SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN ASSISTANCE MISSION IN IRAQ, WELCOMES CREATION OF GOVERNING COUNCIL AS ‘IMPORTANT STEP’

14 August 2003
SC/7843

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN ASSISTANCE MISSION IN IRAQ, WELCOMES CREATION OF GOVERNING COUNCIL AS ‘IMPORTANT STEP’

14/08/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7843

Security Council

4808th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN ASSISTANCE MISSION IN IRAQ,

WELCOMES CREATION OF GOVERNING COUNCIL AS ‘IMPORTANT STEP’

Resolution 1500 (2003) Adopted by 14-0-1 (Syria)

The Security Council today established the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), and welcomed the creation of the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council on 13 July as “an important step” towards the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government.

Adopting resolution 1500 (2003) by a vote of 14 in favour, with Syria abstaining, the Council authorized the Assistance Mission for one year to support the Secretary-General in fulfilling his mandate under resolution 1483 (2003), and consolidating United Nations activities.  The structure of the new Mission, with a strength of over 300 civilian staff, and consisting of, among others, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, is set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 15 July.

The Security Council, in adopting resolution 1483, supported the formation by the Iraqis, with the help of the Provisional Authority and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, of an Iraqi interim administration as a transitional administration run by Iraqis, until an internationally recognized, representative government established by the people of Iraq assumes the responsibilities of the Authority.

Last month, the Security Council was addressed by a representative of the Governing Council, at a meeting during which it also heard from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Following the vote, the United States representative said today’s resolution hastened the day when Iraqis would be in full control of their affairs.  When the Governing Council addressed the Security Council on 22 July, it took the important step of reaching out to the international community to communicate its dreams for the Iraqi people and its plans to achieve those aspirations.  The Security Council made it clear today that it shared the Governing Council’s message and would work with it as a broadly representative partner.

Council President Mikhail Wehbe (Syria), speaking in his national capacity, said his abstention was cast to embody the Arab position, which had stressed that the formation of the Governing Council was only a beginning; it gained credibility from the fact that it paved the way for forming a national government representing the full spectrum of Iraqi society and that was capable of fulfilling the aspirations of Iraqis.  All Arab States believed in the need to end the occupation of Iraq, as well as the formation of a legitimate government as soon as possible, according to a clear and specific timeline.

Echoing the sentiments expressed by several Council members, he regretted that the consultation process had been conducted in a way that had not enabled the elected members to provide input to the text.  The text had been made available on a “take it or leave it basis”, he stated.  He hoped that, in future, the Council would engage in a more transparent consultative process, whereby all its members could participate in decision-making.

Also speaking after the vote were the representatives of France, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Russian Federation and China.  The meeting began at 1:41 p.m. and adjourned at 2:22 p.m.

Background

Before the Security Council is 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 describes the structure and responsibilities for the proposed United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

In resolution 1483 (2003) of 22 May, the Council authorized the United Nations to facilitate dialogue and consensus-building among Iraqis in various sectors of activity.  The challenge for the United Nations in Iraq, the report states, 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.

According to the report, the proposed Assistance Mission will consist of the Office of the Special Representative; the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident Humanitarian Coordinator; an Office of the Chief of Staff, including a Policy and Planning Office, and a Translation Unit; a Political Affairs Office; a Human Rights and Rule of Law Office; a Legal Office; and a Public Information and Media Development Office.

A Humanitarian Affairs Office will be functionally attached to the Office of the Special Representative; this will, however, remain a part of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs until the end of 2003.  Similarly, a World Bank representative and a member of International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be attached to the Office, but will retain the structural links to their parent bodies.  The Mission will be supported by a Division of Administration incorporating responsibilities for core administrative and logistic disciplines, as well as security and the administration of five regional offices.

In view of the broad range of responsibilities entrusted to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, it is envisaged that the staff strength shall consist of over 300 civilian staff combined.  This figure is inclusive of both substantive and support international and local personnel in Baghdad and each of the regions.  This increase in staff strength is necessary (given the need to be administratively and logistically self-sustaining) in view of the liquidation of the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator.

The number of international staff would be less than half the total figure, as UNAMI will rely on a skilled Iraqi workforce, a number of whom would be employed as national professional officers.  It would also be necessary to bring in relevant experts from United Nations Headquarters, or from outside, on short notice to provide advice, and share experiences with Iraqis and the Coalition Provisional Authority, as required.  This arrangement could be employed for the exploratory work on electoral processes.  However, an Electoral Unit would need to be created if the United Nations were given a more substantial role in this area.

This concept envisages maximum reliance on the existing capacity and structure of the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator and on the Humanitarian Coordinator himself, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, whom the Secretary-General is concurrently appointing as the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations country team (of agencies, funds and programmes) and his Deputy Special Representative for Iraq.  He and his immediate personal staff would be included in the staffing of UNAMI.  The rest of the Office, however, would continue to be structured and funded according to current arrangements until the phasing out of the “oil-for-food” programme and the end of the period covered under the revised humanitarian appeal, on 21 November and 31 December 2003, respectively.

