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]

Re: Banned Goods

--- wrote:
> Could someone please email me a list of daily goods 
> banned under the sanctions (ie: pencils, bleach) and
> why they are banned. I am trying to put together a
> visual representation of the common things that are
> unavailable to the Iraqi people. Thanks for any help

> anyone can offer!

Hi Elizabeth,

Let me try to answer your question by answering a
slightly different question, namely that of what can
be exported to Iraq, and how.  This has changed over

Immediately following the 2 August invasion of Kuwait,
all exports to Iraq except "supplies intended strictly
for medical purposes, and, in humanitarian
circumstances, foodstuffs" (Security Council
Resolution 661, 6 August 1990) were prohibited by the
Security Council.  In practice, there was a near total
halt to trade as a military blockade moved into place
and as Iraqi assets were frozen and exports not
allowed (both preventing the purchase of imports).

The "cease fire" resolution (SCR 687, 3 April 1991)
then technically expanded the conditions for imports
to Iraq:

<quote begins>

the prohibitions against the sale or supply to Iraq of
commodities or products, other than medicine and
health supplies, and prohibitions against financial
transactions ... shall not apply to foodstuffs
notified to the Security Council [Iraq Sanctions]
Committee ... or, with the approval of that Committee,
under the simplified and accelerated "no-objection"
procedure, to materials and supplies for essential
civilian needs as identified in the report of the
Secretary-General dated 20 March 1991, and in any
further findings of humanitarian need by the

<quote ends>

In other words, anything that ALL fifteen members of
the Sanctions Committee (the same composition as the
Security Council) accepted as "humanitarian" COULD be
exported to Iraq by gaining the Committee's approval. 

Thus, technically, there is not a list of banned
"humanitarian" items.  In practice, various items have
not received approval by the Committee over time.  As
the Committee has not published the meetings of its
meetings, it is hard to generate lists of such items. 
Furthermore, it is hard to learn what arguments are
being used.  In some cases, the denial seems
"innocent" (e.g. currently the Iraqi government is
trying to amend the "distribution plan" of the current
"oil for food" phase to include cigarette filters). 
In other cases, the denial is much more political
(e.g. the US seems to have a policy of near blanket
denials to contracts for Iraq's telecommunications

There are two twists on the mechanism that I've just
described above.  First, since passage of Resolution
1284 in December 1999, there have been a series of
"green lists", the items on which can be "fast
tracked" for import without Sanctions Committee
approval: their approval comes from the UN's Office of
the Iraq Programme, which simply checks to see whether
a contract contains only items on these green lists.

Second, "dual use" items (i.e. those with both a
civilian and a military application) have their own
mechanism.  When Iraq wishes to import such an item,
the contract is forwarded to both the Sanctions
Committee and to a body made up of people from Unmovic
(the biological, chemical and missile weapons
inspectors) and the International Atomic Energy Agency
(the nuclear weapons inspectors).  They attempt to
determine whether the item can be adequately monitored
once inside Iraq, to ensure that it is not put to
military use.  If they think that they can, they will
recommend to the Sanctions Committee that the item be
imported; they then retain the right to conduct
inspections on it.  This presents an obvious problem:
with no weapons inspectors in Iraq, the ability to
assure oneself about end use decreases substantially.

Finally, some closing words on loose bits and pieces:

1. military exports to Iraq are banned.

2. chlorine is not.  While it is popularly believed
that chlorine is banned (a belief spread by some Iraqi
officials) UN reports on the "oil for food" programme
document its import into Iraq from the programme's
early days.

I hope that this helps somewhat, although I recognise
that it may not in the way that you were hoping.  The
sanctions continue to cause damage throughout Iraqi
society, but the mechanisms are somewhat more subtle.

Please do let me know if you have any questions about
the above.


Colin Rowat
274 Vanderbilt Ave., #2
Brooklyn NY 11205
(m) 917 517 5840
(f) 707 221 3672

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Auctions - buy the things you want at great prices
This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]