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Jack Straw To UN Sec. Council And BBC Newsnight

Straw: 'Vindicating the UN's founding ideal'

Speaking at the UN Security Council (20 Jan), Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that in the face of the terrorist threat 'we have to unite as never before...and act'.

Mr Straw was attending a meeting of Foreign Ministers' to discuss measures to prevent terrorism.

During his speech to the Council, Mr Straw outlined measures for the prevention of terrorism and 'rogue states' proliferation'.

'The moment of choice for Saddam is close', he said, 'he must either resolve this crisis peacefully ... or face the 'serious consequences' of UNSCR 1441'.

'Firm security action and a political agenda' is necessary 'to eliminate the environment in which terrorism breeds' he continued.

'A two-state solution' to the Israel/Palestine conflict' would be 'a vindication of the UN's founding ideal: that reconciliation is possible between all nations and all faiths'.

Mr Straw concluded by saying:

"The vile hostility of the Cold War stood in stark contrast to the noble principles of the UN Charter. Yet the ideal survives. It prevailed through the era of superpower confrontation. And - with our collective effort - it will prevail over the twin threats of terrorism and WMD which haunt the world today."

The Foreign Secretary later gave an interview to the BBC, where he described the proposal to allow Saddam Hussein to go into voluntary exile to avoid conflict in Iraq as a 'sensible suggestion'. On the build up of troops, Mr Straw said war was not inevitable but added:

'...if you are making a credible threat of force, then one of the things you have to do is to actually ratchet up that credible threat otherwise it becomes no threat at all'.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon yesterday announced the deployment of over 30,000 troops to the Gulf region. The deployment will form a land force for potential operations against Iraq.



Event: UN Security Council Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Counter-Terrorism

Location: New York

Speech Date: 20/01/03

Speaker: Jack Straw

I greatly welcome the initiative of the French Presidency in calling this Ministerial meeting.

The Cold War was dangerous, at times frightening. But it had some certainties. Ground rules. Today’s terrorists respect no rules, no one’s life; not others’ lives, not even their own. They respect no values, no religion. They are criminals cloaked in a cause; psychopathic killers who define themselves by the terror which they inflict on others.

Some call this ‘international terrorism’. But that does not make it distant from our own lives, but immediate. In each of our nations, down our street, or the next. At least thirteen of the fifteen countries represented here in the Security Council have seen the killing of their innocent citizens by terrorists. In the United Kingdom, we’ve just lost a brave police officer, killed in the course of a terrorist-related arrest. Three children now with no dad. A devoted wife with no husband.

So we have to unite as never before in the face of this threat; and act.


First, we must ensure that the duties imposed by the UN's counter-terrorism law – UNSCR 1373 – are vigorously enforced in every Member State; expose the laggards; confront every danger effectively. The momentum from the UN's Counter Terrorism Committee must be sustained. And, as a former Interior Minister, let me say this. The key challenge is not to set up new institutions, or figureheads, but to ensure that existing law enforcement arrangements work better.

Second, we have to expose the connection between the terrorists who respect no rules, and the states which respect no rules. It is the leaders of rogue states who set the example: brutalise their people; celebrate violence; provide a haven for terrorists to operate; and, worse than that, through their chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, again in defiance of all rules, provide a tempting arsenal for terrorists to use.

The world must be in no doubt. If the terrorists can, they will. If they can get their hands on nerve gases, or killer viruses, or, nuclear bombs, they will use them.

So third, action to stop rogue states' proliferation is as urgent as action to stop terrorism. Yes, wherever we can, we should use diplomatic means to get proliferators to comply, as we are with North Korea, patiently. But there comes a moment when our patience must run out.

We are near that point with Iraq. Let’s remind ourselves. Before UNSCR 1441 was passed on 8 November last Saddam Hussein was already in breach of not one or two but 23 out of 27 mandatory obligations in nine separate UNSC Resolutions stretching back over 12 years. So the moment of choice for Saddam is close. He must either resolve this crisis peacefully, by the full and active compliance with his Security Council obligations and full cooperation with inspectors, or face the ‘serious consequences’ – the use of force – which this Council warned would follow when it passed 1441.

Fourth, we have absolutely, emphatically, to reject the lie that the actions of the international community in fighting terrorism and rogue states is ‘anti‑Muslim’. It is not. It is pro-Muslim, as well as pro-Christian, pro-Buddhist, pro-Jew, pro-Hindu, pro-Sikh, pro-humanity.

Down the ages, tyrants and terrorists alike have sought justification for their ends by claiming they have God on their side. Today is no different. And let’s remember this. Al Qa’ida and the Taliban murdered thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan well before 11 September. Almost every one of the hundreds of thousands killed by Saddam Hussein have been Muslim; and in contrast, in the four major international conflicts of the past 12 years – the Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan – it is innocent Muslims who have been saved by international military action.

Fifth, we must, of course, work relentlessly to eliminate the environment in which terrorism breeds. This can be done by firm security action and a political agenda. In Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka we see the hope which can be built after decades of killing and hatred. So we must not give up in other theatres, least of all in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Only the terrorists will rejoice if grief at the endless killing gives way to total despair. A two-state solution is the only just response as this Council has determined.

