Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq


Analysis of Security Council Resolution 1284 (17 December, 1999)

The Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) is a registered society at the University of Cambridge. Its members are all volunteers; its committee members are students. CASI is exclusively concerned with the humanitarian consequences of sanctions on Iraq. It does not support Saddam Hussein's regime and is not opposed to military sanctions on Iraq.


We analyse Security Council Resolution 1284, passed on 17 December 1999. The US and the UK, who supported the resolution, claim that it represents a significant progress in the Iraq impasse. The resolution does offer some immediate humanitarian relief, which may be achieved even without the co-operation of the Iraqi government; this relief is less than that recommended by the UN's Humanitarian Panel and earlier drafts of the resolution. The resolution, however, continues to link the quality of life in Iraq to progress in negotiations between the Iraqi leadership and other governments. In this respect, it is not different in nature from SCR 687 (1991). Furthermore, the resolution has deliberately obscured what is required of the Government of Iraq and what benefits the Government of Iraq can expect in the unprecedented event of its co-operation. It is therefore unlikely that the humanitarian benefits contingent upon Iraqi co-operation will be realised. The resolution's deliberate obscurantism is unlikely to reduce tensions between the Iraqi, American and British governments. Its expectation of new weapons inspections is likely to provoke future clashes.


Security Council Resolution 1284 is the primary source for this briefing [17/12/99. S/RES/1284,]. As it is most closely based on a joint UK-Dutch proposal the July draft of that proposal is also referred to. An explanation of the French proposal, is also referred to.

As the Security Council established panels earlier this year to report on Iraqi disarmament, humanitarian issues inside Iraq, and Kuwaiti claims, we refer to these documents as well. The two principally referred to here are Report of the First Panel Established Pursuant to the Note by the President of the Security Council on 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), Concerning Disarmament and Current and Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Issues (S/1999/356, Annex I, 30 March, 1999) and Report of the second panel established pursuant to the note of the President of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), concerning the current humanitarian situation in Iraq [30/3/99. S/1999/356, Annex II]. We call these the Disarmament Panel and the Humanitarian Panel, respectively.

Since the oil-for-food programme began on 10 December 1996, the programme has now completed six 180 day phases. The UN Secretary-General reports to the Security Council at the mid and end point of each phase. We refer to the last of the these, Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 6 of Security Council Resolution 1242 (1999) [12/11/99. S/1999/1162]. This was introduced to the Security Council on 17 November 1999 by Benon V. Sevan, the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme.


Between December 16 and 19 1998 the US and the UK initiated a bombing campaign against Iraq. The attacks came shortly after Unscom, the UN Special Commission on Iraqi weapons, had submitted its report to the Security Council. Although that report had yet to be debated by the Council the US and the UK claimed that it was sufficiently damning to justify their aggressive action without the consent of the Council. At the time, observers such as Patrick Seale claimed that it was widely accepted that the Unscom report had been ghost-written with the assistance of the US Administration as a pretext to a bombing campaign. This was also the belief of former chief Unscom weapons inspector Scott Ritter. The timing of the bombing, immediately before US President Clinton's impeachment hearings, led even weapons experts to label the bombing "The War of Monica's Skirt".

The weapons inspectors, which were pulled out of Iraq before the bombings, were not allowed to return by the Government of Iraq. Their return was made less likely by revelations in the Washington Post [6/1/99] and other US newspapers that the US had used Unscom to spy on Iraq without the approval of the Security Council, to whom Unscom is officially responsible. (The Independent, on January 25, claimed that MI6 also planted officers within Unscom.)

The resignation of the outspoken Scott Ritter further damaged Unscom's credibility: Ritter claimed that he had warned Unscom chairman Richard Butler of CIA involvement in 1997. He alleged that Butler did not take the necessary steps then to ensure Unscom's independence [30/3/99. The Guardian]. His resignation in August was triggered by Madeleine Albright's instruction to Richard Butler to cancel two of Ritter's "challenge inspections" [14/8/98. "US fought surprise inspection", Barton Gellman, The Washington Post]. Ritter charged the Security Council with interest only in "the illusion of arms control" [27/8/98. "Inspector quits U.N. team, says council bowing to defiant Iraq", Barton Gellman, The Washington Post].

