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Annan sees important UN role in post-conflict Iraq, names special adviser

Annan sees important UN role in post-conflict Iraq, names special adviser

Kofi Annan
Saying he expected the United Nations to play an important role in post-conflict Iraq to bring "necessary legitimacy," with Iraqis controlling their own political future, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today named a special adviser to draw up a framework for UN involvement and also prepared to visit key players in the crisis.

Mr. Annan, who later this week will travel to London, Berlin, Paris and Moscow to discuss Iraq and a possible UN role with British, German, French and Russian leaders, met with members of the Security Council this morning to inform them of the appointment of Rafeeuddin Ahmed as his Special Adviser. Mr. Ahmed, a Pakistani, has been assisting the UN system informally since February in thinking about possible UN involvement in a post-war Iraq.

Ahmed

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Rafeeuddin

A spokesman for the Secretary-General said given the pace of events in Iraq and the widespread discussions on a potential role for the UN in post-war Iraq, Mr. Ahmed will now act as the focal point in the UN system for discussions on the various scenarios for such a role. "He will also advise the Secretary-General on any role that the Security Council might eventually mandate the UN system to carry out once the current military campaign has come to an end," Fred Eckhard told a press briefing.

The Council welcomed the appointment and agreed with the Secretary-General that any role beyond the coordination of humanitarian activities in Iraq, and other activities mandated by existing resolutions, would first require a new mandate from the Security Council, Mr. Eckhard said in a later statement.

"I do expect the UN to play an important role and the UN has had a good experience in this area, whether it is an issue of political facilitation leading to the emergence of a new or interim administration," Mr. Annan told reporters on arrival at UN Headquarters in New York shortly before his meeting with the Security Council.

"We have done quite a bit of work on reconstruction, working with donor countries and other UN agencies. You have seen the work the UN has done in human rights and the area of the rule of law," he said in answer to a question over what role the UN might have given that the United States apparently had an interim government with its own officials ready in Kuwait.

Mr. Annan noted that US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were meeting in Northern Ireland today to discuss post-conflict Iraq and that the European Union had come up firmly on the side of a greater UN involvement, stressing that there were lots of areas where the UN could play a role. "But above all the UN involvement does bring legitimacy which is necessary, necessary for the country, for the region and for the peoples around the world," he added.

The Secretary-General was asked whether he was resigned to the fact that the UN would not play as great a role as it had in East Timor or Kosovo, since he had used the word facilitation rather than running a civil administration. "You have to be very careful here," he replied. "Each crisis has its own peculiarities. Iraq is not East Timor and Iraq is not Kosovo."

Noting that Iraq already had trained personnel, a reasonably effective civil service, and engineers and others who can play a role in their own country, he added: "As we have said before, Iraqis have to be responsible for their political future, and to control their own natural resources. And whatever one can do to help the emergence of a new leadership or a new situation is what one should focus on."

Mr. Ahmed, a former Pakistani diplomat, has held numerous UN posts, including that of Under Secretary-General and Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, as well as assignments in the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Tourism Organization and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

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Video

of Kofi Annan's press encounter