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Annan Unveils Plan for U.N. Role in Iraq


Annan Unveils Plan for U.N. Role in Iraq

Proposes a 300-person assistance mission for Ira

q By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- Talking of "the twin principles of inclusiveness and empowerment of the Iraqi people," U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan July 21 outlined a ten-point plan for a new U.N. mission in Iraq for Security Council consideration.

Annan set out his recommendations on how the United Nations can help Iraq in a 23-page report to the Security Council, prepared with the help of his special envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who has been traveling in Iraq and the region since his appointment in late May. The council will discuss the report with the secretary general, Vieira de Mello, and three members of the Iraqi Governing Council at a public meeting in New York July 22.

Before the plan and the mission can get under way, the Security Council will have to pass a resolution giving its approval.

The secretary general has proposed a 300-person "U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq" (UNAMI) that would oversee delivering humanitarian assistance, support the political process, assist the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) in rehabilitating the courts and supporting a Judicial Training Center, establish an Iraqi media center, phase out the oil-for-food program by November 21, 2003, assess economic reconstruction and development projects, and help the Iraqi Governing Council rejoin the international community.

He said that over the next months Vieira de Mello will also discuss whether the U.N. can be of help in other areas such as the electoral process, judicial and legal reform, police training, demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers, public administration and civil service reform, and long-term economic reconstruction strategies.

The secretary general said that less than half UNAMI would be international staff because the new mission "will rely on a skilled Iraqi workforce, a number of whom would be employed as national professional officers." "While the international community can lend assistance to Iraq," Annan said in the report, "it is ultimately the people of Iraq who must build their own future."

Saying that the U.N. "is a resource at the disposal of the Iraqi people, the secretary general said, "the challenge for the United Nations in Iraq is to find meaningful and effective ways to assist the Iraqi people in achieving their goals. Its aim is to help them participate in, and take ownership of, the definition of the policies and priorities that will shape the future of their country."

"Iraq is rich in human resources," he said. "Critical from the outset is placing qualified Iraqis in the lead in the planning and management of Iraq's recovery."

Annan said that the new Iraqi Governing Council "will provide a broadly representative Iraqi partner with whom the United Nations and the international community at large can engage." He urged the Security Council to support the Iraqi Governing Council.

Talking with journalists as he arrived at his office July 21, Annan said, "the establishment of the Governing Council is a positive step. I think, given the circumstances in Iraq, it was the best way to approach the issue."

"You couldn't possibly organize elections in Iraq today," he continued. "It was a good method of putting together a council and I hope the Security Council will see it that way and grant the group its support."

In resolution 1483, the Security Council gave the secretary general a mandate to chart the way forward for the U.N. to help the Iraqi people, in coordination with the Coalition Provisional Authority, in a wide range of areas, including humanitarian relief, reconstruction, infrastructure rehabilitation, legal and judicial reforms, human rights and return of refugees, among others.

Annan said that the "common themes" that ran through Vieira de Mello's talks with Iraqis include: the demand for the early restoration of sovereignty; the process of de-Ba'athification and the dissolution of the Iraqi army; the deteriorating and precarious security situation, particularly in Baghdad; and the lack of improvement in daily living conditions.

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