Global Policy Forum

UN Security Council: Disagreements and Debates on the Sanctions

Russia and France, along with many elected members, were critical of the Iraq sanctions and tried to lift or substantially reform them. The United States and the UK used their political muscle and veto power to keep sanctions in force and to allow minor reforms. Shortly after the US invaded Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein from power, President George W. Bush urged the United Nations to lift its comprehensive economic sanctions against Iraq. Though all members of the Security Council agreed in principle that sanctions had to end, many Council members were concerned that a resolution would indirectly justify the war and acknowledge the US occupation. For many Council members, Resolution 1483 failed to give an adequate role to the UN in post-war Iraq and to arrange for the return of the UN arms inspectors to certify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.

Key Documents

Resolution 1483 (May 22, 2003)

The resolution adopted 14-0 in the Security Council with Syria absent gives the US and UK forces control of Iraq and immediately lifts the sanctions.

Articles and Analysis


Resolution 1483: Legalizing an Occupation (May 28, 2003)

The US got everything it wanted with the Security Council Resolution 1483. Minor concessions included making the UN Special Coordinator a Special Representative. But the representative will only have coordinating responsibilities and no executive powers over the occupation regime. (Present Danger)

The Security Council that Betrayed its Mission (May 28, 2003)

Former Jordan Ambassador to the UN Hasan Abu Nimah condemns the Security Council's adoption of Resolution 1483 as an "acquiescence to power politics" and an "open UN invitation to its member states to support an illegal occupation." (Jordan Times)

UN Votes to End Sanctions on Iraq (May 23, 2003)

The Security Council voted 14-0 to end the sanction against Iraq. One of many requests by France, Russia and Germany, a time limit for the US and UK occupation in Iraq, was denied. After the vote, President George W. Bush said that the coalition partners will remain in Iraq as long as necessary." (Los Angeles Times)

New Master of Iraqi Oil Ceremonies (May 23, 2003)

After countless calls to counterparts and minor concessions to foreign governments by the US, the Security Council passed a resolution to end 13 years of sanctions against Iraq. Profit motives linked to oil lurk behind the sanctions debate, and "double and triple standards by the most verbal actors - France, Russia and the United States." (Asia Times)

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Gunter Pleuger (May 22, 2003)

This is the transcript of German ambassador Gunter Pleuger's statement to the Security Council on the resolution to lift sanctions in Iraq. (German Mission Transcript)

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador John D. Negroponte (March 22, 2003)

This is the transcript of US ambassador John D. Negroponte's statement to the Security Council on the resolution to lift sanctions in Iraq. (US Mission Transcript )

France, Russia Back Lifting of Iraq Sanctions (May 22, 2003)

Foreign Ministers from France, Russia and Germany announced their support for a Security Council resolution to lift the Iraq sanctions. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said the countries would vote for the resolution "even if this text does not go as far as we would like because we have chosen the path of unity of the international community." (Washington Post)

The Sanctions Game (May 19, 2003)

For more than a decade, US imposed sanction on Iraq were one of the "strictest, most closely regulated sanctions in the history of economic warfare." Washington asks now the UN to immediately lift the sanctions so the US can profit from Iraq's resources. (Yellow Times)

Britain Has Capitulated to US Hawks Over UN Resolution (May 13, 2003)

In the new US-UK sponsored draft on Iraq, the UN is assigned to advisory and supportive roles. This reveals that the hawks in Washington have the upper hand and it also contradicts the Hillsborough summit in April, where Prime Minister Tony Blair promised a "vital role" for the United Nations. (Times, London)

Interview Given by M. Dominique de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs (May 12, 2003)

The French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin answers questions about Iraq, regarding the UN role, the US, UK and Spanish Security Council draft on Iraq and also about France-US relations. (Le Monde)

Time For Some Realpolitik (May 9, 2003)

Simon Tisdall of the Guardian comments on the draft proposal to control Iraq financially and politically. The US needs UN approval if it wants private investors and multinational corporations to invest in Iraq without fear of default or legal challenges.

