Prepare for Peace in Iraq

Tasneem Jamal

A public statement issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of The Canadian Council of Churches, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and Project Ploughshares.

On January 17, 2003 the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares issued a public statement, Prepare for Peace in Iraq, along with a background document. All Canadians were invited to endorse the statement’s message for a peaceful and enduring resolution of the Iraq crisis. National church leaders commended the statement to congregations and parishes across Canada and Project Ploughshares was asked by the statement sponsors to collect the responses and to forward them to the Prime Minister at regular intervals. Listed below are the letters which accompamied these responses:

28 January 2003  

4 February 2003

11 February 2003

20 February 2003

27 February 2003

6 March 2003

14 March 2003

25 March 2003

4 April 2003

 Background document to the statement on Iraq
Prepare for Peace in Iraq
We believe that war is not the answer.
Twelve years ago a UN-mandated and US-led coalition went to war against Iraq. Tens of thousands of children, women, and men were killed. The destroyed infrastructure and subsequent economic sanctions together with continued bombing contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands more. Now, just when UN inspectors have begun to work effectively, we are on the brink of another war.

We believe that renewed war on Iraq will not deliver lasting disarmament. War is most likely to deliver more of what it always does – lost lives, environmental destruction, physical and psychological damage for both victims and aggressors, wasted resources, threats of widened political instability and increased terrorism, more hatred, and re-energized extremism.

  • Gulf War fatalities – A detailed study by Beth Osborne Daponte of Carnegie Mellon University concludes that Iraqi war deaths in 1991 were 205,500 (according to the following breakdown: 56,000 soldiers killed in combat; 3,500 civilians killed in combat; 35,000 killed in post-war violence by the Iraqi regime; and 110,000 civilians killed in the first year following the war due to adverse health effects). [“A Case Study in Estimating Casualties from War and Its Aftermath: The 1991 Persian Gulf War,” www.ippnw.org/MGS/PSRQV3N2Daponte.html]
  • Infrastructure destruction – An extensive report by Human Rights Watch notes the destruction of food warehouses, a dairy factory, flour-milling and grain-storage facilities, and several water-treatment plants. Four of the country’s five hydroelectric facilities were destroyed. “The cost to the civilian population of these attacks on the electrical system was severe. Iraq was quickly transformed from a modern, energy-dependent society into…a ‘pre-industrial age.’ Shortages of food due to the UN embargo were exacerbated by the lack of refrigeration and the impairment of Iraq’s highly mechanized, irrigation-based agriculture. The nation’s electricity-dependent water-purification and sewage-treatment facilities were crippled, creating a serious health hazard. Hospitals and clinics were forced to meet this growing health emergency, and to treat the war wounded, with, at most, erratic electricity supplied by back-up generators”. [“Needless deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties During the Air Campaign and Violations of the Laws of War,” New York Human Rights Watch (1991), www.hrw.org/reports/1991/gulfwar/INTRO.htm]
  • Iraqi repression of revolt – Gil Loescher and Arthur C. Helton, claim that when Hussein suppressed the revolts of Shi’as in the south and Kurds in the north (the revolts having been launched in part because they had been led to believe they would get American support, which was not forthcoming), the consequences included “at least 30,000 dead,” and “more than a million people” displaced (“some 700,000 crossed into Iran and nearly 400,000 massed on Iraq’s border with Turkey”). [“War on Iraq: an impending refugee crisis,” Open Democracy, www.opendemocracy.net ]
  • Impact of subsequent sanctions – The Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq cites a succession of UN studies, all linking sanctions to extraordinary suffering and death, including studies in 1997 by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, in 1998 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in 1999 by the Humanitarian Panel of the Security Council, and in 2000 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A variety of studies estimate there were more than 500,000 deaths, mostly children, attributable to sanctions. When US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked whether that level of deaths was “worth it”, she did not dispute the figure, but answered that while it was “a very hard choice,” the US government felt that “the price is worth it.” [“Guide to Sanctions”, www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/guide/blame.html]
  • Air strikes – No-fly zones were created in 1991, ostensibly to protect vulnerable Kurdish populations in the north and Shi’ite populations in the south. The US, the UK and France (until it pulled-out in 1998) enforced the no-fly restriction with regular overflights in operations Northern and Southern Watch. The US alone has flown over 150,000 sorties over Iraq, despite the fact that there is no UN mandate for maintaining the no-fly zones. [“Firing Blanks at the Iraqi Military”, Micah Zenko, Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2001] In maintaining the no-fly zones, the US and UK frequently launch air strikes against Iraqi military installations. These have become more numerous since Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and the US Bombing Watch database records some 170 bombing attacks since the beginning of 2000. [Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace, http://www.ccmep.org/us_bombing_watch.html]
  • Presence of troops – Since the Gulf War the US has maintained a significant presence in the Persian Gulf. As of January 2003, this increasing presence consists of over 120,000 troops stationed in the region, preparing for war. The troops are distributed at Air Force bases in Turkey, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, military bases in Kuwait and Qatar, as well as naval battle groups based in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Mediterranean.

