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Land of Blue HelmetsThe United Nations and the Arab World$
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Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286931

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286931.001.0001

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The Politics of the Sanctions on Iraq and the UN Humanitarian Exception

The Politics of the Sanctions on Iraq and the UN Humanitarian Exception

Chapter:
(p.278) Twelve The Politics of the Sanctions on Iraq and the UN Humanitarian Exception
Source:
Land of Blue Helmets
Author(s):

Hans-Christof von Sponeck

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520286931.003.0013

This chapter examines the politics of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations four days after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The UN Security Council's decision to impose sanctions for Iraq's aggression against Kuwait was justified. However, these should have been accompanied by a carefully crafted humanitarian exemption to ensure that the civilian population would receive what they needed for a dignified survival, especially food, medicines, clean water, and electricity. The UN's failure to do so eventually led to the successive resignations of Denis Halliday and the this chapter's author as Baghdad-based UN assistant secretaries-general and humanitarian coordinators. The chapter recounts how the UN sanctions on Iraq during the period 1990–2003 were implemented in “an iron-fist and an inhuman” way at the expense of the Iraqi civilians. It also considers how the humanitarian exception to these sanctions—via the Oil-for-Food program—was overshadowed by powerful Western interests for regime change in Iraq. The chapter suggests that the UN was caught between geopolitical considerations and its humanitarian mission.

Keywords:   politics, sanctions, Iraq, United Nations, Kuwait, Security Council, humanitarian exemption, Denis Halliday, civilians, Oil-for-Food program

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