SECURITY COUNCIL INCREASES IRAQ'S OIL EXPORTS TO $5.256 BILLION UNDER 'OIL-FOR-FOOD' PROGRAMME FOR NEW 180-DAY PERIOD19980220
Determined to avoid a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the Security Council this afternoon decided to permit the import of up to $5.256 billion in Iraqi oil and oil products -- up from the previous $2 billion -- for a new 180-day period under the "oil-for food" resolution 986 (1995).
Unanimously adopting resolution 1153 (1998), the Council decided that the extension of the "oil-for-food" programme would take effect at 00.01 hours, Eastern Standard Time, on the day after the Council was informed that the Secretary-General had approved the distribution plan submitted by the Government of Iraq, which is to include a description of the goods to be purchased and effectively guarantees their equitable distribution.
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council also decided that the amounts recommended by the Secretary-General for food/nutrition and health sectors shall be allocated on a priority basis. In his report to the Council of 1 February, the Secretary-General recommended allocations of about $1.534 billion for food/nutrition and about $776 million for the health sector.
Also by the resolution, between $682 million and $788 million should be used for goods for the northern governorates of Dihouk, Arbil and Suleimaniyeh, to ensure equitable distribution of humanitarian goods to all segments of the Iraqi population.
The resolution goes on to state that, should the revenue from the sale be less than $5.256 billion, particular attention would be paid to meeting the urgent humanitarian needs in the food/nutrition and health sectors, and the Secretary-General might provide a proportionately smaller amount for the three governorates.
The Council asked the Secretary-General to take the actions necessary to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the present resolution and, in particular, to enhance the United Nations observation process in Iraq, so as to provide the required assurance to the Council of the equitable
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distribution of the goods produced in accordance with the resolution. He was also to ensure that all supplies to be procured, including dual-usage items and spare parts, were utilized for the authorized purpose.
The Council further asked the Secretary-General to report to it in 90 days after the start of the renewal period, and again prior to its end in 180 days on whether Iraq had ensured the equitable distribution of medicine, health supplies, foodstuffs and materials and supplies for essential civilian needs, financed from revenues accruing from the Iraqi oil sales. His reports should include observations on the adequacy of the revenues to meet Iraq's humanitarian needs and on its capacity to export $5.256 billion worth of petroleum and petroleum products.
The Security Council Committee, established under its resolution 661 (1990), was also asked to report to the Council at the same intervals on the implementation of the oil sales arrangements outlined in resolution 986 (1995). The Committee was further asked to report to the Council by 31 March 1998 on measures taken to refine its working procedures.
The Council 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, and expressed its intention to consider favourably its renewal based on the reports of the Secretary-General and of its sanctions Committee.
In his communication to the Security Council (document S/1998/125), the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and Acting Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, said Iraq's operational capacity was such that it could export a maximum of $4 billion worth of petroleum. He asserted that any higher target was unrealistic and unfeasible. The insistence on putting forward figures in excess of Iraq's capacities did nothing but complicate the situation, he added.
Statements this afternoon were made by representatives of Japan, France, Brazil, Russian Federation, Portugal, Kenya, Sweden, China, Slovenia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, United States, Gambia, United Kingdom and Gabon.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:16 p.m., was adjourned at 4:32 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. A report of the Secretary-General (document S/1998/90) before it recommends expanding the programme of humanitarian assistance to that country, known as the "oil-for-food" programme. Should the Council approve his recommendation, the cost of the humanitarian programme would increase to $3.55 billion from the current $1.364 billion. Consequently, and taking into account, among others, the amount required for the Compensation Fund, the Secretary-General recommends that Iraq be allowed to increase its oil revenues from $2 billion over six months to $5.2 billion for the same period.
The programme, established by the Council in April 1995, by its resolution 986 (1995), allows Iraq to sell oil to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. The expanded amount, he writes, is needed to meet the priority humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people. Written in response to a Council request (resolution 1143 of 4 December 1997), and based on a comprehensive review of the entire oil-for-food programme and process, the report recommends enlarging the food basket, enhancing health services and domestic agricultural production, and refurbishing domestic humanitarian infrastructure.
