IN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE, GOVERNMENTS STRESS NEED TO ALLEVIATE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN IRAQ WHILE ENSURING FULL COMPLIANCE WITH COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS
NEW YORK, 26 June (UN Headquarters) -- The urgent need to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation facing the Iraqi people while ensuring the Government of Iraq’s full compliance with Security Council resolutions was emphasized this afternoon at a public meeting of the Council on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.
Many speakers who took the floor stressed that the status quo in Iraq could not be allowed to continue. In that light, and in the context of resolution 1352 (2001), by which the Council expressed its intention to consider new arrangements for the sale or supply of commodities and products to Iraq to help ease the humanitarian situation, part of the Council's deliberations focused on draft proposals from the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation on modifying the current regime.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the proposals contained in his country’s draft would make an important and significant difference to the flow of goods to Iraq. From a situation where no export was allowed unless approved by the 661 Committee, a situation would be reached where every export was allowed except for a very limited range of items. Adoption of his Government’s draft resolution would change the situation, he said. There would be an immediate improvement in the lives of ordinary Iraqis, the longest suffering victims of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.
Far from freezing the present situation, agreement on something like the United Kingdom draft would mean having lifted sanctions on regular civilian trade with the Iraqi people, the representative of the United States said. He did not understand why his Government now found itself under attack for this idea. Under the current system, all exports to Iraq were forbidden -- under the proposed system, everything was permitted unless it was on a list of certain items, in which case it would be reviewed. The Iraqi regime would only be prohibited from acquiring goods that could help it pose a threat.
The representative of the Russian Federation said changes to the current sanctions regime had been proposed, specifically in the draft resolution proposed by the United Kingdom. Among his objections to the proposal was his impression that the suggested system led away from implementation of relevant Council resolutions and froze the present situation. The draft contained nothing about investments or economic projects. The perpetuation of sanctions could make the situation in the region much worse and lead to increased tensions. Smart sanctions could damage legitimate trade and economic interests of many countries, including Russia. His country had submitted a proposal containing clear criteria for lifting sanctions. He was convinced that there was no alternative to that comprehensive approach.
Among the many other issues raised by speakers this afternoon was the need to consider aspects related to the "no-fly" zones in Iraq, as well as to take up the issue of missing Kuwaiti citizens and property. Another key issue was the importance of addressing the effects of Council sanctions on the larger region.
The representative of Malaysia said his country had consistently challenged the purpose and legality of ongoing operations in the no-fly zones. The tendency of the international community had been to ignore those events as "routine operations". The continuation of those illegal and provocative operations was not conducive to a constructive dialogue between the United Nations and Iraq. Regarding the issue of more than 600 Kuwaiti missing persons as well as those from third countries, he reiterated his call on Iraq to fulfil all its international obligations and resume participation in the Tripartite Commission and the Technical Subcommittee. No less important was the need to facilitate the return of Kuwait’s national archives and other property, he said.
Kuwait’s representative said his country understood fully the depth of Iraqi suffering because of its own suffering during the seven months of occupation by Iraq and supported all ongoing efforts to introduce more improvements to the humanitarian programme. Iraq’s intentions towards Kuwait were not peaceful, given repeated threats to security and sovereignty of Kuwait by high-level persons in Iraq. There had also been charges that Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil. Accusations of the same nature had been used by Iraq as pretext for its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Without Iraq’s full compliance with relevant resolutions, the region would remain in a state of constant tension.
Statements were also made by the representatives of France, China, Tunisia, Norway, Colombia, Ukraine, Mauritius, Mali, Ireland, Singapore, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Sweden (for the European Union).
The meeting was called to order at 3:59 p.m. and suspended at 7:30 p.m.
The meeting will reconvene Thursday, 28 June, at a time to be announced.
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait in response to a letter dated 15 June from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council (document A/2001/597). He asked to convene the open formal meeting during this week to consider ways of improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq related to the negative effect of the sanctions on the population of that country, and also ways of implementing all the Council resolutions on Iraq and a post-conflict settlement in the Gulf region.
On 1 June, the Council adopted resolution 1352 (2001), deciding to extend the provisions of resolution 1330 (2000) until 3 July. [Resolution 1330 (2000), unanimously adopted on 5 December 2000, extended the Iraq "oil-for-food" programme for a period of 180 days from 6 December 2000.]
