U.S. Aggression Widely Condemned in U.N.

April 1, 2003

On March 26-27, the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the U.S. war against Iraq. More than 80 speakers addressed the Council during the session.

According to a United Nations press release on March 26 : "speakers emphasized that the current war, carried out without Council authorization, was a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. Many stressed they could not understand how the Council could remain silent in the face of the aggression by two of its permanent members against another United Nations Member State."

It further says: "the Council also heard speakers urge the international community to ensure that the sovereignty and integrity of Iraq were fully preserved. The right of the Iraqi people to determine their political future and exercise control over their natural resources should also be fully respected, they said."

Non-Aligned Movement

During the debate, the 22-member Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents about 115 mainly developing countries, asked the Security Council to denounce the U.S. military action.

"This war should not have been started in the first place. Therefore, it should end immediately," said Malaysia's U.N. Ambassador Rastam Mohamed Isa, whose country chairs the Non-Aligned Movement.

Representatives from Iran, Libya, Jamaica, Vietnam, Brazil, Venezuela and several other countries also called for an end to the fighting.

During the debate, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cited reports from Baghdad that cruise missiles struck a heavily populated area, killing 14 people and injuring 30.

India urged the United Nations to act "immediately" to stop the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. "India hopes that the hostilities will be brought to an end immediately and the Iraqi people will not be allowed to suffer any more," India's External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said. "The United Nations should act immediately both as far as the conflict is concerned and with regard to the humanitarian dimension of the conflict," he stated.

Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia said the unprovoked military action was a "violation of international law."

The Chinese Ambassador Wang Yingfan also declared that military action against Iraq was "a violation of the basic principles of the UN Charter and international law."

Syria's representative, Fayssal Mekdad, said the UK and the U.S. had carried through their threats outside of international legitimacy. There was no legal or moral justification for waging war against the Iraqi people and the humanitarian need of the Iraqi people was an urgent issue, he added.

France, "regretted that military action had begun without Council authorization." The primary concern now was for the civilian population of Iraq, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La SabliFre said.

The last speaker, Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri, called on the Security Council to condemn "this invasion and aggression...that hit civilian targets including homes, schools and mosques and led to thousands of casualties, among whom are women, children and the elderly." He went on to charge that the United States and allies Britain and Australia were trying to exterminate the Iraqi people.

Al-Douri noted that U.S. soldiers were trying to "control the region" even though Iraq has "no weapons of mass destruction" and had no part in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. "The warning I would like to make to the members of the Council is that the United States and the British were hoodwinked when they were told that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers and hugs and ululations, and the children and the mothers will rejoice at the coming of the U.S. forces," he said.

At that point, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, got up from his seat in the Security Council chamber and walked out.

But Al-Douri continued, saying that the United States was now using the humanitarian issue to hide its "criminal aggression." He urged the Security Council to move to adopt a resolution to halt the war. "If the humanitarian issue is very important ... I would like to say that halting the war in more important. It is the cause that leads to this deteriorating humanitarian situation," he said.

Calls to End the War

After the conclusion of the debate on March 27, a United Nations press release stated "The broad majority over the two days emphasized that the current war was a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter...speakers after speaker, whether calling for an immediate end to the conflict or simply expressing the hope that it would soon end with few casualties, stressed the need to: protect Iraqi civilians; provide immediate humanitarian aid; ensure Iraq's territorial integrity; and adjust the Iraqi "oil-for-food" program.