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Summary Of Statements To UNSC On Iraq War

Press Release



CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said Liechtenstein deeply regretted that military action had been initiated without explicit authorization by the Council. At the same time, however, he was not of the view that that constituted a failure of the Council, much less the Organization as a whole. As a small State, Liechtenstein was concerned that the Council and international law had been bypassed on a question of such magnitude and believed that that had wider ramifications, which must be discussed. Given the very urgent needs in Iraq, however, the Council was challenged to engage in concrete actions at this particular moment.

The challenge before the Council consisted of the large-scale humanitarian crisis that was unfolding at a frightening speed in Iraq, he said. While international humanitarian law was clear on the responsibility for the civilian population in the current situation, the United Nations must play an essential role, and humanitarian assistance should be coordinated under its authority. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative for an early resumption of the “oil-for-food” programme. It was the Council’s obligation to place the plight of the Iraqi people at the centre of its consideration and quickly regain its unity. The humanitarian situation of the Iraqi population was at the heart of his concern.

Liechtenstein had decided to give some $100,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), he added. An additional contribution might be forthcoming shortly. It was only the warring parties that were in a position to prevent the suffering of the civilian population. Strict observance of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions would go a long way to securing that goal.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that the Council was meeting at a dark hour. He had hoped that a compromise would have been possible and that the Iraqi regime could have been disarmed without war. However, that had not been possible. Now, the priority should be the victims of the war, who needed protection and assistance. The first duty was to meet the urgent needs of the Iraqis victimized by their own regime. The Council had committed itself to protecting civilians in armed conflict. Every effort must be made to avoid civilian casualties and provide for safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian personnel.

He appealed to all concerned to fulfil those undertakings. He particularly appealed to neighbouring countries to provide access for humanitarian agencies to those in need. He also called on them to respect international law and shelter those refugees who flee across international borders. The longer and more destructive the war, the greater the needs would be. He urged the Council to adapt the oil-for-food programme without delay.

Despite the efforts of many, the United Nations was not able to unite to disarm Saddam Hussein. It now had another opportunity to find the unity of purpose that had eluded it before. The Council must provide the mandate for the reconstruction effort. The United Nations system as a whole should provide leadership and proven expertise. The welfare of the Iraqi people must be at the heart of discussions. His Government was committed to joining others to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, and had decided to commit Can$ 100 million towards humanitarian assistance for them.

ALFRED CAPELLE (Marshall Islands) said his people had suffered from the ongoing effects of weapons of mass destruction, and had witnessed first-hand the absolute devastation that could be unleashed by such weapons. Consequently, his country believed that the disarmament of the Iraqi regime was an urgent priority. The Marshall Islands supported the ultimate goals of the current operation in Iraq –- to ensure Iraqi compliance with its disarmament obligations and restore the sovereignty of the country to its people.

The devastation of war was becoming increasingly evident to all as events unfolded in Iraq, he said. The focus must now turn to the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. He urged the Council to do everything in its power to ensure that humanitarian aid was delivered quickly and effectively to those who so desperately needed it. Its energies must be focused on alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people.

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said the Council’s highest priority must be to address the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people as quickly as possible. It should commit itself to meeting the immediate needs of the Iraqi people. The Secretary-General should be given broad power to restart the oil-for-food programme or to institute an alternative mechanism for effective action in that regard.

His Government, he said, had contacted competent offices of the United Nations to obtain information about the most effective way it could help ensure that the basic needs of the Iraqi people were met. In meeting those needs, international humanitarian law must be strictly observed.

CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said the Council’s immediate attention must now be focused on alleviating the plight and suffering of innocent civilians, particularly women and children. What was needed was a coalition of the compassionate, a coalition of the giving, to mobilize and coordinate humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. It was incumbent on the United Nations, with the full support of the international community, to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people in a timely manner to protect the innocent, especially the most vulnerable groups, including women, children and the elderly, and to limit their exposure to the devastating consequences of war.

What was needed, he continued, was a rapid and well-coordinated effort to ensure that humanitarian relief reached the affected Iraqi population. Thailand commended the Secretary-General’s initiatives to help plan and implement humanitarian assistance programmes for the Iraqi people, including adjustment to the oil-for-food programme. Thailand stood ready to join that coalition for humanitarian assistance and would work with the United Nations and others to help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

GEDIMINAS ŠERKŠNYS (Lithuania) regretted the breakdown of diplomatic efforts in the Council. No one should be allowed to flout the Council’s resolutions. Saddam Hussein had been squandering the patience of the international community for over 12 years. He hoped the war would be short, and the loss of life and destruction minimal. His country would provide medical assistance to the Iraqi people. Reconstructing a prosperous Iraq would be a challenging task. In that connection, the global reach of the United Nations in the coordination of assistance in post-conflict situation was crucial. It was vital for the international community to maintain unity of purpose. It was also important that the United States and Europe work together to maintain the Atlantic link in resolving global issues.

KLARA NOVOTNA (Slovakia) deeply regretted that diplomacy on Iraq had failed and that the Council was unable to bridge its division on such a crucial issue. At present, the Council’s foremost priority should dwell on dealing with the immediate humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population. Now was the moment for the Council to renew its unity and put aside the differences that had marked its consideration of the issue. The most urgent consideration should be given to the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding necessary modifications to the oil-for-food programme to satisfy the humanitarian situation that was rapidly evolving on the ground.

