The report also names Ross Mountain, who at present heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, as the new temporary head of UN operations in Iraq. He will replace Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the August bombing.

Annan’s report also questions the role that the UN can have in Iraq’s future, but offers the organisation’s assistance to the country, particularly after the handover of political power in June 2004. ‘In taking the difficult decisions that lie ahead, I shall be asking myself questions, such as whether the substance of the role allocated to the UN is proportionate to the risks we are being asked to take? Whether the political process is fully inclusive and transparent, and whether the humanitarian tasks in question are truly life-saving or not?’ Annan wrote in the report. ‘It would be important to have clarity both as regards what might be expected of us and about respective new possibilities.’