UNSC extends financing of Tarasov's mandate, urges Kuwait, Iraq to continue cooperation
Acting upon recommendation from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council on Wednesday decided to extend the financing of the High-level Coordinator on the issues of missing Kuwaitis and other nationals and property Gennady Tarasov's mandate until the end of this year, and urged Kuwait and Iraq in the meantime to explore "other arrangements" to ensure continued cooperation, and to enable the council to consider "other modalities" to continue reporting on the issues.
In a press statement following a council closed-door meeting during which Tarasov briefed the members on Ban's most recent report on the issues, Council President Li Baodong of China said the decision was taken "in order to continue to build upon recent increased momentum" towards the full implementation of relevant council resolutions.
The statement said the council urged Kuwait and Iraq to "sustain and intensify their constructive engagement" with the High-Level Coordinator, and supported Ban's opinion that both sides should begin "exploring other arrangements to consolidate and ensure continued cooperation in the search for missing persons and property, including the national archives, so that the Security Council will, in the near future, be in a position to consider other modalities to continue reporting on the search." In his six-month report released last Thursday, Ban expressed regret that no substantial progress was achieved on either of the two issues, and therefore recommended the continued financing of the High-level Coordinator's mandate until the end of the year, urging at the same time Iraq and Kuwait to begin exploring "other arrangements" to consolidate their cooperation.
According to the statement, the council was "encouraged by the recent positive developments in Iraqi-Kuwaiti bilateral relations," particularly after the exchange of visits at the highest level, as well as the positive outcome of the second session of the Joint Kuwait-Iraq Ministerial Committee.
The council "called on both states to continue to act in a spirit that builds further confidence and cooperation, which should contribute to the strengthening of their good neighbourly relations and enhancing regional stability," the statement said.
It also welcomed the continued cooperation of both governments and their "high-level commitments to full implementation of all Iraqi obligations to Kuwait under the relevant resolutions." Expressing once again their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those involved, the council members "recognised the proactive efforts on the part of Iraq in the search for missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, but stressed the need for Iraq to continue to build on the steps already taken to fully meet its commitments." The council appreciated Tarasov's efforts and the important work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Tripartite Commission (TC) and its Technical Subcommittee (TSC) during the reporting period.
It welcomed the active participation by both governments in the efforts undertaken in the framework of the Technical Subcommittee, including the latest joint exploratory missions, as well as an increased emphasis on information gathering and the adoption of a new plan of action.
It noted that joint exploratory missions, within the framework of the TSC and under the aegis of the ICRC, "appear to be an appropriate and concrete mechanism to probe the fate of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and urged continued cooperation to translate efforts into tangible results." On the issue of property, the council welcomed Baghdad's establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to lead and coordinate efforts with regard to the Kuwaiti national archives.
The council welcomed Iraq's recent return of microfilm cassettes, currency, documents, and safe keys to Kuwait, but "noted the Secretary-General's concern that no substantial progress has been made on clarifying the fate of the national archives." It noted that "sustained efforts on this file could bear results," and reiterated its call for an "intensification of efforts" to clarify the whereabouts of the archives through the inter-ministerial committee and for its results to be regularly reported to the United Nations.
Finally, the council expressed its "willingness to consider" both files in the context of their review of Ban's next report which would determine if Iraq is fit to exit the Chapter VII of the UN Charter."