In an attempt to address both the continuing humanitarian problems within Iraq and that raised by the interruption of weapons inspections, France proposed on January 13 to lift the oil embargo immediately, suspending other sanctions as Iraq demonstrated its compliance with the new proposal. The capacity to reinstate the sanctions was to be retained. Unscom would be replaced with a body designed not to document Iraq's past weapons' programme but to prevent attempts to continue or restart them. The US rejected France's proposal, arguing that the existing Security Council resolutions had to be respected. They counter-proposed that the current $5.2 billion cap on Iraqi oil sales every six months be removed. In the midst of this new atmosphere of debate, the Security Council established three panels at the end of January to review its policy on Iraq. These reports were complete at the end of March.

The French proposal was soon countered by a joint British-Dutch proposal, similar in style but less generous. With US support, this proposal won over most of the non-permanent members of the Security Council. As China and Russia supported the French proposal a series of intense meetings lasting from September until the passage of SCR 1284 were conducted by the Council's permanent members in an attempt to work out a compromise. In December matters came to a head, with the UK presiding over the Security Council, five of the well-lobbied non-permanent members (Bahrain, Brazil, Gabon, Gambia and Slovenia) preparing to be replaced by countries generally less sympathetic to the US position (Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine), and the anniversary of the initial crisis approaching.


This section works through SCR 1284, both describing and commenting on the text. While this format risks confusing reporting and editorial we adopt it to enhance the briefing's flow. The first three sections of SCR 1284 correspond roughly to the three panels established by the Security Council in January: weapons, Kuwaiti claims, and the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The fourth section introduces the possibility of sanctions' suspension.


The preamble re-iterates the Security Councils commitment to "establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons". It also reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the "sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Kuwait, Iraq and the neighbouring States".

These have been expressed since SCR 687 (1991). The Security Council has, as yet, given no visible expression to its hopes of achieving them. Indeed, Iraq's de facto partition into Iraqi Kurdistan and South/Central Iraq, for better or worse, strain the credibility of these statements. Although this lay outside its mandate, the Humanitarian Panel report was compelled to note, "in this context, that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq has been consistently upheld by Security Council resolutions" [paragraph 44].

A: New weapons inspectors

Section A replaces Unscom with Unmovic (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission). Unmovic assumes the responsibilities, rights, assets, liabilities, archives and role in agreements of Unscom. The new Executive Chairman is requested to incorporate "as appropriate the recommendations of the panel on disarmament and current and future ongoing monitoring and verification issues". The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is again made responsible for Iraq's nuclear programmes.

The Chairman's appointment must be approved by the Council within 30 days of SCR 1284's passage. The Chairman is then allotted 45 days to present an organisational plan for approval to the Security Council. Once (and if) work does start in Iraq, the Chairman will have 60 days to present a work programme to the Council. The work programme is to be such that Iraq's requirements are "clearly defined and precise". At the outside, then, Unmovic is given 135 days to start work in Iraq.

Disarmament Panel recommendations [paragraphs 49 - 53] are explicitly seen in SCR 1284: the establishment of a College of Commissioners which will provide "professional advice and guidance to the Executive Chairman" and the request that staff be qualified, hired as international civil servants by the UN and represent a broad geographic background.

As Unmovic is being charged with the same task as Unscom, their close resemblance seems appropriate. Unscom acquired considerable expertise and made considerable progress towards dismantling Iraq's prohibited systems. This was recognised by the Disarmament Panel, which largely approved of Unscom's approach.

While betraying no sense of being written at a time when Unscom was largely discredited, the Disarmament Panel did make some veiled references to the issues that led to Unscom's corruption and demise. Paragraph 57 warns that information possessed by the inspectors should not be shared with other intelligence agencies, a reference presumably to information sharing with Mossad and possibly to American and British spying from within Unscom. Iraq has long explained its hesitancy to co-operate with Unscom with allegations of Unscom spying. The failure of 1284 to explicitly acknowledge the Disarmament Panel's recommendation should not enhance Iraq's perception of Unmovic. While the wording of paragraph 33 (governing sanctions suspension) is unclear, it is likely that Iraq's 120 days of cooperation cannot begin until after the submission of Unmovic's work programme, a possible 135 days. This would lengthen to 255 days the period before which sanctions could be suspended.