The Iraqi people were facing a difficult period and were confronted with the consequences of policies they had not had a real chance to influence, she said. The Iraqi regime undoubtedly placed political objectives before humanitarian concerns. The people of Iraq deserved a better future than what they had experienced so far. Slovakia was ready to contribute to solving the current crisis in Iraq and alleviating the plight of the people of the affected region.

LAGOS PAZZATI (El Salvador) said Iraq had been given a final opportunity, after it had defied the Council for 12 years, to fully eliminate its weapons of mass destruction or face the consequences. But Iraq had not cooperated in a manner that would suggest it was fully adhering to its obligations. He hoped the resultant conflict would end as early as possible to avoid greater material destruction, and particularly the loss of life.

The international situation should serve as a basis for looking forward, he said. Experience had taught the international community that societies re-emerged with creativity. The immediate challenge facing the United Nations was Iraqi reconstruction. Member States must also face the task of rebuilding and bolstering the unity of the United Nations system, especially the multilateral process of international security. There was also an urgent need to continue the oil-for-food programme.

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said that the Arab and Islamic region was facing a war that had grave repercussions on the international system and on international relations. War was proof of the failure of diplomacy, and the failure of the United Nations and the Council to undertake its responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security. As soon as it had become apparent that war was on the horizon, Saudi Arabia had begun to exert efforts to arrive at a peaceful settlement. It had started moving at various levels and proposed clear and logical ideas anchored on the need for Iraq to fully comply with Council resolutions. Regrettably, despite all efforts and international opposition to an unjust war, “the sword had fallen”. War was a loss both to the victors and the defeated.

Reason dictated that military action against Iraq be brought to a halt and diplomatic efforts be resumed, he said. Work should be geared to preserve Iraq’s national security and its national institutions. Everyone was aware of the humanitarian and ecological devastation that would be unleashed on Iraq as a result of the war. He categorically opposed the occupation of Iraq, whose people did not need to be governed by outside forces. The failure of the Iraqi Government to comply with Council resolutions should not be visited on the people of Iraq, who had suffered for so long. He insisted on the unity, independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, and called for an immediate end to war and withdrawal of foreign forces. The Council was the party to decide whether Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction.

MASAO NAKAYAMA (Federated States of Micronesia) said his country had joined the coalition fighting in Iraq under the authority of several Council resolutions, most notably 678 (1991) and 1441 (2002), because it was the only way left to disarm the Iraqi regime and fully rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. He believed that the present course of action would result in a safer and better world for all of humankind, especially those in the region itself.

He was greatly concerned with the humanitarian situation in Iraq, for which the Iraqi regime was fully responsible. It was imperative that supplies entered safely and were distributed unimpeded. Initially, supplies would be brought in by coalition forces, but he hoped that various United Nations programmes would be able to resume their respective roles as soon as possible. The United Nations must play a key role in rebuilding Iraq, not just to address the effects of the current war, but also the suffering of the last 20 some years.

LIBERATA MULAMULA (United Republic of Tanzania) said her country was deeply saddened by the decision taken by the United States and the coalition to resort to armed action in Iraq. Her delegation was deeply troubled by the raging war and its inevitable consequences not only in the region, but also throughout the world. It was ironic to note that the decision to disarm Iraq forcefully was taken while the international community was in the midst of implementing resolution 1441. The work of the inspectors was progressing well and had started bearing positive results. After observing signs indicating that the United States and its coalition partners were inching towards adopting unilateral measures, the international community called on the United States to change direction. The overwhelming view was that any decision to resort to the use of force should be taken by the United Nations, and only after ensuring that all efforts towards a peaceful settlement had been exhausted.

The decision to resort to the use of force against Iraq was null and void as it had not complied with the requirements of resolution 1441, she said. The decision by the United States and coalition partners to invade Iraq militarily was against the requirements, procedures and ethics of the international community, as well as the provisions of the United Nations Charter. The United States´ decision, and that of her coalition partners, not only weakened the United Nations, but also had the potential of endangering international peace and security. The Palestine question had been calling for urgent action, to no avail. The United Nations had been established out of the need to save future generations from the scourge of war, and that mission had not changed. The war would definitely cause the loss of many innocent lives in Iraq and would further inflame the political and social problems currently facing the world, particularly that of international terrorism.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said that the Council was meeting today to discuss the destructive war waged against Iraq and its repercussions, including the suffering of the Iraqi people. He hoped the Council would be able to put an end to what was taking place. It had become clear that the war was waged outside the purview of the Council, and that the majority of the members of the Council and the United Nations were against the war. The war would entail far-reaching and deep repercussions on the Middle East region and on the system of international relations. Therefore, the international community must think deeply to arrive at an acceptable solution.

The Palestinian people could not but oppose the use of force in settling international disputes, he stated. They stood in full solidarity with the Iraqi people in their suffering, caused by military operations by forces led by the United States. He supported the resolutions adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Summit, as well as that of the Ministerial Council of the League of Arab States. He called for the immediate cessation of war and the withdrawal of foreign forces from the territory of Iraq. He condemned any attempt to erode Iraqi independence.

In addition, he urged full respect for the Geneva Conventions. He welcomed the new interest and importance attached by some to those Conventions. Change could not come from outside or be imposed on peoples, particularly by military force. Political systems could also not be imposed from outside. There were apprehensions that Prime Minister Sharon and his Government would escalate their bloody campaign against the Palestinian people. He called on the Council to pay attention to the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories in the coming weeks.

BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said his country’s chief concern was for human rights for all, especially the real victims of war. He stressed that the international community must respect the territorial sovereignty of Iraq and the relevant resolutions of the Council. Following the conflict, all parties must continue to comply with their obligations, in particular, the Geneva Convention on treating civilians in time of war. He urged all warring parties to strictly comply with international humanitarian law and fully respect international refugee law.

Resolving the Iraqi crisis called for multilateral action within the United Nations, he said. After the conflict, the international community must set up a temporary administrative regime in Iraq to secure a climate of stability and create the necessary conditions for peace and lasting human rights. Iraq must fully comply with all of its disarmament obligations, and must avoid becoming a refuge for international terrorist organizations. The temporary administration must administer Iraq’s resources with the best interests of the Iraqi people in mind.

JOSE LUIS GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) said the agenda before the Council had started in 1991, with Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against its Kurdish population and its aggression against Iran was also a serious concern for his country. It was his hope that, in the present military intervention, all sides would respect international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. He appealed to the Secretary General and the Council to continue to focus their attention on the grave situation and to build on a consensus, not only for the provision of adequate humanitarian aid, but also to bring about a lasting peace.

Timor-Leste knew from its own experience that when the Security Council was willing to act, it had proven to be effective in the restoration of peace, international legality and stability, as well as in building sound foundations for a democratic country in which human rights flourished. He also shared the conviction on the need to address the demands for freedom and independence of the Palestinian people. He welcomed the renewed commitment of the United States and the European Union in that regard. He urged the Council to search for solutions to those and other conflicts with determination and unity.

MANUEL ACOSTA BONILLA (Honduras) said that the Council was currently the focus of the attention of the entire world. Its decisions would determine the course of future action. The relative tranquillity of the post-cold-war period had come to an end. In the half century that had passed, the United Nations, despite its weaknesses, had been able to address the challenges faced by humankind. Now, the United Nations found itself paralysed in a situation that would ultimately determine its fate.

Hondurans were devoted to universal peace and human rights, he said. To make that a reality, it was necessary for the United Nations to operate with legal efficiency. Hondurans had hoped that the Council would bring to bear its authority to overcome differences and address the challenges on its agenda. The Secretary-General had rightly highlighted the urgent necessity to ensure that humanitarian assistance was not interrupted to those in need. The Council must establish the necessary provisions to assist those in need.

PEDRO PADILLA TONOS (Dominican Republic) said the Council should give the Secretary-General the means to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of he Iraqi people. He hoped military action in Iraq would be of short duration, that the loss of human life and material damage on all sides would be kept to a minimum, and that the relevant Geneva Conventions would be respected. He also hoped conditions would be created allowing the Iraq people to live in freedom and democracy, and that the country would be fully reintegrated into the international community.

FRED BEYENDEZA (Uganda) said his Government had decided on 21 March to support the United States-led coalition to disarm Iraq by force. Uganda also reaffirmed its strong support for the people of Palestine to have a State of their own, side by side with Israel. Uganda’s main concern was focused on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. His country had been a victim of State-sponsored terrorism and the Government of Saddam Hussein had provided active support for some of the terrorist groups that had killed and inflicted untold misery on Uganda’s population. In Kampala alone, there had been some 48 bomb blasts resulting in 86 deaths and 286 injuries. The link between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction was a threat to international peace and security. Considering the fact that Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction before on his own people, Uganda believed that the danger of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups was real.

He hoped that the war would be short and civilian casualties minimized. He also emphasized the need to ensure Iraq’s unity and independence, including its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The international community might wish to focus on the immediate post-conflict mechanism, after lifting trade sanctions against Iraq to allow its people to control their own resources at the expiration of the oil-for-food programme. The international community should support the Secretary General’s efforts to mobilize the necessary resources, including revenue currently under the oil-for-food programme. The energies of the international community must now concentrate on the post-war period. Given the divisive run-up to the war in Iraq, there was need to restore the United Nations central role. It was also important that international community’s attention was not distracted from key areas, including the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, building a multilateral campaign against terrorism, and reversing the marginalization of Africa.

C. MAHENDRAN (Sri Lanka) said his country was gravely concerned about the massive political, economic, social and humanitarian consequences that would ensue from the military conflict affecting Iraq and the Middle East region. He was confident that the coalition partners would move early, with other members of the international community, to minimize adverse consequences to the civilian population in Iraq and coordinate rehabilitation efforts in the country. In particular, the United Nations must play an active role during and after the crisis situation.

The all-pervasive evil of terrorism, he continued, must not, at this stage, be permitted to exploit and thrive on global uncertainty and tension, which had now been heightened. The international consensus and collective will to eradicate all forms of terrorism must not be deflected or blunted. Terrorism should not be identified and stereotyped with any particular religion, nationality or civilization. In addition, it was essential that the role of the United Nations, as well as its credibility and authority, be restored and respected.

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) deeply regretted that 12 years had to pass with non-compliance by Iraq with the Council resolutions. The onus to avoid war had always been on the Iraqi regime, which had failed to avert war. The Council must now rediscover its unity of purpose, which needed to be restored and further strengthened. Now was the time to look forward, and not backward. There was a huge humanitarian disaster ahead. The Council should continue to play a central role in that regard. It must establish a way to allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction. The Council must act urgently to adapt the oil-for-food programme. He also supported the call of the Secretary-General on both sides to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. Lastly, he appealed to the Council members, particularly the permanent five, to demonstrate leadership in carrying out the solemn duty entrusted to them under the Charter.

KAMIL BAIALINOV (Kyrgyzstan) expressed regret that the Iraqi problem had been dealt with by the use of force. His country had called for a political settlement of the Iraqi problem on the basis of existing Security Council resolutions. Kyrgyzstan deeply regretted that the opportunities for a political settlement had been missed. He hoped it would be possible to avoid civilian casualties and the use of weapons of mass destruction. He also hoped that the consolidated efforts of the international community would help avert a humanitarian crisis and that rapid peace would be achieved.

ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said his country had continued to expand its contacts with Arab countries and other members of the international community in an effort to end to hostilities in Iraq, and ensure that there would be no threat to the country’s territorial sovereignty or natural resources. He reaffirmed Jordan’s commitment to supplying humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. He appealed to the international community and concerned parties to live up to their international responsibility to ease the plight of the Iraqi people, so that they could overcome the situation they were currently enduring. He called on the Council to adopt a resolution on the oil-for-food programme as quickly as possible.

BOB F. JALANG’O (Kenya) said that at a time when the situation was escalating and engulfing the well-being, welfare and lives of non-combatants, especially women and children, it was important that the Secretary-General’s voice of reason continue to be beacon of hope. All along, it had been his conviction that the provisions of 1441 were adequate to resolve the issue of Iraq’s disarmament. The inspectors had reinforced that conviction in their reports. However, the international community was now faced with a situation in which the United Nations was rendered less effective. The role of the inspectors and humanitarian workers had been suspended. Daily, the world was witnessing an ever-increasing number of civilian casualties. There were also a large number of people without water and food.

He strongly urged that the humanitarian situation in Iraq be addressed with the urgency it deserved. He also called for the respect of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. He hoped the Iraqi people would have the freedom to enjoy their natural resources under the guidance of a government of their choosing.

ROMAN KIRN (Slovenia) said that it would have been his preference that the disarmament of Iraq be achieved without the resort to the use of force. He regretted that unanimity could not be reached within the Council on ways to resolve the crisis. At the present stage, it was vital to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights. Every effort must be made to minimize the effect of the war on Iraqi civilians. Special attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, especially children. He hoped the oil-for-food programme could be resumed as soon as possible and supported the Secretary-General’s proposals in that respect. In the deliberations on that matter, it must be borne in mind that the majority of the Iraqi population was critically dependent on that programme.

The resolution of the Iraqi crisis and dealing with its consequences should return to the United Nations, he said. Also, he hoped that the political and security conditions could be created to allow for the return of United Nations staff to affected areas to provide urgent humanitarian assistance. Slovenia was willing to contribute her share in addressing the major humanitarian needs arising from the conflict for the Iraqi people and affected neighbouring States. His Government would respond favourably to the appeal issued by the United Nations to meet the humanitarian needs in and around Iraq.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the Council had heard from more than one third of Member States concerning the war in Iraq, the humanitarian needs of the affected populations, the responsibilities of the different parties and the reconstruction of Iraq. Two common concerns had been raised. The first was in what circumstances would the war come to an end and what could be done to halt it. The second question focused on the future of the United Nations. In the eyes of the world, the Council was fractured. The formula to achieve Iraqi disarmament had divided the Council. There had been debate on the effectiveness of multilateralism and the United Nation’s capacity to enforce its resolutions, in general. Mexico reaffirmed its commitment to the United Nations and its conviction that it was only in the framework of the Charter and multilateral decision-making mechanisms that humankind could find formulas for preventing conflict and stopping war once it had begun.

The Security Council was established with a central mandate to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security, he said. Nothing had changed that mandate. In pursuing it, the Council must do its utmost to end the conflict. The disagreements that had prevented the Council from continuing inspections did not wipe out the aspirations of the United Nations or invalidate multilateralism. Mexico regretted the war and deplored the loss of life. Mexico had sought to find formulas that would enable the Council to maintain the inspection mechanism, through which it would have been possible to prevent war. He maintained Mexico’s conviction that the war should not have started. The immediate challenge facing the Council was not bogging down in irrelevance, but in overcoming differences and arriving at consensus that would allow it to comply without delay with its humanitarian responsibilities to ensure the survival of a large portion of the Iraqi population. That was the mandate of the oil-for-food programme. That programme’s resources belonged to the Iraqis. Nothing would warrant the Council’s failure to take the necessary decision to enable the Iraqis to benefit from those resources. He welcomed the presentation of the flash appeal, adopted by the Secretary-General and developed by the Secretariat, to meet the urgent needs of the Iraqi people.

He said the United Nations must ensure that all the parties involved respected international humanitarian law, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention. It was up to the Council to ensure that the humanitarian system could fulfil its mission and act with the necessary safeguards. The United Nations must do its utmost to ensure respect for the territorial integrity of Iraq and the inalienable rights of its people over their natural resources. The conflict had made it necessary to take steps in three areas, including: strengthening multilateralism; achieving consensus on ways to achieve the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction; and updating the norms of international law relating to armed conflict.

HELDER LUCAS (Angola) said the current situation in Iraq was a source of great concern to all. Angola had lived through many years of war, which had inspired it to join efforts to find a peaceful solution in Iraq. He deplored the fact that, despite the efforts of many countries, war had still occurred. He urged the parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to refrain from harming innocent civilians.

