UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello today recalled that as the inevitability of war in Iraq became inescapable, he had repeatedly warned about the possibility of retribution against, and likely displacement of, the people brought to northern Iraq under Baghdad’s long-standing policy of Arabization.Stressing that although such “flashpoints” could have been avoided, Mr. Vieira de Mello pointed out that in the wake of reports that perhaps hundreds of families had been forcibly expelled from the towns and villages in and around Kirkuk, the problems of which he had warned were now taking place. “Action should be taken now to protect these populations from intimidation, forced expulsion and other abuses,” Mr. Vieira de Mello said, echoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s concern that unless the security vacuum that now exists is quickly addressed, there was a very real prospect of population displacement in Iraq. In a statement issued by a UN spokesman in New York last week, the Secretary-General appealed to all concerned to respect fundamental human rights principles, including the right to live free from intimidation and forced expulsion.
Under an accord reached over the summer in Accra, Ghana, the parties agreed to adopt legislative reforms, revise the Constitution’s provisions relating to eligibility by nationality for the presidency, and begin disarmament.Through a statement released today by his spokesman, the Secretary-General noted that these provisions “have not been met.”President Laurent Gbagbo, in an address to the nation on 12 October, said the political crisis should be resolved without further delay – a view the spokesman said Mr. Annan shares.”To this end, the Secretary-General urges the political forces in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure the full and unconditional implementation” of the Accra III agreement, as well as an accord they struck in 2003 in Linas-Marcoussis, France, the spokesman said, emphasizing the need to address constitutional reform and disarmament.The Secretary-General “urges adoption of all legislative reforms without delay, and also appeals to all armed elements, including militias, to commence disarmament at the earliest.”The statement also welcomed President Gbagbo’s condemnation of all acts of violence against the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the French peacekeeping forces, and said it “should be unconditionally enforced by all authorities concerned.”Côte d’Ivoire’s current crisis broke out in September 2002. The rebel Force Nouvelles dominates the north, and UN peacekeepers serving with UNOCI are stationed between the opposing sides.