Security Council approves interim arrangements, UN role in Iraq, lifts sanctions

22 May 2003 – The United Nations Security Council today adopted a new resolution on Iraq granting wide interim governing powers to the United States and its coalition partners, including a role for a UN Special Representative working with this provisional authority, and lifting sanctions imposed almost 13 years ago following the invasion of Kuwait.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the US, United Kingdom and Spain, also allows for full resumption of oil sales in order to restore economic activity for reconstruction, sets up a government infrastructure under the new US-controlled Authority, and calls on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a Special Representative.

Its adoption, by 14 votes to 0, with Syria not participating, contrasted with the deep divisions among the 15-member body in the run-up to the US-led war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Then, the same three co-sponsors decided not to submit to a vote a draft resolution effectively allowing the use of force in the face of a threatened veto, and possible failure even to muster the nine votes required for passage.

Today's resolution includes among the UN Special Representative's duties "working intensively with the Authority, the people of Iraq, and others concerned to advance efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance, including by working together to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq."

Mr. Annan is also to appoint a representative to an International Advisory and Monitoring Board which will audit a Development Fund for Iraq, a trust fund into which oil and other revenues will be paid, to be disbursed at the discretion of the provisional Authority for humanitarian and economic reconstruction and other costs.

No specific time limit is imposed on the Authority and its concomitant arrangements other than that they will continue until an “internationally recognized, representative [Iraqi] government” has been established to succeed the Authority.

Mr. Annan said earlier this week he would move "very quickly" to appoint the Special Representative as soon as the Council passed the resolution and that the envoy would take up the job as soon as was practicable.

The text also allows for a Council review in 12 months time in answer to demands by some members that there should be a new vote after a year. The new clause does not call for a new vote but states: "[the Council] decides to review the implementation of this resolution within twelve months of adoption and to consider further steps that might be necessary."

On the issue of weapons inspections, the Council underlined its intention "to revisit the mandates of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

In addition, the resolution extends for another six months Mr. Annan’s authority to run the UN Oil-for-Food programme, under which Baghdad was allowed to use oil sales to buy the food and humanitarian supplies on which 60 per cent of Iraqis depended as their sole source of sustenance, before finally terminating it.

The extension allows the Secretary-General to prioritize shipments for billions of dollars of already signed contracts in the humanitarian pipeline before handing all remaining activities of the programme to the provisional Authority.

The Executive Director of the Oil-for-Food programme, Benon Sevan, welcomed the adoption of resolution 1483, saying that the lifting of sanctions represented long-awaited relief for the Iraqi people.

“Iraq is blessed with natural and human resources, not the least of those being oil and a well-educated and extraordinarily resilient population and an extremely competent cadre of industrial managers and experts capable of driving the economy forward,” he said in a statement released late Thursday afternoon. “If peace and security prevail, their formidable capacity and ingenuity will be unshackled by today’s resolution.”

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