GOAL IN IRAQ IS EARLY END TO OCCUPATION, FORMATION OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

22 July 2003
SC/7821

GOAL IN IRAQ IS EARLY END TO OCCUPATION, FORMATION OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

22/07/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7821

Security Council

4791st Meeting (AM)

GOAL IN IRAQ IS EARLY END TO OCCUPATION, FORMATION OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

Questions of Sovereignty, Security, UN Role at Centre of Debate

“Our collective goal remains an early end to the military occupation through the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government”, the Secretary-General told the Security Council this morning as it met on the situation in Iraq.

The Security Council was meeting for the first time since Sergio Vieira de Mello commenced his duties as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq.  In addition to Mr. Vieira de Mello, who presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation, the Council was addressed by the head of a three-member delegation from the Iraqi Governing Council, formed on 13 July.  All Security Council members also spoke.

The Secretary-General went on to say that it was vital that the Iraqi people see a clear timetable with a specific sequence of events, leading to the full restoration of sovereignty, as soon as possible.  That meant that the establishment of the Governing Council must be followed by a constitutional process run by and for Iraqis.  The United Nations would continue to play an active role in facilitating the political process, working together with the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).  “In all we do, we need to keep the interests of the Iraqi people at the forefront of our minds”, he stressed. 

Reiterating the need for a clear timetable, as soon as possible, for the earliest possible restoration of sovereignty, Special Representative Vieira de Mello said that the Iraqis needed to know that the current state of affairs would end, soon; that stability would return and the occupation would end.  While there was reason to be optimistic for the future of Iraq, there was little margin for error. 

“Our greatest contribution will be in following their (Iraqi’s) lead and, when necessary, assisting them in achieving consensus among themselves”, he said, adding that the United Nations could not replace the CPA.  Nor should it ever replace the rightful role of the Iraqis in shaping their future. 

On behalf of the Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi, stated that having tasted freedom, Iraqis would never return to the era of fear and injustice.  The Governing Council had been formed as an embodiment of the national free will to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and achieve a better future for Iraq, and it represented the full spectrum of the Iraqi society. 

The challenge facing the country was enormous, and the responsibilities of the Governing Council were difficult and diverse, including rebuilding the economy and providing basic services to all citizens, for which it would need the full support of the Iraqi people.  The United Nations would have an important role to play in all of that, he said. 

A number of speakers in the meeting, chaired by Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, hailed the establishment of the Governing Council and the presence in the Council today of three of its members, as a tangible expression of the progress made thus far in restoring sovereignty to Iraq.  They stressed that the Council, a valid partner in moving ahead with democracy and reconstruction efforts, deserved the full support of the Security Council and the international community. 

Ms. Palacio, speaking in her national capacity, said the Governing Council had an historic mission, including the drafting of the constitution and the creation of conditions for the holding of elections, thus paving the way for the establishment of democracy.  After decades of repression, Iraqis expected changes, and they expected them now.

Concern was expressed by several speakers about the security in Iraq, which was a prerequisite for reconstruction and development.  The United States representative said that the unfolding political process in Iraq was opposed by some, and that the unstable security situation was a clear manifestation of the views of the minority that opposed political freedom.  They would not prevail, he emphasized.  The United States, its Coalition partners, and other willing actors were committed to establishing conditions of security for democracy to flourish, he said.

Other issues raised in the discussion included:  the arduous and long-term task of economic reconstruction; the need to ensure respect for human rights, as well as the need to deal with past human rights violations; the role of Iraqi women in the transitional process; the provision of basic services; and the need to create an Iraqi Interim Authority.  In addition, a number of delegates expressed support for the establishment of the proposed United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Statements were also made by the representatives of Syria, China, France, Chile, Angola, Germany, Cameroon, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Guinea, United Kingdom, Mexico and Bulgaria.

Mr. Pachachi was joined by fellow Governing Council members Ahmad Chalabi and Aqeela al-Hashemi.

The meeting, which began at 10:15 a.m., adjourned at 2:05 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was appointed as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq on 27 May.  Before the Council was a report of the Secretary-General (document S/2003/715), which provides an initial assessment of the scope of the challenges involved in implementing resolution 1483 (2003), and indicates those areas in which the United Nations can play a useful role based on its expertise and comparative advantage. 

In resolution 1483 (2003) of 22 May, the Security Council authorized the United Nations Organization to facilitate dialogue and consensus-building among Iraqis in various sectors of activity, the report says.  The challenge for the United Nations in Iraq is to find meaningful and effective ways to assist the Iraqi people in achieving their goals.  Its aim is to help the Iraqi’s participate in, and take ownership of, the definition of the policies and priorities that will shape the future of their country.

The report says that, in order to identify ways in which the United Nations could make the most effective contribution possible, the Special Representative has met with people representing a large and diverse spectrum of Iraqi society.  Meetings have been held with: political groups; religious leaders; tribal leaders; senior civil servants in the ministries; and members of civil society, including nascent Iraqi human rights and non-governmental organizations; women’s associations; journalists; and independent professionals and business leaders.  

In his discussions, the Special Representative emphasized that an overriding goal of the United Nations was to support the right of the Iraqi people freely to determine their own political future and control their own natural resources.  He conveyed the Security Council’s resolve that the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, and stressed the Council’s call for a government based on the rule of law that affords equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens, without regard to ethnicity, religion or gender.  To this end, he made clear the independence of his role and that the Coalition Provisional Authority, and not the United Nations, was responsible for administering Iraq, for providing for the welfare of the people, and for restoring conditions of security and stability.

Also according to the report, there was an overwhelming demand, in those discussions, for the early restoration of sovereignty, and the message was conveyed that democracy could not be imposed from outside.  Serious concern was expressed about the process of “de-Ba’athification” and the dissolution of the Iraqi army.  Decades of repressive rule, gross violations of human rights, successive wars, and severe international sanctions made the daily life of most Iraqis unbearable.