This outcome would be a vindication of the UN’s founding ideal: that reconciliation is possible between all nations and all faiths.


Mr Chairman, people of my generation would recognise that, at times over the past 50 years, the ideals of the UN have seemed beyond reach. The vile hostility of the Cold War stood in stark contrast to the noble principles of the UN Charter.

Yet the ideal survives. It prevailed through the era of superpower confrontation. And – with our collective effort – it will prevail over the twin threats of terrorism and WMD which haunt the world today.




Well a little earlier I spoke to the Foreign Secretary who is attending a meeting of Foreign Ministers at the United Nations in New York. Does he support what Donald Rumsfeld called a fair trade to avoid war, exile for Saddam?

Well we think it is a sensible suggestion, one that should certainly be looked at if and when there is a clear prospect of Saddam Hussein deciding that the game really is up and is willing, to quote Donald Rumsfeld, to go in to exile. And I think that most members of the British public, faced with that choice between removal of Saddam by peaceful means, albeit with some kind of offer of impunity, would swallow hard if it meant that we could resolve this crisis as a result by peaceful means. And after all we, the United States, the international community have always sought a peaceful end to this crisis which is one of Saddam Hussein's own choosing.

So it could be immunity from prosecution of war crimes if that indeed was the price to pay for peace?

Well if it were the price. I mean we are a very long way off this and there is sadly no prospect of Saddam Hussein complying in this way. What we know, however, is that as the pressure is piled on him, normally just before the hour, hopefully not after the hour, he makes rather more sensible decisions. The best favour he could do for his people and for international security is to relinquish his office.

So that might include immunity from prosecution, yes?

Well it might do, and I say, I mean it, the world is imperfect but I think that given that kind of choice as I have just said, people would swallow hard and think well is it better to provide some degree of immunity if it meant that we can resolve this peacefully? The Iraqi people could then put in a far better regime which in due course could turn in to a representative government.

Would you be prepared to set a date for that briefly?

No, I am not going to speculate about dates. The only clear date we have got is next Monday, the 27th, when Doctor Blix and El Baradei will be making their report on their first 60 days of inspection.

Now the pressure was ratcheted up today of course, with the announcement of the amount of British troops who are going to be heading to the Gulf. Did you realise the Gulf would be as big as this? Is this a new phase?

Well it is a new phase in the sense that we are now actively deploying some thousands of troops into the potential theatre. But, as Geoff Hoon said in the House of Commons earlier today, no decisions about military action have been taken and war is not inevitable. However, to pick up on a conversation that I had here in New York with members of the Security Council over a lunch, what we have had to do throughout this is to back effective and active diplomacy with a credible threat of force. And if you are making a credible threat of force, then one of the things you have to do is to actually ratchet up that credible threat otherwise it becomes no threat at all.

But you can't send this many troops and have them sitting there for say four or five months without doing anything because you don't have the level of troops or the type of troops to replace them. So presumably if it is going to be war it is going to be soon?

Well I am not going to speculate about that but it is for the military commanders to decide how long troop levels can be sustained at these particular numbers. I just repeat the fact that no decisions have been made about military action and war is not inevitable.

Well this is the maximum number of people you could have sent. Has George Bush asked for as many troops?

I am not going to go in to detail about the discussions that have taken place between us and the United States military. But it is a very important contribution that we are making, both with our naval, air force and land forces and they are very good forces too.

At the same time Hans Blix is negotiating a new ten point plan with the Iraqis to have further co-operation and indeed the Iraqis are talking about carrying out their own inspections, which is a kind of bizarre notion. If Hans Blix says to you we need to pursue this into March, will you and the Americans give him that time?

Well let's wait and see what Doctor Blix and Doctor El Baradei from the Atomic Energy Agency themselves say. So far as this ten point plan is concerned, well it is better news that it is there rather than not there but no one should be taken in by this. These are obligations which Saddam is now seeking to negotiate which are non negotiable. They were laid down by the international community in resolution 1441. And they have been there on him ever since he entered disastrously into the Gulf War by invading Kuwait and then had resolutions and obligations imposed on him by the Security Council in 1991 and 1992. And it is typical of this tyrant who runs Iraq, that he doesn't know when to stop pushing his luck. This is what he has got to do, he has got to stop seeking to trade or seeking to play hide and seek with the international community. He has now got to recognise that time is running out. And although different members of the Security Council may have different time phases in their heads, none of them are in any doubt that there has to be a limit on this kind of behaviour by Saddam Hussein.

Finally can you conceive of any circumstance in which Saddam Hussein is able to remain in power?

Yes I can and indeed we have talked about that. President Bush spoke about that in an important speech he made in Cincinnati last Autumn, where he said that if there was a full disarmament of Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction, then the regime itself of Saddam Hussein would have changed albeit that the personalities have not done so. And the objective of 1441 is the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. That is the reason why the resolution was passed and there has always been an option, a choice there for Saddam Hussein. But the time for him to exercise that option is running out and that is not any fault of the international community but because of appalling choices which he has made for himself up to now and for his country.


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