The UN Security Council betrayed its mission (Jordan Times)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Thu May 29 11:20:07 MDT 2003

[The former represenative to
the UN from Jordan denounces Resolution 1483 as absurd,
bizarre, and ridiculous.]

By Hasan Abu Nimah

Jordan Times
May 28, 2003

APART FROM lifting the 12-year-old sanctions on Iraq, but
for entirely different reasons than helping the Iraqi
people, the latest Security Council resolution on Iraq,
1483, has been a flagrant betrayal of the UN Charter, a
scandalous resultant of power politics and opportunistic
superpower compromises, and a dangerous submission to the
fait accompli of war and aggression, at the expense of
principle and international legality.

Earlier, in the weeks leading to the war, the council had
stood firm in the face of immense American and British
pressure, boldly refusing to prematurely undercut the arms
inspection programme in favour of a resolution providing
legal international cover for the military action against
Iraq which was already planned by the US and Britain. The
view, in the council, of those who strongly opposed the
hasty resort to war, France, Russia, Germany, China and
others, was that any further council action would have to
wait and be based upon the final report of the arms
inspectors whose mission was last reconfirmed and defined in
Security Council Resolution 1441. The international
community, world official and popular public opinion, in
addition to those defiant and courageous voices in the
Security Council, were gravely concerned and deeply outraged
by the threat to established international order the
US-British war on Iraq without council approval would have
implied. That effort, spearheaded by the French-declared
warning to use the veto, had successfully blocked the war
resolution, rendering the attack on Iraq an illegal, naked

While some accused the Security Council of failure and
inaction, others, more appropriately, valued the council
inaction as proper and compatible with the council's basic
mission of preventing the use of force for settling
conflicts. It is true that the council could not stop the
war, and that is because it had no available physical means
to do that, but it did, however, act correctly by depriving
the war of any legitimacy. Additionally, and although the
council had the power to condemn the war and demand a
ceasefire, it was clearly understandable that any such move
in the council would be aborted by an American or a British
veto and that, for purely pragmatic reasons, many believed
that any ceasefire would have only prolonged the life of a
brutal regime which did not deserve to be saved.

It is amazing how, on May 22, the council dramatically
abandoned its steadfast position by suddenly legitimising
aggression, endorsing devastation of an innocent country and
its weary people, and by licensing their indefinite,
unwarranted occupation.

The latest Council Resolution is an extraordinary catalogue
of contradictions and flaws, a striking example of hypocrisy
and acquiescence to power politics. Therefore, it will leave
a very dark stain on the already inglorious record of the
United Nations.

While the resolution opens by “affirming the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Iraq”, it recognises further “the
specific authorities, responsibilities, and obligations
under applicable international law of these states [the US
and the UK] as occupying powers under unified command (the
`Authority')”, and the Authority here means Washington. The
resolution fails to clarify how the sovereignty and
integrity of any country can be preserved under an
occupation which has, in the case of Iraq, left the country
in total chaos, at the mercy of looters, criminals and
thugs, without any services, vital survival basics or
governing authority since the total breakdown of law and
order in early April. Neither does the resolution explain
how the partition of the country by the “Authority” into
three separate units along sectarian and ethnic lines
guarantees any territorial integrity.

Surprisingly, and while the desperate efforts of the
occupiers to find any of the alleged huge arsenals of Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which predicated the war,
have reached the point where the occupiers started
advertising awards of millions of dollars for anyone who
would lead them to any WMDs location, the resolution
“reaffirms the importance of the disarmament of Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction and of the eventual confirmation
of the disarmament of Iraq”.

The resolution obviously needed to affirm the existence of
the WMDs to save the occupiers the embarrassment, indeed the
legal responsibility, of waging a war on false basis; and
that the resolution did. The council also needed to confirm
the exact opposite, which is that Iraq is free of any WMDs,
not only to justify the lifting of the sanctions, but
because it is an established fact now; and that, the council
failed to do because it contradicts the interests of the
resolution authors and sponsors, the occupying powers, which
the resolution was designed to serve.

