SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS KILLING OF KUWAITIS, THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS BY PREVIOUS IRAQI REGIME IN VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

18 December 2003
SC/7959

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS KILLING OF KUWAITIS, THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS BY PREVIOUS IRAQI REGIME IN VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

18/12/2003
Press Release
SC/7959


Security Council

4887th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS KILLING OF KUWAITIS, THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS


BY PREVIOUS IRAQI REGIME IN VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW


In Presidential Statement, Council Expresses

Strong Hope That Those Responsible Should Be Brought to Justice


The United Nations Security Council today strongly condemned the killing of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals by the previous Iraqi regime in violation of international law -– especially the removal of Kuwaiti civilians to remote sites in Iraq where they were executed in cold blood, and the decade-long cover-up of the truth.  The Council expressed its strong hope that those responsible for those horrendous crimes should be brought to justice.


Following a closed-door briefing this morning, Security Council President Stefan Tafrov (Bulgaria) read out a statement (S/PRST/2003/28) during a formal meeting in which the members of the 15-nation body praised the tireless efforts of Yuli Vorontsov, the Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator, on the fate of missing persons, the efforts to rescue them and the return of Kuwaiti property, and agreed that his mandate should continue in accordance with its resolution 1284 (1999).


[That resolution requested the Secretary-General to report every four months on compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation and return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, or their remains, and every six months, on the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq.]


Further to the statement, the Council members expressed their deep condolences to all the families of the Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, as well as their continuing concern for the plight of the families of those persons whose whereabouts were still unknown.


Stressing the importance of the work of the Coalition Provisional Authority, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Tripartite Commission and its Technical Sub-Committee, the statement called on all the parties concerned to continue towards a satisfactory solution to all the outstanding humanitarian aspects covered by Mr. Vorontsov’s mandate.


The statement also expressed the Council’s deep regret that Kuwaiti property, including its national archives, has not yet been returned to Kuwait.  The Council encouraged the Coalition Provisional Authority and other parties concerned to continue their commitment to the search for and return of all Kuwaiti properties and archives.


The meeting began at 12:51 p.m., and ended at 12:56 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of Presidential Statement S/PRST/2003/28 reads as follows:


“The Security Council today heard a briefing from Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, the Secretary-General’s High-level Co-ordinator, on the fourteenth report of the Secretary-General in accordance with paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999).


“The Security Council expressed its full support towards Ambassador Vorontsov and for his tireless efforts on the issues of Kuwaiti and third country nationals and the return of all Kuwaiti property.  The Security Council agreed that his mandate should continue in accordance with paragraph 14 of resolution 1284 (1999).


“The Security Council shared the views expressed by the Secretary-General in his report.  The Security Council has strongly condemned the killing of Kuwaiti and third country nationals by the previous Iraqi regime in violation of international law, especially the removal from Kuwait of civilian men and women, their execution in cold blood in remote sites in Iraq and a decade long cover-up of the truth.  The Security Council expressed its strong hope that those responsible for these horrendous crimes should be brought to justice.


“The Security Council expressed its deep condolences to all of the families of the Kuwaiti and third country nationals.  The Security Council expressed its continuing concern for the plight of the families of those persons whose whereabouts are still unknown.


“The Security Council stressed the importance of the work of the Coalition Provisional Authority, International Committee of the Red Cross, the Tripartite Commission and its Technical Sub-Committee and called on all parties concerned to continue to work towards a satisfactory solution to all of the outstanding humanitarian aspects covered by Ambassador Vorontsov’s mandate.


“The Security Council expressed its deep regret that Kuwaiti property, including its national archives, has not yet been returned to Kuwait and encouraged the Coalition Provisional Authority and other parties concerned to continue their commitment to the search for, and return of, all Kuwaiti properties and archives, in accordance with paragraph 6 of resolution 1483 (2003).  The Security Council agreed to continue to keep Ambassador Vorontsov’s mandate under review and looked forward to receiving his next report.”


Background


Before the Security Council this morning for its consideration of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait was the fourteenth report of the Secretary-General on that question (document S/2003/1161).  It was submitted pursuant to paragraph 14 of resolution 1284 (1999), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to report every four months on compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation and return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, or their remains, and every six months, on the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq.


The present report, dated 9 December, covers both issues and also provides a retrospective view on the developments relevant to the mission of the High-Level Coordinator since it was established nearly four years ago.


The Secretary-General states that, after many years of manoeuvring and denial by the previous Government of Iraq, a “grim truth” was unveiling itself.  The discovery of mass graves in Iraq containing the mortal remains of Kuwaitis is a gruesome and devastating development.  He extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of those persons and to the State of Kuwait.


While hope has not faded that some of the 605 persons in question will be found alive, the prospects for this to happen are diminishing, he says.  There may also be cases of individuals whose fate will remain unknown for many years to come, if it is ever to emerge.  Meanwhile, he strongly condemns the killing of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals by the previous Iraqi regime.  The removal from Kuwait of civilians –- men and women -– their execution in cold blood in remote sites in Iraq, and a decade-long cover-up of the truth constitute a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.  Those responsible for these horrendous crimes, particularly those who ordered the executions, must be brought to justice.


He says he regrets that the Kuwaiti archives and Kuwaiti military equipment have not been returned to the country.  He trusts that the Iraqi Governing Council, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the special group established by the United States will maintain their commitment to the search and return of Kuwaiti property and archives.


The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the opening of avenues for direct contact between the parties concerned inspired hopes for an early resolution of all outstanding questions, the report finds.  Progress has been achieved, and the Secretary-General is grateful to all those who have assisted in resolving Kuwait’s long-standing humanitarian concerns.


Also according to the report, the overview of the situation has shown that there is room for further progress towards a satisfactory solution of the remaining humanitarian concerns of the State and people of Kuwait.  More time will be needed and more efforts required before the question of concern to Kuwait can be settled.


Council members have received a letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, dated 24 November 2003, in which the Government strongly encourages the United Nations to pursue and resolve the issues of the Kuwaiti prisoners and third-country nationals, as well as Kuwaiti properties.  In that connection, the letter states that Kuwait would be in favour of extending the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, in accordance with resolution 1284 (1999).


Attached to the report is a list of names of Kuwaitis and third-country nationals whose remains have been identified.


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For information media. Not an official record.