Kofi Annan miss an
opportunity to stop the war?
TFF dirctor and Hans
Yesterday Washington "recommended" that the inspectors
from IAEA and UNMOVIC as well as all UN humanitarian
staff, UNOHCI, leave Iraq as soon as possible. The UN
mission in the demilitarised zone on the border between
Kuwait and Iraq (UNIKOM) was already evacuating.
These missions are UN missions. They are in Iraq
because of a Security Council decision. They are there to
help bring about peace by peaceful means and to help the
citizens of Iraq.
After a short Security Council meeting behind closed
doors, Secretary-General Kofi Annan informs the world
that these missions have been ordered to evacuate.
Thus, it seems that one member issues an ultimatum
"recommendation" and the UN obeys and leaves the Iraqi
people behind to be intimidated, humiliated, killed,
wounded and, in a few weeks, starve.
Article 99 of the UN Charter states that the S-G "may
bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter
which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of
international peace and security."
Is that not exactly what the US ultimatum did -
threatening Iraq and threatening the world organisation
Article 100 of the UN Charter states that "in the
performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the
staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any
government..." Well, of course, it was not termed an
instruction, it was a "recommendation." But what the
Secreatary-General did on March 17, 2003 was to accept an
In this context we would like to refer to an article
Kofi Annan Can Stop the War" by Paul F.
Here is the gist of professor deLespinasse's
"The situation provides an
interesting opportunity for U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan. If the U.S. issues the expected
warning, he can and should announce that the U.S.
has no authority to evict the inspectors, who are
United Nations employees. Furthermore, Annan can
say that he will not withdraw the inspectors from
Iraq unless he is ordered to do so by the U.N.
Security Council or the inspectors report that they
are not being allowed to do their job.
Any effort to get the Security Council to order
the inspectors out under current circumstances
would undoubtedly fail, and if by some miracle it
did get the needed nine votes it would certainly be
vetoed by France, Russia, or China.
Such an announcement by the Secretary-General
would have three very beneficial consequences.
First, it is unlikely that President Bush and his
advisors would proceed with an attack, which would
be a public relations nightmare as long as the
inspectors are still in Iraq.
Second, the announcement would not undermine the
work of the inspectors, but could even increase
their clout, and that of the Secretary General,
vis-à-vis Saddam Hussein. As long as they
remain, the inspectors would protect Iraq from an
American attack, but if not given carte blanche to
do their work they will leave.
Third, the announcement would become a precedent
for greatly enhanced power to be exercised by the
Secretary General of the United Nations. This
person is the closest thing we have to a chief
executive for the world, and he is in a position
from which it is natural to consider the welfare of
the people of the world as a whole."
We wonder how it was possible for one member state to
get the UN, all its immensely important missions, ordered
out of the place in a matter of hours? We wonder whether
the Secretary-General could not have shown more
perseverance in defence of the organisation that is so
important for the world and for the people of Iraq?
With this potential window for peace closed, could
Pope John Paul, the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, or members
of the Security Council give peace a last chance and call
a General Assembly meeting. It would revive the
principles underlying the "Uniting
for Peace" resolution.
And it would give a high-level democratic voice to "we
the peoples" who are sad, angry and frightened at the
prospect of a war-cum-massacre at innocent millions of
*) deLespinasse is professor emeritus of political
science at Adrian College in Michigan and can be reached
© TFF 2003
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