Background: Since the Gulf War, the international community has maintained comprehensive economic, military and political sanctions against Iraq to enforce compliance with U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolutions. The embargo has contributed to widespread suffering among the civilian population without securing Iraqi compliance with the U.N. weapons inspection regime, now suspended by Iraq after the U.S./U.K. bombing campaign in December, 1998.
USCC Position: Since the Gulf War, the USCC has repeatedly addressed how best to secure Iraqi compliance with its international obligations while easing the morally intolerable suffering among the Iraqi civilian population. The USCC has emphasized three issues:
- Iraq's responsibilities. Iraq has a duty to cease its internal repression, to end its threats to peace, to abandon its effort to develop weapons of mass destruction and to respect the legitimate role of the U.N in ensuring that it does so. Iraq has a further duty to feed and care for its citizens within available reasources.
- International community's responsibilities. The international community has a duty to avoid further harm to Iraqi civilians by quickly reshaping the embargo, lifting controls on food, medicine and essential goods, while maintaining appropriate controls on Iraq's military capacity. Doing so should not be seen as a reward for Iraq's irresponsible behavior, but as necessary to relieve a morally intolerable situation in which innocent civilians are suffering for the actions of a regime over which they have no control.
- Support for peaceful measures. The USCC has repeatedly expressed strong reservations over the use of force to compel Iraqi compliance with its obligations, judging that the most recent military strikes "unduly risk violating just-war criteria."
John F. Cullinan, S.J. (ph) 202-541-3445 (fax) 202-541-3339 e-mail: email@example.com