalanced conflict could not be described as war.1
2. The negative impact of sanctions on national development in the targeted countries would inevitably lead these countries to take countermeasures that would almost certainly involve centrally directed economic plans aimed at alleviating the problems caused by these sanctions. This tendency, if continued, would necessarily produce command economies and politics that give weight to the ruling élites vis-à-vis the popular masses. As argued by some scholars of economics and political science, "failure to generate growing incomes in developing countries would certainly threaten to undermine democracy by fostering or exacerbating harsh and divisive conditions of zero-sum social conflict."2 In a country like Libya, the very regionalized and localized political and economic basis of society (i.e. the direct-democratic system of people's conferences and people's committees) could be threatened as the sanctions become expanded in time and intensity as a consequence of U.N. Security Council resolutions whose renewal and occasional upgrading have become a matter of course.
This outcome is by no means a collateral effect of "legitimate" sanctions, but, rather, a natural outcome, one that is easy to explain, as constituting part of the terrible consequences of the sanctions resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. This would have to raise serious questions with respect to the ethical and legal aspects of such resolutions that have been taken by an international body which is supposed to defend and foster freedom, not to stifle it, and to encourage participatory forms of political and economic decision-making, rather than taking measures that concentrate power and wealth in the hands of the few.
3. Due to the nature of sanctions as a threat power, their consequences can be ambivalent, uncertain, paradoxical and conflicting as well as damaging. As some authors have observed, sanctions have been in certain cases working in the direction that has been selected by the imposing powers. In other cases, however, these sanctions proved to be a failure, as exemplified in the case of South Africa during the apartheid era. In an earlier analysis of trade sanctions, Bruce Bartlett states that before the U.N. arms embargo was imposed in the early 1960's, South Africa was 60 percent dependent on foreign arms, and that in 1986 it became 90 percent self-sufficient, in many cases producing weapons under license from other countries such as France and Israel. Bartlett further explains that South Africa has dealt with the embargo on oil exports by developing a synthetic fuels industry that manufactures oil and gas from abundant supplies of available coal.3
I would like to argue that both cases of success and failure of these sanctions should be negatively evaluated due to the indiscriminate and destructive nature of this punitive action. Sanctions, as they are retributive measures directed against the whole population of a certain country, should be discredited as an idea, regardless of whatever results they might bring about. They should be equated with terrorism, slavery and serfdom. While they could lead to certain gains for those who practice them, such gains would be reached through inflicting grave injuries upon broad sectors of human beings, human values and human rights.
4. Development and democracy are characterized by a reversible relationship. Just as the level of development affects that of democracy, democratic advancement, in return, fosters further development in other areas of social life. Should sanctions negatively influence social development (which is almost certain to happen), so it must be born in mind that deficient political and economic structures will be conducive to centralized decision-making, as well as to major economic problems and political unrest. Social development as a whole will suffer direct and indirect blows from the centralized and monopolistic policies of the sanctioned governments on the one hand and the sanctioning parties and the international institutions which they manipulate on the other. Sanctions, as a form of threat, can be seen as a "creator of somewhat unstable systems, operating almost as an interruption in the large and longer process of integrative development and productive power."4
5. This line of argument should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the big powers, which dominate the United Nations Security Council and many other international institutions, tend to be democratic within their national domains but authoritarian or hegemonic toward the outside world. The same tendency toward compulsion through sanctions or what some authors call the "economic powers of persuasion"5 seems to be the dominant mode of control in many capitalist societies. As Robert Dahl6 argued, people in these countries must accept their lot. What Fukuyama7 calls the "universal principle of recognition", which capitalist societies are supposed to equally provide to all ethnic groups, minorities and citizens, seems to be more or less a "universal principle of compulsion." In that case, the dominant system must be taken for granted and accepted as a sacred institutional arrangement. Accordingly, democracy and freedom are to be understood as an empirical and final end result rather than a transcendental ideal which could be improved or maximized. Furthermore, democratic ideals are mixed up with the institutional arrangements serving to attain them. In this respect, sanctions could be easily seen as an extension of the compulsory element that dominates domestic life in one's own society to other societies, particularly those which try to go beyond capitalism and market democracy and seek alternative forms of social life and development.
6. Although the modern policy of sanctions emerged as an American practice that "began in 1807 when President Thomas Jefferson embargoed all U.S. trade with Europe to protest British attacks on U.S. merchant ships,"8 the recent U.S. practice in regard to the policy of sanctions seems destined to combine unilateral U.S. policy with a "collective" U.N. , and joint U.S.-European, stance against targeted countries and regions.
In his speech on September 6, 1996 in Stuttgart, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher contended: "Our principled commitment to free trade simply does not oblige us to do business with aggressive tyrannies like Iran and Libya. We must join forces on effective multilateral measures that deny these rogue regimes the resources they crave."9
Due to the competitive world market, most sanctions were hitherto not of a multilateral nature. However, current U.S. policies seek to utilize the unipolar international system that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union to globalize U.S. interests and politics and to instrumentalize existing international structures (mainly the U.N. ) for exclusive U.S. aims and interests. This type of U.S.-sponsored multilateralism could only result in producing tensions of a global nature which could arise between cultures and/or regions in the manner that has been described by Samuel P. Huntington as a "clash of civilizations."
7. Furthermore, the globalization of the U.S.-sponsored and practiced policy of sanctions, if attained, will inevitably be extremely dangerous for international peace and security. This is mainly resultant from the fact that this U.S. policy of sanctions has often proven to be based on narrow and uncertain judgments about which policy can best serve U.S. interests. With the major exception of Cuba, most other U.S. sanctions have been subjected to drastic revisions, even going to the extreme of giving them up altogether.
Former President Ronald Reagan, for instance, believed that the collective sanctions imposed on South Africa during the apartheid era would "mostly damage the people we want to help,"10 as though the sanctions imposed against other countries were affecting only governments. In addition, in 1981, Reagan lifted the grain embargo that had been imposed by the Carter administration against the then USSR, allegedly in "response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan." The reason behind this decision was not the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan (which only took place some years thereafter), but − in the words of former President Reagan − "because alternative suppliers of this widely available commodity stepped in to make up for the grain which would have been normally supplied by U.S. farmers."11
This shaky position of the U.S. sanctions policy can also be documented through the conflicting standpoints of U.S. officials and politicians in regard to its effectiveness. While continuing to practice this sanctions policy of "constructive disengagement"12, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz contended in 1982: "As a general proposition, I think the use of trade sanctions as an instrument of diplomacy is a bad idea ... Our using it here, there and elsewhere to try to affect some other country's behavior ... basically has not worked." On other occasions, the late Adlai E. Stevenson, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (1961-1965) spoke out against sanctions, indicating that "[p]unitive measures would only provoke intransigence and harden the existing situation." In 1985, Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth W. Dam told Congress: "Sanctions ... would be counter-productive: they are more likely to strengthen resistance to change than to strengthen the forces of reform."13
The main conclusion that can be drawn from these conflicting practices and statements is that the U.S. has been practicing this sanctions policy on an experimental basis that is essentially related to strategic as well as tactical-political and economic interests. Obviously, this policy has nothing to do with any ideals or principles. Where the sanctions policy succeeds, it would be maintained, but if it should fail, then it is to be abandoned altogether.
In reality, it is a situation which involves experimentation on human subjects, involving not merely experimental groups of a handful of individuals, as is normally the case in such situations. Rather, this experimentation takes place, unfortunately, on whole populations and nation-states. This is an important aspect of the immorality of the sanctions policy, regardless of its overt and covert aims.14
8. In a world that is greatly inter-related and inter-connected, it is in most cases quite impossible to single out specific targets for sanctions without, at the same time, inflicting damages on other targets. In the case of the sanctions imposed on Libya, these have caused serious negative effects on the economic development of Libya, as well as on the development of neighboring countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad, Niger and Malta. Due to several geopolitical and cultural factors, these countries have always exhibited co-developmental approaches rather than a competitive race for modernization. An under populated developing country like Libya, despite its oil revenues, would never be able to achieve development without the labor market of its neighbors and without technological cooperation with its European and Asian partners. Sanctions that are imposed on Libya would necessarily hit all its Arab, African, Asian, and European partners.
Despite the lack of empirical studies that could provide concrete data on this matter, one can easily discover the inherent shortcomings of sanctions as an instrument of policy at the international level. "Like any tool, [sanctions] are often misused, applied ineptly on behalf of (self-defined) right purposes, or used skillfully on behalf of bad ones (as it is usually the case)".15
9. Regardless of all justifications, sanctions should be seen as an infringement on the basic human right to development. Like all other rights, development assumes freedom to choose its path and to decide its aims and means. Freedom in its widest sense means the human right to self-development, not to a development based on coercion, compulsion and threat originating from outside actors and factors.
Instead of the xenophobic belief that some other nations are somehow inferior and threatening and could only be suppressed and punished, we need, intellectually at least, to develop basic ideas of sovereign equality among citizens as well as nations. This is a task that must begin in the minds of men and women. Likewise, war, sanctions, terrorism, serfdom, domination and dictatorship should end in the same place were sovereign equality begins: namely in the minds of men and women.
It took a civil war for the U.S.A. to become convinced of the evils of slavery; it has taken the same country a major war in Vietnam to learn that force and killing would never solve problems, subjugate nations or end conflicts. Hopefully, the U.S. will not require another war to become convinced that sanctions are as horrible, abhorrent and terrorist as slavery and war.
10. Instead of adopting U.S. policies of isolation (key slogan: "constructive disengagement"), sanctions and threats, international bodies such as the United Nations should emphasize positive ideals of integration, dialogue, communication and understanding among peoples and nations. Only through such means can our one world achieve collective learning and organic development. Excommunication, isolation and sanctions on the part of an interventionist super-state are all ideas that run counter to human logic, history and science.
As justly contended by Bertrand Russell16 in regard to the former USSR, "scientific dictatorships will perish through not being sufficiently scientific". Let us endeavor to make the U.S. a global scientific gain for humanity. Let us hope that this particular country in this unipolar international system will not also be turned into a scientific dictatorship, a result that would be both dictatorial and unscientific.