Immediate practical concerns featured prominently in almost all discussions, the report continues.  Daily living conditions have not improved, at least not for those living in urban areas, and may have gotten worse.  Above all, deep concern was expressed about the precarious, and some believed, the deteriorating security situation, particularly in Baghdad.  Iraqis feared that if the situation was not addressed quickly, insecurity would hamper efforts to address many other immediate concerns, notably the inadequate provision of basic public services and the pressing need to create jobs for the high numbers of unemployed.

The report finds that, while many Iraqis lodged frank criticism about aspects of the United Nations past record in Iraq, they also expressed appreciation for the Organization’s ongoing humanitarian efforts and stressed the need for the United Nations to play an active role, not least in facilitating and supporting the political transition.  All considered United Nations involvement essential to the legitimacy of the political process.  Others frequently cited key priority areas for ensuring future stability and prosperity, including economic reconstruction and sustainable development, accountability for past crimes, respect for human rights and the rule of law, national reconciliation, the development of a dynamic civil society —- including free and independent media, and capacity-building.

While the international community can lend assistance to Iraq, the report states that it is ultimately the people of Iraq who must build their own future.  There has been an urgent need for an Iraqi body, widely accepted as representative, to be established, so that the key issues facing Iraq can begin to be addressed by Iraqis, themselves.  To this end, the Special Representative has actively advocated the early formation of the Iraqi interim administration envisaged in resolution 1483 (2003), and he has discussed with the Authority the best way of achieving that goal.

The Secretary-General welcomes the recent establishment of the Governing Council, which will provide a broadly representative Iraqi partner, with whom the United Nations and the international community at large can engage.  If some of the concerns that have been relayed to the Special Representative are to be allayed, and the growing impatience is to be stemmed, it is important that Iraqis are able to see a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty. There is a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of military occupation.

The Secretary-General believes the United Nations can begin to assist the Iraqi people now in making a difference.  It has already begun to do so, particularly in helping to pave the way for the restoration of sovereignty to democratic Iraqi institutions, on the basis of the rule of law.  It has provided the requisite space and an impartial forum in which Iraqis can conduct their deliberations.

The United Nations is making available to Iraqi groups, and to the Coalition Provisional Authority, factual information about how certain issues have been tackled in post-conflict situations, and lessons learned, especially in ensuring participatory processes and local empowerment.  Ultimately, the United Nations, as mandated by resolution 1483 (2003), is a resource at the disposal of the Iraqi people, whose interests are at the forefront of the Organization’s work.

According to the report, the focus of United Nations action in Iraq, for the remainder of 2003 only, will include the following:  delivering humanitarian assistance; promoting the safe, orderly and voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons; and conducting emergency rehabilitation, as set out in the revised humanitarian appeal of 23 June; engaging in the facilitation of national dialogue and consensus-building on the political transition process; and assisting in the establishment of electoral processes.

The report says that the United Nations will also focus on:  establishing an Iraqi Media Centre; ensuring the orderly phasing out of the “oil-for-food” programme by 21 November; contributing, through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the international financial institutions, to assessing potential needs for economic reconstruction and sustainable development; sharing United Nations experiences and lessons learned with Iraqis and the Coalition Provisional Authority on post-conflict processes in general, as requested; and assisting the Iraqi interim administration to gradually rejoin the international community.

Also, the report says, the United Nations will promote the protection of human rights through, among other things, observing and analyzing the prevailing human rights situation in the country, encouraging the development of a national human rights action plan, promoting the establishment of an independent national human rights institution, and engaging and supporting national dialogue and institutions to address accountability for past human rights violations. 

In addition, the Secretary-General details the preparations for transfer of oil-for-food projects to the Authority by 21 November.  Further, he proposes consolidating the existing United Nations staff in Iraq into the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), with a staff of more than 300 people, with international personnel making up less than half of that total.

Statements

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, expressed gratitude to all United Nations staff in Iraq -– international and national –- for their dedicated work in often difficult circumstances.  He also welcomed the presence of representatives from the Iraqi Governing Council, whose formation was an important first step towards the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. 

He reiterated the following fundamental principles underlying the activities of the United Nations under resolution 1483 (2003):  the need to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Iraq; the need to restore sovereignty to the people of Iraq as soon as possible; the need to respect the Iraqi people’s right to determine their political future; the need to respect Iraq’s sovereignty over its territory and natural resources; and the need for Iraq to be restored to the position of a full and responsible partner in the international community, at ease with its neighbours.

Resolution 1483, he said, provided a mandate for the United Nations to assist the people of Iraq in a wide range of areas.  “In all we do, we need to keep the interests of the Iraqi people at the forefront of our minds.  We should listen to their needs, expressed by them in their terms, and we should try to respond”, he said.  Sergio Vieira de Mello has been doing precisely that, throughout his weeks in Baghdad.

“Our collective goal remains an early end to the military occupation through the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government”, he stated.  Meanwhile, it was vital that the Iraqi people should be able to see a clear timetable with a specific sequence of events leading to the full restoration of sovereignty as soon as possible.  In practical terms, that meant that the establishment of the Governing Council must be followed by a constitutional process run by and for Iraqis.  The United Nations would continue to play an active role in facilitating and supporting the political process, working together with the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The people of Iraq were anxious for their country to become a stable, democratic and prosperous Sstate, he said.  To succeed, they needed the support of their neighbours and the region as a whole.  What happened in the region did not happen in vacuum.  A stable Iraq –- one that was at peace with itself and its neighbours –- was in the collective interest, particularly that of the region.  That was why he had instructed Mr. Vieira de Mello to engage in an ongoing dialogue with leaders of neighbouring countries and of the region.  He had already consulted senior officials or heads of State from a number of countries, and intended to expand those consultations to include all States concerned.  “The challenges that await us in Iraq are enormous.  Let us all do our utmost to rise to meet them.  We owe no less than that to the Iraqi people”, he urged.

