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UN: Students & Diplomats Engage On Future Of Iraq

At UN, Students And Diplomats Engage In Dialogue On Future Of Iraq

The future of Iraq, and the role of the United Nations and the international community in helping the reconstruction of the country in the aftermath of the war, was the focus of a student-diplomat summit Monday at UN Headquarters in New York.

Hosted by the UN CyberSchoolBus, a web site offering lesson plans and project ideas on global issues for teachers and students from around the world, the “Youth Leadership Awards Summit” brought in high school students from the New York City area for a dialogue with Ambassadors Yerzhan Kazykhanov of Kazakhstan and Adam Thomson of the United Kingdom, Asli Bali, a lawyer dealing with human rights issues, and Howard Stoffer, a Minister Counsellor from the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations.

Speaking at the outset of the event, Ambassador Kazykhanov stressed that it was imperative to ensure that the work to restore peace and security in Iraq was made in the legal framework of the United Nations. “Post-war reconstruction of the country and assistance to the Iraqi population could be provided only under the umbrella of the United Nations,” he said.

For her part, Ms. Bali said any Security Council resolution dealing with the future of Iraq should resist legitimizing the occupation, demand the withdrawal of foreign troops over the next 18 months, insist on the deployment of international human rights monitors, stress the need for the US to continue to be bound by international humanitarian law, take precautions for Iraqi prisoners of war, hold people accountable for crimes already committed, very reject the economic colonization of Iraq.

In his remarks, Ambassador Thomson said it was not in anyone’s interests to see Iraq descend into chaos and that the alternative in Iraq was potentially good. “It is difficult, but the opportunity of building a more pluralist society in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, is potentially very healthy for the entire region,” he said. “Most of the societies and politics of Iraq’s neighbours are closed, and if developments in Iraq can help them open they will prosper.”

The summit was organized by the Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL), a non-governmental organization that aims to help students examine current events, develop leadership skills and create their own community service projects.

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