23 July 2003


NEW YORK, 22 July (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was delivered to the Security Council today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

I am delighted that my Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, is with us today.  I am sure I speak for all of us in expressing warm gratitude to him and all his staff and his team for their outstanding work so far.  I should also say a special word of gratitude to the United Nations staff in Iraq -- international and national -- for their dedicated work in often difficult circumstances.

Let me also welcome the presence here of the representatives of the Iraqi Governing Council; its formation is an important first step towards the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.

You have before you my report, which we have sought to make as comprehensive as possible under rapidly changing circumstances.  I will leave it to my Special Representative to give you a detailed account of his mission so far.

I wish, however, to take the opportunity to reiterate the following fundamental principles underlying the activities of the United Nations under Resolution 1483 – principles which we all share:

  • The need to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Iraq;  
  • The need to restore sovereignty to the people of Iraq as soon as possible;  
  • The need to respect the Iraqi people’s right to determine their political future;  
  • The need to respect Iraq’s sovereignty over its territory and natural resources; and  
  • The need for Iraq to be restored to the position of a full and responsible partner in the international community, at ease with its neighbours.

Resolution 1483 provides a mandate for the United Nations to assist the people of Iraq in a wide range of areas.  In all we do, we need to keep the interests of the Iraqi people at the forefront of our minds.  We should listen to their needs, expressed by them in their terms, and we should try to respond.  I believe that Sergio Vieira de Mello has been doing precisely that throughout his weeks in Baghdad, and his visits to the region.

Our collective goal remains an early end to the military occupation through the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government.  Meanwhile, it is vital that the Iraqi people should be able to see a clear timetable with a specific sequence of events leading to the full restoration of sovereignty as soon as possible.

In practical terms, this means that the establishment of the Governing Council must be followed by a constitutional process run by Iraqis, for Iraqis.  The United Nations will continue to play an active role in facilitating and supporting the political process, working together with the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The people of Iraq are anxious for their country to become a stable, democratic and prosperous State. To succeed, they need the support of their neighbours and the region as a whole.

What happens in Iraq does not happen in a vacuum.  A stable Iraq -- one that is at peace with itself and its neighbours -- is in our collective interest, particularly that of the region.

That is why I have instructed Mr. Vieira de Mello to engage in an ongoing dialogue with leaders of neighbouring countries and the region.  He has already consulted senior officials or heads of States from a number of countries, and intends to expand these consultations to include all States concerned.  I trust I can count on their cooperation.

The challenge that awaits us in Iraq is enormous.  Let us all do our utmost to rise to meet that challenge.  We owe no less than that to the Iraqi people.

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