The negative consequences of this sanctions policy, which I have tried to outline above, would not be confined to the development of some targeted countries. Likewise, this sanctions policy would impede the development of the U.N. itself. It would impede the development of universal human rights and values as well as world peace and security as a whole. The U.N. structures within this manipulated atmosphere would be susceptible to crises of image, credibility and trustworthiness. In this regard, one can identify three areas of concern that would require deepest thought and analysis:
a) Sanctions resolutions of the U.N. Security Council could confront a broad international consensus that speaks against their imposition. The sanctions imposed against Libya represent an example of this situation. In addition to the fact that these resolutions were by no means unanimous within the Security Council, there have been subsequent resolutions adopted by the League of Arab States, the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-aligned Movement, calling for the setting up of a judicial inquiry into the question of Lockerbie and advocating dialogue, negotiations and mediation, as well as a legal settlement, to this particular issue. This problematic of having "the few imposing their decisions on the many"17 is a natural result of the small size of the Security Council, which is the sole U.N. organ that can impose mandatory sanctions. Such a situation would raise serious questions as to the legality, morality and democratic value of the sanctions resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and its "collective" or "multilateral" sanctions.
b) Another major problematic could arise in regard to possible illegal acts that constitute "transgressions and breach of international law" when and if they are committed by any of the U.N. Security Council's permanent members which possess the power of veto, which is sufficient to defeat even the thought of imposing sanctions on such privileged states.
c) The idea of economic sanctions itself involves cultural and ideological biases that emphasize a materialistic approach to human behavior at the micro and macro levels. Resting on these materialistic assumptions, the sanctions policy tends to instrumentalize economic strategies of warfare to influence both the individual and collective behavior of the population and leadership of the targeted countries through means of threat and punishment. These materialistic assumptions, however, can by no means represent universally valid and scientifically well proven theories or paradigms.
1. Cited in Hondrich 1992, 110.
2. Bhagwati 1993, 35.
3. Bartlett, 1986.
4. William H. McNeill, cited in Boulding 1990, 11.
5. Fossedal, 1985.
6. Robert Dahl, 1993, 79.
7. Fukuyama, 1993, 100-101.
8. Bartlett, 1986.
9. Bulletin of the U.S. Information Service. U.S. Embassy, London.
10. Fossedal, op. cit.
13. All three previous quotations are to be found in Bartlett, op. cit.
14. For an elaborate discussion on this issue see Hans Köchler, The United Nations Sanctions Policy and International Law, Just World Trust, Penang: 1995.
15. Fossedal, op. cit. The comments in parentheses are mine.
16. Cited in J. Bhagwati (1993), "Democracy and Development" in Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner (eds.), op. cit.
17. Dumas 1995, 191.
Bartlett, Bruce, "What's Wrong With Trade Sanctions?", USA Today Magazine, 114 (May 1986), pp. 22-25.
Bhagwati, Jagdish, "Democracy and Development" in Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner (eds.).
Boulding, Kenneth E., Three Faces of Power, London: Sage Publications, 1990.
Bulletin of the United States Information Service, U.S. Embassy, London, September 7, 1996.
Dahl, Robert, "Why Free Markets Are Not Enough?" in Larry Diamond and M. F. Plattner (eds.).
Diamond, Larry, and Mark F. Plattner (eds.), Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy Revisited. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
Dumas, Lloyd (Jeff), "A Proposal for a New United Nations Council on Economic Sanctions", in David Cortright and George A. Lopez (eds.), Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Peacebuilding in a Post-Cold War World?, Boulder: Westview Press, 1995.
Fossedal, Gregory A., "Sanctions for Beginners", in New Republic, 193 (Oct. 21, 1985), pp. 18-21.
Fukuyama, Francis, "Capitalism and Democracy: The Missing Link", in L. Diamond and M. F. Plattner (eds.).
Hondrich, Karl Otto, Lehrmeister Krieg, Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1992.
Köchler, Hans, The United Nations Sanctions Policy and International Law, Penang: Just World Trust, 1995.
Embargoes and the Non-Targeted Countries: The Case of Turkey
The lack of democracy in today's international politics has its roots in the quest by the victors of the Second World War to continue to dominate the post-war peace. The United Nations, in which the industrialized Northern countries generally have the last say, was created with a view to organizing the world community under the leadership of the most powerful states, equipped with privileges for that purpose. Now, more than half a century later, it is still dominated by the same powers, principally by the United States, who enjoy special rights, such as a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council and the power of veto. Long-classified but recently analyzed documents reveal that the U.S. set the U.N. agenda, controlled its debate, pressured others to agree to its preferences, and created a Charter in accordance with its needs.1
Initially composed of just 51 countries, the United Nations originally started as a cluster of white Northerners, who expected some others to join eventually, but did not foresee today's 185 missions to the General Assembly. However, decolonization changed the composition of the United Nations, and the General Assembly hall, initially built to house at most seventy delegations, came to be dominated by people of color in rainbow dresses. The slight enlargement of the Security Council (from 11 to 15) and the Economic and Social Council (from 18 to 54) was far from enough. International relations were not yet de-Westernized. But the majority of the missions now represented the non-European, non-white, non-Northwestern, ex-colonial, anti-imperialist, non-aligned, and economically poor countries of the world. With common problems and aspirations, they shared common priorities distinct from those of the Northern states. They wanted to be accepted as full-fledged actors on the international stage and to be treated as subjects, not objects, in international law. Legally equal, the countries of the South suffered either sudden withdrawal of World Bank loans or IMF guarantees if they deviated from Northern, or more particularly American preferences, or where assistance was given, experienced unavoidable cutbacks in social programs so as to meet growing international debts coupled which were compounded by interest payments.
The United Nations generally stood against Soviet policies during the first two decades or so following its establishment. The final two decades prior to the end of the Cold War, however, witnessed an American alienation from this global organization, with certain agencies not sharing Northern views. As the U.S. came to be more and more isolated in the General Assembly, UNESCO and the ILO, it stopped meeting its financial obligations to the United Nations. Washington's failure to pay its dues has played an important role in the monetary difficulties the U.N. now finds itself in. The U.S. repeatedly violated that international organization and deliberately bankrupted it by holding back its share of payments. The entire U.N. budget is a little over 11 billion dollars for a world of 5.7 billion people. This is less than what the Americans spend on beauty products. The United States earns, on the other hand, a billion dollars every year for hosting the main headquarters of that organization.
The Gulf crisis which erupted following the end of the East-West conflict provided new opportunities for the globalization of American preferences. Seizing the initiative, President George Bush planned and launched an American war using the name and authority of the United Nations. At the very least, the Security Council, and, sometimes, the General Assembly, became dependable instruments of American foreign policy. Clinton's U.N. representative Madeleine Albright, just like Bush's Jeane Kirkpatrick,2 used this organization as a tool to enforce U.S. preferences.
II. Mid-Intensity Conflict Doctrine
When the Soviet deterrent faded away, the United States remained the only power with the capacity to exercise power globally and suddenly warmed up to the United Nations, after years of antagonism. Until the Gulf War, U.S. military thinking embraced two different strategic concepts, one concerned with high-intensity conflict, that is, a war of massive battles with the Warsaw Pact countries, fought with heavy tanks, air power and artillery, reserving the right to also use nuclear weapons, and the second concerned with low-intensity conflict, formulated to respond to guerrilla warfare in some Third World countries, and fought with comparatively lighter weapons. Both of these alternatives had their own set of weaponry, doctrines, strategy and tactics.
The end of the Cold War changed this situation. Initially, the public thought that military thinking and organization would now be radically altered, with the resources of the nation flowing into the civilian sector. With no war of high intensity being anticipated in Europe, the United States would now need only a small fraction of the overall armed forces that it had kept for such a long time. Although this was a relief for the average man, this was not so for the professional military, the defense contractors, strategic thinkers and others who depended on high spending on the armed forces.
A new "mid-intensity conflict" theory3 developed from the contention that substantial military power was still needed in the post-Cold War era, and this met the needs of the institutions and people whose livelihood depended on high military allocations. The new theory, eventually termed as the "Bush Doctrine", was based on the concept of "new enemies" in the Third World, essentially states which possess a large and up-to-date conventional weapons capability, along with some degree of nuclear capability. The concept of a new enemy was formulated theoretically before the Kuwaiti crisis. Two earlier American studies called government attention to threats from a number of Third World countries while minimizing the Soviet threat. Both Discriminate Deterrence, the report of the U.S. Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, and Conventional Combat Priorities, the report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, advocated, in view of the demise of the Soviet military threat, a new strategy to suit mid-intensity conflict. The former report saw the light of day in 1988, and the latter a year later. It was in 1989 that President Bush stated, in his first major announcement on national security, that certain Third World countries were acquiring advanced weapons and systems of delivery. Other statements by high-ranking U.S. officials prove that the executive branch of the government had already reached a consensus on a new, mid-intensity conflict doctrine aimed at the Third World.
Even before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, i.e. in early 1990, the Pentagon reportedly conducted a computerized war game which targeted Iraq as the enemy. When the Gulf War began, the doctrine and strategy pertaining to it were already well developed and ready for application. It involved attacks on the enemy's troops and the simultaneous destruction of vital facilities, including systems for civilian use. The new doctrine called for concentrated fire-power to cripple the enemy in the shortest possible time. It involved advanced tactical aircraft, highly accurate missiles, mighty fire-power and strategic mobility. It appeared that this would be the standard preparation for the remainder of the 1990s.
The new doctrine complements the renewed assertion of pax Americana, which demands the use of military force to protect U.S. interests wherever these may be threatened. As we have seen, American leaders had indicated, before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, that "new threats" were emerging. Considering that there will always be some sort of disorder in the Third World, which in the opinion of official U.S. circles, will threaten the interests of that country, it follows that there is virtually no end to possible threats to American interests. Although reference has also been made to the "peaceful settlement of disputes" in President Bush's several major statements dealing with the "New World Order," there has been less utilization of peaceful means and more resorting to concentrated fire-power. Likewise, references to "human rights", a point to be further elaborated below, are really directed at U.S. adversaries. In any case, the mid-intensity doctrine will dominate U.S. military policy for the next decade, perhaps compensating for the loss of the country's economic status.