We believe that peace is more than the avoidance of war.

We also know that simply avoiding war will not solve the fundamental problems of Iraq – an unrepresentative regime that violates human rights and may not be in compliance with its obligations related to weapons of mass destruction. Peace and justice require more than the absence of war. Outlaw regimes that still retain or aspire to the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction cannot be allowed to stand, in Iraq or anywhere else. Indeed, we believe that durable disarmament and accountable governance are closely linked.

  • Ending repression – Iraq’s abuses of human rights are legion and the list of its infractions against international standards is long and serious. Its genocidal tactics and use of chemical weapons during the Anfal Massacre of 1988 against the Kurdish population of the North, use of child combatants in the Iran-Iraq War, and brutal repression of the 1991 Shi’ite and Kurdish uprisings are prominent among its violations of International Humanitarian Law. [“Justice for Iraq”, Human Rights Watch Policy Paper, December 2002, http://www.humanrightswatch.org/backgrounder/mena/iraq1217bg.htm] Iraq remains in violation of a host of UN Security Council resolutions. These are not mere technical breaches of arcane international law; on the contrary, they are concrete crimes, the survivors of which live in intense suffering and pain.
  • Commitment to global disarmament – The regime of Saddam Hussein is in violation of the commitments and norms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The fact that some other states are also in serious violation of fundamental disarmament obligations is relevant and demands action, although in no way mitigates the seriousness of, or excuses, Iraq’s egregious behaviour. Still, the global double standard with regard to nuclear weapons is not sustainable. NATO states cannot legitimately continue to claim that nuclear weapons are essential for their security while calling on others not to acquire them. Commitment to the universal prohibition of the possession and use of nuclear weapons, as with all other weapons of mass destruction, is the only sustainable option.
  • Responsibility to act – The primary responsibility in this crisis rests with Iraq. In accordance with its obligations under international norms and treaties, and UN Security Council resolutions, Iraq is under lawful international order to destroy all its weapons of mass destruction, and to facilitate the international community’s verification of such destruction. At the same time, however, the international community has the responsibility to ensure that Iraq meets its basic obligations.
  • Preventing nuclear proliferation – The danger of nuclear weapons proliferation is obvious and cannot be ignored. Prior to the Gulf War Iraq invested in the facilities, equipment, and particularly expertise required to develop nuclear weapons. In 1993 the CIA estimated that, if sanctions and inspections were stopped, Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon in 5-7 years, and this time frame would be reduced to one year if it acquired the fissile material illegally. [David Albright, “Iraq’s Programs to Make Highly Enriched Uranium and Plutonium for Nuclear Weapons Prior to the Gulf War”, revised October 2002, www.isis-online.org] A decade later, Iraqi experts now suggest that 2-3 years would be required to build a weapon if Iraq acquired the Highly Enriched Uranium. [“Iraqi Scientists in Eye of the Storm”, Timothy Appleby, The Globe and Mail, January 17, 2003]There is, however, no credible evidence offered that Iraq has, or will soon, develop a nuclear capacity. In a January 9 report to the media, Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC said that investigators had found no “smoking gun” to suggest that Iraq had resumed any clandestine weapons programs. [“No ‘Smoking Gun’ so far, UN is told”, Colum Lynch, Washington Post, January 10, 2003] Inspections and non-proliferation programs are the most effective means in the short-term of preventing Iraq’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. In the long term, as argued below, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iraq depends on permanently changing the situation in, and thus the priorities of, Iraq itself.

We believe that peace is linked to human rights and the will of the people.
Iraqi governments will be most likely to permanently forego the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction when the Iraqi people have the means to define and mandate alternative national priorities. If Iraqis were free to choose, it is unlikely that they would support a nuclear weapons program that wastes resources and brings them only crushing sanctions and ongoing pariah status. Government that honours the will and rights of the people, and that is built on an empowered civil society, is key to the reliable rejection of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Responsible government of this kind cannot be installed by war. Iraqis must be authors of their own change.

