The effect of current UN sanctions on the civilian population is counter- productive and indefensible. Allowing the people of Iraq to suffer malnutrition and poor health is like refusing food and medicine to the passengers in a hijacked plane, but it is not the only effect. Little has been said about the educational damage being inflicted on the country, though this is serious. The existence of sanctions has also fostered the illicit plundering of major archaeological sites and the export of important antiquities.
Despite official statements, the humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions are being undermined by deliberately harsh interpretation and obstructive administration. This is unjustifiable and impolitic, and must cease. In the short term it cannot be impossible for the UN to maintain intensive and sustained monitoring of imports of military weapons and materials, while enabling the necessary emergency programme to get medicine and food to the population.
In the long term, change for the better in Iraq will only come from within the country. Let us release the population from their fight for survival and allow them to recover their former civilised standards of health, nutrition and education. At present we are creating a giant Gaza strip, with untold dangers for the future.
Professor AKBAR AHMED
Selwyn College, Cambridge
Regius Professor Emeritus in Modern History, University of Cambridge
Dr G C HARCOURT
Jesus College, Cambridge
Professor CLIVE HOLES
Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
Dr CAROLINE HUMPHREY
King's College, Cambridge
Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic, University of Cambridge
Professor NICHOLAS LASH
Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge
Newnham College, Cambridge
Dr JOHN MILBANK
Reader in Philosophical Theology, University of Cambridge
Professor of Assyriology, University of CambridgeReuse content