UN Secretariat to study Chilcot Report on Iraq war – Haq


by Shamindra Ferdinando

The UN Secretariat would study Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry report and take into account any lessons that may relate to the UN's actions, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for UNSG Ban Ki-moon told The Island on Thursday (July 7).

The UN Secretariat is considered the executive arm of the UN.

Haq was responding to a query whether the UNSG was likely to appoint a Panel of Experts (PoE), similar to the one which dealt with Sri Lanka, to probe atrocities committed in Iraq in the wake of 2003 US-UK led invasion. The UNSG announced the appointment of a PoE on Sri Lanka on June 22, 2010, about a year after the conclusion of the conflict.

Chilcot led committee concluded that the invasion was justified on the basis of false intelligence reports and the UK underestimated the scope of the military conflict and its consequences.

The POE on Sri Lanka led to Geneva Resolution 30/1 last October to establish a hybrid war crimes court.

The the UNSG Kofi Annan in Sept, 2004 declared that the US-UK led war on Iraq was illegal. Annan is quoted as having said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter.

Asked whether the UNSG would initiate an inquiry on the basis of the Iraq Inquiry report into atrocities allegedly committed by foreign forces deployed in Iraq, Deputy Spokesperson Haq said it (Chilcot Inquiry) was a national exercise.

"The Secretary-General notes that looking into decisions leading to momentous developments, such as the 2003 Iraq war, is an important effort in order to learn valuable lessons for policy makers." Deputy Spokesperson Haq was responding to a query whether UNSG would seek an explanation from UNHRC member UK in this regard.

Ban Ki-moon will step down on January 1, 2017.

Asked whether UNSG would request for a copy of Iraq Inquiry report from Chilcot, the Deputy Spokesperson explained the present day challenges faced by the government of Iraq. "On Iraq, the Secretary-General believes that we should first and foremost be forward looking and have the international community working as one to support the legitimate, democratically elected Government of Iraq in dealing with  considerable challenges ranging from fighting Da'esh (ISIS), humanitarian crisis, de-mining, rehabilitation, development to issues of national reconciliation as well as strengthening on Rule of Law and order and respect for human rights."

The British government indicated that there was no requirement to brief the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) regarding the Iraq Inquiry report.

Asked whether the UK as a member of the UNHRC, would brief the Geneva body regarding the report, a UK government spokesperson said; "This is an independent report and has now been made public."

Responding to whether the UK would set up special mechanisms to address accountability issues, the spokesperson said: "The UK Government has continued to learn lessons from a range of complex operations but we look forward to studying the specific findings Chilcot identifies and learning from them"

Meanwhile, a London Metropolitan Police Service Spokesperson said: "The Chilcot Inquiry has not referred any matters to police for criminal investigation at any stage in their work" The spokesperson was responding to a query whether Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit has the authority to probe those who had been named in the report.

The Island obtained comments from respective spokespersons via the British High Commission in Colombo.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is yet to respond to several questions we posed in respect of its response to the Iraq Inquiry report.

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