BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR RESOLUTION ENDORSING INTERIM GOVERNMENT, RECOGNIZING CONTINUING NEED FOR MULTINATIONAL FORCE

3 June 2004
SC/8111

BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR RESOLUTION ENDORSING INTERIM GOVERNMENT, RECOGNIZING CONTINUING NEED FOR MULTINATIONAL FORCE

03/06/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8111

Security Council                                           

4982nd Meeting (PM)                                         

BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR RESOLUTION ENDORSING

INTERIM GOVERNMENT, RECOGNIZING CONTINUING NEED FOR MULTINATIONAL FORCE

Also Says Text Should Remove Label of Occupation,

Endorse ‘Genuine and Comprehensive’ Transfer of Power on 30 June

The newly appointed Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, today called on the Security Council to adopt a draft resolution endorsing his interim government "as soon as necessary", supporting the ongoing political process and recognizing Iraq’s need for the continued presence of a multinational force in partnership with Iraqi authorities.

"We seek a new and unambiguous resolution that underlines the transfer of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq and their representatives", he told an open meeting of the Council.  The new resolution "must mark a clear departure" from previous Council resolutions that legitimize the occupation of Iraq, he said, adding that:  "By removing the label of occupation, we will deprive the terrorists and anti-democratic forces of a rallying point to foment violence in our country."

Mr. Zebari expected that the resolution would endorse a “genuine and comprehensive” transfer of power on 30 June.  That meant investing full authority in the interim government to run Iraq’s affairs, make its own decisions and have authority over Iraq’s security matters.  That transfer of sovereignty must also authorize the interim government to control, administer and manage Iraq’s resources and assets.  Iraq must have a leading role in mechanisms to monitor disbursements of its resources that were agreed on by the Security Council.

He sought a clear reference to the status of the multinational force, and its relations with the interim government, stressing that any premature departure of international troops would lead to chaos and the “real possibility of a civil war in Iraq.  That would cause a humanitarian crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in Iraq and beyond its borders.  At this stage, a call for immediate withdrawal or a fixed timetable would be unhelpful.

Numerous Council members hailed the new interim administration and pledged support for Iraq's political transition.  Many backed the Foreign Minister's call for the adoption of a resolution underscoring Iraq's full sovereignty.  Others welcomed Mr. Zebari’s comments on the draft under consideration by the Council, questioning whether the text was clear enough on the role of the United Nations; what was the situation with the weapons of mass destruction file, since none had been found thus far; and what plans were under way to counter the impact of armed groups in the country?

Among his responses to those and other questions posed by Council members, Mr. Zebari welcomed the very important and central role of the United Nations in the process in various spheres.  There was now a greater realization that the United Nations had an important role to play, particularly in light of the widening scope of the terrorist activity on the ground.  He agreed that any resolution should stress the need to protect international staff.

The United States representative said it was a “difficult and dangerous time” in Iraq, as the interim government led the people towards national elections.  Those that sought to derail efforts to ensure long-hoped for peace and reconciliation would not only continue to do so, but would perhaps even redouble their insidious and vicious attacks.  The passage of a new resolution would bring about a fundamental change in the Council’s relationship with Iraq.

“Occupation will end”, he said, adding that the people would assume full sovereignty.  In the days ahead, the United States planned to engage the incoming Iraqi government on a broad range of issues, particularly the nature of the security partnership with the multinational force.  But the work would not end with the passage of a resolution or the end of occupation.  The work ahead required shared effort from the entire international community, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people as they worked to create a stable, democratic and peaceful country.

The representative of Germany said that key issues in the new resolution would be twofold.  First, the resolution must send a clear signal of the break with occupation and generate acceptance among Iraqis.  Secondly, it must define the role and responsibilities of the interim government, the multinational force and the United Nations in a manner consistent with the signal of the transfer of sovereignty.  The presence of 140,000 foreign troops had to be harmonized with the real and credible restoration of sovereignty.

While the revised text was an honest attempt to achieve true reconciliation, there was still room for improvements for a more credible restoration of Iraqi sovereignty in three areas.  On the transfer of sovereignty, he said the text had to be clear that full authority was transferred.  He was also among those who said that the inclusion in the text of a deadline for the expiration of the mandate of the multinational force would be an important signal, as well as a clear-cut right to terminate the mandate if the interim government so wished.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Algeria, China, France, Chile, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Romania, Philippines and the United Kingdom.

The meeting began at 4:20 p.m. and ended at 6:07 p.m. 

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.