By the terms of resolution 1352 (2001), which was unanimously adopted, the Council expressed its intention to consider new arrangements for the sale or supply of commodities and products to Iraq, and for the facilitation of civilian trade and economic cooperation with Iraq in civilian sectors.
That intention is based on the principle that the new arrangements will significantly improve the flow of commodities and products to Iraq, other than those mentioned in paragraph 24 of resolution 687 (1991). Items to which that text refers include arms and related materiel of all types, chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres. Those items are also subject to review by the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) on the proposed sale or supply to Iraq of commodities and products on a Goods Review List to be elaborated by the Council.
According to the text, such new arrangements will improve the controls to prevent the sale or supply of items prohibited or unauthorized by the Council. They will also prevent the flow of revenues to Iraq from the export of petroleum and related products outside the escrow account established by resolution 986 (1995).
Further by the text, the Council also expressed its intention to adopt and implement such new arrangements, and provisions on various related issues under discussion, for a period of 190 days beginning 4 July 2001.
Other relevant resolutions are: 669 (1990), 986 (1995), 1153 (1998), 1284 (1999), 1293 (2000) and 1302 (2000).
The Council also received a letter from the Permanent Representative of Iraq (document S/2001/603) in which he transmitted a letter dated 17 June from Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq. The Minister expressed the hope that attempts will be opposed to use the extension of the humanitarian programme as a facade for securing the adoption of the United States and United Kingdom schemes that seek to strengthen the embargo imposed on Iraq under the cover of the oil-for-food programme. He states that Iraq will have nothing to do with any resolution adopted by the Council that incorporates the provisions of the United States and United Kingdom draft, regardless of which country sponsors it.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his country had proposed the public meeting with participation of all interested States, so that improvement of the humanitarian situation in Iraq could be considered as well as a settlement of the conflict in the region. Changes to the current sanctions regime had been proposed, specifically in a draft resolution proposed by the United Kingdom. "Frankly, the deeper we get into the details of the proposed changes, the more our doubts grow as to the feasibility of the concept and its political viability for conflict settlement", he said. One basic element was that the proposed system led away from implementation of relevant Council resolutions and froze the present situation. There would be no progress in the disarmament area. Key elements in the United Kingdom draft seemed to tighten sanctions.
Many questions were raised, such as the Goods Review List. The list was already in effect, including a review procedure carried out by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). He believed that the list would continue to be applied on the basis of resolution 1051. The authors of the draft saw this list as inadequate. They wanted to include goods under arrangements of a limited number of countries. A third list was proposed of additional products that would also be monitored. Those were goods defined in such a way to make it possible to block projects essential to the energy and oil industry of Iraq. The draft contained nothing about investments or economic projects, which is contrary to resolution 1352.
The new scheme seemed to be introduced without the consent of Iraq and was contrary to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. It politicized the UNMOVIC into an instrument to strengthening sanction pressure. It would bury all hopes for ongoing arms monitoring. The perpetuation of sanctions could make the situation in the region much worse and could lead to regional tensions. Neighbouring States already see the new concept as a threat to their own stability. Smart sanctions could damage legitimate trade and economic interests of many countries, including Russia. Russia could not agree to the draft. That did not mean his country did not want to pursue a further discussion, but such a discussion must not be politicized. It should be geared towards improving the humanitarian programme. We must not delay longer with settlement of the Iraqi problem.
Since the adoption of resolution 1284, which was hastily drafted and contained many gaps, his country had consistently advocated creating the necessary mechanisms, but some countries did not want it. His country had submitted a proposal containing clear criteria for lifting sanctions. He was convinced there was no alternative to that comprehensive approach.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that if Iraq was willing to work with resolution 1284 (1999), "we are all willing to work with them without further delay. Let us be clear, resolution 1284 has not been implemented because Iraq has refused to implement it", he said, adding that if Iraq indicated a willingness to move forward, the Council would undoubtedly wish to reciprocate by fleshing out in detail the precise steps that must be taken.
"We now have before us a series of proposals, set out by the United Kingdom in our draft resolution, to allow Iraq to import the full range of civilian goods without restriction", he said. Resolution 1352 (2001) had represented an unusual agreement in the Council on the aim to set in place measures to liberalize the flow of goods to Iraq and, at the same time, to examine ways to make sure that military items were not exported to Iraq. The month allotted to take a decision was nearly up. Differences remained, but compromises had been worked out. His delegation would continue to work as hard as needed to meet the deadline.
