The U.N. Moves to Secure Peace : The terms of Iraq cease-fire are just

The U.N. Security Council is getting ready to adopt a resolution of historic significance. As a condition for putting in place a permanent cease-fire between U.N.-sponsored coalition forces and Iraq, the draft resolution demands that the Baghdad government accept a series of stringent terms. These aim at denying Iraq the means of again becoming a military threat to its neighbors. And they aim to force Iraq to begin paying for the enormous material and environmental damage produced by its aggression. The mechanism to enforce these demands already exists in the embargo on Iraq’s trade that has been in effect since last August. The embargo would not be eased until Baghdad accepted the council’s terms.

Victors in wars always exact a price from the defeated, sometimes by demanding payment of tribute, sometimes by territorial annexations, sometimes by compelling reparations for alleged war guilt. The resolution drafted by the Security Council’s five permanent members is not lacking in punitive intent. Iraq’s contempt for civilized values should be punished. But the resolution’s main concern is prevention.

There is little the Security Council can do to assure that the Persian Gulf will experience no more wars. But there’s a lot it can do to prevent Iraq from being the instigator of new conflicts, chiefly by denying it the wherewithal to wage aggressive war.

The draft resolution calls for the supervised destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons stocks. It requires that Iraq turn over to the International Atomic Energy Agency all of its “nuclear weapons-usable material or facilities.” It would bar all military sales to Iraq for an indefinite period and deny it all offensive ballistic missiles, like the Scuds. The resolution further demands that Iraq renounce terrorism and expel the many terrorist groups it harbors and supports.

The resolution empowers the U.N. secretary general to create a fund that would receive a portion of Iraq’s oil earnings. The fund would meet claims for losses and damage resulting from Iraq’s aggression, including environmental damage. The secretary general would decide how much Iraq should pay into the fund each year, taking into account the needs of the Iraqi people, Iraq’s foreign debt-servicing costs and what is needed to keep Iraq’s economy viable. These conditions assure that compensation payments would not impoverish Iraq--whose huge oil reserves provide enormous potential wealth--or condemn it to a subsistence existence.


Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations huffs that such terms are “humiliating.” It is much more accurate to see them as responsible, principled, affordable and just. No suffering will come to Iraqis if their tyrannical government is prevented from rebuilding an aggressive military machine. No hardship will result if petrodollars once lavishly spent to buy weapons of mass destruction now go to compensate the victims of Saddam Hussein’s megalomania.

For the U.N. coalition, the war has been won. Now it has a chance to secure the peace.