Sanctions, Human Rights & International Law
Denis Halliday speaking at the Centre for International Public Law, Australian National Uni, Canberra. 11 April 2000
I'm somewhat intimidated speaking in a Law Faculty. I know some of you out there are lawyers and probably international lawyers, which makes it even worse, because I am not of course. But the title of today's talk was in fact Sanctions, Human Rights and International Law, so I'm going to focus there. But perhaps up front, just to remind you of what we have today, we have in fact an economic sanctions regime, created by the Security Council, on Iraq. As economic sanctions are want to do, they are targetting the people of Iraq - the children and adults in Iraq, all of whom of course were not involved in the bad decision to invade Kuwait, nor perhaps worse decisions to build up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction or weapons of frankly any sort that would endanger countries outside Iraq itself.
The impact of these economic sanctions are uniquely bad in the case of Iraq in the sense that, first, Iraq was a country which, back in the late '80s, imported some 70% of its foodstuffs. Thus you can imagine how vulnerable they were to the immediate impact of sanctions in 1990, which cut off oil revenues and exports and hard currency for importation of basic foods.
Importation rates for other sectors were equally high, whether it was agriculture or health care, or whatever. Thus, they were extremely vulnerable to this sort of embargo.
Likewise, when that failed, of course, and they did not leave Kuwait on schedule, and then the Gulf War began, the result of the Gulf War again made them vulnerable twice over, because the UN allies bombed targets throughout the country and, sadly, did a lot of damage to civilian infrastructure. Thus, for example, the capacity to produce electric power and distribute that power throughout the country was cut very severely, and even today is running at about 35% of the level that it was back in 1990. There was heavy damage to water treatment and distribution systems, and likewise sewage systems, which often tend to go hand in hand, and both require electric power to work efficiently. The collapse was almost total, and those first missions that went in there, and the first was under Martti Ahtisaari, who is currently the President of Finland, confirmed I think what had been feared. Iraq indeed had, in a sense, been put back in the Stone Age. They found darkness; they found water non drinkable; and sewage in the streets.
Well, some of you who have been there, you know you can still find sewage in the streets of Baghdad - I used to see it driving home quite often - because things have not been fixed. The capital to do that has not been available. The humanitarian crisis began very early on for the reasons I've explained. In '91, '92, '93, '94, '95 offers were made by the Security Council for some sort of program which ultimately became known as Oil-for-Food. Iraq refused that in the early years. The first offers added up to approximately 20 cents per person per day, which they felt was outrageously unrealistic, given that this wasn't 20 cents for food - which in itself would have been unrealistic - this was 20 cents per person for all sectors of the economy, which by the mid-'90s were, of course, beginning to collapse totally. They rejected that. They rejected other offers; it went up to 21 cents at one stage.
It wasn't till '96 that Iraq finally succumbed to pressure, and a realisation that things had become unacceptably bad for the populace throughout the country. Calorific intake was down below a thousand. Malnutrition was critical, both in terms of acute and chronic. Mortality rates were rising. It was just a very bad scene throughout the entire country.
The first program went into effect in '96. In fact, the first food arrived in '97, just before I did myself. And despite that program, we have not seen any serious improvement in the well being of the Iraqi people. The mortality rates today, after all these years, as UNICEF has shown us recently, now stand at about 131 deaths - and these are children under five - over a thousand live births. The comparable figure in Australia, I think, is about 5 or 6, to give you an idea of the crisis. The 1989 figure for Iraq was about 35, so they've gone from 35 to 131. This comes out of, of course, malnutrition, poor health care, condition of mothers, breast-feeding problems (not encouraged in fact), lack of adequate foods for infants, a health care system that has collapsed to a great extent, and the fact that the water system is producing water for many Iraqis today which of course is deadly in its own right. Many young children are dying with nothing more serious than diarrhoea and dehydration.
Likewise with malnutrition - there is chronic and acute malnutrition. It has continued despite the Oil-for-Food program, despite the fact that they are getting $240 million worth of Australian wheat under this program, but they are not getting a balanced diet. The quality of the so-called "Food Basket" still lacks adequate vitamins, minerals and animal proteins. Furthermore, the quantity is estimated to be about three-weeks worth in every month, so there are obviously two problems there.
