Noting that there appeared to be no functioning government in Iraq, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recalled that the Security Council had reaffirmed that the coalition had the responsibility for the welfare of the people in the areas of Iraq under its control.
Speaking to reporters on arrival at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General also referred to the heavy casualties Iraq had suffered and said he expected UN weapons inspectors to return to the country as soon as the situation permitted.
“From what we have seen in the reports, it appears there is no functioning government in Iraq at the moment,” Mr. Annan said in answer to a question whether the looting shown on television worldwide was a violation of international agreements on the part of the occupying powers. “We also saw the scenes of jubilation, but of course when you think of the casualties – both military and civilian – the Iraqis have paid a heavy price for this.”
Referring to the scenes of looting, the Secretary-General said: “Obviously law and order must be a major concern…I think the (Security) Council has also reaffirmed that the Hague Regulation and the Geneva Conventions [on the duties of occupying powers] apply to this conflict and that the coalition has the responsibility for the welfare of the people in this area. And I am sure that will be respected.”
Mr. Annan was asked if there would be a role for weapons inspectors in post-conflict Iraq and how long it would take for a UN resolution to pass to lift the sanctions that were imposed on Baghdad after its invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
“I think on the question of the weapons inspectors – their mandate is still valid. It is only suspended because it became inoperable on account of the war,” he replied. “I would expect [Hans] Blix and [Mohammed] ElBaradei to be able to return as soon as it is possible and I think they are the ones with the mandate to disarm Iraq, and when the situation permits they should go back to resume their work.”
Hans Blix is the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which was searching Iraq for biological and chemical weapons and banned missiles, while Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), led teams looking for evidence of nuclear weapons.
On the issue of sanctions Mr. Annan said there had been some preliminary talk about it but the Security Council had not really discussed it.
of Kofi Annan speaking to reporters