According to media reports, the United
Nations Secretary General's office has already drawn up detailed
plans for the U.N. to step in and govern Iraq three months after
the war is over. Numerous countries, including most members of the
European Union, Russia, China, and virtually all of the G-77
states, have also been clamoring for the U.N. to play a leading
role in Iraq. Even some Coalition partners, such as the United
Kingdom, have been urging the United States to accord the U.N. some
modicum of influence, less because of the unique ability of the
U.N. to assist in Iraqi rebuilding and reconstruction and mostly
out of a desire to help heal the breach in the Atlantic alliance
and rehabilitate the U.N.'s tattered record.
While the U.S. should always listen
respectfully to requests from its allies, it is imperative that in
the weeks ahead the Bush Administration rebuff U.N. plans for a
central role in a post-war Iraqi government. Such a scheme would
jeopardize the United States' key war aims and would also seriously
hamper President George W. Bush's broad vision of a free Iraqi
nation, rising from the ashes of tyranny.
the extent there is a role for the United Nations to play in a
post-war Iraq, it should be limited and restricted to purely
humanitarian tasks, carried out by agencies such as UNICEF and the
World Food Program.
to Apply in Iraq's Reconstruction
While administering post-war Iraq and carrying out
democratic and economic reforms, the Bush Administration should
apply the following guidelines to involvement by the U.N. and the
- The United States and the United Kingdom,
not the United Nations, must oversee the future of a post-Saddam
Iraq. They should make clear that the 1907 Hague Regulations, the
1949 Geneva Convention IV, and customary international law provide
a solid legal basis for the Coalition countries' interim governance
of Iraq, pending the full transition of power to a new democratic
Iraqi government. There is no need for a U.N. resolution mandating
a post-war Allied administration.
- Only those nations that have joined the
"coalition of the willing" should participate in the post-war
administration, reconstruction, and security of Iraq.
- The role of the United Nations in a
post-war Iraq should be solely humanitarian.
- All individuals who have committed war
crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and other grave
violations of international or Iraqi law should be vigorously and
promptly prosecuted. Appropriate punishments, up to and including
the death penalty, should be meted out to the individuals found
guilty of these offenses.
- Both the prosecution and truth finding
should be carried out primarily by the Iraqis themselves with
appropriate input from the Coalition countries. There should be no
involvement by any international tribunals, whether ad hoc (as was
the case in the Balkans) or in the form of the permanent
International Criminal Court.
- The United States must press the U.N.
Security Council to end the oil-for-food program. All of the
revenues from the past sales of Iraqi oil, now controlled by the
U.N., are the sovereign property of Iraq and should immediately be
turned over to the Iraqi interim government. The regime change in
Iraq has vitiated all of the Saddam Hussein-era sanction
resolutions. While a new Security Council resolution acknowledging
this fact might be politically expedient, it is not legally
- The interim government run by Coalition
countries, and its eventual Iraqi successor government, should be
viewed as the legitimate government of Iraq, disposing of all
attributes of sovereignty.
- Oil and other financial contracts signed
between Saddam Hussein's regime and European governments and
companies that have violated either international law (by flouting
the Saddam Hussein-era sanctions) or the applicable Iraqi national
law should be carefully scrutinized by the post-war Iraqi
The U.N. is slowly dying as a force on the world stage and
will go the way of the League of Nations unless it is radically
reformed and restructured. It failed spectacularly to deal with the
growing threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and its influence may well
diminish further in the coming years. Indeed, what happens to the
U.N. in the future very much depends upon how it behaves here and
is a moment of truth for the U.N. and Secretary General Kofi Annan.
There is no doubt that France and Russia are pursuing narrow,
selfish, and anti-American policy agendas with regard to Iraq's
post-war governance and democratization. Their policy aspirations
are quite different from any conceivable U.N. vision of how a
post-Saddam Hussein Iraq should be governed and reformed.
President Bush should make it clear that
no further discussions on the Iraq issue are needed at the U.N.
Indeed, the role of the United Nations in a post-war Iraq should be
limited to purely humanitarian involvement. The United States and
the United Kingdom should take the lead in administering a post-war
Iraqi transition government, with the U.N. playing only a
Ph.D., is Visiting Fellow in Anglo-American Security
Policy in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for
International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. David B. Rivkin,
Jr., Esq., is a partner in the Washington office of Baker &
Hostetler, LLP, and has served in the U.S. Department of Justice,
the White House Counsel's Office, and the Office of the Vice
President in the Reagan and first Bush Administrations.