The Iraqi Government has not agreed to a new ceiling for oil sales, or to any of the allocations within the proposed distribution plan, according to the report. Should the Council approve the increase, therefore, discussions between the United Nations and the Government would be necessary, as would a precise determination of Iraq's capacity to produce and export oil. The Secretary-General invites the Government of Iraq to discuss its envisaged strategy to redress the serious nutritional situation. With respect to the other sectors where projects, though urgent, are not tied to regular distribution in the same way as the food and nutrition sector, he invites the Government to present an implementation time-frame indicating priorities.
The Secretary-General's programme recommendations aim to increase the average daily caloric intake per person from 2,030 to 2,463 kilo-calories and 47 grams of protein to 63.6 grams. This would represent a 21 per cent increase in energy and a 35 per cent increase in proteins.
Also, the Secretary-General recommends measures to prevent severe to moderate malnutrition in young children, including support to community childcare units, nutritional rehabilitation centres and primary health centres. Supplementary food would be provided for a minimum target population of 1.9 million, comprised of chronically malnourished children under five years of age, pregnant or lactating women, internally displaced persons, returnees and hospital in-patients. The additional allocations in the food sector would bring the total to some $1.5 billion.
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By the Secretary-General's proposed plan, much of the total allocation for health (almost $777 million) would go towards rehabilitating the country's health infrastructure. That effort would entail a one-time expense of almost $450 million. The refurbishing would involve work on water and power supplies, as well as sanitation and waste disposal.
Another priority for structural rehabilitation is the electricity sector, due to the scope of that sector's problems, as well as the attendant humanitarian implications of electrical shortages, according to the report. The electricity sector is currently operating at 40 per cent of its original capacity. The Secretary-General has requested the Government of Iraq to identify priorities in the electrical sector in central and southern Iraq and present a programme to the Council for funding upon completion of the evaluation. In the three northern governorates, he charged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as a matter of urgency, with identifying priority measures and their cost. Following that evaluation, and in consultation with the Government of Iraq, he intends to return to the Council with proposals for appropriate funding.
Regarding the three northern governorates, the Secretary-General calls for attention to resettling internally displaced persons, improving sanitation and the availability of drinking water. He suggests a poultry production programme to increase protein availability. Proposals also address mine clearance, the need for additional educational material, and redressing deforestation to preserve soil and to prevent the silting up of hydroelectric and irrigation systems.
In his recommendations to improve the oil-for-food process, the Secretary- General states that a single, ongoing distribution plan, kept under review and amended as necessary, would help minimize processing, administrative and operational difficulties. He recommends that the Government of Iraq formulate a distribution plan indicating priorities, required delivery dates, preferred points of entry and targeted objectives. The current distribution plan and annexes provide only a code for each commodity and the quantity required.
Applications should be presented to the Security Council Committee -- established under resolution 661 (1990) to monitor the implementation of sanctions against Iraq -- on a priority basis, instead of the "first-come, first-served" order currently in effect, he writes. Such an improvement would bring an overall focus and strategy to the procurement of humanitarian supplies.
The report also indicates some of the Secretary-General's directives to the Office for the Iraq Programme, to increase its overall efficiency. The Office is to process within two business days, in advance of funds, all applications that are consistent with the approved distribution plan and in compliance with the procedures of the Security Council Committee. Once approved, the letters would be released by the Secretariat after confirmation by the Controller that sufficient funds are available.
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The Office will provide the Security Council Committee with information on interrelated and time-sensitive applications, potential dual-usage items and other relevant matters. It will serve as a focal point for activities related to distribution, revenue generation and allocation, procurement, delivery, and monitoring. Also, it will establish an integrated information system on each application's progress from contracting through distribution and on the implementation of the programme, exercising caution in relation to proprietary commercial information.
Other imperatives of the Office will be to enhance the capacity of the independent inspection agents to authenticate and provide quality control of the commodity flows; ensure that they report to the Office of the Iraq Programme and to the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq the authentication of the arrival of supplies within 24 hours; and enhance their capacity to perform quality tests within the shortest period technically possible, inside Iraq.
He also directed the United Nations Treasurer, in consultation with concerned parties, to address the difficulties experienced under the current banking arrangements. He urges the Iraqi Government to send a senior representative of the Central Bank of Iraq to facilitate banking arrangements. Also, he urges the Government to sell oil at a steady rate throughout the period authorized by the Council, in order to assure financial predictability, confidence and stability, which are fundamental to the efficient implementation of the programme.