Furthermore, the food has become a medium of exchange. You might say it's the currency of Iraq today, given devaluation and inflation. So mothers are selling off some of their flour or their cooking oil or sugar, in order to buy perhaps chicken or eggs or other form of animal protein; but others are doing the same to buy shoes or clothes for their children, or books or whatever else you and I would normally need, for which the majority of Iraqis no longer have cash resources.
Professionals in Iraq today who may in the past have earned a thousand dollars a month, say civil servants or teachers, are now earning the equivalent of about ten dollars a month - and that just does not buy very much. A kilo of chicken today is running at about $1.50 or $1.75 or something like that. So it gives you an idea of the lack of buying power.
Now as this program has continued, many of us feel that this is completely incompatible with the spirit and wording of the United Nations Charter and with human rights - the fact that sanctions target innocent civilians is in a sense a form of warfare, but it's also in breach of the Geneva Conventions and protocols.
So that's the situation on the ground. I've tried to give you a broad impression: mortality rates, malnutrition, a heavy social impact in that this sort of situation has damaged families; it's forced fathers to literally walk away from their responsibilities. Having no access to income, many professionals have left the country, possibly as many as two million. There are high rates of divorce; children are dropping out of school; children are being put into begging on the streets. There is crime, even prostitution.
It's a very sad situation for this country, which is a very proud, dignified Arab State, with a great history as we know.
We know of Mesopotamia and some of those wonderful contributions that that part of the world has given us. Today, you do not see that. I think you see a city in Baghdad, and a country, which is in a state of national depression. There's a feeling amongst young people, and amongst parents too, that there's no hope, there's no future, their children don't have the opportunities that they had, they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. (That was the expression that Richard Butler made very famous.) They are really in a state of despair. And that is what you find there today.
The last component of the impact of the sanctions I will mention is political. There is indeed a movement I believe within the Ba'ath Party of young men and women who are alienated by this experience and isolated, who have not travelled, or been overseas, and who feel that the leadership is too moderate and has compromised too often with the United States and the United Nations, and they are tired of that. They feel perhaps that Iraq should go it alone. That would be an extreme position. In the context of what's happening in Iraq and the humiliation of the Iraqi people in the country, President Saddam Hussein looks too moderate. That may be strange to say here, but I'm talking about the perception inside Iraq, given the fact that the people of Iraq are suffering in a way that would be very difficult for us to understand or appreciate without in fact experiencing it.
Now I'm here, of course, to try to encourage the Australian government to take an independent stance, to look at it, even if it's only from the point of view of trade, but also to look at it from the humanitarian point of view, the point of view of respect for international law, and from the point of view of protecting the United Nations. But of course, most of all, from the point of view of protecting the Iraqi people from a system which does not punish the leadership - the decision makers - but in fact punishes the innocent people of the country, something that clearly is unacceptable I think to everybody who's thinking through this issue.
I haven't found that sort of understanding in all parts of your government, but it is there, certainly, amongst many parliamentarians, and there's hope There's hope, I think, that Australia can break the links to Washington on this one, and take an independent stance, but only, I think, if a lot of work is done by people like you who feel strongly and put political pressure. That's the only solution. To me, the only solution is removing economic sanctions, rebuilding the economy of Iraq (with the help of those of us who have capital investment to contribute), together with dialogue and with retaining military inspections - although in terms of international law, this is perhaps very unattractive, and maybe even a breach of national sovereignty - but retaining sanctions against manufacture and sales of hardware for weapons to Iraq. As per Resolution 687, paragraph 14, this should be done actually in the context of downgrading the entire capacity of the Middle East countries including, of course, Israel, which sits on, I think, 200-300 nuclear warheads.
Now today, what we have agreed I'd focus on - and I'm no expert, but I'm happy to share some problems, and maybe you have the answers - is sanctions or embargoes or blockades or sieges, whatever word you want to use. Often today, people feel "sanctions" is too benign a word. It is in fact more of a "siege", an "embargo". It's linked to Article 41 of United Nations Charter and I guess it was developed to provide some instrument of pressure for the UN to impose on its member states prior to the use of military force. So it seemed like an attractive alternative. I think what's happened in the case of Iraq is that it's gone on so long, and given the vulnerability of Iraq that I've mentioned, it's become in a sense a form of warfare, a very silent, insidious one. As I said, it targets innocents and it kills in very large numbers. The figure may not be accurate, but certainly in the last 10 years it's estimated that over a million Iraqis have lost their lives unnecessarily, due to economic sanctions. That is a net figure over the normal death rate of the country.