US to Propose Broader Control Of Iraqi Oil, Funds (May 9, 2003)

The new draft resolution presented to the UN Security Council would give the US authority over Iraq's lucrative oil industry. The resolution will face opposition from nations that favor continued UN control over Iraq's oil. (Washington Post)

US Eases Embargoes, Asks UN to Follow (May 8, 2003)

President George W. Bush announced that the United States would suspend its restrictions against Iraq on technology exports, humanitarian assistance and cash transfers to people in Iraq. Bush also urged the UN to lift its sanctions against Iraq. (Washington Post)

US Faces Opposition Over New Iraq Resolution (May 8, 2003)

There are recommendations by the US and its allies that the UN should end sanctions and "phase out the oil-for-food aid program." The proposal will face opposition and Russia has already circulated its own draft resolution proposing that Secretary General Kofi Annan run the oil-for-food program. (Associated Press)

US Overseer Blames Sanctions by UN for Iraqi Gas Shortages (May 5, 2003)

Jay Garner, the former Lieutenant General in charge of Iraq's reconstruction, wants the UN to lift the sanctions and blames the world body for stalling deliveries of oil for Iraq. Garner did not state that the devastating sanctions were previously enforced by the US and Britain. (New York Times)

UN Council May Modify US Call to End Bans On Iraq (May 2, 2003)

With reservations in the Security Council about a resolution lifting the sanctions against Iraq, the chances are slim that it will pass. According to diplomats the resolution would marginalize the UN's role. (Reuters)

We Are Not With You and We Don't Believe You (April 30, 2003)

Prime Minister Tony Blair was not able to persuade President Vladimir Putin to lift the sanctions. Putin also scorned Blair stating that "perhaps Saddam is still hiding somewhere in a bunker underground, sitting on cases of weapons of mass destruction." (Guardian)

Blair-Putin Tensions On Sanctions (April 29, 2003)

Prime Minister Tony Blair held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the aftermath of the war in Iraq. Putin stated that the sanctions can not be lifted until the issue of weapons of mass destruction has been clarified. (BBC)

US to Offer Resolution to End Sanctions (April 25, 2003)

The Bush administration plans to introduce a draft resolution to the UN Security Council lifting the sanctions on Iraq, while limiting UN involvement in Iraq to a "consultative role." Still under consideration in Washington, the draft resolution offers specific plans for the Iraq oil industry, such as "moving its profits from UN control to an Iraqi Central Bank fund to be spent on reconstruction activities" designated by Jay Garner. (Washington Post)

France Urging UN to Suspend Iraq Penalties (April 23, 2003)

French ambassador to the UN, Jean Marc de la Sablií¨re calls for the suspension of sanctions against Iraq and for allowing unrestricted non-military trade to resume. (New York Times)

France and Russia Prepare For Battle Over UN Sanctions (April 18, 2003)

President George W. Bush urged the UN to lift the sanctions on Iraq. But Permanent Security Council member Russia stated that sanctions would not be lifted until it is certain that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction. (Independent)

Bush Urges End to Iraq Sanctions (April 17, 2003)

President George W. Bush urged the United Nations to lift economic sanctions against Iraq. Security Council members will probably debate this issue, fearing that lifting the sanctions will result in the US gaining full control over Iraq's oil. (New York Times)

Germany to Chair UN Commission on Sanctions against Iraq (January 8, 2003)

The Security Council elected Germany to take over the chair of the Iraq Sanctions Committee, a task that Germany already assumed during its previous term in the Security Council in 1995-1996. After much pressure from France and Russia, the US dropped its opposition to the election. (Itar-Tass)


Security Council Tries to Ease Tensions Between US and Iraq (May 23, 2002)

Diplomats in the Security Council are quietly working to prevent US military action against Iraq by trying to persuade Saddam Hussein's government to allow the return of weapons inspectors. Failure of such tactic would strengthen those in the Bush administration who favor a military option. (New York Times)

Iraq Considering UN Inspectors (May 16, 2002)

Rumors circulate that Iraq, which "grudgingly accepted" the changes in the sanctions, might allow the return of inspectors. Ambassador Cunningham, the US Deputy Representative at the UN, comments on the evolution of the situation. (Associated Press)

Saddam Must Allow Weapons Inspectors Into Iraq or Suffer the Consequences (March 5, 2002)

In an editorial for the London Times, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw praises the virtue of "smarter sanctions" and the drafting of a new Goods Review List, passing the blame to Saddam Hussein.