In terms of the Security Council Committee, he suggests measures to expedite the approval process. These include the following:
-- Using required delivery dates as a means of prioritizing the consideration of applications;
-- Reviewing annexes to the distribution plan(s) at the outset in order to identify items which could be subject to "holds" and those on which further information and end-use verification are likely to be required;
-- Considering and approving applications in advance of the availability of funds in the United Nations Iraq Account, on the understanding that approval letters will be released by the Secretariat only after confirmation by the Controller that sufficient funds are available in the account;
-- Imposing a 24-hour deadline for written explanations for items placed on hold, to enable the applicants to provide any additional information required; and
-- Delegating approval authority to the Secretariat for items such as food and routine medicine and health supplies.
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The Council had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of Iraq transmitting a letter from Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (document S/1998/125), explaining Iraq's position concerning the discussions now being held in the Security Council on the next phase of the "oil-for-food" plan.
That letter states that when Iraq undertook to implement the "oil-for- food" plan, it fully relied on the legal bases of the plan, namely, Security Council resolution 986 (1995) and the Memorandum of Understanding concluded between Iraq and the Secretariat of the United Nations (document S/1996/356). Throughout the preceding phase, Iraq dealt with the United Nations Secretariat on the basis of those two texts, observing all the legal provisions contained therein. Therefore, the letter states, Iraq does not believe it is required to comply with provisions which do not fall within that legal framework or run counter to those texts and, therefore, cannot accept a formula which is intended to make the Distribution Plan permanent and continuous. Arrangement provided in the Memorandum is an exceptional and temporary measure, it adds.
The letter also states that the distribution of additional supplies resulting from increased quantities of petroleum sold is the responsibility of the Iraqi Government and not of a third party -- the procedure followed in the preceding phases of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding. In addition to contradicting the provisions of that Memorandum and of Council resolution 986, the letter states that proposal to entrust the distribution of additional supplies to a third party is devoid of all objectivity. Its sole purpose is to serve political interests which have nothing to do with the humanitarian objectives underlying the "oil-for-food" plan.
With regard to the anticipated petroleum exports to generate the supplementary resources needed to finance the plan, the letter states that Iraq's operational capacity is such that it can export a maximum of $4 billion worth of petroleum, and asserts that any higher target is unrealistic and unfeasible. The insistence on putting forward figures in excess of Iraq's capacities does nothing but complicate the situation.
The letter also states that Iraq reaffirms that the pumping of petroleum is to begin on the day when the Secretary-General informs the Security Council that he has approved the Distribution Plan, as was the case in the two preceding phases.
It is clear, the letter states, that Iraq is fully cooperating in the implementation of the provisions of the "oil-for-food" plan, as can be seen in the various reports prepared by the Secretariat on the matter. The use of tenditious political language in referring to Iraq, which reveals the political objectives of certain parties, will not be accepted by the Iraqi Government.
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The letter further states that, in the hope that the Security Council will adopt a resolution that considers the views of the Iraqi Government, the Secretary General's proposal that Iraq and the Secretariat should hold technical discussions was welcome. For practical and technical reasons, it was hoped that these discussions could be held in Baghdad.
Also before the Council is the report of the Chairman of the Security Council established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait (document S/1998/92), submitted pursuant to resolution 1143 (1997), which contains measures to refine and clarify its working procedures to accelerate the approval process of applications to send humanitarian supplies to Iraq.
Under the heading, "general suggestions", the Committee decided that orientation sessions for all States and interested international organizations should continue to be organized by the Secretariat. The Secretariat will continue to prepare and circulate to Committee members weekly reports on the status of applications (status list). The required delivery date of goods that are time-sensitive (harvest season, new school year, etc.) should be clearly stated in the applications.
Regarding measures concerning the processing and approval of applications, the report states that the Secretariat will continue processing applications on a first-come, first-served basis, unless the Commitee decides otherwise on a case-by-case basis. The same criteria apply to all applications on the question as to whether they meet the Committee's requirements for circulation. The Secretariat should complete the processing of all applications submitted under the oil-for-food programme within two business days after they are received, provided that all relevant documents are enclosed and in order.