The Secretary-General had presented proposals that should be quickly implemented to assist the Iraqi people, he said. The international community, especially Arab countries, should assist Iraq in recuperating from the war and taking its rightful place in the world. People, nations and institutions had endured crises and times of disbelief, but it was possible to overcome those critical times.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that war had come again to the Gulf. War was not only the last option, but an ugly option. He deplored the resort to the use of force. It was a war Pakistan had tried to prevent. It was a war 12 years in the making. It could have been prevented, if the inspection regime had been allowed more time to secure the effective and verified destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The outbreak of the war was not due to the failure of the Council. The Council did not endorse the war. The Council remained relevant to restoring peace, containing the conflict, providing relief and restoring stability and the rule of law.

The time and space for diplomacy never ends, he said. The mandate of the Council was not only to maintain, but also restore international peace and security. In the current situation, the Council could not give up efforts to achieve the cessation of hostilities. It must continue efforts to restore peace. That would not be achieved through condemnation or recrimination, however deplorable the use of force. It could only be done through the exploration of ways to achieve peace with the warring parties.

In the current war, people must come first, he stressed. To contain the war’s humanitarian consequences was the most urgent task. Due to the application of sanctions, Iraqis were dependent on the oil-for-food programme, and that relationship was now disrupted. With the onset of war, the Secretary-General had no choice but to withdraw United Nations personnel. However, once the parameters of the conflict became clearer, the United Nations could resume its responsibility for the provision of humanitarian assistance. Fortunately, the United Nations had the machinery to discharge those responsibilities. Appropriate adjustments must be made to the programme, so that the Secretary-General could ensure that urgent items already contracted would be the first to be delivered.

While the existence of the oil-for-food programme might be the best option to meet the urgent needs of the Iraqi people, it was necessary to underline certain principles, he said. First, the Council must reaffirm the permanent sovereignty of the Iraqi people over their natural resources. Control over those resources must revert to them as soon as possible. To that end, the sanctions must be lifted quickly after the conflict. Secondly, the Iraqi people must not have to bear the burden of the adjustments to the oil-for-food programme. Those extra costs should be met through normal insurance coverage. Third, apart from the humanitarian responsibility of the parties to the conflict, the international community must also contribute to meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. The international humanitarian assistance would need to be coherently planned and effectively coordinated, which would be best done through the United Nations. The Secretary-General might want to consider the appointment of a high official to serve as a focal point and coordinator of international relief assistance to Iraq.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that many speakers had referred to the 12-year period in which the peaceful disarmament of Iraq was again and again attempted by the Council. No one had worked than the British Government to try to bring about that objective. No one had worked harder in recent weeks than the British Government to try to unite the Council around a position that would have maintained the vigorous lines adopted unanimously in resolution 1441. He was aware that Member States, perhaps without exception, found the current situation deeply disappointing and distasteful. But, they could not set aside the clear evidence that Iraq was repeatedly defying the United Nations in refusing complete disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction under the terms of successive resolutions.

Coalition action was, therefore, now under way to enforce Council decision on complete Iraqi disarmament, he said. That action was being undertaken in a manner that was directed only at the regime responsible for the failure to respect the United Nations. Everything was being done to minimize the effect on civilians, to leave the infrastructure intact, and to ensure that the necessary humanitarian assistance reached the Iraqi people as quickly as possible. The United Kingdom accepted, in full, its obligation under international humanitarian law. It had already committed $80 million to support humanitarian agencies. A further $300 million had been set aside for the United Kingdom’s humanitarian response. In addition, the United Kingdom was contributing one fifth of the growing European Union contribution.

The action which the United Kingdom was now taking with its coalition partners to uphold United Nations resolutions was both legitimate and multilateral, he said. The use of force was authorized in the current circumstances under Security Council resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. A broad coalition of well over 40 States was supporting the action materially or politically. The United Kingdom deeply regretted the differences within the Council that had marked the past few months of discussion on the subject. Now was the time to unite to ensure that the United Nations and the international community could act quickly to meet the needs of the Iraqi people, during and after military action.

One first priority must be to ensure that the changing realities on the ground in Iraq were reflected in the operation of the oil-for-food programme, on which 60 per cent of Iraqis remained dependent, he said. Many in the debate had spoken in support of the Secretary-General’s proposals on amending the programme. Progress had been made within the Council on a draft resolution. He hoped the outstanding issues could be resolved rapidly, so that the Secretary General had the necessary authority and flexibility in delivering humanitarian relief.

He said an equal priority was to restore the Middle East peace process to health. That meant both publication and implementation of the “Road Map” and progress on security, as well as other issues. The peace process must not be sidelined because of Iraq, nor must it be promoted only because of Iraq. Justice for Palestinians, security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, and a comprehensive regional settlement must all be urgent proposals in their own right. Looking ahead, the United Kingdom was clear that the United Nations must take a central role in the future of Iraq. He hoped that the Council would play its part, ensuring a well-functioning Iraq that no longer presented a threat to international peace and where a representative government provided effectively for its people and managed natural resources for the exclusive benefit of all Iraqis.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) noted that the Council had failed with respect to the Iraqi situation. It had lost several opportunities to follow the path of peace and had dashed many expectations. Even up until 16 March, six countries had tried to put forth a middle-of-the-road proposal, but their suggestions had not been followed. His country was peace-loving and would continue to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes in the international arena.

