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Intl. Community Must Close Ranks To Support Iraq

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST CLOSE RANKS TO SUPPORT IRAQ – UN REPORT

New York, Dec 13 2004 11:00AM

With violence in Iraq remaining a major challenge, the restoration of security, protection of civilians, credible and inclusive elections, and a closing of ranks by the international community to support political and economic reconstruction are more vital than ever, according to the latest United Nations report on the situation released today.

“With the planned elections, Iraq is approaching a key point in the transitional political process,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in the report, which was presented to the Security Council by his Special Representative Ashraf Qazi.

“Credible and inclusive elections are the keystone towards achieving legitimacy and stability,” he adds, calling on the transitional government to reach out even more broadly to all segments of society.

While noting that technical preparations for the elections remain on schedule, he stresses the need for an end to violence and the equal imperative of using military force as a last resort. “The widespread insecurity in Iraq, including intimidation, hostage-taking, targeted and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and brutal acts of terror, is a major obstacle,” he writes.

“At the same time, while restoring security throughout Iraq has become an imperative need, the use of military force should be a last resort and undertaken in strict conformity with international humanitarian and human rights law.” The UN’s overriding concern is the protection of civilians caught in the crossfire of the conflict, he adds.

Any expansion of UN staffing outside the so called “International Zone” in Baghdad is extremely hazardous and requires both a quantitative and qualitative improvement in overall security, he warns, since the UN and other international organizations “remain high-value, high impact targets.”

Three mutually reinforcing areas – security, political and economic – need to be addressed simultaneously to reassure Iraqis that “the transition is on track, enabling them to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Annan states.

“It is time for the international community to close ranks in support of Iraq’s political and economic reconstruction,” he declares. “The international community shares a compelling stake in seeing Iraq’s political transition succeed.”

He stresses that he believes the UN has been able to deliver effective support for this transition in coordinating humanitarian and reconstruction assistance as well as in ensuring that electoral preparations are in place.

In a separate report deploring the “horrendous” murder of Kuwaitis and third-party nationals who went missing in Iraq after the 1990 invasion of their country and the subsequent Persian Gulf War, Mr. Annan notes that 346 bodies out of the 605 missing have so far found, of which 209 have been identified.

“It is apparent now that they had been executed. I once again condemn their senseless murder,” he says. “The perpetrators of these horrendous crimes should be brought to justice.”

2004-12-13 00:00:00.000

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news


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