Applications could be prioritized, and a list of priorities should be drawn based on the following: the current needs in the distribution plan; the interrelated aspects of applications; and the expected date of delivery of the supplies. Consideration should be given to the special humanitarian needs of children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, the elderly, displaced persons, the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities, and to the development of urgent basic projects, including drinking water, hospital equipment, and items that have a positive impact on the distribution process. Such priorities should be established by the Committee, in coordination with the Iraq Programme, following consultations with relevant United Nations agencies and the Iraqi authorities.
According to the report, applications that are found to be inconsistent with the approved distribution plan and its amendments will not be circulated until the distribution plan is amended as necessary. The Secretariat will continue to advise the Government of Iraq on such cases as they occur, so that the latter may submit amendments to the distribution plan. Once the amendments
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are approved by the Secretary-General, they will be regarded as an integral part of the approved distribution plan.
The Committee states that it will also consider applications on a project basis. Applications for the same project could be kept together during the screening and approval process, so that the full range of applications would serve as an explanatory background to a specific application. Experts within the Secretariat could, together with the Iraqi authorities, be given the task of exploring ways of grouping contracts together.
Applications will be screened and reviewed by the Secretariat immediately upon receipt, without regard to the actual existence of funds, the report says. The Secretariat should circulate all applications that meet the requirements of the Committee's procedures and are consistent with the distribution plan.
Funds allocated to applications that have been blocked will immediately be freed and used for processing further applications, the report says. Funds allocated to applications that have been placed on hold will be freed five working days after the date of the no-objection deadline and used for processing further applications. If holds are removed, or if blocked contracts are reinstated, the applications concerned will have immediate priority for the allocation of funds. When an application is put on hold or blocked, a written notification, including a detailed explanation, should be issued within 24 hours by the Secretariat to the relevant permanent mission. Those explanations should be reviewed by the Committee periodically in order to ascertain if any action could be taken to prevent similar situations.
The Committee also considered positively a number of other proposals, which it believed would be of use to the Secretary-General in his review of the programme under resolution 986 (1995). Those proposals included the following: encouraging Member States to present applications to the Committee as soon as contracts are concluded; requesting the Iraqi authorities to inform the Office of the Iraq Programme as soon as contracts are signed; appointing a help officer in the Secretariat to help permanent missions in preparing and submitting applications; and inviting the Government of Iraq to designate a senior banking official to undertake liaison with the Secretariat on all banking matters relating to the United Nations Iraq Account under the auspices of resolution 986 (1995).
According to the report, the Committee will continue to review its working procedures in the light of the implementation of the measures suggested, as well as to consider further means to improve the efficiency of the implementation of resolution 986 (1995) and subsequent resolutions related to it. The Committee will determine within 60 days the conditions under which it will delegate to the Secretariat the authority to approve, on behalf of the Committee, contracts concerning foodstuffs. The Committee will continue its work regarding the approval of medical contracts.
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The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/136), the text of which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous relevant resolutions and in particular its resolutions 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, 1111 (1997) of 4 June 1997, 1129 (1997) of 12 September 1997 and 1143 (1997) of 4 December 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, and emphasizing the temporary nature of the distribution plan envisaged by this resolution,
"Convinced also of the need for equitable distribution of humanitarian supplies to all segments of the Iraqi population throughout the country,
"Welcoming the report submitted on 1 February 1998 by the Secretary- General in accordance with paragraph 7 of resolution 1143 (1997) (S/1998/90) and his recommendations, as well as the report submitted on 30 January 1998 in accordance with paragraph 9 of resolution 1143 (1997) by the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990 (S/1998/92),
"Noting that the Government of Iraq did not cooperate fully in the preparation of the report of the Secretary-General,
"Noting with concern that, despite the ongoing implementation of resolutions 986 (1995), 1111 (1997) and 1143 (1997), the population of Iraq continues to face a very serious nutritional and health situation,
"Determined to avoid any further deterioration of the current humanitarian situation,
"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 a new period of 180 days beginning at 00.01 hours, Eastern Standard Time, on the day after the President of the Council has informed the members of the Council that he
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has received the report of the Secretary-General requested in paragraph 5 below, on which date the provisions of resolution 1143 (1997), if still in force, shall terminate, except as regards sums already produced pursuant to that resolution prior to that date;
"2. Decides further that the authorization given to States by paragraph 1 of resolution 986 (1995) shall permit the import of petroleum and petroleum products originating in Iraq, including financial and other essential transactions directly relating thereto, sufficient to produce a sum, in the 180-day period referred to in paragraph 1 above, not exceeding a total of 5.256 billion United States dollars, of which the amounts recommended by the Secretary-General for the food/nutrition and health sectors should be allocated on a priority basis, and of which between 682 million United States dollars and 788 million United States dollars shall be used for the purpose referred to in paragraph 8 (b) of resolution 986 (1995), except that if less than 5.256 billion United States dollars worth of petroleum or petroleum products is sold during the 180 days period, particular attention will be paid to meeting the urgent humanitarian needs in the food/nutrition and health sectors and the Secretary-General may provide a proportionately smaller amount for the purpose referred to in paragraph 8 (b) of resolution 986 (1995);
"3. Directs the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) to authorize, on the basis of specific requests, reasonable expenses related to the Hajj pilgrimage, to be met by funds in the escrow account;
"4. Requests the Secretary-General to take the actions necessary to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of this resolution, and in particular to enhance the United Nations observation process in Iraq in such a way as to provide the required assurance to the Council of the equitable distribution of the goods produced in accordance with this resolution, and that all supplies authorized for procurement, including dual-usage items and spare parts, are utilized for the purpose for which they have been authorized;
"5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council when he has entered into any necessary arrangements or agreements, and approved a distribution plan, submitted by the Government of Iraq, which includes a description of the goods to be purchased and effectively guarantees their equitable distribution, in accordance with his recommendations that the plan should be ongoing and should reflect the relative priorities of humanitarian supplies as well as their interrelationships within the context of projects or activities, required delivery dates, preferred points of entry, and targeted objectives to be achieved;
"6. Urges all States, and in particular the Government of Iraq, to provide their full cooperation in the effective implementation of this resolution;
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"7. Appeals to all States to cooperate in the timely submission of applications and the expeditious issue of export licences, facilitating the transit of humanitarian supplies authorized by the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990), and taking all other appropriate measures within their competence in order to ensure that urgently required humanitarian supplies reach the Iraqi people as rapidly as possible;
"8. Stresses the need to ensure respect for the security and safety of all persons directly involved in the implementation of this resolution in Iraq;
"9. Decides to conduct an interim review of the implementation of this resolution 90 days after the entry into force of paragraph 1 above and a thorough review of all aspects of its implementation prior to the end of the 180-day period, on receipt of the reports referred to in paragraphs 10 and 14 below, and expresses its intention, prior to the end of the 180-day period, to consider favourably the renewal of the provisions of this resolution as appropriate, provided that the reports referred to in paragraphs 10 and 14 below indicate that those provisions are being satisfactorily implemented;
"10. Requests the Secretary-General to make an interim report to the Council 90 days after the entry into force of paragraph 1 above, and to make a full report 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, foodstuffs 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 2 above;
"11. Takes note of the Secretary-General's observation that the situation in the electricity sector is extremely grave, and of his intention to return to the Council with proposals for appropriate funding, requests him to submit urgently a report for this purpose prepared in consultation with the Government of Iraq to the Council, and further requests him to submit to the Council other studies, drawing upon United Nations agencies as appropriate and, in consultation with the Government of Iraq, on essential humanitarian needs in Iraq including necessary improvements to infrastructure;
"12. Requests the Secretary-General to establish a group of experts to determine in consultation with the Government of Iraq whether Iraq is able to export petroleum or petroleum products sufficient to produce the total sum referred to in paragraph 2 above and to prepare an independent report on Iraqi production and transportation capacity and necessary monitoring, also requests him, in the light of the report, to make an early and appropriate recommendations
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and expresses its readiness to take a decision, on the basis of these recommendations and the humanitarian objectives of this resolution, notwithstanding paragraph 3 of resolution 661 (1990), regarding authorization of the export of the necessary equipment to enable Iraq to increase the export of petroleum or petroleum products and to give the appropriate directions to the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990);
"13. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council, if Iraq is unable to export petroleum or petroleum products sufficient to produce the total sum referred to in paragraph 2 above, and following consultations with relevant United Nations agencies and the Iraqi authorities, making recommendations for the expenditure of the sum expected to be available, consistent with the distribution plan referred to in paragraph 5 above;
"14. Requests the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990), in coordination with the Secretary-General, to report to the Council 90 days after the 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);
"15. Requests further the Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) to implement the measures and take action on the steps referred to in its report of 30 January 1998, with regard to the refining and clarifying of its working procedures, to consider the relevant observations and recommendations referred to in the report of the Secretary-General of 1 February 1998 in particular with a view to reducing to the extent possible the delay between the export of petroleum and petroleum products from Iraq and the supply of goods to Iraq in accordance with this resolution, to report to the Council by 31 March 1998 and thereafter to continue to review its procedures whenever necessary;
"16. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said that, in order to achieve the objective of Security Council resolution 986 (1995), it was important to facilitate a practical implementation of the oil-for-food programme, so that the Iraqi people could fully benefit from available resources. From that standpoint, he supported the Secretary-General's proposals to deal with the humanitarian needs in a targeted manner and to further expedite the implementation process. He believed that the arrangements contained in the current resolution would help avoid a further deterioration of the current humanitarian situation.
