Many of those who do are allied to or trade with the U.S and Britain .
Saudi Arabia - criminal trials in Saudi Arabia are often held without lawyers present, confessions are obtained by torture ,and power is hereditary with no pretence at democracy . There are no laws on the books to enable peaceful political opposition groups to obtain state authorization to function freely and participate openly in the political process .Government-sponsored discrimination that renders Women are not equal before the law . Discriminatory family law takes away women's legal authority and places it in the hands of her male relatives. However , the human rights abuses visited on their people seem of little importance to us.
Israel - in breach of numerous UN sanctions for their appauling treatment of the Palestinian People. The USA frequently blocks measure in the UN which would criticise Israel's behaviour.(link to list). During Israel's repeated military incursions and eventual re-occupation of Palestinian Authority-controlled territories in the West Bank, they "used excessive lethal force; killed Palestinian civilians willfully and unlawfully; inflicted wanton damage on civilian homes and properties, looting and stealing in the course of their searches to an extent not seen in earlier years; and detained at least 4,500 Palestinian males. In a new development, the Israeli authorities at times actively prevented outside observers, including journalists, human rights activists, and United Nations fact-finders from entering the country. Israeli authorities also repeatedly impeded access to the injured by ambulances, emergency medical staff, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Other violations of the principle of civilian immunity included collective punishments in the form of intensified and extended restrictions on movement and lengthy curfews imposed on Palestinian towns and villages; and the taking of civilians as hostages, their coercion--including children--to perform life-endangering acts that assisted IDF operations, and their use as human shields."Human Rights Watch
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that in the 1990's civilian deaths constituted 90% of all deaths in war.
In only 43 days the United States and its allies bombarded more than 700 targets in Iraq. They destroyed the electrical grid, electricity generating plants, several bridges, and key government ministries (such as the ministry of justice). Due to the severe lack of electricity, refrigeration, water purification, and sewage treatment, cholera, typhoid and other diseases increased. An estimated 110,000 Iraqi civilians died in 1991 from the health effects of the war alone . (from W. Arkin, D. Durrant and M. Cherni, On Impact: Modern Warfare and the Environment: A Case Study, Greenpeace, 1991.). Records declassified by the US Defense Intelligence Agency show that a deliberate decision was made in 1991 to destroy Iraq's electricity-generating facilities and water storage and treatment, and then put chlorine on the UN embargo list. The international study team documented this new method of attack .
"The national electricity grid was short-circuited in the first few days of bombing, then power stations were later completely bombed. We saw the unworkable water chlorination plants and filmed the untreated sewage spewing into the Tigris and Euphrates, to infect a nation." ( Dr Rob Moodie, member of the first International Study Team to Iraq ).
These acts were in direct contradiction to the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (the Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) and its Additional Protocols of 1977 which require that
- civilians must not be attacked
- soldiers must distinguish between combatants and non-combatants
- facilities necessary for the survival of civilians must not be attacked.
Pentagon plans for 800 cruise missile attacks on Baghdad in the first two days of war were reported by CBS News as claiming ominously , "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.". This shows little discrimination in the choice of target , and clearly ignores the Geneva Convention.
Bush has also threatened the use of "mini-nukes". In 1996 the International Court of Justice stated that the use of, or threat to use nuclear weapons was illegal , and present research into mini-nukes in the USA is a contravention of a number of agreements. So we seek to justify a war to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction , while the USA breaks it's own Non-proliferation Treaties.
A paper due to appear in the scientific journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists focuses on recent US actions which have undermined the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. The US blocked an attempt to give the convention some power, in the form of compliance inspectors. It is suggested that this was done in order to maintain secrecy over US research work on biological weapons which include:
- a cluster bomb designed to disperse biological weapons .