Statements

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, said that on 1 June the people of Iraq embraced the first step towards regaining their full sovereignty and independence.  United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi supervised the introduction of a new interim Iraqi Government to assume authority on 30 June, which marked a major success in Iraq’s transition towards democracy and ending the legal occupation of the country.  Selection of the interim government was based on merit and qualification, with an element of political and social balancing, and whilst it represented the vast majority of Iraqi society, it would have been impossible to include the more than 400 political parties and associations that had mushroomed to date in the new and free Iraq.

He urged the continued support of the international community through the adoption of a new Security Council resolution to:  endorse the establishment of the sovereign interim government and pass the resolution as soon as necessary; support the ongoing political process; reaffirm the need for Iraq to control its own resources; and recognize Iraq’s need for the continued presence of a multinational force in partnership with Iraqi authorities.

He sought a new and unambiguous resolution that underlined the transfer of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq and their representatives, he said.  The resolution must mark a clear departure from previous resolutions 1483 and 1511 that legitimized the occupation of the country.  “By removing the label of occupation, we will deprive the terrorists and anti-democratic forces of a rallying point to foment violence in our country.”

He expected that the resolution would endorse a genuine and comprehensive transfer of power on 30 June.  That meant investing full authority in the interim government to run Iraq’s affairs, make its own decisions and have authority over Iraq’s security matters.  That transfer of sovereignty must also authorize the interim government to control, administer and manage Iraq’s resources and assets.  Iraq must have a leading role in mechanisms to monitor disbursements of its resources that were agreed on by the Security Council.

He noted that, from now until the end of 2005, the Transitional Administrative Law was the only legal framework and the interim arrangement that reflected the wishes of the majority of the Iraqi people for a free, unified and democratic Iraq.  He urged the Council to endorse and acknowledge that important document.  The continued support of the United Nations for the political process was critical to help meet the challenges ahead.

Outlining further steps taken to ensure a more inclusive process, he said that to broaden participation, there were plans to hold a national conference in July to allow all those parties and individuals who wished to be represented to have their say in the democratic process.  A preparatory committee had already been identified for that conference.  An electoral commission had also been established to supervise elections with the help and support of experts from the United Nations.  Part of the mandate of the caretaker government was to work closely with the United Nations and its agencies to prepare for general elections to be held in 2005.  To achieve that, he sought the continued advice and support of the United Nations and called on Member States to assist Iraq in ensuring security conditions conducive to holding elections.

Iraqis were grateful, he stated, to the Coalition who helped liberate them from the persecutions of Saddam Hussein’s regime.  The overthrow of the former regime led to the total collapse of the State and its institutions, and since April last year, the country had been working hard to re-establish Iraq’s security, military and police forces.  The people of Iraq needed and requested the assistance of multinational forces to work closely with Iraqi forces to stabilize the situation.  He stressed that any premature departure of international troops would lead to chaos and the real possibility of a civil war in Iraq.  That would cause a humanitarian crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in Iraq and beyond its borders.

The continued presence of the multinational force would help preserve Iraq’s unity, prevent regional intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs and protect its borders at such a critical stage of the country’s reconstruction.  Iraq required the continued assistance and partnership of those troops, but it also needed that presence to be regulated under arrangements that neither compromised the sovereignty of the interim government nor the right of the multinational force to defend itself.  Iraqi forces must be under Iraqi command but operate in liaison and partnership with the multinational force to achieve that objective.  The transitional Iraqi government and the new Iraqi government must have a say in the future presence of those forces, and he urged that that be reflected in the new resolution.

Of the 32 ministers in the interim government, he noted that six were women, and the government was the most representative of the Iraqi people in the history of the country.  It was significant that the handover of power to the new government was peaceful and bore none of the bloodshed that had historically characterized transfer of power in his region.  Political development in Iraq was progressive and increasingly inclusive, and Iraq remained committed to the clear steps it must take towards elections in 2005.

Following the Foreign Minister’s briefing, the floor was opened for those Council members wishing to make comments or pose questions.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said his delegation was keen for Iraq to regain its full sovereignty and for the new Government to be able to manage all its affairs, including security aspects and natural resources.  The Council would spare no effort to respond positively to the Foreign Minister’s concerns.  He asked if the current draft under consideration guaranteed the Iraqi Government all sovereignty and the ability to conduct both external and internal affairs.  He also wondered if the draft were explicit enough on the delineation of responsibilities between the multinational force and emerging Iraqi security forces.  Was the text clear enough on the role of the United Nations?

