Ban recommends UNSC ending UNAMI High Level Coordinator’s mandate

Ban recommends UNSC ending UNAMI High Level Coordinator’s mandate


UNITED NATIONS, June 18 (KUNA) ­­ Praising Kuwait and Iraq’s rapprochement, the UN Secretary ­General Monday recommended to the Security Council ending the UN High­Level Coordinator mandate for missing Kuwaiti nationals and property.

Secretary General Ban Ki­Moon recommended transferring the issues to the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) under Chapter VI, taking into consideration Kuwait’s demands.

He also recommended to the Council exiting Iraq from Chapter VII after completion of the Iraq­-Kuwait Boundary Maintenance Project, as required by Council resolution 833 of 1993, and “substantial progress” towards the settlement of the Iraqi private citizens and their assets which remained on Kuwaiti territory following the demarcation of the international boundary.

“While these developments were not directly linked to the humanitarian issues, they constituted important confidence­building steps towards the further normalisation of bilateral relations between Iraq and Kuwait,” Ban told the Council in a written report.

“Iraq’s recent fulfillment of its outstanding Chapter VII obligations related to its common border with Kuwait has put in place conditions conducive for greater progress in the relations between the two countries,” he added.

He also said that the “common ground attained by Iraq and Kuwait regarding the issue of missing Kuwaiti persons and property is a significant achievement, signaling a new level of mutual trust and a fresh chapter in the relations between the two neighboring countries.”

“Having carefully considered the views expressed by Iraq and Kuwait about the future of the High Level Coordinator’s mandate, and noting their broad communality, I would like to recommend to the Security Council that the mandate of the High­level Coordinator be terminated and its functions transferred to the UN Mission to Iraq to be carried out under Chapter VI of the Charter,” he said.

Gennady Tarasov, the latest High Level Coordinator handling both issues, left his post in late December to take another UN job in Geneva. Since then, the Council did not pronounce itself on the future of his mandate, nor did it agree to extend its financing.

The post of the High Level Coordinator was created by Council resolution 1284 in 1999. The first appointed High Level Coordinator was late Yuli Vorontsov.

The Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution in this regard on June 27.

Kuwait wants the resolution to contain the following requirements, follow­up of those issues will not end with the termination of UNAMI mandate, Ban’s periodic reports on both issues should be submitted separately from those on UNAMI activities, and the designation of a UNAMI official whose sole responsibility will be to follow up on those issues.

“Should the Council adopt a resolution, given the constructive atmosphere” for deciding the future of the High­ level Coordinator’s mandate,” Ban added in his report, “I will ensure its full implementation.” The objectives of the High Level Coordinator’s mandate “have not yet been met, despite the Iraqi authorities’ strong commitment and efforts to deliver” on both the Kuwaiti missing persons and property issues, Ban conceded.

Ban said the Governments of Kuwait and Iraq have demonstrated “statesmanship and respect for each other’s national interests, in reaching a mutually acceptable and beneficial arrangement.

Should the Security Council agree with my recommendation, Iraq will exit Chapter VII with regard to this file and will be one step closer to restoring its international standing” prior to the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. On the issue of the Kuwaiti and third country missing nationals, he said the open cases continue to cause suffering to their bereaved families.

“I have taken note of Iraq’s commendable commitment to the successful resolution of this issue and its active field engagement to that end. It is my hope that Iraq’s continued concrete actions on the ground will expedite the realization of practical results while reinforcing confidence between Iraq and Kuwait,” he said. “This will certainly advance the humanitarian objective of uncovering the fate of the missing persons, grim though it may be, and informing their families,” he added. Moreover, he stressed, any future activities on this issue should take into account that the Tripartite Commission, chaired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), ”remains the primary, independent and fair international mechanism, and that close coordination with its members is a prerequisite to achieving positive results.” According to the report, excavations began at Khamisiyah site on 25 May. Possible burial sites were explored, surveyed and excavated last April in Samawa, Muthanna Governorate, but no skeletal material was found. The planned excavations in Salman Pak, 15 kilometres south of Baghdad, were postponed for security reasons. Among the facts hampering the search, the report said, are lack of “quality” information about the location of mass graves, witnesses had gone overseas, did not want or feel safe to cooperate, and at times were evasive, asking for more money or switching off phones when the moment came to debrief them. Ban quoted Iraqi officials in his report as saying that Iraq would continue its work regarding the missing Kuwaiti persons “as long as it was needed.” He added that Kuwaiti officials reiterated the importance of receiving from the United States satellite imagery relating to 1991 and earlier, which could facilitate the location of mass graves, particularly that the University of Alabama had developed new technology to analyze changes in the soil, which could help in the search for Kuwaiti and Iraqi human remains. On the other hand, Iraqi officials were to request from the Russian Federation imagery of the Khamisiyah site dating back to 1990­91. Out of the 605 missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals, only the remains of 236 have been found. On the issue of missing property, Ban encouraged Iraq’s continued efforts to clarify their whereabouts and said Kuwait, ”understandably” views the return of state archives seized during the invasion as “indispensable for the preservation of the country’s historical records.” He said Iraq recently delivered to Kuwait 57 tapes from the Kuwaiti Television Corporation, about 400 books, three albums with photographs of members of the Kuwaiti Government, and silverware stamped with the logo of the State of Kuwait.