Now was the time for realism and pragmatism, he continued. Responding to the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people must be in the forefront of the Council’s concerns. The Secretary-General had put forward some timely proposals on how to manage the humanitarian crisis, which his country fully supported. The Council must give clear authorization to the Secretary-General to conduct an emergency policy of humanitarian assistance in Iraq, mobilizing all its agencies, beginning with the oil-for-food programme. Any discussion about how to manage the humanitarian crisis would be inappropriate. The Council must work as quickly as possible to help the Iraqi people and manage its humanitarian tragedy. It had failed to prevent war and now must work together to avert the humanitarian crisis.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) shared many of the concerns expressed by speakers, as well as welcomed the expressions of support. He disagreed with those who still avoided the central issue. The responsibility for the current situation lay with the Iraqi regime, which had for 12 years refused to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had repeatedly refused to respond to peaceful means to bring about its compliance with relevant resolutions and disarm. The response of the United States and the coalition forces was entirely appropriate. It was not a war against the people of Iraq, but against the regime that had denied the will of the international community for more than 12 years.

It was regrettable, he noted, that Iraq had not taken the final opportunity afforded to it in resolution 1441. The response of the coalition was not illegitimate. It had long been recognized that the material breach of obligations removed the basis of the ceasefire and authorized the use of force. Resolution 1441 had found Iraq in continued material breach. The use of force was authorized under resolution 678. As President Bush had stated, the United States was acting to compel Iraq’s compliance with resolutions because the risk of inaction was too great to tolerate.

The current humanitarian situation was fragile and all the more so due to the policies of the Iraqi regime over the last two decades, he said. The United States had been planning across all its agencies and in support of United Nations efforts to anticipate likely requirements. It was prepared to administer the necessary relief as soon as possible. His Government was continuing to consult with interested governments, civil society and the United Nations. Among other efforts, the United States had already prepositioned $16.3 million in relief supplies in the region. As the United States increased its contributions, he urged other donors to support critical humanitarian efforts. The United States had also fielded the largest ever disaster response team to the region to assess needs and liaise with partners.

He welcomed the 19 March letter from the Secretary-General requesting the Council to ensure the continuity of the oil-for-food programme. He supported that request and believed the Council was close to achieving that objective. Progress on the resolution must accelerate, putting political debating points aside to avoid delay in the programme. There were serious implications for the Iraqi people if the Council failed to do so. Insistence on narrow economic interests and extraneous political matters on what was essentially a technical adjustment to the programme would prevent the Council from giving the Secretary-General the flexibility he needed to provide urgently needed humanitarian relief.

As the coalition acted to enforce relevant Council resolutions and the international community joined together to meet the humanitarian needs of Iraq, much thought had been given to the future of Iraq, he said. It was necessary to first demonstrate to the Iraqi people that the United States sought to liberate, not to occupy. Second, Iraq must be disarmed from all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons production capacity. Third, its terrorist infrastructures must be destroyed. Also, Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be preserved. The United States and the coalition would provide security to prevent chaos and retribution. It was necessary to begin the process of economic and political reconstruction to put the Iraqi people on a path to prosperity and freedom. Reconstruction would be a challenging task and success would only be possible by working with Iraq’s neighbours and the international community. United States forces would stay as long as necessary to restore the sovereignty of Iraq to the Iraqi people, and not one day more.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that unprovoked military action had been undertaken in violation of international law against Iraq. The toll of casualties and destruction was growing and there was a looming threat of ecological disaster. The consequences of the illegal military action was already impacting on the other countries of the region. Russia had made vigorous efforts to prevent war and to achieve a political settlement. The adoption of resolution 1441 provided a realistic way to disarm Iraq through peaceful means. That possibility had been thwarted, at a tine when Iraq was cooperating more actively and when the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had submitted their work programmes.

The military action by the United States and the United Kingdom at that point could not in any way be justified, he continued. They had been unable to provide proof of their allegations regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, or Baghdad’s support of international terrorism. During the military action, no proof had been found to corroborate those accusations. The use of force to change the political regime in a sovereign State ran counter to the principles of the United Nations Charter and was a serious political mistake. Military action had gone beyond the local context. Populations in neighbouring countries were also being affected.

He said the Russian Federation was seriously alarmed at the humanitarian situation in Iraq and supported the Secretary General’s efforts to mobilize voluntary contributions to meet the needs of the Iraqi population. His country was contributing to those efforts. Steps were being taken to provide assistance to Iraqi refugees, including the setting up of a hospital and refugee camps. All parties must comply with the provisions of the Geneva Convention, all other norms of international humanitarian law, particularly those related to the wounded, prisoners of war, and the protection of vital facilities. Bearing in mind the exceptional circumstances, his country was prepared to resolve the question of temporary amendment to procedures of the oil-for-food programme to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people in a situation where international personnel had been evacuated. He would not, however, support the proposal that the mechanism for the humanitarian programme be adjusted to the military scenario. There was no more urgent job than trying to halt the war and return to the path of a political settlement.

The Russian Federation would continue to oppose attempts to legitimize the use of force or shift responsibility to the international community through the United Nations, he said. The fundamental mechanism underpinning humanitarian work had been outlined by the Secretary-General, including the inalienable right of the Iraqi people to exercise control over their natural resources. His country’s leadership was pursuing contacts with a broad range of States to find a political solution to the crisis. The potential of the United Nations was far from exhausted. His Government was open to engaging in dialogue. Differences on the Iraq problem should not be a context for confrontations in world affairs. The objective concern of the international community to find solutions to global problems should not be a hostage of the situation in Iraq.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said military action against Iraq was a violation of the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. It had already caused severe casualties and loss of property in Iraq, and would impinge on the safety and security of the entire region. He stressed that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq should be respected by the international community. It was the universal view of the international community that it would have been possible to disarm Iraq through peaceful means, through the strict implementation of Council resolutions.