Yet for many decades Western policy has undermined the pursuit of democracy and relentlessly disempowered the very people of Iraq on whom constructive change depends. The West’s active military and political support for the regime of Saddam Hussein until 1990, as well as comprehensive economic sanctions since then, has left the tyrannical regime strengthened and enriched and the people demeaned and impoverished. We reject the increasing resort to military means to resolve entrenched conflicts.

  • Democracy from the bottom up – Democracy and respect for human rights will be built from within. The obstacles are multiple, but civil society must be recognized and actively supported as an essential agent of sustainable change. Ironically, an important impact of the ongoing sanctions regime has been to sap the strength of civil society. Sanctions have made people completely dependent upon the regime, thereby undermining their ability to oppose its rule. Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic, adds that while democracy is to be hoped for and pursued in Iraq, “it cannot be the main objective for embarking on a major war. If there is one thing that liberalism has no time for, it’s an eschatological mentality. There is no single, sudden end to injustice. There’s slow, steady, fitful progress toward a more decent and democratic world.” [George Packer, “The Liberal Quandary Over Iraq,” New York Times Magazine December 8, 2002] In other words, regime change from below takes time and deliberate action.At present the democratic tradition in Iraq is weak, and the West has done nothing to promote such a tradition. Indeed, until recently, the West led by the US, but including especially France and the UK, have actively supported tyranny as being in their interests. While this belated reversal of the West’s policy approach is welcome, reacting immediately to the slow pace of change by threatening the use of force against the very institutions it previously endorsed is at best hypocritical. Moreover, democracy is not something that can be imposed, but must be nurtured over the long-term.

We believe the arms race in the Middle East must be ended.

United Nations Security Council resolutions require that Iraq verifiably destroy and end its pursuit of all weapons of mass destruction and medium to long-range ballistic missiles. But these same demands are repeatedly placed in the context of the objective of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. As long as some states in the region retain or pursue such weapons, others can be expected to attempt to obtain them as well.

  • Regional disarmament – Security Council Resolution 1441 is derived from Resolution 687 of 1991 which prohibits Iraq from possessing or acquiring ballistic missiles over the range of 150 kilometres as well as any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons or related materials or facilities (referring to Res 687, paras 8-13). Paragraph 14 sets the context and broader objective: the Security Council “notes that the actions to be taken by Iraq in paragraphs 8 to 13 represent steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons.” Resolution 687, in its preambular paragraphs, also refers to the importance of “all states” adhering to chemical and biological weapons bans. In addition, the resolution reminds states to “use all available means” to establish a “nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.” Meeting in November 2002, the Arab League expressed support for inspections, but stressed the importance of the UN paying equal attention to Israel’s weapons of mass destruction. [Neil MacFarquhar, “Iraq Inspections Receive Approval from Arab League,” New York Times, November 11, 2002.
  • Nuclear proliferation pressures – An American-led war on Iraq, with or without UN blessing, could, ironically, increase nuclear proliferation pressures. Regimes chronically at odds with the United States are likely to conclude that in order to successfully act in defiance of international norms, states must do one of two things to avoid the US-led wrath of the international community: either curry special favour with the United States (e.g. Pakistan and Sudan on counter-terrorism, Saudi Arabia on access to oil, and so on), or clandestinely acquire a nuclear weapons capability and then flaunt it (Pakistan, Israel, India, and now, North Korea). The highly respected US publication Arms Control Today reports a similar conclusion: “The lesson Baghdad learned from the Gulf War is that such weapons – especially nuclear weapons – are even more important than they had thought. Senior Iraqis privately acknowledged that it had been a mistake to invade Kuwait before completing a nuclear weapon. They are convinced the outcome of the war would have been radically different if Washington had had to consider an Iraqi nuclear capability. Certainly, Saddam Hussein understands that today’s debate about invading Iraq to effect regime change would not be taking place if Baghdad could threaten to hit US forces or Israel with a nuclear weapon.” [Charles Duelfer, “The Inevitable Failure of Inspection in Iraq,” Arms Control Today, September 2002] Other states can also logically conclude that protection from the vagaries of White House global engineering depends finally on acquiring a credible retaliatory threat.
  • Broader arms control – In Res 687 the Security Council understood its demands on Iraq within the broader context of “achieving balanced and comprehensive control of armaments in the region.” In other words, the Security Council (as well as the Arab League) recognized that to effectively address Iraq’s violations of international standards related to weapons of mass destruction, the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction will ultimately have to be region wide, and accompanied by broad based agreements on conventional arms reductions and controls.

We believe we must put the people of Iraq first.

