24 September 2001
UN Resolution Gives U.S. Right to Use Force, Envoy says
(Nations interpret latest Security Council resolution against
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- The Security Council's latest resolution against
terrorism gives the United States the right to take military action
against terrorists in Afghanistan, the current president of the
council said September 24.
Asked by journalists what action the Security Council might take
against the threat to international peace and security posed by the
situation in Afghanistan, Council President Jean-David Levitte of
France indicated that some members of the council feel that the United
States already has authorization to do what it needs to bring the
organizers and sponsors of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon to justice.
He cited Security Council resolution 1368 which was passed unanimously
on September 12, just 24 hours after the attacks in New York,
Washington, and Pennsylvania.
The resolution unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks and
called on "all states to work together urgently to bring to justice
the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors" of the attacks. It says
that "those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the
perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held
accountable" and calls on the international community "to redouble
their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorists acts."
Levitte said that "based on that resolution the European Council --
that is the heads of state and government of the 15 members of the
European Union -- have expressed their unanimous position that this
resolution can be used by the U.S. government if they feel they should
exercise their right of legitimate defense."
Levitte said that the 15-member Security Council will be briefed at
least weekly by senior UN officials on the Afghanistan issue. Current
members of the council are the five permanent members: China, France,
Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States; along with 10
non-permanent members: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ireland, Jamaica, Mali,
Mauritius, Norway, Singapore, Tunisia, and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesman reported September 24 that local UN staff
locked up communication equipment and UN offices throughout
Afghanistan. However, in Kandahar local authorities took over UN
offices and those belonging to some non-governmental humanitarian
On September 21 the UN sent out a last communication to its staff
advising them to comply with a Taliban order to cease communications
with the outside world since it was possible that non-compliance could
put lives at risk, said UN spokesman Fred Eckhard.
The UN also sent a request to the Taliban requesting that one high
frequency radio be allowed to function in each location so that some
form of communication would be possible, but the UN has not yet
received an answer, Eckhard said.
Many UN activities in Afghanistan have ceased entirely while some are
continuing, the spokesman said. The World Food Organization (WFO)
continues to assist more than 1 million people with food aid inside
Afghanistan in increasingly difficult circumstances. Nevertheless,
since September 11 WFO has distributed more than 2,500 tons of food.
A previously planned immunization campaign was begun on schedule
September 23 using Taliban ministry of health officials. The UN
expects that by the end of the campaign September 25, more than 5
million children will have received immunization shots.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list