The bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad this August 19 is a profound tragedy for the entire world community. Its immediate victims included Iraqi civilians and United Nations staff, among them the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Iraq, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello. It is now important that other innocents should not also be made victims as a consequence.
The occupying powers in Iraq have a legal obligation to protect United Nations personnel and property. Obviously they have failed to do their duty. As the security of staff working for the United Nations, non-government organizations and humanitarian groups in Iraq is completely in the hands of the occupying powers, they must now be prepared to undertake their responsibilities more diligently, in accordance with the established norms and standards of international law.
This sad event illustrates that international law can be the only basis for international relations. In recent times we have witnessed the readiness of global powers to abandon international law and take arbitrary action, such as in the recent invasion of Iraq. Subsequent events have shown that arbitrary actions generate chaos. As a result, the United Nations now faces an historic crisis that will be resolved only through far-sighted intervention by the international community.
At this moment, the greatest concern should be for the people of Iraq. They have suffered for a long time now. Those behind this attack must be brought to justice, but the people should not bear the brunt of retaliation. Instead, they need the promises of the international community to be fulfilled. The humanitarian work of all agencies in Iraq needs to continue. The United Nations and its partners must strengthen their collective resolve to continue with the work that has begun there.
Finally, we the staff of the Asian Human Rights Commission and Asian Legal Resource Centre convey our condolences to all victims of this attack, and to the families and friends of those who died. In particular, we extend our support to the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights and all his staff. In this difficult and challenging moment, you have our solidarity.