The new proposals contained in the British draft would make an important and significant difference to the flow of goods to Iraq, he said. From a situation where no export was allowed unless approved by the 661 Committee, a situation would be reached where every export was allowed except for a very limited range of items. Even for those items, there was no presumption of denial. The capacity to rebuild military potential against the rulings of the Council was related to the flow of money as well as to the flow of goods, he said. All were aware that Iraq continued to export oil outside the United Nations system to build up illegal revenue with which it could purchase weapons and other proscribed items. That traffic had to be controlled if the resolutions of the Council were to have their intended effect.
Adoption of his Government’s draft resolution would change the situation, he said. There would be an immediate improvement in the lives of ordinary Iraqis, the longest suffering victims of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. The course mapped out by resolution 1284 would more likely be seen as the right one if steps were taken to refocus the sanctions policy of the Council. He said the United Kingdom had put forward its proposals in good faith in response to calls made by many in the international community to alleviate the plight of the Iraqi people.
JEAN DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the status quo was not satisfactory for the authority and credibility of the Council. Its decisions were a dead letter. It was not satisfactory for the Iraqi population either. Iraq was experiencing an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. The Council’s efforts under the oil-for-food programme were of course meritorious, but it was burdened by too much bureaucracy. The status quo was also not satisfactory for regional security. For a year and a half there had been no monitors in the field to prevent resumption of Iraq’s armament with weapons of mass destruction.
Council resolution 1284 had been an improvement of resolution 687 because it reconciled humanitarian needs and security concerns. Iraq could expect to join the community of nations. That course had not been taken because of Iraq’s rejection of 1284. He intended to continue to advocate the return to Iraq of UNMOVIC and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors. He appreciated efforts of the Secretary-General to continue a dialogue with Iraq. He would like Iraq to respond to that desire for dialogue with constructive gestures, such as return of Kuwaiti prisoners and property. Openness on the part of Iraq would enable the Council to clarify the arms situation. Difficulties in implementing the two resolutions should not prevent the Council from acting as long as its action was unified, taking into account humanitarian needs and security concerns. He welcomed the United States proposals to improve the oil-for-food programme.
France had been proposing improvement of the mechanisms for that programme, which could lead to a reduction of contracts on hold. There were still $3.2 billion of contracts on hold and more than a billion dollars worth of contracts still being considered in the Secretariat. Loosening restrictions on trade would not make it possible for the economy to recover enough to improve the humanitarian crisis. Economic recovery required the return of normal production. Therefore, France had proposed that investments be normalized, among other things. If action was to be successful, it must enjoy the support of the international community, in particular the neighbours of Iraq. Decisions concerning possible trade arrangements between Iraq and its neighbours should be taken into account with the agreement of Iraq’s neighbours. The arrangement between Iraq and Jordan in that regard could serve as a model. Iraqi arrears should be paid to all organizations.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the Council had assumed a special role in maintaining security in the region. Iraq continued to pose a threat, and the Council must contain it. The suffering of the Iraqi population must be addressed. Given the current situation, a better name for the oil-for-food programme would be "oil for development", he said.
Iraq was using money and oil as a weapon against the international community, he said. It had not sold oil since the passing of resolution 1352. The international community cared more for the Iraqi people than Iraq did. Baghdad had made it clear that it preferred the status quo to improvements in the situation.
Far from freezing the present situation, agreement on something like the British draft would mean lifting sanctions on regular civilian trade with the Iraqi people, he said. He did not understand why his Government now found itself under attack for that idea. Under the current system, all exports to Iraq were forbidden -- under the proposed system, everything was permitted unless it was on a list of certain items, in which case it would be reviewed. The Iraqi regime would only be prohibited from acquiring goods that could help it pose a threat.
Some continued to confuse the proposed goods review list with a "denial list", he said. This was not the case. The proposed list was a historical change in the way the United Nations did business with Iraq. Negotiations were underway to provide clarity on the procedures to be used. The current draft asked nothing of the States neighboring Iraq except to continue consultation with the Secretary-General.