He hoped that all parties, particularly the Government of Iraq, would provide their full cooperation for the effective implementation of the programme. As a member of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1990), his Government would continue to participate actively in efforts
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to further promote its implementation. The adoption of the resolution today, when the Secretary-General was meeting with the leadership of the Government of Iraq, was an important signal from the Council and the international community to the Iraqi people.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the text that was to be adopted today represented an important step in the right direction. It had been essential before the Secretary-General's visit to Baghdad that the Council be able to express its support for his report and his recommendations.
That text, however, was only a stage, he said. For it to be put into effect, arrangements would have to be concluded between the Secretary-General and the Government of Iraq. Those arrangements should be in agreement with the 1996 Memorandum of Agreement between the Secretary-General and Iraq. The sovereignty of Iraq must be preserved and the temporary nature of the plan must be underscored.
It was important to bear in mind the grave humanitarian situation in Iraq, he said. The infant mortality rate had risen dramatically, as had the mortality rate of people over the age of 50 years. Today's resolution was important, but only lifting sanctions, in accordance with previous Council resolutions, would make it possible to fully alleviate the current humanitarian situation.
CELSO AMORIM (Brazil) said it had become imperative to devise suitable ways for satisfying the essential needs of Iraq's civilian population, which was never intended to be subject to any form of collective punishment. It was vital to channel resources to the recovery of infrastructure sectors in Iraq, including water and sanitation, education, transportation and electricity. Without urgent repair, the deterioration of Iraqi infrastructure would substantially reduce the positive impact of the supplies of food and medicine.
He had joined other delegations in preparing a technical resolution that would allow a rapid increase in the volume of oil authorized for export, with the additional resources used for addressing the basic needs of the Iraqi people. The Council's objective was to prevent a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. While the text before the Council was not perfect, it did address the basic requirements.
He called on the Government of Iraq to engage fully in the technical discussions with the Secretariat, in order to fulfil the remaining requirements for the entry into force of the expanded oil-for-food mechanism. Such work should take place in a spirit of flexibility and fairness, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the United Nations and Iraq. Also, Iraq should be assured of the temporary nature of the mechanism. Once full compliance of the pertinent resolutions was assured, the Council should act in accordance with its own resolutions and begin the process of lifting
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the sanctions. The Council and its sanctions Committee should also be ready to work together with the Secretary-General in the coming months.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his country was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq. He underlined the importance of the Secretary-General's comments on the need to improve the infrastructure in the electricity and water supply sectors. The United Nations Secretariat should, in the shortest possible time, work out procedures with the Iraqi authorities on that subject. He expected the urgent preparation of additional proposals by the Secretary-General, as provided for in the draft resolution. His delegation supported the consensus achieved by Council members on the text, although some of its provisions could have been improved. At every new stage, the distribution plan should be adjusted. All members of the sanctions Committee should recognize the serious humanitarian situation in Iraq.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) said that as President of the sanctions Committee concerning Iraq, he had an acute sense of the serious humanitarian needs at stake and the obvious urgency required to meet them. That had prompted his delegation to initiate immediate consultations with all Council members to achieve agreement on a resolution, to give the Council's full endorsement to the Secretary-General's recommendations.