The United States had already applied an embargo to Cuba, first introduced 35 years ago. While many Western-inspired countries, including the Latin American ones, are revising their relations with that island-state, only the U.S. has not altered its policy. Havana ceased all aid to insurgents in Latin America, but the United States is still exerting pressure on other countries to curtail commerce with Cuba. While Cuba has lost markets and fairer terms of trade, it is also denied access to credits by international banks. A small country, blockaded by the mightiest one on earth, is trying to resist and stay alive. This is an unfair burden imposed from outside to starve a people into submission. One American president after another has made no secret of the fact that the policy of the strong northern neighbor aims to ignite a chain reaction in that country: trade limitations will cause economic decline, leading to inflation and shortages; declining economic conditions will feed social unrest, with support from the northern neighbor which wishes nothing more than to repossess its "lost colony;" and finally, there will be a return to the powerful embrace of the previous master, reminiscent of the time of the tyrant Batista.
Likewise, one can also challenge the degree of legality of a number of the actions taken against Libya in connection with the explosion of a Pan American aircraft over Lockerbie in Scotland (1988).4 It was only after a lapse of almost three years that the former prime suspects, as they were designated, rightly or wrongly, were put aside, and suddenly two Libyans, and through them Libya itself, without the existence of any new evidence, were accused, accompanied by demands to surrender the two men, as well as a number of U.N. Security Council decisions which basically sanctioned Libya. There are grave doubts as to the legality of the procedure invoked in blaming Libya and two of its citizens and challenging them by means of threats and infringements of the state in question. The controversy is unique, not only in terms of its nature and its significance for international law, but also in the way the Security Council has become involved in a "New World Order" in which unipolarity seems dominant.
III. "Coalition," Oil and Human Rights
From the very beginning of the Gulf crisis, it appeared as though it were a war of the United Nations. On 25 July 1990, that is a few days prior to the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, April Glaspie, told President Saddam Hussein that her government had no opinion on inter-Arab conflicts, including Iraq's one with Kuwait, and that she had clear instructions to develop American-Iraqi relations. But within hours of the Iraqi attack on Kuwait (2 August 1990), which was a violation of the U.N. Charter,5 U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council and secured a 14-0 vote of condemnation, Yemen being the only state that did not participate in the voting. Within hours of the attack and invasion, the Security Council met to demand Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait and later adopted a dozen resolutions under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter covering various aspects of the conflict.
Reflecting the relevant Security Council resolutions, an argument in favor of the Gulf War centered on the principles of world order, international law and the Charter of the United Nations. According to this view, the major powers cooperated in the containment and resolution of conflict, under the umbrella of the United Nations, and used its institutional processes.
Another explanation is that the allies, led by the United States, used military force against Iraq to protect oil supplies for themselves, to counter domestic recession, or at least its possible political consequences, and to defend American economic and geopolitical interests worldwide, as well as the desire of the North to conquer the South militarily.
By alluding to Iraq's past human rights record, the U.S. government tried to rally public opinion to a war, not only for oil, but also for humanity. However, even the view that defined the war in terms of cooperation among the major powers for the containment of a conflict did not look at the "New World Order" in terms of human rights, references to which amounted to little more than rhetorical embellishments.6 These concerns had little or no influence on the way the war was fought or the policies pursued afterwards. Human rights rhetoric, on the other hand, played an important part in the campaign, which required support both from the United Nations and from the peoples of the states concerned. The leaders of the "Coalition", foremost President Bush, relied heavily in their official pronouncements on the desirability of freeing the peoples of both Kuwait and Iraq.
Although the war against Iraq appeared to be one vested with international credibility via the United Nations, the world organization had no part in deciding when, where, and how the war would be waged and how long it would take. Even the Security Council learned about the armed response from the announcements of the "Cable News Network" (CNN).
There exist sufficient official American statements,7 corroborated by a number of publications,8 that create and maintain the image that the armed response of the Coalition constituted a just and a legal war, allegedly representing the dawn of a new age in international law. The United States-led Coalition officially claimed that it aimed at nothing more than to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait, destroy Iraq's offensive threat to the region, and eliminate that country's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, together with its delivery capabilities.
Such statements asserted that the intervention against Iraq was one of the cleanest wars in history, inflicting only unavoidable minimal damage to the civilian population. While Iraqi behavior was amply criticized, the Coalition forces were applauded and eulogized for their almost exemplary humane conduct, including restraints that they allegedly displayed. The United States took care to make use of more than 200 legal experts in the theater of operations.9
There are other studies, which not only challenge the view that the laws of war restrained conduct, but further that the Gulf War intensified the trend to legalize inhuman methods. Questioning the traditional interpretation that the laws of war limit brute force, this second body of meticulous research emphasizes that the Coalition, hiding behind legalistic terms, carried on a lopsided armed conflict with dramatic short- and long-term consequences for civilians.
Focusing on children killed or injured during the war, the Harvard Study Team concluded that the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure increased child mortality and diseases.10 The report of the International Study Team, composed of experts or volunteers from thirteen nations,11 as well as the two United Nations reports (based on the missions led by Martti Ahtisaari12 and later by Sadruddin Aga Khan,13) and that of WHO/UNICEF14 confirmed and expanded on the findings of the Harvard Study Team.
These reports indicate that the massive attacks on Iraq, that lasted for 43 days, paralyzed the country, totally destroying the support system of city dwellers. There is convincing evidence that the Coalition attacked non-military targets with separate economic and political objectives in mind. Although the attackers knew that the civilian population was totally dependent on electricity, their awareness of this fact did not prevent them from bombing power stations several times. Consequently, water purification equipment could not be operated, food production reached its lowest level, the health system broke down completely, and epidemics ran rampant. Children and the elderly were especially affected. The oil sector was also repeatedly attacked beyond military necessities, with the intention to deliver blows to the country's ability to achieve economic recovery. Bridges and factories, not necessarily connected with the military network, were indiscriminately destroyed. Under such circumstances, the Iraqi civilians had no option but to endure pain for reasons that went beyond the requirements of war. Moreover, each prolongation of the sanctions aggravates the agony of the population.
The Gulf War also demonstrated that vague humanitarian principles of the laws of war may be used by certain states to protect their actions from criticism and hide their modus operandi behind legalistic terms. Moreover, it may also be asserted that powerful nations formulated the laws of war in the past, placing military violence above humanitarian concerns.15 Although the attempts to regulate the conduct of war have a very long history, humanitarian hopes placed on the legal structure have only been able to penetrate the substance of the laws selectively. While governments generally oppose restrictions on their use of military power, they are sometimes painstakingly careful to dress up their conduct in some legal garb. It is the same legal garb that legitimizes their conduct, whose guiding beacon is military self-interest. It may be said in summary that the laws of war permit almost any kind of conduct during hostilities as long as it serves military objectives. Expecting belligerents to act in accordance with their military interests, legal codification established the priority of military considerations.
The laws of war fail to impose humanitarian restrictions on military operations. They do not represent the conquest of sanity over barbarity, but rather a trend of unsuccessful efforts to restrain military conduct. Prohibitions, such as the ban on explosive bullets as expressed in the Saint Petersburg Declaration (1868), really involved the elimination of already obsolete weapons. States have also preferred to approve vague principles that are difficult to enforce. The Gulf War was but the latest example of the manipulation of law to make belligerent acts appear legitimate.
The Coalition, led by the United States, deployed forces in Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf states and adjacent waters. The ground offensive, after an intensive campaign of aerial bombardment, came to an end on 28 February 1991, and the Security Council resolution 687 (3 April 1991) imposed numerous sanctions on Iraq.
IV. Sociological Perspectives on Sanctions
Although the word "sanctions" is more and more being used in speech and in writing, its exact meaning or legal consequences are not clear.16 It is generally assumed, however, that a sanction is a part of the rule of law connoting the observance of certain norms and also means to be applied in failure to observe them. It may mean both the obligation to comply with certain regulations and the coercion against the violator of these norms. Sanctions are coercive because they are applied, if necessary, by force and against the will of the target involved.
Neither the Covenant of the League of Nations, nor the Charter of the United Nations mentions the word "sanctions".17 Nevertheless, older publications18 treated sanctions with a greater focus on the civilian population compared to contemporary writings, which focus mainly on the measures to be taken by the international community. But even then, when the Security Council and the General Assembly passed a number of resolutions calling on states to apply economic sanctions against South Africa, only small states, which had limited cooperation with the apartheid régime, responded to these appeals, while the United States pursued a policy of so-called "constructive engagement", during President Reagan's time, signifying a closer bond between Washington and Pretoria than had existed hitherto.19 Although measures taken against Southern Rhodesia were more comprehensive than those taken against Italy in 1935-36, and the General Assembly terminated South Africa's mandate over South West Africa, Washington and its Northern allies, including Israel, were covertly collaborating with the racist régime. The Security Council did not exhibit a determination to utilize armed enforcement methods to fight apartheid.
In spite of various resolutions of the international community condemning Israel's occupation of Arab lands, violation of human rights, and nuclear ties with the South African racist régime, many of them have not been enforced. For instance, Jerusalem continues to be occupied.20 While only four countries prohibited sales of armaments to Portugal, Cuba, identified with an ideology unacceptable to the United States, was suspended or expelled (1962) from the Organization of American States although its Charter does not have a provision for sanctions.
The issue of sanctions may be considered from the standpoint of a number of disciplines. A sociological perspective has received minimum attention. The application of sanctions may lose its rationale as punishment for an illegal act and may become a lever for political pressure wielded by the dominant countries.21 Once they become a political weapon, any pretext may be resorted to so as to maintain them in accordance with the dictum of might makes right. Since there are no effective checks and balances to prevent sanctions from serving the economic and political interests of the influential members of the international community, they may well be biased against the legitimate rights of the targeted nation. Although there may be certain logic in the arguments of the dominant power imposing the sanctions, the power in question may conceal its real intentions and create a pretext for political domination.
Sanctions are also a social fact and cause significant social changes at several levels. In addition to the level of relationship between the country in question and the international setting, there are changes at the middle and micro levels. Utilizing statistics on trade, migration and the like, it is easier to measure the effects of sanctions in respect to relations with neighbors. Sanctions affect the civilian population in many ways. They may rapidly criminalize the society, create a "new elite" recruited from the ranks of criminals and cause the infiltration of various government agencies by organized crime. A society, formerly with a relatively high degree of security, may develop into one with no safety of person or property, particularly for those who are the most helpless, i.e., children, the elderly, and the sick. The sanctions become increasingly inhumane, assuming a genocidal character.