(For the full text of the Secretary-General’s statement, see press release SG/SM/8789)

Briefing by Secretary-General’s Special Representative

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, said today that the pride of the Iraqi people was deeply hurt, as Iraq was something other than a past repressive regime, a pariah State.  It was a country with a remarkable history, populated by a remarkable people.  The people of Iraq deserved far more than their recent years had afforded them.

He said it was the cornerstone of the Secretary-General’s approach to the work of the United Nations in Iraq that everything done must be for the benefit and empowerment of the people and country of Iraq; it must be decided on by or in consultation with them, and must be aimed at -- sooner rather than later –- enabling the full restoration of sovereignty and Iraq’s full return to the community of nations.

From preliminary discussions with a wide array of Iraqis, a number of consistent themes had emerged, he said.  They wanted to see themselves back at the helm of their country and wanted the arrival of security and of the rule of law.  They also wanted to see the restoration of basic services and the establishment of permanent, Iraqi, representative and credible institutions that operated in their service.  They had unanimously called for an energetic, center-stage role for the Organization.

The formation on 13 July of the Governing Council had been a significant step forward, he said, as that had been invested with significant executive powers, agreed jointly between the members of the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), with particular emphasis on foreign affairs, finance, security and the constitutional process.  The Governing Council would soon be appointing Iraqi Interim Ministers and designating Iraqi representation in international forums.  The institution, while not democratically elected, could be viewed as broadly representative of the various constituencies in Iraq.  For the United Nations, it meant there was a formal body of senior and distinguished Iraqi counterparts, with credibility and authority, with whom it could chart the way forward.

He said that Iraq had many fundamental political issues on which to decide, not least was determining the process by which a constitution could be drawn up, as well as the timing and precise nature of elections.  It was essential that the drafting of the constitution was an Iraqi-driven process.  He was pleased that the Secretariat’s Electoral Assistance Division would soon begin discussion with the Governing Council and the CPA on possible electoral frameworks and resulting calendar.

He stressed that now, more than ever, Iraq needed the support of its neighbours.  Towards that goal, he had met with high-level representatives or Heads of State of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Arab League.  He had urged all of Iraq’s neighbours to play their supportive role to the fullest, to embrace the Governing Council and to provide it with whatever assistance it might request. The aim must be to help consolidate Iraq’s national unity, territorial integrity, stability and prosperity.  In doing so, they would contribute significantly to regional and world peace and security.

The security situation in Iraq remained tenuous, he continued.  Iraqis cooperating with the Authority had been the subject of attacks.  There had been attacks against Iraqi police and coalitions forces.  Common law criminality was a major problem, which had not been helped by Saddam Hussein’s decision, in October of last year, to empty the prisons.  That violence threatened to undermine confidence in the transition and shake the resolve of Iraqis committed to leading their country through a very delicate period.

The security of United Nations personnel continued to depend significantly on the reputation of the Organization and its ability to demonstrate that it intended to assist the people in an independent manner. Recent attacks on the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were of great concern.  In the current context, the Coalition had the primary obligation of restoring and maintaining security, law and order.  The Governing Council, too, had policy prerogatives on matters concerning Iraq’s national security.  Ultimately, only Iraqis could perform that responsibility on behalf of a national authority that enjoyed credibility, respect and resources.

He said that although the Organization could not be a substitute for the CPA in that field, nor did it wish to be, it stood ready to lend modest assistance, in terms of its expertise in the area of developing an effective national law and order capacity.  He encouraged the CPA and the Governing Council to make use of that expertise, as well as of those offers of assistance in the area of police development, which he had received from a number of Member States.  He intended to focus his discussion with the CPA and the Governing Council in the coming weeks on how best that might be done.  The United Nations Office in Vienna would dispatch an assessment mission to look into developing strategies to deal with different types of organized crime, in particular drug smuggling.  The Organization also stood ready to offer advice on correctional reform.

Immediate humanitarian needs were largely being met in Iraq today, he continued.  However, there were still outstanding requirements and more were emerging, particularly with regard to internally displaced persons.  The plight of refugees also required resolution in a measured, but comprehensive fashion.  Of the $2.2 billion requested in the latest humanitarian appeal, almost $2 billion had been pledged or contributed.  Of that amount, $1.1 billion had been provided through the oil-for-food programme.  An additional $900 million had been provided through voluntary contributions.  Nonetheless, the sectors of emergency rehabilitation, health and demining required particular and urgent support.

Turning to the oil-for-food programme, he said that given the sheer scale of the programme, its completion by 21 November was always going to be a challenge.  With a coordinated and determined effort on all sides it should nonetheless prove possible.  But, needs would continue to exist far beyond the handover of the programme, until the economy picked up and reliance on humanitarian assistance declined.  In the coming weeks, as the elements of the reconstruction plan for Iraq and the 2004 national budget were firmed up in advance of the donors’ conference, some fine-tuning would be required to the process already underway.

Looking to the future, he said there were clearly immense reconstruction needs in the short and longer terms, not only as a consequence of the conflict, but maybe even more as a consequence of 13 years of sanctions and subsequent neglect and decay.  The United Nations, together with the World Bank, was carrying out a number of sectoral needs assessments over the coming months which, in consultation with the Governing Council, would inform a donor conference, to be held in the autumn, as to what Iraq’s reconstruction priorities should be. 