Iraq has become a place of extraordinary suffering, and war would only add to it. Even without war, these hardships will remain the primary reality for the people of Iraq for the foreseeable future. The tragedy of Iraq has been decades in the making, and the road to genuine transformation will be slow and troubled. The only reasonable certainty they face is that the costs of war would be even worse than the current situation and would delay, not hasten, the advent of sustainable change. We believe it is our collective responsibility to accompany the people of Iraq, not with more bombs and missiles, but with moral, political and material support.

  • Humanitarian impact – “The regime will aim to draw the US forces into urban warfare in Baghdad. A civilian death toll of at least 10,000 is likely…This is a low estimate, the experience of urban warfare in Beirut and elsewhere suggests even higher casualties…Evidence of Iraqi military tactics in 1991 shows that the survival of the regime is the core policy and that chemical and biological weapons are almost certain to be used, certainly against attacking troops and possibly against targets in neighbouring countries.” [Paul Rogers, “Iraq: Consequences of War,” Oxford Research Group, November 2002] A Medact report (Medact is the British affiliate of IPPNW) estimates casualties, largely civilian, of 50,000 to 250,000 within the first three months of an attack. [George Edmonson, Washington Star, November 12, 2002]A draft UN report estimating the humanitarian costs of a war at this time predicts catastrophe because of high dependence on the government for basic provisions, with 60% of the population subsisting entirely on rations. Transportation routes would block food distribution and all exports, Government stocks could be damaged, lack of electricity would affect water and sanitation services, and an estimated 500,000 people would require medical services from a crippled health system. Widespread hunger and illness would be a likely consequence of protracted war, and a refugee crisis a virtual certainty. [Draft UN Report “Likely Humanitarian Scenarios” 10 December 2002, marked Strictly Confidential, published by the Campaign Against Sanctions in Iraq http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/war021210.html]
  • Economic costs – At the low-end, a “quick victory” war of a few months is estimated to cost US$50 billion in direct costs, whereas a year-long war would be three times that. Overall costs over the next decade, including reconstruction and economic downturn triggered by war, would likely range from a modest $120 billion (if everything goes extremely well) to a more substantial $1.6 trillion in a much worse case scenario (“if the war drags on, occupation is lengthy, nation-building is costly, the war destroys a large part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure, and there are both lingering military and political resistance to US occupation, and major adverse psychological reactions to the conflict.”) [William D. Nordhaus, “Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War,” The New York Review of Books, December 5, 2002] The costs to the Iraqi economy would proportionately, be much greater.
  • Detraction from other issues – A broad range of critics argue that the US obsession with Iraq has little to do with disarmament or the struggle against terrorism, and a great deal to do with oil and overall US geo-strategic advantage. Indeed, even the attention to the prospect of war on Iraq diverts political and material resources away from urgent needs, notably the pursuit of persons and groups still engaged in acts of terror (such as the attacks in Mombassa and Bali). Other commentators also cite the diversion of attention from other issues: “The war in Iraq threatens to claim the scarce resources and attention of the United States for many years, distracting the country from other troubling spots, like North Korea, or from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The administration focuses on Iraq while slow growth, fiscal deficits, a crisis of corporate governance, and growing health care problems threaten the economy at home. The domestic economy and the rest of the world will take a back seat while the US is preoccupied with war in Iraq.” [William D. Nordhaus, “Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War,” The New York Review of Books, December 5, 2002]

We believe it is time to act for peace, not war.

a) Reject further war on Iraq – the consequences of which are borne primarily by the people;

The pursuit of alternatives to war is not just another option; it is an obligation the UN Charter places on all member states. Article 33 requires that “the parties to any dispute…shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means….” [Brian J. Foley, “Avoiding War: Using International Law to Compel a Problem-Solving Approach,” The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research] The UN charter defines that body’s fundamental objective as “lift[ing] the scourge of war” – in other words, the purpose of the UN is not to elevate war into a routine response to intransigence, even though it retains the right to undertake or authorize military action. Its primary mandate is the peaceful settlement of disputes.

b) Persist in a vigorous strategy of containment to prevent Iraq’s acquisition and/or retention of weapons of mass destruction through internationally mandated inspections and ongoing monitoring;

Canada is well positioned to ensure an approach to inspections that is credible, but not undermined by an unrealistic burden to deliver 100 percent certainty. For inspections to work, there must be a reasonable, measured understanding of what constitutes material breach of the resolution. What is the difference between cooperation and non-cooperation? In the normal conduct of inspections, it is to be expected that there will be discussions, calls for information, complaints that information is not sufficient, counter-claims that no more information is available, and so on. It will be essential to create an atmosphere that does not place the threat of imminent military attack at the centre of all disputes but rather permits discussion and negotiation toward reasonable certainty.