V. The Embargo and Iraq
Just as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was sudden, massive and overwhelming, so was the American response to it. In both cases, superior forces engulfed the weaker ones. Both Kuwait and Iraq are trying to repair the physical damage. In both countries, individuals continue to be profoundly affected by the assault.22 The Coalition against Iraq was a fraud and Washington was "calling the shots".23
The war itself and the sanctions that came with it punished an entire population. The Security Council resolution 661 (6 August 1990) prohibits Iraq from exporting to other countries, importing from others all products except food, medicine and medical equipment, and it prohibits the transfer of financial sources to that country. The old view that sanctions constitute a "humanitarian alternative" to war cannot be sustained on account of the destructive weight of American economic power. Sanctions imposed by the leading capitalist country can destroy the entire infrastructure of the targeted society and force upon it an artificial famine. As amply proved by various organizations and individuals, sanctions have killed millions of Iraqi people, injured many more and damaged the society for generations to come.
On the basis of a number of international instruments one can deduce that sanctions are a brutal form of war. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and of the family. Protocol I (1977) additional to the Geneva Conventions prohibits the destruction of objects indispensable for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and irrigation works for the purpose of denying them their value to civilians. The same protocol prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.
Further, General Assembly resolution 44/215 (1989) calls upon the developed countries to refrain from political coercion through economic instruments in order to induce changes in the systems or in the domestic and foreign policies of the countries or to affect their development. Likewise, the World Declaration on Nutrition, adopted at the International Conference on Nutrition (1992), states that "food must not be used as a tool for political pressure."
In response to demands to relieve the suffering of civilians in Iraq and in the border areas, the United Nations first dispatched a number of missions to the area to assess essential needs and later devised a scheme, the so-called "oil-for-food" formula by which exports of Iraqi oil could be used for the provision of foodstuffs and medicines as well as for the Compensation Commission and other U.N. activities mandated by resolution 687 (1991). Iraq accepted the "oil-for-food" formula24 in the hope of relieving the suffering which increasingly affects its population.
During the first sanctions review concerning Iraq (5 August 1991) there was no agreement among the members of the Security Council that the necessary conditions existed for a modification of the régime established in resolution 687 (1991). Similar tendencies emerged following other sanctions reviews. Although the need to alleviate humanitarian conditions for the Iraqi civilian population was stressed on some occasions, the sanctions relating to oil, trade, finance, and other economic transactions remained in place.
The U.N. Compensation Commission decided at its 15th meeting (18 October 1991) to provide compensation for individuals deprived of economic resources threatening seriously his or her survival and that of the family.25 Business losses of individuals were also considered in the same meeting.26 Preventing access, removal, looting and destruction are examples of circumstances under which business losses could have occurred. Premises, equipment and stock are examples of business property whose losses could be claimed. Damage to intangible assets, lost business revenues and losses in connection with contracts could also be claimed if they were direct losses resulting from Iraq's invasion. The Compensation Commission decided at its 18th meeting (28 November 1991) that the Secretariat would make a preliminary assessment of the claims, which would then be submitted to a panel of commissioners for review within a set time-limit.27 If resources were insufficient with respect to all claims, pro rata payments would be made to governments periodically as funds became available.
Such measures, partial and inadequate as they were, could not appease the criticism that the whole process, affecting foremost the targeted country and consequently the border areas, was a brutal one, and that, further, the powerful states were again trying to colonize the globe in a new fashion.28
Iraq has close to twenty million people, laid almost helpless beneath a mighty military stroke. The bombing broke a whole country and its population for a long time to come. All reports have stated that the passing of time has brought the country to the brink of calamity. The scale of damage has indeed been dramatic, and the impact of economic and financial sanctions, including the freezing of its foreign assets and a ban on the international sale of its oil, has been very substantial in terms of the economy and the living conditions of the civilian population.
Governments have a general propensity not to yield to external pressure. Third World countries, in particular, which provided the theater of "intervention" in the past, understandably value sovereign statehood. Iraq's previous official attitude, which reflects the sensitivity of its masses, may also be interpreted from the standpoint of a deep-seated belief in sovereignty. But there have also been radical departures from this initial attitude, expediting the workings of a new system. It is important to remember that Baghdad accepted (26 November 1993) the Security Council resolution of 11 October 1991, enabling the Special Commission to allocate some of its resources to the establishment of a system of ongoing monitoring and verification. This entailed inspection of entire categories of sites and industries not previously visited. It is again with the cooperation of the Iraqi government that the Special Commission has been able to create a center in Baghdad to operate the system. The Special Commission's report (7 October 1994) speaks highly of Iraq's contribution to and cooperation in the construction works required to establish the monitoring system in the former Canal Hotel.
There are still allegations that Iraq is hiding certain material and therefore does not meet the conditions for the removal of sanctions. In each case, Iraq responds to the assertions, which must be taken seriously. For instance, Tareq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, in a letter dated 14 July 1996 and addressed to Rolf Ekeus, the executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission, asked the said commission (a) to assemble in a comprehensive manner all the information it has about the allegations of hiding and send a copy of this information to all the Security Council members, (b) to dispatch an inspection team to Iraq to verify the allegations, (c) to inform the permanent members and the state presiding over the Security Council on the findings of the inspection, and finally stated that (e) the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency can continue their normal inspections. The statement added that if the latter agency wishes to participate in the work of the proposed team, Iraq would welcome it.
In another letter dated 17 March 1996 and addressed to the president of the Security Council, Tareq Aziz explained the two delays in inspections on the basis of the fact that requests to enter the headquarters of the Republican Guards and the Ministry of Irrigation were made on Fridays, a weekend in Iraq, and added that there was no question of having materials such as missiles, missile components, launchers or large boxes of documents removed, especially bearing in mind that inspectors normally surround the site from all directions, and a helicopter flies over it to ensure that nothing is moved out.
One may conclude that while Iraq tries to improve its relations with the United Nations, the United States seeks to eliminate opposition to its policies in the Security Council.
VI. The Non-Targeted States
Hardships have been felt most acutely by the Iraqi civilians. But there are also non-targeted states, not directly involved but former trading neighbors, experiencing a range of serious difficulties. The U.N. system, however, does not include a procedure or a methodology to solve the special economic problems of third parties, whether U.N. members or not, arising from the carrying out of preventive or enforcement measures taken by the Security Council against any state. The only reference to such a possibility is in Article 50 of the U.N. Charter which carries the unclear statement that such countries "shall have the right to consult the Security Council with regard to a solution of those problems."
The purpose or the general significance of Article 50 is supposed to aid states that incur economic difficulties as a result of Security Council measures.29 The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals (August-October 1944) contained a similar provision, modified to make clear that the state against which sanctions were being applied could not benefit from this article. There was an unsuccessful attempt by Venezuela to insert the right to assistance, instead of the right of consultation, in the case of third parties.
Article 50, restricted to measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, offers no accurate definition of the causal relationship between the measures and the economic difficulties of a state involved. The same article encompasses both difficulties based on a state's sharing in the measures and those emanating from enforcement action by other states.
The legislative history of the article, its wording and possible interpretations make it clear that affected states − like Turkey or Jordan − have only a right to consult with the Security Council. Although the latter does not have an explicit responsibility to assist the affected third party, the Security Council may resort to its discretionary powers under Article 48 to exempt a state from participation in sanctions. Article 48 states that the action required to carry out an enforcement decision shall be taken by all U.N. members "or by some of them, as the Security Council may determine." While the application of military measures, as expressed in Article 43, depends on the resources and ability of each member state, economic sanctions may have intolerable consequences for some affected but non-targeted states _ like Turkey or Jordan. In the latter case, the Security Council should exempt some states from their responsibility to partake in sanctions, which are otherwise made universally enforceable. The Security Council may extend financial assistance out of U.N. funds to an affected member, or may request other members to support the same country.
Until the Iraqi-Kuwaiti crisis, Article 50 was applied only in relation to sanctions against the racist régime in Rhodesia (1968), affecting economically the bordering states of Botswana, Portugal/Mozambique and Zambia. The Security Council supported Botswana's application for assistance. It also took note of the special difficulties of Mozambique, and requested members to offer assistance. In regard to Zambia, the Security Council asked all members and specialized agencies to assist that African state to solve its difficulties in applying measures. None of the special accounts, opened for these three Southern African countries, was sufficient to solve their problems created by applying the measures ordered by the Security Council.
Immediately after sanctions were imposed following the Gulf War, twenty-one states30 requested assistance under Article 50. The Security Council charged the committee, set up in accordance with resolution 661 (1990), with the duty to examine applications. The affected countries were not exempted from participation in the sanctions, but were recommended for support by the international community to solve their economic problems.
Although the U.N. Charter does not explicitly state that the affected third parties are entitled to compensation for losses, the reference to "the right to consult" may be interpreted to symbolize an implicit existence of a principle with regard to the need to solve economic difficulties. Article 49 foresees that the U.N. members "shall join in affording mutual assistance in carrying out the measures."
Among the twenty-one countries, Jordan was the first of the Article 50 applicants to have its case considered by the Sanctions Committee and acted upon by the Security Council. With a strategic position in the Middle East peace process and facing an uncertain economic situation on account of the loss of oil and trade, Jordan received special treatment with American support.
VII. Turkey's Place in Middle East Trade
In accordance with Articles 24 and 25 of the Charter, Turkey, like all other U.N. members, agreed in principle that the Security Council acts "on their behalf", and members are obliged to carry out the decisions of that body. About 120.000 Turkish soldiers along the 150-mile frontier with Iraq never took part in action during the Gulf War, but probably pinned down some Iraqi troops in the northern part of the country. More importantly, however, Turkey ceased, in accordance with the Security Council's decisions, all economic transactions with the targeted country, including the flow of oil through the shared pipeline, flourishing trade and expanding contracting services. Turkey has abided by this decision for the whole period of sanctions, now in the seventh year. It is understandable that criticism of the embargo on Iraq is growing in Turkey, coming now mainly from business circles in addition to the progressive-minded intellectuals. There is increasing concern over the losses incurred by this non-targeted country owing to the sanctions, that are extended every two months. The Turks now seem convinced that they are the most penalized people next to the Iraqis. They believe that they have lost not only the oil connection, but also lucrative trade with Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.
