The Guardian February 26, 2003


United Nations opinion swings against Bush's war

The UN Security Council opened its forum to the representatives of non-
Security Council members last week. This process was proposed by the Non-
Aligned Movement to give other countries an opportunity to express their 
views on the key issue of war or peace.

One after another, the overwhelming number of governments ruled out a pre-
emptive strike by the US, Britain and Australia and called for the issues 
to be entrusted to the United Nations to resolve without war.

China's Xinhua news agency reported that "support for a peaceful solution 
to the Iraqi issue continued to build up at the United Nations [last week] 
when more members called for further inspections against a rush to war".

The Egyptian Ambassador to the UN said at the meeting, "Resolution 1441 had 
been implemented satisfactorily. Two briefings by the chief inspectors had 
described success in a very short period of time, and further success was 
promised in the upcoming period.

"The inspection process must be supported and continue, without 
interruption or rigid deadlines. The repercussions of armed conflict for 
the Middle East and the whole world made it imperative to work with 
diligence, patience and determination towards a peaceful settlement."

The Swiss UN Ambassador said he did not think the moment for the use of 
force had come and his government dreaded the consequences for the civilian 
population of a military operation.

"The resort to force could only be envisaged after all peaceful means to 
find a solution to the crisis had been exhausted. In any case, the use of 
force must be authorised by a Council resolution", he said.

Malaysia's UN Ambassador supported the proposal by France on the need to 
increase the human and technical capacities of the inspection teams as well 
as their intention to request another meeting at the ministerial level on 
March 14 to appraise the situation and progress made.

The United States and Britain, both feverishly advocating prompt military 
action in Iraq, could only find partial support from a small number of 
countries including Macedonia and Nicaragua. Japan and Australia were among 
the very small number of countries fully supportive of Bush's war agenda.

Diplomats at the UN believe growing opposition at the United Nations, 
compounded with global protests for peace, could complicate Washington's 
diplomatic manoeuvres to push for a second resolution backing war with 
Iraq.

Before the extended UN debate, a number of Asian countries called for a 
peaceful resolution. Their voices are getting clearer and louder.

In Pakistan, a country in the forefront of the US-led anti-terrorist war, 
the Government has reiterated that the Iraq crisis should be resolved 
through peaceful means.

President Musharraf, during a talk with President Bush, clearly said that 
it would be much better to resolve differences on Iraq through talks or 
diplomacy."

India, took a similar stand. Defence Minister George Fernandes, when asked 
if the United States had sought India's support on the Iraq issue said, 
"India cannot support. How can India support?"

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, "We have no military and 
financial strength but we can join the world movement to oppose war on 
moral grounds, about how bad it is to use war to settle a problem."

Malaysia's Vice President Hamzah Haz urged the United States to cancel its 
plan to launch an attack on Iraq, saying, "If the United States attacks 
Iraq, many countries will isolate it."

Indonesia's Foreign Minister said, "For the Indonesian government, the US 
intelligence data are 'indicative' that need further authentication by the 
UN weapons inspectors. We are keen to prioritise a peace solution."

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are two other Asian nations also speaking up for a 
peaceful, negotiated solution.

The extended discussion before the UN Security Council and the views of 
other nations have been almost totally ignored by the Australian media.

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