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Britain Envisions 'Internationalization' of Iraqi Reconstruction Process - 2003-05-08

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Jeremy Greenstock, says a draft resolution the United States and Britain will introduce in the Security Council envisions U.N. and other country involvement in a gradual transition to a new government in Iraq. The British U.N. envoy spoke in Washington Thursday about post-war coalition plans for Iraq.

Mr. Greenstock says Iraq is now in a period in which coalition forces are shouldering the responsibilities, under international law, of occupying powers.

That is the description that will be contained in the draft resolution Britain and the United States will propose to the Security Council.

The United States has asked for consultations Friday morning to circulate the draft, which would call for an immediate lifting of U.N. economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Mr. Greenstock says although the situation in Iraq may appear to many at the moment to be dominated by coalition military forces, the United Nations already has a growing humanitarian role.

He says the appointment of a U.N. coordinator to work with the coalition would be an important step toward "internationalizing" the reconstruction process.

"An internationalization which the United Kingdom regards as wholly essential for the successful conduct of this whole period post-conflict in Iraq, which must involve a vital role for the United Nations and which I predict will become increasingly international as we move through these phases," he said.

During an interim period, he says which could last a number of months, Mr. Greenstock says coalition partners will work with Iraqis on the beginnings of a transitional administration. He outlined the road map of sorts that the coalition has in mind.

"We started with military action," said Mr. Greenstock. "We intend to end with an Iraq run by the internationally-accepted government, by a representative set of Iraqis for all Iraqis, in sustained stability and economic reconstruction," he stressed. "That is where we want to end up. With the coalition out and away from Iraq, which belongs to Iraqis only."

Mr. Greenstock says it's hoped a transitional Iraqi administration would govern for perhaps "a year or two," leading to constitutional decisions and a fully elected government.

Amid reports of continued looting and other instability in Iraq, the British ambassador says it's clear the "hand of the rule of law" is not firmly established in Iraq.

Appearing with Mr. Greenstock was Jordan's ambassador to the United Nations, Prince Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein. Recalling U.N. peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor, he echoed concerns about the rule of law in Iraq, and raised the possibility of a pan-Arab police force.

"The allies should, as the first and immediate priority, above and beyond almost everything else, strive to put in place a large Arab-Islamic civilian police force," he said. "Impose the former Iraqi criminal code, in keeping with customary international law and specifically Article 43 of the 1907 Hague convention on land warfare, with modifications here and there is necessary, until a new penal code is drafted. And create functioning courts with credible magistrates."

The Jordanian ambassador suggested Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco as possible contributors to such a force, but added that this should happen under the umbrella of the Security Council.