Tuesday December 07, 2021

Annan Pleads For United Nations Role In Iraq

September 11, 2002

The New York Times has published extracts of a speech the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, is to deliver to the General Assembly later tonight. Annan will speak just before President George W. Bush. In the speech, Annan calls for a strengthening of the UN and for the involvement of multilateral institutions in the debate over Iraq.

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations We cannot begin today without reflecting on yesterday's anniversary on the criminal challenge so brutally thrown in our faces on Sept. 11, 2001.

The terrorist attacks of that day were not an isolated event. They were an extreme example of a global scourge, which requires a broad, sustained and global response.

Broad, because terrorism can be defeated only if all nations unite against it.

Sustained, because the battle against terrorism will not be won easily, or overnight. It requires patience and persistence.

And global, because terrorism is a widespread and complex phenomenon, with many deep roots and exacerbating factors.

Mr. President, I believe that such a response can only succeed if we make full use of multilateral institutions. . . . I also believe that every government that is committed to the rule of law at home must be committed also to the rule of law abroad. All states have a clear interest, as well as a clear responsibility, to uphold international law and maintain international order.

Our founding fathers, the statesmen of 1945, had learnt that lesson from the bitter experience of two world wars and a great Depression. They recognized that international security is not a zero-sum game. Peace, security and freedom are not finite commodities like land, oil or gold which one state can acquire at another's expense. On the contrary, the more peace, security and freedom any one state has, the more its neighbors are likely to have.

And they recognized that by agreeing to exercise sovereignty together, they could gain a hold over problems that would defeat any one of them acting separately.

If those lessons were clear in 1945, should they not be much more so today, in the age of globalization? . . .

Individual states may defend themselves, by striking back at terrorist groups and the countries that harbor or support them. But only concerted vigilance and cooperation among all states, with constant, systematic exchange of information, offers any real hope of denying terrorists their opportunities.

On all these matters, for any one state large or small choosing to follow or reject the multilateral path must not be a simple matter of political convenience. It has consequences far beyond the immediate context. . . .

Any state, if attacked, retains the inherent right of self defense under Article 51 of the Charter. But beyond that, when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

Member states attach fundamental importance to such legitimacy and to the international rule of law. They have shown notably in the action to liberate Kuwait 12 years ago that they are willing to take actions under the authority of the Security Council, which they would not be willing to take without it.

The existence of an effective international security system depends on the Council's authority and therefore the Council having the political will to act, even in the most difficult cases, when agreement seems elusive at the outset. The primary criterion for putting an issue on the Council's agenda should not be the receptiveness of the parties, but the existence of a grave threat to world peace.

Mr. President, let me now turn to four current threats to world peace, where true leadership and effective action are badly needed.

First, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of us have recently been struggling to reconcile Israel's legitimate security concerns with Palestinian humanitarian needs.

But these limited objectives cannot be achieved in isolation from the wider political context. We must return to the search for a just and comprehensive solution, which alone can bring security and prosperity to both peoples, and indeed to the whole region.

The ultimate shape of a Middle East peace settlement is well known. It was defined long ago in Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and its Israeli-Palestinian components were spelt out even more clearly in Resolution 1397: land for peace; an end to terror and to occupation; two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders.

Both parties accept this vision. But we can reach it only if we move rapidly and in parallel on all fronts. The so-called "sequential" approach has failed. . . .

As we agreed at the Quartet meeting in Washington last May, an international peace conference is needed without delay, to set out a roadmap of parallel steps: steps to strengthen Israel's security, steps to strengthen Palestinian economic and political institutions and steps to settle the details of the final peace agreement. Meanwhile, humanitarian steps to relieve Palestinian suffering must be intensified. The need is urgent.

Second, the leadership of Iraq continues to defy mandatory resolutions adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter.

I have engaged Iraq in an in-depth discussion on a range of issues, including the need for arms inspectors to return, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the Council's resolutions must continue. I appeal to all who have influence with Iraq's leaders to impress on them the vital importance of accepting the weapons inspections. This is the indispensable first step towards assuring the world that all Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have indeed been eliminated and let me stress towards the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing so many hardships for the Iraqi people.

I urge Iraq to comply with its obligations for the sake of its own people, and for the sake of world order. If Iraq's defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities.

Third, permit me to press all of you, as leaders of the international community, to maintain your commitment to Afghanistan.

I know I speak for all in welcoming President Karzai to this Assembly, and congratulating him on his escape from last week's vicious assassination attempt a graphic reminder of how hard it is to uproot the remnants of terrorism in any country where it has taken root. It was the international community's shameful neglect of Afghanistan in the 1990's that allowed that country to slide into chaos, providing a fertile breeding ground for Al Qaeda.

Today, Afghanistan urgently needs help in two areas. The government must be helped to extend its authority throughout the country. Without this, all else will fail. And donors must follow through on their commitments to help with rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. Otherwise the Afghan people will lose hope and desperation, we know, breeds violence.

Fourth, and finally, in South Asia the world has recently come closer than for many years past to a direct conflict between two nuclear-weapon-capable countries. The situation may now have calmed a little, but it remains perilous. The underlying causes must be addressed. . . .

Excellencies, let me conclude by reminding you of your pledge two years ago, at the Millennium Summit, "to make the United Nations a more effective instrument" in the service of the world's peoples. . . . Let us all recognize, from now on in each of our capitals, in every nation, large and small that the global interest is our national interest.



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