He highlighted three particular concerns in the area of human rights, all of which merited close attention:  how to deal with past abuses; how to ensure that human rights were protected for all Iraqis in the future, with particular emphasis placed on the rights of women; and how to ensure that human rights were protected and upheld in Iraq today.  Many of the issues that were being discussed, particularly past crimes, would be painful and complex for the Iraqi people to address.  Given that, and the gravity of the crimes in question, he believed there was merit in considering the establishment of a mixed Iraqi and international panel of experts to consider in detail the options that would best suit Iraq.

He looked forward to a visit, in the near future, of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis.  He urged the Governing Council to pay particular attention to developing a national human rights action plan to enable Iraqis to deal with the myriad of human rights issues in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, including through the possible establishment of an independent national human rights institution.

Summing up, he said that the Governing Council had initially been endowed with credible executive authority and that it was broadly representative of the various constituencies existing in Iraq.  For it to succeed, the Governing Council would need the full support of the international community and the faith of the Iraqi people.  It must be empowered to deliver tangible improvements for the welfare of the population, while not being the subject of criticism for what remained the legal obligation of the CPA under the current situation. 

Also, he continued, there should be a clear timetable, laid out as soon as possible, for the earliest possible restoration of sovereignty.  Iraqis needed to know that the current state of affairs would soon end.  They needed to know that stability would return and that the occupation would end.  He believed there was reason to be optimistic for the future of Iraq.  But, there was little margin for error.  The situation remained fragile.  Iraqis knew best how and where to proceed in their own country, and, at what pace.  “Our greatest contribution will be in following their lead and, when necessary, assisting them in achieving consensus among themselves”, he said. 

As to how the United Nations could help, he said that resolution 1483 (2003) provided considerable scope for the Organization to play an effective role in Iraq.  It was not a clear mandate but, equally, the situation in Iraq was unique and thus perhaps called for a unique resolution.  Its lack of clarity allowed for latitude and for the United Nations role in Iraq to emerge and develop, as the situation on the ground evolved. 

What the United Nations could not do was replace the CPA, he stated.  Nor should it ever replace the rightful role of the Iraqis in shaping the future of their country.  What the United Nations could do was to help facilitate and build consensus among Iraqis, and between Iraqis and the CPA. 

Statements

ADNAN PACHACHI, Head of Delegation, Iraqi Governing Council, expressing deep gratitude for the invitation to participate in the Council debate in the name of Iraq, on behalf of the Governing Council, said the people of Iraq had suffered from a tyrant, who had ruled for three decades.  The Iraqi people also suffered from the current living conditions, which had not been improved as soon as had been wished.  But, now, they had tasted freedom and would never return to the era of fear and injustice.

He said that participation in the meeting was considered by the people of Iraq to be a recognition of the country’s sovereignty.  The Governing Council had been formed as an embodiment of the national free will to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and achieve a better future for Iraq, and it represented the full spectrum of the Iraqi society.  Resolution 1483 (2003) had not set out clearly the functions of the Interim Administration, thereby allowing for flexibility.  The Governing Council’s primary goal was to shorten the duration of the Interim Administration period, in order to adopt a constitution and have free elections open to all.  The draft constitution would be examined by a constitutional congress representing all political and religious groups.  The United Nations, given its experience, could help in drawing up legislation for the election.

The constitution would establish a federal system, which would consolidate the rule of law in an independent judicial system and would subject armed forces to elected representation, among other things, he explained.  The Governing Council looked forward to the creation of a civil society that consolidated personal freedom, as a premise for governance, and rejected totalitarian systems.

He highlighted some of the pressing issues before the Council:  appointment of ministers and filling vacancies in government agencies by competent personnel not implicated in the previous regime; appointment of Iraqi representatives to international organizations, including the United Nations; improving relations with its neighbours and the international community; rebuilding its economy; reforming its educational system; and providing basic services to all citizens. The United Nations would have an important role to play in all of that.

The Governing Council also wanted to ensure security and stability and to rebuild the national police force and army stability, he went on.  The police and army should be used to eliminate the “saboteurs”, who continued to undermine the interests of the civilian population.  It also intended to establish special tribunals to bring the criminals of the former regime to trial for crimes against the Iraqi people, including humanitarian law violations.

Regarding the economy, he said that projects were needed to provide jobs to the unemployed.  Also, justice and fairness had to be established in the distribution of national wealth.  The Governing Council would work to ensure that every individual would benefit from Iraq’s wealth through a special fund.  Restitution would be paid to victims of forced displacement and to those whose property had been disowned by the former regime.  The Governing Council had decided to employ 30,000 Iraqi police and to establish, in the short-term, 1500 schools and clinics.  All salaries and back payments would also be paid, and a programme would be started to re-absorb more than 200,000 former soldiers into society.  The Council would also reform the currency system.  In each of those endeavours, the contribution by the United Nations would be extremely important.

He stressed that the challenge facing the country was enormous, and the responsibilities of the Governing Council were difficult and diverse.  The latter would need the full support of the Iraqi people, and for that, it would have to demonstrate credibility and merit.  He was optimistic in that regard because the Iraqis had demonstrated that they could live in harmony and tolerance.  He counted on the support of the United Nations to restore Iraq to its natural position in the international community.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said he attached enormous importance to the role the United Nations was expected to play in Iraq, regarding implementing the provisions of resolution 1483 (2003), particularly ensuring the restoration of Iraq’s independence and sovereignty.  The Special Representative, on 16 July, had visited Syria and acquainted the leadership there with United Nations efforts to restore security and stability and to pave the way towards democratic elections, leading to the establishment of an Iraqi government and an end to the occupation of the territory.  Syria’s President had made it clear that Syria was genuinely concerned about Iraq’s future, independence and territorial integrity.  He had stressed that Syria would support all steps taken by the United Nations, leading to the end of occupation.

He had considered the Secretary-General’s report, as well as the challenges facing the United Nations and the international community in Iraq.  The Secretary-General had stated that one of the most important aspects of the process was the restoration, as soon as possible, of Iraq’s sovereignty.  Iraqis has stressed that democracy could not be imposed from “without”, but must stem from the aspirations of the Iraqi people.  The Iraqi people had long suffered from sanctions imposed by the Security Council; they must now conduct their own constitutional process.

He stressed that the Iraqi 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.  That Council would be judged on the steps it took to assist the Iraqi people and maintain good-neighbourliness with Iraq’s neighbours.  The people of Iraq had undergone many years of darkness.  They knew well that Syria stood by them in times of suffering.  For decades, Syria had hosted tens of thousands of refugees.  Today, Syria’s concern was for the future of Iraq, its independence and territorial integrity, as well as the liberty of its people.   

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the Special Representative’s statement had provided a clear picture of the situation in Iraq, the state of its people, and what needed to done there.  Over the past two months, Mr. Vieira de Mello had conducted extensive consultations with various Iraqis and heard their views on reconstruction.  In his report, the Secretary-General had made many useful recommendations for the way forward.  There were three points arising from the report that he wanted to focus on:  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 United Nations could and should play an active role in the reconstruction.

Regarding the first, he said he fully understood the aspirations of the Iraqis to be the master of their own country.  He was in favour of the early launching of the constitutional process, run for and by the Iraqis.  Also, he welcomed the establishment of the Iraqi Governing Council.  He agreed that it was important for Iraqis to see a clear timetable leading to the early restoration of sovereignty.  He looked forward to the day when Iraq could rejoin the community of nations.

He said he was deeply concerned about the security situation and its negative effect on the restoration of normal life and humanitarian activities.  The restoration of security was an urgent task, as security was closely linked with development and reconstruction.  After years of sanctions and war, Iraq was faced with the task of reconstruction, which required the support of the international community.  The forthcoming international conference, scheduled for October, was important.

Also, he said he was in favour of the United Nations playing an active role in the political process and the economic reconstruction of Iraq.  Resolution 1483 (2003) had laid a good foundation for that and should be fully implemented.  Likewise, the impartiality of the United Nations was a considerable asset in that regard.  His Government had attached importance to Iraqi reconstruction and had been one of the first to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq.  It would continue to do so within its capabilities, and it was ready to work with others in reconstruction efforts. 

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said the position of both his country and that of the European Union regarding Iraq was well known.  The goal was for a successful political and economic reconstruction of Iraq.  The solution was political, rather than military, leading to a swift restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.  It was incumbent upon the international community to help the Iraqis to become masters of their future and of their resources.  The establishment of the Governing Council was a positive first step towards the establishment of a representative and internationally recognized government and partner, with whom the United Nations and the international community could deal; that was a first element in the Interim Administration, as called for in resolution 1483 (2003).

He said he fully supported the approach taken by the Secretary-General and his Special Representative regarding human rights and the rights of women.  He also supported the method of inclusive dialogue at national and regional levels.  At the national level, only an inclusive approach could allow for the emergence of a representative and pluralistic government.  The CPA was responsible for administering Iraq and restoring security and stability.

There must be a central role for the United Nations in conducting a national dialogue and elaborating a constitution, as well as in the area of judicial and electoral reform, among other things, he said.  Only the United Nations had the impartiality and expertise to assure an effective restoration of the State.  The United Nations could also help to ensure the demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers.  He encouraged the Organization to take an ambitious approach to its role in financial and economic reconstruction.  It was essential that the future international advisory board for development ensure that the exploitation of the oil was done in a transparent manner.

He said he supported the establishment of an international fund managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the international financial institutions.  It was essential that the economic reconstruction process was carried out within the provisions of international law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions.  Concerned about the current situation in which British and American soldiers were being killed, he said winning the peace would be in the interest of the people of Iraq, the Coalition and the international community, as a whole.

HERALDO MUNOZ (Chile) said the international community had much to do to contribute to the development of Iraq, while not forgetting the primary right of Iraqis in building their own future.  He fully concurred with the Special Representative on the need for Iraq to have its sovereignty restored, as soon as possible, on the basis of a clear and specific timetable.  It was necessary to instill a sense of urgency for the establishment of democracy in Iraq, a new economic model based on private initiative, and an independent judicial system.  He welcomed the establishment of the Governing Council, which should lead to the establishment of national sovereignty.  In particular, he hailed the presence of women in the new Council.  Also, a working group should be appointed to draft the new constitution.

He said he was concerned about the humanitarian and security situation facing the Iraqis, particularly the lack of basic services, the sense of insecurity felt by people on the streets, and the violent activities by some sectors, which had not understood that the political situation of the country had changed.  There was a need for a deep restructuring of the national production system.  The dramatic drop in national income had meant that the population was receiving a third of the income it had received a decade ago.  That ineffective production system must be changed.   

The human rights violations of the past regime were a “painful burden” that must also be addressed, he continued.  He called for a long process of investigation.  Notwithstanding that, it was the new Iraqi authorities who must determine how to tackle that and other issues.  The United Nations could make a valuable contribution based on its experiences.  On the oil-for-food programme, the measures taken for the transfer of responsibilities from the United Nations to the CPA had confirmed the efficient work that had been done by the Secretariat.  He noted that normalization was not taking place with the expected speed.  It was necessary to persevere with patience, striving to enhance the well being of the long suffering people of Iraq. 

ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the overall approach outlined in the Secretary-General’s report revealed that the tasks ahead were immense and complex.  Early restoration of sovereignty, and the underlying fact that democracy could not be imposed from outside, were important messages, which the international community must taken into account.  The United Nations was well suited to contribute exclusively to meeting the great challenges ahead.  The Organization’s experiences would be decisive in ensuring future stability, the success of the political process, respect for human rights and establishment of the rule of law, and economic reconstruction.