c) Pursue diplomacy toward establishing the entire Middle East as a region free of all weapons of mass destruction;

Resolution 687 refers specifically to “a dialogue among states in the region” on the issue of regional disarmament. Canada can work with other states to initiate regional dialogue.

d) End the comprehensive economic sanctions against Iraq;

Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) states that “upon Council agreement that Iraq has completed all actions contemplated paragraphs 8 to 13, the prohibitions against the import of commodities and products originating in Iraq and the prohibitions against financial transactions…shall have no further force or effect.” [paragraph 22] The Security Council agrees to review the sanctions program and Iraq’s progress toward disarmament every sixty days. In Resolution 1284 (1999), the Security Council states its will only “suspend with the fundamental objective of improving the situation in Iraq” the sanctions if Iraq fully complies in implementing the work programme drawn up by the IAEA and UNMOVIC with regard to Iraq’s disarmament and the inspections. However, the sanctions could be reinstated with five days notice upon complaint from the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC or Director General of the IAEA, unless the Security Council objects.

The UN humanitarian report argues that the “…majority of the population, immediately prior to the events of 1991, were in full employment and had cash and material assets available to them to cope with the crisis…the bulk of the population is now totally dependent on the Government of Iraq for a majority, if not all, of their basic needs and…have no way of coping if they cannot access them: the sanctions regime, if anything, has served to increase dependence on the Government as almost the sole provider”. [“Likely Humanitarian Scenarios”, 10 December 2002, http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/war021210.html]

e) Embark on diplomatic and political engagement, including material support for Iraqi civil society, to advance respect for human rights and accountable governance;

Resolution 688 (1991), in the context of condemning the Iraqi regime’s repression of civilians, expressed “the hope that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected.” It is critical that the international community act on this “hope” and facilitate and sponsor such dialogues, perhaps beginning with exiled Iraqis.

f) Reinvigorate diplomatic efforts with states of the region to address outstanding issues, notably the Israel/Palestine conflict, in the context of region-wide talks on security and cooperation in the Middle East; and

Johann Galtung and Dietrich Fischer have made the suggestion that the UN Security Council should cooperate with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (representing 56 Islamic countries) to sponsor an open-ended Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East. The conference should consider:

  • UN/OIC supervision of Iraq elections;
  • a UN/OIC democracy and human rights campaign in the region;
  • the outstanding issues from the Iran/Iraq and Kuwait/Iraq wars;
  • the issue of Kurds in the four states of the region;
[Johan Galtung and Dietrich Fischer, “The Iraq Conflict 2002: A Transcend Perspective” (TRANSCEND is a peace and development network, www.transcend.org )]

g) Explore legal/judicial and other measures to address accusations of crimes against humanity.

Some have advocated an international campaign of legal action against Saddam Hussein along the same lines as the efforts against Augusto Pinochet of Chile. [John Cavanagh, “Against dictators: use law, not war,” Open Democracy, December 13, 2002 www.opendemocracy.net/ ]

 

28 January 2003
Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

I am pleased to convey to you the names of the individual Canadians who have to date signed on to a public statement that war is not the answer to the crisis in Iraq. The detailed statement (copy attached) was issued one week ago by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares. In just one week 1,549 Canadians have provided verified endorsement of the statement that rejects both war and the status quo in Iraq. The statement and growing list of signatories can be found online. [No longer active.]

The signatories of this statement support the pursuit of verifiable disarmament in Iraq, but they also believe “that renewed war on Iraq will not deliver lasting disarmament. War is most likely to deliver more of what it always does – lost lives, environmental destruction, physical and psychological damage for both victims and aggressors, wasted resources, threats of widened political instability and increased terrorism, more hatred, and re-energized extremism.”

The statement offers credible alternative approaches more in keeping with Canadian values and goals, including support for containment and ongoing inspections and monitoring as mandated by the Security Council, attention to the Security Council’s call for increased efforts toward establishing the Middle East as a region free of weapons of mass destruction, and an end to comprehensive sanctions. The statement also asks Canada to provide material, political and moral supports to Iraqis striving for justice and accountability in their country.