The emergency humanitarian phase is not expected to continue into 2004, when, it is hoped, developmental and reconstruction activities will commence.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative has been given a coordinating role in those areas also and will, therefore, still require an appropriate support structure.

The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/2003/812), sponsored by Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States, which reads, as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1483 (2003) of 22 May 2003,

“Reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,

“Reaffirming also the vital role for the United Nations in Iraq which was set out in relevant paragraphs of resolution 1483 (2003),

“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 15 July 2003 (S/2003/715),

“1.      Welcomes the establishment of the broadly representative Governing Council of Iraq on 13 July 2003, as an important step towards the formation by the people of Iraq of an internationally recognized, representative government that will exercise the sovereignty of Iraq;

“2.      Decides to establish the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq to support the Secretary-General in the fulfilment of his mandate under resolution 1483 in accordance with the structure and responsibilities set out in his report of 15 July 2003, for an initial period of twelve months;

“3.      Decides to remain seized of this matter.”

Action on Draft Resolution

The Security Council adopted resolution 1500 (2003) by a vote of 14 in favour, with 1 abstention (Syria).

Statements after Vote

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) reaffirmed his conviction that the success of rebuilding Iraq and its stability meant that the United Nations must play a primary role in managing conflict.  A timetable should be defined on the political transition, facilitating the stabilization of Iraq.  The resolution adopted did, indeed, meet certain specific needs, as formulated by the Secretary-General in his report.  In deciding to establish the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), the Security Council was reinforcing what the United Nations and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative were doing in Iraq, and giving the Office of the Special Representative what it needed to carry out its mandate.  That was why France voted in favour of the text.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said that the text just adopted as resolution 1500 dealt with two specific issues:  the Iraqi Governing Council and UNAMI.  In its expression of support for the Governing Council, the resolution hastened the day when Iraqis would be in full control of their affairs.  When the Governing Council spoke in front of the Security Council on 22 July, it took the important step of reaching out to the international community to communicate its dreams for the Iraqi people and plans to achieve those aspirations.

Through the resolution just passed, he said, the Security Council made clear that it shared the Governing Council’s message and would work with it as a broadly representative partner.  The resolution helped pave the way towards peace, stability and democracy that the long-suffering Iraqi people deserved, and sent a clear signal to those who opposed the transition under way in Iraq that they were out of step with the international community.  The Secretary-General had recommended the creation of UNAMI to better enable the United Nations to fulfil its responsibilities under resolution 1483.  He fully supported the Secretary-General’s request.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said the text reflected the vital role of the United Nations in Iraq and created the Assistance Mission.  He welcomed the establishment of the Governing Council.  All agreed that the goal was to create, as soon as possible, an international representative government, exercising the sovereignty of Iraq.  That must be worked up with and by the Iraqi people.  While rapid progress was needed, it would take time to create the rights and opportunities the Iraqis had so long been denied.  The United Kingdom was working with coalition partners for an Iraq that could assume its rightful place in the international community.  He welcomed the support given to the resolution, which reflected the Council’s coming together and its members working for a stable, united and free Iraq.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the resolution acknowledged the Governing Council and the establishment of the Mission.  At every stage of the deliberations on Iraq in the Council, Pakistan’s position had been guided by the interest of the Iraqi people.  The resolution upheld the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.  Pakistan would also wish to see other principles reaffirmed, including the right of the Iraqi people to choose their political destiny, non-intervention in its internal affairs, permanent sovereignty over natural resources, respect for religious and cultural traditions, and the right of the Iraqi nation to economic and social reconstruction.  Those principles were the framework in which the Council must take action.  Pakistan had advocated a central role for the United Nations for the provision of humanitarian relief and Iraq’s reconstruction. 

He said the resolution affirmed the vital role of the United Nations.  He also welcomed the creation of the Assistance Mission.  The tasks the Mission would face would be challenging, and it should receive the necessary resources.  Its role would become more important as the Iraqi people moved towards sovereignty.  Pakistan had termed the establishment of the Governing Council as a welcome first step in restoring sovereignty to the people of Iraq.  On 22 July, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, had said the Governing Council was broadly representative of the constituencies in Iraq and would need the full support of the international community.  He was glad the views of Pakistan and the concept of evolution towards a fully representative government had been approved.

Everyone recognized the value of consultations and consensus between the permanent five members, he said.  However, it was among the entire membership that the Council’s decision should be discussed and approved.  In the future, he hoped to have more time to consider draft resolutions, especially on such import issues.  The people of Iraq faced enormous challenges, and he hoped the adoption of the resolution would allow the international community to accelerate Iraq’s progress.  He looked forward to the day that Iraq would recover its former glory and emerge as a leading nation in the Islamic world.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which his delegation had co-sponsored.  The resolution was necessary, realistic and relevant.  On the one hand, it gave endorsement to the United Nations Mission and the role of the United Nations in the reconstruction of Iraq.  At the same time, it hailed the establishment of the Governing Council as an important first step leading to a democratic Iraq.  He concurred with what Pakistan said on the desirability of having consultations open to all members of the Council.

WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said that he had voted in favour of resolution 1500, and believed that its adoption marked an important step.  He had always advocated a vital role for the United Nations in Iraq and welcomed the recent recommendations of the Secretary-General in that regard.  The decision of the Security Council to establish a United Nations Assistance Mission, with the responsibilities set out in the Secretary-General’s report, was a significant step in the right direction. 

The Secretary-General had stated that the establishment of the Governing Council had to be welcomed as a first step towards establishing an internationally recognized and representative government.  Today’s resolution deserved merit for implementing the suggestion of the Secretary-General, without unnecessarily politicizing the matter.  It would contribute to finding a common way forward leading to the full sovereignty of Iraq.  Without in any way diminishing the substance of the resolution, he said he would have appreciated a more transparent consultation process among all members of the Council with a view to giving more Council members the opportunity to consider co-sponsorship.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said Mexico had voted in favor of the resolution on the basis of its conviction that the United Nations should play a fundamental role in the rebuilding of Iraq.  The resolution was seen as a necessary technical step to empower the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to fulfil the tasks entrusted to them by the Council.  The resolution also stipulated that the activities of the United Nations agencies and international agencies must be carried out with full independence.

In his report, he continued, the Secretary-General had given an account of the tasks he believed should be carried out by the United Nations to allow for the reconstruction of the country, including the establishment of a specific timetable to establish a fully representative government.  The creation of the Assistance Mission was a vital step towards fulfilling those tasks.  The Mission would empower the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to have an effective presence, and enable his tasks to be carried out independently.  The United Nations should play a decisive role in the country’s development.  It should have the institutional capacity to promote human rights and give scope for international humanitarian activities.

The United Nations must take an active part in Iraq’s full recovery of its sovereignty, with a view to ending the current military occupation, he said.  In that regard, he welcomed the establishment of the Governing Council as a first logical step towards establishing a representative government, which would exercise the sovereignty of the Iraqi people.  It did not, however, amount to legal recognition, nor should be interpreted as endorsement.  The Governing Council was still under the authority of the occupying Powers.  The independence of the United Nations in Iraq meant that it had been entrusted with tasks conferred on it by the international community that were distinct from the obligations of the occupying Powers.  The authority formed by the occupying Power included ensuring the safety of the people of the occupied territory.  The resolution in no way modified that obligation. 

It should be through consensus among the 15 members that broader agreement should be reached, he added.  All members should be able to participate in the stages of the Council’s discussion on the adoption of resolutions.

GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that he had consistently advocated an enhanced role for the United Nations in the rebuilding of Iraq.  The solution to the complex problems in that country could only be achieved through common efforts, in which the international community and the United Nations had an important role to play.  It was necessary to fully restore Iraq’s sovereignty and give them the right to manage the resources of their country.  It was also necessary to see to it that the people of Iraq get to choose their own government.

He had been in favour of the Council adopting a resolution to set up a United Nations mission in Iraq.  The text fully reflected the Russian position, as well as the Secretary-General’s recommendation to deploy a full-fledged United Nations mission.  The resolution was also in keeping with Russia’s position regarding the establishment of the Governing Council, an important step in restoring the sovereignty of Iraq.  He hoped that, in addition to resolution 1483, today’s resolution would give additional impetus to broadening the participation of the United Nations in rebuilding Iraq.

WANG GUANGYA (China) welcomed the resolution just adopted on Iraq.  He had always maintained that the United Nations should play an active and effective role in post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq.  He supported the establishment of the United Nations Assistance Mission as soon as possible.  He also welcomed the establishment of the Governing Council as an important step leading to Iraqis governing their own country.  He looked forward to an early and full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.  That was why he had voted in favour of the resolution.

Council President MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria), speaking in his national capacity, said Syria’s abstention was cast to embody the Arab position -- endorsed by the Foreign Ministers of the Arab States that were members of the Arab Follow-Up on   5 August on the question of sister Iraq -- and in line with the responsibility assumed by Syria as the only Arab country in the Council’s membership.  Syria and all Arab States believed in the necessity of ending the occupation of Iraq.  It also believed in the formation of a legitimate government as expeditiously as possible according to a clear and specific timeline, so that the world would be able to deal with a legitimate Iraqi government.

Syria reiterated its support for the position adopted by the Foreign Ministers of the Arab States who had stressed that the formation of the interim Governing Council was only a beginning; it gained credibility from the fact that it paved the way for the constitution of a national government that represented the full spectrum of Iraqi society and that was capable of fulfilling the aspirations of the Iraqi people.  He reaffirmed Syria’s commitment to abide by the United Nations central role, whether in terms of the political process or reconstruction.  He supported the Secretary-General’s efforts and that of his Special Representative.

He regretted that the sponsors of the draft had not taken into account a number of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, which had drawn wide support by members of the Council.  It was deeply regrettable that the consultation exercise had been conducted away from Council rooms and in a way that had not enabled the rotating members to give their input into the substantive portion of the text.  The text had been made available on a “take it or leave it basis”.  He hoped the Security Council, in future discussions, would address the issue in a comprehensive fashion.  He hoped the Council would work to ensure the end of the occupation and the restoration of Iraq’s national sovereignty of its territory and the establishment of an elected government that enjoyed the support of the Iraqi people.

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For information media. Not an official record.