Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council this afternoon decided that the provisions of its resolution 986 (1995), allowing the sale of Iraqi oil to pay for humanitarian goods and their distribution in the country, shall remain in force for another 180 days, beginning at 0001 hours (EST) on 5 December.
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1143 (1997), the Council further decided that the provisions of the distribution plan regarding goods purchased under resolution 1111 (1997) -- which extended for a further 180 days the provisions of resolution 986 -- shall continue to apply to foodstuffs and medicine and health supplies purchased in accordance with the resolution adopted today, pending the Secretary-General's approval of a new distribution plan to be submitted by the Government of Iraq before 5 January 1998.
The Council asked the Secretary-General to submit the supplementary report with his observations and recommendations on the question of the sale of Iraqi oil to meet humanitarian needs no later than 30 January 1998. It expressed its willingness, in the light of that report's recommendations, to find ways of improving the implementation of the humanitarian programme and to take such action over additional resources as needed to meet priority humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people, as well as to consider an extension of the time-frame for the implementation of the resolution.
The Security Council Committee established under its resolution 661 (1990) to monitor the implementation of sanctions against Iraq was directed to report no later than 30 January 1998 on its continuing efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to refine and clarify working procedures in order to expedite the approval process.
The Secretary-General was asked to report to the Council 90 days after the start of the renewal period and again prior to the end of the 180-day period on whether Iraq has ensured the equitable distribution of medicine, health supplies, foodstuffs, and material and supplies for essential civilian needs, financed from the revenues accruing from the sale of Iraqi oil. The
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Sanctions Committee was also asked to report to the Council at the same intervals.
The Security Council further decided to conduct a thorough review of all aspects of the implementation of the present resolution after 90 days and before the end of the 180-day period, based on the reports of the Secretary- General and of its Sanctions Committee.
Statements were made by the representatives of China, Egypt, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Portugal, Chile, Kenya, Poland, France, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom and Costa Rica.
The meeting, which was called to order at 4:33 p.m., was adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.
The Council has before it a Secretary-General's report (document S/1997/935) on the implementation of resolutions 986 (1995) and 1111 (1997), in which he outlines the formula by which Iraqi oil can be sold to purchase humanitarian goods to meet the essential needs of Iraqi civilians and calls for a systematic review of the humanitarian programme known as "oil for food".
Also for its deliberations, the Council has before it a report of the Security Council Committee, which was established by resolution 661 (1990), and is charged with monitoring the implementation of the sanctions against Iraq (document S/1997/942). The report covers the Committee's activities in relation to the implementation of the arrangements stipulated as part of the "oil-for-food" arrangement.
[The "oil-for-food" programme was initiated by Security Council resolution 986 adopted in April 1995. Convinced of the need as a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi population until Iraq met the conditions for lifting sanctions, the Council authorized the sale of $1 billion of Iraqi oil every 90 days.
Further, the Council outlined conditions for the sale of Iraqi oil and the resulting purchase and distribution of humanitarian goods. For an initial period of 180 days, Iraqi oil not to exceed a total of $1 billion could be sold every 90 days. The sale of the petroleum products would be monitored by the Sanctions Committee established by Council resolution 661. Money derived from the sale of the oil would be deposited in an escrow account and used for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population.
In addition to monitoring the sale of oil exported by Iraq, the Sanctions Committee, with the assistance of independent inspection agents appointed by the Secretary-General, verifies that the purchase price is reasonable according to prevailing market conditions. The Committee was instructed by resolution 1111 to expeditiously process contract applications as soon as the Secretary-General approved a new plan submitted by Iraq, guaranteeing equitable distribution and including a description of the goods to be purchased.
However, implementation of 986 (1995) was delayed due to technical and political considerations. Following lengthy negotiations in the spring of 1996 between the United Nations Secretariat and the Government of Iraq -- dubbed the "oil-for-food" talks -- a memorandum of understanding was signed on 20 May 1996. The memorandum, which covers such questions as the distribution of humanitarian goods, establishment of the escrow account, and the sale of
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petroleum and petroleum products originating in Iraq, paved the way for Iraqi oil exports, which began on 10 December 1996.
When the initial 180-day period, known as Phase I, expired, the Council established an additional 180-day period beginning on 8 June -- Phase II -- during which Iraqi oil could be sold under the same guidelines.
In an 8 September report on the initial 90-day period of Phase II (document S/1997/685), the Secretary-General informed the Council that the $1 billion target for the first 90 days would not be met due to the Iraqi Government's decision to suspend oil sales between June and August. That shortfall, projected at $500,000, would adversely affect the humanitarian programme and the United Nations capacity to carry out its responsibilities in Iraq.
The Security Council, expressing its concern about the humanitarian consequences of that shortfall, decided to extend the originally 90-day period to 120 days during which $1 billion in Iraqi oil could be sold. By adopting resolution 1129 (1997), the Council also decided that following the 120 days, not more than $1 billion worth of oil could be sold during the remaining 60 days.]
In his report now before the Council, the Secretary-General calls on the international community to remember the human dimension of implementing the humanitarian programme, and urges the Council to review the whole process of contracting, processing of applications, approvals, procurement, shipment and distribution of goods procured both by the Government of Iraq and by the United Nations system.
The Secretary-General suggests that the Council re-examine the adequacy of the revenue limits as envisaged by resolutions 986 (1995) and 1111 (1997) to meet Iraq's priority humanitarian requirements, given the scale of urgent humanitarian requirements in Iraq. Under the current formula, $1 billion of Iraqi oil can be sold per 90 days. He says that even if all supplies arrived on time, what is provided under those resolutions would be insufficient to address, even as a temporary measure, all the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.
To assist the Council in reviewing the adequacy of the revenue ceiling established by those resolutions, the Secretary-General reports that he has requested the Office of the Iraq Programme to review the priority requirements in all relevant sectors, including medicine, health supplies and foodstuffs. That review, which will focus on enhancing the efficiency and adequacy of the distribution plan, will take full account of relevant resolutions and the May 1996 memorandum of understanding.
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To ensure that authorized supplies are received in a timely manner, the Secretary-General states that he has also asked the Office of the Iraq Programme to formulate recommendations on how best to address concerns over processing and supply issues. In that regard, the Secretary-General requested the Programme to devise a system that would ensure that interrelated applications were clearly identified as such and brought to the attention of the Security Council Committee monitoring the sanctions implementation.
The Secretary-General informs the Council that he intends to submit a supplementary report to it in the early part of 1998, giving his observations and recommendations following the completion of the above-mentioned programme and process review.
The Secretary-General also calls for a review of the operating difficulties of the distribution systems, particularly those related to the food and health sectors. Also, the extent to which the deterioration of basic infrastructure is undermining the value of humanitarian inputs must be assessed. Moreover, in view of needs that remain unmet, the Secretary-General appeals to the international community to continue humanitarian programmes throughout the country.
Further, the Secretary-General's report provides detailed information on the programme's functioning, including oil sale and purchase of humanitarian goods; implementation of the distribution plan; as well as evaluations on the effectiveness, equitability and adequacy of the programme.
In its report, the Sanctions Committee notes that in view of the delayed resumption in petroleum sales, the projected $500 million revenue shortfall in the 90-day revenue objective of $1.07 billion, and the consequences for humanitarian supplies, the Council, in its resolution 1129 (1997) of 12 September, decided to extend the first quarter from 90 days to 120 days and to limit the second quarter to 60 days. It had been determined that the proceeds received from oil sales for the first quarter in Phase II totalled $1.07 billion.
The report states that export of oil from Iraq in Phase II had proceeded with cooperation among the overseers, the United Nations independent inspection agents, the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization and the national oil purchasers. Thirty-three contracts, involving purchasers from 14 countries, have been reviewed and approved by the overseers in Phase II, and the total quantity of oil approved for export under those contracts corresponds to approximately 126.8 million barrels for the 180 days.
According to the report, in the first quarter, 57 loadings, totalling 65.4 million barrels, were completed. In the second quarter, 54 liftings, totalling 56 million barrels, with an estimated value of $974 million, had been completed. Seven liftings remained for the second quarter. At current
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prices, total revenue projected for the 180-day period by lifting the remaining contract volumes is about $2.14 billion.
The reports notes that the overseers continued to advise and assist the Committee on the pricing mechanisms, contract approval and modifications, management of the 90-day revenue objective of $1.07 billion, and questions related to import and monitoring of each export of petroleum originating in Iraq. A total of 237 national oil purchasers had been nominated from 40 countries who are authorized to communicate directly with the overseers.
The report observes that the processing of contracts for supplying humanitarian goods to Iraq remains the priority for the Committee in the second 180-day period (Phase II). Humanitarian supplies to Iraq approved under resolution 986 (1995) (Phase I) continue to reach Iraq. Owing to the delayed start in the sales of petroleum after the adoption of resolution 1111 (1997), humanitarian supplies approved under Phase II started to arrive in Iraq on 2 November. The approval process of Phase II applications started on 11 September, when the first application was received by the Committee. Since then, Phase II has been running parallel to Phase I.
As at 1 December, the Committee has received 929 applications under Phase I, 65 of which have subsequently been cancelled, according to the report. Of the 854 circulated to Committee members for action, 778 have been approved, totalling approximately $1,218 million, and 31 have been placed on hold. Of the remaining 55, 45 have been blocked and 10 have not yet been circulated to Committee members because the Secretariat is still waiting either for needed information from the applicant States or the accumulation of sufficient funds. Under the 13 per cent account, a cumulative total of 303 applications had been submitted under Phase I as at 15 November, of which 290 had been approved, with 13 pending.
The report states that funds for exports to Iraq under resolution 1111 (1997) became available in the escrow account on 12 September. As at 1 December, the Committee had received 239 applications under Phase II, six of which have subsequently been cancelled. Of the 141 circulated to Committee members for action, 117 have been approved, totalling approximately $747.5 million, and seven have been placed on hold. One has been blocked and 16 are awaiting decisions of the Committee since the time limit within which the Committee is expected to decide has not elapsed. Ninety-two have not yet been circulated to Committee members because the Secretariat is still waiting for funds to become available or for required information from the applicant States. Under the 13 per cent account, 64 applications had been submitted under Phase II as at 15 November, and 51 of them had been approved.
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On matters relating to the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline, which runs through Turkey, the report says that on 25 September Turkey requested the Committee's approval for payments of the oil transportation fees due it during the first 90-day period of Iraq's oil exportation in Phase II. Subsequently, a transfer of the agreed pipeline fee totalling $46,285,616.44 was effected with Turkey as the beneficiary.
The Council also has before it a draft resolution (document S/1997/951*) which reads, as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous resolutions and in particular its resolutions 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, 1111 (1997) of 4 June 1997 and 1129 (1997) of 12 September 1997,
"Convinced of the need as a temporary measure to continue to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people until the fulfilment by Iraq of the relevant resolutions, including notably resolution 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, allows the Council to take further action with regard to the prohibitions referred to in resolution 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, in accordance with the provisions of those resolutions,
"Convinced also of the need for equitable distribution of humanitarian relief to all segments of the Iraqi population throughout the country,
"Welcoming the report submitted by the Secretary-General in accordance with paragraph 3 of resolution 1111 (1997) (S/1997/935) and his intention to submit a supplementary report, as well as the report submitted in accordance with paragraph 4 of resolution 1111 (1997) by the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990 (S/1997/942),
"Noting with concern that, despite the ongoing implementation of resolutions 986 (1995) and 1111 (1997), the population of Iraq continues to face a serious nutritional and health situation,
"Determined to avoid any further deterioration of the current humanitarian situation,
"Noting with appreciation the recommendation of the Secretary-General that the Council re-examine the adequacy of the revenues provided by resolution 986 (1995) and consider how best to meet the priority humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people, including the possibility of increasing those revenues,
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"Noting also with appreciation the Secretary-General's intention to include in his supplementary report recommendations on ways to improve the processing and supply of humanitarian goods under resolution 986 (1995),
"Welcoming the efforts made by the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) to refine and clarify its working procedures and encouraging the Committee to go further in that direction in order to expedite the approval process,
"Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
"1. Decides that the provisions of resolution 986 (1995), except those contained in paragraphs 4, 11 and 12, shall remain in force for another period of 180 days beginning at 00.01 hours, Eastern Standard Time, on 5 December 1997;
"2. Further decides that the provision of the distribution plan in respect of goods purchased in accordance with resolution 1111 (1997) shall continue to apply to foodstuffs, medicine and health supplies purchased in accordance with this resolution pending the Secretary-General's approval of a new distribution plan, to be submitted by the Government of Iraq before 5 January 1998;
"3. Further decides to conduct a thorough review of all aspects of the implementation of this resolution 90 days after the entry into force of paragraph 1 above and again prior to the end of the 180-day period, on receipt of the reports referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 below, and expresses its intention, prior to the end of the 180-day period, to consider favourably renewal of the provisions of this resolution, provided that the reports referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 below indicate that those provisions are being satisfactorily implemented;
"4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council 90 days after the date of entry into force of paragraph 1 above, and again prior to the end of the 180-day period, on the basis of observation by United Nations personnel in Iraq, and on the basis of consultations with the Government of Iraq, on whether Iraq has ensured the equitable distribution of medicine, health supplies, foodstuff, and materials and supplies for essential civilian needs, financed in accordance with paragraph 8 (a) of resolution 986 (1995), including in his reports any observations he may have on the adequacy of the revenues to meet Iraq's humanitarian needs, and on Iraq's capacity to export sufficient quantities of petroleum and petroleum products to produce the sum referred to in paragraph 1 of resolution 986 (1995);
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"5. Requests the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990), in close coordination with the Secretary-General, to report to the Council 90 days after the date of entry into force of paragraph 1 above and again prior to the end of the 180-day period on the implementation of the arrangements in paragraphs 1, 2, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of resolution 986 (1995);
"6. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to submit a supplementary report, and expresses its willingness, in the light of his recommendations, to find ways of improving the implementation of the humanitarian programme and to take such action over additional resources as needed to meet the priority humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people, as well as to consider an extension of the time frame for the implementation of this resolution;
"7. Requests the Secretary-General to submit his supplementary report to the Council no later than 30 January 1998;
"8. Stresses the need to ensure respect for the security and safety of all persons appointed by the Secretary-General for the implementation of this resolution in Iraq;
"9. Requests the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) to continue, in close coordination with the Secretary-General, to refine and clarify working procedures in order to expedite the approval process and to report to the Council no later than 30 January 1998;
"10. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
QIN HUASUN (China) said the purpose of implementation of "oil- for-food" resolutions was to ameliorate the dire humanitarian situation in Iraq. According to the Secretary-General's report, the humanitarian situation in Iraq was continuing to worsen and the Iraqi people faced problems in nutrition and health care. The quantity of oil sales allowed in resolutions 986 and 1111 was not enough to satisfy humanitarian needs in Iraq, and the slow approval process for humanitarian aid applications had been lagging behind the pace of oil exports. His Government urged the parties concerned to pay attention to those problems and adopt measures to solve them.
Since the current quantity of oil sales could not satisfy humanitarian needs in Iraq, the Security Council needed to increase the amount of oil exports from Iraq, he said. If revenue from oil exports could not be speedily transformed into humanitarian aid, no amount of oil would be enough to satisfy the humanitarian needs of Iraq. China would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
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NABIL ELARABY (Egypt) said the Secretary-General's report reflected and recorded the suffering of the Iraqi people due to the sanctions and the inefficiency of the procedure followed in the implementation of the "oil-for- food" programme. The financial resources from the sale of Iraqi oil were not sufficient to deal with the severe human crisis suffered by the people of Iraq. The accumulation of resources from oil sales in the escrow account was reportedly more than $300 million at a time when contracts for the purchase for humanitarian materials were scuttled as a result of the slow pace of the procedures. Those obstacles kept a balance from being struck between oil sales and the humanitarian needs of Iraqi people.
Egypt welcomed the Secretary-General's recommendations regarding the Security Council's review of the adequacy of financial resources provided for in resolutions 986 and 1111 and increasing income to meet humanitarian needs, he said. His Government also endorsed the recommendation concerning the Office of the Iraq Programme formulating recommendations that would ensure the provision of necessary goods at appropriate time and without obstacles. He also welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to provide the Council with a supplementary report at the earliest possible date in order to meet the ultimate objectives of resolution 986 and subsequent resolutions.
ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden) said the humanitarian situation in Iraq, described in unequivocal terms in the report of the Secretary-General, gave rise to serious concern. The population of Iraq, in particular children, continued to face a serious nutritional and health situation. There was an urgent need to contain the risk of further deterioration. Sweden fully supported the recommendation by the Secretary-General to extend the so-called "oil-for-food" mechanism established by resolution 986. That mechanism was an important instrument to help alleviating the prevailing plight of the Iraqi population.
Improvements of the mechanism could and should be made, he said. Sweden commended the initiative of the Secretary-General to conduct a thorough review of the programme and to submit a supplementary report in the beginning of 1998, containing his recommendations on ways to streamline the arrangements. Sweden supported and would actively contribute to all endeavours aiming at achieving a more targeted, focused and flexible approach to address the humanitarian situation in Iraq. An increase of the revenues through the sale of more oil, together with improvements of the implementation of the programme, could make the instrument more effective. Sweden would like the Council to be ready to consider favourably the recommendations of the Secretary-General to that effect.
At the same time, he said the humanitarian programme under resolution 986 could not alone satisfy all the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. The Government of Iraq carried a heavy responsibility towards its population. Allocation of national resources to meet humanitarian needs was, therefore, both essential and required. Sweden supported the draft resolution.
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PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said the humanitarian plight of the Iraqi people had been a source of continued concern, especially the serious nutritional and health problems. The "oil-for-food" programme should continue in an uninterrupted and smooth manner. Therefore, his Government supported the Secretary-General's recommendation to extend once again the relevant provisions of resolution 986 for another six months, and his suggestions to re-examine the adequacy of the revenues limits. He looked forward to his supplementary report in that regard.
He acknowledged with appreciation the efforts made by the Secretary- General, as well as the Sanctions Committee, thus far to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall implementation process of the programme. The Secretary-General had undertaken a number of measures to address problems identified through the workings of the three tiers of United Nations observation. In particular, he welcomed the recent initiative taken by the Secretary-General to establish the Office of the Iraq Programme and hoped the Office would play a catalytic role in taking stock of the past experiences gained through Phases I and II and moving the process ahead. He trusted in the leadership of the Secretary-General to guide the implementation of the "oil-for-food" programme towards ensuring its greater effectiveness, equitability and adequacy.
He said the Sanctions Committee had also continued to refine its working methods and procedures, and he expected the Committee to conduct a thorough review of all the aspects related to its work. Efforts to expedite delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population were vital, so that the humanitarian purpose of the "oil-for-food" programme could be fulfilled. He would vote in favour of the draft.
JOSE TADEU SOARES (Portugal) said the draft represented a step forward, a move fully supported by Portugal. The draft represented a decisive step by clearly stating the Council's commitment to fight further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Portugal fully supported the programme's extension and supported the increase in the amount of oil which could be sold.
However, he said, problems must be faced as a whole. Results in alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people must be achieved. The Council should look at the plight of the most vulnerable, particularly children. It was hoped that programmes would be created to mitigate such suffering. Solutions to produce rapid results in such areas were needed. The Secretary- General's initiatives to assist the Council in improving the effectiveness of the programme were welcome. As Chairman of the Sanctions Committee, he said all members of the Committee would work to expedite their work and ensure speedy delivery of humanitarian supplies to Iraq. At the same time the cooperation of the Iraqi Government was vital, he said.
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JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said the compromise text fully met the humanitarian concerns that inspired resolution 986 and rightly ensured that that resolution would remain in force. The "oil-for-food" programme was established to be complementary to the efforts carried out by the Government of Iraq to meet the needs of its population, and the responsibilities of the Government of Iraq were separate from those of the United Nations. That key aspect must be borne in mind when taking decisions on issues relating to resolution 986, including the amount provided for oil exports.
In seeking solutions to that issue, one must bear in mind that the Iraqi people were the end users of the "oil-for-food" programme, he said. His Government was concerned about the vulnerable groups in central and southern Iraq and, therefore, hailed the Secretary-General's efforts which resulted in the Iraqi Government guaranteeing to take care of humanitarian needs of those populations. Chile hoped that that pledge would be reflected in concrete actions. His Government supported the content of the draft resolution, particularly the sections regarding a mechanism to ensure that the "oil-for- food" programme would not be subject to interruptions for purely administrative reasons.
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said the draft resolution addressed the desperate humanitarian situation in that country. The "oil-for-food" programme, initiated in 1995 under Security Council resolution 986, sought and continued to seek to mitigate the negative effects of the sanctions regime on Iraq. In supporting that resolution, Kenya was acutely aware of the problems that continued to plague the implementation of the humanitarian programme in Iraq.
At the height of the recent tensions due to the standoff between Iraq and the United Nations, the attention of the international community had been drawn to the acute humanitarian situation which had caused immense suffering among innocent civilians in Iraq, he said. The diplomatic activities that followed added impetus for the Council to urgently address the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The Secretary-General and United Nations agencies involved in the implementation of the programme on the ground agreed that delivery and distribution of food and medicines in Iraq had progressed according to plan and that the Iraqi Government and local authorities had cooperated in that regard. The Secretary-General, while acknowledging the considerable improvements made in approval process under Phase II, was of the view that much remained to be done to ensure overall increase in the speed of implementation of the programme. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Sanctions Committee, its working methods remained cumbersome and time-consuming. The Chairman of that Committee had exerted immense effort to alleviate that problem.
It was, therefore, necessary to re-examine the whole process of implementation of resolution 986 and how it had faired, he said. Unfortunately, resolution 986 had created expectations that had become difficult, if not impossible, to meet. There had to be a genuine attempt to improve the
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humanitarian situation. There was need to adjust upwards the $2 billion worth of oil exports. The amount was inadequate to meet the humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi population. Out of $2 billion, only $1.23 billion had gone to the purchase of humanitarian goods. There must also be serious efforts by Iraq to provide a distribution plan as soon as possible in order to ensure a smooth transition from one phase to another. He hoped Iraq would cooperate in that regard.
He welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to undertake a systematic review of the whole process of contracting processing of applications, approvals, procurement, shipment and distribution. That should be conducted urgently and should address the above issues comprehensively. Kenya looked forward to the Secretary-General's supplementary report intended to address those issues by the end of January 1998. That report should look into all the problems, including the political and commercial ones, and avoid a piecemeal approach in response to the many concerns.
ZBIGNIEW M. WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said his Government was concerned that, despite the ongoing implementation of the humanitarian programme for almost 12 months, the people of Iraq continued to confront serious nutritional shortages and lack of adequate health care. Full normalization of the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi population would only be possible after Iraq had fulfilled its obligations under Security Council resolutions, thus allowing for the lifting of sanctions.
Nonetheless, the Council should ensure that the programme under resolution 986 effectively addressed the essential needs of the Iraqi people, he said. There was an urgent need to review, and possibly improve, the process of implementation of the programme in all its aspects, specifically re-examining the adequacy of the revenues, and consider the possibility of increasing them in accordance with the priority needs to be determined by the Secretary-General. The Council must now find ways to respond positively to all Secretary-General's recommendations on how best to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people by enhancing the efficiency and adequacy of the programme. Poland welcomed efforts by the Sanctions Committee to refine and clarify its working procedures. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said given the scope of the humanitarian disaster in Iraq, the extension of provisions under resolution 986 was not enough. His Government felt that it might be possible to broaden the current mechanisms and increase substantially the funds available. Some believed that the time had not come to improve resolution 986, but at least all members of the Council agreed to tackle the matter quickly in the next two months. There would be a thorough review and consideration of the proposals which would be made by the Secretary-General in the short time-frame.
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Regarding the procedures of the Sanctions Committee, he said it was unacceptable that only 15 per cent of contracts in Phase II had been improved. There had been some progress in the last few months, including the establishment of the Office of the Iraq Programme, and there had been a more rapid approval of contracts under Phase II than Phase I. Transparency must also be increased in financial matters, and the Secretariat staff must be increased. Also, procedures for authorization and supply of goods could be improved significantly. The increase in resources and oil income used for humanitarian aid was indispensable to increase food rations and the distribution of medicines and medical equipment and to repair infrastructure. The figure most often mentioned by humanitarian non-governmental organizations in Baghdad was $4 billion, double the current $2 billion. It was not tolerable that the Iraqi people continued to suffer.
ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) said the relationship between the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and Iraq had deteriorated in the past several weeks. Yet, today the Security Council had drawn a distinction between the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people. The Council had shown that it never intended to punish the Iraqi people but wanted to punish a government that had violated the United Nations Charter. By adopting resolution 986, the Council clearly indicated its awareness of the facts in Iraq, particularly that there were vulnerable segments that were suffering. The Secretary- General's report had shown that it was necessary for the Council, and the international community as a whole, to answer to the distress call from the people of Iraq, who were the victims of the unreasonable actions of some Member States of the United Nations.
Resolution 986 was not designed to resolve all problems of the Iraqi people, and it was the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to contribute to the development of the country and the well-being of its people, he said. In the resolution, the Council acknowledged that there had been shortcomings and that improvements could be made. His Government welcomed the Council's recognition of its duty not to remain indifferent to the suffering of the Iraqi people, and it would spare no effort to improve the mechanisms of the "oil-for-food" programme so it could respond quickly to the pressing needs of the Iraqi people, who needed the humanitarian aid that was being dispatched to them. The methods of work of the Sanctions Committee should be improved. His Government hoped that when the plan was adopted and when the Secretary-General submitted his supplementary report, the Council would be true to itself and respond to the urgent humanitarian problem in Iraq.
MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) said he was concerned about the continued serious nutritional and health situations being faced by the Iraqi population. Japan supported efforts to improve the efficiency of the "oil-for-food" programme so that the needs of the Iraqi people could be better met.
He noted the Secretary-General's suggestion that the limit on the sale of Iraqi oil be re-examined with the view of raising that limit. Japan was
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ready to favourably consider that proposal, based on the supplementary report to be presented by the Secretary-General and in view of the priority needs of the Iraqi people. Japan would support the draft now before the Council.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his Government was deeply concerned by the scale of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The Secretary-General's report contained a clear and broad picture of that crisis. In addressing reasons for the low supply of humanitarian goods, attention must be paid to the blocking of contracts in by some members of the Sanctions Committee. That kind of obstruction led to months of delays and the destabilization of the provision of basic medical supplies. A lot of purchased goods had still not arrived in Iraq. In addition, it was unthinkable to address food and health problems without taking into account the dire situation of Iraq's electricity and water systems. For those reasons, the Russian Federation fully supported the comprehensive approach reflected in the Secretary-General's report regarding increasing oil export revenues to reach humanitarian goals.
He said the Security Council's decision today was an interim measure and a prelude to a comprehensive review of the main issues of the "oil-for-food" programme, which would take place in the context of the Secretary-General's supplementary report. His Government believed that oil exports must be increased to a minimum of $4 billion per six-month period. The current $1 billion limit was artificial and outdated and should be abolished. Yet, any increase would be meaningless if an end was not put to the practice of blocking contracts in the Sanctions Committee. The Russian Federation would have preferred that the draft resolution be stronger and that the other ideas expressed by many delegations be reflected in it, but it was still a step forward and met the needs of continuation of the humanitarian programme.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said the Council today had once again acted with dispatch to address the pressing humanitarian needs of those most in need in Iraq. In his report to the Council, the Secretary-General had identified ongoing problems and concerns attending the implementation of the "986 programme". He had noted the serious nutritional and health situation affecting the most vulnerable groups in Iraq; the sometimes slow pace of delivery of humanitarian goods to Iraq; and difficulties with their distribution once those goods arrived in the country.
The Council had taken those problems very seriously, he said. The Council believed those must be addressed on an urgent basis. Therefore, the United States welcomed the commitment of the Secretary-General to prepare a thorough and systematic study of the entire "986 process". That study would be an immeasurable help to the Council. The United States was willing, in light of the recommendations of the Secretary-General, not only to find ways to improve the programme, but also to consider additional resources which might be needed to meet the priority humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq.
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The Council had acted with dispatch to address the humanitarian concerns of the Iraqi people, he said, adding that Iraq should now do the same. Iraq should stop playing politics with "986 contracts". Iraq should stop submitting contracts which failed to meet the prima facie criteria and procedures that Iraq had agreed to, and in some cases insisted upon, with the United Nations Secretariat. Iraq should end its threats -- made as recently as late last week -- to cease cooperation with the United Nations on that programme unless its excessive demands for change were met.
