Former United Nations official to discuss organization’s reform. Wednesday, February 18, 2009

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Denis Halliday, former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, will present a lecture “Exceptionalism Within the
United Nations” on Wednesday, February 18, in room 200 of Rockefeller Hall. The lecture, presented by the Department of Political Science, will start at 5:30 pm, and is free and open to the public.

Halliday joined the UN in 1964 but resigned from the organization on Sept. 30, 1998 in protest of Iraq sanctions, which he called “a totally bankrupt concept” that punished the Iraqi people but not their government.

The UN Security Council imposed economic and military sanctions against Iraq in Aug. 1990, during the Gulf War.

In September 1997, former UN Chief Kofi Annan appointed Halliday to supervise the “Oil-for-Food Program,” which allowed the Hussein regime to sell oil in exchange for essential humanitarian supplies.

After he resigned, Halliday embarked on activism to spread the word about the detrimental effect of sanctions on Iraqis.

The American Friends Service Committee, a human rights group, nominated Halliday for the Nobel Peace Prize in April 2000 for his advocacy.

“The authority of the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, has helped to push the crisis in Iraq to the forefront of concerns in the world,” said the committee in a statement at the time.

Sanctions against Iraq remained in place until May 2003, after Saddam Hussein was toppled.

Halliday, who served at the Assistant Secretary-General level, now travels around the world advocating UN reform.

“Mr. Halliday is an amazing speaker,” said Albert Mulli, a Vassar senior who met the activist while working as an intern at Global Policy Forum, a non-governmental organization affiliated with the UN. “He is very passionate and speaks about a topic that is timely in this new era of American foreign policy.”

Halliday has addressed the World Social Forum and presented lectures at many universities around the world.

People with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, January 19, 2009