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2003-01-30

Former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Hans Von Sponeck Talks to US From Baghdad About a New Report On the Health Affects of War

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In Baghdad today the Center for Economic and Social Rights released a major report highlighting the human costs of a war against Iraq. The report warns that United States military forces may commit war crimes by deliberately destroying essential civilian life support systems

According to the Pentagon, one of the air campaign’s first targets will be Iraq’s national electricity grid. The resulting damage to water, sanitation, public health, and food distribution systems will claim an enormous number of civilian casualties — up to 500,000 according to a confidential UN document.Such disproportionate collateral damage would violate fundamental principles of the laws of war. For example, the Geneva conventions prohibit attacking "objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population."

Under international law, warring parties must distinguish between military and civilian targets at all times and refrain from any attack that will cause excessive civilian casualties.

Guest:

  • Hans Von Sponeck, former Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq who resigned this position three years ago to protest international policy toward Iraq, including sanctions He is in Baghdad as a special envoy to the Center for Economic and Social Rights.

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