He regretted that weapons inspection in Iraq had been forced to come to an end, while they were making continuous progress. He supported the continuing important role of the Council on the question of Iraq, and hoped consensus would soon be reached on the oil-for-food programme. His country would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq within the limit of its capabilities. He called on the countries concerned to end military action and return to a political settlement on the question of Iraq.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) regretted that military action had begun without the authorization of the Council. France had tried to show that the disarmament of Iraq could be achieved peacefully. The conflict would be fraught with future consequences. The primary concern now was for the civilian population of Iraq. He hoped military action would be over soon, and the Iraqis would be spared from further suffering. He urged the belligerents to do everything to spare civilian lives and adhere to the principles of the Geneva Conventions.

His country was prepared to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population, while supporting the efforts of the United Nations and the European Union. The international community must mobilize. However, he recalled that the primary responsibility to assist the Iraqi population lay with the occupying forces in the areas they controlled. The Council must promptly adopt a resolution to mobilize efforts to ease the humanitarian situation, among other things, through the resumption of the oil-for-food programme. He hoped the text on that would be adopted soon.

He reiterated his commitment to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. Those principles were enshrined in the Charter and recalled resolution 687 and subsequent resolutions. They must be fully respected. The sovereignty of Iraq lay with the Iraqis. Such principles must be taken into account to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the crisis. The restoration of lasting peace would only be through a central framework, of which the United Nations must be a part. As soon as the military action ended, the United Nations must be allowed to verify the disarmament of Iraq and help the Iraqi people regain mastery over their destiny.

INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) said that repeated non-compliance by Saddam Hussein over the past 12 years had led an international coalition to take enforcement action to achieve disarmament. Spain had used to the maximum all available diplomatic resources to achieve the disarmament of Iraq by peaceful means. Resolution 1441 supported the legality of the action taken. Spain fully agreed with the recent European Council meeting, which had highlighted its commitment to maintain Iraq’s territorial integrity, respect for human rights and disarmament. Spain also defended the right of the Iraqi people to determine their political future and control their natural resources.

He said the highest priority was providing urgent humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. Spain had provided some 35 million euros in humanitarian assistance to ease the situation of refugees. The Council must use a pragmatic response in order for the United Nations to meet humanitarian needs, making the oil-for-food programme flexible to achieve that. Humanitarian assistance must reach the Iraqi people as a matter of utmost urgency. The spectacle of a Council bogged down for days because political nuance would not be edifying or bring prestige to the Security Council. Humanitarian assistance could not wait. Other challenges must also be addressed once the crisis was settled, including the situation in the Middle East. Implementation of the Road Map was necessary, in order to ensure the existence of viable States that could live in peace.

GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said it was urgent to look to the future, particularly the future of the United Nations. His country valued multilateralism as a necessary and indispensable prerequisite to international peace and security. No one could deny the irreplaceable role the United Nations had played over the years in promoting security and protecting sustainable development. And, once the dust had settled, the major players in the Iraqi conflict had returned to the United Nations, recognizing it as the sole source of international legitimacy and legality.

He believed that current risks before the United Nations were major. It was time for the Council to make a special effort to bring their positions closer together, restoring to the United Nations its capacity to act. Currently, the Council should get down to solving the humanitarian situation in Iraq, following the proposals made by the Secretary-General. Unless a resolution was adopted in the next few days, the Council would witness the greatest humanitarian crisis that had ever existed. Concluding, he said his country sought a cessation of hostilities in Iraq, and called for full implementation of the Geneva Conventions.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) very much regretted that diplomatic efforts to disarm Iraq peacefully had not yielded the desired results. Bulgaria had made every effort to find a compromise within the Council to preserve its unity. The current military action was the last resort to disarm Iraq. The Iraqi Government was responsible for the current situation. It had not taken the last opportunity given to it in resolution 1441. He appealed to all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under humanitarian law. The international community must not give up its responsibility towards Iraq, but rather must make every effort in the humanitarian field to rebuild the country after the conflict. The main task was to provide urgent humanitarian relief to the people. His country was prepared to participate in that effort.

He was grateful to the Secretary-General and to the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations for the steps they had taken to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people. The Council should adopt as soon as possible a resolution on humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people, which would adjust the oil-for-food programme and expand the authority of the Secretary-General in that area. Reaching agreement was crucial for the unity of the Council and to reinforce its credibility. He supported the Secretary-General’s proposals to adapt the programme to the current situation on the ground. The Secretary-General was the best possible guarantor to ensure success in that regard. The Council must give the Secretary-General the flexibility required to complete that job.

As soon as the military action was over, every effort must be made to preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq and promote the return of the country to the community of nations, he said. It should also lead to the lifting of sanctions and the resumption of a normal life for the Iraqi people. The control and monitoring of weapons of mass destruction must be done through the resumption of the work of UNMOVIC, adjusted to the new circumstances. He hoped the Council would continue to shoulder its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and for the rebuilding of Iraq after the conflict.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the United Kingdom and the United States had carried through their threats outside of international legitimacy. Throughout the debates at the highest level, the Security Council had warned of the danger of circumventing the Council’s resolutions. There was no legal or moral justification for waging war against the Iraqi people. Unilateral action by the United States would lead to grave consequences, in particular, divisions and chaos in international relations. It was most regrettable that a State of tremendous military power had debilitated a country. The United States aggression would be recorded as a black page by history.