B: Kuwaiti claims

Section B contains no new demands or initiatives. It repeats Iraq's commitment under SCR 687 to repatriate Kuwaiti and third country nationals and property held since the Gulf War and to co-operate with the bodies established to this effect.

According to the third panel report, that on Kuwaiti claims, there are 605 open files on missing persons possibly held by Iraq. Iraq's continued refusal to co-operate with the Tripartite Commission established to process these files puts it in violation of various Security Council Resolutions. The panel report also cites the 1949 articles on prisoners of war in the Third Geneva Convention [art. 118, 119, 126] and on civilian treatment in the Fourth Geneva Convention [art. 35, 143] as well as the subsequent Protocols (1977) on civilians [art. 33].

C: Alterations possible without sanctions' suspension

Paragraph 15 lifts the cap on Iraqi petroleum sales. All Iraqi revenue is still paid into the UN escrow account and the Security Council's Sanctions Committee is still required to approve Iraqi imports. This measure, therefore, does not seem to significantly hinder "security" considerations.

The "cap plus monitoring" arrangement originated in SCR 706 in 1991, an early oil-for-food deal rejected by Iraq. The cap proposed then would have allowed Iraq less income than that viewed by the Secretary-General as the minimum necessary to meet its priority needs. This has led many to suspect that the cap was not primarily intended to serve a security purpose but to be another instrument whereby the Iraqi people were pressured in the hope of achieving political gain. Jean Drèze, a co-author of Amartya Sen (whose work on famine contributed to his receipt of the 1998 Nobel Prize), and Haris Gazdar wrote:

It is difficult to understand why a narrow limit should be imposed on Iraq's exports of oil, if - as specified in Resolution 706 - the proceeds from oil sales are earmarked for the provision of essential "humanitarian" needs under close UN supervision. The government of Iraq has a proven ability, and strong political incentives, to expand public provisioning on a large scale - not only in the domain of food rationing but also in those of health care, education, water supply, sewage, sanitation, and power supply, among others. Allowing this process to take place would not conflict with the current directives and stated aims of the embargo. [1992. "Hunger and Poverty in Iraq, 1991", World Development, 20(7), pp. 921 - 45]
Until the past six months, the cap has not been binding as Iraq had been unable to export sufficient oil to meet it. This changed in the last completed phase of oil-for-food for two reasons: first, Iraqi pumping capacity turned out to be larger than expected; second, world oil prices climbed steeply [S/1999/1162]. On 4 October, the Security Council had passed Resolution 1266 authorising Iraq to exceed its cap by $3.04 billion, arguing that this would offset deficits in previous Phases.

Removing the cap is beneficial from a humanitarian point of view. Although Iraq had been announcing that it would not comply with SCR 1284 even before its passage, and continues to do so, the Humanitarian Panel reported that:

The question of securing additional funding to finance humanitarian efforts is of paramount importance, as virtually all submissions to the panel underlined the insufficiency of present levels of revenue to deal with pressing humanitarian needs. [paragraph 54]
The panel recommended removing the cap.

In addition to its humanitarian consequences, removing the cap may have consequences for the volatility of oil prices by removing a source of price uncertainty. This may in turn have other consequences. In 1997 Richard E. Hull, then a Visiting Fellow at the US Institute for National Strategic Studies, wrote that:

Some oil traders (claimed) that Saddam and his entourage had also enriched themselves by speculating in oil futures, manipulating the market to their advantage by periodically sending false signals that they were about to comply with Resolution 986. The prospect of a substantial increase in world supply resulting from the sale of Iraqi oil would trigger a price drop in oil futures, only for the price to soar up again, each time Saddam derailed implementation of the oil-for-food program with another incident. Reportedly, since the end of the Gulf War, Saddam had used $2 billion of his covert income to build huge palaces for himself and his supporters. [1997. Imposing International Sanctions: Legal Aspects and Enforcement by the Military. National Defense University Press]
Paragraph 16 of SCR 1284 suggests that additional export routes might be considered to allow Iraq increased exports.

