Iraq can stop compensating victims of Kuwait invasion of 1990

The United Nations Security Council approved the end of Iraq’s compensation to Kuwait for its unlawful invasion in 1990.

Kuwait oil well set on fire by Iraq
Oil well fires rage outside Kuwait City in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The wells were set on fire by Iraqi forces before they were ousted from the region by coalition force.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on February 23 the end of Iraq’s requirement to compensate victims of the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Iraq paid US$52.4 billion to 1.5 million claimants in total, an average of $35,000 per person.

More than 2.7 million claims were submitted to the U.N. Compensation Commission seeking $352 billion in compensation according to Michael Gaffey, Ireland’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva and president of the commission.

The commission had the power to decide on the claims, and compensation has been granted to approximately 15% of them.

The creation of the U.N. Compensation Commission was unprecedented and was the first time the U.N. set up a fund to compensate victims of a conflict. Michael Gaffey said this humanitarian decision “marked a significant step in the evolution of international claims practice”. And “after 31 years, all the compensations have been paid and the commission will be dissolved”, Gaffey said.

The Security Council resolution was adopted in April 1991 after a U.S.-led coalition liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s forces during the first Gulf War. As a consequence, Iraq was required to set aside a percentage of proceeds from its oil exports for the fund to compensate victims of the conflict.

In 2013, the share was set at 5% by the security council as relations between Iraq and Kuwait improved and then further reduced to 3%. Iraq’s last payment occurred on January 13.

Iraq’s government has now fulfilled its international obligations to compensate for losses and damages suffered as a direct result of its unlawful invasion of Kuwait.

Gaffey said the fund’s governing council gave priority to claims by individuals who were forced to leave Iraq or Kuwait, to those who suffered injuries or whose spouse, child or parent died, or who suffered personal losses of up to $100,000.

Companies also claimed financial compensation. Kuwait Petroleum Corporation received $14.7 billion for oil production and sales losses resulting from damage to the country’s oil fields during the 1990-91 invasion.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi welcomed the resolution’s unanimous adoption and commended “such a historic achievement by the council in relation to its work on compensation”.

For Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussei, his country has concluded “an important 30-years-long chapter and embarks on a new chapter in its diplomatic, political and economic journey”.

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