Background: Lifting U.N. Sanctions Against Iraq
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KWAME HOLMAN: Now the debate over ending United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Kwame Holman explains the American proposal to do just that.
KWAME HOLMAN: The U.N. Security Council debate of the U.S. resolution outlining a vision for post-war Iraq took place behind closed doors. The terms of the proposal, co-sponsored by Britain and Spain, call for: Endorsement of American and British control of Iraq for at least a year, with the United Nations playing an advisory role– the U.N. Secretary General would appoint a special coordinator for Iraq to oversee all U.N. and non- governmental organization humanitarian work; economic sanctions, in place since the end of the first Gulf War, would end, except for the ban on Iraq’s involvement in weapons trading; and the U.N.’s long- standing oil-for-food program would be phased out over four months.
That program had used revenue from the sale of Iraqi oil to feed 60 percent of Iraq’s 24 million people, but funding was frozen when the war started in March. Instead, the U.S. resolution: Transfers the remaining $3 billion in the oil-for-food account, and all revenues from future oil sales, into a new Iraqi assistance fund in the Iraqi central bank, to be used for “the urgent needs of the Iraqi people.” Oil sales and all spending from the fund would be controlled by the U.S. Government and Britain, in consultation with a new Iraqi interim government. An international advisory board, including representatives of the U.N., World Bank, and the IMF, would audit and monitor the fund. U.S. and British officials said they want to use Iraq’s substantial oil wealth to keep food and medicine flowing and to fund reconstruction, and are ready to assume the responsibilities of being an occupying power. British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock:
SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK: I think the council is pleased to see that we, the powers on the ground in the coalition, accept that we are occupying powers. And that establishes a basis for a clear political discussion for what happens next, and how the international community adds itself on to that occupying authority, and how the U.N. should be involved in it. There is, at the moment, a fair degree of disorder on the ground. That needs to be improved. The occupying powers are conscious of that, and the coalition authority is getting down to that, I would say, in a very fast and efficient way. But the Iraqi people are not yet in a position to look after all these aspects for themselves. The quicker we can bring it back to them, the better.
KWAME HOLMAN: The American ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte, said the reaction from the council was constructive.
JOHN NEGROPONTE: I think the kinds of words that we heard were that they thought our resolution was forward-looking; it didn’t rehash some of the arguments of the past. A number of the delegations noted that they wanted to take a pragmatic and a constructive approach. So, I would say that I feel that most delegations saw this as charting a way forward; that they certainly… they had some questions, many of a legal and technical nature.
KWAME HOLMAN: France, which opposed the Iraq war, also has resisted lifting sanctions. Today, the French ambassador said many questions have to be answered before the Security Council can vote.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE: We were pleased to see that there was a phasing out of the oil-for-food program. We also that think the role of the U.N. coordinator, or special representative, the way you call it, should be enhanced, and particularly in the political field. And there is also a question on how the council will monitor the whole process.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Security Council will meet next week, in an effort to get answers to some of those questions.