EU Iraq Summit: EU leaders should make fate of civilians top priority

In an open letter sent to the Greek EU Presidency and all EU heads of state and government, Amnesty International has called on EU leaders to stage a serious, substantial and open debate on the likely consequences of war, in particular the:

  • potential effect of military action on the human rights of the Iraqi people
  • risk of exacerbating an already critical humanitarian situation
  • risk of massive numbers of people forced into flight
  • risk of direct attacks on civilians, the use of human shields and of inherently indiscriminate weapons

Amnesty International EU Office Director Dick Oosting said:

'The European Union, as a community of values and a key actor on the international stage, has an obligation to establish common ground on how it will face up to the likely consequences of war. EU leaders must give urgent attention to what has the potential to be a massive human rights disaster for the people of Iraq.

'The European Council must send a strong and united message to the UN Security Council to put human security first before taking any action. We urge the two permanent members of the Security Council from the EU - Britain and France - to take this message with them.'

Amnesty International is also calling on the Security Council to immediately deploy human rights monitors throughout Iraq.

'Public discussion on Iraq is dominated by the tactics and timing of weapons inspections and spy planes, but there is no real public debate by world leaders about how to prevent civilian casualties and disruption to food supplies and about the fate of those who will be driven from their homes. This is what EU leaders should be discussing,' said Mr Oosting.

Amnesty International has also launched a worldwide petition addressed to the President of the UN Security Council, urging the Security Council to examine and debate in-depth the likely consequences of war on the human rights and humanitarian plight of Iraqi civilians before taking any further action. The petition can be found online at http://www.amnesty.org/go/iraq

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