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Iraq: UN Lifts Economic Sanctions

  • Robert McMahon

United Nations, 22 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations Security Council has voted to lift all non-military sanctions against Iraq and to place the country under the control of the U.S.-led administration.

The vote was 14 to zero. Syria did not cast a vote. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, said "The threatening actions and defiance of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime prolonged the imposition of sanctions for nearly 13 years. Those sanctions have now been lifted. The liberation of Iraq has cleared the path for today's action."

The adoption of the resolution effectively clears the way for the U.S.-British occupying authorities in Iraq to sell oil. Under the resolution, the authorities pledge to spend oil revenues for reconstruction and other needs of the Iraqi people.

The resolution won the support of the three leading opponents of the Iraqi war -- France, Russia, and Germany -- after changes, including a greater political role for the UN in Iraq, were agreed with the United States.

In Paris, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "It was important that we recognize a vital role for the United Nations and I believe this resolution does that by designating a special representative of the [UN] secretary-general to work in every way with the Interim Iraqi Administration when it is formed, to work with the coalition provisional authority, and to help in the process of moving this through the phases that will now be right in front of us."

He added: "So, this is a wonderful day for the people of Iraq who have been liberated and now they can see, I hope, with a very, very overwhelming vote, the United Nations as a group, through the Security Council, coming to assist them."

Syria did not participate in the vote. Syria has previously criticized the resolution for giving too much control to the occupying authorities.

The resolution says the U.S.-British authorities will work with a UN special representative to help set up an interim Iraqi government. It says these parties will facilitate the process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq.

U.S. officials also modified their original text to include a review of the mandates of UN weapons inspectors, which have so far not been allowed to return to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction.

The UN is to continue the oil-for-food program for six months to ensure the delivery of priority civilian goods to Iraqis.

The council will review the resolution within 12 months.

Negroponte added: "The resolution affirms our commitment to the development of an internationally recognized representative government of Iraq. It creates a robust mandate for a special representative of the [UN] secretary-general, including to work with the people of Iraq, the authority, and others concerned including neighboring states. The resolution establishes a framework for an orderly phaseout of the oil-for-food program, thereby preserving, for a transitional period, what has become an important safety net for the people of Iraq."