Stanford University Home

Stanford News Archive

Stanford Report, June 14, 2000

28 faculty sign letter protesting sanctions against Iraq

Twenty-eight Stanford faculty or academic staff members recently signed an open letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging an end to U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq.

The letter, which notes that U.N. agencies estimate the sanctions have cost as many as a million Iraqi lives, was part of the material that was handed out outside the gates of Stanford Stadium preceding Annan's commencement address on June 11.

The letter contends that the 9-year-old sanctions policy has led to a "humanitarian catastrophe." It points out that two previous U.N. humanitarian coordinators for Iraq have spoken out against sanctions and resigned their posts.

"UNICEF has reported that some 4,500 children die every month from disease or malnutrition [in Iraq]. The ban on 'dual use' goods -- items that might have a potential military use -- has crippled Iraq's oil industry, agriculture, health care and sewage and sanitation systems. . . . For the United Nations to engage in and continue a policy that so clearly victimizes a civilian population is a violation of both the spirit and the letter of the United Nations charter," the letter says.

At a campus press conference on June 8 to announce the policy protest, Middle Eastern history Professor Joel Beinin said that "there are indications that . . . Kofi Annan himself does not support the sanctions policy." The policy of the U.N. Security Council is largely dictated by the U.S. government with support from the United Kingdom, Beinin said, but Annan is officially responsible for implementing the sanctions and he has not spoken out against them. The leafleting at commencement, he said, was intended to "show him there is strong opposition to this policy in the United States and hopefully soften the hard hearts in Washington and London."

In a speech prepared for June 9 delivery to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee in Arlington, Va., Annan acknowledged that the "sanctions regime has been accused of worsening a humanitarian crisis as its unintended consequence. What is certain, and tragic, is that it has held back Iraq's development -- economic, social and probably politically as well," the secretary-general said. "My fervent hope is that Iraq will soon decide to comply fully with Security Council resolutions, and thus open a new chapter in its relations with the international community."

On campus, Hubert Marshall, professor emeritus of political science, compared the political situation surrounding sanctions to that of the Vietnam War at the point when "everybody [in Washington] realized it was a mistake, but no president wanted to be the one in office when we raised the red flag." Citizens need to continue to press the message, he said, that "this is infanticide masquerading as policy."

In addition to Beinin and Marshall, Stanford faculty or staff who signed the open letter to Annan are:

Paul Seaver, history; George Fredrickson, history; Rush Rehm, drama and classics; Akhil Gupta, cultural and social anthropology; John Manley, political science; Al Camarillo, history;

John Rickford, linguistics; Lama Abu-Odeh, law; David Palumbo-Liu, comparative literature; Hilton Obenzinger, writing and critical thinking; Raymond Giraud, French; Charles Drekmeier, political science; Dow Woodward, biological sciences; Hans Samuelson, mathematics; Joseph Corn, history; Sylvia Yanagisako, cultural and social anthropology;

Timothy Stanton, Haas Center for Public Service; Kelly Denton-Borhaug, interim dean of religious life; Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann; Renato Rosaldo, cultural and social anthropology; Lucia Sa, Spanish and Portuguese; Robert Kaufman, English; Doug McAdam, sociology; Thomas Sheehan, religious studies; Alice Miano, Spanish and Portuguese; and Michael Predmore, Spanish and Portuguese. SR