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Security Council: Iraqi Governing Council 1st Step

Iraqi Governing Council good ‘first step,’ Security Council members say

The United Nations Security Council heard its first full update report on Iraq today since it recognized the United States-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), with many members applauding the new Iraqi Governing Council as a step towards the restoration of sovereignty and also stressing a prominent UN role.

All 15 members took to the floor in an open session presided over by Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, whose country holds the Council’s rotating Presidency for July, after hearing Secretary-General Kofi Annan call for a quick return of full Iraqi self-determination with a clear timetable for ending the military occupation.

The Council also heard from Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who presented the report, and Adnan Pachachi, the head of a three-person delegation from the Governing Council, a body consisting of a cross-section of Iraqi society set up by the CPA.

The first Council member to speak, Syrian Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe, said he attached enormous importance to the role the UN was expected to play. He stressed that the Governing Council should abide by the wishes of the Iraqi people, by, among other things, quickly establishing a national Iraqi government and ending the occupation.

China’s Ambassador, Zhang Yishan, emphasized three points in the Secretary-General’s report: the Iraqi people hoped to see an early restoration of sovereignty; the security situation remained unstable and economic reconstruction was an arduous and long-term task; and, the UN could and should play an active role in the reconstruction.

Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France also said there must be a central role for the UN in conducting a national dialogue and elaborating a constitution, as well as in the area of judicial and electoral reform. Only the UN had the impartiality and expertise to assure an effective restoration of the State and the world body could also help to ensure the demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers, he added.

For his part, Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz agreed with the report’s call for Iraqi sovereignty to be restored as soon as possible on the basis of a clear timetable. He welcomed the establishment of the Governing Council, which he said should lead to the establishment of national sovereignty, and especially hailed the presence of women on it.

Speaking for Angola, Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins said early restoration of sovereignty and the fact that democracy could not be imposed from outside were important messages in Mr. Annan’s report, which the international community must take into account. The UN was well suited to contribute exclusively to meeting the great challenges ahead and the establishment of the Governing Council was a big step forward, he added. The next important step would be to delegate effective power to the Iraqi Interim Administration.

US Ambassador John Negroponte said that, as Mr. Annan had noted, the Governing Council provided a broadly representative Iraqi partner. For the first time in decades, there was a political body that represented the rich mosaic of Iraqi society, he added, and it deserved the full support of the international community, and especially of the Security Council. He also strongly urged Member States to contribute stability forces to enhance Iraqi security.

Germany, for its part, saw the Governing Council a partner with whom the international community could engage and encouraged it to assume its responsibility and lay the groundwork for the convening of a constitutional conference, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said. His delegation would support a new Security Council resolution expanding the UN’s responsibilities in Iraq so that countries that wished to do so could contribute to the reconstruction of the country under UN auspices, he added.

Cameroon’s Ambassador, Martin Belinga-Eboutou, said the Security Council needed informal discussions on the best way the UN could contribute towards solving the security situation. Although, for the time being, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) proposed in Mr. Annan’s report would not have a military or police component, it would be a good idea not to close the door to such a possibility.

Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said that while security was the responsibility of the CPA, UN assistance in training police and security forces could be promoted and enlarged under the provisions of resolution 1483 adopted in May. He also called the formation of the Governing Council a welcome first step in restoring sovereignty to the people of Iraq as soon as possible.

Speaking for the Russian Federation, Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady M. Gatilov stressed that a clear timetable was needed leading to the establishment of full sovereignty and an end to the military occupation. The proposal for UNAMI was timely, and its scope was appropriate, he added, and it was necessary to take a decision on specific steps to enhance UN involvement in a post-war settlement.

Boubacar Diallo of Guinea commended the excellent work done to bring together the various sectors of Iraqi society, since establishing a representative interim government was one of the top priorities. He urged all Iraqis to work together to prepare a broad political programme, in which they could all participate. The establishment of the Governing Council was encouraging, he added.

For his part, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom said Mr. Vieira de Mello’s work in Iraq proved how valuable the UN’s work was. He believed in an increasingly important UN role and wished to see that role extended along the lines Mr. Annan proposed. In line with resolution 1483, there was a need to ensure that the day the Iraqis governed themselves came quickly and the Governing Council was a first step in that direction, he added.

Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser wished the Governing Council every success in its tasks. He hoped the timetable mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report would lead to the full restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty. The raison d’etre of the UN presence in Iraq was to help the Iraqi people recover their sovereignty, tackle humanitarian challenges, and fully exercise their human rights, he added.

Speaking for Bulgaria, Ambassador Stefan Tafrov said the establishment of the Governing Council had been an important step for Iraqis as they sought to regain control of their future. The UN role must be a central one and he was pleased to note that the first steps had been successful despite the extremely difficult conditions.

Closing the debate, Ms. Palacio, speaking in her national capacity, said it was difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Governing Council, which incorporated Iraqi men and women of great courage. It had a balanced representation and symbolized Iraq’s unity. Its establishment was a decisive step in normalizing the life of Iraqis and deserved full support of the international community. Today, the international community, represented by those sitting around the Security Council table, was giving recognition to the Governing Council.


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