Letter: Legal doubts about sanctions on Iraq

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Sir: Last Wednesday's 'Diary' commented on the meeting planned for that evening by our Commission of Inquiry to discuss both the effect and the legality of the sanctions on Iraq. Your columnist implied that our meeting was, in fact, designed less to uphold international law than to give covert support to the present government in Baghdad.

Had your reporters followed up this piece of 'journalism' by doing some retrospective investigation in the evening, they would have found that, while every conceivable political view was represented at this well-attended and moving meeting of 200 people, overwhelmingly the main impulse of the participants was to make a point of steering well clear of any contentious political issues one way or the other, so as to highlight the humanitarian and legal questions involved in the continuing economic blockade.

Iraq is inhabited not only by its president, but by 18 million people who, in systematic contravention of Article 54 of the 1977 Geneva Protocols, are being subjected to hunger as a means of war, are being deprived of essential medical supplies and are facing the destruction of services essential to civilian life.

Your international pages have themselves commented on numerous occasions that these sanctions are failing to further the declared aims of Western policy, and doubts have frequently been raised there as to their legality.

If you keep the writers of your 'Diary' column too busy to attend the meetings on which they report, could you at least please provide them with enough time to read your own international pages?

Yours faithfully,



British Commission of Inquiry

for the International War Crimes


London, WC1

11 February