Thursday, June 23, 2011

Iraq: Iraq urged to fulfil post-invasion pledges to Kuwait

A destroyed Iraqi battle tank amidst other vehicles on the highway between Kuwait City and Basra, Iraq in April 1991

Ban Ki-moon has encouraged the Iraqi Government to act quickly to fulfil its obligations to find Kuwaiti or third country nationals, property and archives lost in Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait more than 20 years ago.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the subject, Mr. Ban says that the efforts in the search for missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals are gradually moving forward.

“I believe that the task of discovering the fate of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals is urgent and should not be influenced by political factors and considerations,” he says, adding that, for this reason, the humanitarian mandate must be insulated as much as possible from wider regional developments to ensure its effective implementation.

“Now that the organizational and logistical aspects of the search for the missing persons appear to be in place, the goal of finding and identifying the victims and finally closing their cases is an imperative,” Mr. Ban states in the report, which was released today and discussed by the Council.

Regarding the return of Kuwaiti property, the Secretary-General says he remains concerned that no progress has been made in the search for the Kuwaiti national archives, and that no credible information about their whereabouts has emerged.

Mr. Ban voices support for the recommendation of his High-Level Coordinator, Gennady Tarasov, that an effective national mechanism be set up by the Iraqi Government to lead and coordinate efforts to clarify the fate of the archives and other properties and report the results to the UN.

He also recommends that the Council extend the financing of the Coordinator’s mandate until December 2011 “in order to continue to build on the current momentum.”

After a briefing by Mr. Tarasov, the Council welcomed continuing cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait, and their high-level commitments to full implementation of all Iraqi obligations to Kuwait under the relevant resolutions, in addition to the commitments given by the Iraqi Government to improve relations with Kuwait.

“Nevertheless, the members of the Security Council stressed the need to fulfil these commitments, specifically finding Kuwaiti or third-country nationals, property and archives,” said a press statement read by Nelson Messone, the Ambassador of Gabon, which holds the Council’s presidency for June.

“The members of the Security Council once again expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those involved,” the statement added.

The Council welcomed the active participation by Iraq and Kuwait in the efforts undertaken under the framework of the Technical Subcommittee to develop an effective functional mechanism for the search of missing persons, including the sub-committee’s exploratory mission to Nassiriyah, and the ongoing mission to Khamisiyah in southern Iraq.

It noted that limited progress had been made on clarifying the fate of the Kuwaiti national archives, and welcomed the commitment by the Prime Minister of Iraq to establish an inter-ministerial committee to lead and coordinate efforts with regard to the archives and other properties. Members of the Council urged Iraq to establish, without further delay, an effective national body for the task and to report the results to the UN.

The Council urged Iraq and Kuwait to continue to act in the spirit of the confidence and cooperation-building process, saying that would contribute to the further strengthening of their good-neighbourly relations and enhance regional stability.

It supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the financing of the activities of the High-Level Coordinator for a further period of six months.