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UN calls for timetable to end of occupation

Annan calls for quick return to Iraqi rule with timetable for end of occupation

The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, and a clear timetable for the restoration of sovereignty with specific steps for the end of United States military occupation is essential if the growing impatience in the country is to be stemmed, according to a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The report, to be formally presented to the Security Council tomorrow, lays out a blueprint for a full spectrum of activities where the UN can assist the reconstruction of Iraq. But, it makes clear that under its current Council mandate, re-establishing law and order and administering the country are not among them, these being the sole responsibility of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

It enumerates the activities the UN will carry out in 2003 in the areas of humanitarian assistance, facilitation of national dialogue, assistance with the electoral processes and human rights, to be coordinated under a new UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), with a staff of over 300, both international and local.

It also identifies other areas consistent with Council resolution 1483, adopted in May, where the UN could provide assistance in the future, including the constitutional process, judicial and legal reform, police training, demobilization and reintegration of former military forces, public administration, economic reconstruction and sustainable development, and technical assistance and advisory services to Iraqi ministries.

“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,” Mr. Annan says in the report, requested by resolution 1483, which mandated the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

The report is an initial assessment of the UN role since the Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, took up his post at the beginning of June. He will address the Council tomorrow.

Referring to Mr. Vieira de Mello’s wide ranging consultations with Iraqi society, the CPA and neighbouring countries, Mr. Annan reports: “He conveyed to all concerned the Security Council’s resolve that the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, and he has stressed the Security Council’s call for a government based on the rule of law that affords equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens without regard to ethnicity, religion or gender.

“To this end, my Special Representative made clear the independence of his role and that the Coalition Provisional Authority, not the United Nations, was responsible for administering Iraq, for providing for the welfare of the people, and for restoring conditions of security and stability,” he adds.

Welcoming the establishment last week of a Governing Council consisting of a wide spectrum of Iraqi personalities, Mr. Annan declares: “If some of the concerns that have been relayed to my Special Representative in these initial weeks of his mandate are to be allayed, and the growing impatience is to be stemmed, it is important that Iraqis are able to see a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty.

“There is a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of military occupation. My Special Representative stands ready to assist in the establishment of such a framework, working together with the Governing Council and the Authority,” he states.

At UN Headquarters in New York today, Mr. Annan told reporters the Governing Council emerged out of extensive consultations with Iraqis and others and was broadly representative. “I think, given these circumstances, and the fact that you couldn't possibly organize elections in Iraq today, 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,” he said.

In his report, Mr. Annan stresses that a common theme Mr. Vieira de Mello heard during his consultations was that “democracy should not be imposed from the outside, it had to come from within.”

“The importance for the Iraqi people of moving quickly towards their own government cannot be overstated, not least in terms of getting the constitutional process off to a good start," he writes.

“My Special Representative, therefore, has strongly advocated that the Authority (CPA) devolve real executive authority to a broadly representative and self-selecting Iraqi leadership, including in policy- and decision-making, and in the preparation and execution of a budget. This advice was favourably received by the Authority.”

Mr. Vieira de Mello also raised concerns over CPA actions in the human rights sphere, including the treatment of detainees, with US administrator L. Paul Bremer and “reminded him of the Authority’s obligations” under international law.

Looking to “the way forward,” Mr. Annan reports: “Ultimately, the United Nations, as mandated in resolution 1483 (2003), is a resource at the disposal of the Iraqi people, whose interests are at the forefront of all our work. Iraq is rich in human resources.

“Critical from the outset is placing qualified Iraqis in the lead in the planning and management of Iraq’s recovery. I endorse the approach taken by my Special Representative, which is based on the twin principles of inclusiveness and empowerment of the Iraqi people, and has capacity-building as its natural corollary.”

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