One of the problems of the provision of Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the Charter is that as I said, it looks good, but under this sort of situation the results are very questionable. What it says in Article 24, paragraph 2, is that in discharging these duties (the duties of the Council) "the Council shall act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations". Well, then you look at Articles 1 and 2 which call for the well-being of mankind, to sum it up in a few words. It's quite clear that the imposition and the retention of sanctions on Iraq are not compatible with the well-being of mankind in the form of children, women and men in Iraq.
What examples do we have of success? Well, frankly, there are no successful examples of economic sanctions. Bilaterally, we can look at Cuba. That was designed, I believe, specifically by the Americans to change the Head of State - and he's still there after 38 years. But of course the Cubans have gone through a tough time in many periods during those years; that obviously is a failure. But to go back to the UN, you could look at Libya. I think the imposition of sanctions on Libya was quite outrageous. An entire nation was harmed because of criminality on the part of a very small number. It was linked to the Lockerbie Pan Am jet - you may recall that.
South Africa is different again; it's unique. The ANC, now in power, invited in the United Nations sanctions with a view to unseating the white democratic government at the time. It leaked like a sieve, and Mrs Thatcher exported arms throughout the entire proceeding, and the government turned in it's ticket and gave up, so to speak, largely because of isolation, cut off from Europe which was its base. The fact that they couldn't play rugby or participate in the Olympic Games - that probably was the clincher. So I think South Africa is not a good example. There are no good examples.
Of course the worst of all in terms of success, in any sense of the word, is Iraq. And although many may feel that the UN Resolutions 661, then 687 and now finally 1284, were designed to target the Head of State, they were not, of course. There's no reference in these resolutions to the removal of President Saddam Hussein. That is a fiction and a wish of the United States particularly, and the United Kingdom, and, I'm afraid, Mr Downer also. And it would be illegal, a breach of international law. There's no provision for assassination or removal of Heads of State. That clearly is an issue for the Iraqis to sort out. They won't be able to do that, I would say, under economic sanctions, because those in Iraq who have the capacity - such as the professional classes, the middle classes - are now greatly diminished by economic sanctions. If they're still in the country at all, they're not likely to be worried about forms of the governance right now.
So we have examples of sanctions, but no successes. And we have a Security Council which in this context of sanctions and dealing with UN member states, applies a very obvious double standard. Iraq invades Kuwait and we have this comprehensive regime of embargo imposed. Israel invades Lebanon and there's nothing comparable whatsoever. Turkey invades the north of Iraq on a regular basis. They're in there today, I believe. I personally have counted Turkish tanks in the north of Iraq killing Kurds - Turkish Kurds, as if that makes a difference, but that is, I guess, their rationale, but it's again a breach of national sovereignty. And the national sovereignty of Iraq is protected under Resolution 687. Indonesia going into Timor in '75 likewise never came on the agenda. We have the United States invading Panama and a few other places I won't get into. Again, I have seen no sanctions imposed against the United States, and of course as you know, the five permanent members of the Security Council set it up in such a way that they are immune from this sort of pressure. Thus, we didn't discuss Chechnya; we don't discuss Tibet in the Security Council because the big boys don't embarrass each other. It's as simple as that.
Well, I think the result of this incompatibility, the undermining by economic sanctions of the UN Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions, and the rights of the child, and the rights of women and many other economic and social rights, is that people are now talking about "smart sanctions". The Secretary-General has addressed that. Thinking has been done. It needs to be done here in Australia, perhaps here in Canberra, perhaps here in this law school. We need to find a new device for the United Nations to bring wayward states into line, but it has to be a means that is compatible with the spirit and the word of the Charter, Declaration of Human Rights, and all the other aspects and instruments of international law. I cannot justify how you can have a UN device which is incompatible with the very basis of the organisation itself. It seems to me to be quite unacceptable.
