Last updated on: 8/18/2009 1:08:00 PM PST
Did the Oil-for-Food program benefit the people of Iraq?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Office of the Iraq Programme Oil-for-Food stated on the "About the Programme: Oil-for-Food" page of its website (accessed on Aug. 17, 2009):

"On 14 April 1995, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council adopted resolution 986, establishing the 'oil-for-food' programme, providing Iraq with another opportunity to sell oil to finance the purchase of humanitarian goods, and various mandated United Nations activities concerning Iraq. The programme, as established by the Security Council, is intended to be a 'temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, until the fulfillment by Iraq of the relevant Security Council resolutions, including notably resolution 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991.'"


Aug. 17, 2009 - United Nations Office of the Iraq Programme - Oil-for-Food 



PRO (yes)

John D. Negroponte, former US Deputy Secretary of State, stated the following before the Committee on Foreign Relations on Apr. 7, 2004:

"The United Nations Oil-for-Food program was authorized by Security Council Resolution 986 in April 1995 and became operational in December 1996. The Security Council had imposed comprehensive multilateral sanctions on Iraq in August 1990 (UNSCR 661) to convince Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait without the use of force. Sanctions on Iraq continued after the Gulf War and were thought by many in the international community to impose extreme hardship on the Iraqi people. The Oil-for-Food program was created to alleviate those hardships. It allowed the import of humanitarian goods using the proceeds from controlled Iraqi oil sales while maintaining sanctions on imports other than food and medicine. The objective was to continue constraining Saddam Hussein's ability to use oil revenue to build a military arsenal...

The Oil-for-Food program represented the largest humanitarian relief operation ever launched by the international community. Iraqi oil exports totaled over $64.2 billion over the life of the program. The proceeds funded $46 billion worth of humanitarian contracts for Iraq, and $16 billion for the UN Compensation Commission, as well as administrative costs for the Office of the Iraq Program, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and the UN Special Commission totaling $2.65 billion. Of the $46 billion funding for humanitarian contracts, more than $31 billion in humanitarian supplies was delivered to Iraq from March 1997 until November 21, 2003. An additional $8.2 billion in prioritized supplies ordered under the program is scheduled to arrive in the coming months. To date, $7.6 billion in surplus funds have been transferred from the UN escrow account to the Development Fund for Iraq, monies that have been extremely useful in the implementation of various programs for the people of Iraq."


Apr. 7, 2004 - John D. Negroponte 



The US Department of State, stated in a Dec. 21, 2002 fact sheet titled "Oil-For-Food Program," published on its website:

"In spite of Iraqi oil subversion, Oil-For-Food has been a dramatic success. $25 billion in humanitarian supplies and equipment have been delivered to Iraq, and another $10 billion is in the pipeline. Caloric intake has doubled, and communicable diseases have declined significantly among the Iraqi population. The transportation, agriculture, and electricity sectors have also been rehabilitated. In his November 2002 Report to the Security Council on the Oil-For-Food Program, the U.N. Secretary-General observed that 'the program has made and continues to make a major difference in the lives of ordinary Iraqis.'"

Dec. 21, 2002 - US Department of State 



The Los Angeles Times stated in the Apr. 28, 2004 editorial "The U.N. Has to Come Clean":

"The oil-for-food program did improve living conditions for average Iraqis; the GAO [General Accounting Office] said that from 1996 to 2001 the average daily food intake increased to 2,300 calories from 1,300, improvement especially important for the young and the elderly."

Apr. 28, 2004 - Los Angeles Times 



CON (no)

Wang Yingfan, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations at the time of the quote, stated in a June 26, 2001 UN Security Council meeting:

"I turn to the situation in Iraq. Because of the many different sanctions imposed on the country - indeed, the most extensive and the harshest ever imposed by the United Nations on a country - Iraq's economy is devastated, its society is crumbling, and the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people is on the brink of utter collapse and a source of serious concern, according to international humanitarian organizations."

June 26, 2001 - Wang Yingfan  



Dick Cheney, MA, US Vice President at the time of the quote, stated in an Aug. 12, 2004 town hall meeting held in Joplin, Missouri:

"The investigations that are now under way on the Oil for Food program, I think, are going to turn up some pretty remarkable results. What it looks like is the program that was set up supposedly to provide relief, medical help and basic food stuff for the Iraqi people, was, in fact, converted to a corrupt system that generated enormous profits for Saddam Hussein himself, as well as for some people outside who were participating in that program...

It's something we need to watch very carefully and make certain that there is a full and complete airing there because it was -- I think it has been a shameful episode in the history of the United Nations. And it's important to clean it up if they're going to continue to want to play a central with respect to the United States, or any other nation that it plays in the world. So it's one to watch, and to continue to push very aggressively on."


Aug. 12, 2004 - Dick Cheney, MA 



Claudia Rosett, MBA, Journalist-in-Residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies., wrote in an undated FOXNews.com article titled "Lid Off Oil-for-Food Scam" (accessed Aug. 17, 2009):

"In theory, the U.N. was busy containing U.N.-sanctioned tyrant Saddam Hussein while helping the people of Iraq. But in practice, Oil-for-Food was less an aid effort than an invitation to fraud, influence-peddling and continued tyranny in Iraq. It doubled as a terrific employment program- not for Saddam’s victims in Iraq, but Saddam’s Baath Party and the United Nations...

In the end, the most alarming aspect of Oil-for-Food is not that it became the biggest financial scandal ever to bubble through the U.N., but that it was the natural product of a U.N. steeped for decades in its own culture of privilege, immunities and secrecy, accustomed to guarding the interests of despots at the expense of subjugated peoples, and- as Oil-for-Food so richly exemplified- more absorbed in its own venal interests, payrolls and power than in such matters as the world peace, freedom and prosperity it was founded to promote."


Aug. 17, 2009 - Claudia Rosett, MBA