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Please note the Boston Research Group merged with and became part of the Iraq Sanctions Project, Center for Economic and Social Rights. http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2000/msg00556.html Interview Subject: Hans von Sponeck Interviewer and Transcriber: The Boston Research Group (BRG) Venue: The Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard University Date: 1 May 2000 BRG: In 1999 both the Humanitarian Panel and the Secretary-General talked about the imperative for some sort of cash component, particularly, in the case of the Secretary-General, for "Target Nutrition Programs" in Southern and Central Iraq. Could you briefly talk about the specific benefits of the cash component? Perhaps you can use a particular sector as an example. Please also address the cash component in relation to the Target Nutrition Program, and answer whether or not you think that the lack of a cash component is the explanation for why the Secretary-General continues to say that that the Target Nutrition Programs canít expand and are currently insufficient. And then, if you would, please also say a few words about what the long-term implication is for Central and Southern Iraq without a cash component. von Sponeck: The cash component concern has been prevalent in all agencies because it is Humanitarian Program weakness due to the fact that there is no access to cash in the Center/South. And as a result, the absorbency capacity of items that come in under the 986 Program is severely restrained. It also explains the delays in the installation of equipment. Take water and sanitation for example. A new water purification plant is brought into the country, but maybe, in order to install this, you need 3%, 4%, letís say 5% of the value of this equipment as cash in order to have the required labor and the local materials: Perhaps sand, and maybe cement. You also need to have implements, like shovels. All of that is not obtainable under the "Oil-for-Food" Program. So it all must wait until the Government somehow finds or allocates the money. The result is that some of this equipment waits, and is installed later than it is supposed to be. The absence of the cash component has a restraining effect, a delaying effect on the implementation of the "Oil-for-Food" Program. The issue of the Nutrition Program was the first case (I was involved in that one) that we used to test out how one could find a formula, acceptable to everybody, to make cash available to implement this Targeted Nutrition Program (as it is called). We quickly found out some things that we didn't expect. First of all, we found out that within this Targeted Nutrition Program the value of the actual commodities were about $15 million. And the cash component was roughly $17 million. UNICEF, in charge of the Targeted Nutrition Program, pointed out to us that they have no capacity to handle $17 million worth of cash. So we had a problem with the implementing partner. The assumption at that point was that the Government of Iraq would go along with a UN agency having access to cash. That was a false assumption. The Government of Iraq does not want to have any outsider, not any UN agency or NGO, to be in possession of Iraqi cash. And the Security Council doesn't want any Iraqi institution to have access to any cash. So here we have a complete deadlock. On top of it, the Government of Iraq, as you know, has rejected, in full, Resolution 1284 which provides for this at long last. How many times did I make a case for a cash component in the Sanctions Committee? In February of í99 I submitted a program of different concerns that needed to be considered by the Security Council. A cash component was very prominently identified. We had no takers and it didn't make any progress until this Resolution came. And then when we used this practical example of a Targeted Nutrition Program we discovered: A) The Government wasnít willing to accept the UN as a custodian of cash; B) The very agency that had, until then, implemented the target nutrition Program, wasnít willing to assume responsibility for the management for such a large amount of cash with the existing human resources that they had. Nathaniel Hurd Iraq Sanctions Project (ISP) Associate Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) 162 Montague Street, 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA Tel.: 718-237-9145, x 21 Fax: 718-237-9147 Mobile: 917-407-3389 Personal E-Fax: 707-221-7449 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.cesr.org -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk