Saturday, December 12, 2009

Part 4 - Activism - Action with Canadian Government

I began to contact people I thought could give me information to help me develop a plan of action to assist the people of Iraq. The first was Denis Halliday. I remembered reading a statement that Mr. Halliday had made after he resigned his position with the UN in protest over U.S. interference in the relief operations in Iraq. He said, “I can find no legitimate justification for sustaining economic sanctions under these circumstances. To do so in my view is to disregard the high principles of the United Nation’s Charter, the Convention of Human Rights, the very moral leadership and the credibility of the United Nations itself.”

Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Denis J. Halliday, an Irish national, to the post of United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, at the Assistant Secretary-General level on September 1, 1997. Halliday served as such until the end of September 1998. During this period, the Security Council Resolution 986 “Oil for Food” Programme, introduced in 1996/97 to assist the people of Iraq under the Economic Sanctions imposed and sustained by the Security Council, was more than doubled in terms of oil revenues allowed. This enabled the introduction of a multi-sectored approach, albeit modest, to the problems of resolving malnutrition and child mortality. Mr. Halliday resigned from the post in Iraq, and from the United Nations as a whole, on October 31, 1998, after serving the Organization for 34 years.

After running the "Oil for Food" program, which uses Iraqi oil revenues to distribute basic food rations and medical aid to Iraqi civilians, Halliday turned his attention to spreading the word about sanctions-related suffering. I contacted Mr. Halliday in late 1999 and invited him to Canada. We met in Ottawa for a series of lectures and I took him to the House of Commons to meet the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bill Graham. I wanted him to ask Mr. Graham to hold hearings on Iraq at the Standing Committee. Graham agreed immediately and the hearing was scheduled for March 2000. I arranged for Mr. Halliday and Mr. Arthur Millholland the president of Oilexco, the only Canadian company participating in the “Oil-for-Food” programme, to come to Ottawa as witnesses to the Committee. The Hearings lasted for three days, culminating in Report #5, “Resolution on Iraq”, which was tabled in the Canadian House of Commons on April 12th, 2000.

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