As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated.
Click here for more information.
INTERVIEW WITH KOFI ANNAN
March 4, 2003
Q: The recent activities by the Iraqis to destroy the Al Sammoud missile and to come forward more on the issues of VX and anthrax -- does that constitute cooperation in your opinion?
SG: I think Inspector [Hans] Blix has indicated it's a positive development. He has indicated there's much more to be done, but this is a positive development. And he will be reporting to the [Security] Council on Friday, and I expect he will have more to say.
Q: What is your view, sir? And also, I have a follow-up.
SG: No, this is a judgment for the Council. The inspectors are to report the facts and, as I've indicated, it is a positive development. And I think when the Inspector reports, the Council will make its own judgment.
Q: Do you think, Sir, that this can avoid military action by the US, and if it cannot, what could and should avoid military action?
SG: Please, can you repeat the question? Sorry.
Q: Do you think that these recent moves can and should avoid military action by the US? And if not, what could avoid military action?
SG: I think the Council's decision will be based on the totality of the presentation by the inspectors and the information they have in front of them. Let's not forget that, in accordance with Resolution 1441, the Council has the right to declare further material breach at any time based on the reports of the inspectors and then move on to serious consequences. So let's give the process time. Let the inspectors report on Friday and see where the Council goes from there.
Q: Sir, good morning. I know that on previous occasions you rejected the idea of traveling to Baghdad. I just want to ask you again if that is still your position. That's number 1. And number 2, now there are many different initiatives floating around. There's the French-Russian-German memorandum; there's the British-Spanish-American draft resolution; there's the Canadian proposal. What do you make of all those and do you think the international community has something there to work with to avert war at this stage?
SG: I think that is part of the democratic process in the Council. We are trying to resolve a very difficult issue and various members have put forward proposals to try and resolve the differences in the hope that one can bring the Council together for them to work in unity. I've always maintained it is when they work in unity that they are their most effective. So all these proposals that you say are on the table is an attempt to see if they can find a common ground and work together to deal with the problem. I'm in touch with most of these governments, both here and at their capitals, with their Presidents and Foreign Ministers, trying to see how we can all work together to deal with this issue.
On the question of my own visit to Iraq, I have indicated that, obviously as Secretary-General, my good offices are always available. But in the present circumstances, I'm not sure what a visit to Iraq would achieve and what message one would take to Iraq. Because I think that we've had a very open and active communication through the inspectors, through neighbouring governments, and through the Arab League and a whole range of people. So at this stage, I maintain my position, I have no plans to travel to Iraq.
Q: The British and Russian Foreign Secretaries are meeting right now to discuss Iraq. How confident are you that their differences can be resolved?
SG: The British and the ….?
Q: The [British and the] Russian Foreign Secretaries.
SG: Well obviously, it is good that they're getting together to discuss their differences. Whether they will be able to resolve them at one sitting, I do not know. But I think it's a healthy sign that they've come together to discuss how we move forward.
Q: Can you think of Japan and Germany being a permanent members of the Security Council in the near future?
SG: Let's try and deal with this urgent matter first – the question of Iraq. But I think the question of Germany's and Japan's membership in the Security Council is something that has to be part of a broader Security Council reform. Until we achieve that reform, I don't see Germany or Japan getting in alone.
Q: The US announced that they're going to rush to vote on their resolution after hearing [Mr.] Blix's report. Do you think the Security Council is ready for this vote?
SG: Well, the Council is a master of its own deliberations. And the Council will have to decide whether they vote or not, whether they are ready for a vote or they want to postpone it for a future date. But they can vote and they can postpone it. It is their right.
Q: Mr. Annan, I was going to ask you what you thought of the Iranian statement this morning calling for free elections in Baghdad as a way to bridge the gap.
SG: I read the press report and I think, obviously, elections are something that is in the future of any reform process. But I'm not sure that we are there yet. Thanks.
Q: Secretary-General, the President of the US has called this a moment of testing the credibility of the United Nations in terms of its effectiveness in seeing through resolutions. Others say it's a crisis of credibility in terms of the UN to maintain consensual decisions in the face of the super power's desire. NGOs say that there's a crisis in a sense of living up to humanitarian responsibilities of the UN. To what extent do you see this as a profound moment facing this organization, and what do you understand to be the credibility of the United Nations in this situation?
SG: I think this is a critically important stage for the United Nations. Obviously, whenever we discuss issues of war and peace, it is something that consumes all of us because of the human implications. And, as I have indicated, war is always a human catastrophe and we should only consider it when all possibilities for peaceful settlement have been exhausted. And I think this is what you've seen in the Council. They are trying to overcome this difficulty.
There are suggestions that if the Security Council does not vote for action, then its credibility would be mortally wounded. I tend to believe that if the Council were to manage to come together and resolve this crisis effectively and successfully, the credibility and the influence of the Council will be enhanced.
On the other hand, if the action were to be taken outside Council authority, the support for that action -- popular and otherwise -- would also be diminished. I also believe that to state that if the Council does not vote one way, it is going to go the way of the League of Nations, is overstating the case. I think the Council and the UN will not go the way of the League of Nations. And I think the historical comparisons are not as simple as it appears. The UN is much, much larger than the Iraqi crisis. The Iraq crisis is one of the issues we're dealing with. Yes, it's the most important one today. But we are much more than that. We're dealing with economic, social, humanitarian, and other issues. We're dealing with many other crises around the world. And I hope we are able to handle this effectively, bearing in mind the interest and the needs of the Iraqi population and their humanitarian concerns that you mentioned earlier.
Thank you very much.
As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated. Click here for more information.
Copyright © 2000-2007