4 July 2003


Resolution 1490 (2003) Adopted Unanimously

NEW YORK, 3 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council decided this afternoon to continue the mandate of the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) for a final period until  6 October.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1490 (2003), the Council also decided to end the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait at the end of UNIKOM’s mandate.  It directed the Secretary-General to negotiate the transfer of UNIKOM’s non-removable property and assets that could not be disposed otherwise to the States of Kuwait and Iraq, as appropriate.

The meeting began at 12:27 p.m. and was adjourned at 12:30 p.m.


The full text of resolution 1490 (2003) reads, as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, including resolutions 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 689 (1991) of 9 April 1991, 806 (1993) of 5 February 1993, 833 (1993) of 27 May 1993 and 1483 (2003) of 22 May 2003,

“Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report of 17 June 2003 (S/2003/656) on the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM),

“Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and Kuwait,

“Recognizing that the continued operation of UNIKOM and a demilitarized zone established under resolution 687 (1991) are no longer necessary to protect against threats to international security posed by Iraqi actions against Kuwait,

“Expressing its appreciation for the substantial voluntary contributions made to the Observation Mission by the Government of Kuwait,

“Commending the superior role played by UNIKOM and Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) personnel, and noting also that UNIKOM successfully fulfilled its mandate from 1991 to 2003,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1. Decides to continue the mandate of UNIKOM for a final period until 6 October 2003;


“2. Directs the Secretary-General to negotiate the transfer of UNIKOM’s non-removable property and of those assets that cannot be disposed otherwise to the States of Kuwait and Iraq, as appropriate;


“3. Decides to end the demilitarized zone extending 10 kilometres into Iraq and 5 kilometres into Kuwait from the Iraq-Kuwait border at the end of UNIKOM’s mandate on 6 October 2003;


“4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the completion of UNIKOM’s mandate;

“5. Expresses its appreciation of the decision of the Government of Kuwait to defray since 1 November 1993 two thirds of the cost of the Observation Mission.

“6. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Report of Secretary-General

When the Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Iraq, it had before it the latest report of the Secretary General (document S/2003/656) on the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM), dated 17 June.  Covering the period from 22 March to 15 June, the report details the Mission’s activities following the suspension of its mandate due to the deteriorating security situation in the demilitarized zone prior to the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces on 20 March.

The Secretary-General says that, from April 1991 to mid-March 2003, UNIKOM was a successful, and in many ways, a model United Nations peacekeeping operation.  Nonetheless, now that the conflict in Iraq has subsided, and following the adoption of resolution 1483 (2003) on 22 May, the Council may wish to consider whether the continued presence of UNIKOM in Kuwait with a suspended mandate and in changed circumstances is still desirable. 

In these altered conditions, he recommends that the residual peacekeeping presence of UNIKOM be maintained for a final three months, until 6 October, when the Mission would be closed.  During this period, UNIKOM would scale down its military presence to a minimum, continue to provide support from both Kheitan Support Centre and Camp Khor to humanitarian assistance operations in Iraq, maintain liaison with Kuwaiti authorities, undertake the reconciliation and liquidation of UNIKOM assets and, most importantly, make appropriate arrangements for handing over its activities in assistance of humanitarian operations to other entities remaining in the area. 

Also, he explains, such an extension would allow more time for the assessment of the security situation in the Mission’s former area of operation, in accordance with the wishes of the Government of Kuwait, prior to the final closure of the Mission.  

The report finds that UNIKOM continues to provide support to other United Nations activities and, through regular liaison, to maintain a climate of trust and confidence in its relationship with the Government of Kuwait, one of the two host countries.  That Government had expressed to the Mission its satisfaction with its cooperation in this period that is characterized by uncertainty due to the absence of an internationally recognized representative Government in Iraq. 

On 31 March, the report recalls, the Permanent Representative of Kuwait informed the Secretary-General that his Government believed that the delicate situation regarding the border between Kuwait and Iraq is ample reason for the maintenance of the mandate until such time as the situation becomes clearer and peace and security are restored to the area.  On 5 May, he wrote to the Secretary-General again to request UNIKOM’s extension in Kuwait for an additional six months after 6 July.

Among the main developments cited in the report is the reduction by 21 March of UNIKOM’s civilian personnel to the minimum required to provide basic support at Kheitan Support Centre.  With the expansion of tasks arising from the decision to retain a headquarters in Kuwait, the Kheitan facility was reconfigured and upgraded.  Following the evacuation of the demilitarized zone on 18 March, a small team was established to monitor the situation in Kuwait City and keep all personnel informed of potential threats.  A nuclear, biological and chemical detection capability was maintained to alert UNIKOM personnel quickly of any possible contamination from Iraqi missiles falling into Kuwait.

The UNIKOM was established by Council resolution 689 (1991) to monitor the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between Iraq and Kuwait, as well as the Khawr'Abd Allah waterway, in order to deter violations of the boundary and to observe any hostile action mounted from the territory of one State against the other.  According to the resolution’s mandate, UNIKOM does not have the authority or the capacity to take physical action to prevent the entry of military personnel or equipment into the DMZ.  Responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in the DMZ rests with the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait, which maintain police posts in their respective parts of the zone.

By resolution 806 (1993), UNIKOM’s mandate was extended to include the capacity to take physical action to prevent or redress:  small-scale violations of the DMZ, violations of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait; and problems that might arise from the presence of Iraqi installations and Iraqi citizens in the DMZ on the Kuwaiti side of the boundary.

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