"Any part of a sanctions regime that directly violates the principles of humanitarian law need not be obeyed by other countries or aid providers, nor may humanitarian gestures be themselves penalized," stated Karen Parker in condemning the sanctions against Iraq before the 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. In the IED/HLP statement, Parker, head of delegation, argued that the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq was a serious violation of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Iraqi population. Executive Director of IED/HLP, Lydia Brazon, comments: "The United States is fully aware of the catastrophic results of the sanctions but has continued with them in blatant disregard of the lives of Iraqi children."

Parker's statement also addressed the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons by the US and UK during the Gulf War. The fact that the children of many US veterans of the war have been born with the same defects and disabilities as Iraqi children whose parents were exposed to the weapons should lead the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Mr. Olara Otunnu, to pay special attention to the effects of DU on children in Iraq and in the US. The use of DU weapons is incompatible with international law, Parker declared.

IED/HLP called attention to the severe lasting effects of the sanctions imposed upon Burundi more than a year after they were lifted. While applauding the appointment of Nelson Mandela as peace negotiator, IED pointed out that the humanitarian crisis remains, and urged the international community to provide humanitarian relief to the fullest extent possible.

In the Republic of Yugoslavia, sanctions appear to have put 80% of the civilian population in poverty, stated Parker. Because of the use of DU weapons there, the international community must expect another medical catastrophe.

Parker said after her statement that, "It is simply illegal to make the civilian population suffer horribly for the actions of its leaders. Why should a million and a half Iraqi children be condemned to death for the supposed intransigence of Sadam Hussein? Why should Cubans be forced into a subsistence economy for their leadership's unwillingness to bow before the will of the United States? Sanctions, especially unilateral sanctions, have no place in international affairs."