The Government of Iraq should restore food rations for each Iraqi citizen that had been cut by the Government even as more food was flowing into the country, he continued. And Iraq should never again unilaterally and inexplicably interrupt the sales of oil that the Council had authorized to help feed the Iraqi people. He pointed out that operative paragraph 2 of the draft resolution specifically stated "that the provisions of the distribution plan in respect to goods purchased in accordance with resolution 1111 (1997) shall continue to apply to food and medicines purchased in accordance with the resolution pending the Secretary-General's approval of a new distribution plan".
The United States was including that language so that, despite the fact that Iraq had not submitted a distribution plan on time, the flow of food and medicine to Iraqi people would not be interrupted, he continued. The United States called upon the Iraqi leadership to demonstrate as much compassion for the Iraqi people as the Council had by adopting resolutions 986, 1111 and 1129 (1997) and would demonstrate once again by adopting the resolution today.
It should now be clear to all where genuine concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people resided, he said. That concern had been unshaken by the determined efforts of the Iraqi Government to undercut the Security Council and its resolutions at every turn. The United States would continue to support the humanitarian programme because it remained the right thing to do.
The Council then unanimously adopted the draft as resolution 1143 (1997).
STEPHEN GOMERSALL (United Kingdom) said the Council had voted unanimously to continue its work to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people by extending the "oil-for-food" programme for a further six months. The United Kingdom deplored the fact that the Iraqi regime had chosen to let that suffering continue. It could be swiftly ended if Iraq complied with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
Although the Government of Iraq might be indifferent to the plight of the Iraqi people, the resolution demonstrated that the international community was not, he said. As one of the drafters and co-sponsor of resolution 986, the United Kingdom attached great importance to the success of the programme,
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as a temporary measure. The Secretary-General's report highlighted why the "oil-for-food" programme must continue. Reports that 31 per cent of Iraqi children under the age of five were chronically malnourished were alarming.
The Government of Iraq had an essential role for which it should be held accountable, he said. It must produce the distribution plan on time and it must demonstrate its own efforts to give priority to feeding its people. The purpose of the resolution was not to substitute for the efforts of the Government of Iraq or to provide them with the luxury of building palaces. The Secretary-General's team could put those points clearly to the Government of Iraq so the Council maintained the credibility and purpose of the programme.
The United Kingdom urged the Government of Iraq not to delay exports of oil under the resolution, as it had last summer, he said. The Council had made provisions to roll over the present distribution plan to compensate for the fact that Iraq had not submitted a new distribution plan in good time. As was clear from the Secretary-General's report, any delay in oil sales would only result in further delays in the arrival of humanitarian goods. He hoped Baghdad would not again neglect the welfare of its own people in that manner.
The temporary mechanism and the suffering of the Iraqi people would be unnecessary were it not for Iraq's constant evasion over the last six years of its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions. The Council had made clear both its determination to achieve Iraq's full compliance with those resolutions and the benefits which would follow from compliance. The United Kingdom hoped the message was being received by the Iraqi people and would be acted on by the Iraqi Government.
FERNANDO BERROCAL SOTO (Costa Rica) said his Government supported the extension of the "oil-for-food" programme for 180 days. Thus, his Government had supported the resolution before the Council today. The purpose of the humanitarian programme was to ease the suffering of the Iraqi population.
The sanctions alone were not the cause of the difficult situation faced by the people of Iraq, he said. Both political and military authorities in Iraq were largely responsible for the sanctions and thus their negative impact. Those same Iraqi officials were clearly aware that the sanctions regime constituted a legal means of collective action by the international community.
The Council must now be guided by humanitarian considerations in view of the grave situation in Iraq, he said. He welcomed the intention of the Council to review the adequacy of the amount of oil sold or if an increase in that amount was needed. While the adoption to today's resolution represented an important step, both the Secretariat and the Sanctions Committee must redouble efforts to improve the effectiveness of the humanitarian programme. He welcomed the unanimous support given by the Council to the resolution, which was largely a humanitarian resolution.
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