Last Updated Wed, 19 Mar 2003 9:35:57
WINNIPEG - The man who ran the United Nations following the Gulf War isn't hopeful the next war will leave Iraq a better place.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1992 to the end of 1996, told an audience in Winnipeg on Tuesday a U.S.-led attack on Iraq without specific UN authorization would violate international law.
"This intervention is illegal," he said.
He believes it also sets a dangerous example. "Other countries may use this argument in the future to intervene on the basis of this precedent."
Boutros-Ghali fears the diplomatic struggle, and the failure to reach a consensus in the Security Council, will weaken the UN's ability to play a central role in such future crises.
"I still hope that the UN will be able to overcome this crisis and that the UN will continue to play a role, even if this role is very marginal," he said.
The future role for the UN inside Iraq, he believes, lies with the country's reconstruction, the return of refugees and establishing a more benign regime.
But he admits the international community has a poor record of paying the necessary attention to post-war issues.
Indeed, the international community has a very poor record of post-war assistance! Look at the mess that was left in Afghanistan! And I'm not just referring to governmental infrastructure (yes, Kabul has a sense of order, bu the rest of the country is run by war lords! It's almost a feudal structure that was left behind, not a democratic one!)
What concerns me more is the presence of all the unexploded cluster bombs. The very cluster bombs that resemble in colour and markings the food packages dropped by the United States. The very cluster bombs which have been attributed to the death of a least one youth and the injury of another (because, yes, they mistook the bomb for a food package.) The very cluster bombs that groups of Afghani men a left to clean up--alone. Where is the international community now?
True, there are still peacekeeping forces, like Canada's, working in Afghanistan. But I ask, "Of what assistance are they?!" Where is everyone? Didn't your mothers and fathers teach you to clean up your messes?!?! We have all failed the people of Afghanistan.
And I fear that once this imminent and illegal war is through, we will--once again--fail the citizens of Iraq. We failed them after the first Gulf war (sanctions never hurt anyone, but those who are already suffering!) and we will fail them once again.
I am not optimistic today.