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OCTOBER 17, 2003
1:50 PM
Yifat Susskind 212.627.0444
Women's Organization Calls for an End to US Occupation of Iraq

NEW YORK - October 17 - MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization with special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, condemns the Bush Administration’s efforts to seek international consent for its illegal occupation of Iraq. MADRE regrets the unanimous passage by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1511 authorizing a US-controlled multi-national force in Iraq. The resolution fails to set a timeframe for restoring Iraqi sovereignty and fails to endorse a central political role befitting the United Nations in the transition and reconstruction processes. As such, the resolution will only exacerbate the US-driven crisis in Iraq, including ongoing violence, the unleashing of reactionary political forces and the humanitarian disaster facing Iraq’s 23 million people.

President Bush has stated that “this resolution will help marshal even more international support” for the reconstruction of Iraq (NYT 10/17/03). But it is the US and Britain, as “belligerent occupiers,” that are obligated under the Geneva Convention to assume the full costs of reconstruction. This burden should not be passed to the countries of the world – or to the taxpayers of the US and Britain. Neither should it be borne by the people of Iraq. The October 17 US Senate vote insisting that Iraq itself pay $10 billion of the costs of repairing the destruction of 12 years of US-led sanctions, bombing and invasion is shameful. Iraqi reconstruction should be funded through taxes levied on the extensive profits of the corporations being awarded US government contracts in Iraq.

The Bush Administration hopes that the new UN resolution will grace its occupation with the illusion of international sanction. But the occupation’s most fundamental aspect cannot be mitigated: both the US invasion of Iraq and the occupation are unilateral acts of aggression which violate international law and the UN’s own Charter. Unfortunately, the Security Council has weakened the integrity of the United Nations by appearing to legitimize, instead of condemn, the US occupation. The perception of United Nations support for the occupation will make it more difficult for the UN to play a constructive role in Iraq in the future and will further endanger UN aid workers in Iraq and around the world.

The entrenchment of US occupation signified by the resolution will also further endanger US troops in Iraq. The Bush Administration describes Iraqi violence against its troops as terrorism, failing to acknowledge that Iraqis, like all people, have an internationally recognized right to resist occupation. The targeting of US military personnel in Iraq does not constitute terrorism, but rather the painful price that growing numbers of US families are paying for the illegal US occupation. The only way to safeguard US soldiers is to bring them home.

MADRE demands that:

The United Nations, not the US, act as interim authority in Iraq, overseeing Iraq’s Governing Council and cabinet, setting the timetable for the drafting of a new constitution and elections and restoring Iraqi sovereignty as quickly as possible.

The Bush Administration acknowledge its obligation under international law to assume the full costs of Iraq’s humanitarian needs and reconstruction. The billions owed by the US should be managed by an Iraqi-run and UN-supervised development fund.

The recent calls by Secretary General Kofi Annan and others for restructuring and democratizing the United Nations, particularly the anachronistic and Northern-dominated Security Council, be undertaken. The UN General Assembly should address the question of Iraq and call for an immediate end to the US-UK occupation.

MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with women’s community-based groups in conflict areas worldwide. Our programs address issues of sustainable development, community improvement and women’s health; violence and war; discrimination and racism; self-determination and collective rights; women’s leadership development; and human rights education.


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