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said Iraq was poised to embrace a new and prosperous future.  The new Government would have the responsibility of leading the people of Iraqi to national elections by next year.  And while the work ahead would be exhilarating, it would not be easy.  It was a “difficult and dangerous time” in Iraq, he said.  Those that sought to derail efforts to ensure long-hoped for peace and reconciliation in the country would not only continue to do so, but would perhaps even redouble their insidious and vicious attacks.  Indeed, the United States and the Council were aware that the Foreign Minister and his newly appointed colleagues faced personal dangers as they assumed their new and important duties.

The United Sates welcomed the new government appointees and would continue to spare no effort to ensure a secure and democratic Iraq at peace with its neighbours.  The United States would ask the wider international community to stand with it so that Iraq could achieve that goal.  The United States would pay tribute to the efforts of the Secretary-General and the work of his envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.

He said that the draft under consideration saluted this new moment in Iraq’s history.  “Occupation will end”, he said, adding that the people would assume full sovereignty.  The passage of the resolution would bring about a fundamental change in the Council’s relationship with Iraq after almost 14 years of rule under Saddam Hussein.  In the days ahead, the United States planed to engage the incoming Iraqi government on a broad range of issues, particularly the nature of the security partnership between the multinational force and the Iraqi government. The United Sates was committed to a true partnership founded on cooperation at all levels -– from foot soldiers to officials at the highest levels of “two sovereign governments”.

But the work would not end with the passage of a resolution or the end of occupation.  The international community must continue to confront those who sought to sow instability, fear and terror in Iraq.  “The United States will not flinch in its task”, he said, adding that the work ahead required shared effort from the entire international community, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people as they worked to create a stable, democratic and peaceful country.

WANG GUANGYA (China) said that the formation of the interim government symbolized a new beginning for Iraq.  He welcomed the formation of the new interim government, and hoped it was conducive to the early full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.  He was confident that, with the support of the Iraqi people and the international community, the interim government would smoothly accomplish its mission.  The timely adoption of a new resolution would be significant to the development of a new Iraq.

He believed the new resolution should send two clear signals.  The first was the termination of the military occupation of Iraq and the return of full sovereignty to the Iraqi people.  After 30 June, the interim Iraqi government should exercise full sovereignty.  Secondly, the stationing and mandate of the multinational force should respect the views and position of the interim government, and the duration of the force should be in keeping with the political process in Iraq.  In consultations on the text, the Council should hear the opinions of Iraq and its neighbours.  Only when the Council came up with a good resolution could it contribute to restoration of sovereignty.

He asked the Foreign Minister what the expectations of the new government were on the new resolution.  Also, what was the hope of the interim government on the specific role of the United Nations?  Furthermore, what was the progress of the security agreement negotiated between Iraq and the multinational force?

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said he believed the new interim government must have a say regarding the framework the new resolution would provide in the months to come.  He also believed that the political process and security architecture should not be imposed on Iraq by the Council or anybody else.  He supported the idea expressed by others not to limit the dialogue of the Council with representatives of the interim government to a one-time event.  It would be appreciated if the new leadership would continue discussions with the Council early next week.

He said that key issues in the new resolution would be twofold.  First, the resolution must send a clear signal of the break with occupation and generate acceptance among Iraqis.  Secondly, it must define the role and responsibilities of the interim government, the multinational force and the United Nations in a manner consistent with the signal of the transfer of sovereignty.  The presence of 140,000 foreign troops had to be harmonized with the real and credible restoration of sovereignty.  While the revised text was an honest attempt to achieve true reconciliation, there was still room for improvements for a more credible restoration of Iraqi sovereignty in three areas.

On the transfer of sovereignty, he said the text had to be clear that full authority was transferred.  On the duration of the mandate of the multinational force, he agreed with the Foreign Minister that a premature withdrawal of troops would not be desirable.  However, a deadline for the expiration of the mandate of the force would be an important signal, which should be included in the text.  Also, a clear-cut right to terminate the mandate if the interim government so wished should be made clear.

On the security architecture, he asked what the general principles were on which to determine the relationship between the multinational force and the interim government.  Also, the draft text referred to the request of the government for a further multinational force presence.  Could the Foreign Minister inform the Council on the state of affairs on that matter?

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said his delegation hoped the interim government would be successful in leading the country towards upcoming elections.  France would play its part in helping Iraq move quickly towards rehabilitation and reconstruction.  It was his belief, following weeks of consultations, that all Council members shared the view that full and complete sovereignty be restored to the Iraqi people at the end of the month.  And while the independence of the new government must be guaranteed, it was clear that a sizeable military presence was necessary to ensure requisite security so that the hoped-for changes could take place.