- building a bio-weapon plant from commercially available materials to prove that terrorists could do the same thing
- Research by the Defence Intelligence Agency into the possibility of genetically engineering a new strain of antibiotic-resistant anthrax
- A programme to produce dried and weaponised anthrax spores, officially for testing US bio-defences, but far more spores were allegedly produced than necessary for such purposes and it is unclear whether they have been destroyed or simply stored.
The USA has claimed that the research work was being done for defensive purposes, but a clause in the biological weapons treaty forbids signatories from producing or developing "weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict".
It is also worth noting that despite the fact that signatories to the Treaty agreed to make annual declarations about their biodefence programmes, the USA never mentioned any of those programmes in its reports, and by rejecting inspections may never have had to declare them. Details were instead leaked to the press.
There is also some credence in the argument that British and US research into hallucinogenic weapons such as the gas BZ encouraged Iraq to look into similar agents, and undermined efforts towards disarmament. "We showed them the way... ( and the US).. runs the very real danger of leading the world down a pathway that will greatly reduce the security of all." ( Mr Dando - one of the scientists involved in the report).
In considering the Anthrax attack in America shortly after the bombing "Paradoxically, however, by breaking the taboo on using biological weapons, the attacks have engendered a threat that could dwarf Sept. 11. Modes of successful attack and public responses have now been demonstrated for the instruction of future terrorists. What's more, it seems to have been easy to hide incriminating evidence, and, after a whole year of FBI bumbling, it looks likely that the attacker will get away with the crime. Although the death toll was relatively low, the strikes crippled business, government and postal services. Contamination in buildings has proved difficult, costly and time-consuming to remove, with some facilities still not restored; the public health system was strained beyond capacity."
The trade of "Oil for Food" began in december 1996. In 1999, researchers with UNICEF found that infant mortality rose from forty-seven per 1000 live births during 1984-89 to 108 per 1000 in 1994-99, and under-five mortality rose from fifty-six in 1984-89 to 131 per 1000 live births in 1994-99. Lack of food and medical supplies has also had an affect on the elderly population and young people .There are about 22 million people in Iraq, 9.6 million of whom are under the age of 16.
The UN has stated that the Oil for Food program had led to "increased dependence on the government as almost the sole provider,". More than 60 percent of the population was dependent on monthly rations of flour, rice, tea, cooking oil, beans and other commodities. Possibly tens of thousands of people who are critically dependent on rations will be facing serious food shortages from the very first day a potential conflict interrupts government distributions in central and southern Iraq "(United Nations, "Likely Humanitarian scenarios," December 10, 2002)
This prompted one U.N advisor to tell the Washington post "there could be a few million refugees heading to Iran. There could be six million people in Baghdad without access to clean water or electricity. There could be millions more waiting for someone to give them food because that's what they've come to depend on. . . .Are we and everyone else ready for that? No." (This Time Around, War Would Hit Iraq Harder," The Washington Post, October 29, 2002.)
Many Human rights organisations have pointed to the human rights and humanitarian consequences of a badly thought out sanctions regime with inadequate exemptions for non-military trade and investment to improve the continuing humanitarian crisis. Sanctions which impact the availability of life-preserving medicines and food raise serious concerns under the right to life (Aritcle 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, U.N. Doc. A/6316 1966), and the rights to food and health care (articles 11 and 12 - International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,1966), and the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (Article 24 - Convention on the Rights of the Child).
In Jan 2003 , a report sponsored by Canada's leading aid agencies (Oxfam Canada, World Vision Canada, War Child Canada, the United Church, and 17 other non-governmental organizations) found that 500,000 Iraqi children were malnourished, and the country has only one month's supply of food and three months of medicine on hand. They estimated that up to 16 million people in Iraq are entirely dependent on food aid and that the country's water and sanitation system are already failing to cope. They concluded that an attack on power stations and sanitation plants would increase the size of the disaster exponentially. "While it is impossible to predict both the nature of any war and the number of expected deaths and injuries, casualties among children will be in the thousands, probably in the tens of thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands,"