Earlier attempts by the occupying powers to secure council
approval for lifting the sanctions in order to pave the way
for their full control of Iraqi wealth and natural resources
were in fact met with French, German and Russian resistance.
The opposing group rightly demanded that the closure of the
sanctions file required the final liquidation of the WMDs
issue, either by occupier admission that they found no
weapons or by allowing the inspectors to return to Iraq and
finish their mission. Evidently neither option suited the
occupiers' purposes, as the last thing they would like to
settle is the WMDs issue in order to endlessly delay any
troubling negative conclusion. Consequently, this
counterargument was also suddenly abandoned, and the issue
was treated in the resolution by a most arbitrary and
unassertive manner, “underlining the intention of the
council to revisit the mandates of the United Nations
Monitoring and Verification Commission and the International
Atomic Energy Agency as set forth in resolutions 687, 1284,
and 1441.” That practically means nothing.

Other idiosyncrasies in the resolution included peculiar
stuff such as:

1) “Stressing the right of the Iraqi people freely to
determine their own political future and control their own
natural resources...”, at the same time as the resolution
legitimises the occupation, and grants the occupying
“Authority” full unlimited control of Iraq's resources.

2) The UN resolves to “play a vital role in humanitarian
relief, the reconstruction of Iraq, and the restoration and
establishment of national and local institutions for
representative government”, when it is very clear that both
the appointment of a special adviser for the secretary
general, welcomed in the resolution, and the appointment of
a special representative, demanded by the resolution, to
upgrade the offer for those insisting on an active UN role
meant, in reality, to serve no better purpose than
disguising the fact that the UN will have no role and its
officials will have no power of their own, except perhaps as
useful tools in the hands of the “Authority”.

3) The UN “stressing the need for respect for the
archaeological, historical, cultural, and religious heritage
of Iraq, and for the continued protection” (the protection
never started, to be continued) of such heritage, comes a
bit too late, after the occupiers left those historic
treasures to be pillaged and destroyed right in front of the
eyes of their soldiers, to the great bewilderment and pain
of the whole watching world.

More alarming is the bizarre council invitation for “other
states that are not occupying powers” to join the occupation
and to work “now or in the future under the Authority”.
Furthermore, and clearly to meet the occupiers' need for
other states' support to maintain their control in occupied
Iraq, the council “welcomed the willingness of member states
to contribute to the stability and security in Iraq (meaning
to help the occupier to keep control) by contributing
personnel, equipment and other resources under the
Authority”. How could this be anything but an open UN
invitation to its member states to support an illegal
occupation, rather than the UN taking charge of the
situation itself, as required by its Charter, building its
own UN force under the UN flag and moving in as a rescue
mission to rebuild destroyed Iraq, and to free its people?

But the resolution descends from bizarre to ridiculous when
it “determines that the situation in Iraq, although
improved, continues to constitute a threat to international
peace and security”. Clearly, this was an entirely
thoughtless justification for the council to act under
chapter seven of the Charter; but it turned out to be so
absurd that no amount of wild imagination could explain how
a country which has completely collapsed, whose army
disintegrated, whose government disappeared, that the
occupation allowed to be ravaged and pillaged, that
descended into total chaos, whose every function has been
paralysed and that is totally under the control of its
occupiers could be a threat to world peace. And what kind of
world do we live in that could be threatened by such a
non-existing danger?

And those are just few examples.

It was the precious hope of many, since the eruption of this
major international crisis, that those who stood firm by the
principle at the UN, insisting that the rule of law, not the
blind arrogance of power, should prevail as the guiding
force in international relations, as a guarantee for our
peaceful future, would stay firm on their position. They,
sadly, did not, as the current resolution proves. The
question is: Is this the end of the battle or just a
temporary set back in a long, ongoing fight between the
forces of conquest and evil and the rule of law. The answer
is hidden somewhere in the Security Council chamber.

--The writer is former ambassador and permanent
representative of Jordan to the UN. He contributed this
article to The Jordan Times.

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