Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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UN General Assembly Votes Against DU Study

After lobbying by Washington, the General Assembly of the United Nations rejected an Iraqi proposal that the UN study the effects of the depleted-uranium shells used by US-led forces in the Gulf War. The vote, at the beginning of December, reversed an earlier decision by the General Assembly’s committee on disarmament & international security to go ahead with the study. As Reuters reported, the 189-nation General Assembly voted down the Iraqi plan 45-54, with 45 abstentions. Diplomats credited a lobbying campaign by Washington for the turnaround. Acting at Baghdad’s request, the World Health Organization began an in-depth study this year of the health impact of depleted-uranium munitions used in Iraq. Baghdad has cited studies saying that coalition forces used 944,000 depleted-uranium shells against Iraq during the Gulf War. A resolution drafted by Iraq said the shells had spread radioactive particles and chemical dust over large areas and contaminated ‘’animal and plant life and the soil.’’ It asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to survey UN member nations and relevant outside groups ‘’on all aspects of the effects of the use of depleted-uranimum armaments’’ and submit a report on his findings to the assembly next year. Iraq’s Health Ministry has said that cancer cases rose to 10,931 in 1997 from 6,555 in 1989, especially in areas bombed during the war. It seems unbelievable that the UN assembly will not vote for even a study of DU. One wonders exactly what Washington has to hide, and this move seems only to underline our case against DU. If they were confident that DU wasn’t dangerous, they would be backing a study. What is even more alarming in the matter of international affairs and democracy, is that so many nations were not prepared to take a stand against the US. And who can blame them, when we see the US ride roughshod over international agreements, over international democracy and over UN legitimacy, and vents its full military and economic might on any nation standing in its way. Philippa Winkler and Karen Parker, campaigners on DU in the United Nations criticsed the Reuters report, saying that despite the spin saying it is a defeat for Iraq, what is more remarkable is that the US was unable to muster a majority vote. They go on to say that the 45 abstentions were really encouraging, as they are actually ‘no’ votes from countries unwilling to challenge the US just yet. Their recent email states
Activists working on the DU issue should bear in mind that the World Health Organization has already undertaken serious steps at evaluating the Iraqi health crisis linked to use of DU weaponry in the Gulf War and the United Nations. The UN Sub-Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights is already committed to a report on DU weapons due at its 2002 session. Therefore the resolution at the General Assembly was largely “symbolic”. It is by no means a victory for the US as the Western media have portrayed it. Don’t believe the spin.

The UN Sub-Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights DU study is going forward with Justice Sik Yuen (Mauritius) as Special Rapporteur. Please support the Justice’s efforts. If you have any reports on DU for inclusion in this study please forward them to Philippa Winkler at As the UN funds authorized for this study do not cover all expenses, contributions are welcome.

Depleted Uranium at the United Nations
A Compilation of Documents and an Explanation and Strategy Analysis (Feb 2000)
By Karen Parker, J.D.
Published by CADU.
Available by mail order from the CADU office, price £7 plus postage and packing.

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From CADU News 9: Winter 2001/2002

Read more articles about Depleted Uranium in Iraq

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003