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UN Security Council debate on Iraq

[JURIST] Here are summaries of key statements made so far in today's continued UN Security Council open meeting on Iraq [live video]:

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that the Council was meeting at a dark hour. He had hoped that a compromise would have been possible and that the Iraqi regime could have been disarmed without war. However, that had not been possible. Now, the priority should be the victims of the war, who needed protection and assistance. The first duty was to meet the urgent needs of the Iraqis victimized by their own regime. The Council had committed itself to protecting civilians in armed conflict. Every effort must be made to avoid civilian casualties and provide for safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian personnel.

He appealed to all concerned to fulfil those undertakings. He particularly appealed to neighbouring countries to provide access for humanitarian agencies to those in need. He also called on them to respect international law and shelter those refugees who flee across international borders. The longer and more destructive the war, the greater the needs would be. He urged the Council to adapt the oil-for-food programme without delay.....

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said that the Arab and Islamic region was facing a war that had grave repercussions on the international system and on international relations. War was proof of the failure of diplomacy, and the failure of the United Nations and the Council to undertake its responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security. As soon as it had become apparent that war was on the horizon, Saudi Arabia had begun to exert efforts to arrive at a peaceful settlement. It had started moving at various levels and proposed clear and logical ideas anchored on the need for Iraq to fully comply with Council resolutions. Regrettably, despite all efforts and international opposition to an unjust war, “the sword had fallen”. War was a loss both to the victors and the defeated.

Reason dictated that military action against Iraq be brought to a halt and diplomatic efforts be resumed, he said. Work should be geared to preserve Iraq’s national security and its national institutions. Everyone was aware of the humanitarian and ecological devastation that would be unleashed on Iraq as a result of the war. He categorically opposed the occupation of Iraq, whose people did not need to be governed by outside forces. The failure of the Iraqi Government to comply with Council resolutions should not be visited on the people of Iraq, who had suffered for so long. He insisted on the unity, independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, and called for an immediate end to war and withdrawal of foreign forces. The Council was the party to decide whether Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said that the Council was meeting today to discuss the destructive war waged against Iraq and its repercussions, including the suffering of the Iraqi people. He hoped the Council would be able to put an end to what was taking place. It had become clear that the war was waged outside the purview of the Council, and that the majority of the members of the Council and the United Nations were against the war. The war would entail far-reaching and deep repercussions on the Middle East region and on the system of international relations. Therefore, the international community must think deeply to arrive at an acceptable solution.

The Palestinian people could not but oppose the use of force in settling international disputes, he stated. They stood in full solidarity with the Iraqi people in their suffering, caused by military operations by forces led by the United States. He supported the resolutions adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Summit, as well as that of the Ministerial Council of the League of Arab States. He called for the immediate cessation of war and the withdrawal of foreign forces from the territory of Iraq. He condemned any attempt to erode Iraqi independence.

In addition, he urged full respect for the Geneva Conventions. He welcomed the new interest and importance attached by some to those Conventions. Change could not come from outside or be imposed on peoples, particularly by military force....
More summaries are available from the United Nations.

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