International civil aviation and different forms of economic interaction were among the other initiatives set out in the draft, he said. The draft was not an abandonment of resolution 1284. The introduction of the new approach was a bridge between the current situation and existing Council resolutions. The proposal ensured the survival of the current approach, he stressed. All members of the Council should join in taking the next step towards the creation of a system that was better than the one that now existed.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said the public meeting would help to insure that the Council’s decision on Iraq would fully reflect the concern of its member States. A comprehensive resolution of the Iraq question on the basis of relevant Council resolutions had always been advocated by China. He had received the Russian draft resolution, which could bring about an early solution to the Iraq question, and he would carefully study it. Some members had proposed drafts on new arrangements. The Council should consider the drafts seriously in the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Iraq question. China had tabled some amendments and a position paper. He hoped there would be a chance to break the stalemate so that the Iraq question would not become a perennial item on the agenda.
Resolution 1352 pointed out that new arrangements were aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq, he said. The 11-year old sanctions had brought dire suffering to the Iraqi people. If the Council turned a blind eye to the situation, it would not do justice to the expectations of the general membership of the United Nations. Iraq’s normal interaction and normal trade relations with other countries should not have been subject to sanctions. Foreign companies should be allowed to invest in Iraq and be allowed to sign service contracts with Iraq. The new arrangements must not serve to perpetuate the sanctions, but should be aimed at finding a way out of the deadlock.
Bombings against Iraq should stop at the earliest possible date and the no-fly zones must be abandoned as soon as possible, he continued. New arrangements should not bring more negative impact on Iraq’s neighbors. The question of missing Kuwaitis and loss of property should be resolved at an early date. Timely and proper resolution of the matter would contribute to an early resolution of the Iraq question.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the Council must adopt a global approach to the Iraqi question, which had a number of diverse but not unrelated facets, such as disarmament and the humanitarian situation, among others. Because of the many different sanctions imposed on the country, Iraq’s economy had been devastated and the society was on the brink of utter collapse. Despite some positive results, the oil-for-food programme could not stand in for a genuine recovery of the economy. Without an appropriate response, the tragedy of the Iraqi people would continue.
The Council’s resolutions on Iraq provided a legal framework, set out Iraq’s obligations and reflected the Council’s commitment to modify the situation. The resolutions must be implemented in good faith by all parties. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq must be ensured by all –- even Council members. The credibility and effectiveness of the Council was at stake. In that regard, the question of "no-fly" zones must be revisited.
Everything must be done to avoid ambiguity in the process, he said. The Council must open itself up to the possibility of providing further clarity in the case of some resolutions, such as 1284. This was also true of future resolutions. Iraq had cooperated for several years with the United Nations and must continue to do so, with a view to solving remaining problems. It must be encouraged through incentives and by being offered the eventual prospect of seeing sanctions lifted. He went on to note the effect of the sanctions on the region –- that too must be addressed. It was high time that some movement was seen, otherwise the situation would stagnate.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said Iraq -– through full cooperation -- held the key to unlocking the door of sanctions. Weapons inspectors must be given entry to Iraq, and it must demonstrate its willingness to fully cooperate with UNMOVIC. The issue of missing persons and stolen property must also be resolved.
Paramount among Norwegian concerns was the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people, he said. His delegation remained dismayed by the dire life conditions of various segments of the civilian population. It would be too simple to attempt to identify one single reason for those difficult living conditions and health problems. There were various reasons for the situation. Nevertheless, the international community had solid evidence not only about the usefulness but also of the necessity of the humanitarian programme in Iraq pursuant to resolution 986. It was therefore a matter of particular concern that $2.2 billion of the funds destined to meet those humanitarian objectives remained unused in the United Nations escrow account.
Resolution 1284 remained the overall framework and stipulated the conditions for lifting the sanctions against Iraq, he said. Pending cooperation, it would be irresponsible not to engage in a result-oriented and concrete attempt to revisit how current sanctions work. It was the collective responsibility to make a thorough assessment of current practices and consider how they could be improved. Regarding the goods review list, he said limiting the scope of control by the Sanctions Committee to potentially sensitive items, and leaving all other items aside was plain common sense. The choice before the Council was clear -- "We must seize the opportunity before us and mark a clear departure from the status quo", he said.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the oil-for-food programme had been adopted as a provisional measure to alleviate the humanitarian need of the population. The most recent report of the Secretary-General had concluded that to date, it had improved the situation. The report flagged some aspects where improvements could be made by reducing the number of contracts on hold and defining more clearly elements that could be used for dual purposes. Improvements should have a positive impact on the population. Still, it was necessary for the Iraqi Government to cooperate.
He said the least that could be expected was that members of the Council complied with their own resolutions. Under the coordination of the United Kingdom, some meetings with experts had been held. Those consultations had been useful. He hoped all delegations would participate in framing a consensus text. Sanctions were not an end in themselves, but a tool to try to maintain international peace and security. They were an alternative to the use of force. It should be made very clear to the Iraqi Government what the international community expected from it before lifting sanctions.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said he welcomed the emphasis that the draft resolutions, submitted by the United Kingdom and France, were putting on an innovative approach to management of the United Nations humanitarian programme. It was from the standpoint of the humanitarian challenges in Iraq that his delegation would consider the draft resolution by the Russian Federation. He felt it regrettable that there had been insufficient time to carefully study the Russian proposal.
He said to change the status quo and improve the humanitarian situation, the Council should improve the mechanism currently in place, which regulated the sale or supply of commodities to Iraq. He believed that the rule that everything was permitted that was not prohibited should be applied. But that would require the Council to ensure that everything which was banned for supply to Iraq should be thoroughly itemized and specified. Only that would allow the Office of the Iraq Programme and UNMOVIC to more efficiently process Iraqi contracts.
He added that it was necessary to create appropriate conditions for the economic restoration of the country, which was the basis for its self-dependent development and would generate additional resources needed to attract foreign investments, first of all in the oil sector of the country’s economy. His delegation had consistently called upon Iraq to cooperate with the Council, considering it a precondition that could lead to the lifting of the sanctions. "We are firmly convinced that adoption of a resolution should contribute to the creation of a climate of cooperation", he said.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said 10 years later the Gulf War continued to cast its long shadow over peace in the region. The invasion of Kuwait had been a serious violation of the United Nations Charter and the robust reaction of the international community had been fully justified. Unfortunately, the effects of the war had had dire effects on the population, which must be addressed.
The implementation of the sanctions required the full cooperation of the Government of Iraq to ensure that the purposes of the measures were met without unduly hurting the Iraqi people. Through constructive dialogue, Iraq could meet its responsibility, he noted. The oil-for-food programme had never been a smooth operation, resulting in scarcities of food and medicines, with devastating consequences for the people of Iraq.
The present situation could not be allowed to continue, he said. The humanitarian situation was so bad that the international community could not remain indifferent to it. There had been a growing sense that new initiatives that could engage Iraq in a positive dialogue must be taken. He welcomed the review process with a view to bringing about a relaxation of the sanctions, without totally absolving Iraq of its responsibilities. He urged Iraq to respond to the measures of the international community and to take steps of its own -– such as resuming cooperation with UNMOVIC and repatriating missing Kuwaiti persons.
SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said he was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The oil-for-food programme had helped to hold further deterioration of the living conditions of the Iraqi population. Its humanitarian goals should be preserved. The Iraqi Government should give priority to the needs of its population. He regretted that no requests of goods to meet those needs had been submitted during the ninth phase.
He was also concerned about the high number of holds. It was definitely one of the main obstacles to offset the humanitarian situation. The Sanctions Committee should step up its efforts to consider contracts. He welcomed the new sanctions regime, aimed at easing the impact of 11 year of sanctions on the population based on the principle that everything not explicitly banned would be authorized, which was contrary to the former sanctions regime. He supported injecting cash into the economy through the cash component, not only to the oil industry, but also to other sectors in Iraq. In order to ensure economic reconstruction, the draft should include service and investments. He hoped the Iraqi Government would react positively and take the opportunity extended to it.
He expressed his concern that Iraq had not returned all Kuwaiti missing persons or their remains and Kuwaiti property, including its national archives. He called on Iraq to cooperate fully on those matters in order to fully settle the problems once and for all.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said the international community had a responsibility to ensure that the measures they adopted did not prevent the people of the country under sanctions from obtaining the necessities of life. That had been acknowledged in resolution 661 itself. The arrangements envisaged in resolution 1352 did not represent anything radically new. The Council had long recognized that the longer the sanctions continued, the more the sanctions regime must be adjusted in the interest of the people of Iraq and must be concentrated more and more on the sanctions regime’s primary objective.
He said it was now time to take a further step and to acknowledge the need, after 11 years of sanctions, to allow the people of Iraq to recover their national economy and life, while maintaining the controls necessary to ensure that Iraq did not further develop weapons of mass destruction and did not acquire the means of again threatening its neighbours. The approach now envisaged on the basis of resolution 1352 was promising and would improve significantly the flow of commodities and products to Iraq, while maintaining the necessary controls.
However, the development and prosperity of a people did not depend solely on the supply of commodities, he said. They also depended on modern infrastructure. Nothing in the measures adopted should prevent the development of Iraq’s normal economic infrastructure. In that regard it was important that the list of goods to be reserved for review by the 661 Committee under the envisaged system was as short as possible. Furthermore, any contract containing an item on the list must be carefully reviewed from the point of view of its economic and infrastructural importance.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said today’s debate was timely. It had been 15 months since the Council had reviewed the development of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. Resolution 661’s measures had most heavily impacted the people of Iraq while their Government had defied the Council. The oil-for-food programme had contributed to improvements in the oil industry, electricity, education, housing and telecommunications, among others. The increasing perception, however, was that the programme had not made much of a dent in alleviating the economic state and humanitarian situation of Iraq. Meanwhile, illegal measures related to the sale of oil had generated extra income for the Government of Iraq.
She agreed with the representative of the Russian Federation that the status quo was unacceptable. Resolution 1352 signaled the Council intention to modify the situation, she noted, adding that only exports of a limited list of goods would be prohibited under the proposed arrangements, which would also clarify several long-standing issues, including in the area of aviation.
She emphasized the representative of the United States’ point that the Council did not seek to impose any new arrangement on countries in the region against their will. The international community and the Council in particular must unite behind the new arrangements. Issues, such as the content of the goods review list, must still be addressed. A balance between increasing the effectiveness of sanctions and not imposing unduly onerous burdens on the people of Iraq and the countries in the region must be struck.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said sanctions regimes must be focused, effectively targeted, and of limited duration. They must be designed in such a way that civilian populations did not suffer from the intransigence of their leaders. She supported the current efforts to bring about changes in the regime. She was aware of the concerns of neighbouring States that the changes being considered would bring disruptions to their economy. The Council must therefore take their legitimate concerns into account.
She was aware that there remained difficult issues to be resolved. She had therefore urged for more time than the ultimately approved one month when resolution 1352 was adopted on 1 June. She believed that, given enough time, appropriate solutions could be found by the Council to reduce significantly the effect of the sanctions on the Iraqi people. She called on Iraq to cooperate fully with the United Nations and comply with the relevant Council resolutions. It must allow UNMOVIC to carry out the task assigned to it.
It was extremely important that the Iraqi Government refrain from threatening the security of Kuwait. She emphasized that the Iraqi Government must abide by all relevant Council resolutions with respect to Kuwait. Iraq must cooperate with the United Nations on the issues of Kuwaiti and third country nationals and must return all of Kuwait’s properties in its possession.
The Council President, ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), speaking in his national capacity, said that the strict control on Iraq's import and export had resulted in a steady decline in the living condition of the Iraqi people. It was doubtful whether the objective of alleviating their distress through the oil-for-food programme had been fully achieved. It was, therefore, incumbent on the United Nations and on the world community to seriously examine the situation in Iraq with a comprehensive approach that focused on the humanitarian condition of its people.
He said that during its first presidency of the Council in March 2000, Bangladesh had initiated an open debate on Iraq, which afforded an opportunity for broader membership of the United Nations to focus on the plight of the Iraqi people. For the second time, also under the Bangladeshi presidency, there was an opportunity to address the situation, in particular the devastating effect of the sanctions on the life of the Iraqi people, as well as other relevant issues particularly that of Kuwaiti missing persons.
The oil-for-food programme was designed to alleviate the humanitarian situation, and while the Government accepted the programme, it had serious reservations on provisions that it believed impinged on its sovereignty and national independence, he said. Multiple problems relating to the programme's implementation were perhaps rooted in that perception. Many, including some Council members, had been underscoring the need for a comprehensive approach to address the issue.
The most comprehensive framework so far of the United Nations Iraq policy was provided in Security Council resolution 1284. Yet, it was deficient in not indicating a clear path towards suspension and final lifting of the sanctions. Credibility required that the sanction regime clearly define modalities for their lifting. A number of speakers had said that the current deadlock must not be allowed to continue. The Council members must make a serious effort to address those issues – issues that had been giving rise to problems in implementing the Council's resolution. To make the current exercise on negotiating the drafts truly comprehensive, all issues of concern, including Kuwaiti missing persons and return of Kuwaiti properties, should be addressed.
