Lessons of Iraq War Underscore Importance of UN Charter Says Annan
Lessons of Iraq War Underscore Importance of UN Charter Says
New York -- (UN-NC) September 16, 2004 -- Secretary-General
Kofi Annan believes that the Iraq war in 2003 demonstrated the need for the
international community to address the issue of preventive action in the context
of Charter principles and showed the importance of joint efforts on matters of
use of force, a United Nations spokesman said today.
Responding to media questions about the Secretary-General's
comments in a BBC interview, spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New
York that in his remarks the Secretary-General had reiterated his well-known
position that the military action against Iraq was not in conformity with the UN
In the interview, Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked whether the
war was "illegal." "Yes," he finally said, "I have indicated it is not in
conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view, and from the Charter
point of view it was illegal."
The Secretary-General said the war in
Iraq and its aftermath had brought home painful lessons about the importance
of resolving use-of-force issues jointly through the UN. "I think that in the
end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with allies and
through the UN to deal with some of those issues.
"And I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for
a long time," the Secretary-General told the interviewer, noting that such
action needed UN approval and a much broader support of the international
Mr. Eckhard stressed that this had been the
Secretary-General's longstanding view. The spokesman added that one of the
purposes of a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which the
Secretary-General had established, was to look at the issue of preventive war
and to see how it could be employed in conformity with the Charter, which does
not allow pre-emptive attacks.
"He has over the past more than a year used the words 'not in
conformity with the Charter' to describe his view of the Iraq war and of course
one of his purposes in establishing the UN panel on change was to look at the
question of preventive war and try to bring that in conformity with the Charter
principles, which do not promote preventive war," Mr. Eckhard said.
"Since the war he has been emphasizing the need for
nations on the Security Council and the UN membership as a whole to pull
together, saying it is in everyone's interest that stability be restored to
Iraq," the spokesman said. "So once the invasion took place, he did not
look back, he looked forward."
"But the principle of the Charter, called into question in
his view by the invasion, needs to be addressed in a serious way," Mr. Eckhard
added. "And he asked the high level panel to look specifically at that issue.
That panel is supposed to report by the end of this year and the
Secretary-General would formulate his recommendations and put them to the