That had been an intense and demanding process, he said. It clearly demonstrated the full commitment of all delegations to the humanitarian interests involved. Many technical complexities had to be addressed and some elements might still need to be clarified. He was confident, however, that all the relevant questions were included in the text of the draft resolution. It provided a clear political endorsement to the actions envisaged in the new extended programme and, at the same time, allowed for the necessary flexibility in its implementation. At the same time, he stressed that the goals of the resolution could only be attained with the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities.
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said that his Government had favoured a resolution that was technical in nature and completely separate in substance from other political considerations. The objectives underlying that resolution could only be realized with the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities. In particular, he hoped that the long delays experienced after the Council had adopted resolution 986 (1995) before its effective implementation would not be repeated. That was even more important, since the programme review carried out by the report of the Secretary-General did not benefit from the input of the Iraqi Government.
As the Secretary-General had repeatedly observed in his report to the Council on the oil-for-food programme, that unique and unprecedented programme presented complex difficulties of implementation with all its attendant political, psychological and commercial dimensions, he said. Indeed, there
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was a connection between the processes involved in delivery and distribution of supplies and the infrastructure necessary to support such activities. For example, seeds or fertilizer purchased under the humanitarian programme would be rendered useless if the necessary implements were not functioning. The Secretary-General had addressed that matter in his reports. He agreed with him that the deteriorating infrastructure was undermining humanitarian efforts. Those problems must be addressed.
HANS DAHLGREN (Sweden) said his Government, together with the United Kingdom and Portugal, attempted to put the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report into a resolution. The aim was to find common ground, which would enable the Council to give unanimous support for an expansion of the humanitarian programme in Iraq. Through the adoption of the resolution, crucial resources would be made available for medicine and food, as well as other sectors such as water, sanitation, agriculture and electricity. The expanded oil-for-food programme would also support vulnerable groups, particularly children. The effectiveness and flexibility of the programme would be further enhanced when the distribution plan envisaged for the resolution's implementation was approved.
By adopting the resolution, the Council demonstrated its determination to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, he said. Yet, the oil-for-food programme could not alone satisfy all the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, and it was never intended to do so. The mechanism would no longer be necessary once Iraq fulfilled the requirements of all relevant Council resolutions and the sanctions were subsequently lifted. The Government of Iraq continued to have the responsibility for the needs of its population and must cooperate fully with the United Nations in the implementation of the complex and unprecedented humanitarian programme. At the same time, the United Nations must continuously make sure that the process was running as smoothly as possible.
QIN HUASUN (China) said that the humanitarian situation in Iraq continued to deteriorate. The current text would increase the amount of oil that could be sold in order to buy supplies, which should help ease the humanitarian situation. For that reason, he would support the resolution.
The oil-for-food programme should fully support Iraq's sovereignty and should be in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Iraq. He hoped there would be no linkage between the humanitarian programme and any political one. Further, it was important to emphasize that the oil-for-food programme would be temporary.
DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said that sanctions were generally a blunt instrument, which had unintended consequences. Innocent people suffered disproportionately. Sanctions always had an impact on internationally recognized rights. The international community had a great obligation to undertake steps to alleviate suffering. The Council must be sensitive and
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must demonstrate its ability to find solutions, which was why Slovenia supported the current resolution. The resolution was comprehensive and drew attention to all of the issues that had been raised by the Secretary-General in his report. He wished to express his regret and concern that Iraq had not fully cooperated with the Secretary-General in preparing the report.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said Council resolution 986 (1995) had not been able to deal with the humanitarian problems of the Iraqi people. The report of the Secretary-General had shown the effects of the deteriorating humanitarian situation as a result of the sanctions. Council members had worked for 20 days to achieve an agreeable text, and at last a positive result had been achieved. The draft text was a necessary measure and it took into account the Secretary-General's recommendations.