The United States has closed its ears to international public opinion, he said. The war was in defiance of the Council itself. Council resolutions had called for the continuing activities of the inspectors, based on Iraq’s proactive cooperation. The war was not palatable, because it did not aim at the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. The real objective was to help Israel, which did possess weapons of mass destruction, to continue its occupation. Syria fully supported the statement issued by the Arab foreign ministers, that called for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Anglo-American troops from Iraqi territory. War was war. Today, people had an increasing hatred of such wars, when they were waged in flagrant violation of international law.

The humanitarian need of the Iraqi people was an urgent issue, he said. Syria would make every effort to take up that issue. He urged the Council to make every effort to end the destructive war and to prevent it from reaping a harvest of more Iraqi lives. He called on the Council to take up the grave situation as the essential reference in such difficult international circumstances. The Council must call on the aggressor to respect international humanitarian law by ending its policy of destroying the infrastructure built by the sweat of the Iraqi people. He called for a return to dealing with international issues in a just and balanced manner. The logic of force and hegemony would not lead humanity to the future it wanted.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that the war must be brought to an end as soon as possible. But, while it continued, all parties to the conflict must assume their responsibilities under international humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Conventions. He was deeply concerned about the plight of the Iraqi people and the imminent threat of a humanitarian disaster. As the Secretary-General had pointed out, the primary responsibility for meeting their needs now fell on the belligerents who controlled the territory. However, the international community and the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations, for their part, must do everything possible to avert a humanitarian disaster.

As Chair of the 661 Committee, he was actively involved in the ongoing efforts to adapt the oil-for-food programme to the new situation. He hoped the Council would regain its unity of purpose by adopting a resolution on that issue as soon as possible. He would soon introduce a draft resolution in that connection, which he hoped would enjoy consensus.

He was convinced that the United Nations and the Council must continue to play the central role in the resolution of the Iraqi crisis. He fully concurred with the Secretary-General that the two guiding principles on which that resolution must be based were, first, the respect for its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence; and second, the right of the Iraqi people to overcome their isolation, determine their own future, and use their natural resources for their own benefit. The war in Iraq should not question the foundations of the rules-based system of collective security as provided for by the Charter. There was no substitute for the Council’s function as the guardian of peace.

MAMADY TRAORÉ (Guinea) said that current tragic events were shocking to all in the international community. Together, the Council must strive to find ways and means to restore its unity and recover its effectiveness and dynamism. The international community was questioning the effectiveness of the Council, a few days after the beginning of hostilities in Iraq. Negotiations for a resolution regarding humanitarian needs in Iraq were noteworthy, as the risk of a humanitarian disaster was a huge source of concern. The current war affected a population that had already been sorely tried by a series of sanctions, and suspension of the oil-for-food programme had made the situation even more precarious. He hoped the war would end speedily, and cause as few casualties as possible.

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) thanked the majority of Member States who had expressed the importance of putting an end to the war. He had also listened to the many who were misguided, or misguiding others, and had declared that they had joined the camp of war. They were not expressing the views of their peoples, but only spoke due to other reasons. The United States carrot-and-stick policy had been used to intimidate others. Some States were being occupied by United States forces and had no other option but to abide by the orders of that country.

It was not possible to disregard the inhumane results of the aggression against Iraq, he said. Everyone knew what was happening in terms of destruction and the loss of life. The United States and the United Kingdom wanted to put the humanitarian issue before the world, to misguide it and distract from the main issue of war. The United States wanted to make its aggressive and criminal military action against Iraq a legitimate matter, after it had lost its legitimacy. Therefore, it tried to use another form to achieve its objective. In fact, he believed it must have been a British plan, because “they were known for their trickery”. He could not believe that they both were shedding tears over the future of Iraq.

Today, the new colonialists had come as liberators and stated that they would need time to withdraw their forces. If the Council did not pay attention to that, the reality of American-British neo-colonialism of Iraq would become known very soon. The United States had concluded contracts to rebuild infrastructures in Iraq back in 1997 -– over six years ago. Those contracts could be found on the Internet. He apologized to those States who had participated with and followed the United States in its vision, because they would get “no part of the cake” if Iraq fell.

Despite the fact that Iraq had not crossed the Atlantic to attack the United States, had no link to the 11 September attacks and had no weapons of mass destruction, United States forces had crossed the Atlantic to control his region. The Council had been fooled when it was told by the United States and the United Kingdom that the Iraqi people would receive their forces with flowers and hugs. The Iraqi army, up until now, had not confronted United States forces. It was the Iraqi people who were facing the forces today. When the United States found itself before a fierce resistance by the Iraqi people, it had started to destroy them.

Yesterday, he continued, United States forces had destroyed 200 houses and continued to destroy residential areas. The Iraqi people would defend the principles of the United Nations and those of peace and security. He warned the Council that the United States and the United Kingdom were about to start a war of extermination against the Iraqi people. Halting the war was most important. He called on the Council to adopt a resolution to halt the war and restore peace. He added that Iraq was committed to the Geneva Conventions, and the world would see nothing from Iraq but what it did in self-defence.

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