Tuesday, April 08, 2003
UNresolved? - 8th April 2003, 22.40

Tonight, Blair and Bush have finished their deliberations over the current progress of the Iraqi war. The press release issued after their conference in Northern Ireland demonstrated that previous reports of division between the two over the role of the United Nations in a postwar Iraq have been resolved. The two leaders, following the customary preamble of thanks and secularised prayers, announced the creation of an Interim Authority in Iraq, supported by coalition forces, that would oversee the transition to democracy. This would be broad-based and representative of all religious and tribal groups but no timetable has been set as yet for elections (and at this point in time, one would not expect such a timetable).

The Interim Authority would work in consultation with the United Nations organisations, non governmental organisations and a Special Adviser appointed by the UN Secretary General. The US/UK would also seek:"the adoption of new United Nations Security Council Resolutions that would affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq.". These three separate resolutions may be initiated together or separately.

The compromise reached between the two leaders is quite clever. How can members of the United Nations Security Council vote against or veto resolutions confirming Iraq's integrity and need for humanitarian aid? Such resolutions will provide a role for the United Nations and its specialised agencies that will complement the role of USAID and the Ministry for International Development within Iraq. Once these have been set up, the US/UK may seek the endorsement of the United Nations for the Interim Authority that they have established themselves, but such a resolution may be sought immediately before the elections that take place when the body has reached the end of its natural life, years away from the present. The resolution will be an ex post facto ratification of the Authority - following the precedents laid down in Kosovo and Sierre Leone. Blair can live with that.

If they seek all three resolutions immediately, in order to shore up domestic criticism of Blair, it becomes interesting...


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