Statement Requesting A Special Sitting Of CHR On Iraq

27 March 2003

Madam President, 

The undersigned non-governmental organizations, which participated in one or both of two round tables on the war against Iraq and the human rights and humanitarian implications it has for the Iraqi people, held at the Palais des Nations on 26 and 27 March 2003 in parallel to the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, wish to address to you the following urgent appeal:  

The military onslaught by the U.S. and U.K. launched on 20 March 2003 against the people of Iraq is in total violation of the United Nations Charter. It is a most brutal step in an illegal war that has been carried on by these two UN Member States against Iraq since the cease-fire in 1991 and the beginning of the process of disarming the country of weapons of mass destruction decreed by the UN Security Council. The more than twelve years of sanctions imposed on Iraq and the almost daily bombardments by the US and UK air forces have caused more than a million and half Iraqi deaths and immense destruction of the country. Since the imposition of sanctions on Iraq the country has lacked, among many other materials and foods vital to life, the most basic medicines and medical equipment to treat the sick, and other essential products to make hospitals safe. Many of the sick have been and are latent victims of the depleted uranium in weapons used in the first Gulf war in 1991. In this already dangerous situation, how can the thousands injured by the heavy bombardments of the cities these days be given the needed medical treatment? How can the people be provided with clean water, and how can they acquire basic food?  

This war against Iraq defies all reason and common sense. It is illegal, illegitimate, unjust, colonial and arrogant. It violates the fundamental rights of peoples to self-determination, to national sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is not one UN resolution that authorizes a state to overthrow the government or political regime of another. Humanitarian intervention on political grounds has no legal foundation. This war is unjust and perverse because its victims are primarily civilians and because those who have launched this war pretend to build what they are actually destroying. It is a colonial war and one of occupation by a superpower that confuses its own selfish interests with those of humanity, and that refuses or is too ignorant to esteem the contribution the Iraqi people have made to world civilization and our cultural heritage for more than 500 years. 

Speakers and participants alike, during the two round tables, denounced the imposition of years of sanctions, and now the war, as nothing less than genocide. To do nothing against the invasion of a UN Member State by a big power imperils the future of humanity and opens the door to the law of the jungle.  

We are outraged by the vote in the Commission on 27 March, refusing to hold a special sitting on the war on Iraq with its human rights and humanitarian implications for the Iraqi people. This vote is in total contradiction with the demands to stop this war of millions of people the world over. It is in contradiction to the call made by human rights defenders everywhere. 

We call on the Commission, through your high office, to reconsider its decision and agree to hold a special sitting on the war in Iraq, and thus restore public confidence in the UN and its Commission on Human Rights.  

We urge the Commission to do everything in its power to help end this genocidal war in order to allow the Iraqi people to reconstruct their land and society within the norms of the right to self-determination and the right to dispose of their own natural resources as is guaranteed by the UN Charter and the International human rights covenants. 


Agence des cités pour la coopération Nord-Sud

Arab Lawyers Union

Arab Organization for Human Rights

Bahrain Human Rights Society

Europe – Third World Centre (CETIM)

Centro de Estudios Europeos (CEE)

Comité international pour le respect et l’application de la charte africaines des droits de l’homme     (CIRAC) 

Federacion de Mujeres  Cubanas

Federacion Latinoamericana de Asociaones de Familiares de Detenidos 

Fondation equatorienne de relations internationales et stratégiques (FERIS) 

General Arab Women Federation

Generala Federation of Iraqi Women

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

International Educational Development

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)

International Peace Bureau

International Young Catholic Students

International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples (LIDLIP)


Organisation de la société civile africaine (OSCA)

PEN International

Union of Arab Jurists

Women’s International Democratic Federation

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

World Federation of Democratic Youth

World Federation of Trade Unions

World Movement of Mothers

World Peace Council

On behalf of the signatories: 

Elias Khouri
Union of Arab Jurists

Edith Ballantyne

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom