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Reacting to press reports, Annan says UN has no plans for administering post-war Iraq

Reacting to press reports, Annan says UN has no plans for administering post-war Iraq

Reacting to media reports of an internal United Nations document about proposals for Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said there was no UN plan for administering post-conflict Iraq and stressed that the world body has been focusing instead on dealing with the humanitarian side of a potential conflict.

"There is no UN plan for managing or administering Iraq," Mr. Annan told reporters this morning at United Nations Headquarters in New York. "There is some preliminary thinking but there is no plan and no document."

"We have been doing lots of good work and contingency planning for the humanitarian aspects and obviously some preliminary thinking on what would happen if there were to be war and the other aspects of post-conflict Iraq," he added.

The Secretary-General emphasized that the UN has "no mandate to make these plans" and that yesterday, at a lunch with Security Council members, he had discussed "very clearly" the status of the UN Secretariat's contingency planning, particularly on the humanitarian aspects.

"We did raise some of the legal and important issues that would be posed if there were to be a war," he said, adding that there was "no UN plan for administering post-conflict Iraq."

Speaking to the press later in the day, a spokesman for the Secretary-General noted that in addition to the humanitarian and peacekeeping activities regarding Iraq currently mandated by the Security Council, the UN had a "moral obligation" to examine what happens to these efforts should there be a war.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that as an extension of that contingency planning, a former official of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Rafeeuddin Ahmed, "was asked to look at what might be asked of us after the humanitarian needs had been dealt with, drawing on our experience with past post-conflict situations." Mr. Eckhard explained that Mr. Ahmed had "put some ideas on paper" for Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, who is heading an internal task force.

Mr. Eckhard also dismissed as "pure speculation" reports that the UN has been asked to step in three months after the end of a conflict. "To my knowledge we have not been informed by anyone, and certainly not by the Security Council, of what would be expected of us post-war," he said.