The Iraqi government has been stepping up its diplomatic and political efforts to regain control over the country's money in the United Nations Development Fund for Iraq (DFI).
The efforts coincide with the approach of the UN Security Council meeting on December 31st, when the international body will examine the possibility of lifting the UN's custody of the fund.
"The government committee that is responsible for the issue of regaining control over Iraq's funds has in recent months exerted unremitting efforts to regain such control and to protect the funds against creditors in case the UN decides to lift its custody off such funds," Deputy Minister of Finance Fadhil Nabi told Mawtani on September 27th.
"These efforts have led to the cancellation of debts owed by Iraq to most world countries," Nabi said. "There is also a government move to close this file once and for all by concluding agreements on economic and investment partnerships, especially with some of the Arab countries that refuse to write off their debts."
In May 2003, the UN Security Council set up the fund to hold revenues from oil exports and other Iraqi funds to be used for humanitarian and economic reconstruction. The International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq was established to oversee and audit the use of the funds.
In December 2009, the Security Council passed Resolution 1905, which extended the DFI arrangement for another year.
The Iraqi government stated that the country has successfully settled more than 70% of the debts it owes to individuals and companies. The settlements will prevent further claims on Iraqi funds once UN protection over the DFI ends.
The latest settlement was finalized with the United States, which agreed to abandon all lawsuits and claims from US citizens affected by the former regime in return for $400 million in compensation.
"The settlement of these claims for damages will enable Iraq to free itself from the international sanctions that were imposed under Chapter 7 resolutions. It will also pave the way for a secure transition in the task of supervising the fund from the United Nations to the Iraqi government," said Sami al-Atrushi, a member of the Financial Committee in the former Iraqi parliament.
Al-Atrushi said the US is serious about cooperating with Iraq to protect the funds in the DFI.
Economic analyst Haidar al-Yasseri said, "Iraq has an urgent need to restore its revenues that were generated from exporting oil, which were frozen following the imposition of international sanctions in 1991, and which are estimated at tens of billions of dollars."
Al-Yasseri expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi government to protect its funds in cooperation with its partners in the international community.
"The issue is not related to depriving the treasury of the Iraqi state of huge amounts of money since it is related to releasing Iraq from some of the restrictions that have chained it for many years and denied it the right to dispose of its financial revenues and direct them freely towards financing reconstruction projects," he added.