8271st Security Council Meeting: Situation in Iraq

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30-May-2018 01:20:51
Following democratic elections in Iraq, tackling sectarian divide, terrorist threat key to prevent rise of violent extremism, top officials tell Security Council at 8271st meeting.

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On the heels of largely successful democratic elections — viewed by many around the world as a historic turning point — Iraq still faced such challenges as continued terrorist threats and sectarian divisions, which must remain a priority on the international agenda, stressed the senior United Nations official in the country as he briefed the Security Council today.

Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Iraq, outlined recent developments, focusing his presentation on the events surrounding the country’s 12 May parliamentary elections. Noting that the vote had taken place within the constitutionally mandated time frame, he said people had been able to cast their votes freely and safely and that liberated areas had seen a free voting process for the first time since the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). “The post‑election phase represents a crucial time for Iraq,” he said, urging leaders to prioritize inclusive, non‑sectarian dialogue and ensure the swift formation of a Government that reflected the will of the people. That was particularly true as Da’esh — though defeated militarily — continued to pose a threat, having carried out several deadly attacks in past months.

On that point, Vladimir Voronkov, Under‑Secretary‑General of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism, called on Member States to redouble their efforts to strengthen cooperation to comprehensively address terrorism and bring perpetrators to justice. Describing his recent visit to Iraq, he pointed to the military setback of ISIL/Da’esh as evidence of the resolve of Iraqi authorities. During the joint mission to Iraq — carried out alongside the United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate — the team had visited Fallujah to discuss how to support the local population, concluding that a national reconciliation and reconstruction process owned and driven by the Iraqi people would be critical to prevent the resurgence of violent extremism and terrorism.

Michèle Coninsx, Assistant Secretary‑General and Executive Director of the Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, outlined efforts taken to combat Iraq’s terrorist threat through non‑military means since 2015. The Directorate had identified 33 key recommendations on ways to strengthen its overall response, she said, spotlighting the need for technical assistance in such priority areas as legal and judicial matters, countering financing of terrorism, law enforcement and border control and countering radicalization and incitement to commit terrorist acts. In the subsequent years, the Directorate and its partners had held follow‑up meetings and visits to Iraq to ensure that discussions at Headquarters continued to reflect the situation on the ground.

Several Council members took the floor to welcome Iraq’s largely peaceful recent elections. Some urged the international community to remain engaged with the country’s ongoing reconstruction and reform processes — underlining their importance not only for Iraq but for the wider region — while others called for redoubled efforts to support displaced Iraqis and others in need of humanitarian assistance.

Kuwait’s representative was among speakers who described Iraq’s elections as historic and a step forward for the country’s rule of law. Noting that Iraq was entering a new phase that would require international support in confronting remaining political, security and humanitarian challenges, he said Iraq’s stability was integral to that of the region. He looked forward to further cooperation with Iraq as the countries sought to settle problems and build relationships based on good neighbourliness and non‑interference in State affairs.

The representative of the United States agreed with others that the elections and the success of security forces in taking back territory from ISIL represented “a key moment in Iraqi history”. The next Government must decide whether it would value diversity and create opportunities for all Iraqis, including the most vulnerable. It must also decide whether it was serious about elevating female leaders and closing the door on extremism. Emphasizing the need for bold leadership, she said the new Government’s commitment to “keeping the lights on and paving roads” — as well as respect for human rights and the pursuit of accountability for those responsible for Iraq’s mass atrocity crimes — would be essential for its credibility.

Iraq’s delegate, stating that the elections marked a new chapter in his nation’s history, spotlighted the large and unprecedented number of women who had participated as both voters and candidates. Young people, too, had come out in droves to choose the candidates that best represented them. Outlining the Government’s efforts to revitalize Iraq’s economic and social sectors, he stressed that Iraq was committed to achieving the goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as its own national strategy to alleviate poverty and create opportunities for young people. He also noted that Iraq had embarked on balanced relations with its neighbours, focused on building a new foreign policy based on “positive neutrality”.

Also speaking were representatives of Bolivia, Peru and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 11:31 a.m.
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