So, while the coexistence of a multinational force and the new government was not mutually exclusive, the relationship between the two should be made explicitly clear.  Indeed, the mandate of the multinational force should be elaborated in close cooperation with the interim government.  Further, when the new government was in place, that governments should be able to make the decision as to whether to continue the existence of the multinational force.  He said that the people of Iraq must be made aware that their government was not only independent, but fully responsible and accountable for the running of every aspect of the country.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said the key idea of the resolution under consideration by the Council was the full transfer of sovereignty at the end of the month.  Chile believed that with the appointment of the interim government, an important step had been taken to that end.  “This government deserves a chance”, he said.  It was now up to the Council to draft a text that was clear and concise and ensured full sovereignty.  Considerable progress had been made, he said, but the text still needed to shed better light on the relationship between the interim government and the multinational force.  It also needed to be clear on the principles of international law and international humanitarian and human rights law.

He asked the Foreign Minister whether the members of the interim government would be candidates in the new government.  He also asked what were the indispensable components of “full and complete sovereignty” that the Foreign Minister would like to see spelled out in the resolution.  On the subject of security, he asked whether the new Iraqi authorities expected to have full control over armed and security forces, and what would be the relationship with the multinational force.  He added that the militia on the ground currently might have implications for the future.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, following the war in Iraq, his country had pleaded for full respect for certain basic principles, including Iraqi sovereignty, the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, and Iraq’s control over its own natural resources.  He was glad that those principles were represented in resolution 1483 and subsequent resolutions.  Iraq was entering a new phase in its political existence, with the establishment of an interim government.  The formation of that government, through a consultative process, was a first step in the transition towards a fully representative government.

The role of the United Nations and Mr. Brahimi was a vital one in evoking the acceptance of the Iraqi interim government within and outside the country, he noted.  Pakistan had welcomed the appointment of the interim government as a step towards the restoration of a fully representative government.  He hoped Iraq would exercise full sovereignty, which would lend its credibility and protect its unity and territorial integrity, as well as help restore security and stability in the country.  He also hoped the United Nations would play an important role in that regard.  He looked forward to hearing a detailed report from Mr. Brahimi in the near future.  His delegation would be responsive to the views of the Iraqi government in the consideration of the new resolution.

In that context, he wanted to know whether the interim government intended to continue efforts to ensure the broadest possible inclusiveness of political groups and to evoke the widest possible support of the Iraqi people.  He noted that the interim government wished to have full authority.  Did the government envisage any limitations on that authority through a self-imposed restraint?  The people of Iraq needed and requested the multinational force to help stabilize the security situation.  Also, what was the Foreign Minister’s evaluation of the principal sources of the security threat faced by Iraq today?  In addition, did the interim government have in mind any time frame regarding the presence of the multinational force?  Furthermore, had consideration been given to the partnership between the multinational force and the Iraqi authorities in the security sphere?

He also asked whether the interim government felt that the provisions in the new resolution relating to the arms embargo and the international monitoring body over the Iraqi Development Fund were consistent with the restoration of full sovereignty.  He expected that the interim government would also soon establish contacts with its neighbours.  He would be happy to learn of such contacts, which would enhance security and stability in Iraq and the region.

ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said he had always advocated the prompt restoration of full sovereignty in Iraq.  He agreed with the Secretary-General that security in the country could not be ensured by military means alone.  It was necessary to ensure that the most vocal critics of the government be included in the upcoming national dialogue.  He hoped that the interim government could make a significant contribution to the establishment of institutions and in meeting challenges such as restoring the economy and establishing law and order.  The international community must help as much as possible in achieving those goals.

It was necessary to ensure that the Council was acting with Iraq and not imposing its will on the country, he said.  He wanted to hear specific ideas regarding international support to Iraq.  Those ideas would be taken into account in future work on the new resolution.  He also suggested that the head of the new government come to New York to meet with Council members.

In addition, he asked what the priorities were for international assistance and what role the United Nations could play in that regard.  Also, what was the situation with the weapons of mass destruction file, since none had been found till now?  The new resolution must give clear answers to the question as to who would bear responsibility for looking for traces of those weapons and maintaining those found under the monitoring of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  What was the Foreign Minister’s view on the IAEA and UNMOVIC starting up their work again, so as to establish a system for long-term monitoring in the country?  Also, what were his views on convening an international conference on Iraq to support the Iraqi political process?

MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) welcomed the “forward-looking and confident” statement and vision of the Foreign Minister.  Romania hoped that the interim government would have a “bold start”, as it stewarded the country towards elections.  Romania was committed to ensuring that Iraq and its people attained full sovereignty, stability and peace.

LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines), Council President for the month of June, said in his national capacity that his delegation was convinced that the United Nations had a vital role to play in the political process leading up to the establishment of a new government.  While the approaches to the desired objectives might diverge, one thing was clear, as Iraq sought to ensure its future, the United Nations and its family of agencies and funds had a role in keeping the country on the road to peace and stability.

He added that all the international community’s efforts would not be effective without the active participation of the Iraqi people themselves.  There were many issues that demanded the Council’s attention, but the body should be guided by the wishes of the people of Iraq themselves.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said what was now needed was the maximum support from the international community for the people of Iraq.  He had been struck that the Foreign Minister’s comments on the resolution before the Council were indeed currently being addressed and would shortly be on the table.  It was right that the people of the country would be involved in the process, and it was right that the United Nations would be involved in the political process.  He had also noted that the Foreign Minister had said that the assistance of the multinational force was “needed and wanted”.

With that in mind, the Council should ensure that the force was continued, but continued in partnership and cooperation with the new government.  The partnership had to go wider still -- it must reflect what the international community now needed to do to show the courage to help usher in, along with the Iraqi people, a new day of peace and stability in Iraq.

Response by Foreign Minister of Iraq

Responding to questions posed, Mr. ZEBARI said that the new draft resolution was extremely important to Iraq, the region and other Arab nations.  The current drafting on the nature of the sovereignty was “quite adequate”.  His understanding of Iraqi sovereignty was that the government should be governing its own affairs, be free to make its own decisions and have authority to make decisions regarding the security situation, among other things.  As for its terms of reference, he understood that the continued presence of the multinational force was more of a need for Iraq than for the United States, United Kingdom or Poland.  “We need the multinational force.”

He had elaborated that need clearly to Arab leaders, as well as to the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League.  “The dangers are great, and they would be exacerbated if a security vacuum was created.”  It was also important that Iraqi forces be under Iraqi leadership.  Coordination should be achieved between Iraqi forces and its leadership and those of the multinational force, so they could work as partners in facing security threats.  The continued presence of the multinational force would be dependent on Iraqi approval, he stressed.

As to what he wanted to see in the resolution, he noted the need to be clear and unambiguous on full sovereignty, which was especially important for the Iraqi people.  Any language to achieve that would be welcomed.  There was also the need for the multinational force to assist Iraq, and the continued assistance of the international community.  The collapse of the IraqiState would have a huge impact on the entire region, he said.  The recent spate of terrorist attacks was only the beginning, if the battle against terrorism was lost.

He also wanted a clear reference to the status of the multinational force, and its relations with the interim government, he said.  He reiterated that, at this stage, a call for immediate withdrawal or a fixed timetable would be unhelpful, and used by enemies to further complicate problems.  It was also necessary for the Iraqi government to have control over the nation’s resources.  Also desired was a reference or acknowledgement of the Transitional Administrative Law, as every step would be taken under that Law.  He welcomed a very important and central role for the United Nations in the process in various areas.  There was now a greater realization that the United Nations had an important role to play.

The government was open to consultations at any level the Council deemed necessary on the text.  Regarding any arrangements between the government and the multinational force, he said that Iraqi forces should come under Iraqi command, and not be part and parcel of a foreign command.  Secondly, the Iraqi interim government should have a say about the final status of those forces.

On the fate of the militias, he said that there had been ongoing work with the Coalition Provisional Authority to end all militias working and operating beyond the law, and to integrate them into the new Iraqi forces.  That process had already begun.

Responding to the representative of Pakistan, he said that an upcoming political conference, as well as local elections, would hopefully ensure a broad and representative political process.  But there was perhaps no way to ensure that every Iraqi group was involved.  He believed that Iraq’s neighbouring countries should be involved in the overall reconstruction process, particularly in stabilization and security areas.  “We are reaching out to them”, he said, but added that he thought that countries in the region understood that the Iraqi people themselves should be at the forefront of Iraq’s future.

He said that the interim government believed that the role of the United Nations at al levels was critical, particularly in light of the widening scope of the terrorist activity on the ground.  He agreed that any resolution under consideration should stress the need to protect international staff.

The idea of an international conference had been on the table for a long time, he noted.  In his personal view, such a meeting was perhaps overdue, but it was also his personal opinion that, after so much time, to internationalize the issue might complicate matters.

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For information media. Not an official record.