“All of us must regret that our intense efforts to achieve a peaceful solution, through this Council, did not succeed,” Mr. Annan told the 15-member body at the outset of an open meeting on Iraq requested by the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Declaring that many across the world were bitterly disappointed by the Council’s divisions, he said: “Their faith in the United Nations can be restored only if the Council is able to identify and work constructively towards specific goals. I urge the five permanent members, in particular, to show leadership by making a concerted effort to overcome their differences.”
Mr. Annan noted the differences between those who feel Iraq failed to cooperate fully in inspections aimed at ridding it of weapons of mass destruction and those who consider it illegitimate to use force without first reaching a collective decision by the Council. “The inability of the Council to agree earlier on a collective course of action places an even greater burden on you today,” he said, urging the Council to rediscover its unity of purpose.
“We all want to see this war brought to an end as soon as possible,” he said. “But, while it continues, it is essential that everything be done to protect the civilian population, as well as the wounded and the prisoners of war, on both sides, and to bring relief to the victims.”
The Secretary-General stressed that the primary responsibility for meeting the humanitarian needs of the population of Iraq rested with the belligerents who control the territory. But he added that the UN relief agencies were ready and willing to help and even now, through their local staff – “those brave and devoted Iraqis (who) deserve our profound respect” – were bringing what limited relief they could.
“I fear that the humanitarian effort required in the coming weeks and months is going to be very costly,” he declared. “We are about to launch a ‘flash appeal’ to donors. I urge Member States to respond swiftly and generously, and not to do so at the expense of victims of other emergencies in other parts of the world, which may be less newsworthy but are no less devastating for the people caught up in them.”
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26 March – With military action in Iraq moving into its second week, the Security Council today held its first debate on the situation since the start of hostilities as it began hearing the views of non-members in an open meeting requested by the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Leading off the discussion, in which the representatives of some 70 countries were expected to take part, Ambassador Mohammed A. Aldouri of Iraq said that his country – a founding member of the United Nations – was being subjected to aggression that was killing women, children and the elderly. Sanctions, which have lasted for almost 13 years, were also having a terrible effect on the country. He said the Council must take action to make sure that the rules of international law were observed. While the aggressors said that their goal was the disarmament of Iraq, everybody knew that they were not the ones tasked with that mandate, he said. The UN inspections during several months had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or proscribed activities within Iraq.
The international community was also well aware that the Security Council had not authorized the use of force by the United States and the United Kingdom, Ambassador Aldouri said. The Council must impose respect for its resolutions, particularly those relating to the unjustified embargo against his country. He was still hopeful that the international community would be able to impose its will on those who had broken international law. A failure to do so would mean the end of the United Nations system.
For his part, Ambassador Rastam Mohd Isa of Malaysia, speaking as the Chair of the NAM’s Coordinating Bureau, said NAM strongly believed that Member States should observe and abide by the UN Charter and the principles of international law in dealing with problems among nations. NAM opposed all unilateral military actions or use of force, including those made without proper authorization from the Council. It deplored any unilateral action against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Member States.
With military activity now escalating in Iraq, he said, NAM was extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation of the civilian population in that country. There were reports that the people in Basra could be facing a serious humanitarian disaster, including shortage of basic needs such as electricity and