US-Iraq Policy: Interview with State Department spokesman Richard Boucher (November 20, 2001)

Richard Boucher affirms that the US is actively working for a UN Security Council consensus on Iraq. (US Department of State)

Iraq Not Willing to Accept Sanction Changes (November 25, 2001)

As the current phase of the UN oil-for-food program draws to an end on November 30, 2001, Iraq are not accepting any changes to the sanctions regime. The change in sanctions proposed by the US and the UK would lift most of the restrictions on trade with Iraq, but tighten enforcement of the arms embargo and block smuggling routes. (Associated Press)

US Likely to Delay Action on Iraq Curbs (November 7, 2001)

With Russia emerging as a key supporter of the American-led war in Afghanistan, US officials are likely to delay efforts at overhauling UN economic sanctions on Iraq as previous attempts have faced opposition from Russia. (Washington Post)

US-British 'Smart Sanctions' Iraq Plan in Doubt (November 2, 2001)

Instead of asking for Russian support in revamping sanctions against Iraq, the US and Britain are considering alternative means to pressure Baghdad into accepting UN arms inspectors. (Cable News Network)

Saddam Steps Up Rejection of "Smart" Sanctions as UN Opens Debate (May 22, 2001)

Saddam Hussein announced he will reject the revised sanctions conditions as proposed by the US. (Agence France Presse)

UN Council Powers Discuss Easing Iraqi Sanctions (May 22, 2001)

The five permanent members of the Security Council began to negotiate the new draft resolution on Iraq sanctions. China, Russia and France seem less in a hurry than the US and the UK. (Reuters)

Russia, China Cool on Iraq Sanctions (May 18, 2001)

Russia, China and France reacted cautiously to the UK proposal on Iraq. Reaching a consensus on the draft resolution among Security Council members may take time. (Associated Press)

New US-British Plan on Iraq (May 17, 2001)

Next week the UK, backed by the US, will introduce a new resolution for "smarter" sanctions on Iraq. This article emphasizes the novelty of the initiative, but many observers find little that is new here. (New York Times)

US Starts Talks in Security Council on New Iraqi Policy (May 16, 2001)

The US distributed its memorandum on revised sanctions against Iraq to the four other permanent members. A UK draft resolution may circulate next week among the entire Council. If they can not agree on a new resolution, the present program will continue for the next six months. (Reuters)

Powell Claims "Bit of Success" in Lobbying for Changes to Iraq Sanctions (May 14, 2001)

Washington reviews its Iraq policy. The main aim: restructuring the arms control systems so the "Iraqi regime cannot blame the United States for hurting Iraqi civilians". (Agence France Presse)

Seminar to Discuss Iraq Trade Now and After Sanctions (May 10, 2001)

According to seminar organizer "Global Resources", the embargo is 'relaxed'. Iraq is forging plans for business trade with a preference to Middle East partners. (Global News Wire/Gulf News)

Private Firms Aid UN on Sanctions (April 21, 2001)

Privatization does not spare the UN. After the decision to use services of a private company to monitor sanctions in Angola, the Security Council discusses the same possibility for arms inspection in Iraq. (Washington Post)

UN Security Council Raps Iraq on Missing Kuwaitis (April 21, 2001)

The Security Council reiterates the obligation of Iraq to investigate the disappearance of people during the invasion of Kuwait. This is the only issue the 15 Council members agree on as part of the requirements for the lifting of sanctions. (Reuters)

Cheney Panel Seeks Review Of Sanctions (April 19, 2001)

The US is revising its sanction regime not only on Iraq, but also on Iran and Libya in order to meet energy needs in the country. (Washington Post)

Iraq Seeks Russian Support and Cooperation (April 18, 2001)

In a visit in Moscow, Iraqi vice-president Ramadan, tries convincing Russia to confirm its support for lifting the sanctions and boost bilateral cooperation, especially in the oil sector. (People Daily)

Saddam Supports Sanctions (April 16, 2001)

Saddam is against the lifting of sanctions, since they have consolidated his regime, says the Guardian.

Now an Iraq War in Washington (April 9, 2001)

President Bush has set up three administration working groups to "turn the justified review of 15 years of failed US policy toward Saddam into something valuable and innovative", reports the Washington Post.

US Shifts Attack on Iraq Trade (March 26, 2001)

The US revealed some parts of its new sanctions policy towards Iraq, based on the monitoring of the country's borders and incentives for neighbors to cooperate. So far, the sanctions proposals have been welcomed by key members of the Security Council. (Washington Post)

Some Preliminary Assessments of Powell's Iraq Trajectory (March 13, 2001)

Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies reviews what we know - and what we do not know - about the emerging Bush strategy toward Iraq, including the divergences between Powell and Cheney.

