Annan Says Arab Nations Want U.N. to Work Toward Cease-fire in Iraq
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday 1 April 2003
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday there is "lots of unhappiness" at the United Nations about the war in Iraq and that Arab nations want the United Nations to do more to bring about a cease-fire.
The 22-member Arab Group met on Monday with Annan and announced that it would push for adoption of a resolution in the General Assembly to show the strength of world opposition to the U.S.-led military campaign.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference Group, with 57 member nations, also supported taking the issue to the General Assembly.
Annan said Arab nations want to see the secretary-general and the Security Council "be a bit more active" about trying to end the war.
"My concern is the population in the cities that are besieged," Annan said. "With the hot season coming on, if you have no water and electricity it can lead to sanitation problems."
"Obviously there's lots of unhappiness in this building about the war," Annan said.
Richard Sydenham, spokesman for General Assembly President Jan Kavan, said no formal request had been received Tuesday on convening the 191-nation world body.
Last week, the Security Council held a two-day open meeting on Iraq at the request of the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, comprising about 115 mainly developing countries. But the groups did not press for a resolution, with the 15 council members bitterly divided over the war.
By going to the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, war opponents have a much better chance of winning approval for a resolution, if they can draft a text with broad appeal.
However, unlike Security Council resolutions, those in the General Assembly are not binding.
The United States, Britain and Spain dropped a Security Council resolution seeking an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to disarm or face war after France, Russia, Germany and China vehemently opposed the measure. They argued Iraq could be disarmed peacefully through strengthened weapons inspections.
Once the fighting stops, Annan wants U.N. weapons inspectors to resume their work and test any weapons of mass destruction that might be found. He also said "it is not excluded that the U.N. will play an important role" in post-conflict Iraq.
United States Attempts to Block United Nations Peace Bid
Truthout | Statement
Tuesday 1 April 2003
NEW YORK - April 1 - Greenpeace today called on all members of the United Nations to reject moves by the US to block a resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion of Iraq and calling for a ceasefire and withdrawal of US and British armed forces.
In a communication, obtained by Greenpeace, the United States urges countries to vote against or abstain from supporting a General Assembly meeting to discuss the war, adding it would be considered "unhelpful and directed against the United States." They further threaten that invoking the Uniting for Peace resolution will be "harmful to the UN."
"This communication is nothing short of a thinly veiled threat. This is the last chance for the overwhelming majority of UN member states who are opposed to this war to stand up for the charter of the UN and the rule of law," said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Townsley. "It's vital that UN member states reject US pressure to undermine their rights, and support the Arab League's resolution to call for an end to the ongoing invasion of Iraq which is costing more lives day by the day," he added.
Under UN Resolution 377, the so-called 'Uniting for Peace' Resolution, a majority of the member states of the UN can call for an extraordinary session of the General Assembly when the Security Council has failed in its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, because of a 'lack of unanimity' among the permanent members.
"A few weeks ago, George W. Bush wanted the members of the UN Security Council to 'stand up and be counted', and to cast their votes in open session," said Townsley. "But, after it was clear they were going to lose, American and British diplomats opted out and never brought the resolution to a vote. As opposition to the war continues to grow, the US is desperate to squash further debate. We call on all nations to vote with their consciences and with the overwhelming majority of global public opinion, and not to give in to US diplomatic and economic threats," he added.
This latest move by Arab League diplomats comes one week after Arab League foreign ministers adopted a resolution calling for action by the UN Security Council. Last week's resolution stated that, if the Security Council route failed, as it did, the issue must be brought to the General Assembly.
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