Iraq took control Friday of billions of dollars in oil revenues set aside by the United Nations following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, money intended to be used build up the country’s economy.
The U.N. Security Council hand over of the Development Fund for Iraq is considered a milestone for Iraqi autonomy, which comes as the United States prepares to withdraw its roughly 47,000 troops from the country by the end of the year.
“The members of the Security Council welcomed the Government of Iraq’s establishment of a successor arrangement for the transition of the Development Fund for Iraq,” the United Nations said in a statement released Thursday.
The fund will be turned over to an Iraqi committee of financial experts that will operate under terms approved by Iraq’s Council of Ministers, it said.
In the statement, the Security Council reiterated the commitment by Iraq to “ensure that oil revenue is used in the interests of the Iraqi people, and to ensure that transition arrangements remain consistent with the constitution and with international best practices in respect of transparency, accountability and integrity.”
A 2003 Security Council resolution that created the development fund requires 5% of Iraq’s oil revenue be used to pay reparations, primarily Kuwaiti claims that arose from the 1991 Gulf War.
In December, the Security Council lifted all but a few sanctions put in place prior to the invasion. Among the issues to still be resolved: war reparations to Kuwait, the demarcation of the Iraqi-Kuwait border and efforts to locate missing Kuwaitis and third-party nationals.