16 October 2002 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the Security Council to retain its “unity of purpose” as it debates the best course of action for returning UN weapons inspectors to Iraq, and insisted that Baghdad comply with the decisions of the 15-member body.
“If you allow yourselves to be divided, the authority and credibility of this Organization will undoubtedly suffer,” the Secretary-General said in a statement delivered on his behalf by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at the outset of the Council’s open meeting.
“But if you act in unison, you will have greater impact, and a better chance of achieving your objective, which must be a comprehensive solution that includes the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing such hardship for the Iraqi people, as well as the timely implementation of other provisions of your resolutions,” he said.
In calling on Iraq to comply with the Council's resolutions, the Secretary-General said Baghdad must implement the disarmament programme and allow unfettered access to the inspectors. “This Council will expect nothing less,” he said, adding that he thought it would be appropriate if the 15-member body chose to pass a new resolution to strengthen the inspectors’ hand and to avoid any weaknesses or ambiguities.
“The new measures must be firm, effective, credible and reasonable,” he stressed.
The Secretary-General said that the situation created by Iraq’s failure to comply fully with the Council’s resolutions since 1991 “is indeed one of the gravest and most serious facing the international community today.”
While the situation poses a great challenge to the UN, it also presents it with an opportunity, Mr. Annan stressed. “If we handle this properly, we may actually strengthen international cooperation, the rule of law and the United Nations – enabling it to move forward in a purposeful way, not only in this immediate crisis but in the future as well,” he said, adding that it was entirely proper that the Council debate its course of action in public in order to give other Member States the opportunity to air their views.
If Iraq fails to make use of this last chance, and defiance continues, however, the Council will have to face its responsibilities, the Secretary-General said. “In my experience, it always does so best and most effectively when its members work in unison,” he said. “If the Council succeeds in this, it will strengthen the United Nations in a way that will place future generations in its debt.”