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RE: Pencils

> Can anyone recall what actually happened with this? Were
> pencils ever blocked or put on hold and if so what was the
> reason?

Hi Eric,

I quote from Paul Conlon's excellent book, "United Nations Sanctions
Management: A Case Study of the Iraq Sanctions Committee, 1990 - 1994"
(Transnational Publishers, 2000).  Conlon was a deputy secretary to that
committee in its early years.  His book is the most detailed account that
I've seen so far of its functioning and, as a result, presents a very grim
picture of it.  When reading it I had in mind former US Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles' comment that "the Security Council is a law unto
itself".  Here the opposite seems to apply: "the 661 Committee is a
lawlessness unto itself".

In any case, quoting from pp. 73-74:

<quote begins>

Heated arguments ensued over the years on one further criterion for P-3 [US,
UK, France] objection practices: quantity.  At an early point, sporadic
requests were submitted where the items were banal but the quantities
requested seemed exorbitant.  For instance, in 1992, Vietnam requested
clearance for 4 million pencils and 10 million pens (all in a single
shipment); Jordan requested clearance for "school supplies," including
800,000 tons of duplicating paper; and Pakistan sought clearance for 36 tons
of graphite for pencils and 40 million pencil sharpeners.  The P-3 and Japan
objected, not to the items but to the quantities.  Ultimately, Japan, for
reasons never explained, removed its block on the pencils and the pencil
sharpeners on condition that each item be limited to a quantity of one
million.  It had not opposed the 10 million pens, on condition that no
further quantities be authorized during the remainder of the year.  The
800,000 tons of duplicating paper turned out to be an error and was
corrected.  The request for the graphite, submitted on behalf of a Jordanian
entity called "The Al Wahad Center for Economic Studies" and the 40 million
pencil sharpeners lapsed when the requesting countries never clarified the
matter.[footnote 64; see below]  The limited approval of pencils soon became
the subject of gossip and jokes among the staff, and later became a
perennial issue in Iraqi propaganda, ultimately being repeated by Eric
Rouleau in the pages of <italics begin>Foreign Affairs<italics
end>.[footnote 65; see below]

The anti-sanctions states eventually developed the argument that the ISC
[Iraq Sanctions Committee] was not competent to decide on quantities, since
Iraq remained a sovereign state and alone was competent to judge its own
needs for products.[footnote 66; see below]  The objections to this
criterion based on sovereignty, however, are not convincing; deciding on
quantity is no greater infringement of sovereignty than deciding on the
nature of an item, and the sanctions resolutions already allowed the latter.

<quote ends>

<footnotes begin>

64.  Mr. Sumi (Japan) in CSR-70 and CSR-71 (S/AC.25/1992/COMM.308); chairman
in CSR-80 (S/AC.25/1992/COMM.1125); see also U.N. DOCS.
S/AC.25/1992/COMM.266 (1992) and S/AC.25/1992/COMM.1104 (1992) in 1992 Comms
Log 139, 563 (on file with author).

65.  Letter dated Feb. 14, 1995, from Iraq to the Secretary-General at 2,
U.N. Doc S/AC.25/1995/COMM.1498 (1995) (on file with author).  The letter
claims, inaccurately, that the request was rejected at the 68th meeting.
The amount was actually reduced at the 70th meeting.

66.  Mr. Posso (Ecuador) in CSR-76 (S/AC.25/1992/COMM.661) and CSR-77

<footnotes end>

I hope that this helps,

Colin Rowat

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