Turkey used to undertake more trade with the countries of the Middle East region than any other local state. Aside from this, the facts of intraregional trade in the area were never encouraging.31 The majority of Middle Eastern countries had American, European and Japanese partners. For instance, the Maghreb states had close economic ties with Western Europe, principally France. Italy was the largest source of Libya's imports. Syria bought mostly from West Germany, and Iraq from Japan. Turkey, on the other hand, once an importer of sophisticated technology, attained a level of economic development whereby it came to produce almost all of it within the country.
Turkish know-how first expanded to the Soviet market.32 Purchasing large quantities of natural gas from Russia, Turkey paid about a third of its debt by offering contracting services. Even today, the largest market for Turkish contractors is neither the Middle East, nor Central Asia, but the Russian Federation. Turkish contractors entered the Middle Eastern market, however, initially via Libya, with trade and the construction industry rapidly expanding to include the Gulf countries and even the Yemens.
Statistics for the 1980s show a marked increase in the share of Turkey's exports going to Islamic countries.33 Whereas the OECD countries, which erected protectionist walls against such Turkish goods as textiles, purchased predominantly unprocessed agricultural products, the Islamic countries of the Middle East bought industrial goods as well as agricultural products. In the 1980s, Turkey was the only non-oil exporting developing country which regularly paid its foreign debt installments while attaining a net GNP growth of 3-4 percent.
Abandoning its previous inward-looking and closed economic system, based on import substitution, Turkey moved first to trade with its Middle Eastern neighbors on its doorstep. The geographical proximity factor gave Turkey the opportunity of exporting products on a CIF basis instead of at FOB price, putting European countries, which had to add the cost of freight, at a great disadvantage. Turkey approached the Middle East both on bilateral and multilateral bases. While economic relations with individual countries expanded, Turkey joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC),34 and was active in the transformation of the former Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey expanded into the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which now includes the Central Asian republics and Azerbaijan. Turkey was represented in the Fourth Summit of the OIC (Morocco, 1984) by its president who chaired the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation.
Turkish businessmen went to Iraq and other countries offering contracting services as well as manufactured and agricultural goods. By 1985, Turkey had earned eight billion dollars through exports, 75 percent of which were manufactured products.35 Turkish businessmen won one contract after another, and Turkish manufacturing firms were repeatedly awarded export orders. A contractor or a manufacturer from Turkey used to send trained personnel from the home country, who cost much less than a Western worker and presented no social problems. Turkish service teams crossed the border, attended to repair work and returned home within a matter of days.
Turkish business initiatives continued during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Turkey had trade relations of equal magnitude with both Iran and Iraq. Turkey was exporting various kinds of products. Roads in both directions developed, and the Turkish land transportation fleet grew to new heights.36 Dependent on the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline for most of its oil exports, Iraq was Turkey's most important market in the area.
None of that exists today.
VIII. Turkey's Losses
One of the leading well-wishers of the United States in the Middle East, Turkey's late President Turgut Özal conceived a new role for Turkey at the end of the second Gulf War. He ventured to prophesize that Turkey would put in one at the beginning of the war against Iraq, and draw out, at the end, many times more. The Turkish media was replete with Özal's forecasts that this was perhaps the country's last chance to guarantee a large share in the post-war economic allotments for reconstruction. After all, as a foreign analyst put it, "without Turkish cooperation, any effective embargo would have been quite impossible."37
The expectations for which /zal kept a sharp outlook failed to materialize, although he did not live long enough to see the whole consequences of his fanciful policies. He could not personally witness that Turkey lost whatever trade and contracting possibilities it would have had, not only in Iraq and Kuwait, but also in the entire region. Its losses would have been greater had Turkey participated in the armed conflict.
Within days of the application of military force against Iraq, Turkey lost all of its business connections. Sixty percent of thousands of Turkish workers were brought back during the first five days, and the rest in about three weeks. Turkish firms had to abandon their work sites, machinery and plans made on the basis of the already signed contracts. Not only future projects had to be given up, but those that were ongoing had to be discontinued. All economic transactions abruptly came to an end. The assertion of some commentators that the Gulf crisis might give Turkey a fresh impetus to become more actively involved in the region was already negated within a matter of weeks. Nicholas Burns, the spokesman of the U.S. State Department, had to admit years later that "Turkey was very adversely affected by the war and its consequences."38
The war and the sanctions created a cluster of problems for neighboring Turkey. Apart from the social and security issues that the sanctions exacerbated, especially for the southeastern region of Anatolia, these problems caused a loss of at least 27 billion dollars for the country's economy.39 This figure embraces calculable losses connected with a variety of activities. Although not all commentators agree on the exact figure representing the overall loss, none of the calculations or estimates is below 27 billion dollars, a figure which keeps growing with the passing of time.40 The editorial of an influential daily quotes 30 billion dollars as Turkey's total loss.41 Other sources quote 5042 or 6043 billion dollars.
Turkey purchased vast quantities of Iraqi oil via the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline, and needed to foster exports for purposes of balance. The oil pipeline connecting Kirkuk in Iraq with Yumurtalik on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey stopped functioning, causing the loss of much needed oil imports, deprivation of oil transport payments, and further the partial decay of the unused pipeline itself. Turkey had financed most (640.3 km) of the construction of the common pipeline (985.3 km), and was receiving a special reduction for transport services. Not only was this useful and costly pipeline not utilized for the last six years, parts of it all the way from Kirkuk to Yumurtalik decayed owing to the unpumped oil inside the pipes. The exact damage was ascertained when new oil was pumped as a measure to partially clean the line, and extensive repairs or replacements may prove necessary.
Once extensive and comprehensive, bilateral trade relations between Iraq and Turkey have for the last six years been reduced to zero. In addition, trade with the majority of the other Arab countries used to constitute a very significant market for Turkish products. Trade with them also declined radically. Prior to the war and the sanctions, the length of the queue of Turkish transport vehicles, hundreds of multiple-wheeled giant freight cars, on both sides of the customs posts on the common border, was kilometers long. Huge containers used to carry a great variety of produce back and forth every day. With the closure of the customs gates, however, all infrastructure, including thousands of business concerns all the way from border stations to the eastern Mediterranean, could not escape a complete halt in their activity. Sanctions dealt a particularly fatal blow to the whole economic life of the region where citizens of Kurdish origin were concentrated.
Incentives for local production, which used to find an outlet in the Iraqi and Middle Eastern markets, totally disappeared. The income of virtually every individual, whether owner, producer, worker or transporter, suffered a radical decline. Not only did producers lose their traditional markets, but also the majority of formerly employed people, all the way from laborers to hotel and restaurant managers were deprived of their jobs.
The change caused by the war and the sanctions was so sudden that Turkish firms had to abandon work-sites together with most of their expensive equipment. Apart from numerous cases of unpaid credits and interests, additional expenses incurred brought a number of Turkish firms to the verge of bankruptcy. The last Turkish enterprise that could not materialize was the construction of a new railroad between Baghdad and Basra, a project that was reportedly to be awarded to one of the leading construction companies in Turkey − GAMA, ENKA or GÜRY. The spokesmen of the Turkish Contractors Association estimated that had the embargo not been imposed on Iraq, Turkey would have had a seven billion dollars contracting services capacity in the year 1996.
Likewise, Turkish workers lost their livelihoods overnight. Thousands of them coming back from Iraq and some other Middle Eastern countries were added to the already sizable and unstable crowd of the unemployed. Almost all of the Turkish workers who lost their jobs filed personal complaints to U.N. organs but none have so far been paid even a single dollar in compensation.
Facing new destabilizing challenges, Turkey played host to more than half a million Kurdish refugees from Iraq, who were given temporary dwellings, food and medical care. The Kurdish terrorist organization, known by the initials PKK, has been able to keep up its activities, mainly by capitalizing on the feeling of economic insecurity experienced by a significant portion of the local people. The military response to PKK terrorism is also a burden on the Turkish budget. Ultra-religious tendencies have also gained some popularity in the region, whose people can be pulled towards sweeping and preposterous alternatives.
In the new atmosphere of tension and belligerency, Turkey's former trading partners besides Iraq, such as Saudi Arabia, show an unconcealed tendency to allocate tremendous amounts of money to the purchase of arms, preferably from the United States.
Consequently, the participation of Turkish contractors in the Saudi construction sector, which stood at an average of 23 percent during the years 1980-89, fell to only 2.6 percent in 1990-96. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates made several new agreements with Western arms dealers for the purchase of sophisticated weapons, transactions that reduce their capacity for non-military imports. Saudi Arabia, which bought 72 F-15 fighters and 48 Tornado bombers, is also forming a new armored brigade. Kuwait purchased U.S. aircraft, French warships, and British armored cars. The United Arab Emirates procured 80 fighter planes, in addition to other weapons.
Last but not least, Turkey's splendid eastern Mediterranean and Aegean coasts and rather well-developed tourist facilities had attracted, in the recent past, Arab sightseers, who sought a Muslim and natural environment as much as good service. Iraqi and other Middle Eastern tourists frequented such sites from the historic city of Istanbul to Iskenderun (Alexandretta) near the Syrian border. But now there is a dramatic crash in the volume of tourism as well. Not only do the Iraqis no longer have the income to spare for such pursuits, but the total halt of air and land travel makes such a proposition next to impossible for the very few who may be able to afford such excursions.
Contrary to the assertions of former U.S. President Bush, the Gulf War does not represent the dawn of a "New World Order," but an intensification of the historical drive to legitimize violence. Powerful nations in the past deliberately formulated the laws of war to maintain the preponderance of violence over humanitarian concerns. It was the stated policy of the U.S.-led "Coalition" to protect Iraqi civilians from the shocking consequences of the 43-day military campaign. The misuse of legal concepts may be a new contribution to the rhetoric. Sanctions are only an arm of a continuing belligerent policy pursued chiefly by the United States under the protective shield of an international organization. Their purpose is not to remove a threat to peace and security, but to force a whole nation of about twenty million to bring to power a new government, even if that process entails a long and painful penalization of them all.
