The Lancet and Unicef studies observed that child mortality decreased in the north and increased in the south between 1994 and 1999 but did not attempt to explain the disparity, or to apportion culpability: "Both the Government of Iraq and the U.N. Sanctions Committee should give priority to contracts for supplies that will have a direct impact on the well-being of children," UNICEF said. However, others did attempt to explain this disparity, or use this to apportion culpability. In The Nation, 2001, David Cortright argued that Iraqi government policy, rather than the UN Sanctions, should be held responsible. He wrote:
The differential between child mortality rates in northern Iraq, where the UN manages the relief program, and in the south-center, where Saddam Hussein is in charge, says a great deal about relative responsibility for the continued crisis. As noted, child mortality rates have declined in the north but have more than doubled in the south-center. ... The tens of thousands of excess deaths in the south-center, compared to the similarly sanctioned but UN-administered north, are also the result of Baghdad's failure to accept and properly manage the UN humanitarian relief effort.
In The New Republic, 2001, Michael Rubin argued that
The difference [t]here is that local Kurdish authorities, in conjunction with the United Nations, spend the money they get from the sale of oil. Everywhere else in Iraq, Saddam does. And when local authorities are determined to get food and medicine to their people--instead of, say, reselling these supplies to finance military spending and palace construction--the current sanctions regime works just fine. Or, to put it more bluntly, the United Nations isn't starving Saddam's people. Saddam is.
However, in Reason Magazine, 2002, Matt Welch acknowledged this but replied that the sanctions are not "'exactly the same' in both parts of Iraq" because
Under the oil-for-food regime, the north, which contains 13 percent of the Iraqi population, receives 13 percent of all oil proceeds, a portion of that in cash. Saddam's regions, with 87 percent of the population, receive 59 percent of the money ... none of it in cash. And there are other factors affecting the north-south disparity...
Author Anthony Arnove also writes that the situation is more complicated:
Sanctions are simply not the same in the north and south. Differences in Iraqi mortality rates result from several factors: the Kurdish north has been receiving humanitarian assistance longer than other regions of Iraq; agriculture in the north is better; evading sanctions is easier in the north because its borders are far more porous; the north receives 22 percent more per capita from the oil-for-food program than the south-central region; and the north receives UN-controlled assistance in currency, while the rest of the country receives only commodities. The south also suffered much more direct bombing...
 Oil for Food
Main article: Oil-for-Food Programme
As the sanctions faced mounting criticism of its humanitarian impacts, several UN resolutions were introduced that allowed Iraq to trade its oil for goods such as food and medicines. The earliest of these resolutions were introduced in 1991.
UN Resolution 706 of 15 August 1991 was introduced to allow the sale of Iraqi oil in exchange for food. UN Resolution 712 of 19 September 1991 confirmed that Iraq could sell up to $1.6 billion US in oil to fund an Oil For Food program.
Iraq was in 1996 allowed under the UN Oil-for-Food Programme (under Security Council Resolution 986) to export $5.2 billion (USD) of oil every 6 months with which to purchase items needed to sustain the civilian population. After an initial refusal, Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in May 1996 for arrangements for the implementation of that resolution to be taken. The Oil-for-Food Programme started in October 1997, and the first shipments of food arrived in March 1998. While improving the conditions of the population, Denis Halliday who oversaw the programme believed it inadequate to compensate for the adverse humanitarian impacts of the sanctions.
Thirty percent of the proceeds were redirected to a Persian Gulf War reparations account.
The U.S. State Department criticized the Iraqi government for inadequately spending this money:
In a stinging letter issued recently, the United Nations has pointed out the extent of Saddam Hussein's callous disregard for the welfare of his own people. ... In the ... six-month phase of the program (June to December, 2000), Saddam Hussein's dereliction in providing for the Iraqi people and the nation's economy is laid bare. During this period, US$7.8 billion were available to Iraq for purchases during this period, yet Iraq submitted purchase applications worth only US$4.26 billion - barely 54 percent of the amount available for purchases to help the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.
In 2004/5 the Programme became the subject of major media attention over corruption, as Iraq had systematically sold allocations of oil at below-market prices in return for some of the proceeds from the resale outside the scope of the programme. Individuals and companies from dozens of countries were implicated.
 Lifting of sanctions
Washington DC marchers against sanctions and invasion of Iraq, 2002 or 2003The sanctions did not end until the Iraq War. Accepting a large estimate of casualties due to sanctions, Walter Russell Mead argued on behalf of such a war as a better alternative than continuing the sanctions regime, since "Each year of containment is a new Gulf War."
While UN resolutions subsequent to the cessation of hostilities during the Persian Gulf War imposed several requisite responsibilities on Iraq for the removal of sanctions, the largest focus remained on the regime's development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and in particular its laggard participation in the UNSCOM-led disarmament process required of it. The goal of several western governments had been that the disruptive effects of war and sanction would lead to a critical situation in which Iraqis would in some way effect "regime change", a removal of Saddam Hussein and his closest allies from power.
Hussein was at this point widely seen as a tyrant whose nominal cooperation concealed malign aims. With him in power, there was a general inclination to be skeptical about whether Iraq would disarm, and about whether it would be open and cooperative about the inspection process, particularly after revelations of post-war concealment forced a reevaluation of the extent of the country's biological weapons program.. Hussein's son-in-law is heard speaking of concealing information from UN inspectors on audiotapes released in 2006.  Hussein may have considered the many governments' displeasure with him, but particularly that of two veto-wielding UNSC members, the United States and United Kingdom (both of which took the hardest lines on Iraq), as a no-win situation and disincentive to cooperation in the process.
Additionally, UNSCOM had allegedly been infiltrated by British and American spies for purposes other than determining if Iraq possessed WMDs. Former inspector Scott Ritter was a prominent source of these charges. While not agreeing with Ritter fully, former UNSCOM chief inspector David Kay said "the longer it continued, the more the intelligence agencies would, often for very legitimate reasons, decide that they had to use the access they got through cooperation with UNSCOM to carry out their missions.".
Saddam, who portrayed all this as a violation of Iraq's territorial sovereignty, became less cooperative and more obstructive of UNSCOM activities as the years wore on, and refused access for several years beginning in August 1998. Ultimately Saddam condemned the US for enforcing the sanctions through the UN and demanded nothing less than unconditional lifting of all sanctions on its country, including the weapons sanctions. The US and UN refused to do so out of concern that Saddam's regime would rebuild its once-powerful military and renew its WMD programs with the trade revenues. (But Douglas Feith reports that in 2001 "before the 9/11 attack, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell advocated diluting the multinational economic sanctions, in the hope that a weaker set of sanctions could win stronger and more sustained international support.") Renewed pressure in 2002 led to the entry of UNMOVIC, which received some degree of cooperation but failed to declare Iraq's disarmament immediately prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for which it was withdrawn and became inactive in Iraq.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who called the sanctions "the most intrusive system of arms control in history", cited the breakdown of the sanctions as one cause or rationale for the Iraq war.
The sanctions regime was finally ended on May 22, 2003 (with certain arms-related exceptions) by paragraph 10 of UN Security Council Resolution 1483.