More Canadians across the breadth of this country are daily adding their endorsement to this statement. I commend to you the commentaries that many signatories have included. For example:

“We need to be as innovative in peacemaking as we are in making war. It is possible to develop weapons of mass conciliation.” John Butler, Markham, ON

“Nous n’avons pas le droit de supporter une guerre oj les plus petits, les plus démunis seront les plus grands perdants. On ne peut combattre la violence par la violence.” Laurent Sheehy, Sainte-Foy, PQ

“My son was wounded by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2002. My heart breaks for the parents and loved ones of all who will die if this horror is not averted.” Maureen Decaire, Winnipeg MB

“Non B la guerre, Oui B la Paix. Nous ne voulons pas que notre pays participe B la destruction. Utilisons notre intelligence, nos stratégies, nos budgets pour trouver des solutions constructives. Que l’Esprit vous éclaire.…” Louise Payeur, Montréal, PQ

In sending you this urgent appeal we understand that the pressures on you and your Government must be enormous. We urge you to consider the testimony of the Canadians listed here, and we wish for you courage and wisdom as you and your colleagues consider a course of action appropriate for Canada in support of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

4 February 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letter of January 28, I am pleased to enclose the second list of endorsements of a public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq (a copy of the statement is also enclosed). The statement was issued two weeks ago by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares.

The statement invites Canadians to give their endorsement in a two-step confirmed sign-on process. In the first week 1,549 Canadians endorsed the statement, and in the second week an additional 2367 have given their support.

We believe that the high level of support that this statement is receiving reflects the deep concern of Canadians about the likely impact of war on the vulnerable people of Iraq, 50 percent of whom are below the age of 18. The signatories of the statement encourage the Government of Canada to publicly reject the war option and to pursue alternative measures designed to hold Iraq to account without the extraordinarily destructive impact of war.

Many of the signatories have included comments to reflect their concerns:

“I feel helpless and very sad when I hear George Bush’s relentless drive to war; please provide a Canadian alternative which values the Iraqi people as human beings!”

                                                                                                    Denise Beneteau, Toronto, ON

“Pour nos frPres et soeurs irakiens(nes), il faut trouver une solution pacifique au conflit actuel par des voies politiques et diplomatiques entérinés par la communauté internationale.

Réal Choquette, PQ

“We must continue all efforts to build peace among the nations. The very future of human existence on this planet depends upon our efforts to establish a peaceful, mutually beneficial way of providing for the needs of all people on Earth.”

                                                                                              Allan Forsberg, Grande Prairie, AB

“I believe that as Canadians we must continue to work for peace through dialogue and the initiatives of the United Nations.”

John McGonigle, Englee, NF

“J’espPre que notre gouvernement entendra la voix de son peuple, merci de mettre sur pied cette pétition contre cette guerre ou les victimes encore une fois seront des civils, femmes et des enfants, on ne peut accepter ce que l’on fait en notre nom.”

Danielle Paré, Sherbrooke, PQ

“John Manley has just said, ‘Let’s get with the (U.S.) program.’ Going along with a war we know to be wrong, simply because it is in our economic interest, is not leadership. It is cowardice unworthy of this country. Refuse to be complicit.”

Charles Shannon, Montreal, PQ

I invite you to consider the concerns and testimonies of all those listed on the accompanying sheets. These concerns are raised with appreciation for the extraordinary responsibilities that you and your Government are called to exercise in these days. Please be assured that we wish for you the courage and wisdom to steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares
cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

 

***

11 February 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letters of January 28 and February 4, I am pleased once again to enclose lists of new endorsers of a public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. The statement has now been formally endorsed by more than 10,000 individuals and organizations. During the past week, 1,124 signed on to the statement via the internet-based two-stage endorsement process, and an additional 3,485 endorsed it via petition forms.

The statement was issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares.

With increasing urgency, Canadians are calling on Canada to hold firm in support of the alternative to war that the inspections process now represents. Diplomacy and the inspections process are not perfect tools that can be expected to move forward to full, verifiable disarmament quickly and without encountering difficulties and set-backs along the way. But the inspections and accompanying diplomacy have been remarkably successful. Inspectors are able to give firm assurances that Iraq’s nuclear weapons program is now stalled and cannot move forward as long as inspectors and monitoring systems stay in place. Inspections related to chemical and biological weapons are, by the testimony of the chief inspector, making discernable progress. The inspectors continue to ask for more time, and France and Germany have suggested that in addition to more time the inspectors should also be provided with more resources.

It would be extraordinarily callous and short-sighted of the international community to reject this ongoing and increasingly proven approach to disarming the Iraqi regime in favour of a war that would visit a humanitarian disaster – a disaster which will be borne, not by the leaders of Iraq who have precipitated this crisis, but by the people of Iraq.