No international body, least of all the U.N. Security Council, has the right to punish an entire people. The world community may only chastise a government whose actions may have posed a threat to peace and security, and only in so far as the threat truly exists. Targeting a whole nation, on the other hand, is a blatant violation of a fundamental human right. Much remains to be done for the creation of a sanctions system that will not be a tool of the foreign policy of the dominant power in the Security Council and will be equally imposed on all parties, and not just on medium and smaller countries, for violating the rules of international law.
The concept of peace, which has always been hard to define, does not merely contain a passive quality, such as the absence of war. A condition for any kind of definition is the need to develop a "rehumanized" relationship among adversaries. In addition to a conflict of values, there are a multitude of forces operating within our institutions which may consider the enemy to be "faceless", an image difficult to remove. A more common way to react to an enemy is to make him a scapegoat and to demonize him. Such a description, coupled with distortions of history, dehumanizes the adversary.
The official American perception of Iraq as the enemy coincides with the teachings of some philosophers and psychoanalysts.44 Nietzsche believed that if an enemy did not exist, it had to be invented. There was a "need for an enemy."45 Freud spoke of the "narcissism of minor differences."46 To have an enemy outside a group helps to create cohesion within that group and tends to maintain the status quo. If there is an enemy regarded as evil, a particular group may appear all the more good in its own eyes. That group may ascribe to the enemy all the badness which it does not wish to recognize in itself. E. H. Ericson demonstrates how "pseudo"-unity fortifies the belief that a group is better than others.47
It is time to open a new chapter in the relations between the international community and Iraq. George Bernard Shaw said that the most rational person he had met was his tailor because he was in the habit of taking his measurements anew in each encounter. The first step should be to remove the sanctions. The agonies of the innocent third parties, affected by the same sanctions in varying degrees, should also come to an end. A Turkish daily states that neighboring countries can no longer shoulder the consequences of American policies that consider the whole Middle East as a market for profitable business, whether for the sale of arms or the import of oil. The paper adds: "Turkey pays a heavy price for the American fiasco in Iraq and European disinterestedness."48
Sanctions should be terminated for more than one reasons. Following one of the most unbalanced applications of military force in history, involving systematic destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, the people of that country are still facing, after six years, its catastrophic consequences. The Gulf War was neither one with minimal civilian casualties, nor one geared to simply attacking military targets. The United States wanted to disable Iraqi society at large. The prolongation of sanctions represents persistence in that policy.
The basic question is, then, not only the removal of sanctions, but also the need for a stand against brute force. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which coincided with the Gulf War, a huge land mass from Eastern Europe to parts of Asia, encompassing the rims of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, is subject to partition in the eyes of the imperialist powers. The latter both compete and cooperate with each other. They are in league with each other in their prevalent endeavor to redivide the South but compete over shares in the spoils. A few states, like Russia, are both targets and partners in the partition scheme.
The former Yugoslav Federation has come to an end, an event followed by bloody armed conflicts, mainly at the expense of the Bosnian Muslims, described by some as "the Palestinians of Europe." Iraq has been virtually divided into three parts. Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, which share enmities rooted in the past, have been further instigated against each other. In spite of four U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that Armenian forces withdraw from Azeri territories, their occupation continues. Georgia is under pressure to adhere to a particular line under the threat of Abkhaz secession.
Imperialism partly uses nationalist and religious movements as tools of divide and rule throughout the Middle East. Research institutes motivated and dominated by powerful decision-making centers are fabricating new identities for various communities, however small they may be, as well as formulating theories on the supposed clash of civilizations. Thus, imperialism, not known for respect for the concept of human rights in the case of the working class, creates an image of championing the same idea when dealing with some minorities. Consequently, many smaller groups, in search of great power support, find themselves becoming instruments in a game aimed at a post-Cold War redivision of the South.
The targeted states and peoples need, first and foremost, solidarity among themselves, which is theoretically desirable but difficult to attain in the light of historical legacies that are also kept alive by interested Northern centers. But to meet the challenges of the "New World Order," they have no option but to reconcile their differences and consolidate their forces.
1. Stephen Schlesinger, "Cryptoanalysis for Peacetime: Codebreaking and the Birth and Structure of the United Nations," Cryptologie, 19/3 (July 1995), pp. 219-220.
2. Allan Gerson, The Kirkpatrick Mission: Diplomacy Without Apology: America at the United Nations, 1981-1985, New York, The Free Press, 1991.
3. Michael T. Klare, "Pax Americana: U.S. Military Policy in the Post-Cold War Era," Altered States, eds., Phyllis Bennis and Michel Moushabeck, New York, Interlink Publishing Group, 1993, pp. 49-59.
4. Türkkaya Ataöv, The Lockerbie Case: Sanctions against Libya and Legality, Ankara, Zirve Ofset, 1992.
5. A recent U.N. evaluation: The United Nations and the Iraq-Kuwait Conflict, 1990-1996, New York, United Nations, Department of Public Information, 1996.
6. Philip Alston, "The Security Council and Human Rights: Lessons to be Learned from the Iraq-Kuwait Crisis and Its Aftermath," Australian Yearbook of International Law, 13 (1990-1991), pp. 107-176.
7. U.S., Air Force, White Paper, Air Force Performance in Desert Storm, Washington, 1991; "Transcript of President Bush's News Conference," Washington Post, 6 February 1991.
8. For instance: Dan Balz and Edward Cody, "U.S. Raises Estimate of Iraqi Armor Destroyed: Bodies Pulled from Rubble in Baghdad," Washington Post, 15, February 1991.
9. William M. Arkin et al., eds., On Impact: Modern Warfare and the Environment. A Case Study of the Gulf War, Greenpeace, 1991.
10. Harvard Study Team, Public Health in Iraq After the Gulf War, May 1991. The Harvard Study Team developed into the Center for Economic and Social Rights. Its most recent publication is: Unsanctioned Suffering: A Human Rights Assessment of United Nations Sanctions on Iraq, May 1996.
11. International Study Team, Health Welfare in Iraq After the Gulf Crisis: An In-Depth Assessment, October 1991.
12. U.N., SCOR, Report to the Secretary-General on Humanitarian Needs in Kuwait and Iraq in the Immediate Post-Crisis Environment by a Mission to the Area Led by Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, Under Secretary-General for Administration and Management, U.N. Doc. S/22366, 1991.
13. U.N., SCOR, Report to the Secretary-General Dated 15 July 1991 on Humanitarian Needs in Iraq Prepared by a Mission Led by Sadruddin Aga Khan, U.N. Doc. S/22799, 1991.
14. U.N., WHO/UNICEF Special Mission to Iraq, U.N. Doc. S. 22328, 1991. Also: WHO, The Health Conditions of the Population in Iraq since the Gulf Crisis, March 1996; FAO, Evaluation of Food and Nutrition Situation in Iraq, Rome, 1995.
15. Pioneering studies are: Chris af Jochnick and Roger Normand, "The Legitimation of Violence: A Critical History of the Laws of War," Harvard International Law Journal, 35/1 (Winter 1994), pp. 49-95; Roger Norman and Chris af Jochnick, "The Legitimation of Violence: A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War," Harvard International Law Journal, 35/2 (Spring 1994), pp. 387-416.
16. For instance: J. L. Kunz, "Sanctions in International Law," American Journal of International Law, 2 (1960), pp. 324-347.
17. The U.N. Charter refers to "measures" (Art. 39), "collective measures" (Art. 1/1), "enforcement measures" (Art. 2/7), "enforcement action" (Art. 53/1), "preventive and enforcement action" (Art. 2/5, Art. 5), and "international enforcement action" (Art. 45).
18. R. Roxburgh, "The Sanction of International Law," American Journal of International Law, 1-2 (1920), pp. 26-37; H. Morgenthau, "Théorie des sanctions internationales," Revue de droit international et de législation comparée, 3 (1935), pp. 474-503.
19. Türkkaya Ataöv, "President Reagan's Policy in Respect to South Africa," The Reagan Administration's Foreign Policy, ed. Hans Köchler, Vienna, International Progress Organization, 1984, pp. 288-311.
20. Türkkaya Ataöv, "The Status of Jerusalem in the Post-Cold War Era," Turkish Yearbook of International Relations: 1982-1991, Ankara, Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi, 1995, pp. 153-164.
21. See, for example, a Yugoslav criticism: Kosta Mihailovic, Sanctions: Causes, Legitimacy, Legality and Effects, Belgrade, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 1995.
22. W. Nathaniel Howell, "'The Evil That Men Do...': Societal Effects of the Iraqi Occupation of Kuwait," Mind and Human Interaction, 6/4 (November 1955), pp. 150-169.
23. Phyllis Bennis, Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN, New York, Olive Branch Press, 1996.
24. As contained in Security Council resolutions 706 (1991), 712 (1991) and 986 (1995).
25. U.N., Security Council, S/AC. 26/1991/3 (23 October 1991).
26. U.N., Security Council, S/AC. 26/1991/4 (23 October 1991).
27. U.N., Security Council, S/AC, 26/1991/7 (4 December 1991).
28. For instance: Sara Flounders, "Introduction: Break the Silence," The Impact of Sanctions on Iraq − The Children Are Dying, New York, World View Forum, 1996, pp. 1-5.
29. Bruno Simma, ed., The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, New York, Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 659-661; Norman Bentwich and Andrew Martin, Commentary on the Charter of the United Nations, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1950, pp. 105-106.
30. Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Djibouti, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yemen and Yugoslavia.
31. James P. Piscatori and R. K. Ramazani, "The Middle East," Comparative Regional Systems: West and East Europe, North America, the Middle East and Developing Countries, eds., Werner J. Feld and Gavin Boyd, Pergamon Press, 1980, pp. 291-292.
32. Türkkaya Ataöv, "Turkey, the CIS and Eastern Europe," Turkey and Europe, eds., Canan Balkir and Allan M. Williams, London and New York, Pinter Publishers, 1993, pp. 191-218.
33. Mehmet Arif Demirer, "Economic Relations with the Middle East," The Middle East in Turkish-American Relations, ed., George S. Harris, Washington, DC, The Heritage Foundation, 1985, pp. 55-60.
34. Mahmut Bali Aykan, "Turkey and the OIC: 1984-1992," The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations: 1993, Ankara, Faculty of Political Science, 1996, pp. 101-131; Süha Bölükbasi, Türkiye ve Yakinindaki Orta Dogu [Turkey and the Neighboring Middle East], Ankara, Dis Politika Enstitüsü, n.d.