He said that the establishment of the Governing Council had been a big step forward in the overall task of returning Iraq back to normalcy.  The next important step would be to delegate effective power to the Iraqi Interim Administration.  He encouraged the Governing Council to appoint a constitutional commission.  The provision of a constitution would encourage the beginning of an electoral process, through which the country must recover its full sovereignty.  He welcomed the establishment by the Governing Council of a judicial commission to establish an independent judiciary.

Humanitarian assistance had been at the centre of the United Nations activities in the country, he said.  A lot had to be done to repair the infrastructure, reduce poverty and reform the economy.  A successful transformation of the economy required participation of the Iraqis, themselves.  “Iraqis should be put at the helm of a ship sailing through rough waters, but towards a clear destination”, he said.  He agreed with the proposals of the Secretary-General, in particular, the proposed structure of a United Nations assistance mission for Iraq, with the expectation that the Security Council would start considering the approval of such a mission.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that, for the first time in almost 50 years, there was no limit on the freedom of expression in Iraq.  Today, all Iraqis had full freedom to “compete in an open market of ideas”.  The presence here today of the three members of the Governing Council was an expression of that freedom.  Resolution 1483 (2003) had created the path forward for the rebuilding of Iraq.  The Iraqi people had made tremendous progress on the road to democracy with the establishment of the Governing Council.  As the Secretary-General had noted, that Council provided a broadly representative Iraqi partner.  For the first time in decades, there was a political body, which represented the rich mosaic of Iraqi society.  The Governing Council deserved the full support of the international community, and especially of the Security Council. 

The Secretary-General’s report had emphasized the importance of establishing a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty.  The Governing Council would play a determining role in drawing up the new constitution and moving forward with elections.  Those were key milestones on the road to the creation of the internationally recognized and representative government that the Security Council had envisioned in resolution 1483.  The role of women in Iraq’s political development should not be overlooked, he added. 

The unfolding political process in Iraq was opposed by some, and the unstable security situation was a clear manifestation of the views of the minority of those who opposed political freedom, he said.  They would not prevail.  President Bush had made it clear that the United States, along with members of the Coalition and other willing actors, was committed to establishing conditions of security, in order for democracy to flourish.  In resolution 1483, the Council had appealed to Member States and concerned organizations to contribute to conditions of stability and security in Iraq.  He strongly urged Member States to contribute stability forces under that resolution.  The security situation was complex and multifaceted, but that must allow Iraqis to ultimately provide for their own security.  In that regard, the recruitment and training of members of the new Iraqi army would begin shortly. 

In addition to security and political freedom, Iraq must achieve economic growth and development, he said.  The preparations under way for the forthcoming donors’ conference would allow the international community to meet that challenge and help rebuild Iraq.  Economic activity must be promoted on an urgent basis, including the revitalization of the oil industry and the development of a free market economy.  Iraq was blessed with vast natural resources and human potential.  The coming weeks and months would be full of challenges and difficulties, but the opportunity now existed for the Iraqi people to establish a free and democratic Iraq.  “We must help them”, he stressed.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that the Governing Council was broadly based, composed of many groups of Iraqi people, and it could provide the international community with an Iraqi partner, with whom it could engage.  It was in that sense that Germany encouraged the Governing Council to assume its responsibility and lay the groundwork for the convening of a constitutional conference.  However, the most important decision, namely whether the Governing Council should be accepted as a legitimate transitional representation of the Iraqi people, should be made by the Iraqis, themselves.

Supporting the establishment of a United Nations assistance mission in Iraq, he noted that the Secretary-General had put a range of assistance measures at the disposal of the Iraqi people upon their request; some of them went beyond the tasks described in resolution 1483 (2003).  As for the possibility of a new Security Council resolution expanding the Organization’s responsibilities in Iraq, his delegation would support such an approach, in order to enable the States that wished to do so to contribute to the reconstruction of the country, under United Nations auspices. 

He stressed that his delegation had always advocated a strong United Nations role in post-war Iraq.  Forthcoming constitutional and electoral process would be of fundamental importance to the political transition envisaged in resolution 1483.  United Nations involvement could confer legitimacy to that process and put at the disposal of the Iraqi people the wealth of its expertise.  Improving the security situation in Iraq, which was the basis for progress in all other areas, was a challenging task, as remnants of the brutal regime threatened to undermine stabilization and reconstruction efforts.  Meanwhile, the Authority should live up to its responsibilities, as stipulated in resolution 1483.

Having allocated more than $50 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraq, Germany was a leading contributor to the European assistance programme, and its companies stood ready to contribute to the rehabilitation of the country’s economy and infrastructure, he said.  International support would be forthcoming to the necessary extent, however, only if full transparency and international participation in the decision-making was assured.  For that reason, he supported granting a strong mandate to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), which should ensure that the funds were distributed for the benefit of the Iraqi people, in accordance with resolution 1483.  He would also welcome the establishment of an adequate multilateral instrument, through which members of the international community could channel their bilateral contributions.

He said that mass graves in Iraq were the most apparent evidence of the atrocities committed by the Saddam regime.  Not surprisingly, the issue of transitional justice and accountability for past crimes was a frequently cited as a priority.  That issue had to be dealt with under genuine Iraqi ownership, in order to be accepted as impartial by the people of the country.  There was an urgent need, therefore, to build up -– with the help of the United Nations –- an Iraqi human rights capacity. 

