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SCR 1284 "green list" items now on OIP website

Security Council Resolution 1284 (passed on 17 December 1999) made
provisions in paragraph 17 for a "green list" of

        humanitarian items, including foodstuffs, pharmaceutical and
        medical supplies, as well as basic or standard medical and
        agricultural equipment and basic or standard educational items

to be drawn up by the UN Office of the Iraq Programme for approval by the
Sanctions Committee.  Contracts for imports to Iraq involving only items
on this list would not need to be approved by the Sanctions Committee,
having been approved in advance by their presence on the list.

The UN Office of the Iraq Programme's website ( now
contains an initial list of two of the categories of items mentioned above
(foodstuffs AND basic educational supplies).  Two more lists
(pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and basic medical equipment AND basic
agricultural equipment) are being considered by the Sanctions Committee
now.  These new lists, and updates to the existing ones, will be posted to
the OIP's website as they become available.

Benon Sevan's 7 February briefing to the Security Council (all of the
documents mentioned in this note are available at the OIP's website)
explained that the two lists that have been circulated are the easier ones
to decide upon.  They were submitted first in the hopes of establishing
"sufficient areas of common understanding to work constructively on other
sectors".  According to Kofi Annan's 14 January update (S/2000/22), items
on the lists are checked by "technical experts to ensure that items
subject to the provisions of resolution 1051 ["dual use"] ... are not

In the following paragraphs I outline some of the elements of these lists
and make some comments about them.  I am posting this shortly after seeing
it for the first time to bring it to your attention as quickly as
possible.  As a result, I have yet to answer all of the questions arising
in my mind about them, giving some of my comments a conjectural flavour.
I will ask the OIP for guidance and would appreciate any additional
insights from list participants. 

Note that "DP VII" in the lists refers to Distribution Phase VII: the "oil
for food" programme runs in 180 day Distribution Phases.

The FOOD SECTOR list sub-divides into:

- food basket commodities (including the infamous infant milk powder, soap
and detergent)

- basic food storage and distribution consumables (sacks, pallets,
corrugated sheets,...)

- basic food handling equipment (sewing machines for the sacks, scales,

- nutrition package for the North (vitamins and therapeutic diet

- accessories (various types of chairs and furniture, kerosene heaters,
breast pumps,...)

The EDUCATION list sub-divides into:

- furniture (blackboards, and general furniture)

- inputs into furniture assembly (screws, wood, paints)

- printing and copying equipment and supplies (paper, printing inks,
electronic clippers, printing plates, glue, photocopying machines...)

- physical training equipment and accessories (including 8 different types
of balls, 4 types of shoes, 9 types of athletic clothing, 5 items
explicitly related to Scouts)

- teaching aids (6 types of musical instruments, 5 approved diagrams or
maps, overhead projectors, slide projectors and repeated instances of


It is clearly good if the establishment of these lists allows these items
to enter Iraq more quickly.  To my knowledge, the Government of Iraq has
yet to signal its acceptance of SCR 1284, meaning that it would not accept
these lists.  This may be irrelevant: if the GoI contracts for the import
of these items, its acceptance or rejection of 1284 does not alter how the
Sanctions Committee acts.

According to the Secretary General's 12 November report on "oil for food"
(S/1999/1162) roughly $4.8 billion of the $11.5 billion spent by Iraq
(South/Centre and Iraqi Kurdistan) on humanitarian imports under "oil for
food" have been foodstuffs.  Therefore, the lists above already cover
about half of the dollar value of contracts under oil for food to date.
As these contracts have been reasonably simple to evaluate by the
Sanctions Committee, though, it is not clear how much of a humanitarian
difference this accelerated approval mechanism will produce.

To my mind, the inclusion of industrial inputs on the list (e.g. the
printing material) rather than merely consumer items is good.
Unemployment levels in Iraq seem high and have probably not been helped
much by "oil for food", which has tended to import finished goods to hand
out, taking an "aid" approach rather than a "development" one.

I presume that the items approved for Unicef's nutrition programme in
Iraqi Kurdistan are also approved for use in South/Centre Iraq, although
the Government of Iraq may not be ordering these items.  I presume this as
I have seen no indication that there are to be separate "green lists" for
the two regions.

Interestingly, photocopiers are approved.  While the border between Iraqi
Kurdistan and Turkey has always been reasonably porous, Turkey has policed
it, breaking items into three categories: military, "dual use" and
civilian.  Only the latter items have been allowed through as Turkey is
concerned about the PKK's access to material.  In the "dual use" category,
Turkey has included photocopiers, which has also made it more difficult
for UN agencies to carry out administrative work in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More critically, the lists strike me as eminently ad hoc.  If they were so
merely in their contents this might be understandable, as this might be
the inevitable consequence of generating a list in the Office of the Iraq
Programme, passing it by technical experts and then submitting it to a 15
member Sanctions Committee, each of which wields informal veto power. 
Nevertheless, one must wonder why saxophones are included [good news A.L.]
but not trumpets.  Trying to understand this, it did occur to me that
instruments that can be used in marching bands are excluded.  As pianos
are not approved, though, this cannot be a complete explanation. 

The lists are not merely ad hoc in their contents, but also in their level
of detail.  Rather than adopting a standard classification (e.g. the UN
Statistics Department's International Standard Industrial Classification,
ISIC), there is no discernible method.  The Food sector list includes the
rather detailed "Bowl, mixing, large, melamine, 4 1/EA", "Baby-cot,
home-type, enamelled, complete with foam pad and one spare sling" and
"Office Chair, swivel type with armrest" while the Educational sector list
is often more relaxed, mentioning simply "General furniture (e.g. beds for
student dormitories)", "screws" and "paints". 

Whatever their level of detail, the lists share in common an attempt to be
exhaustive.  Therefore, rather than approving, for example, "all sporting
equipment, with the exception of that involving firearms..." they list all
items associated with table tennis (rackets, balls, table, net, net
supports and clamps).  This approach seems to suffer the usual fate of
central planning: it can't keep track of all the details.  As a result,
while weights are allowed, there is no mention of weight bars, benches for
the support of free weights, weight belts or weightlifting chalk.

Finally, the list seems poorly edited.  Items number 117, 127 and 129 are
all "Overhead projector", although the second does add "Data
presentation".  Items 119 and 128 are slide projectors, although the first
is qualified with "teaching".

These last concerns may be petty but they do suggest to me that this whole
process is not merely an exercise in central planning but a rather amateur
one as well. 

Colin Rowat

Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq               fax 0870 063 5022

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

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