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Some informed remarks on CASI's SCR 1284 briefing

Since releasing our analysis of SCR 1284 I have spoken about it with an
individual who is quite familiar with the UN process in Iraq.  I am
writing now to pass on what I feel to be the four most important remarks
made in that discussion.  The final point may be the most important from a
factual point of view as it addresses a slight factual error made in
CASI's briefing. 

1. regarding the time taken to process Iraqi requests for imports under
"oil for food".  CASI's briefing had claimed that the development of a
"green list" for humanitarian items was beneficial as

        ... it reduces processing time, thereby allowing ordered goods to
        reach Iraq more quickly.  (During Phase VI of oil-for-food,
        applications from Phase IV were still being processed.)  The need
        to do this had been identified by the Humanitarian Panel as well
        as numerous reports of the Secretary-General, particularly as the
        size and complexity of the oil-for-food programme has increased. 

It was subsequently suggested to me that I should have emphasised that
processing time is not usually the most lengthy part of the imports
process.  The "overwhelming majority" of contracts are quickly approved.
Processing takes longer for "contentious" contracts, often contracts where
the Government of Iraq is felt not to have provided sufficient

In this context, it might also bear quoting from Mr Sevan's 17 November 99
presentation of the latest "oil for food" report to the Security Council:

        It should be borne in mind, as well, that not all the difficulties
        encountered in the effective implementation of the programme can
        be attributed to holds placed on applications.  Late submission of
        applications and on-going distribution and installation
        difficulties are similarly, if not more, serious. 

It is therefore important to maintain a sense of perspective about
processing concerns.

2. regarding adverse consequences of "oil for food" on Iraqi domestic
agriculture.  CASI's briefing had alluded to Baroness Symons' 4 February
claim in the House of Lords that

        Iraq is selling food to its neighbours--it is certainly selling to
        Syria and attempting to do so to Jordan.

While we have never seen UN evidence of this claim it did not seem
surprising as Iraqi farmers have had to compete with essentially free
produce imported under "oil for food".  As SCR 1284 allowed "oil for food"
to make some purchases domestically, we felt that this perverse effect
would be reduced.

It was pointed out to me that "oil for food" may have had "unintended
negative consequences" in agriculture but that this is not acknowledged by
either the Government of Iraq or the FAO.  It is felt, though, that farmer
bankruptcy or removal of land from production was a greater problem than
sales abroad: power and the ability to engage in international trade are
concentrated in few hands in Iraq.

3. regarding the infiltration of Unscom by agents of foreign intelligence
services.  At various points the CASI briefing reports that Unscom had
been infiltrated by employees of foreign intelligence services. 

It was pointed out to me that the sort of skills required for employment
in Unscom would only be likely to be found in individuals that had
intelligence experience in the employ of a national intelligence service. 

This is, of course, true.  What had concerned us was not that such
individuals had been employed but that there were accusations that these
individuals had continued to report to their national intelligence
services rather than exclusively to the UN Security Council.

4. regarding the functioning of the Sanctions Committee.  CASI's briefing
had stated that:

        The Sanctions Committee's structure mimics its parent body's, the
        Security Council: any permanent member can veto approval of a
        contract, or place a hold on it. 

This statement was not properly referenced as we have never seen the
formal Rules of Procedure under which the Committee operates.  SCR 661,
which established the Committee, refers only to Rule 28 of the Security
Council's Provisional Rules of Procedure.  This bland rule merely states

        The Security Council may appoint a commission or committee or a
        rapporteur for a specified question

It was subsequently pointed out to me that CASI's statements about the
Committee's structure were incorrect; I was told that all members of the
Committee have veto power.  More surprisingly yet, though, I was also told
that the Council's committees established under Rule 28 "are not required
to have a constitution as such".  This, then, seems to explain the mystery
of why we have never seen the Committee's constitution.

Best wishes,

Colin Rowat

Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

393 King's College            
Cambridge CB2 1ST                       tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                                 fax: +44 (0)870 063 4984

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