The UN status cannot stay the same

Q: Is the American attack on Iraq illegitimate because it has not been approved by the Security Council, or is it, as the US claim, covered by the existing resolutions? A: There is no simple answer to this. No one can deny that Saddam Hussein has violated the international law and all 16 Security Council’s resolutions on disarmament, but the question is whether the use of force is legitimate if it has not been approved by the Security Council, and whether the terms of Resolution 1441 are enough to warrant the use of force. Opinions differs as to whether the “serious consequences” mentioned in the Resolution can be interpreted as including the use of force or not.

Q: What is Croatia’s official position on this? A: Croatia has signed the Villnius statement with the intention of putting pressure on Iraq. We think that Iraq should have been disarmed peacefully and we regret that it was necessary to use force, especially since it has not been clearly and unequivocally approved by the Security Council.

Q: What does the future hold for the UN? Does the attack on Iraq without its approval mark the beginning of the establishment of a new world order? A: The UN is in crisis right now and its status will undoubtedly have to change. Either its influence will wane, as it happened with the League of Nations, or the situation with Iraq will help build a stronger and more efficient UN, better able to meet the challenges of the 21st century. I think that the UN should grow stronger, as this globalised and interdependent world calls for a global co-ordination. The battle against global problems such as terrorism, drugs, international crime, and epidemics is possible only through efficient global structures, such as that that the UN should become. In the same way, global financial and economic linkage also calls for global co-ordination that can be realised only within the UN. In short, I advocate the strengthening and modernisation of the UN. The Iraq situation revealed many flaws in the system – the UN were not able to peacefully disarm Saddam, nor were they able to properly authorise the use of force because of the inability to reach and agreement.

Q: In view of the US’s disappointment with the Croatian government’s decisions, as expressed by Ambassador Rossin, what is the future of the relations with the US? Are they endangered? A: Croatia and the US have a whole range of common interests and fields of co-operation , and only a small number of issues they disagree on. We believe that Croatia’s positive role in the political stabilisation and democratisation of Southeast Europe - for instance, supporting the democratic forces in Serbia and Monte Negro - is far more important to the US and the international community that its involvement in Iraq, where, objectively speaking, it can have only a marginal role. Our partnership and dialogue with the US about Iraq is not over. If we disagreed on the use of force, that does not mean that Croatia is unwilling to take part in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. This will include a whole set measures, from establishing the rule of law, to developing the mechanisms of human rights protection and economy. I would be glad if Croatia could contribute, within its possibilities, to the reconstruction of Iraq, for instance by offering humanitarian aid and its experience in clearing mines, taking care of land mines victims, sending in medical staff, or engaging Croatian companies in the reconstruction of infrastructure. Based on my experience as the last year’s president of ECOSOC, I think that the UN presents the best possible framework for the reconstruction of Iraq, as it is able to co-ordinate various funds, agencies and programmes, and mobilise the financial help of the IMF, World Bank and bilateral donors.

Q: The US allies, for instance the UK, are afraid that their soldiers might have to appear before the International Criminal Tribunal because of the action in Iraq. Is this fear justified? A: It is too soon to talk about that. We do not know whether any crimes will be committed at all, and if they were, whether the states themselves will persecute the perpetrators or not. The ICC can persecute them only in case their home states fail to do so. But to me it seems that it is more important at the moment to ask the question of whether Saddam will be brought before the ICC if he is caught, as it is well known that he has committed countless crimes defined by the Rome Statute against Iraq and its neighbours.