The UK-Dutch proposal had explicitly mentioned Turkey, and had called for the establishment of a second escrow account for the proceeds of oil sales by road through Turkey. Those funds would be used to purchase goods of Turkish origin [paragraphs 17 - 19]. There is no obvious reason associated with Iraq's humanitarian situation or military potential that seemed to justify this proposal. The Humanitarian Panel report did recommend ways of bringing "petroleum and other oil products presently exported outside" of oil-for-food (i.e. smuggled) into the programme [paragraph 54 (iv)]. This recommendation would make the proposal to look for other routes sensible but would not justify the requirement that purchases be made from Turkey. As a guess, that requirement was more likely intended as payment for Turkey's political support, including continued support of US bombing of Iraq from the Incirlik airforce base.

Paragraph 17 authorises the Sanctions Committee to draw up a 'green list' of humanitarian items, "including foodstuffs, pharmaceutical and medical supplies, as well as basic or standard medical and agricultural equipment and basic or standard educational items." Items on this list could then be imported quickly into Iraq without being processed by the Sanctions Committee.

There are at least two benefits of this initiative. First, it reduces processing time, thereby allowing ordered goods to reach Iraq more quickly. (During Phase VI of oil-for-food, applications from Phase IV were still being processed.) The need to do this had been identified by the Humanitarian Panel as well as by numerous reports of the Secretary-General, particularly as the size and complexity of the oil-for-food programme has increased.

The second possible benefit regards transparency if the list is made public. The Sanctions Committee's structure mimics its parent body's, the Security Council: any permanent member can veto approval of a contract, or place a hold on it. Furthermore, the Committee has not been required to subject its decisions to public scrutiny. This has led to charges of abuse. More sanguine observers suggest that abuse is kept to a minimum by the divergent political interests of Committee members, which provides an incentive to expose incidents of abuse.

The issue of holds was felt nevertheless to be sufficiently serious to warrant a letter by the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council [23/10/99. S/1999/1086]. The letter noted that the number of contracts with holds on them had increased, as had the length of time taken to address the reasons for the holds. Telecommunications (100%), electricity (65.5%), water and sanitation (53.4%) and oil spare parts and equipment (43%) contracts were the most likely to be put on hold. (None of these items are mentioned as candidates for paragraph 17's for the 'green list'.)

Mr Sevan commented on some of these holds in his briefing to the Security Council on 17 November. Regarding those on electrical contracts, he reported the UNDP's estimate that, "Iraq could potentially achieve a 50 per cent increase in electricity supply if these holds were released." He is sure "we all share the view that there is a direct link between reliable power generation and the provision of health care, water supplies and other basic services." The telecommunications contracts are less immediately related to the humanitarian situation but Mr Sevan wished:

to emphasize the necessity for the Council and its Committee to address this long outstanding question, as it has significant implications for other sectors, in particular the efficient distribution of food and medicine. The needs are definitely there and yet 10 of the 13 applications circulated, worth over $100 million, have been placed on hold. The Office of the Iraq Programme would like to know from the Committee what its concerns actually are, in order to be able to address them appropriately. [italics added]
Therefore, for the full humanitarian benefit of paragraph 17 to be realised, it seems that efforts should be directed towards ensuring that the sanctions committee build a broad and public 'green list' and that it recognise the contribution of infrastructure to public health by placing infrastructural items on that list as well.

Paragraph 18 is designed to slightly improve processing of oil spare part contracts. The Sanctions Committee is still required to approve all parts and equipment (i.e. the projects) associated with projects but "experts" will then inspect the actual contracts (e.g. purchase orders, etc.). While this offers the possibility of speeding receipt of parts it does not address concerns about abusive holds on oil spare parts.

Paragraph 19 asks "Member States and international organizations to provide supplementary humanitarian assistance to Iraq and published material of an educational character to Iraq". This is an old request. It rarely meets with success, in part due to the difficulty of fund-raising for the citizens of the earth's principal pariah state and in part due to uncertainties regarding the remaining duration of the sanctions. Requests of this sort remind one of simultaneous use of a car's brakes and accelerator: the sanctions prevent Iraq using its oil wealth to meet its needs while others are asked to use their limited aid budgets to meet those needs.

Paragraph 20 adopts a minor suggestion of the Humanitarian Panel report [Paragraph 54 (vii)]. SCR 778 (1992) attempted to endow the UN escrow acount by:

The funds thus received would be returned with interest when the escrow account was terminated. SCR 986 [14/1/95. S/1995/986, oil-for-food] required that funds be set aside (up to $40 million annually) to ensure that these interest payments would be met. Paragraph 20 of SCR 1284 allows these reserved funds not to be set aside, and therefore to be used by the humanitarian programme; this provision lasts for six months and is renewable.

