15 July 2003


(Reissued as received.)

BEIRUT, 14 July (United Nations Information Service) -- The meeting on “Iraq and the Region after the War”, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in cooperation with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies (LCPS), concluded Friday at the United Nations House, Riad Solh Square, Beirut by reaching consensus on four comprehensive recommendations.  An extensive report on the meeting will be issued later this month.

Participants in the meeting considered that the role of the United Nations should not be limited to the humanitarian sphere, noting that due to its wide international experience, an active participation of the international Organization in the political, as well as the socio-economic sphere would provide a valuable contribution to the process of the rehabilitation of Iraq.

Participants also encouraged Arab States, international organizations such ESCWA, the World Bank, UNDP, as well as regional organizations such as the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to play a role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

It was agreed that Iraqi human resources should be fully involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, both on the levels of planning and implementation of the reconstruction plans.  It was also agreed that rehabilitation and reform should not be limited to the administrative and governmental structures in Iraq but should encompass Iraqi society at the grass-root level, and in cooperation with the representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“Rebuilding Iraq:  Strategies of Development under Crises Conditions”, and “What Possible Role for the United Nations in Iraq” were two subjects discussed respectively by Atef Kubursi, Chief Economic Analysis Division at ESCWA, and Nawwaf Salam, Lawyer, during the morning session, which was held before announcing the recommendations.

In his statement, Mr. Kubursi said, “Iraq, unlike the Gulf States and Arab oil producers has the potential to build a diversified economic base.  There is a great potential for efficient agricultural activities once agricultural land could be reclaimed and rehabilitated and water rights secured.”  Kubursi also pointed out that, given the talents of the Iraqis, there were strong arguments for moving into the new economy and into the information and communication technology activities.

Mr. Salam, who reviewed the United Nations former experiences in Cambodia, Kosovo, East Timor and Afghanistan, said, “the words of Lakhdar Brahimi that the main lesson to learn from previous UN peace operations was that each operation was unique, is of paramount importance”.  Salam considered that each mission had its own specific conditions and any United Nations intervention should take specific cultural, political, historical and institutional context into account.

The call for this unprecedented three-day meeting in the Arab region, was an ESCWA initiative to respond to other international initiatives concerning various schemes and methodologies for the reconstruction of Iraq, after many wars and long years of embargo and isolation; most of these initiatives were neglecting the regional perspective and the views of experts from Iraq and the region.

For more information: www.escwa.org.lb.  All papers presented during the meeting will be on ESCWA Web site: www.escwa.org.lb, starting Friday, 18 July.  For information, please contact Nabil Abu-Dargham, Information Officer, UN ESCWA.

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