HALLIDAY, Denis. Former top UN official on genocidal Sanctions, "intent to kill" & Iraqi Genocide

Dennis Halliday (born, Ireland, 1941) has an MA in Economics, Geography and Public Administration from Trinity College Dublin and was the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq from September 1, 1997, until 1998. He resigned after 34 years with the UN, including being UN assistant secretary-general, over the Sanctions imposed on Iraq, characterizing them as “genocide” (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Halliday ).

Denis Halliday on Iraqi Genocide in a lecture titled "Sanctions Against Iraq: Consequences and Alternatives," Sept. 24, in Goldwin Smith Hall's Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium. (1999): “"We are now in there responsible for killing people, destroying their families, their children, allowing their older parents to die for lack of basic medicines…" Halliday said during a "We're in there allowing children to die who were not born yet when Saddam Hussein made the mistake of invading Kuwait… For me what is tragic, in addition to the tragedy of Iraq itself, is the fact that the United Nations Security Council member states ... are maintaining a program of economic sanctions deliberately, knowingly killing thousands of Iraqis each month. And that definition fits genocide." [1].

Denis Halliday speech about his resignation from the UN over Iraqi genocide (2002): “I often have to explain why I resigned from the United Nations after a 30 year career, why I took on the all powerful states of the UN Security Council; and why after five years I continue to serve the well being of the people of Iraq. In reality there was no choice, and there remains no choice. You all would have done the same had you been occupying my seat as head of the UN Humanitarian Program in Iraq. I was driven to resignation because I refused to continue to take Security Council orders, the same Security Council that had imposed and sustained genocidal sanctions on the innocent of Iraq. I did not want to be complicit. I wanted to be free to speak out publicly about this crime. And above all, my innate sense of justice was and still is outraged by the violence that UN sanctions have brought upon, and continues to bring upon, the lives of children, families – the extended families, the loved ones of Iraq. There is no justification for killing the young people of Iraq, not the aged, not the sick, not the rich, not the poor. Some will tell you that the leadership is punishing the Iraqi people. That is not my perception, or experience from living in Baghdad. And were that to be the case – how can that possibly justify further punishment, in fact collective punishment, by the United Nations? I don’t think so. And international law has no provision for the disproportionate and murderous consequences of the ongoing UN embargo – for well over 12 long years.” [2].

Denis Halliday in genocidal “intent to kill” in answering the question “Who, in your view, is primarily responsible for the deaths of those 500,000 children under five [under Sanctions]?” (2000): “All the members of the Permanent Security Council, when they passed 1284, reconfirmed that economic sanctions had to be sustained, knowing the consequences. That constitutes ‘intent to kill’, because we know that sanctions are killing several thousand per month. Now, of the five permanent members, three abstained; but an abstention is no better than a vote for, in a sense. Britain and America of course voted for this continuation. The rest of them don’t count because they’re lackeys, or they’re paid off. The only country that stood up was Malaysia, and they also abstained. But you know, by abstaining instead of using your veto, when you are a permanent member you're guilty because you’re continuing something that has this deadly impact. However, I would normally point the finger at London and Washington, because they are the most active in sustaining sanctions: they are the ones who will not compromise. All the other members would back down if London and Washington would change their position. I think that’s quite clear. But unfortunately Blair and Clinton have an almost personal investment in demonising Saddam Hussein. That’s very hard to get out of, they have my sympathy, but they created their own problem. Once you’ve demonised somebody, it’s awfully difficult to turn around and say, ‘Well actually he’s not such a bad guy, he likes kids’. Under the Baath Party regime, they ran a social welfare system in Iraq that was so intense it was almost claustrophobic, and they made damn sure that the average Iraqi was well taken care of, and they did it deliberately to divert them from any political activity and to maintain stability and allow them (Baath Party) to run the country. [US Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright has also fallen into the demonisation hole: her whole career is linked to maintaining this policy, although she didn’t start it.” [3].