This initiative had also been recommended by the Humanitarian Panel. While it will make more revenue available for humanitarian needs, it cannot make more than $40 million / year available to Iraq. This is a minimal amount.

Paragraphs 21 and 22 ask the Secretary-General is to "maximize ... the effectiveness", "continue to enhance" and "minimize the cost" of UN operations. Paragraph 23 adopts a recommendation billed by the Humanitarian Panel as a "confidence building measure ... that Iraq be furnished by the UN with a daily statement of the status of the escrow account" [paragraph 54 (x)].

Paragraph 24 asks the Secretary-General to draw up plans for the purchase of Iraqi goods under oil-for-food and for a cash component. The Council will need to approve those plans. These steps were recommended in paragraphs 56(i) and (ii) of the Humanitarian Panel report and are positive developments. The previous inability to purchase Iraqi goods meant that, for example, Iraqi farmers (with increased costs due to the sanctions) had to compete with the free produce from abroad provided in the food basket. Under these circumstances, Iraqi farmers had a perverse incentive to sell their own produce abroad. Rather than admitting the incentive structure of oil-for-food, British politicians have claimed that these sales are evidence that sanctions have not contributed to hardship in Iraq. [4/2/99. Baroness Symons, Hansard, House of Lords] The "cash component" is designed to allow purchases unforseen when a project was submitted for approval to the Sanctions Committee (e.g. hiring a local construction team to install a generator).

Paragraph 25 asks the Sanctions Committee to make its decisions more quickly, and asks that the Secretary-General identify submissions with possible "dual-use" concerns upon submission.

Paragraph 26 exempts Hajj flights from the flight ban, as long as no cargo is transported. There had been some discussion as to whether pilgrims hoping to go on Omrah would also be allowed to travel.

Paragraph 27 calls on the Government of Iraq to be more efficient in its activities, allow UN personnel more freedom of movement within the country, to prioritise oil-for-food applications, to ensure that the involuntarily displaced are not required to demonstrate six months of residence to qualify for humanitarian aid and to co-operate with UN mine-clearing operations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Most of these requests are taken from the Humanitarian Panel report and Secretary-General's reports.

Paragraph 28 asks the Secretary-General for a "report on the progress made in meeting the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people and on the revenues necessary to meet those needs", with an interest especially in whether the "current allocation [of $300 million / phase] of oil spare parts" should be increased; paragraph 29 expresses the Council's readiness to act on his recommendations. As the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for a doubling of this to $600 million / phase (most recently in S/1999/1162) this recommendation seems to serve primarily to delay the decision on oil spare parts. The Humanitarian Panel report called for "lifting the ceiling of allowable oil exports and facilitating the speedy provision of the necessary spare parts to enable Iraq to increase its export capacity" [paragraph 54 (i)].

Paragraph 30 calls for the Secretary-General to establish a group of oil experts who can recommend steps to increase Iraq's capacity for exporting oil, including through foreign firms' involvement. This, and other private investment, had already been recommended by the Humanitarian Panel report which recognised that the provisions of paragraph 28 alone would have "no automatic impact on the generation of additional revenue" if Iraq did not have the funds to take advantage of the permission to expend more on its oil infrastructure. The foreign funds could immediately free up $300 million / 180 days (the amount that Iraq spends on oil spare parts) for humanitarian purchases. It therefore seems that another decision has been pushed into the future.

Recommendations of the Humanitarian Panel that do not appear in SCR 1284, and have not been mentioned above, include:

D: Sanctions' suspension

Paragraph 33 expresses the Council's "intention" to suspend sanctions once Unmovic and the IAEA report 120 days of co-operation "in all respects". This meaning of this was kept deliberately vague by Britain [18/12/99. "New inspectorate offers Iraq a way out of sanctions", David Usborne, The Independent]. The "fundamental objective" of the suspension is "improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq"; the resolution therefore admits to the link between the sanctions and Iraq's humanitarian crisis. The sanctions will be suspended "subject to the elaboration of effective financial and other operational measures", also left undefined. Paragraph 36 promises that these will be defined no later than at the end of the 120 day co-operation period.