35. Yusuf Özal, "Turkey's Economic Approach to the Middle East," The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, 1987, pp. 18-22.
36. Türkkaya Ataöv, "Iki Dogu Komsumuz: Irak ve Iran," [Our Two Eastern Neighbors: Iraq and Iran] A.Ü. Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Dergisi, XLIV/1-2 (January-June 1989), pp. 119-133.
37. William Hale, "Turkey, the Middle East and the Gulf Crisis," International Affairs, 68/4 (1992), pp. 684ff.
38. Ekonomi, 7 August 1996.
39. These figures are extracted mainly from the files of the Turkish Contractors' Association (TCA), supported by interviews with its officials. The TCA represents sixty companies and about a hundred individual contractors. There is also a National Contractors' Association (NCA), with which only companies are affiliated. The presidents and the secretaries-general of both associations are the same persons. All of Turkey's leading companies are members of both organizations, which are engaged in the export of construction industry. The work capacity abroad of one of these companies is above 4 billion dollars, and twenty of them surpass the billion dollar level.
40. For instance, a former Turkish Minister of Finance (Cemâl Attilâ) had quoted a total figure of 18,950 million dollars for the period up until June 1994: Dünya, 10 June 1996.
41. Cumhuriyet, 23 September 1996.
42. Hasip Kaplan, "Irak'taki Ambargonun Türkiye'ye Faturasy Nedir?" [What is the Cost to Turkey of the Embargo on Iraq?], Yeni Yüzyil, 6 August 1996.
43. Demokrasi, 6 August 1996.
44. Rafael Moses, "The Perception of the Enemy: A Psychological View," Mind and Human Interaction, Virginia, U.S.A., 7/1 (February 1996), pp. 37-43.
45. V. D. Volkan, The Need to Have Enemies and Allies, Northvale, New Jersey, Jason Aronson, 1988.
46. Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Egg, standard edition, 18, 67-143.
47. E. H. Erikson, "Pseudospeciation in the Nuclear Age," Political Psychology, 6, pp. 213-217.
48. Cumhuriyet, 23 September 1996.
The Impact of Economic Sanctions on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq
I would like to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the convening of this roundtable discussion to submit this condensed yet comprehensive paper on the impact of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, which have caused great harm in all areas of life, and on the extent to which such sanctions are incompatible with the rights recognized by the U.N. instruments to which Iraq is a party.
Security Council resolution 661 (1990) prevents Iraq from exporting petroleum, the key natural resource on which the country depends. It thus deprives it of a right guaranteed by article 1, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states that:
All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
The embargo also conflicts with article 3 of the Declaration on Social Progress and Development (General Assembly resolution 2542 [XXIV] of 11 December 1969), which calls for the permanent sovereignty of each nation over its natural wealth and resources.
In order to cope with the great shortage of foodstuffs caused by the embargo, the Government of Iraq resorted to a ration card system but was forced to reduce the amount of food provided in this way because of the great shortfall.
Until 1990, the State supported the prices of basic foodstuffs in line with per capita income, and Iraq imported 70 percent of its food needs. In the external trade plan for 1990, the total allocation for food of all kinds was U$ 2,958 millions. The fact that Iraq has not had access to its foreign currency resources to pay for food imports since 6 August 1990 has caused a scarcity of foodstuffs and a rapid rise in food prices.
Ration-card items provide some 34 percent of the minimum calorific requirement, and the shortfall in nutrition is assumed to be made up from the commercial market. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) has sent three missions to Iraq − in July 1993, November 1993 and September 1995. The reports of those missions may be regarded as definitive sources on the evolution of the nutritional situation and its link with the standard of living. On the basis of the figures and information contained in the FAO reports, the present study confirms the deterioration in the nutritional situation and in the standard of living in terms of changes in the purchasing power index, the cost of the household food basket and the average per capita monthly income reaching the extreme poverty line.
The maintenance of the sanctions will lead to greater suffering on the part of the Iraqi people. This is incompatible with provisions of all the relevant international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In article 11 of the Covenant, the States Parties "recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right ..."
The maintenance of the sanctions despite the removal of all justification for them has caused severe suffering. The resulting economic conditions may be catastrophic for the society and may bring about its collapse by depriving it of such means of survival as food, medicine and basic necessities. The shortages have brought the supply situation to below subsistence levels, and this in turn has led to increased mortality rates among all classes of the people. Economic and medical statistics show, in a way that leaves no room for doubt, that the parties that insist on maintaining the sanctions are operating with the premeditated intention of annihilating the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people is facing real destruction by a weapon no less dangerous than weapons of mass destruction, namely the weapon of economic sanctions to which nearly one million people have fallen victim, half of them children, since they were first imposed. Such genocide of the people of Iraq has been outlawed by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The economic sanctions have caused a sharp drop in the standard of services provided to the population. The country's clean water networks and pumping stations were almost completely destroyed during the aggression, which caused the pumping rate to fall from 45 million cubic meters per month before the aggression to nine million afterwards, before rising again to 18 millions after part of the war damage was repaired. The efficiency of water purification plants has fallen from 80 percent to 60 percent, as the spare parts necessary to maintain the stations are not available and chlorine and other chemicals are in short supply.
The maintenance of the sanctions has caused a fall in the real level of household income as a result of the steep rise in the prices of goods and services. The number of poor families in the country has increased by some 40 percent.
The lack of medicines, antiseptics and vaccines for children in nurseries has led to the outbreak of many diseases, such as measles, chicken pox and mumps. The medicines, antiseptics and vaccines needed by the disabled, the elderly and inmates of reformatories are also in short supply, leading to a decline in the health situation, an increase in mortality and in incidences of disability, and the spread of epidemic diseases.
It must also be stated here that the maintenance of the sanctions has encouraged the employment of under-age children in marginal work in order that they might contribute to household income. The school drop-out rate has thus markedly increased, there has been a rise in the crime rate, particularly for crimes involving theft and assault, and the number of inmates in reformatories in 1995 was 33 percent higher than in 1990. This has been accompanied by a drop in the standard of care provided by state institutions owing to the conditions created by the sanctions.
What the people of Iraq is experiencing is also entirely incompatible with articles 4, 9, 10 and 11 of the Declaration on Social Progress and Development and Principles 4 and 8 of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child.
Article 26, paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to education, that education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages, and that elementary education shall be compulsory.
Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states "that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity" and that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in society. Article 15 confirms that the States Parties to the Covenant also recognize the right of everyone to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.
Articles 28 and 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognize the right of the child to be protected from exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
In accordance with the foregoing, the Government of Iraq endeavored to ensure the right to education to all Iraqi citizens without discrimination of any kind, and, in order to give effect to that right, it has enacted laws that include the Children's Compulsory Education Law (No. 118 of 1976). In paragraphs (a) and (b) of article 27 of the Constitution, the State undertakes to eradicate illiteracy and to provide compulsory education for children, and Revolution Command Council Decree No. 102 of 1974 provides that education shall be free of charge.
In the context of the efforts made to implement these laws and decrees, in the 1990/1991 school year there were 8,916 elementary schools with a total of 3,328,212 pupils, and 2,719 secondary schools, with a total of 1,023,710 pupils. However, these efforts encountered a major obstacle in the sanctions, which have had an adverse impact on all intellectual and educational sectors.
Educational institutions have suffered major damage, affecting buildings, furnishings, teaching supplies, educational media and textbooks. Some 5,087 of them have suffered damage, including kindergartens and schools of all levels. A large number of damaged buildings in the education sector are also still having problems with repairs and maintenance because of the meager financial allocations made to them and the impossibility of securing construction materials on account of the sanctions. The serious damage done to the education sector by the sanctions is described hereunder.
(a) Most of the 77 cultural agreements and 39 cultural plans of action that Iraq had with other countries have fallen into abeyance.
(b) The 14 cultural agreements concluded between Iraqi universities and their Arab and non-Arab counterparts up to the end of 1989 have also fallen into abeyance. During 1995 five agreements were concluded and three were renewed, and in the first half of 1996 three agreements were concluded and one was renewed.
(c) There has been a decrease in the number of participants from Iraq in international cultural and scientific conferences and other activities. The number of delegates sent to such gatherings in 1989/1990 was 1,421, but this figure dropped to 413 in 1995 and to 95 in the first half of 1996.
(d) The number of Arab and non-Arab visiting professors in Iraq fell as it was impossible to pay international travel costs owing to the lack of hard currency and because of the difficulties entailed in traveling to the country. The number of such visitors was 252 in 1989/1990. This fell to 24 in 1995, and to 11 in the first half of 1996.
(a) The number of students studying abroad in 1990 was 2,300. Because hard currency became unavailable, the payment of stipends and allowances to students was suspended in September 1990. Some continued their studies at their own expense, while others were forced to return to the country without completing their courses.
(b) The number of fellowships was reduced. In the 1989/1990 academic year, 170 fellowships were granted. This figure fell to 28 in the 1995/1996 academic year and to 16 in the 1996/1997 academic year.
(c) While remittances were previously provided for studies abroad, such projects must now be financed privately owing to the unavailability of hard currency.
Scientific work in universities and other institutions
(a) Our scientific institutions continue to suffer from a severe shortage of equipment, laboratory materials, books and periodicals for scientific research.
(b) The sanctions have affected the scientific and academic levels of students and their ability to keep up with their studies at the university and higher academic levels. In the 1994/1995 academic year, the drop-out rate was 12.3 percent, while about 10.5 percent postponed their studies in the same year.
Impact of the sanctions on the academic levels of university staff and students
Despite constant efforts to minimize the effect of the sanctions on academic standards, there has been a clear impact on the performance of members of the teaching staff and on the academic level of students due to the lack of an appropriate climate for study. The pressures exerted by the sanctions on students' lives have become very obvious. Many students have been forced to study intermittently or to abandon their studies altogether in order to seek employment in the private sector and to assist their parents in securing the necessities of life and coping with the high prices. The adverse economic situation faced by professors, and the psychological circumstances in which they find themselves, have caused some to seek other work. There has also been a rise in the number of teachers whose services are loaned out to other institutions abroad.
