Mr. President, 

Since this is the first time I am speaking in this Council as Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), let me congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month and assure you of our full cooperation.   I also wish to pay tribute to your predecessor, the distinguished Permanent Representative of Germany for his excellent stewardship of the Council last month.

2.         On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), allow me to thank you, Mr. President, and members of the Council, for again agreeing to convene this open meeting of the Council on the current situation in Iraq.  As members of the Council would recall, serious efforts were made earlier this month to avert war in Iraq and we clearly expressed the views of NAM at the open meeting of the Council on 11 March 2003.  Unfortunately those efforts failed.

3.            Military action against Iraq has been going on for one week.  The relentless assaults from sea, land and air are continuing as we sit here in this Council chamber.  While this has taken place, the Council has remained silent until today. While the Council remained silent, stark images of this twenty-first century war are seen all around the world continuously. We have just today seen the image of a market being struck by a missile. Millions who see these images daily must be wondering as to where the United Nations, in particular the Security Council stand on this issue. The prompt decision of the Council to hold this meeting today is a welcome development.  It should offer some hope to those of us in the international community who remain committed to multilateralism and the central role of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security.  The Non-Aligned Movement strongly maintains that commitment. 

4.         The Non-Aligned Movement strongly believes that all member states of the United Nations should observe and abide by the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law in dealing with problems among nations. In this regard, NAM has continously stressed the vital role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and the strengthening of international co-operation. We oppose all unilateral military actions or use of force including those made without proper authorisation from the United Nations Security Council.  We deplore any unilateral action against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Member States.  

5.         The war against Iraq has been carried out without the authorization of the Security Council.  This war is carried out in violation of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.  In this regard, it is highly regrettable that the parties concerned had chosen early in the day to cast aside multilateral diplomacy and taken the path of war while efforts to avert conflict were continuing in earnest.  We view unilateral military action as an illegitimate act of aggression.  This war should not have been started in the first place.  Therefore, it should end immediately.  Let us return to the Security Council to find the solution to this complex problem.

6.         The Non-Aligned Movement wishes to reiterate its commitment to the fundamental principles of the non-use of force, non-interference in the internal affairs of states and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of all Member States of the United Nations. We continue to believe that the problem of Iraq should and could be resolved peacefully through the United Nations.  We reaffirm our commitment towards achieving a peaceful solution to the current situation and stress the vital role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. We call on the Security Council to use its power and authority as mandated by the United Nations Charter to revert to the multilateral process in the common effort to resolve this issue. 

Mr. President,

7.         The Non-Aligned Movement had stated last month at its XIII Summit in Kuala Lumpur its belief that a war against Iraq would destabilise the whole region and it could have far reaching political, economic and humanitarian consequences not only for Iraq but also for the rest of the world.  This was reiterated in the Council two weeks ago.  We continue to maintain this position today.

8.         With the military activity now escalating in Iraq, we are extremely concerned over the humanitarian situation of the civilian population in that country.  There are reports, for instance, that the people in Basra could be facing a serious humanitarian disaster including shortage of basic needs such as electricity and water if relief supplies do not reach them in time.  We hope that the sufferings of the civilian population could be relieved as soon as possible. While the responsibility for this lies with those countries that had initiated military action against Iraq, the international community must also assist the United Nations in carrying out the important task of providing humanitarian relief.

9.         It is important that all parties to the conflict observe human rights and other humanitarian issues such as treatment and protection of civilians.  They must respect international humanitarian law including the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

Mr. President,

10.       We strongly believe that all avenues in the peaceful disarmament of Iraq should have been explored. We regret that despite confirmation by the UNMOVIC and the IAEA that Iraq was actively cooperating and that the inspections were producing results, the inspectors were not given adequate time to fulfill their mandate and had to be withdrawn because of the war.  We also regret that the inspectors were not allowed to continue with their work despite the overwhelming calls by the international community including the majority members of the Security Council.

11.       We had welcomed the decision by Iraq to facilitate the unconditional return of, and cooperation with, the United Nations inspectors in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1441.  However, it was unfortunate that the war has now made it impossible for the inspectors to work.  We note that the Secretary-General had emphasised on 24 March 2003 the importance of the resumption of inspections by the UN inspectors.

Mr. President,

12.       The Non-Aligned Movement believes that international peace and stability could be preserved with all states adhering to the fundamental principles of the non-use of force and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of all member states of the UN.  We appeal to all concerned to exert all efforts to urgently return to peaceful solution in enforcing Iraqi compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions. We will continue to work closely with UN Member States on the appropriate course of action, including upholding the centrality and sanctity of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, in addressing issues relating to international peace and security now and in the future.   

13.       The Security Council as the custodian of international peace and security has a special and greater responsibility to ensure that the international world order is based on the principles of justice and international law and not on military might.  

Mr. President, 

Now I wish to speak on behalf of Malaysia.  

14.             Malaysia takes the position that unilateral military action undertaken without the support and authorization of the Security Council violates international law and the UN Charter.  Further, the doctrine of preemptive strike has no foundation in international law.   Malaysia views the unilateral military action undertaken by the United States and its allies as illegal and is tantamount to an invasion of an independent and sovereign nation; what more unilateral action taken on a selective basis and based on tenuous evidence when a viable mechanism exists to ensure Iraqi compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions.  Thus Malaysia is compelled to condemn this action. 

15.             Malaysia wishes to underline that the preemptive use of force threatens the very foundation of international law, making war once again the tool of international politics, of the powerful in subjugating the weak or the defenseless and erroneously asserts the notion that might is right.   

16.             In view of the humanitarian catastrophe that is now unfolding in Iraq as well as the grave threat to international and regional peace, security and stability arising from the unilateral military action, Malaysia calls upon the United States and its allies to immediately return to peaceful but firm methods in bringing about Iraq’s compliance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. 

17.             Malaysia joins the international community in underlying the urgency in addressing the humanitarian catastrophe in the wake of military action.  We share the view of those who take the position that the United States and its allies that initiated the military action must bear the full cost of providing humanitarian assistance.  

Thank you, Mr. President

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