His country, however, had certain reservations, he said. The proposed measures should be implemented with Iraqi agreement. He understood why Council members might be cautious, but too much caution could delay delivery of necessary assistance. The work of the proposed expert group should be completed early, and there should be a concentration on humanitarian needs. Also, Iraq's sovereignty should be respected. The resolution was well timed, as it coincided with the peace mission of the Secretary-General. Adoption of resolution could add more weight to the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
FERNANDO BERROCAL SOTO (Costa Rica) said that a decision on increasing oil exports should lead to an increase of humanitarian resources. That was a commendable step forward, and he welcomed it. The United Nations should move quickly in the area of approving contracts. He was aware of the enormity of the problems involved and noted the flexibility of some of the text's provisions. He reiterated his country's position of principle, which had oftentimes been expressed. He also welcomed the Secretary-General's mission of peace.
A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the resolution before the Council was a concrete demonstration that the United Nations, and in particular the members of the Council, remained committed to meeting the essential humanitarian needs of all Iraq's people. The United States strongly supported the expansion of the oil-for-food programme to make it more effective and more efficient. It also favoured an increase in the dollar amount of oil sales permitted under the programme in order to finance the importation of additional humanitarian goods. Expanding the scope of the programme was essential to its humanitarian goals.
The Council's position stood in stark contrast to the policies of Iraq's leadership, he continued. Iraq's failure to provide information for the Secretary-General's report, and its failure to commit its own resources to support his humanitarian recommendations, was a telling reminder of its true attitude towards the plight of the Iraqi people. That was why the United States was ready to work closely with the other members of the Council to
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ensure that the resolution worked as intended -- for the welfare of the ordinary people in Iraq.
The Council must make certain that food and medicine, and infrastructure improvements directly related to their distribution remained the top priorities under the resolution, he said. The goods imported into Iraq under the resolution must be carefully observed and monitored so they could not be diverted to military purposes or used for the personal benefit of the Iraqi leadership. The sanctions Committee must act quickly yet responsibly to approve contracts in a manner consistent with the intent of all relevant resolutions. In addition, the Council must wait until it has more and better information before authorizing any oil infrastructure improvements, and do so only after careful consideration on the basis of the Secretary-General's forthcoming report and of the humanitarian objectives in the resolution.
MOMODOU SALLAH (Gambia), speaking before the vote, said that the importance of the oil-for-food programme could not be over-emphasized, because the procurement and distribution of food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies to assist in the alleviation of the hardship being suffered by the vulnerable sector of the Iraqi population was a great step in the right direction. That was an important element in the implementation of Council resolution 986.
The Gambia welcomed the substantial increase effected in that direction as outlined in the distribution plan submitted by the Secretary-General, which was the object of the current text, he said. The fact that the distribution plan was not being affected in any way by the present circumstances was very gratifying. The implementation of the enhanced programme would assist in putting back into proper shape the deteriorating infrastructure. Such a programme was vital in ameliorating the agricultural and other sectors. Thus, Gambia felt that Iraq should not form any linkage between the enhanced programme and non-compliance with the implementation of resolution 687.
JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom), speaking before the vote, said that the current resolution implemented the recommendations of the Secretary-General to expand the oil-for-food programme in Iraq. But it was more than just a technical resolution. It was a clear message that the Council was not prepared to see the Iraqi people suffer as a consequence of the actions of their leaders.
The resolution would mean a massive increase in the humanitarian programme in Iraq, he said. It would pay for the food and medicines that the Iraqi people so badly needed. It would also help restore clean water and proper sanitation to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
No one wished to see sanctions maintained for one moment longer than necessary, he said. Despite Iraqi propaganda, it was known that sanctions had
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never prevented food and medicine getting to the Iraqi people. The utmost had been done to ensure that their needs were met: in 1991, a resolution had been tabled allowing Iraq to sell oil in return for humanitarian supplies. The Iraqi regime had refused to implement it. Resolution 986 (1995) had been opposed for months. All that Iraq had to do to bring about the lifting of sanctions was to comply with the resolutions of the Council. This was a simple enough demand, but one that Iraq persisted in ignoring. The Government of Iraq must accept the resolution so that the people of Iraq could get the help they desperately needed.
DENIS DANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) welcomed the consensus reached on the draft. He hoped the present resolution would help put an end to the sufferings of the Iraqi people. He recalled that the sanctions imposed against Iraq were the result of its aggression against Kuwait. Gabon urged Iraqi authorities to take all steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the people and to cooperate fully with relevant Security Council resolutions.
Before adjourning the meeting, the PRESIDENT of the Council said he hoped the Secretary-General's mission to Iraq would be a success.
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