posted April 16, 2003 at 11:12 p.m. MDT
I heard two interviews with ICG spokes today ... very sensible, they seemed to me.
International Crisis Group report: "Voices from the Iraqi Street" [casi]
International Crisis Group - publications
Iraq / Gulf area reports
War in Iraq: Managing Humanitarian Relief - "The impassioned controversy that surrounded the decision to invade Iraq had the unfortunate consequence of impeding coordination of humanitarian relief operations. Now that the war has begun, it is important to deal with the urgent task of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. That will require steps by those who were opposed to the war, in particular European governments and NGOs, to agree to work in close coordination with the United States and put their plans and their funding on the table. And it will require steps by the United States to eschew a dominant role in the post-conflict humanitarian effort and hand it over to the United Nations.
The scale of the humanitarian consequences of the war in Iraq is still unclear. But regardless of the war’s intensity or duration, there are bound to be new tragedies – to add to the devastation of Iraq’s economy and social fabric already caused by two earlier wars, twelve years of sanctions and an authoritarian government far more intent on its survival than on the well-being of its people.
Largely as a result of the political controversy and uncertainty that preceded the war, planning and preparations for relief efforts have been plagued by inadequate coordination. Today, the fears are of inadequate funding, excessive U.S. control over the relief effort and, within that, the unfortunate appearance (if not reality) of military preeminence, and the exclusion of European and other international NGOs that have considerable on-the-ground experience and of the Iraqi institutions with which they worked."
"The UN is best placed to rebuild Iraq" - "The US has made absolutely clear that it does not want the United Nations to assume overall responsibility for civil administration in postwar Iraq. On his visit to Europe last week, Colin Powell, US secretary of state, did nothing to soften his position that the US would not relinquish "significant dominating control" to anyone else. Yes, the UN can co-ordinate some humanitarian relief, and hopefully will come to bless a US-installed interim Iraqi government - but as for a more substantial role, forget it.
A more substantial and central role here is exactly, however, what the UN should be playing. As soon as conditions permit, the Security Council, with US support, should establish its own transitional civil authority - with full executive and legislative powers but, for administrative implementation, relying to the maximum extent possible on local professionals and civil servants, as well as experts from the Iraqi diaspora. Such an authority would operate alongside a separately constituted security force, which would no doubt be US-led but ideally would itself be given Security Council endorsement as a multinational force."