Rotary Club of
International Service Division Sylvan Barnet, Chairman
Michael von Ungern-Sternberg -Minister Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations,
The following remarks were part of a discussion that took place at the monthly breakfast meeting of the International Service Division of the Rotary Club of
Mr. Barnet: Why are Rotarians interested in this topic this morning?
We are a peace organization, and peace and conflict resolution is one of the
areas we work in. But we are also a social and humanitarian organization. And
the work that we do cannot be done in areas of conflict. We are waiting for the
Security Council, the Secretary-General and a lot of others to make it safe for
us to go back to
should mention that we got a fabulous report from
is very appropriate that we are meeting here to get an update on the "Road
I will briefly tell you about our guest speaker. Mr. Michael von
Ungern-Sternberg is the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of
the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations. He has been with the
German Foreign Office for 22 years, with posts in
Mr. Minister, we welcome you and are eager to hear your comments.
Mr. Ungern-Sternberg: Thank you very much Mr. Barnet. It is a
pleasure to be here. It has been one year since Ambassador Schumacher was here
and as you know a lot of things have been going on. But to start with, I would
like to say that I was struck by the invitation I got from you. It was a very
intelligent way of putting the problem. You said to me that "we are
looking forward to going into
after the war, everyone said letís get over our differences in the Security
Council and rebuild
has happened in
"Road-Map" was the exact term used by the Germans and the French at the Security Council last year. It suggested for the U.N. to work together with the Iraqis, present a possible road-map for the political process to the Security Council, and take it from there. But this proposal was rejected by the coalition because it wanted to stay in control. It did not want international participation.
September, Paul Bremer, the U.S. Administrator in
On the 15th of November, the seven point plan was revised and there was a new agreement between the governing council, which is composed of 25 Iraqis, and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). They set out a different plan that outlined the main events to take place to hand over sovereignty and spelled out the transitional administrative law (TAL). Among other items, an agreement was to be reached between the CPA regarding the status of the troops of the multinational coalition on one side, and the governing council on the other side. This raised some suspicion because some people were saying: Why have this agreement with the governing council instead of having it with the interim government that will be formed under this agreement this summer?
In addition, when the TAL was adopted under this agreement, some of the members of the governing council refused to sign it because several of the main stake-holders in
If one looks at the contents of the TAL, it is really quite an impressive piece of legislative work. It contains human and fundamental rights, and many other positive elements in our view. It states that when the permanent constitution is accepted, there would be a right of veto if three governorates would not give their consent. The Shiites are concerned that if the permanent constitution will not give the Kurds what they want, they can easily reject it because they have a strong majority. And the Shiites have said that they are going to be dependent on a Kurdish veto. This is a fundamental problem with the TAL because the Kurds now have a document that they consider binding, and on the other side the Shiites are confronted with something they donít like but their representatives in the governing council have signed. So there is a serious problem when you look at the constitutional process.
So what is the way ahead and what are the risks now?
we are faced with growing anti-foreign tendency, and growing anti-Americanism,
in particular. There is growing apprehension of any foreigner to go into
we are going to face serious problems among the ethnic groups in
Third, the neighboring countries are growing more worried because the events are not going in the right direction. This is particularly true with countries that have Kurdish minorities. We see that the Iranians are trying to get more involved, the Turks have serious apprehensions, and so do the Syrians.
Fourth, there is a major problem concerning security. Security issues and the political process are strongly linked to each other. Without security, they will never be able to achieve a certain degree of progress in the political process. At the same time, without seeing progress in the political process, there wonít be any security. There is a very strong interdependence. Everyone agrees that the American forces have, in many ways, done an impressive job, but there is no way to establish security if the Iraqis do not see any progress in the political process.
Mr. Brahimi has suggested a proposals for the future that is hopeful. While he has not yet submitted them to the Security Council, his main ideas have already been in the newspapers:
on the 30th of June, we will have a transfer of power. And I think everyone
agrees on it. The
Second, the new government will be run by a prime minister, with a president, and two vice presidents and there is probably going to be an ethnic and religious element. We are going to see Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, as important figures.
there is going to be a transitional assembly at a national convention similar
to what happened in
after the national conference, there is to be an international conference with
many of the major international players, such as the Coalition, neighboring
states and members of the
Sometime in January, 2005, the Iraqis will have an election. Sistani has insisted on this and Mr. Brahimi has said this is possible. This will be a major point because at that stage an Iraqi organ will emerge from this process with a certain degree of legitimacy. Not all the problems will be over then, but at least will we have some kind of an institutional set-up which will not be contested as being imposed by the outside world.
On the security side, many have suggested the involvement of NATO. This is a debate that is going on in NATO, but there are different opinions being voiced there. We are not sure if using NATO would be helpful for the following reasons:
By replacing, for example, 20,000 American
troops with 20,000 French, German, Dutch or any other European troops, the face
of the security force will not be changed. It will not be perceived in
-We are not sure if it is going to increase security.
-We are not sure if it will increase the image of NATO,
-It might be perceived as something that is Christian and coming from the West, as opposed to something that is Arabic and Islamic.
The CPA is doing all it can in developing and gearing up an Iraqi police force. However, we all agree it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi army in the beginning. There were approximately 200,000 Iraqi soldiers, I believe, put on the street with nothing to do and they were available to be recruited by Iraqi militia. For the sake of security, it is important to draw in some participation from the Arab world.
What can the Security Council do, and where do we stand? The British and Americans have said we need a new resolution and we all agree on this. However, we are not working on any text in the Security Council yet. The coalition has outlined some of the main points they would like included:
The resolution should state that on the 30th of June 2004 sovereignty will
transfer to the Iraqis and it is the end of occupation.
-Laws that are in existence today should remain in existence as long as Iraqi authorities have not changed these laws.
the commanders and participants of the multinational force.
This force must have the face of someone trying to stabilize the country rather than someone who is there to occupy the county. While it is not the intention of the coalition to occupy the country, we have to accept as a political reality that it is being perceived as an occupier.
- Define the role of the United Nations. It is important for U.N. to be perceived as independent of the coalition forces. The U.N. should be the main broker in the political process. This is an area the U.N. has a great comparative advantage. They are not perceived as pursuing any self-interest, and it has the necessary experience. A special representative of the Secretary-General, who has knowledge of the issues and is respected in the region, would be effective.
the Security Council resolution can only work if it gets the backing by the
main players in
This transcript was produced and edited by Thomas McConnon. We welcome your questions and comments.
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