Historical archive

UN Security Council - Iraq. Statement of Norway 26 June 2001

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 1st Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Ole Petter Kolby

UN Security Council - Iraq Statement of Norway

New York, 26 June 2001

Mr. President.

Norway attaches the utmost importance to a prompt and lasting settlement of this issue.

At the same time, we recall the background and purpose of sanctions against Iraq, which are clearly linked to preventing Iraq from yet again constituting a threat against peace and security in the region. We are committed to the premises for ending these measures. A lasting settlement can only happen, and will happen, on the basis of full Iraqi co-operation with the international community in conformity with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, including its resolution 1284.

The basic requirements of cooperation with the international community are simple. They are shared by all members of the Council. They are reasonable, seen against the background of earlier records of compliance by the Iraqi authorities.

The essential message from the international community is therefore that the key to unlocking the door of sanctions goes through full cooperation. Iraq holds that key. We have, on our part, been eager to see that key being properly turned in order to lift sanctions.

Mr. President.

Weapons Inspectors must be given entry to Iraq and Iraq must demonstrate its willingness to fully co-operate with UNMOVIC. We have the fullest confidence in the Commission’s Chairman, Mr. Hans Blix, and his team. In the field of mass destruction weapons, particularly after demonstrated use of such weapons, the international community could not issue a clean bill of health without reasonable guarantees. The international community has been demanding nothing more, nothing less.

Moreover, we regretfully have to revert to the issue of missing persons and stolen property. We are deeply concerned by the plight of the missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals, as well as their families. It is disturbing that there is no progress on this matter. We urge Iraq to ensure – in an expeditious manner – the repatriation or the return of all Kuwaiti and third country nationals or their remains. Iraqi statements attacking the integrity of the High Level Coordinator, Ambassador Vorontsov, must be clearly rejected. We fail to understand why the required transparency with regard to missing persons and stolen property cannot be achieved through co-operation with the United Nations.

Mr. President.

Paramount among Norwegian concerns is the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people. We remain dismayed by the dire life conditions of various segments of the civilian population. It would be too simple to attempt to identify one single reason for these difficult living conditions and health problems. There are various reasons for this situation.

Nevertheless, we all have solid evidence not only about the usefulness but also of the necessity of the humanitarian programme in Iraq pursuant to resolution 986. It is therefore a matter of particular concern that 2.2 billion US dollars of the funds destined to meet these humanitarian objectives remain unused on the UN Escrow account.

It would be naive to claim that full utilisation of the Oil-for-Food Programme would by itself solve all outstanding issues related to the development of the social and economic infrastructure in Iraq. Nor are we doing so. However, the Iraqi authorities bear the main responsibility for utilising all means put at their disposal by the United Nations to meet urgent needs. Moreover, they must ensure budgetary priorities and take other appropriate measures to accomodate these needs.

Norway attaches great importance to a humanitarian cash component under the humanitarian programme, in order to allow for the purchase of locally produced goods, and thus stimulate development of local resources. Needless to say, our primary wish remains however full Iraqi cooperation with the UN, leading to an end to sanctions, and thereby allowing for a normalisation of the economy.

Mr. President.

Resolution 1284 remains the overall framework and stipulates the conditions for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq.

Pending the co-operation we all hope for, and which so far has not been forthcoming, we find on our part that it would be irresponsible not to engage in a result oriented and concrete attempt to revisit how current sanctions work. It is our collective responsibility to make a thorough assessment of current practices and consider how they could be improved.

Drawing on my own experience from Chairing the 661-Comittee, I think I have all members with me in saying that certain immediate improvements and changes are called for in the handling of imports of goods into Iraq. This has also been highlighted by the Secretary General in his latest report dated 18 May 2001 on the implementation of the Oil-for-Food Programme. We should heed his call to Council Members to ensure a much more effective implementation of the programme. This can only be achieved by as far as possible doing away with certain cumbersome and time consuming procedures involved in today’s practice.

We believe that the focus of the Committee should be devoted solely to items, which represent a military related threat or dual use risks. We would welcome significant simplifications and streamlining of procedures toward this objective.

Such a step requires adoption of a list of goods to scrutinise, a so-called Goods Review List. I believe it is important to note, here, that such a notion, although new, covers the fact that we in reality already have had for 11 years a comprehensive control list. With the exception of few items that have been fast-tracked, the overwhelming majority of items destined to Iraq have been undergoing the scrutiny of the Sanctions Committee. We all know how cumbersome and, in my view, unnecessary such an approach can be. More importantly, it can lead to unwanted obstacles to the flow of important items.

Limiting the scope of control by the Sanctions Committee to potentially sensitive items, by leaving all other items aside, is in our view plain common sense.

Moreover, Norway is in favour of increased involvement of Iraq’s neighbouring States in upholding effective UN measures, and thus sending a signal of renewed unity from the international community to Iraqi authorities. At the same time, their legitimate concerns need to be taken into full account. In exploring ways to enhance UN controls, we should be guided by a thorough analysis in close consultation with the States concerned.

Mr. President.

By the unanimous adoption of resolution 1352 the Council is faced with both the challenge and the responsibility to reform the implementation of the humanitarian programme. This is the main task that we have undertaken to do within 3 July.

In summing up, the basic issue before us today is the following choice between two alternatives:

Either we seize this opportunity to radically simplify and promote the flow of everyday civilian goods into Iraq, thereby establishing beyond any doubt that the international community is giving paramount importance to humanitarian concerns, while keeping sensitive goods under control.

Or, we preserve the status quo. This appears in reality to be the only other option. A continuation of the current state of affairs would mean carrying on with a cumbersome and time-consuming scrutiny of almost all goods destined to Iraq. Such a course of action would be contrary to the interests of the Iraqi civilian population.

The choice is clear. We must seize the opportunity before us and mark a clear departure from the status quo.