H.E Dr. Mohammed Mahdy Saleh
In The Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful
It is a great honor for me to represent the Government of the Republic of Iraq at this Conference. Allow me, Sir, to start my statement by thanking the government and people of Mexico for their warm hospitality and for the excellent preparations for this important event.
I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. President, upon your election as president of this conference. I am fully confident that your wise leadership and rich experience will guarantee its success.
The delegation of Iraq attaches importance to the outcome of this conference especially that it is being held at the beginning of the new millennium and at a time when the international economic order is facing new changes and undergoing extremely important transformations. This fact places on us, our countries' representatives at this conference, a major responsibility for formulating effective strategies for international development cooperation.
The signs of instability in the world economy and other negative factors such as the deterioration of the terms of trade, the fluctuations in the prices of commodities, the decline in Official Development Assistance, and the widening gap between Developed and Developing countries are all a cause of concern for our developing countries.
The Monterrey Consensus has defined the challenges facing our countries. Paragraph 1 of the section "Confronting the challenges of financing for development" states that our goal is to eradicate poverty, achieve sustained economic growth and promote sustainable development. The section on mobilizing financial resources refers to the need to establish the international and national economic conditions necessary for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. This was precisely what Iraq had endeavored to do before the imposition of the unjust embargo on it.
Iraq used to be an important driving force of international economic relations. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. It is expected to have the largest such reserves among oil producing countries. Iraq was among the first oil producing countries to provide oil to developing countries at preferential prices to help them finance their development. Iraq also played a recognized role through its clear and committed approach to the pricing of oil in a way that ensures the stability of the international economic situation. In the mid 1970's, H.E President Saddam Hussein of Iraq was the first to call for the price of oil to be acceptable to both producers and consumers and to serve the economic interests of both parties alike.
I believe it is appropriate to reiterate the proposal of H.E. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq for the establishment of a long-term global fund to assist developing countries. The industrialized developed countries, irrespective of the nature of their political and economic systems, and the oil-exporting developing countries should contribute to that proposed fund.
In our opinion, this proposal offers a practical solution to some of the fundamental problems of financing development and to the problems of developing the economies of developing countries, particularly the LDC's. It constitutes an important endeavor to address the economic challenges facing developing countries.
In the seventies and the eighties, prior to the imposition of the unjust embargo on it, Iraq had been promoting the financing of development in many poor developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It did so through the provision of grants and concessional loans without any political or economic preconditions. In providing such grants and loans, Iraq's aim was to contribute effectively to the financing of the development of the economies of those countries and to the building of their capacity in the fields of infrastructure, financial resources and the creation of economic projects. Iraq also provided expertise to strengthen such projects. The number of loans provided by Iraq to developing countries was 42 concessional loans to the tune of more than $1.7 billion.
Iraq also contributed to the financing of the development of the financial resources of developing countries through its contributions to the capital of 102 regional and international financial institutions. Those contributions exceeded $1.25 Billion.
During the same period, Iraq made an effective contribution to the encouragement of investment through its cash deposits of more than $4 Billion in the banks of sisterly and friendly countries. In making those deposits, Iraq's aim was to see them invested in the development of the social and economic infrastructure of those countries. Iraq also provided relief assistance to many countries afflicted by disasters.
Paragraph 32 of the Draft Monterrey Consensus commits our countries to enhancing the role of regional and sub-regional agreements. In this regard, we must recall the proposal of H.E. President Saddam Hussein of the Republic of Iraq to establish an institutional grouping of the states of the East. It would provide a framework for cooperation in economic and political fields.
In August 1987 Iraq and the USA signed a bilateral agreement on the development of economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation. The Iraq-Iran war ended in August 1988. Iraq emerged from it economically and industrially strong. However, a month later in September 1988, the US Congress adopted a resolution to impose economic sanctions on Iraq by its act number 2763.
In view of its abundant natural resources and of having a political leadership capable of taking it to advanced stages of development to join the ranks of developed countries, Iraq had started to make huge strides forward. Facts prove that the real objective of the imposition of sanctions on Iraq is to destroy its ability to achieve socioeconomic development and progress.
In the seventies and the eighties, Iraq witnessed rapid progress in the rates of growth and socio-economic development. The second panel established by the note of the President of the Security Council (S/1999/100) dated 30 January 1999 reflected that progress in its report on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. It stated that "The economic and social indicators in Iraq were generally higher than those achieved by other developing and neighboring countries. The GDP in 1989 was $75.5 billion for a population of 18.3 million. The average rate of growth of the GDP was 10.4% for the period 1974-1980.
According to FAO, during that period Iraq had the highest indicator of per capita food availability in the region. The average daily calorie in-take per capita was 3120 calories. According to WHO, before 1999 health care coverage had reached 97% of the urban population and 78% of the rural population. UNICEF stated that, from the mid 1970's until 1991, the Government of Iraq had invested large sums of money in the education sector. Central and Southern Iraq had a highly developed water and sewage systems. WHO estimated that 90% of the population had access to large quantities of safe drinking water.
The Draft Monterrey Consensus refers to international trade as an engine for development in view of the fact that it is the single most important external source of development financing. In this regard, we must remind the participants in this Conference of the unprecedented, unjust embargo that has been imposed on my country, Iraq for more than 11 years. Not only has that embargo deprived the people of Iraq of the opportunity to finance their development, it has also deprived many countries, with whom Iraq had wide economic relations, of similar opportunities. Since the imposition of the unjust embargo until now, Iraq's losses in oil revenues are estimated at 200 billion dollars. This sum could have been used for the socio-economic development of the people of Iraq. It could have also been used to develop international trade and hence finance the development of other countries.
The Thirty-State aggression of 1991, in addition to the continued daily aggression of the US and British warplanes in the so-called "no-fly zones", imposed without a Security Council mandate and in contravention of international law, have destroyed development projects and infrastructures worth more than 200 billion dollars created by the government for its citizens before the embargo.
The embargo has also deprived the people of Iraq of their most basic human rights. It has caused a sharp decline in their annual income. The per capita income used to be more than 4000 dollars per annum. It has declined to less than 150 dollars. In addition the rates of inflation and unemployment are on the rise.
The government has been providing food and medicine and other basic necessities at token prices subsidized by it. By its own efforts and resources, the government has rebuilt what was destroyed by the military aggression. Had it not been for that, the people of Iraq would have faced circumstances much more difficult than the ones they have lived under since the embargo.
The Oil for Food Program has turned into a program to finance compensations, to cover the expenses of the UN and to stabilize oil prices rather than a program to provide for the needs of the people of Iraq. Iraq exported oil worth more than 52 billion dollars. The Un deducted 18 billion for its own expenses and for compensations while Iraq received 17 billion that is to say 10 dollars per person monthly. The remaining amounts are mostly contracts put on hold by the US and Britain. Iraq was prevented from financing its development through the program.
The continued imposition of this unjust embargo runs counter to the leading actions proposed in the Draft Monterrey Consensus particularly those pertaining to the eradication of poverty and the achievement of sustained economic growth. The embargo has caused a marked deterioration in the social situation. It has killed more than one and a half million Iraqis. Development, which is one of the most basic rights of any country in the world, has been set back by it. This makes it incumbent upon the countries participating in this Conference to support the efforts aimed at lifting that embargo. Thus, Iraq will be able to play its role in the development of its people with its own resources. It will also be able to contribute to the financing of the development of other countries as it had always done before the imposition of the embargo.
We also call for the lifting of the blockade imposed on the peoples of Palestine, Libya, Sudan and Cuba. We call for an end to be put to the use of embargoes and blockades as a means to punish developing countries and their peoples. No such blockade has ever been imposed on a developed country up to this day.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Statements at the Conference