The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

FCO report on Oil for Food

The following report, "Iraq: Sanctions and the 'Oil for Food' Agreement",
has just been published on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website

If people send properly sourced refutations or comments about any
statements made in the report to the discussion list, I (or someone else)
will collect them together and put out to the press a response to the
report. (The name of the originator of each comment will *not* be
included). The aim of this is to provide reporters with some alternative
source of information than what the government chooses to publish.

(things in square brackets are my insertions - SW)

[start of cover page:]
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
London, February 1999


[Summary on front cover:]

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq in response to its illegal invasion and
occupation of Kuwait in 1990. United Nations (UN) Security Council
Resolution 661 of August 1990 is the principal Resolution which prohibits
exports from Iraq and imports by Iraq. Food, medicine and other supplies
for essential civilian needs are not covered by the import ban. Sanctions
are still in place because Iraq has not yet fulfilled the obligations
imposed on it by the UN.  The UN "oil for food" programme was first
implemented in 1996. Under the programme, Iraq is permitted to sell set
amounts of oil to fund the purchase of food, medicines, other humanitarian
goods and equipment, and spare parts to repair the civilian
infrastructure. Since mid-1998 it has also been allowed to purchase
equipment and spare parts for the rehabilitation of its oil industry.

[start of page 1:]



At the end of the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq accepted the terms of the United
Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 687 - the ceasefire
Resolution. This Resolution, and others implementing it, addressed a
number of issues, including Iraq’s programme of weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), and laid down obligations with which Iraq must comply: 
 - to accept the destruction of its WMD under international supervision; 
 - to submit full details of locations, amounts and types of weaponry; 
 - to undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire WMD in the
   future; and
 - to cooperate with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in
   carrying out these obligations. 

The circumstances in which the Security Council would lift the sanctions
imposed on Iraq are also set down in SCR 687. This Resolution provides for
the lifting of sanctions when Iraq has complied with its WMD obligations,
and when its policies and practices, including implementation of all the
relevant Resolutions, have been reviewed by the Security Council. Iraq’s
obligations are to respect the inviolability of the international boundary
agreed in Kuwait in 1963; 
 - return all Kuwaiti property seized during its illegal invasion of Kuwait;
 - accept its liability to compensate those who suffered loss or injury as
 - a result of the invasion;
 - agree not to commit or support any act of international terrorism; and
 - repatriate all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, or their remains,
   to their country of origin.

[start of page 2:]

Why sanctions are still in place

For seven years, Iraq has persistently avoided complying with its
obligations, thereby preventing the lifting of sanctions. The UN Security
Council normally reviews the need for sanctions to continue every 60 days.
But to date each review has concluded that Iraq has not yet met the
conditions that would allow sanctions to be lifted or even relaxed. 


The first offer of an "oil for food" programme

Measures to protect the Iraqi people from the effects of sanctions and the
policies of Saddam Hussein are enshrined in SCR 986, the so-called "oil
for food" Resolution, and successor Resolutions. These evolved from
earlier humanitarian proposals put forward in 1991 under SCRs 706 and 712.
They were rejected by Iraq. 

Iraq finally accepts and implements "oil for food" 

It was not until April/May 1996 that Iraq agreed to the "oil for food"
programme when it accepted SCR 986 (which had been adopted by the Security
Council more than a year earlier in April 1995). The start of the
programme was then delayed a further seven months until December 1996,
while Iraq haggled over the terms of implementation. 

The proceeds from "oil for food" and how they are allocated

Under SCR 986 Iraq was permitted to export up to $2,000 million worth of
oil over a six month period. The programme has since been renewed for four
further periods of six months under SCRs 1111, 1143, 1153 and 1210. Under
SCR 1153, adopted in February 1998, the value of oil Iraq is permitted to
export over a six month period was increased to $5,300 million.

The proceeds from the sale of oil under "oil for food" are paid into a UN
account. Under the terms of SCR 986, the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) 
is allocated 30 per cent, and 66 per cent goes to the UN humanitarian
programme in Iraq, of which 53 per cent is allocated to Baghdad-controlled
Iraq and 13 per cent to the three northern governorates. The remaining
four per cent is allocated to the operating
[start of page 3:]
costs and administration of the "oil for food" programme, UNSCOM and the
Iraq/Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM), which supervises the border
between Iraq and Kuwait. 

