World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Kofi Annan Statement To The Security Council

New York, 19 March 2003 - Statement by the Secretary-General to the Security Council

Thank you, Mr. President.

Excellencies,

Needless to say, I fully share the regrets expressed by many members of the Council at the fact that it has not been possible to reach a common position. Whatever our differing views on this complex issue, we must all feel that this is a sad day for the United Nations and the international community.

I know that millions of people around the world share this sense of disappointment, and are deeply alarmed by the prospect of imminent war.

Let me here pay tribute to the United Nations staff – both international and Iraqi – who have worked so hard in Iraq up to the last possible moment. That includes the inspectors, whose work has now sadly been suspended. I would like to pay special tribute to Dr. [Hans] Blix, Dr. [Mohamed] El Baradei and [Ramiro] Lopes da Silva, the Humanitarian Coordinator, under whose leadership the staff worked in Iraq.

Mr. President, it is the plight of the Iraqi people which is now my most immediate concern, and I have been glad to hear that sentiment shared by all the speakers in this debate.

In the past twenty years, Iraqis have been through two major wars, internal uprisings and conflict, and more than a decade of debilitating sanctions.

The country's vital infrastructure has been devastated, so that it no longer meets the most basic needs for clean water, health or education.

Already, Iraq's most vulnerable citizens – the elderly, women and children, and the disabled – are denied basic health care for lack of medicine and medical equipment.

Already, nearly one million Iraqi children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Already, Iraqis are heavily dependent on the food ration which is handed out each month to every family in the country. For more than sixty per cent of the population, this ration is their main source of income. Yet many families have to sell part of it to buy clothes or other essentials for their children.

All that is true as we speak. And in the short term, the conflict that is now clearly about to start can only make things worse – perhaps much worse.


Mr. President,

I am sure all members of this Council will agree that we must do everything we can to mitigate this imminent disaster, which could easily lead to epidemics and starvation.

Under international law, the responsibility for protecting civilians in conflict falls on the belligerents; in any area under military occupation, responsibility for the welfare of the population falls on the occupying power.

Without in any way assuming or diminishing that ultimate responsibility, we in the United Nations will do whatever we can to help.

As you know, the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations have for some time been engaged in preparing for this contingency, even while we hoped it could still be averted.

We have done our best to assess the possible effects of war, in terms of population displacement and human need, and to position our personnel and equipment accordingly. For these preparations we requested 123.5 million dollars from donors a month ago, but only 45 million have been pledged, and 34 million dollars received, to date. I'm afraid we shall very soon be coming back with an appeal for much larger sums, to finance actual relief operations – and I earnestly hope that Member States will respond with generosity and speed.

We have also examined the situation caused by the suspension of the activities of the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq, and ways that the Programme could be adjusted temporarily, to enable us to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq during and after hostilities.

Such adjustments would require decisions by this Council. I will therefore submit my specific proposals for the Council's consideration - as suggested in your note, Mr. President.

In conclusion, Mr. President, let me express the hope that the effort to relieve the sufferings of the Iraqi people, and to rehabilitate their society after so much destruction, may yet prove to be the task around which the unity of this Council can be rebuilt.

Thank you very much.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>

ALSO:

Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>

ALSO:

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>

ALSO:

Camp Shut Down: Refugees Must Be Rescued From Manus

On 31st October 2017, the detention centre on Manus Island in which the Australian Government has been holding more than 700 refugees was closed, leaving those living there in a desperate situation. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO: