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IMPRIMER

Canadian NGOs Underscore Centrality of the
United Nations in Dispute over Iraq

For immediate release

September 19th, 2002

Ottawa – Four Canadian non-governmental organizations have come together to commend the Canadian government for its position on Iraq and to emphasize that the United Nations must play the lead role in mediating the international dispute over Iraq.

The North-South Institute, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, the United Nations Association in Canada and the Mennonite Central Committee are calling on politicians and policy-makers to recognize the key peacemaking role of the United Nations and to ensure the UN has the backing it needs to fulfill its role internationally.
"One of the primary reasons that the UN was founded was to establish a collective mechanism to deal with threats to international peace and security," says Steve Mason, Executive Director of UNA-Canada. "Any state which takes unilateral action against another state sets a dangerous precedent and undermines the very principles upon which our international system is based."

"The hostilities between the United States and Iraq are of grave concern. They threaten world peace," notes Roy Culpeper, President and CEO of The North-South Institute. "To attack Iraq would not be a legitimate extension of the ‘war on terror’. Given Iraq’s agreement to allow weapons inspectors into the country, this is the time to invest in peace, democracy and development, not to continue with threats and military build-ups," adds Culpeper.

Canadian NGOs feel the focus of international efforts should not be on invasion, but on disarmament, resolution of conflict, and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

"There are no grounds in international law for 'regime change' to be a legitimate basis for one sovereign state declaring war on another," says Gerry Barr, President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. "The goal of preventing Iraq from developing and using weapons of mass destruction is important," Barr adds, "but it should be done under UN auspices and accompanied by an agenda for regional disarmament and development. Canada has a particular responsibility because the Middle East is the second largest market for Canadian arms manufacturers."

"We commend both Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham for insisting that the Iraq crisis be dealt with by the United Nations," emphasizes Bill Janzen, Director of the Mennonite Central Committee’s Ottawa Office. "While Iraq should comply with resolutions of the UN Security Council, so should other countries, some of which are violating them in a serious way. A more equitable approach to pressing for compliance would make it much easier to deal with this dispute and with others." MCC is one of only a few international NGOs with relief and development work on the ground in Iraq.

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For more information:

Lois L. Ross, 
Coordinator of Communications and Publications, 
The North-South Institute
(613) 241-3535, ext. 235

Katia Gianneschi: 
Media Relations Officer, 
Canadian Council for International Co-operation 
(613) 241-7007 ext. 311

 

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