INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ statement on Iraq to the UN General Assembly

Published: Wed 19 Feb 2003 01:43 PM
NZ statement on Iraq to the UN General Assembly
Delivered by NZ's permanent representative Don MacKay
Mr President
New Zealand welcomes this open debate. The Council is dealing with issues which are of vital importance to us all.
Countries which are not members of the Council last had the opportunity to address these issues in the debate four months ago, on 16 October.
Since then, pursuant to Resolution 1441, UNMOVIC & IAEA inspectors have returned to Iraq. The Security Council heard their reports on 27 January and again on 14 February.
The first report suggested that while Iraq was co-operating on process, it had not co-operated sufficiently on substance.
The heads of UNMOVIC and IAEA returned to Baghdad to impress on it that only full compliance with the UN’s requirements that it disarm and be seen to disarm would prevent the serious consequences warned of in Resolution 1441.
Last Friday’s report suggests that Iraq has moved at least in part to accommodate some of the inspectors’ requests. But it has still to answer serious questions about material related to weapons of mass destruction which remained unanswered in 1998 when UNSCOM inspectors left.
The New Zealand Government calls on Iraq to move rapidly to provide the information and co-operation requested of it to avert the catastrophe which war would bring to its people.
The New Zealand Government recognises that the Security Council must be able to authorise force as a last resort to uphold its resolution. It does not however believe that such a decision would be justified at this time. The inspectors’ reports strongly imply that their work is useful in pursuing the UN’s objectives as laid out in a series of resolutions. As long as that is so, they should continue.
The New Zealand Government has a very strong preference for a diplomatic solution to this crisis. We place considerable weight on the inspection and disarmament process. We believe it should run its course. We do not support military action against Iraq without a mandate from the Security Council, and we do not believe the Council would be justified in giving that mandate at this time.
Our position is based on our strong support for multilateralism, the international rule of law, and our respect for the authority of the Security Council. We will uphold the Council’s decisions, but urge it at this time to ensure that all available diplomatic means are used to pursue the disarmament of Iraq as set out in the Council’s resolutions.

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