The signatories of this statement, enclosed with this letter, call on Canada to publicly reject war and to re-affirm the importance of the combined process of diplomacy and inspections that is making verifiable progress toward the Security Council mandated objective of ridding Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

20 February 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letters of January 28, February 4, and February 11, I am pleased once again to enclose lists of new endorsers of a public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. The statement has now been formally endorsed by more than 13,500 individuals and organizations. During the past week, 1, 953 signed on to the statement via the internet-based two-stage endorsement process, and an additional 3,030 endorsed it via petition forms.

The statement was issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares.

As the demonstrations of the past weekend show, Canadians continue to urgently call on Canada to support the alternative to war that the inspections process represents. The high level of support that this statement is receiving also reflects the deep concern of Canadians about the likely impact of war on the vulnerable people of Iraq, 50 percent of whom are below the age of 18.

I invite you to consider the concerns and testimonies of all those listed on the accompanying sheets. The signatories of this statement call on Canada to publicly reject war and re-affirm the importance of the combined process of diplomacy and inspections that is making verifiable progress toward the Security Council’s key obligations to deal with Iraq’s immediate threats to international peace and security and to ridding Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction.

Please be assured that we continue to wish for you the courage and wisdom to steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

27 February 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letters of 28 January, 4 February, 11 February, and 20 February, I am pleased to enclose lists of new endorsers of a public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. The statement has now been formally endorsed by more than 21,000 individuals and organizations. During the past week, 1, 472 signed on to the statement via the internet-based two-stage endorsement process, and an additional 6,667 endorsed it via petition forms.

The statement was issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares.

The signatories of this statement call on Canada to publicly reject war as a solution to the crisis in Iraq, and re-affirm the importance of the combined process of diplomacy and inspections that is making verifiable progress toward the Security Council’s key obligations to deal with Iraq’s immediate threats to international peace and security and to ridding Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction.

The signatories also reflect the deep concern of Canadians about the likely impact of war on the vulnerable people of Iraq, 50 percent of whom are below the age of 18. Iraq’s 13 million children, nearly 500,000 of whom are malnourished, will be particularly susceptible to the destruction and disruptions of food, water and health systems that a new war would bring.

Please be assured that we continue to wish for you the courage and wisdom to steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

6 March 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letters of 28 January, 4 February, 11 February, 20 February, and 27 February, I am pleased to enclose lists of new endorsers of a public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. The statement has now been endorsed by more than 26,000 individuals and organizations. During the past week, 1, 828 signed on to the statement via the internet-based two-stage endorsement process, and an additional 2,954 endorsed it via petition forms.

The statement was issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares. National church leaders commended the statement to their congregations and parishes across Canada, and called on all Canadians to endorse the statement’s message for a peaceful and enduring resolution of the Iraq crisis. This week the lists we are sending to you include the more than 300 congregations and organizations that have formally endorsed the statement.

The signatories of this statement express the deep concern of Canadians about the likely impact of war on the vulnerable people of Iraq and call on Canada to publicly reject war as a solution to the crisis in Iraq and re-affirm the importance of the combined process of diplomacy and inspections that is making verifiable progress toward the Security Council’s key obligations to deal with Iraq’s immediate threats to international peace and security and to rid Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction. These same concerns were expressed in the letter sent to you on 28 February by Canadian church leaders who appealed to you and the UN Security Council to “say an unambiguous ‘no’ to war on Iraq, and a clear ‘yes’ to building on the current process. To sweep aside hard won achievements in favour of war would be a travesty of justice and a tragedy of frightening proportions.”

Please be assured that we continue to wish for you the courage and wisdom to steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

14 March 2003
Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Canadians continue to express their profound commitment to preventing further war on Iraq. They essentially support the view of Canada’s Amb. Paul Heinbecker, in remarks to the Security Council earlier this week, that “Iraq is substantially contained and that, if it cooperates, the disarmament of Iraq can be had without a shot being fired.” We note that the Inspectors continue to identify ways in which Iraq’s cooperation can be improved, but at the same time the Inspectors insist that the level of current cooperation is significant and leading to continued and verified disarmament. There can be absolutely no justification for cutting short this extraordinary disarmament process and replacing it with war.

These views are confirmed by the large numbers of Canadians who are endorsing the detailed ecumenical statement on Iraq. Once again I am pleased to enclose lists of new endorsers of the public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. During the past week, 3,646 new people signed on to the statement. The total of formally declared individual supporters has now reached 30,085. Tens of thousands more have endorsed the statement via more than 300 congregational, parish and organizational endorsements.

As you know from my earlier letters of January 28, 2003, February 4, 2003, February 11, 2003, February 20, 2003, February 27, 2003, and March 6, 2003, the statement was issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares. National church leaders commended the statement to their congregations and parishes across Canada, and called on Canadians to endorse the statement’s message for a peaceful and enduring resolution of the Iraq crisis.

