Magazine article Insight on the News

Q: Would It Be a Mistake to Let the United Nations Play the Lead Role in Reconstructing Iraq? Yes: Don't Allow European Nations That Opposed Regime Change to Stake Their Economic and Strategic Claims in Iraq. (SYMPOSIUM)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Q: Would It Be a Mistake to Let the United Nations Play the Lead Role in Reconstructing Iraq? Yes: Don't Allow European Nations That Opposed Regime Change to Stake Their Economic and Strategic Claims in Iraq. (SYMPOSIUM)

Article excerpt

Byline: Nile Gardiner and David B. Rivkin, SPECIAL TO INSIGHT

Numerous countries including most members of the European Union, Russia, China and virtually all of the G-7 states are clamoring for the United Nations to play a leading role in Iraq. Even some coalition partners such as Britain have been urging the United States to accord the United Nations considerable influence, mostly out of a desire to help heal the breach in the Atlantic alliance and rehabilitate the United Nation's tattered record.

While the United States always should listen respectfully to its allies, it is imperative in the weeks ahead for the Bush administration to rebuff U.N. plans for a central role in a postwar Iraqi government. Moreover, the Bush administration should apply the following guidelines to involvement of any kind by the United Nations and the international community:

* The United States and Great Britain, not the United Nations, must oversee the future of a post-Saddam Iraq. There is no need for the United States to spend diplomatic capital on securing a U.N. resolution mandating a postwar allied administration. While such a resolution might be politically helpful, the United Nations and European countries need it just as much if not more than the coalition does. If France, Russia and Germany are prepared to offer a satisfactory draft resolution, the United States and Britain should accept it.

* Only those nations that have joined the "coalition of the willing" should participate in the postwar administration, reconstruction and security of Iraq.

* The role of the United Nations in a postwar Iraq should be solely humanitarian.

* All individuals who have committed war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and other grave violations of international or Iraqi law should be vigorously and promptly prosecuted. Truth-finding and national-reconciliation activities, patterned after the postapartheid South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, should be launched promptly.

* Both the prosecution and truth-finding should be carried out primarily by the Iraqis themselves with appropriate input from coalition countries. There should be no involvement by any international tribunals, whether ad hoc (as was the case in the Balkans) or in the form of the permanent International Criminal Court.

* The United States must press the U.N. Security Council to end the oil-for-food program. All revenues from past sales of Iraqi oil now controlled by the United Nations are the sovereign property of Iraq and should immediately be turned over to the Iraqi interim government. The United States also should take the position that all of the outstanding Security Council Iraq-related sanctions resolutions have been vitiated by virtue of the regime change in Iraq. No new U.N. Security Council resolution repealing the previous sanctions is legally necessary.

* The interim government run by coalition countries, and its eventual Iraqi successor government, should be viewed as the legitimate government of Iraq.

* Oil and other financial contracts signed between Saddam Hussein's regime and European governments and companies that have violated either international law (by flouting the Saddam Hussein-era sanctions) or the applicable Iraqi national law should be scrutinized carefully by the postwar Iraqi government. There are good reasons to believe that the Iraqis can legally repudiate, or at least renegotiate, any inequitable or one-sided contracts signed during Saddam's tenure.

In addition to adhering to these principles, the Bush administration also needs to challenge numerous legal and policy arguments being advanced by U.N. partisans. These claims include that: (1) the coalition members cannot administer Iraq without the United Nations' legal imprimatur; (2) the coalition cannot draw on Iraqi national resources to pay for any reconstruction-related needs; (3) all existing Security Council sanctions resolutions (originally passed to address specific misdeeds by Saddam's regime) remain fully in force and can be overturned only by a new Security Council resolution; (4) only the United Nations can bestow legitimacy on any new Iraqi interim administration; and, ultimately, (5) the U. …

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