U.S. Statement at the Opening of the 15th Special Session of the UNCC Governing Council

Opening of 15th Special Session
UN Compensation Commission Governing Council

Remarks by the Legal Adviser Katherine Gorove
U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

November 21, 2017

Thank you Madame Chairperson.

Distinguished representatives of Iraq and Kuwait, distinguished members of the Governing Council, and the UNCC Secretariat –

The United States would like to recognize and thank Iraq for its continued cooperation with the UNCC in fulfillment of its Security Council obligations.  And thank you to Iraq’s Committee of Financial Experts, COFE, and its head, Dr. Abdulbasit, for their presence with us today, as well as the presence of its distinguished Permanent Representative.

The United States also greatly appreciates Kuwait’s support to and cooperation with the United Nations Compensation Commission, and the presence of Chairman Al-Mudhaf of Kuwait’s PAAC and its distinguished Permanent Representative.

In light of Iraq’s extraordinarily difficult security circumstances and related budgetary challenges, this Council has taken the unusual step for the past few years of postponing Iraq’s payment requirements — initially postponed until January 1, 2016, then to 2017, and last year postponed again until January 1, 2018.  At the time of each of these prior decisions, both countries had informed this Council in advance of their support for such a decision.

Under the provisions of UNCC Governing Council Decision 275, this Council encouraged the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait to collaborate on future options to ensure the resolution of outstanding compensation issues by the end of 2021.

The Decision also noted that in the absence of presentation of options by both governments, the Council “would have no alternative but to make a determination from among the options for ensuring the timely conclusion of the Commission’s mandate, recognizing the extraordinary budgetary challenges Iraq continues to face”.  The Decision at that time did not address the mandate or existence of the UNCC or its Secretariat.  We note that any proposed changes that would affect the mandate or existence of the UNCC or its Secretariat should be discussed and agreed upon by both parties in advance.

We greatly appreciate the repayment schedule proposed by the Government of Iraq in its November 14, 2017 letter to the UNCC Secretariat.  The letter proposes that outstanding payments be made in four annual installments deductible from the export sales of petroleum and petroleum products at the following rates: 0.5 percent for 2018, 1.5 percent for 2019, and 3 percent for 2020 and 2021.  We also greatly appreciate that the Delegation of Kuwait has orally indicated today that it can accept the percentages proposed by the Government of Iraq provided that the UNCC structure remain in place.  Absent a written mutual agreement between Iraq and Kuwait, we recommend this Governing Council take a decision to this effect.

This repayment schedule proposed by the Government of Iraq, and orally accepted by Kuwait today, represents a clear plan for the completion of the UNCC’s mandate by the end of 2021 — so that we maintain the UNCC’s positive reputation and credibility — while appropriately taking into account Iraq’s ongoing  efforts to address the difficult security situation and related budgetary challenges caused by ISIS’ invasion of Iraq.  We want the UNCC’s performance to stand as a success story that serves not only to discourage illegal acts of aggression, but also to showcase a positive example of post-conflict recovery and reconciliation – even in these demanding circumstances.

Thank you Madame Chairperson.

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