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Breakfast with Frost
Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Of course one of the first casualties of the war was in a sense the United Nations, with the Security Council split over Britain and the United States' insistence on action against Saddam Hussein. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was secretary general of the United Nations between 1992 and 1996. At the time of his departure he warned that if the US continued along a unilateralist path, the United Nations could end up being as irrelevant as the League of Nations eventually became. Well let's first of all say welcome Boutros, it's very good to see you.

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI: How are you David Frost, I have to give you the regard of my wife, she met with you in Lyons at the Hamlin two years ago.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely true. Tell her I remember it well, warmest greetings to her as well. What do you feel about this point - you made the warning then - do you think that the US is continuing on a unilateralist path, does threaten the UN that it might end up like the League of Nations?

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI: No, let us, the United Nations have more than 58 years of difficult situation. The United Nations have been able to overcome those crises and I don't see why the United Nations will not be able to overcome this, the last crisis. Saying this, I believe that the political will of the member states is important. Will they give to the United Nations the occasion to play a role in the situation after the war, in the transition period? If they will give this route to the United Nations this will be way to give again to the United Nations a new role and to give to the United Nations a new credibility. On the contrary, if the United Nations will not be involved in the after the war situation, the reconstruction of Baghdad, the reconstruction of Iraq, the return of the refugees, then this will be quite difficult to the United Nations.

DAVID FROST: And what about the situation - there was some debate - you would say that the UK and the US are acting legally, aren't they? They're not breaking the UN charter either, are they?

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI: No, no, no. They have violated the United charter, resolution 1441 is quite clear there was need, they need another second resolution. This is not the first case, by the way, this has been done in Kosovo, before. The intervention in Kosovo was done without the agreement of the Security Council. So this, this intervention is certainly a violation of the United Nations charter.

DAVID FROST: A violation.


DAVID FROST: A violation - a violation - a violation - but it's not illegal, it's not illegal is it?

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI: David, you are playing with words. You know, what is important now is not to know how it happened, the problem is how we can solve this crisis, what ought to be done at the end of this war. And I believe that if we will spend our time to know if it was legal or illegal it is a violation or it is not violation, let us keep this for the scholars of tomorrow, for the historians of tomorrow, they will have, the students of tomorrow, they will have the possibility to write different Phd thesis on this subject. For the time being we are confronted by a war, what ought to be done to avoid that this war will spread in the other region, in the other countries, that it will not have a destabilisation in the other countries of the region. And number two, let us begin to find, to prepare ourselves to the after war situation, for the reconstruction -

DAVID FROST: Right. And in that situation, born, of course, Egyptian and so on, you know the Middle East so well, the allies, the coalition say that displacing Saddam Hussein could lead to a whole new, a summer of democracy taking over in the Arab world. Now that's pretty optimistic but nevertheless, that's that one thought. The other thought is that every day this war goes on, it increases the basic instability of the Middle East and in fact makes the US and the UK that much less acceptable in the Middle East. Which of those two views, the optimistic and the pessimistic, do you take?

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI: Unfortunately, I believe that the pessimistic one corresponds to the reality. What is more dangerous that this war is reinforcing the position of the fundamentalists in the Arab world. In other words, you are, this war corresponds to the dialectic of the fundamentalists who say that there is a crusade against the Islamic world, a Judea-Christian crusade against the Arab, the Muslim world, and this will reinforce the position, this will reinforce their importance in the Arab world and in the Muslim world.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much for being with us, we hope you will join us again. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, thank you very much indeed, joining us there from Paris.


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