The UN humanitarian programme

Under the humanitarian programme, Iraq is allowed to purchase and import
foodstuffs, medicine and medical equipment and other goods for essential
civilian needs.  It is also allowed to import spare parts, equipment and
materials for use in the water and sanitation, education, electricity,
agricultural and de-mining sectors. SCR 1153 expanded the humanitarian
programme to allow a certain amount of repair to the civilian
infrastructure and some upgrading of Iraq’s oil infrastructure to enable
it to pump the increased $5,300 million worth of oil as permitted under
this Resolution. 

The distribution of humanitarian supplies

Supplies provided under the humanitarian programme are strictly monitored
by the UN. The international community insisted on such safeguards to
ensure that this scheme would benefit the Iraqi people, not the Iraqi
regime, which has misused Iraq’s scarce resources in the past. In the
three northern governorates, the UN is entirely responsible for

The "Distribution Plan" 

The humanitarian programme is structured around a "Distribution Plan"
drawn up by the Government of Iraq, which details all the goods that Iraq
wishes to import for each six month period of the programme. The UN
Secretary General must approve the plan, and Iraq is not automatically
entitled to import all the goods on the list. They must be approved by the
Sanctions Committee (also known as the 661 Committee) on a case-by- case
basis. This is to ensure that the export of all goods to Iraq is
consistent with the terms of the UN Resolutions. Since the humanitarian
programme was implemented, the Sanctions Committee has approved 96 per
cent of all applications submitted for funding under the programme. 

How Iraq has hampered the humanitarian programme

According to the most recent report by the UN Secretary General on the
implementation of "oil for food", the programme is making a real
difference to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. But the relief it could
bring to the Iraqi people would be much greater if it were not for the
refusal of the Government of Iraq to play an effective
[start of page 4:]
role in maximising the benefits from the programme. Under the terms of an
agreement with the UN, Iraq is responsible for awarding contracts,
liaising with suppliers, and distributing goods in Iraq (except in the
three northern governorates).  The Government of Iraq refuses, despite
constant encouragement from the UN, to make any efforts to
 - properly prioritise purchases for the humanitarian programme; 
 - target the programme towards the most vulnerable; 
 - ensure that suppliers supply goods on time; or
 - improve the distribution system for humanitarian goods inside
   Baghdad-controlled Iraq.

Iraq has also consistently failed to provide information requested by UN
agencies, which would help the programme to run more smoothly.  Over the
years, Saddam Hussein has shown that he has little interest in providing
for the Iraqi people. Instead, his priorities are to keep his regime in
power and to attempt to sustain his armed forces for continued internal
repression and in preparation for new foreign adventures. The humanitarian
programme was meant to supplement the Iraqi Government’s own provisions
for the people. Instead the Government stopped supplying food rations as
soon as "oil for food" was implemented and diverted the revenue it has
saved to other purposes, notably military procurement and maintaining the
privileges of the elite. It has also recently begun selling food to Syria
and offering wheat and barley for sale in Jordan. In June 1998, Iraq also
announced it would no longer accept donations of humanitarian aid from
third countries. 


Britain and "oil for food" 

Since 1991, Britain has taken the lead in piloting the "oil for food"
programme through the UN Security Council, initially by drafting
Resolutions 706 and 712 which first proposed the programme, and then by
drafting and co-sponsoring SCRs 986 (which set up the programme) and 1153
which more than doubled the value of it. Britain has been very active in
trying to ensure that the programme works for the benefit of the Iraqi

[start of page 5]: 

British aid to Iraq

Also since 1991, Britain has provided over £100 million in humanitarian
assistance for Iraq, either bilaterally or via the European Union. The
bilateral aid programme, following a pledge of £7 million for the centre
and south of Iraq, includes £2 million for the rehabilitation of water and
sewerage in Babel, £1 million towards the work of the International
Committee of the Red Cross and £540,000 towards the rehabilitation of
hospitals. In addition some £3 million per year is spent in northern Iraq
on de-mining and the needs of the vulnerable. 

February 1999

[end of document]

[The symbol £ (however it displays on your screen) was a pound sign in the

This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT the
whole list. Archived at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]