Despite the exceptional efforts made by the State, and the use of all possible substitutes, the difficulties experienced by the educational system in securing its requirements year after year have continued. The maintenance of the sanctions has also had a deep psychological impact that has affected all students at every level of education, including those engaged in teaching, leading to various acute problems. The sanctions have led to the suspension of contracts for school supplies with foreign companies; the Security Council Sanctions Committee has even refused to allow a Pakistani company to supply Iraq with pencils for school use! There is a difficulty in securing school benches because the raw material for their manufacture is not available, and other school supplies, such as blackboards, chalk and exercise books, are also difficult to obtain. The plan for the expansion of school buildings, which included 3,973 new schools for the period 1990 to 1996, has been suspended in its entirety.
Finally, the embargo has necessitated the closing of many Iraqi schools abroad, in which hundreds of Iraqi and other Arab students were enrolled. Previously, there were 16 such elementary, preparatory and secondary schools, with a total of 7,913 students, and now there are just 11 such schools, with only 520 students.
From the foregoing, it is clear that:
1. The suffering of the Iraqi people has reached a point where it can no longer be ignored or overlooked as it now threatens to bring upon the society as a whole a horrendous disaster that may result in its collapse. This is because the population is deprived of such means of survival as food, medicine and other basic necessities and because the supply situation has reached subsistence levels.
It should also be said that the international conferences held under the auspices of the U.N., including the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993, have stressed that food should not be used as a tool for political pressure. Paragraph 145 (i) of the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 calls upon governments to "[t]ake measures in accordance with international law with a view to alleviating the negative impact of economic sanctions on women and children."
2. The agreement with the U.N. Secretariat on the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995), permitting the export of some Iraqi petroleum in exchange for food, medicine and other basic necessities, does not in reality meet the minimum needs of the population. In this connection, in a resolution adopted by consensus at its forty-eighth session, held in 1996, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (U.N. Commission on Human Rights) expressed its concern at reliable information to the effect that children would continue to die after the agreement between Iraq and the U.N. on the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 in view of the fact that the agreement did not meet the minimum needs of the civilian population, particularly for food and medicines. The agreement on the implementation of the Memorandum was reached six months after negotiations on the matter began, the same period of time as that established for the agreement to remain in effect. This was due to the constant interference of the U.S. Administration and its intransigence in maintaining a position of procrastination and deliberate and unwarranted delay motivated by political intentions and plans to inflict more harm on the life of the Iraqi people.*
The maintenance of the sanctions against Iraq for more than six years has had devastating consequences for all individual and collective human rights in Iraq, primarily the rights to life, freedom, the integrity of the person, standard of living, health, food, housing, medical care, and education and other social services. This situation is incompatible with any principles of human rights.
In presenting these facts, the Embassy of Iraq hopes that all the institutions and agencies concerned with human rights will assume their responsibilities with all the resources at their disposal and call upon the United States of America to halt its constant aggression against Iraq, desist from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and strive for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Iraq and the United Nations on the oil-for-food formula as quickly as possible,* as a first step towards the lifting of the economic embargo in its entirety, as it no longer has any justification, since Iraq has discharged its obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions.
* Editor's Note: The Memorandum was partly implemented in spring 1997.
Economic Sanctions and Development: The Case of Cuba
Cuba, and by this I mean our people, know very well the meaning and the effects of economic sanctions. Probably there is no other country in the world that has been subjected to so many pressures or for so long. Seldom in history has there been any country that has endured such a difficult test.
I would like to refer to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States against Cuba, but the effects of such a phenomenon cannot be considered without knowing the underlying causes. The roots of the economic sanctions, in the case of Cuba, have to be found in the expansionist urge that has characterized the United States since its emergence as a nation. The true historical facts can very easily be found.
In 1808, ten years before the birth of Karl Marx, the United States tried to obtain from Spain the sale of its then Cuban colony. In 1823, 25 years before the first edition of the "Communist Manifesto" was published, the United States invented the so-called theory of the "ripe fruit," according to which Cuba, when separated from Spain, would be necessarily incorporated into North America. In 1898, five years before the founding of the Bolshevik Party, the United States intervened in our war for independence, frustrating it and imposing upon us years of military rule. In 1901, 16 years before the triumph of the Socialist October Revolution in Russia, and while militarily occupying our island, the United States imposed an amendment to the Cuban Constitution, through which it stripped Cuba of part of its territory, which it still usurps, in the Guantanamo Bay, and assumed the "right" of intervention in Cuba.
The roots of the blockade have to be found in the genuinely independent character of our revolutionary process and in the clear-cut measures we have taken for the benefit of the humblest strata of our population. Since the very beginning, when the revolutionary movement took power, even before its socialist orientation was declared, the U.S. cut off Cuba's sugar quota, enforced an embargo on all sorts of goods earmarked for Cuba and ordered its companies in Cuba not to process Soviet crude oil. Ever since, the economic measures against Cuba have been part of the United States' sick determination to impose its will on our country.
When the political and economic relationship between Cuba and the United States changed after 1959, Washington chose a bland and neutral term to camouflage its policy of aggression against Cuba. Thus, the blockade, because it cannot be considered a simple economic sanction, is made to appear as a legal measure, becoming part of the legislative framework of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which implies both a state of hostility and a declaration of war. The sanctions that have been applied are based on the fundamental legal tenets of the Cold War.
For Cubans, the embargo is nothing more than a euphemism that hides the fact that the blockade's purpose is to place the island under siege. The blockade aims to exhaust Cuba's resources, in order to force the civilian population to surrender. The restraining forces of the Cold War − the Soviet Union and the socialist camp − have been defeated. What remains in today's unipolar world is the blockade in its crudest form, attempting to encircle a tiny Caribbean island.
The collapse of the USSR led many to believe that the death of socialism in Cuba was inevitable. The present U.S. administration stepped up the blockade. It supported the Torricelli Act, first, and subsequently the Helms-Burton law. The disappearance of the USSR and the socialist camp was, indeed, a hard blow. Overnight, Cuba was faced with a 75 percent reduction in its imports and an almost total loss of markets for its main exports. However, even in the absence of external financing sources and in the middle of a reinforced blockade, we began to carve our place in the world economy. We have suffered very severe material limitations. We have endured shortages of food, medicines, electricity, transportation to go to work, shoes to attend school, and soap with which to wash or bath. Life for Cuban families has been hard during these years.
While we still have an extremely bumpy road ahead, no one with common sense currently wonders whether or not the revolution will fall. Suffice it to mention that the Cuban economy will experience a seven percent growth rate in 1996. As we have resisted and begun to recover, it is easy to outline the enormous opportunities we would have and the many sufferings our people may be spared were it not for the hurdles imposed by the blockade.
Under the blockade, Cuba has no access to the U.S. market, the biggest and the most important in the world. Under the blockade, Cuba has no access to the international financial institutions or the sources of current financing available in developed countries. We are forced to resort to short-term commercial loans, not only as working capital, but also for investment and development, and their interest rates are substantially higher than those available in the world market. We cannot carry out transactions directly in U.S. dollars, and Cuban entities are not allowed to operate bank accounts in this currency, thus incurring significant costs.
In terms of opportunities, prices and interest payments, our status as a country under blockade and siege compels us to trade at the greatest disadvantage. Cuba cannot buy from U.S. subsidiaries even a single medicine, even if this is critical to the saving of a human life. Third countries cannot sell their products containing Cuban inputs in the U.S. market, nor can we purchase anywhere in the world a product in which more than 20 percent of its total value is represented by contents originating in the United States. It is impossible for us to participate in preferential price agreements, as do most sugar-producing countries. We must sell our sugar below the world market price as we cannot trade it on the New York exchange.
Freight costs increase notably as a result of our needing to trade with more distant markets and because a ship calling on our country must wait six months before it may visit any U.S. port. We cannot access U.S. and sometimes other developed countries' technology, for example in the case of nuclear technology. Economic espionage is practiced against Cuba to hamper our trade operations and prevent the rescheduling of our foreign debts, and over 200 radio-hours a day are beamed into Cuba to slander its government and authorities and instigate disobedience and terrorism. While U.S. aircraft use our corridors, our airplanes cannot use the U.S. international air corridors, thus they have to take roundabout routes, thereby increasing their operating costs.
U.S. ambassadors and other officials exert pressure on and require individuals, institutions and governments to refrain from investing in or trading with Cuba. Indeed, this persecution has become a priority in the diplomatic agenda of U.S. Embassies throughout the world.
Under the blockade, the Cuban people are barred from normalizing relations with the Cuban community in the United States, despite all the steps we have taken and will continue to take. Direct flights between our two countries are banned and we are deprived of hundreds of thousands of U.S. tourists who would otherwise travel to our country given our conditions and proximity.
This criminal policy, which has been in place for more than a third of a century, has caused damage of over 60 billion dollars, i.e. five times as much as the amount of our country's external debt. Despite the efforts of the international community, the United States enacted the well known Helms-Burton Act, which intensified and exacerbated the blockade of Cuba. The provisions of the Helms-Burton Act reinforce the United States' traditional policy with a view to strangling the country economically and force changes in its political, social and institutional order.
While international trade and increased foreign investment are crucial to Cuba's new economic strategy, the Helms-Burton Act is precisely aimed at frustrating that effort by placing new limitations on access to the international market. To recount some consequences estimated during the last year, the loss of the preferential U.S. sugar market cost the Cuban economy $ 260 million in 1995; the cost of transportation of medical supplies increased by $ 2.7 million; the cost of basic foodstuffs was $ 46 million higher than if such items could have been purchased in the United States; and the purchases of essential chemicals were inflated by $ 6 million.
In this regard, I would like to ask this panel if those things above mentioned do not affect Cuban development? I think that no comment is necessary.
Finally, I would like to pose another question. What would happen if the blockade were lifted? Of course, all of our problems will not be resolved at once, but their solution would be greatly facilitated. Without producing one more ton of merchandise we would obtain hundreds of millions of additional dollars each year.
If the end of the blockade were decreed today, the largest of the Antilles would find itself at the threshold of an open door leading to a road without threats and full of opportunities, but at the same time, without funds to buy anything, burdened with debts, and still faced with numerous economic inefficiencies, combined with the need for structural, technological and business modernization; problems that would still be hard to overcome. Thus, this would constitute the aftermath of the blockade and, of course, the impact of economic sanctions on our development.