News Release

The U.N. Role in Iraq: Interviews Available

NANCY LESSIN, CHARLIE RICHARDSON
Co-founders of Military Families Speak Out, Lessin and Richardson have a son, Joe, who just returned from Iraq. They said today: “Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and others are arguing that attacks in Iraq mean we have to send more troops. We have 58,000 names on a wall — and millions of dead Vietnamese — to tell us where that road leads.”
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EMAN AHMED KHAMMAS, in Baghdad via:
Khammas is co-director of the Occupation Watch Center in Iraq. She said today: “The U.N. is not very reputable here. Many people consider the U.N. responsible for the suffering of the last 13 years, the sanctions and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Despite some statements, it was largely silent when Iraq was attacked. In the last month, the U.N. has been friendly with the American authorities. These may or may not be the reasons for this attack, but if this is resistance, and it could well be, these are some of the grievances toward the United Nations. Before the invasion, the U.N. was paralyzed and did not stop the U.S. attack. Some people think of it as a department of the U.S. government. Security Council Resolution 1483 basically gave legal cover for the occupation and to legitimize the attack on Iraq. This is a pity, since the U.N. does good work through UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and the World Health Organization…. Sergio Vieira de Mello had praised the governing council and was friendly with Paul Bremer.”
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DENIS HALLIDAY
Available for a limited number of interviews, Halliday is former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq. He said today: “We all think of the U.N. as this benign entity, but in Iraq it’s held responsible for a great deal of suffering of the Iraqi people. The U.N. has been particularly corrupted by the Security Council. Resolutions on Israel go unenforced. We love to talk about our good humanitarian work — and there’s certainly truth to that, good people trying to help Iraqis were just killed — but the Secretary General has implemented programs which are inherently incompatible with the U.N. Charter.”
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PHYLLIS BENNIS
A fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, author of Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s U.N. and Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis, Bennis said today: “The murderous attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, in targeting civilians, was a violation of international law as well as a huge tragedy for the victims, their families and for the global organization as a whole. But such an attack should not have been a surprise. The U.S.-U.K. war and occupation of Iraq were and remain illegal. However happy Iraqis were to see the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein, they remain understandably angry towards military occupation. The U.N. should never have agreed to participate under the authority of that occupation force; to do so provides a political fig leaf for an illegal occupation…. Under the Geneva Conventions it remains the responsibility of the U.S. and U.K. as the occupying powers — not the United Nations — to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people…. The U.N. should pull out of Iraq, and refuse to return until the U.S. ends its occupation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167