Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq


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12 actions for 12 years of sanctions

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9 - Invest (symbolically) in Iraq

One of the main reasons that Iraq’s humanitarian situation is so dire is that Iraq is now poor. According to the Office of the Iraq Programme’s most recent weekly update on 30 July 2002, almost $36 billion worth of imports to Iraq have been approved by the UN under the ‘oil for food’ programme, of which $23.6 billion have arrived. These apparently impressive figures, however, mean that only about £2.50 worth of goods have arrived per Iraqi per week since the programme began in December 1996. Without significant economic growth in Iraq, these figures will not improve much. They are not enough to rebuild a war-torn country.

Revenue crisis

Iraq’s oil revenues have actually fallen this year, due largely to a political struggle between the Iraqi, American and British governments. This has cost the ‘oil for food programme’ some $2.4 billion, according to the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, in May. This translates into a cost of some $1.7 billion to the humanitarian programme, which receives 72% of Iraq’s oil revenues. A revenue crisis has been the result. As of 30 July 2002, there are more than $2.08 billion worth of humanitarian supply contracts which have been approved by the United Nations, but cannot be paid for.

New sources of income must be found to address Iraq’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. This was recognised in France’s draft Security Council Resolution (SCR) last year, which would have allowed "civilian investments in Iraq by foreign companies ... subject to appropriate arrangements to be approved by the Council". Unfortunately, this clause, which would have allowed the possibility of significant economic improvement, was rejected by the US. Its favoured draft, which eventually became SCR 1409, did not provide for any new sources of income - a stunning failure in a resolution that took over a year to negotiate.

Security Council Resolution 778

In 1992, there was also revenue crisis. The previous year, the Security Council had presented a version of ‘oil for food’ to the Iraqi government which would have allowed Iraq limited oil sales of $1.6 billion, with 30% of this being deducted for war reparations. A UN escrow account to hold the revenue from these oil sales was also set up.

With even the UN Secretary-General recommending that at least $2 billion in oil revenue be made available for purely for humanitarian needs, the Iraqi government rejected the proposal. This left the Council without money in its escrow account for Gulf War reparations or UN weapons inspectors, and Iraq without income to meet its humanitarian needs.

Therefore, on 2 October 1992, the Security Council passed resolution 778 in which it "Urges all States to contribute funds from other sources to the escrow account as soon as possible". Once sanctions were lifted, the funds deposited in the escrow account "together with applicable interest" would be returned "to the accounts or States from which funds had been provided". Despite the eventual agreement of an ‘oil for food’ programme in 1996, this appeal still stands.

Iraqis face difficult months ahead as inability to pay for supplies reduces vital humanitarian imports. On top of this, many Iraqis are worried about their futures: there are signs of deepening unease in Iraq, as all know that a new war may be imminent.

Invest in Iraq!

The people of Iraq continue to need income. Whilst the Security Council persists in preventing foreign investment in Iraq, the only way Iraqis can receive income is through the ‘oil for food’ programme.


* Send "funds from other sources" to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office now with a letter stating that you are doing so "pursuant to paragraph three of Security Council resolution 778 (1992)".

* Tell the FCO that you are investing in Iraq, and in its future, and ask them to do so as well by proposing a new Security Council resolution supporting foreign investment in Iraq, as last year’s French draft did.

* Stress that you are aware that your small contribution is not, in itself, a solution, but that the urgency of finding new sources of revenue cannot be ignored simply because of the threat of war. Tell them that your donation is symbolic of your decision to stand with the Iraqi people in the difficult months ahead.

Send your contribution to:

Middle East Desk,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
King Charles St,
London, SW1A 2AH,


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