Security Council members welcome newfound unity and UN role in Iraq

22 May 2003 –

United Nations Security Council members who approved a new resolution on interim post-war arrangements for Iraq today praised the spirit of rediscovered unity and consensus that made the compromise possible and emphasized the important role the world body now had in the Middle Eastern country's future.

In statements following the 14-0 vote in favour of the resolution sponsored by the United States, United Kingdom and Spain - Syria did not participate - the Council members stressed the urgent need now to rebuild the country and answer the population's humanitarian needs.

Ambassador John Negroponte of the United States said the resolution allowed for the Secretary-General's Special Representative to have a robust role in rebuilding Iraq, and guaranteed UN participation in monitoring the sale of Iraqi oil. Now that the resolution had been adopted, it had to be implemented since there were urgent humanitarian, reconstruction, and political tasks at hand, he added.

Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France said the resolution was not perfect but improvements introduced during negotiations provided a credible framework in which the international community could lend support to the Iraqi people. The strong, independent UN involvement would condition the success of the process, namely, the degree of its ownership by the Iraqi people, he added.

For his part, British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock hoped the vote would mark the return to sustained consensus on one of the most difficult foreign policy issues faced today. He noted that it gave the UN a vital and independent post-conflict role. In that context, he hoped that the Secretary-General would rapidly deploy a Special Representative.

Germany’s Ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, noting that the resolution – a compromise reached after difficult negotiations – showed substantial improvements compared to the initial draft and had strengthened the role of the UN. The adoption of the resolution had left behind the divisions of the past, he said.

Ambassador Inocencio Arias of Spain acknowledged that some parties felt that the resolution was not perfect, but no one could deny that it provided an important tool to deal with a difficult issue. It gave the UN an important role, he said, and he hoped that it would help the world body to tackle other challenges, such as terrorism, in the future.

Noting that the text was a compromise, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico said the UN's challenge would be to assure respect for the fundamental principles of the Organization and to become energetically involved in the reconstruction process. Iraq's future was a great challenge for the UN, and to confront it squarely, the Organization itself had to be strengthened, he added.

Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation also noted that the resolution was the result of a major compromise, but said it was commendable that all parties had truly made an effort to make concessions, in spite of diverging positions. With the description of the functions of the Secretary General's Special Representative, the resolution assigned a vital and important role to the UN.

Bulgarian Ambassador Stefan Tafrov said the UN was to play a vital, independent and possibly a central role in Iraq in the post-conflict period. Difficulties would be resolved through a genuine partnership between the UN and the coalition forces. In a time of globalization, the UN had become an indispensable organization, he stressed.

For his part, Ambassador Mamady Traore of Guinea declared that the adoption of the resolution represented a success for the UN and for the Council, which had gone back to the "golden rule" of consensus. He was pleased with the important role given to the UN in rebuilding Iraq and hoped the Special Representative would fully play his rightful role during that crucial stage for Iraq's future.

China's Ambassador, Wang Yingfan, said the resolution would contribute to maintaining the authority and validity of the UN. Having participated in the negotiations on amendments, he said, his Government's specific concerns had not been properly addressed but he voted in favour because of the urgent humanitarian needs in Iraq.

The Ambassador of Cameroon, Martin Belinga-Eboutou, said the resolution represented a great moment for the Security Council, sending a message of confidence in the Iraqi people, who would soon be able to take charge of their own affairs. From the outset, he had believed that the UN should play an important role in rebuilding Iraq.

Ambassador Christian Maquieira of Chile said the adopted resolution contained important provisions concerning the political process in Iraq, the role of the UN and the Council's role 12 months from now. Its adoption had made it possible to restore the Council's capacity to agree on a process for the reconstruction of Iraq.

Angolan Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins declared that the resolution's adoption would contribute to restoring the necessary unity of purpose of the Council - a unity that had been bruised by divisions over Iraq during the past months. It had reinstated the spirit of multilateralism in the Council, enabling it to better play its mandated role in maintaining international peace and security.

Wrapping up members' statements, the Council President for May, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, speaking in his national capacity, said the resolution accorded an independent and vital role to the UN, the Secretary-General, and his Special Representative. He expected that the role of the Secretary-General would become even more central in the coming months.

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