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EDITIONS
 Breakfast Friday, 1 November, 2002, 07:15 GMT
Focus on Iraq: the UN
The UN security council meets in New York
How do resolutions passed here translate into action?
Over the last few weeks, we've been answering your emails in our Focus on Iraq series. This week you've been emailing us about UN resolutions.

One of the questions which came up time and time again, was why we're preparing to take action against Iraq for ignoring UN resolutions, when other countries such as Israel have failed to act on UN resolutions.

  • This morning on Breakfast, we debated the UN's role with Con Coughlin who's written a biography of Saddam Hussein and Lindsey German from the Stop The War campaign group.


  • Breakfast's reporter Luisa Baldini goes back to basics to look at just what United Resolutions are in force:


    Any country can bring a dispute to the attention of the United Nations Security Council.

    If it decides that dispute threatens international security it will recommend some action to resolve it. That means issuing a resolution.

    If they're ignored, the UN can decide to impose economic sanctions.

    If a country still doesn't comply the UN can authorise military action but it needs to issue a Special Resolution to do so.

    That's only happened twice - once in Korea and once in the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991.

    So is it fair to compare the UN resolutions set on Iraq and Israel?

    Israel

    Well, over the past thirty years, the UN has passed hundreds of resolutions on the Arab - Israeli conflict.

    For example, number 242 calls on Israel to withdraw its armed forces from recently occupied territories.

    And another more recently which demands "Israel immediately lifts it siege of Arafat's compound in Ramallah"

    Israel has ignored these.

    But the UN has never imposed economic sanctions or used military force against them.

    The British government says that's because many of the resolutions demand action from both Israel and the Palestinians. So Israel can't be singled out as the only state in breach of them.

    Iraq

    So what about Iraq? Since its invasion of Kuwait, the UN has passed 12 main resolutions:

    Among them, number 687 which calls for the destruction or removal of all chemical and biological weapons.

    Another demands that Iraq must co-operate with weapons inspectors. Refusal to comply with them has led to both economic sanctions and joint US and British bombing campaigns of military targets in Iraq.

    And now with the UN moving closer to a new resolution on Iraq, Britain and America are calling for full scale military action if Saddam Hussein doesn't comply.

    They've always argued that since Iraq is the only state in breach of its resolution, it can be singled out for attack.

  • Our debate this morning produced another large e-mail response

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