Ban urges UNSC to help Iraq fulfill obligations before coming out from Chapter 7
Politics 7/28/2009 9:01:00 AM
UNITED NATIONS, July 28 (KUNA) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Monday insisted that Iraq should, before coming out from under Chapter VII, implement all relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular those related to Kuwait, and urged the council members to take the "appropriate" decisions to help Baghdad fulfill its remaining obligations in a "timely" manner.
Iraq, Ban insisted in a long-awaited report to the Security Council, "continues to bear the primary responsibility for the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions ... It is my hope that the Security Council will consider this report with a view to taking appropriate decisions that would help Iraq fulfill its outstanding obligations in a timely manner." He drew the council's attention to the "efforts and progress" made by the Government of Iraq since 2003 in creating a stable nation, at peace with itself and its neighbours, and urged the members to recognize that "Iraq of today is very different from Iraq prior to 2003."
Ban's report to the council presented the facts so that its members make an informed decision when they discuss some time in the near future whether the time has come for Iraq to come out from under Chapter VII.
This report, Ban noted, identifies a number of the outstanding issues concerning relations between Iraq and Kuwait. In preparation of this report, he added, he took into account the views of both governments and tried to reflect them in order to enable the Security Council to make "necessary decisions." The 17-page report was requested by the council in resolution 1859 of 2008 to decide on whether Iraq should come out from under Chapter VII.
Ban began his report by blaming Iraq for the delay in the UN work to maintain the boundary pillars at the internationally recognized border between Iraq and Kuwait, mainly because Baghdad's failure to remove several buildings along that border.
He said that the maintenance work was originally scheduled to take place in late 2006 and was postponed twice in 2007 and then in 2008 "mainly due to several buildings along the boundary that need to be removed, ... and their inhabitants (that) need to be resettled." According to the report, the boundary maintenance work was originally scheduled to begin in mid-September of this year, but had to be postponed at the request of Iraq last May "without specifying a new deadline (date)."
It said the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) sent out letters to Iraq and Kuwait last month requesting them to agree to begin the maintenance work by October 30 of this year "or else to make an additional contribution of USD 600,000 (each) to sustain the (maintenance) project." Ban said although Kuwait responded positively, reiterating its agreement to begin the maintenance work of the boundary pillars in October and requesting that the council be briefed on the reasons behind Iraq's delays, "to date, Iraq has not replied" to the UN's request.
He stated that the maintenance of boundary pillars "can be completed as soon as some minor conditions are met, including removal of few buildings blocking inter-visibility between some of the pillars." "After several delays, I would like to urge the Government of Iraq to respond positively (to the DPKO letter last month) ... Timely and successful completion of this project will clearly demonstrate the changed nature of relations between the two States and pave the way for normal bilateral cooperation between them," Ban continued.
On Iraq's attempt to lower the percentage of its contribution to the Compensation Fund from five to one percent or annulling it altogether, Ban said Iraq "acknowledged that payment of compensation is one of its outstanding obligations and indicated its willingness to engage in bilateral discussions with Kuwait to bring this mandate to a close." So far, Iraq has paid a total of USD 27.1 billion to individuals and companies of different nationalities that were affected by the occupation of Kuwait in 1990. It has yet to pay USD 25.2 billion to Kuwait to compensate for oil sector losses, including the cost of extinguishing the hundreds of oil well fires and damage to government buildings.
Ban noted the recent visit by the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament to Kuwait and the discussions he had with his counterpart on a "possibility of converting the outstanding payments into investments in infrastructural and mutually beneficial projects in Iraq." "I strongly encourage continuation of active discussions on alternative solutions that would help Iraq meet its reconstruction needs and be beneficial to the region as a whole," Ban said.
On the issue of compensating the Iraqi farmers for their assets which remained on the Kuwaiti territory following the demarcation of the interntational boundary between Iraq and Kuwait, Ban said Kuwait paid in full compensation to those Iraqis into a trust fund created for that purpose.
But, he added, as it was not possible to conclude payment arrangements under the previous Iraqi regime, the compensation amount remained in the trust fund until Iraq requested in 2008 that the amount, not specified in the report, and the interest be deposited in the account of the Development Fund or Iraq (DFI) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The Department of Political Affairs, he noted, is currently consulting the Office of UN Legal Counsel on the appropriate course of action and will inform both governments.
"The concurrence of the Security Council on the proposed arrangement will be sought. I therefore hope that the issue will be settled in the near future, " he said.
Ban stated that since the invasion of Kuwait by the regime of Saddam Hussein in 1990, both the people of Iraq and Kuwait have suffered two major wars and serious humanitarian, political, socio-economic and environmental consequences.
On the issue of the repatriation of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains, Ban said that since 2004, the security situation in Iraq has prevented the search and exhumation work at burial sites.
Moreover, he added, the identification of their remains is further complicated by the need to distinguish them from the remains of tens of thousands of disappeared civilian Iraqi nationals, a task that will require genetic identification tools.
As to the return of the Kuwaiti stolen property, Ban expressed regret that although there have been several handovers of property, the "State archives have not been found and their fate is not known at this time." Ban conceded that "it is possible that not all remains and properties will be found and that the search will eventually have to come to an end. I would like to encourage Iraq to achieve further progress on the ground." "After almost two decades, the impact of these events continues to be felt in Iraq and the region. Despite much progress, the situation there is yet to normalise fully. Today, Iraq is gradually emerging from this period and I understand the desire of the people of Iraq for their country to regain its rightful place in the community of nations," he said.
The peace, stability and economic prosperity of the region, he continued, are vital not only to the countries in the region but to the whole world.
"I am pleased to note that the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait have been making progress towards the resolution of some of these issues despite the painful legacy of the past. Indeed, it is the responsibility of both countries, to work together as neighbours to expeditiously resolve the remaining issues between them," he urged.
"The aim is not just to achieve a closure and deal with deep wounds, but to create a solid basis for future generations of the region, a region that has been blessed by vast resources much of which have been squandered in futile wars. A high degree of political will on both sides is still required to achieve this," he stressed.
"Based on my meetings with the representatives of Iraq and Kuwait, I have every confidence that their respective governments are fully committed to the path of peace and lasting reconciliation. The two States should consider innovative steps for resolving the outstanding issues between them in a spirit of generous compromise and understanding for each other's concerns," he said.
"By doing so," he continued, "they will mark the dawn of a new era in their relationship." (end)