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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Baghdad UN blast: What future for the UN?
An injured girl is carried from the blast site at the UN headquarters at the Canal hotel in Baghdad

We discussed future of the UN with Mark Malloch Brown, head of the UNDP, Edward Mortimer, senior UN adviser and Nancy Soderberg, former US representative to the UN.

Kofi Annan says the UN will continue its work in Iraq despite Tuesday's massive suicide bombing of its headquarters in which 24 people died.

A US military spokeswoman said the huge explosion was caused by a bomb in a cement truck parked outside the building.

Among the dead are top UN envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Iraq co-ordinator for the UN children's fund Unicef and a number of World Bank staff, as well as UN staff from the Philippines, Egypt, the UK, the US and Canada.

On Monday the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that it is cutting back its operations in Iraq after warnings that it could be targeted for attack.

What is your reaction to the blast? What are the implications for future UN humanitarian operations globally? Should the UN increase security at the risk of losing its image of accessibility?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The UN is in between a rock and a hard place. It was well known that UN weapons inspectors were infiltrated by the US for their own ends, thus the UN has become a legitimate target as a tool of the US. The fact is that if the UN carry on they will in fact be endorsing an illegal war and occupation. Not to go on will be seen as endorsing terrorism and will split the Europeans and the Americans still further. To make things worse, we the allies started it and there is no immediate prospect for an immediate solution either for the Iraq, the UN or the coalition. Add to that the reluctance of the Americans to be judged by the same standards as the rest, means that the Americans will have to sort it out. I doubt if they have the ability.
Tony, Welling, Kent

The UN is all that holds us back from total chaos
R. Taylor, Geneva, Switzerland
The question is not "What future for the UN?", it is "What future for the world without the UN?" The UN must continue to operate in its present capacity, and to strengthen its ability to enforce its decisions, if we are not to see a world run unilaterally by terrorists and powerful states. The UN is all that holds us back from total chaos, the only body capable of giving the powerless a voice, and the only form of government I can respect. Those who consider it an impotent lapdog of the US should question for a moment how the world would be run if we lost this most valuable organisation. To the victims, their families, and the surviving UN staff, I wish you courage and dedication. Thank you.
R. Taylor, Geneva, Switzerland

The precise reason for the UN bombing was UN's failure to avert a war in Iraq, which led to the feeling that the UN was a spokesman of the USA amongst the Iraqis. Though the fact is correct, the misconception is not. The future of the UN in Iraq depends on the extent to which it can help the Iraqis to solve their 'genuine problems'. Nations today have to understand that Iraq is just another country devastated by a cruel dictator. How will Iraq and its people show faith in us and the UN till the time we do not help? The US is the strongest nation today. It is only natural that it has the largest influence on the UN. I just hope that it is a constructive one.
Dhruv, Delhi, India

The blast is absolutely disgraceful. I don't think it has anything to do with the security measures of UN. It has to do with the terrorists. Although I am not fully in support of the US war on terror, I have to say it definitely cannot be blamed on the US. There is a pattern here: the bloody revenge is often directed against the civilians and the innocent. If this pathetic logic still holds sway, I am sorry to say there's not going to be any form of improvement in the Middle East.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

I serviced in the U.N. in Cyprus many years ago. What surprises me is that there is an open policy over communications links, most were not armed and the only response was diplomatic complaint. I really feel it is about time the U.N. as well as having the Peace Keeping force, had a Protectorate and an absolute right to draw arms to protect themselves and those it is protecting. The old days of honour and the thought of 'Untouchable' U.N. and aid workers sadly has gone.
Steve R, London, UK

US is the trouble-maker for the UN and the world community
Thomas C, Singapore
US is the trouble-maker for the UN and the world community. By defying UN Resolutions, acting unilaterally and arrogantly without world consensus, taking international laws into its own hands, abusing the status as a world superpower....UN must stand firm against US manipulation and not being held ransom by US for whatever reasons. The US has created a vicious cycle around the world that leads to unending violence, wars and vengeance upon vengeance. What's wrong with the American leaders? What do they want from this earth? Peace or wars...
Thomas C, Singapore

With UN acting as US tool in modern politics, I find it hard for anyone to trust UN under any form of banner-especially that of helping to re-build an Iraq under US occupation.
Ravin Sobnack, Cheshunt, UK

The UN imposed sanctions which killed tens of thousands of Iraqi children & adults and approved the invasion of Iraq on a false assumption of the existence of "weapons of mass destruction". Now it is paying the price.
Das Samuel, Toronto Canada

If the UN is to have a credible future as a neutral organisation it is going to have to distance itself from American influence. For example by moving its headquarters out of New York to a more neutral location.
Victor D., Thailand