The Government of Iraq is therefore being asked to subscribe to a two-fold uncertainty: to co-operate, in a poorly defined sense, in order to achieve an undefined suspension of sanctions. As the Government of Iraq has good cause to suspect the intentions of the US and the UK (the former has repeatedly announced that the sanctions are linked to the present regime, not to weapons; both are currently bombing it) it is not likely to regard implementation of SCR 1284 as a good bet. Not only may the resolution's uncertainty decrease Iraq's perceived payoffs to implementing 1284, but it may actually send a signal that 1284 cannot be trusted. The Government of Iraq may wonder, for example, why the form of sanctions' suspension has been left unclear, given that the French government presented detailed proposals for these measures in August.

This ambiguity assumed a central role in the Security Council debate on the resolution:

The main issue of contention, that brought the abstentions, was what Russia, China and France called the lack of clarity in spelling out exactly which disarmament measure Iraq had to meet before a suspension of the sanctions. [17/12/99. "UN Council Adopts Critical Resolution on Iraq", Reuters]
Some are concerned about the language of "suspension" rather than "lifting". In the context of the UK-Dutch draft, Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov felt that suspending sanctions represented "a very large step backward" [17/6/99. "US And Russia Still Far Apart On Iraqi Sanctions", Evelyn Leopold, Reuters]. It is certainly the case that paragraph 33 does not talk about full lifting but this is presumably because that is still governed by SCR 687, which does talk of lifting sanctions. Nonetheless, that resolution had also left Iraq's requirements ambiguous.

Paragraph 35 allows sanctions to be re-imposed upon the word of Unmovic's Executive Chairman or the IAEA's Director General. This will occur within five working days unless the Security Council objects.

Given the Security Council's ability to re-impose rapidly the sanctions, the motive behind the 120 day co-operation period is unclear. The waiting period imposes further humanitarian costs on the Iraqi people and does not clearly enhance security as the proposed suspensions would not apply to military or dual-use equipment. France, China and Russia all opposed the waiting period. The Washington Post may have provided a clue by commenting that the waiting period "would put off the politically difficult decision of suspending the sanctions on Iraq until after the [US] presidential election in November 2000" [27/11/99]. This seems consistent with former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's claims:

But the United States did not want 'Oil-for-Food' to take place near the time of the presidential elections. The administration feared that the Republicans might cite certain language in the memorandum of understanding as evidence that Clinton had made concessions to Saddam Hussein. That is why the American delegation attached so much importance to form, to sentences, and to any terms that could be interpreted as restoring sovereignty to Iraq. [1999. Unvanquished, Random House, p. 267]
Diplomatic sources tell us that Washington's concerns do not relate to security, but to its reputation. In return, the Security Council has lost an instrument whereby it could have signalled trustworthiness to the Government of Iraq.

Paragraph 37 says that the Council might adopt the oil experts' recommendations if sanctions are suspended. This suggests that the possibility of foreign investment in Iraq will not be allowed without the 120 days of co-operation and further makes the humanitarian situation contingent upon the ongoing political disputes between the Iraqi government and others'.


The Government of Iraq has announced that it will not implement any Security Council Resolution that does not immediately lift the sanctions on it; it argues that it has complied with the existing Resolutions. This latter claim is not generally believed. While its threat not to implement 1284 was felt to be a bargaining stance before voting, the abstentions of France, China and Russia add strength to that stance. US Ambassador to the UN, Peter Burleigh, made no secret of his belief that the present Government of Iraq would not implement the resolution [18/12/99. BBC World Service], adding weight to the view that implementation by Iraq was not the resolution's chief aim. White House National Security Adviser Sandy Berger is more ominous, believing that the resolution gives the sanctions "a greater degree of legitimacy and acceptability around the world" [19/12/99. "U.S. Says U.N. Vote Adds Legitimacy to Iraq Embargo", Reuters].

From a political point of view, the resolution may trigger a new round of confrontations. The French Foreign Ministry warned that "the text risks causing distorted interpretations...which could have as an objective an indefinite delay on any decision over the sanctions. Such a position could only lead to new crises'' [17/12/99. "FOCUS-France defends U.N. Iraq vote abstention", Reuters]. The Ministry thought that the 30 day period before the appointment of Unmovic's Executive Chairman "could be the occasion to remove the last ambiguities in the text of the resolution and regain the unanimity of the council for the full weight of its authority".