Smart sanctions, or sanctions in the future, are going to have to be done differently. There's some good reading on this for those of you who are interested. But it needs planning, it needs goal setting, it needs measurement, it needs base data, none of which we had in the case of Iraq. It needs monitoring, which is actually an obligation of the Council. It needs periodic review. It needs adjustment, when you understand the impact. So if that was working, adjustments clearly would have been made in the case of Iraq, given the genocidal impact that these sanctions are currently having. It needs control devices and ultimately and most of all it needs compatibility with international law, the Charter, human rights and so on.
Now in terms of human rights, the government of Iraq certainly has failed the Iraqi people in many respects in terms of human rights. I think we all are aware of some of the dreadful things that have happened in the context of civil war, whether it's against the Kurds, or whether against some of the Shia leadership in the South. We're aware of some of the devices that the Ba'ath party used to come to power, to suppress the Communist movement with the help of the CIA. We're aware of some of the methods they used to stay in power - not very attractive. The civil and political rights of many Iraqis have been violated. There's no question about that.
However, today we have a situation which is contrary to the approach of the Ba'ath party. The Ba'ath party has sustained for over 20 years a system of social welfare. A large proportion of oil revenues in the '70s and '80s went into providing employment, housing, education and health care. It brought Iraq and the quality of life in Iraq up to a level of Southern Europe by 1990. In 1958, I think illiteracy amongst women was at the level of about 85%. By 1990, illiteracy had been reduced to about 5 or 6% - an extraordinary and unique development in this part of the world. That's true of health care and education generally. So Iraq stood out as being quite extraordinary. The money had been well used in many respects.
Sadly, of course, Baghdad also invested heavily in military capacity and weapons of mass destruction, which had started during the Iran-Iraq war when they were given the capacity to buy chemical weapons by Europe and North America. They were sold biological warfare seedstock by Washington itself, and restocked after the calamity of Hallabja, and the use of chemical weapons against the Iranians. We did not see a problem in that, apparently, at that time. That became an issue only later.
The issue for human rights, and it's very clear in the Charter, is that human rights apply to every individual, regardless of what his or her government may be doing. The individual Iraqi is as entitled to basic human rights as you and I. We may detest Baghdad; we may deplore their system of government, whatever. That does not justify us in any way diminishing the human rights of the Iraqi people. And tragically, under economic sanctions today, we have taken away what I call the basic human rights of the Iraqi people - the sort of rights that are spelt out in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as: "the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of (it says) himself and his family " [I don't know what happened to gender in 1948], including food, clothing, housing, medical care, social services and so on. These very basic rights that the Ba'ath party provided we, the United Nations, you Australians as part of the United Nations, have taken away from the Iraqi people. That is incompatible with the Charter, with international humanitarian law, with the Universal Declaration itself. There is no justification for that.
I think the issue for us as citizens and some of you as lawyers is the need to look at this issue of human rights, whether it's national or international, and whether it opens up whole new doors for humanitarian intervention (which is a very hot topic and will be, I think, for the next 10 or 20 years). The fact is that we have demonstrated in Iraq gross violation of the Declaration of Human Rights by none other than the United Nations Security Council itself. That is an extraordinary phenomenon, and something we should all worry about, because it's Iraq today . I'm not going to say it's Australia tomorrow, but if the human rights of somebody else, whether they're close or far away, are endangered by whatever internal or external forces including the United Nations, our own human rights are equally endangered. I think that's the way we have to see it, and that's why we have an obligation to do something about it.
I think I'll stop there, and if there are any issues or ideas or corrections of what I've said, I would be very happy to hear from you.
Question: I'd be interested in hearing your perspectives on ways that the international community can actually respond in other ways to human rights abuses, ways that are actually effective and in the genuine interest of human rights, rather than the interests of those countries imposing the sanctions.
Denis Halliday: Well, economic sanctions are imposed for a number of reasons: human rights abuses might be one of those, but as we know, there are many other situations - encouragement to withdraw from an invasion situation, for example. So, there are many possibilities. I think the big answer, so to speak, is that we've got to try to identify areas of concern that might lead to the need for some sort of sanctions. To take Iraq and Kuwait, I think those who were aware of difficulties in that part of the world knew perfectly well the difficulties between Kuwait and Iraq. At the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq came out somewhat successful but totally broke, with great damage to the economy. The oil revenues were not there, they were up to their ears in debt - about $40-50 billion, I believe. They owed Kuwait and Saudi Arabia I think $15 or 20 billion. Meantime, perhaps with encouragement from the West, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were pumping oil at a very high level and had brought the price way down. The Kuwaitis were demanding repayment of the money that was owed to them and they were not collaborating with access to the Persian Gulf. And on top of that, they were stealing Iraqi oil by slant drilling. Now all this was known. The UN, if it's on its toes, and if you want to avoid the debacle we now have, should be prepared and staffed up to firstly anticipate these crises, and then go in and through preventive diplomacy address these sorts of issues, because they are happening every day, all over the world. You can see Mexico, you can see Nigeria. We've seen Eastern Europe. We're falling apart, for a number of reasons - maybe it's ethnic strife and differences, religious problems. It's a leftover, sometimes, from the Colonial period when countries were carved up and peoples were carved up often at the same time.
So we need to grade up the UN, increase its capacity - what I call 'upstream' involvement, so we cut off difficulties before they become the crises that lead to invasions of Kuwait and such situations. I think that is the ultimate solution. We should get out of peace-keeping, and get in before peace-keeping is required. That is where, I think, the organisation has got to go, and restore hopefully some of its credibility. It's too late to get involved in what we've got now in the case of Iraq. We need to learn from that and deal with it in a very different way.
Otherwise, to go back more specifically to your question, it has to be a "smart sanctions" approach. None of us have made it work. None of us know how to make it work. It's difficult, I think, to focus on government and decision-makers. The fact is nowadays with 10 minutes warning you can move $10 billion from your personal account to somewhere else
electronically. So there's no way, I think, you can pin down a government. And governments of that type tend to be totalitarian, or likely to anyway pass the buck or the burden to the people as opposed to themselves. So I'm not too optimistic about "smart sanctions", but clearly it has to be explored. Sanctions, whatever, have got to be implemented properly. There's a good book by a man called Tony Hass called The Politics of Economic Sanctions, which I'd recommend to anybody who's interested, setting out the way to do it. If you want to do it, do it properly, basically is what he's saying, and the UN has certainly not done that. I think it's as simple as that.
Denis Halliday : I think it's easy to be very depressed right now, because we have a lame duck in Washington. Election year is a hopeless year to try to do anything dramatic. We have countries like Canada who will not put any pressure on Washington. We have countries like Australia who don't seem to want to put any pressure on Washington. We have Tony Blair who is particularly in the pocket of Bill. And then you have the rest of the world, who is ready to lift economic sanctions. I sat in on the Security Council on 24th March and listened to statements from all of the other states condemning economic sanctions and their impact, and proposing something else.
Now what they've got so far, which is Resolution 1284, is also inadequate. It seems to be a device which took a year to create to provide a carrot in the sense that, with all being well and total collaboration and co-operation, we may suspend economic sanctions. In fact, the process looks like it would take a minimum of, say, 9 or 10 months, and we know that condemns another 50,000 Iraqi kids to death. So I'm not keen on that. On top of that, the Baghdad government has not accepted this resolution. They see the insincerity, and that's underlined, of course, by statements from people like Albright and Clinton who have said repeatedly - I think Blair too - "We will never lift economic sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power". So it's difficult to be optimistic.
Having said that, however, I think there's now a mounting pressure in Washington itself, and in London and throughout the world. I'm going back with my successor, Hans von Sponeck, who's also now resigned, to do a congressional briefing in the beginning of May. We're going to London to do the same thing. We're going to EU and Paris and various places. We're going to keep up, if we can, this sort of modest pressure that we can provide, but supported by media, which is beginning to happen.
Media is taking a different line. I don't know if you heard Phillip Adams last night. You can sense that sort of thinking coming across on BBC for example and some parts of the United States as well. I think the pressure is mounting. The tragedy is of course that it's much too slow. This is a very urgent crisis. People are dying as we speak. This is so grossly unacceptable. I mean, none of us, I think, can live with this. It's so easy to say "Well, you know, it's all the fault of Saddam Hussein". But that, you know, is a cop-out. It's just not good enough, and even if it is true - and his behaviour is abhorrent - that never excuses us, or justifies us, running a system which we know damn well is responsible for this horrible situation.
