NGOs Decry 'Bribes' and 'Threats' Behind U.N. Vote
A coalition of over 150 peace groups and global non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) is lashing out at the U.N. Security Council for
adopting a resolution that virtually legitimises the U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq and endorses the foreign occupation of a U.N. member state.
''The United States was successful in bulldozing its
way because it offered too many bribes and held out too many threats,''
says Rob Wheeler, a spokesman for the Uniting for Peace Coalition.
The ''threats,'' he said, were against developing nations in
the 15-member Security Council, and the ''bribes'' were the promises
made to more powerful nations, which caved in to U.S. pressure.
''Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves. The
United States will now decide how those reserves are to be distributed.
And nobody wants to be cut out of the pie,'' Wheeler told IPS on
The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, Britain
and Spain, was adopted Thursday by a vote of 14:1, with Syria, the only
Arab nation in the Council, refusing to participate in the voting.
Approval of the seven-page resolution, which not only lifts
the 12-year-old U.N. sanctions on Iraq but also provides political
legitimacy to U.S. rule in that war devastated nation, was being hailed
as a major diplomatic victory for Washington.
Chile and Mexico, two developing nations in the Security
Council with important trade relations with the United States, were
under heavy pressure to vote for the resolution. And so were other
developing nations in the Council, added Wheeler.
James Paul of the New York-based Global Policy Forum said
that ''many threats - and promises of a few oil fields - have brought
the Council membership into line''.
Chile's U.N. ambassador, he said, was recalled by his
government ''for failing to show sufficient support and enthusiasm for
the U.S. position''.
The developing nations in the Security Council - including
Mexico, Cameroon, Chile, Angola and Guinea - justified their support by
focusing largely on the benefits that the removal of sanctions will
offer to the long suffering Iraqis and the country's reconstruction.
Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico said his country
supported the resolution because it set in motion that reconstruction.
Describing the plan as a ''compromise'', he said that all proceeds of
oil resources should be channelled towards the Iraqi people.
''The advisory and monitoring mechanism must guarantee that
the handling of oil would be done in a transparent manner. Iraq's
future was a great challenge for the United Nations, and to confront it
squarely, the organisation itself had to be strengthened.''
The resolution spelling out the future of Iraq was adopted
without the presence of a single Iraqi in the Council chamber - a rare
occurrence in the Security Council's decision-making process.
With the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, his chief
representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri,
packed his bags and left New York last month. As a result, Iraq has
remained headless at the United Nations.
Although the resolution opened the door for reconstruction
and humanitarian assistance, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan singled
out the issues he said the Security Council failed to address.
Akram regretted that the resolution did not specify the role
of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in declaring Iraq free
of weapons of mass destruction; it did not end the U.N. arms embargo
against the country and it did not clarify the U.N.'s role in a future
France, which threatened to use its veto against a previous
U.S. resolution seeking U.N. approval for an invasion of Iraq last
March, went along with the current plan.
While the resolution creates a U.S.-dominated Provisional
Authority to run the country, it establishes a development fund for
Iraq's oil revenues. The U.N.'s oil-for-food programme, which was
mandated to use oil revenues to buy food and humanitarian supplies to
sanctions-hit Iraqis, will be phased out over the next six months.
The resolution also creates an International Advisory and
Monitoring Board and requests U.N. chief Kofi Annan to appoint a
special representative to oversee humanitarian assistance to Iraqis.
But ''far from playing a vital role (the United Nations) is relegated to an advisory and consultative body'', said Wheeler.
Even the proposed advisory body, he said, would include
representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), organisations controlled by the United States.
To placate the Russians and the French, who are owed billions
of dollars by the ousted Saddam Hussein regime, the resolutions seeks
the ''prompt completion of the restructuring of Iraq's debt''.
Ambassador Mamady Troare of Guinea said adopting the
resolution represented a success for the United Nations and for the
Security Council, which had rediscovered the golden rule of consensus.
Cameroon's Martin Belinga-Eboutou said he had long believed
that sanctions against Iraq should be lifted, and that the United
Nations should play an important role in rebuilding the country.
But Annan was more cautious when he told delegates that ''the
mandate given to the United Nations involved complex and difficult
Other members of Uniting for Peace include the Center for
Economic and Social Rights, Global Exchange, the Center for
Constitutional Rights and Friends of the Earth International (all
U.S.-based), Third World Network (Malaysia), World Peace and Nuclear
Disarmament (India), NGO Forum (Mauritius) and the World Peace Council