Annan appeals to Iraq to disarm and cooperate, says war not inevitable

24 February 2003

Secretary-General Kofi Annan made a new appeal to Iraq today to disarm and cooperate proactively with United Nations inspectors in their search for banned weapons of mass destruction, saying that even now war was not inevitable.

In a speech to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, delivered by Lakhdar Brahimi, his Special Representative in Afghanistan, the Secretary-General also warned that the legitimacy of, and support for, action in Iraq would be seriously impaired if taken without the authority of the Security Council.

“Iraq must disarm,” said Mr. Annan, currently visiting Europe. “For the sake of its own people, and for the sake of world security and world order – I urge the Iraqi leadership to choose full transparency and cooperation with the inspectors to help avoid conflict.”

The Secretary-General also stressed that if the Security Council manages this crisis effectively and successfully, its credibility and influence will be considerably enhanced. “States and peoples around the world attach fundamental importance to such legitimacy, and to the international rule of law,” he said.

Thanking the NAM for its help in efforts to find a peaceful solution in Iraq, Mr. Annan warned of the potentially very serious humanitarian implications of the crisis. “Already, the humanitarian situation in Iraq is of great concern. The population is highly vulnerable, with one million children under five chronically malnourished, and five million Iraqis lacking access to safe water and sanitation.”

Turning to the Middle East, Mr. Annan said the road map drawn up by the diplomatic Quartet – United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia – for a two-state solution provided the best hope for ending the crisis. “The human and material losses sustained by the Palestinian people in the last two years have been nothing short of catastrophic,” he said. “Hundreds of lives have been lost, mostly among Palestinians, but also among Israelis. Tragically, and unacceptably, many of the victims have been children.”

In Africa, the Secretary-General called on all Ivoirians to support the recent multi-party agreement signed in France to end the fighting. He said the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remained of deep concern but that in Sudan prospects for peace seemed brighter today than at any time in the past three decades.

Finally he appealed to all to be guided by the “noble aims” of the Millennium Summit of 2000 not only in eradicating poverty, protecting the environment, fighting terrorism and AIDS, and providing education for children, but also in upholding human rights, promoting democracy, the rule of law and good governance.

 

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