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The Le Monde article on UNCC

Thanks to Peter Brooks for alerting us about his very good report on the UNCC.


[Le Monde diplomatique] [-----------------------------------------------------]
October 2000       [ ]
                                     OIL FOR FOOD: THE TRUE STORY
                                          How the UNCC works

The real price of
the cheap euro        The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) (1) is a
                      subsidiary body of  the UN Security Council. It originated
A debt of             on 3 April 1991 with Resolution 687, paragraph 16 of which
dishonour *           reaffirmed that, "Iraq, without prejudice to the debts and
                      obligations of Iraq  arising prior to 2 August 1990, which
How the UNCC works    will be addressed through the normal mechanisms, is liable
                      under  international  law  for  any  direct loss,  damage,
The unread reports    including  environmental  damage   and  the  depletion  of
                      natural  resources,  or  injury  to  foreign  Governments,
The well-connected    nationals and corporations, as a result of Iraq's unlawful
rich *                invasion and occupation of Kuwait." In paragraph 18 of the
                      resolution, the Security Council also decided "to create a
Wired to the          fund  to  pay compensation  for  claims  that  fall within
counterculture        paragraph 16 above and to establish a Commission that will
                      administer the fund."
The other
Yugoslavian           On 20  May 1991  the Security  Council approved Resolution
election              692 which set up the  UNCC in Geneva. It also decided that
                      30% of Iraqi  exports of oil and petroleum products should
Ivory Coast           be  allocated to  paying compensation  and  UNCC operating
democracy             expenses  (from  December  2000  this  percentage will  be
deferred *            lowered to 25%). Only  in December 1996, when the "oil for
                      food" programme  started,  did the  UNCC begin  to receive
Alienation in         large sums,  amounting to a  total of $11bn  by the end of
Abidjan               July. At the end of September the UNCC had paid out $8bn.

'You ought to show    UNCC organisation
more courage'
                      The governing  council determines UNCC  policy, within the
Repackaging the       guidelines  set by  Security Council  resolutions.  On the
World Bank *          basis of  proposals  by the  commissioners it  decides how
                      much  to  pay out  in  compensation.  There  is  no appeal
'Do not forget        against its  decisions. The governing  council consists of
ideas are also        representatives  from  the   15  Security  Council  member
weapons'              countries.  Non-permanent members  are  appointed  for two
                      years.  The right  of  veto  is expressly  excluded  and a
Australia's           majority of at least  nine is required for decisions to be
forgotten             taken. The governing  council meets four times a year. Its
dreamtime *           budget for  1998-99  amounted to  $82.3m and  should reach
                      $100m for 2000-2001.  The governing council, which met for
Golden, but still     the first time  between 23 July and  2 August 1991, should
girls *               have finished work by July 2003 and has set aside funds to
                      tide it over till then.
Olympic belles
                      There are 54  commissioners - specialists in international
Iran: the CIA plot    law, experts in  finance or insurance, accountants, and so
that failed *         on - representing 40 different nationalities, selected for
                      a limited period  by the secretariat, from a list provided
Iran: the key         by the  UN secretary general.  Applicants are confirmed by
dates                 the secretary general  and the governing council finalises
                      their appointment.  There are  18 panels,  each comprising
                      three  commissioners (some  have  already  completed their
                      mission), responsible for examining a specific category of
                      claim (A, B, C, D, E  or F, which in turn are sub-divided)
 search the site:     and proposing compensation.  Claims under categories B, D,
                      E  and  F are  examined  individually,  whereas simplified
                      procedures and statistic  models have been used to process
                      category A and C claims. The commissioners, whose presence
                      in  Geneva  is   distinctly  irregular,  are  assisted  by
                      "experts" provided by  the secretariat and responsible for
                      most of  the actual work. The  various panels submit their
                      compensation proposals to the governing council which has,
 to receive our       so far, always followed their recommendations.
 free monthly
 summaries, please    The  executive  secretary is  appointed  by  the secretary
 fill in your         general, after consulting the governing council. He or she
 e-mail address       directs the secretariat, which consists of 240 people from
                      60 different  countries. It  takes care  of the day-to-day
                      running   of   the   UNCC,   prepares   claims   for   the
                      commissioners, and  so on. The secretariat  is the seat of
                      real  power. From  the  outset  it was  taken  in  hand by
                      representatives  of the  United States,  who  "guided" its
                      work. English  is the working  language, which forces Iraq
                      to   translate   all   its   documents,  and   accentuates
(*) Star-marked       Anglo-Saxon influence at the UNCC.
articles are
restricted to         Compensation claims
subscribers only.
See subscription      The UNCC  has fielded 2.6m  claims worth  more than $320bn
information.          (2).  It  has established  four  categories  of  claim for
                      private individuals (A, B, C and D), one for companies (E)
                      and  one   for   governments  (F).   National  governments
                      centralise claims belonging to the various categories. The
                      governing  council   has  decided  that   in  addition  to
                      compensation interest must  be paid for the period between
                      the loss of goods and the refund, "at a rate sufficient to
                      compensate  the  claimants for  the  loss  of  use  of the
                      principal during this  period." Interest will only be paid
                      once the principal has  been refunded. It has not yet been
                      decided whether  categories D,  E and  F will  qualify for
                      compensation for  legal fees preparing  their cases. About
                      100 governments have filed claims.

                      Categories of claim

                      Category A: people who were forced to leave Iraq or Kuwait
                      (920,000 applications).
                      Category B:  people  who suffered  severe injury  or whose
                      spouse,  child   or  parent   died  (6,000  applications).
                      Category  C: individual  claims for  compensation  of less
                      than $100,000 (1,660,000 applications).
                      Category D:  individual claims for  compensation in excess
                      of $100,000 (10,700 applications).
                      Category  E:  claims  by  companies (5,840  applications).
                      Category  F:  claims   by  governments  and  international
                      organisations (431, of which 134 belong in both categories
                      E and F).

                      Out of 2.6m claims, 2.5m have been processed and 1.5m have
                      received compensation totalling $13bn. Payment of category
                      A and  C claims was  completed in September.  It should be
                      remembered that the largest number of claims (categories A
                      and C) only  add up to $12.5bn  out of an overall total of
                      more than $320bn.

                      (1) Internet address:
                      (2) Except  for displaced  persons it  is now  too late to
                      file a claim.

                                                     Translated by Harry Forster


                        ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  1997-2000 Le Monde diplomatique

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