As an organization committed to human rights and to the intrinsic value of all human lives, and opposed to violence, we express our deep dismay at the preparations for war against Iraq.There are already millions of Iraqis who are refugees or who are internally displaced within the country.War will add to the numbers of Iraqis displaced from their homes.

Consistent with our role as a refugee organization, concerned about the root causes that lead to refugee flight, we believe:

Disputes must be solved through peaceful negotiation, not military means

The United Nations is the proper forum for resolving conflicts between states.Military solutions are inherently undesirable because they are destructive, not constructive.


International law must be respected

Launching a war against Iraq would violate the United Nations Charter which outlaws aggression by one state against another.Since there is no evidence that Iraq poses an immediate military threat to another state, armed intervention is unjustifiable.Human security, including protection from forced displacement and refugee protection, depends on respect for international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.


Preservation of human life must be given highest priority

War will inevitably lead to death.In addition to the soldiers on both sides who will be killed, the lives of Iraqi civilians are threatened, either as a direct result of the fighting, or a result of disease or starvation caused by the war.The Iraqi infrastructure has been seriously weakened by sanctions and the Iraqi people made almost entirely dependent on the government.The most severe effects of twelve years of sanctions have been felt by children, women, and poor families.There are few organizations on the ground with the capacity to offer assistance in case of emergency.War will reduce still further the limited access Iraqis have to food, water and medical care.The UN estimates that 10 million people could be put at risk of hunger and disease and in need of immediate assistance.

Children must be offered special protection

Iraqi children have been among those most badly affected by the sanctions, which have led to the death of hundreds of thousands of children.War will only accentuate their vulnerability.


The security of women must be promoted

War consistently exposes women to sexual violence.The situation in Iraq may well prove especially volatile because of the history of ethnic divisions, leading potentially to local and regional retributions, putting women at risk.


The causes of forced displacement must be averted

A war against Iraq is expected to lead to mass displacement.According to UN estimates up to 900,000 refugees could flee into neighbouring countries.The reasons for flight, including war, should be averted.


Policies with respect to Iraq must contribute to peace in the region

A war against Iraq is highly likely to increase regional instability.The forcible replacement of the Iraqi government through foreign aggesssion can be expected to have consequences in other Middle Eastern countries, deepening conflicts and thereby potentially creating further refugee flows.


For all these reasons, we urge the Government of Canada to work energetically and by all means possible to avert a war against Iraq, and to seek a peaceful and lasting solution that respects the dignity of the people of Iraq and that conforms with international law, including the UN Charter and human rights and humanitarian law.Canada should not participate in a military action against Iraq.