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Al Jazeera: Sanctioning Society: From Iraq to Iran

Author: Murtaza Hussain
October 3, 2012


Sanctions historically work to subject a country's people, rather than its government, to poverty and undermine the populations welfare, as is ocurring in Iran right now.

After over three decades of service with the United Nations, working across the world on development and humanitarian assistance projects, in 1998 the UN Chief Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday turned in his resignation to the organisation. Upon spending years in Iraq and bearing witness to the results of the draconian sanctions regime which had turned a modern society into one of the most impoverished on the planet, Halliday wrote that he could no longer continue administering a programme which he said "satisfied the legal definition of genocide".

In later interviews he further explained his rationale for resigning from the organisation to which he had given over three decades of his life, and about the horrors that economic sanctions had visited upon the civilian population of Iraq:

"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?"

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