In doing so, he said, the Council should be mindful of the fact that Iraq had rejected resolution 1352, which provided for the broad principles guiding new arrangements. Making the adoption and implementation of those new arrangements contingent on the usual rollover of the oil-for-food programme risked jeopardizing it. Clearly, the cooperation of the Government of Iraq, as well as the cooperation of the States sharing borders with it, was a key factor in the implementation of those arrangements. Questions of their sovereignty, economic interest, additional burden, and so forth, enmeshed in legal issues, had critical significance. It was vital to consult closely with those States in order to arrive at suitable arrangements.
He said that the Council could not be oblivious of the regional political context that surrounded the issue. That called for a vision beyond the sanctions, a vision to salvage the future generations in Iraq. If the Council failed to get the political perspective right, no procedural simplification was likely to bring the desired result. Iraq's involvement in the process was crucial. The international community had the obligation to help Iraq as much as Iraq had to help itself through cooperating with the United Nations. That was why he welcomed the dialogue between the Secretary-General and the Iraqi delegation in February. It would make sense for the Council, in its current endeavour, to encourage that process.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said his country understood fully the depth of Iraqi suffering because of its own suffering during the seven months of occupation by Iraq. Therefore, Kuwait had expressed sympathy for the suffering of the population of Iraq and had given aid to individuals in Iraq.
Kuwait welcomed and supported all ongoing efforts to introduce more improvements to the humanitarian programme. It was regrettable that, despite the humanitarian nature of the oil-for-food programme, the Iraqi Government did not work to ensure the success of that programme. The Secretary-General had highlighted that fact in his most recent report, from which he quoted several examples, such as reducing oil exports in order to extract illegal payments and delaying submissions of applications for humanitarian supplies such as medicines and sanitary goods. Those delays indicated the indifference of the Government of Iraq towards its population. The Government of Iraq had also delayed the granting of entry visas of international personnel with a view to impede the efforts of United Nations agencies. The Government of Iraq had rejected resolution 1352, which extended the ninth phase for 30 days. Such rejection would result in loss of revenue.
It was regrettable that after 10 years the Council remained seized in addressing the consequences of the aggression of Iraq against Kuwait, he said. Some of the commitments Iraq had not met included solving the problem of Kuwaiti prisoners. There was a complete lack, on the part of Iraq, of cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the High-level Coordinator. It did not participate in the Tripartite Commission and its Technical Subcommittee. That attitude did not contribute to an atmosphere of confidence to the people of Kuwait. He called on Iraq to return all property seized, including the national archives and military equipment.
The intentions of Iraq towards Kuwait were not peaceful, given repeated threats to security and sovereignty of Kuwait by high-level persons in Iraq. There had also been charges that Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil. Accusations of the same nature had been used by Iraq as pretext for its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait would cooperate with any United Nations commission to look into those accusations which had no basis at all.
It was a reason for concern that Iraq’s policies were aimed at destabilization of the entire region, he said. Iraq, during the recent Arab Summit in Jordan, had rejected a paragraph in the declaration that would reaffirm Iraq’s commitment to the security of Kuwait. Arab leaders had stated that Iraq had thus squandered a consensus appeal to lift the sanctions on Iraq. Without Iraq’s full compliance with the relevant resolutions, the region would remain in a state of constant tension.
Had Iraq complied with resolution 1284, all sanctions would have been lifted. He called on the Council to urge Iraq to fulfil its obligations. That would allow the people of Iraq to make full use of the bounties given to it by God.
PRINCE ZEID RA-AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that 10 years after the eruption of the Gulf crisis, which was triggered by the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, his entire region was still suffering from the severe repercussions of that crisis. Iraq continued to pay a hefty price under comprehensive sanctions that had already impacted future generations of Iraqis in terms of food and livelihood, health and prospects for economic growth and development. The result was an unprecedented case of civilian suffering. That type of collective punishment –- the most severe in the history of the United Nations –- had not served its declared purposes in consolidating peace and security. On the contrary, those sanctions had created conditions that, in the long run, might endanger the future of the entire region.
He said his own country continued to endure dire economic consequences as a result of its adherence to the relevant Security Council resolutions. Large segments of Jordan's economy, in particular, land, maritime and air transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and labour, continued to incur substantial losses. The adverse impact of sanctions on Jordan should be eliminated. Any revised policies with respect to the oil-for-food programme in Iraq should be viable, especially in view of the fact that existing policies were based on prior understandings among all parties. The parameters for improving the humanitarian conditions in Iraq must reign supreme. Furthermore, a clear line should be drawn between the policies governing the modus operandi of the oil-for-food programme and the process of calling for the implementation of all relevant Council resolutions.