I think if that doesn't work, or doesn't work in the near future, another longer term happening is likely to be total collapse, and we'll be left maybe with United States, maybe Britain, with a bilateral sanctions regime. The rest of us, presumably, will go back to business. You can see this is happening. There are sanctions breaking and so on, but it's unhealthy, it's undesirable, and it's another stab in the back to the United Nations which has already been severely damaged by what's happening in its name in Iraq today. But that sort of evolution could take place. For example, Germany and Japan, Qatar and Bahrain are now opening their embassies in Baghdad to add to the 50 or 60 already there. I've suggested that Australia should think about re-opening its mission in Baghdad. These are moves towards the future which I think we've all got to see as positive steps.
Question : Did Alexander Downer, when you went to speak to him, give you a good hearing? Did you get a chance to put across the wonderful arguments that you've made to us? I mean, that was a most marvellous summation of this awful situation - genocidal situation. It amazes me that he could hear what you said, and he could still say "We aren't prepared to do anything". It seems thoroughly un-Australian to me.
Denis Halliday: Well, I'm sad to say, in 34 years with the United Nations I've met a few Foreign Ministers but I have never met one like your Mr Downer. Because, sad to say, he was not prepared to listen. He was not interested in what I had to say. His mind had been made up, clearly, before we met with him. If I'd closed my eyes, it could have been Madeleine Albright speaking. It seems to me he has no concern about the humanitarian crisis. It's all, obviously, the fault of Saddam Hussein, and there was no way that he could contemplate considering a different stance from Washington. I mean, I was absolutely shocked, I can tell you. It was a ludicrous meeting where it was just one sort of diversion away from the real crisis, which is of course the calamity we have there.
And as I say everywhere I go, we - and I include myself - are responsible for it in that we are citizens of democracies. These people we have in our capitals are supposed to represent us. If they don't represent how you feel, they should be obviously changed, and that is what is happening in the United States. We've got 72 congressmen who have signed a letter to Clinton demanding de-linking of economic from military sanctions. Similar movements are taking place in London. And that's what I would hope to see happening here - that there will be parliamentary pressure on the government in power to change its position, and on this item, break from the Washington stance, or maybe even better - use Australian influence, and it's a real thing, to help Clinton to get himself out of this dreadful mess he's got himself into, because that would be even the better solution. Then we could perhaps see light at the end of this tunnel.
Question: Could you say a little on "dual use" items, which can be used for military or non-military purposes?
Denis Halliday: Yes. This is a reference to the Sanctions Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Security Council, and which has the task of reviewing the contracts that Iraq negotiates, drawing down on the oil revenues it has now under the Oil-for-Food Program - 986 Resolution - the money of which is of course in the United Nations Bank. These contracts are approved in New York - or not approved. Right now there's almost a billion dollars of equipment for oil production on hold, which of course is very threatening in a country where oil production is now curtailed by the capacity. A lot of damage in fact has been done already.
But to be more specific, the dual-purpose problem is something as simple as rubber tyres. Obviously rubber tyres can be used for trucks shipping wheat, or rubber tyres can be used for trucks shipping troops or some other military venture, and that runs all the way from rubber gloves to pencils, and things you'd find quite ludicrous. Clearly everything in a sense has dual purpose.
But this has been a device which has been very cruel, and it's meant that in the health sector in particular, a lot of health equipment, laboratory testing equipment, chlorine gas for water treatment, has been blocked or slowed down repeatedly, and there's a large amount, $1.7 billion, now on hold. These are things desperately needed for the agricultural sector or health sector or wherever. It's part of a game, I'm afraid, that is used to keep this country suppressed. Keep Saddam in power, because that's a stability, but a depressed state, nevertheless, despite the stability, which is useful for everybody concerned except of course for the Iraqi people who are paying the price every day.
Question: As in any country really, the real problem is distributing wealth whenever it becomes available. Has the UN put together a plan to actually distribute wealth to the right people within Iraq? Should countries such as Australia lift embargoes?
Denis Halliday: The first crisis has been distribution of foodstuffs, and that, I think, actually works extremely well, despite the views of Mr Rubin, Albright, Clinton and Downer. In the health sector we've had some difficulties, there's no question.
