Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Votes to Lift Iraq Sanctions - 2003-05-22

The 15-member U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution lifting economic sanctions against Iraq, by a vote of 14-0. The resolution grants the United States and Britain broad control over Iraq's economic and political affairs, while giving the United Nations a role for a post-war Iraq.

The Security Council adopted the measure after days of tough negotiations that led to the modification of several drafts and new concessions to key council members.

The measure, co-sponsored by Britain, Spain, and the United States, ends the crippling trade and financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, but maintains an arms embargo.

Syria, the only Arab member of the current Security Council, was noticeably absent from the vote. The Syrians say they needed more time to study the resolution.

Nonetheless, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the Council united in the interest of the Iraqi people.

"The lifting of sanctions marks a momentous event for the people of Iraq," he said. "It is the turning of an historical page that should brighten the future of a people and the region."

During the negotiations leading to the final resolution, France, Germany, and Russia expressed concern that the measure granted open ended powers to the United States and Britain over Iraq's natural resources and political life, without establishing a clear U.N. role beyond humanitarian relief.

But members reached a series of compromises that include international safeguards to promote transparency in the use of Iraqi oil revenues.

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said that the resolution marks progress in defining a U.N. role and the responsibilities of the occupying powers to respect international law.

"The resolution that we have adopted is not perfect. Significant improvements were, however, introduced at each stage the negotiations," he said. "We believe that it now provides a credible framework within which the international community will be able to lend support to the Iraqi people. This is why we supported it."

Germany and Russia also expressed satisfaction with the resolution, describing it as a "compromise."

The measure specifies that the "occupying powers'" authority will end with the formation of an internationally recognized Iraqi government.

Another key compromise point allows the Security Council to review the resolution within one year.

The resolution gives a special "independent" U.N. envoy a role in the creation of Iraq's interim government.

It allows the U.N. envoy to honor some of the lucrative contracts already ordered under the Oil-For-Food program, which will be phased out over six, rather than four months.

The resolution does not return U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, but it enables the Security Council to revisit the international arms inspectors' mandate. U.N. chemical and biological weapons inspectors are expected to brief the council next month.