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Analysts Say UN Resolution Legitimizes US-Led Occupation of Iraq - 2003-05-22

The new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq lifts sanctions and paves the way for Iraqi oil to be sold again. Analysts say it also gives legitimacy to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

The U.N. Security Council would not back the U.S.-led war against Iraq. But, with a carefully worded compromise passed Thursday, it is supporting the peace.

The United States made concessions to get the council to adopt the resolution. But, as Jonathan Tepperman, a senior editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, says, the United States and Britain emerged from the deal-making with what they wanted most: international legitimacy for the occupation of Iraq.

"The American and British occupation has effectively been legitimized by the international community," he said. "It now has the U.N. stamp of approval for the indefinite future until at least there's a democratic and internationally recognized government in Iraq."

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, says the door is now open to international participation in Iraq's reconstruction.

"The Security Council has provided a flexible framework under Chapter 7 for the coalition provisional authority, member states, the United Nations, and others in the international community to participate in the administration and reconstruction of Iraq and to assist the Iraqi people in determining their political future," he said.

James Sutterlin, a senior fellow in U.N. Studies at Yale University, says a U.N. presence is essential for the legitimacy of any future Iraqi interim authority formed under the U.S.-British occupation.

"I think that's the importance of the secretary-general's personal representative when he gets there, because it's that presence and that participation of the United Nations that's going to make whatever interim authority or interim (that) is formed acceptable and legitimate in the eyes of the world community," he said.

Several nations, such as France, Germany, and Russia, had insisted that the United Nations have a key role in Iraq's political and economic reconstruction. The United States agreed to the presence of a personal representative of the U.N. secretary-general in Iraq to work with U.S. and British occupation authorities.

But it is not clear if that will satisfy the countries that want a significant role for the U.N. in Iraq. Mr. Tepperman says the resolution is vague on what powers the United Nations will have in an occupied Iraq.

"The advantage of vagueness in this case is that it allows all parties to claim victory and say they got exactly what they wanted out of the resolution," he explained. "The problem will be especially for the U.N. operatives once they arrive in Baghdad that their powers and responsibilities will not be clearly demarcated. That will especially be the case for whoever the poor soul is that Kofi Annan picks to be his U.N. special representative. Without giving him specific powers, it will largely be up to him or her to carve them out by force of personality. And that's not going to be easy."

Secretary-General Annan says he hopes his representative will have the support of all council member states.

A new Iraqi Development Fund is also to be set up to funnel Iraqi oil revenues into the country's reconstruction. The fund is to be under joint U.S.-British control, but will be audited by the United Nations and other international bodies.