UN pushes for Iraq role, warns on legitimacy

15 April 2003
As the UN's role in post-war Iraq is debated around the world, the organisation itself is stepping up the pressure on the US to allow it substantial involvement. 'If they [the US] go through the Security Council, they can then receive support not only from its members and the broader donor community, but also from international institutions such as the World Bank, and the IMF, that helped us in similar situations in the past,' UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said in a BBC interview. Questioned on whether the UN would be accorded any role in the appointment of an Iraqi interim government, he said that this was still under discussion. 'And if I can express my opinion, to provide that interim government with legitimacy, it had better go through the Security Council.' Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special adviser on the UN role in post-war Iraq, Rafeeuddin Ahmed, visited Washington on 14 April for talks with White House officials, apparently to obtain a clearer picture of the administration's thinking on the matter. Annan is in Athens, which holds the rotating EU presidency, for discussions with EU leaders on Iraq.

The World Bank concluded at its governors' meeting on 12-13 April that it could play a role in Iraq even without the UN lifting sanctions, but called for a multilateral approach to Iraqi reconstruction. Warnings have been emerging from various quarters in recent days that, while the Iraqi oil industry may be in a physical condition to resume production more swiftly than expected, exports - crucial to US plans for financing reconstruction - could be delayed if no new UN resolution is passed on the oil-for-food programme. 'There is a legal problem,' says Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil. 'A lot of water will run under the bridges of Baghdad before we see it [Iraqi oil exports].' A modified oil-for-food resolution passed after the outbreak of war, transferring authority for negotiating contracts to the UN Secretary-General, expires on 12 May.

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