We appreciate Canada’s mediating efforts at the United Nations, but are concerned that such efforts lead, not to a UN-sponsored war, but to continued international insistence that the international community, acting through the United Nations, is obligated to continue to pursue and carry out alternatives to war.

Please be assured of our continued prayer that you and your colleagues will be granted the courage and wisdom to steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

25 March 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Once again I am pleased to enclose lists of new endorsers of the public statement that rejects war as an appropriate or effective response to the crisis in Iraq. During the past week, 6,842 individuals signed on to the statement. The total of formally declared individual supporters has now reached 36,572. Tens of thousands more have endorsed the statement via more than 350 congregational, parish and organizational endorsements.

As you know from my earlier letters of January 28, 2003, February 4, 2003, February 11, 2003, February 20, 2003, February 27, 2003, March 6, 2003, and March 14, 2003, the statement was issued in January 2003 by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares. National church leaders commended the statement to their congregations and parishes across Canada, and called on Canadians to endorse the statement’s message for a peaceful and enduring resolution of the Iraq crisis.

We continue to invite Canadians to endorse the statement. Although, tragically, war is now underway, the message remains as relevant and timely as ever. War is still not the answer. When this war ends, the issues addressed in the statement will still require attention:

• Iraq will still need to be contained.

• UN inspectors will still need to give assurance that weapons of mass destruction are not being pursued.

• Sustained rejection of such weapons will still depend on the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the entire Middle East region.

• Comprehensive economic sanctions will need to be lifted while still preventing destabilizing military build-up.

• Accountable governance and respect for human rights will still depend on the active engagement and empowerment of Iraqi civil society.

• Diplomatic efforts involving states in the region will still be needed to address the Israel/Palestine conflict in the context of region-wide talks on security and cooperation in the Middle East.

• And the issues of crimes against humanity, violations of international law, and illegal resort to war all will still need attention.

Please be assured of our continued prayer that you and your colleagues will be granted the courage and wisdom to remain steadfast in the rejection of this war and steer us from the path of war to the pursuit of sustainable peace with justice.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

***

4 April 2003

Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

As the war on Iraq continues, Canadians continue to support the Government of Canada’s decision not to joint the US-led coalition. War is still not the answer say the signatories to the ecumenical statement, and as the fighting continues, the evidence mounts that this war is in the process of delivering what war always brings: “lost lives, environmental destruction, physical and psychological damage for both victims and aggressors, wasted resources, threats of widened political instability and increased terrorism, more hatred, and re-energized extremism.”

In the past week another 3,436 Canadians have signed on to the ecumenical statement that rejects this war and reminds us that, when the war finally ends, all the challenges of the Iraq crisis that faced the international community before the war will still be present and unresolved. The total of formally declared individual supporters has now passed 40,000. Tens of thousands more have endorsed the statement via more than 370 congregational, parish and organizational endorsements.

We continue to invite Canadians to endorse the January statement, for when the war ends, the issues addressed in the statement will still require attention:

  • Iraq will still need to be contained.
  • UN inspectors will still need to give assurance that weapons of mass destruction are not being pursued.
  • Sustained rejection of such weapons will still depend on the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the entire Middle East region.
  • Comprehensive economic sanctions will need to be lifted while still preventing a destabilizing military build-up.
  • Accountable governance and respect for human rights will still depend on the active engagement and empowerment of Iraqi civil society.
  • Diplomatic efforts involving states in the region will still be needed to address the Israel/Palestine conflict in the context of region-wide talks on security and cooperation in the Middle East.
  • The very serious questions of crimes against humanity, of violations of international and humanitarian law, and of the illegal resort to war will still all need attention.

As you know from my earlier letters of January 28, 2003, February 4, 2003, February 11, 2003, February 20, 2003, February 27, 2003, March 6, 2003, March 14, 2003 and March 25, 2003, the statement was issued in January 2003 by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Project Ploughshares. National church leaders commended the statement to their congregations and parishes across Canada, and called on Canadians to endorse the statement’s message for a peaceful and enduring resolution of the Iraq crisis.

War remains impotent as a means of addressing the fundamental issues and roots of the Iraq crisis. We continue to press for its early end so that the real work of eliminating weapons of mass destruction from the region can resume, and the challenging task of building sustainable peace can become the focus of international attention.

Sincerely,

Ernie Regehr
Director
Project Ploughshares

cc:          Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
              Hon. John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
              Pat Steenberg, Executive Director, KAIROS
              Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

Click to Share