New Study Details 'Smart Sanctions' Proposals to Disarm Iraq (March 7, 2001)

The Fourth Freedom Forum releases a new study on "smarter sanctions" to be implemented against Iraq. The report proposes a set of sanctions focusing on weapons and military-related goods, as an alternative to the current sanctions regime. (US Newswire)

Interview with RF Permanent Representative to the UN Sergei Lavrov on Iraq (March 1, 2001)

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Representative, give us his point of view on the Iraqi situation. The shift of the US policy towards Iraq could permit the Council to adopt a comprehensive and rational attitude. (Federal News Service)

Smart Sanctions: Restructuring UN Policy in Iraq (March 2001)

After six months of work, the Fourth Freedom Forum and the John B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies have released their executive report on smart sanctions.

Time for a Modified Approach (February 2001)

This paper from the Brookings Institute indicates the thinking of the Bush administration. The author worked with Richard Haass, now Director of the Policy Planning at the State Department.

Iraqis End Two-Day Meet with Annan, Agree to Pursue Dialogue with UN (February 28, 2001)

"We did not discuss any proposals. We discussed issues" reported the Iraqi delegation after the first recent high level dialogue between Iraq and the Secretary General. A second round of talks is expected soon. (Agence France Presse)

US Favors Easing Iraq Sanctions (February 27, 2001)

During a three-day trip to the Middle East, Colin Powell sought Arab support for more targeted sanctions against Saddam's regime. But what is precisely in the program? (Washington Post)

Iraq Defiant as US Lobbies Arabs on Shift in Sanctions (February 25, 2001)

The Iraqi people are skeptical about the "smarter" sanctions under discussion between the US and the UK, interpreting the policy shift as a way to control Iraq's economic, political and military resources. (New York Times)

Security Council Ready to Reduce Sanctions Against Iraq: Norway (February 23, 2001)

Position in the Security Council toward Iraq is moving: Norway is about to present a proposition to lift sanctions against Iraq. A proposal that could be accepted by the P5!(Agence France Presse)

Iraq to Attend UN Talks on Sanctions (February 21, 2001)

Despite the US-UK bombings on Baghdad, Iraq will still attend the talks with Kofi Annan planned since last November. (Reuters)

Bush Team Is Divided on Policy Toward Iraq (February 15, 2001)

The new administration hesitates between two paths to deal with Iraq: to support the Iraqi opposition party to weaken Saddam, or to rationalize UN sanctions. The second alternative seems to have better chance to attract European and Arab backing. (International Herald Tribune)

Revisiting the Iraq Sanctions (February 11, 2001)

Colin Powell, on departure to the Middle East, needs to "revitalize" strategy towards Iraq, for which he will need the cooperation of Iraq neighbors. He will then have to gain Security Council support for the new US approach. (New York Times)

Britain and US Look for a Way to Hurt Saddam, not his People (February 9, 2001)

Robin Cook and Colin Powell are now joining the talk about "smarter sanctions" against Iraq, focusing on the military. Is change in the air? (Independent)

The War Saddam Won (February 6, 2001)

This column by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times calls for the lifting of general trade sanctions on Iraq in favor of an arms embargo. This piece is especially important because Friedman maintains very close relations with the US State Department. Could this be a trial balloon?

Iraq Looks to Free Trade Accords to Ease Decade-Old Sanctions (January 30, 2001)

With agreements with Egypt and Syria already in place, Iraq is about to sign free trade accords with several more Arab countries. "It is an effective way of boosting Arab solidarity and breaching the sanctions regime," said one Iraqi official. (Agence France Press)

Norway Set to Reopen Embassy in Iraq (January 26, 2001)

Following Turkey, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, Norway, the new head of the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iraq, decides to reopen diplomatic representation in Baghdad. What's happening to the US-led Desert Storm alliance? (Associated Press)

ICJ the Last Avenue to End Iraqi Sanctions (January 23, 2001)

Malaysia is about to bring the Iraqi issue to the ICJ, which may be the only organ willing to end the sanctions, by judging them in violation of UN laws and principles on human rights. But can this organ create a precedent by reversing a decision of the Security Council? (New Straits Times)

Britain Seeks U-Turn Over Iraq Bombing (January 7, 2001)

The Observer reports that UK policy on Iraq is being reviewed, and that this could result in Britain dropping its support for the southern no-fly zone, and advocating the implementation of ‘smart sanctions'.

Letter From Hans von Sponeck (January 3, 2001)

In an open letter to UK minister Peter Hain, published by the Guardian, the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq blasts Britain's Iraq policy and accuses the UK of "fabricated and self-serving disinformation".


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.