In conclusion, he stressed the importance of honouring the aspirations of the Iraqi people to govern themselves and concurred with the Secretary-General that it was it was necessary to set a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty.  Indeed, there was a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of military operation.   The creation of a stable and democratic post-war Iraq and an early transfer of power to a legitimate Iraqi government was a common objective.  The success of reconstruction in Iraq was the common interest of the European Union, the United States and the States of the region.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the situation in Iraq remained a cause of concern for international peace and security.  The situation was also adversely affecting the world economy and anti-terrorism efforts.  The Secretary-General’s report had underlined that the situation in Iraq was fraught with challenges to the international community, as well as to the Coalition and the Iraqis, themselves.  He welcomed the multi-directional dialogue the Special Representative had undertaken with all actors in Iraq, including the officials of the CPA.  It meant that the end of the oil-for-food programme would take place in a smooth and coherent fashion.

He said that the prevailing insecurity had had a negative impact on establishing basic services, on humanitarian assistance and on the return of children to school.  The economy, encompassing reconstruction and reform, remained key to any security solution.  The army, the police, and the oil sector were springboards, by which employment could rapidly be created.  For the recruitment campaign of the army to be effective, however, it must be accompanied by a broad disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.

Justice and human rights were key sectors in which the United Nations should play a coordinating role, he said.  The contribution of specialized civil society organizations in that regard would also be appropriate.  The creation by the Governing Council of a judicial commission had been an important decision, but he wondered what distinguished that commission from the one created by the CPA.  Regarding the future United Nations assistance mission, he said the Security Council needed informal discussions on the best way the United Nations could contribute towards solving the security situation.  Although, for the time being, that mission would not have a military or police component, it would be a good idea not to close the door to such a possibility.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that he was happy to note that United Nations operations in Iraq continued to serve as the “eyes and ears of the international community”.  The restoration of internal peace and security in Iraq was in the interest of the Iraqi people, of the countries of the region and of the international community.  There were enormous challenges in Iraq today, including governance, reconstruction, security and justice.  Those were accompanied by an opportunity to revive Iraq to its former potential; the Iraqi people deserved no less.  The Security Council, in resolutions 1472 (2003) and 1483 (2003), had reaffirmed the basic principles that must guide the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty and political independence at the earliest. 

In his report, the Secretary-General had noted that the primary concern in Iraq was the restoration of security.  Attacks by those who opposed freedom were impeding stabilization efforts and affecting every aspect of life.  In promoting security, certain essentials must be borne in mind.  First, a strengthened indigenous mechanism was a sine qua non.  Second, security operations must be conducted in ways sensitive to the values and culture of the Iraqi people.  Security was essential to expedite the process to form a representative government.  While security was the responsibility of the CPA, United Nations assistance in training police and security forces could be promoted and enlarged under the provisions of resolution 1483.  That resolution also opened the door to the friends of Iraq to contribute to the welfare of the Iraqi people. 

On the creation of an Iraqi Interim Authority, he believed that the formation of the Governing Council was a welcome first step in restoring sovereignty to the people of Iraq, as soon as possible.  The establishment of an internationally recognized government in Iraq was the eventual destination of the political process envisaged in 1483.  He hoped the CPA would chart a course of events that would lead to that as soon as possible. 

The economic independence of the Iraqi people was a fundamental aspect of their sovereignty, he added.  The administration of Iraq’s resources must be transparent and consistent with international law and resolution 1483.  The provision of basic services had a direct bearing on the security situation, and vice versa.  It was necessary to consider how to maintain the basic operational capacity, which existed under the oil-for-food programme, to deliver basic services to the Iraqi people.  The United Nations was best suited to lead international efforts.

GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the priority tasks of the international community were to help the people of Iraq find a way out of the crisis.  That would only be possible if there was respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country and stewardship by its people of their natural resources.  He agreed with the conclusions and recommendations of the Secretary-General, which had identified areas where the United Nations could contribute towards achieving an Iraqi settlement.

He stressed that successes achieved would have been more impressive had appropriate security conditions been provided to ensure the work of humanitarian staff.  The security problem could not be resolved solely by military means, without establishing a political process.  The creation of the Governing Council was a step in the right direction, making it possible to establish an Interim Administration.  It had to be an interim period, however.  The people of Iraq, themselves, must determine their own future, and the international community had to provide assistance towards that end.

The Special Representative had focused on the need to establish a government based on rule of law and able to ensure equal rights and justice, without distinction to ethnic origin, religion or sex, he recalled.  A clear timetable was needed, leading to establishment of full sovereignty and an end to the military occupation.  Until recently, the economic viability of the country had been ensured by the oil-for-food programme.  In that regard, he noted the need to continue United Nations involvement in resolving the humanitarian problems after the programme was phased out.  The proposal to establish the United Nations assistance mission in Iraq was timely, and its scope was appropriate.  In implementing resolution 1483 (2003), it was necessary to take a decision on specific steps to enhance United Nations involvement in a post-war settlement.

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that the Secretary-General’s report and the briefing today had indicated the scope and difficulty of the tasks entrusted to the United Nations.  He commended the excellent work done to bring together the various sectors of Iraqi society.  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.  The establishment of a constitutional commission was an equally important aspect of the process under way.

He said that such goals, however, could not be attained unless there was a proper supportive environment.  Security in the country was a concern for his delegation.  Without it, nothing could be carried out effectively.  The persistent insecurity was a result of the uncontrolled circulation of weapons and the legal vacuum, for which a solution must be found.

The donor community should ensure that the financial pledges made last June be provided as soon as possible to meet the needs of the people, he urged.  The re-insertion of refugees and displaced persons was another task that deserved proper attention.  He agreed that the cumulative impact of wars, sanctions and a policy of complete State control had damaged the economy.  Iraq would need assistance by the international community and international financial institutions to rejoin the global economy.  In addition to the will of the people there, there must be support from the international community.  Such a synergy would allow Iraq to put an end to recent nightmares and resume its place in the community of nations. 

SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the work of the Special Representative in Iraq had proved how valuable the work of the United Nations was in that country.  He believed in an increasingly important United Nations role and wished to see that role extended along the lines proposed by the Secretary-General.  In line with resolution 1483 (2003), there was a need to ensure that the day the Iraqis governed themselves came quickly.  The Governing Council was a first step in that direction, as that provided a representative partner with which the international community could engage.  There should be a clear sequence of events leading to a representative government as soon as possible.  The function of the CPA was to create the conditions under which the Iraqi people could determine their own future, and not to impose one.  The role of the neighbouring countries in that regard was also important.

He said that the CPA took the security situation very seriously.  The rule of law must be established.  The minority of Iraqis who, with some outside help, were attempting to sabotage the process, were undermining the interest of the whole Iraqi population.  Essential services had to be improved as well, and to that end, comprehensive actions had been taken.  Given that Iraq’s justice system had been corrupted, a fair and transparent system of justice should be developed.  Also, a new culture had to be developed, in which human rights were automatically respected, instead of abused.  How to deal with past crimes was a matter for the Iraqis, themselves, to decide.  He supported the ideas of the Secretary-General on promotion of respect for human rights.  The development of a strong civil society was an important part of developing a new democracy.

Also important was a significant role for Iraqi women in transitional processes, as the women had been the silent victims of the former regime, he said.  Iraqi leaders should include women representatives at the national and regional levels, as that was an important part of the re-introduction of democracy.  The Iraqi people needed immediate international support.  The fundamental criteria guiding the work in Iraq was the need to bring the country back into the hands of Iraqis through constitutional reform processes, owned by the Iraqis, themselves.  The role of the United Nations, as mapped out in resolution 1483 (2003), was essential in that regard.  Re-establishment of a free and stable Iraq was, in all respects, a collective enterprise of the international community, he said.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said he had taken note of the formation of the Governing Council, and wished it every success in its tasks.  He shared the aim expressed by the Secretary-General concerning the presence of the United Nations in Iraq.  He agreed that the immediate objective was to put an end to the military occupation, as soon as possible.  He hoped the timetable mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report would lead to the full restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty.  The raison d’être of the United Nations presence in Iraq was to assist the Iraqi people to recover their sovereignty, tackle humanitarian challenges, and exercise the full exercise of their human rights.  It was the people of Iraq that was the United Nations focus.

He noted that there were clear objectives being pursued by the Iraqis, as mentioned by the Special Representative.  The first was the full restoration of peace and security, which was the primary responsibility of the CPA.  The international community could assist in carrying out the task of fully restoring law and order in Iraq.  Security and peace in Iraq depended not only on the police, but ultimately hinged on the political arrangements achieved by the Iraqis, the creation of robust institutions on which the rule of law could rest, and on economic and social development.  That would provide the foundation for peace and security in the country.

It was necessary to speed up and pursue further the deployment of humanitarian assistance, he stated.  That should be done in the context of the transfer of the oil-for-food programme.  He appealed to the CPA to step up efforts to ensure that humanitarian organizations, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations had the necessary security to carry out their work.  Also, the United Nations could share its experience in disarmament and demobilization. 

He said he concurred with the Secretary-General and his Special Representative that one of the immediate tasks in reconstruction was protecting human rights.  It was necessary to re-establish basic respect for human rights and freedoms.  It was also necessary to strengthen efforts to identify ways and means of carrying out trials and meting out punishment.  A key tool in economic recovery and development was oil, which must be used strictly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.  There should be no commitments made concerning Iraqi oil, which did not stem from them.   

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that the establishment of the Governing Council had been an important step for the Iraqis, as they sought to regain control of their future.  The role of the United Nations in Iraq must be a central one.  He was pleased to note, therefore, that the first steps taken by the United Nations in Iraq had been successful, despite the extremely difficult conditions.  The work of the United Nations was particularly important in the area of human rights, especially in a country emerging from decades of dictatorship.

He said security was still fragile in the country.  The responsibility of the CPA was fundamental in that regard, but the international community must find some way to help the Iraqis gain control of the situation there, as quickly as possible.  He agreed with the Secretary-General’s approach on the structure and objectives of the assistance mission.  The role of the United Nations in the future should be spelled out clearly, depending on how the situation on the ground evolved.

Council President and Foreign Minister of Spain, ANA PALACIO, speaking in her national capacity, said that the assessment that had emerged was a hopeful one, despite the complex situation that still prevailed in Iraq.  The fall of the Hussein regime had given rise to tremendous expectations.  After decades of repression, Iraqis expected changes, and they expected them now.  Life was not easy in Iraq.  There was still loss of life, both Iraqi and members of the Coalition.  There were risks arising from the combination of resistance and criminal elements.  Given that, until the new Iraqi police force was effectively deployed, the task of maintaining the security of individuals and property fell on the CPA.  The Council, in resolution 1483 (2003), had appealed to Member States to contribute to that task.

She noted that there was a shortfall in basic services, a deficit that was largely attributable to the security situation.  At the same time, hospitals were functioning and schools were opening.  The importance of the establishment of the Iraqi Governing Council, which incorporated Iraqi men and women of great courage, could not be overstated.  It had a balanced representation of Iraqi society, and symbolized Iraq’s unity, which should be preserved.  Its creation was a decisive step in normalizing the life of Iraqis, and deserved the full support of the international community.

Today, the international community, represented by those sitting around the Council table, was giving recognition to the Governing Council, she said.  That Council had an historic mission, including the drafting of a constitution and the creation of conditions for the holding of elections, thus paving the way for democracy.  The process of drafting the constitution must be inclusive, and should be led by a distinguished individual with a clear sense of statesmanship.  It was not enough to draft a constitution; the holding of free elections was vital.  The United Nations had an important role to play in that process, due to its character and expertise. 

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For information media. Not an official record.