The Council itself must bear the consequences and legal implications of any preventive collective measures, he said. That was all the more so in view of the extremely sensitive circumstances now prevailing in the region as a result of the stalling peace process and the spiraling cycle of violence. The Council should carefully and thoroughly examine the implications of any actions on Jordan and the region according to its sense of responsibility under the United Nations Charter. His Government submitted a memorandum to the Secretary-General illustrating the gigantic repercussions that Jordan and its economy would face if the existing legal barter arrangements governing all aspects of economic relations since 1991 were interrupted. The only exit out of the current crisis lay in the Council's lifting of sanctions against Iraq and extricating it from the dilemma by reviving a comprehensive dialogue between Baghdad and the United Nations, with a view to settling all outstanding issues.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said his country spared no effort to guarantee security and stability in the Gulf region and to establish an environment conducive to economic development. That was why it supported non-intervention and good relations with its neighbours. His country deeply believed in humanitarian principles. This was why it had taken an initiative to solve the situation in Iraq in 1999.
That initiative had called for a review and overhaul of the sanctions regime through enabling Iraq to import all its humanitarian needs without prior consent of the Council, he said. Under it, Iraq was required to fulfil all its international obligations. The end result of the exercise would be the alleviation of the suffering of the Iraqi people, while ensuring that financial returns were not used for illicit purposes. The initiative had been adopted by the League of Arab States, but rejected by Iraq, he noted.
The continuation of the international sanctions was due to the policy adopted by the Government of Iraq, he said. His country sympathized with the plight of the Iraqi people and would support any resolution that would put an end to their suffering, while ensuring the safety of the countries in the region. He called on Iraq to refrain from taking any aggressive action towards its neighbours.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland. He said there could be no doubt that the key to suspension and lifting of sanctions rested in the hands of the Government of Iraq. The Union looked forward to the future reintegration of Iraq into the international community and a more prosperous and dignified life for the Iraqi civilian population. "We reiterate that Iraq must comply fully with its obligations as provided for in the relevant Council resolutions and called on the Government of Iraq to cooperate to that end."
Until the fulfilment by Iraq of the relevant Council resolutions, there was a clear need, as a temporary measure, to provide for the civilian needs of the Iraqi people. Despite the United Nations humanitarian programme and recent measures, the humanitarian situation in Iraq remains alarming, calling for ambitious measures aimed at alleviating the suffering among the population. In particular, measures to stimulate activity in the civilian sectors of the Iraqi economy were vital.
The Union welcomed the unanimous adoption of resolution 1352 (2001), he said. It found particularly important the commitment by the whole Council membership to consider new arrangements for the supply of commodities and products to Iraq and for the facilitation of civilian trade and economic cooperation with Iraq in civilian sectors. The two principles outlined in that text had full Union support: that such a system should improve the flow of commodities and products to Iraq, with the exception of those covered under resolution 687 (1991) and those included in the so called goods review list; and improve the controls to prevent the flow of revenues to Iraq outside the escrow account.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the Council’s efforts towards disarmament of Iraq should not continue to be linked to a policy of comprehensive sanctions. The situation today did not justify the continuation of those sanctions. The time had come to take a new and more balanced approach that would address the legitimate security concerns of the countries in the region but would spare the people of Iraq from further collective punishment. The most important implication of international law on the issue of sanctions, from the perspective of human rights and humanitarian law, was that the right to impose sanctions was not unlimited. The rights of the civilian population must be protected to the maximum extent possible through the provision of the essentials for survival. Even with that modest objective, the ability of the oil-for-food programme to deliver was seriously questioned.
Malaysia had consistently challenged the purpose and legality of ongoing operations in the no-fly zones, he said. The tendency of the international community had been to ignore those events as "routine operations". The continuation of those illegal operations was not conducive to a constructive dialogue between the United Nations and Iraq. Resolution of the issue of more than 600 Kuwaiti missing persons as well as those from third countries was a grave humanitarian issue. He reiterated his call on Iraq to fulfil all its international obligations and resume participation in the Tripartite Commission and the Technical Subcommittee. Not less important was the need to facilitate the return of Kuwait’s national archives and other property. The existence of complete consensus in the Council on those two humanitarian issues should provide a strong basis for their early resolution.
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