Not only will the Security Council be required to resolve these issues but it will have to decide what to do with Unmovic. If SCR 1284 intended to place weapons inspectors back in Iraq then allowing Unmovic to remain outside Iraq may not be regarded as acceptable. The Disarmament Panel certainly felt that it was important to return inspectors to Iraq and noted that:

Given the difficulties experienced in the past, this will require firm and active support by the Security Council for the implementation of the reinforced OMV [on-going monitoring and verification] system. Implementation of the OMV system is predicated on Iraqi cooperation. Ensuring appropriate cooperation by Iraq means that, in one way or another, Iraq will have to be engaged by the Security Council, sooner rather than later. Of course the OMV system cannot be conceived as an enticement for Iraq to invite it into its territory. Indeed, the reinforced OMV would be, if anything, more intrusive than the one so far practiced. It is in the hands of the Security Council to devise ways of ensuring that Iraq accepts such monitoring and verification. [paragraph 67]
A divided Security Council is unlikely to take the steps outlined above. The Government of Iraq is also in a better position to resist Security Council pressure than it was in 1991. Then it had barely survived a civil war, which might have succeeded but for a lack of international support. Now Forbes magazine estimates that the Iraqi President is the world's sixth richest head of state. In 1991, the Iraqi Government felt that weapons inspectors were a minor nuisance that would be quickly seen to the door (SCR 687 anticipated their job being over within 120 days); now it knows better. It is therefore unlikely that Unmovic will ever be able to report that the Government of Iraq has co-operated for 120 days.

From a humanitarian point of view, SCR 1284 continues in the direction set out by SCR 661 (1990) and SCR 687 (1991): the wellbeing of ordinary Iraqis is to continue to depend on the struggle between their government and those of the US and the UK. This is a perverse strategy if one claims that the Government of Iraq does not care about popular wellbeing; it is a futile strategy given that the effectiveness of comprehensive economic sanctions is felt to be inversely related to the representativeness of the government in the targeted country [c.f. the proceedings of the Overseas Development Institute's December 1998 "smart sanctions" conference]. Finally, it is a strategy that can be expected to continue to have traumatic consequences for the Iraqi people: in August Unicef estimated that an additional half million Iraqi children under five years of age have died during the sanctions period. While SCR 1284 does offer some improvements (e.g. the lifting of the sales cap) it seems more designed to appear "tough on Saddam" (in the words of a Downing Street spokesperson, 18/12/99, The Times) than to be "fair on the Iraqi people". If one sought signs of improvement in British policy, it is not reassuring that official statements continue to fail to address these concerns.


In CASI's view, a good Security Council Resolution on Iraq would have de-coupled humanitarian and political issues, removing Iraqi citizens from the cross-fire between the governments of Iraq, the US and the UK. SCR 1284, while making some concessions to ordinary Iraqis, does not do this: the suspension of non-military sanctions still requires extensive, undefined and unprecedented co-operation between the Iraqi government and a re-flagged Unscom. Even the humanitarian concessions are meagre, less generous than those proposed in earlier Anglo-Dutch draft and less generous than those sought by France, China and Russia. The refusal to adopt low risk measures such as the loans from the Compensation Fund suggest that the US and the UK will only grudgingly cease to use Iraqi citizens as pawns.

A good SCR would also have taken steps to build trust and reduce the interest of the governments in fighting. SCR 1284 does not offer olive branches. There is no explicit acknowledgement that the old weapons inspectors, in whose image the new are created, seriously compromised their mandate, and only outlines of steps to prevent this happening again. By making Iraq's requirements explicitly vague the resolution fails to assuage what must be a central concern in their government's mind: do we have any reason to trust the US, whose announced policy is not weapons inspection but our overthrow?

The road to trust could have been embarked upon by suspending the non-military sanctions once the new weapons inspectors started work, as France, China and Russia wanted. The Iraqi people would have had substantial evidence of our concern and the Iraqi regime would have had a signal of co-operation and an incentive to prevent the sanctions' re-imposition. Instead, we have given the Iraqi people further evidence that we are as willing as their leader to use them as political bargaining chips.


1. Written answer to Mr David Winnick (5 May, 1999). 17 May, 1999.

2. Analysis of Security Council Resolution 1284 (17 December, 1999). 24 December 1999.

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