Denis Halliday on Iraqi Genocide and petition against mass executions in Occupied Iraq (2010): “Accepting the Gandhi International Peace Award in 2003, I explained my resignation from the United Nations as head of the UN Humanitarian Programme in Iraq at end 1998. I indicated that resignation was necessary because of my refusal to accept Security Council orders that continued to impose genocidal sanctions on the innocent of Iraq. My continuation would have implied my complicity in human catastrophe. And, in addition, my innate sense of justice was outraged — as yours would have been in my position — by the violence that UN sanctions had brought upon the lives and wellbeing of children, families, and the many loved ones of Iraq. There can be no justification for killing the young, the aged, the sick, the rich, the poor anywhere, under any circumstances, least of all by the United Nations.

Some will tell you that the Iraqi leadership was punishing the Iraqi people. That was not my perception or experience when living in Baghdad in 1997-98 and traveling throughout the country. And were that to be the case, how could that possibly justify collective punishment — that is sanctions, by the United Nations? The UN Charter and international law have no provision for the murderous consequences of a UN embargo, over 12 long years in the case of the people of Iraq.

After leaving, sometimes I explained the impact of sanctions to the media, and to university and public meetings by describing Iraqi children as being on death row without hope of reprieve. By the end of 1998, we — the UN — had killed hundreds of thousands without any apparent hesitation on the part of the permanent member states of the Security Council.

The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 has only worsened the overall situation for Iraqi children, women and men. Contrary to what the mainstream media has been and is reporting, a whole nation is being terrorized, killed, driven into exile. The humanitarian situation in Iraq is catastrophic according to the ICRC (The Red Cross) and other international organizations. American imposition of “democracy and freedom” has failed as law, order and economic and social wellbeing is increasingly elusive. Health and educational systems are about to collapse; the human rights situation is disastrous; human security and opportunities have vanished; the fearful, the refugees and the displaced outnumber those enjoying normal lives.

Since the Iraqi government reintroduced capital punishment in 2004, an unknown number of people have been hanged. None of the condemned appears to have had a fair trial. Sadly, the Iraqi judicial system has been deemed by responsible international agencies and human rights organizations to be corrupt, dysfunctional and plagued by sectarianism.

And now the Presidential Council of Iraq has reportedly ratified the death sentences of some 900 detainees languishing on death row. Some 17 of them are confirmed to be women. The apparent collapse of justice in Iraq today needs to be seen in the context of an almost total breakdown of law and order since the US/UK invasion, including the war crimes, atrocities, killing of civilians by invading and occupying US mercenaries and military forces.

I oppose the use of the death penalty wherever it occurs on the grounds that it is contrary to fundamental human rights. The international community that has already totally failed the Iraqi people has a compelling obligation to condemn the appalling human consequences of illegal invasion and occupation, and condemn — surely the Iraqis have suffered enough — one of the highest rates of execution in the world.

Without your voice the deadly increasing spiral of killing will continue. That’s why I join the BRussells Tribunal in denouncing executions. I would very much appreciate it if you would read the following statement against the imminent hanging of 900 detainees: http://brusselstribunal.org/DeathPenalty121209.htm and sign the call to stop these executions and request that the Iraqi government impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

Thank you on behalf of the BRussells Tribunal and all of us who care about justice and human life.” [4].

[1]. Mark Siegal, “Former UN official says sanctions against Iraq amount to “genocide””, Cornell Chronicle, 30 September 1999: http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/99/9.30.99/Halliday_talk.html .

[2]. Denis Halliday quoted in “Denis Halliday”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Halliday

[3]. Denis Halliday, interviewed by David Edwards, “Half a million children under five are dead in Iraq – who is responsible. An interview with Denis Halliday - Former Assistant Secretary-General of The United Nations”, Media Lens, May 2000: http://www.medialens.org/articles/the_articles/articles_2001/iraqdh.htm .

[4]. Denis Halliday, “900 prisoners face summary execution: stop the death penalty in Iraq!”, Brussells Tribunal, Newsletter1, 1-10 January 2010: http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Newsletters/Newsletter1EN.html .