Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Lea C. Owen

First Page



The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) was formed in 1991 to address claims against Iraq arising out of the Gulf War. In its seven years of operation, the UNCC has received 2.6 million claims, with an asserted value of more than $244 billion. It has processed 2.4 million of these claims, for a total of $6 billion, and it has paid to victims more than $730 million. Despite these accomplishments, the UNCC has much left to do, and its efforts have been burdened by Iraq's post-war refusal to meet its treaty obligations. The UNCC now faces waning political support from U.N. members, who themselves face increasing pressure from the international business community to reintegrate Iraq into the world economy.

This Note discusses the response of the United Nations to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, including the formation of the UNCC. It describes the structure and composition of the UNCC and the procedures it has developed for addressing claims. This Note also evaluates the UNCC's progress since 1991, with particular attention to the political and commercial forces that now threaten its mission. Finally, this Note concludes that, despite international political sentiments ranging from apathy to hostility, the United Nations must reaffirm its commitment to international accountability generally, and to the victims of the Gulf War in particular, by continuing to support the UNCC.