Global Policy Forum

Criticism of the Sanctions


From the earliest days of the sanctions, critics have pointed to many serious flaws, including the humanitarian suffering of innocent civilians, the lack of clear criteria for lifting, and the failure of the sanctions to put direct pressure on Iraq government leaders.

Key Documents

Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future (August 6, 2002)

A comprehensive report on UN sanctions against Iraq, issued by Global Policy Forum and eleven NGO partners on the twelfth anniversary of the original sanction resolution in the Security Council. The report discusses sharp differences in the Council over the sanctions, issues in humanitarian law, and the battle for the future of Iraq's oil riches.


Articles & Articles


Iraqi Sanctions: Were They Worth It? (January 2004)

The Future of Freedom Foundation examines the humanitarian impact of UN economic sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1991. Despite warnings from the international community of an imminent humanitarian crisis due to the economic embargo, the US pressured the UN to maintain a firm line on Iraq.



Were Sanctions Right? (July 27, 2003)

As the war in Iraq recedes, the challenges of occupying and rebuilding the country grow more daunting. It has become clear that US bombing and the looting that followed were not the only causes of Iraq's current state; the decade-long sanctions also greatly contributed to the country's economic crisis. (New York Times)

The Sanctions Game (May 19, 2003)

For more than a decade the US imposed sanctions on Iraq that were viewed as among the "strictest, most closely regulated sanctions in the history of economic warfare." Washington now asks the UN to immediately lift the sanctions so the US can start profiting from Iraq's resources. (Yellow Times)

Why the Security Council Will Never Lift the Sanctions on Iraq (March 12, 2003)

According to this paper, sanctions against Iraq will not be lifted because some countries will demand 100 percent certified disarmament. (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research)

Sanctions and the "Moral Case" for War (March 4, 2003)

Per Oskar Klevnas, research officer at the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq in Cambridge, questions the statement by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that a war on Iraq is a "moral case" to end the suffering of the Iraqi people. Blair does not mention that over the past 12 years more than 500 000 children have died because of the UN sanctions implemented by US and British governments.

UN Embargo Sparks Rare Diseases (February 9, 2003)

An international conference in Iraq is studying rare diseases in the country as a consequence of banned weapons used by Western allies. Shortages of medical appliances and drugs have worsened the situation by increasing the mortality rate. (Gulf-news)



Scylla and Charbydris (December 30, 2002)

The war is "certainly not about weapons," says ex-UN Humanitarian Coordinator Dennis Halliday, who argues that the US government's desire to control the oil-rich region drives the war. He believes that an end to sanctions and economic growth, not regime change, would empower Iraqis to demand fair governance and respect for human rights. (AlAhram)

Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (November, 2002)

This paper argues that the US, and to some extent also the UK, use the sanctions program against Iraq as warfare, deliberately hurting and killing the Iraqi people to destroy the country and overthrow its leader. (Harper's Magazine)

Real Solutions to the Real Iraq Crisis (November 28, 2002)

The manufactured threat of Saddam Hussein's "evil" regime has eclipsed the once-growing movement against Iraq sanctions. What's Left challenges readers to focus on the real crisisâ€" the intolerable deaths of Iraqi children from sanctions-related causes.

Rebuilding Iraq? (October 7, 2002)

The Iraq-Iran war, the Gulf War, and a decade of sanctions have led to a spiral of "de-development" in Iraq. The article argues that the 2 million middle-class Iraqis who have already fled the country will be reluctant to return to widespread malnutrition, low enrollment rates at school, and a shattered economy, compromising Iraq's capacity to recover. (Middle East Economic Survey)

Why Another War? (October, 2002)

This primer by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) gives background information on the Iraq crisis. It analyzes how sanctions have affected the Iraqi people, how Saddam has managed to stay in power, and the driving forces behind the Bush administration's push for regime change.

Sanctions: Myth & Reality (2002)

Voices in the Wilderness dispels eleven myths about the UN sanctions on Iraq. This paper illustrates how the sanctions result in human suffering and how oil interests lie behind US and UK intentions of attacking Iraq.

Four Questions, Four Answers (September 25, 2002)

Former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Hans von Sponeck brilliantly answers questions on the threat posed by Iraq and pleads against a war and for the lifting of economic sanctions. (European Colloquium)

UN Embargo on Iraq Remains Flawed, Groups Say (August 7, 2002)

On the 12th anniversary of the imposition of sanctions against Iraq, a coalition of NGOs, including Global Policy Forum, has released a comprehensive report. "The coalition says that while the government of Iraq bears a large responsibility for the suffering of its people, the Security Council is in clear breach of its obligations under international law." (Inter Press Service)

Iraq: 'Smart Sanctions' Still Kill (July, 2002)

Sanctions against Iraq have caused exteme shortages of food and medical supplies, resulting in an estimated 1.5 million deaths. For the average Iraqi, only less than 40 cents a day is allocated to meet all her humanitarian needs. (Indypendent)

Will Smart Sanctions Alleviate the Humanitarian Problem in Iraq? (May, 2002)

The international community has become increasingly critical of sanctions against Iraq, forcing the US and the UK to make changes in the rules. However, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq doubts that the new "smart sanctions" will alleviate the humanitarian situation of Iraqi civilians.

Resolution 1409 and its Torn Cover (May 21, 2002)

The Goods Review List of Resolution 1409 includes items that may have a military use. The UN will refer them to UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency for approval. Iraq argues that the US and UK manipulate these committees to obstruct the delivery of civilian goods. (Al-Jumhuriyah)



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