It is time to stop quarrelling among allies. I think both US and France's stances were 20% real politik and 80% principled. This is no longer the time to discuss about how dangerous was Saddam's Iraq: we can have different opinions. The fact is Iraq is now dangerous, as a breeding ground for terrorist. We should unite. I hope my government will find a way to help.
Bertrand, Paris, France

Iraq has become a playground for terrorists
AK, Greece
May deepest sympathy to the victims of this attack. They tried to help the Iraqi people and were killed for that. This attack verifies one thing. Iraq has become a playground for terrorists. People from all over the world pour into Iraq with one purpose only; to strike a blow at the hated enemy (the US). And don't fool yourselves that it's only a small minority of the Iraqi that supports them. All of these people need to eat, move, hide, and access intelligence. These can only come from the locals. What we have here is a massive resistance movement, like the ones we had in European countries during the occupation by the Germans. I am afraid that from the point where we had no Iraqi terrorists, we will come to know a lot of them in the near future.
AK, Greece

The UN will probably go the same way as the League of Nations did before World War 2 - and it should. A group that just argues about everything and does nothing about anything is a waste of time and money
George Shawn, Auckland, New Zealand

The US should share control of Iraq, but it will be a hard pill to swallow - especially with Russia and France. The US and UK are not the only countries guilty of dealing with Saddam Hussein in the past. Russia and France both had major oil contracts with Saddam Hussein which were poised to begin once sanctions were lifted. I believe many Americans view these countries anti-war stance as hypocritical. Nevertheless, before even going into Iraq it was painfully obvious that the US, UK and other coalition members could not do this alone. The situation was always more complex than the Bush administration portrayed it as being. I believe the world is now faced with a more serious and truly imminently dangerous problem. As different groups fight for power, Iraq is now becoming a breeding ground for terrorists. It is naive to think that this will only negatively effect coalition members. It is time for us all to mend fences and jointly assist the Iraqi's in establishing a representative government of their choice.
Carrie, USA

I fear that the longer the UK and US forces remain on the ground the more this kind of murderous activity will continue. The UN needs to take the lead in the policing and rebuilding of Iraq, backed by the full military might of the Security Council members. Above all it will fall to the Iraqi people to stand up and be counted. They need to accept that the rebuilding of their country will take time and they will need to bring about the changes that will hasten it and protect it in the future. Rioting in the streets simply diverts the available forces from these key tasks. The identification of the antagonistic remnants that are carrying out these attacks should be the Iraqis first patriotic duty.
Cameron, UK

Other countries need to help, they can't just sit by and watch men like Mr de Mello die
Mello die.
I am English but my Dutch Husband is in Iraq as a Marine. From what he tells me the majority of Iraqis just want a life of normality and are happy to have the Dutch in the region. It is the minority that the rest of the world needs to help stop instead of sitting on the side lines and commenting. I want my husband home safe. I don't agree or believe in the war at all and am ashamed to be from a nation whose government took part. But it has gone past this now. Other countries need to help, they can't just sit by and watch men like Mr de Mello die.
Jo-Anne, The Netherlands

This was a terrible event and my sympathy goes out to all the families, whether Iraqis or not. The amazing contrast in view between the American people who, it seems, believe that the reconstruction of Iraq as a brand new country is like building a new theme park. This is country with a civilisation that existed well before America was ever discovered with principled people who have held onto their morals and values. But America seems determined to spread its modern brand of "Civilisation and Democracy" whether people want it or not or whether they like it or not. As far as the US administration is concerned Iraq was a threat to the region. The number of lives killed from both sides is collateral damage to this aim. America should take a leaf out of history, empires (like the British empire) come and go, and never last because people are diverse and human dignity prevails no matter what.

When, when, when is America and Britain going to stop the absolute nonsense of using the words "loyalists to Saddam" and recognize that these terrorists groups are the product of 50 years of intensive Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam, that has been spread around the world by those such as the Osama bin Laden network. It is time for a wake-up call people. Saddam is gone and I expect the people of Iraq are quite happy about it as well. His power is gone. In my view, Osama bin Laden is the power behind the terror, not these make believe "Saddam hold-outs".
Frances Greenfield, Canada

The US are confronted with the simple fact that they are clearly not able to police or rebuild Iraq. The situation is deteriorating, people are getting more and more desperate and the American administration can only claim victory when former Iraqi officials are arrested. Today "Chemical Ali" is the trophy. Now only Saddam is at large and I very much doubt if even his capture will change things for the better. The Iraqi people need medical attention, food, clean water and energy. That is what this country needs, not nerve-shattering marines patrolling the streets looking for "the enemy". The American administration should have the courage to step down and let the UN take over. It will not be easy, but at least a step in the right direction. Hope is what the Iraqis need, the process of rebuilding should start, and up to now this has not been the case.
Anton, Belgium

Blast hits UN building in Baghdad
19 Aug 03  |  Middle East


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