But you're talking actually about the next stage. Once we lift economic sanctions, we'd have to respect totally the sovereignty of Iraq and its government, and believe me they have the economists and the planners and the experience to work out the long-term development needs of Iraq. I have no doubt in saying that whatsoever. They will determine, in my view, the priorities, and it's quite clear where they'd have to go because like South Africa after the end of apartheid, the Baghdad Government, whoever that is, is going to be under tremendous pressure to produce an overnight miracle. Many Iraqis will think "Well, sanctions go on Wednesday. Great, on Thursday the new car will arrive, the kids can go back to school."
Well, of course, that will not happen. Iraq will not have the revenue. If oil prices were to go down, the dependence of Iraq on oil revenue would be again very keenly felt, combined with their incapacity to produce more than probably 2,500 million barrels a day. That's about a ceiling today.
So I think that decision has got to be an Iraqi decision. The money is going to have to go into health care, into education, into basic foods, which means more importation, more trade for countries like Australia and Ireland (I happen to be Irish). But the investment is going to be the important part, and that's where I think countries like Australia will have to come in with capital assistance, and that will have to go into the infrastructural recovery - for example health care, and electric power is going to be fundamental. It probably needs maybe $10 billion alone for electric power. The whole grid has got to be reworked. Oil production is another huge requirement, new wells and getting the thing back up to where it should be. And then you've got agriculture which is heavily depleted and damaged over 10 years, now combined with animal health problems - foot and mouth and screw-worm, plus irrigation problems. That also was often driven by electric power.
So it's a whole array, a sectoral spread of damage, but they will have to determine the priority. Knowing the Iraqis a little bit, they will decide that. Believe me, they will not want people like us, who are after all responsible for making the mess in the first place (setting aside some very bad decisions, like invading Kuwait) making the decisions. I think that's fundamental.
Question: Thanks Denis. It's always great to hear passion combined with erudition. Last year, of course, while the Kosovo crisis was happening, Iraq was being bombed all the way through. I think that this is something that we forget. It's not just sanctions that are part of our war with Iraq. It's also constant bombing that's taking place today. This might take me into the realm of speculation, but I just wonder if you can draw any connections at all between conflicts like the NATO intervention in Kosovo, and the continued UN Security Council sanctions on Iraq; whether there's any bigger picture that can be drawn here?
Denis Halliday : Well, I think the commonality there is almost total disregard for the United Nations. The use of NATO came about because the Security Council would not have approved military action against Yugoslavia in regard to Kosovo. The NATO action many of us thought was appalling as it began, and I think that has turned out to be proven to be correct. I mean, it speeded up the ethnic killing, it created a million refugees. It is seen now to be a very bad way to do business, and of course the $40 billion that went down the drain could have been used, it seems to me, much more positively for the well-being of Serbs and Albanians. But it demonstrates the disregard for the United Nations - that if it doesn't work in your favour, then you go around it and you do something else. You know, all of the NATO countries collaborated in that activity which is, I think, appalling, and in due course those involved will come under the heading of "Crimes Against Humanity" and the Pinochet factor, I think, will start kicking in while some of us are still alive, and men who have made those decisions will not be travelling much without great care.
I think the continuation you see of economic sanctions, again, to me is a disregard for the United Nations, and it's only happening because Washington controls the United Nations. The corruption of the Council is really something to behold. They say the right thing, but they will not veto, they will not go against Washington, because there's just too much power now in the hands of one hyperpower, as the French call it, and they call the shots. It's just very simple. And they have decided they are going to hold Iraq down, they are going to crush this country - and they are - and that's it. The only ally left is Britain, but others of course who abstain, or others who don't stand up and be heard - and I'm afraid I have to list Australia in that list - are also responsible. And that's where all of us - and I've got my own government to harass, and I'm doing my best there also - but Australia is your problem. We've just got to get our governments to speak out, because you know, when the history books are written, folks, those of us who knew and did nothing about it are no better than the people who sat on their hands in the 1930s and 1940s. I don't want to be one of those, and I'm sure you don't either, so the obligation is there, and we have a lot of work to do, all of us who care, and care about Australia. Because this is in the best interests of Australia, to bring an end to this calamity. It's not just Iraq. You know, Australia wants to remain as one of the good guys, and a country concerned with human rights and well-being. Who wants to be associated with genocide? I don't think that's the way most Australians want it - if they knew; if they knew exactly what was unfolding, and that's of course one of the big problems - most Australians, I think, don't know.
That's the crisis.