UN mandate essential to legitimize war - Annan
The Irish Examiner 11 Mar 2003
By Jim Caldwell
UN SECRETARY GENERAL Kofi Annan piled pressure on US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday with a warning that the legitimacy of any military action would be "seriously impaired" without a new UN mandate. The crucial Security Council vote on the draft resolution tabled by Britain, the US and Spain is not expected to take place until later this week. The prospects of it being agreed received another potentially fatal blow yesterday when Russia signalled it would veto it.
Mr Annan was speaking as oil prices climbed to fresh two-year highs yesterday amid continuing uncertainly over plans for an attack on Iraq. Stock markets have been struggling as uncertainty about the looming conflict persists. In London, the FT100 has dropped through each of the psychologically-important points - known as "support levels" which City analysts predicted would mark the low point and the start of a recovery.
Mark McCutcheon, head of dealing at stockbroker Gerrard, said: "It is going to be more of the same until March 17 when the next UN resolution is coming up. Any signs of going in without UN authority are going to trigger further falls."
Tony Blair said he would not be deflected from launching military action against Iraq despite a potentially catastrophic split in the Labour Party. Irrespective of International Development Secretary Clare Short's threat to quit the Government, Mr Blair said he would press on. Kofi Annan appealed to the Security Council members to come to a united position and warned of the dangers of the US and Britain taking military action without a new resolution. "The members of the Security Council are now faced with a grave choice," he told a news conference in The Hague. "If they fail to agree on a common position and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support for any such action would be seriously impaired."
However, Mr Blair and President George Bush signalled their intention to go it alone. They have been working the phones, trying to secure the nine votes they need on the 15-member council for a resolution to pass.
"I'm working flat out for the second resolution in the UN. I'm negotiating very hard with other countries," Mr Blair told ITV1's Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme.
Britain and the US hope that, if they get the nine votes, it will be more difficult for France or Russia the main opponents of war among the five permanent Security Council members to use their vetoes.
Even if Paris or Moscow does block a resolution, Mr Blair believes that having the nine votes would at least give added moral legitimacy to the case for military action while neutralising at least some opposition within the Labour Party ranks.
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