8462nd Security Council Meeting: Situation Concerning Iraq

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13-Feb-2019 01:06:19
With government formation incomplete, political actors in Iraq must end infighting and fulfil populace’s immediate needs, special representative tells Security Council at 8462nd meeting.

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With the formation of the Government of Iraq still incomplete, it is high-time for leaders to shift the focus from factional politics and invest in addressing the immediate needs of the citizens, the highest-ranking United Nations official in the country said today as she briefed the Security Council.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), called on political actors to overcome infighting and allow compromise to prevail in the interest of the Iraqi people. Four ministerial positions remain vacant, three of which are subject to fierce disagreements among political blocs. She also added that there are experienced Iraqi women well-qualified for jobs in government.

Noting some positive developments, including the 2019 budget allocations for the electricity sector, she said such a move reflects the Government’s efforts to improve basic service delivery. However, funding for reconstruction in liberated areas is far less available than what is needed. State finances are strongly reliant on oil sector revenues, which are vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices. Corruption also remains vast and fighting it is not easy.

Although terrorist activities have decreased, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) continues to pose a security threat to the whole region, while armed groups are expanding their economic and social reach, she said. She also expressed concern about Turkey’s military airstrikes on alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets near the Iraqi-Turkish border, and the loss of civilian life and livelihoods. She welcomed the agreement reached in January between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to unify customs duties. “A speedy implementation of this agreement should now be a priority for both sides,” she said.

On the humanitarian front, the United Nations aims to meet the needs of 1.75 million vulnerable Iraqis this year, and its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $700 million from donors, she asked. It will take many years and billions of dollars to rebuild the country, she said, welcoming Kuwait’s role in raising funds for humanitarian programmes. She also pledged to engage with the file on the missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property.

In the ensuing discussion, Kuwait’s representative commended Iraq’s desire to meet its remaining international obligations. Kuwait has identified the remains of 236 individuals yet is unable to uncover those of the remaining missing persons. UNAMI should follow up on the fate of detainees, missing persons and Kuwaiti property, he said, urging the Special Representative to take a new approach in that regard. The national archives are part of Kuwait’s historic wealth and important for its national memory. It is unfortunate that their fate is unknown.

Echoing the calls of several speakers, China’s delegate said the international community must respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continue to support Iraq’s fight against terrorism, including by helping to bring terrorists to justice in accordance with relevant domestic laws. “We should actively promote Iraq’s economic recovery,” he stressed, emphasizing that UNAMI has played an important role in national reconciliation efforts.

The speaker for Cote d’Ivoire called on the Iraqi authorities to work with international officials to investigate human rights violations, pointing out that hundreds of mass graves have been discovered in Iraq.

The representative of Iraq said his country’s different political blocs are currently working to overcome obstacles to form a Government. Iraq has set up a development plan for the next several years to reduce rates of poverty and unemployment in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Iraq is working to fight gender-based violence, to increase women’s participation in the political and economic spheres, and to integrate Council resolution 1325 (2000) in all its plans.

Since liberating parts of Iraq from ISIL, “we have turned a page”, he said, stressing the need to wage an intellectual battle that would defeat extremist thinking. However, ISIL has left a deep mark on women, children, the disabled, and those displaced by the violence. He urged all Member States to continue to support the Government’s reconstruction efforts and to help rehabilitate archaeological areas destroyed by ISIL. Capacity-building is vital to guarantee a viable criminal justice system. “This is one of the main obstacles to good governance,” he stressed. On Kuwait, he said Iraq has handed over Kuwait’s archives and is committed to working together to address Kuwait’s concerns.

Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting began at 10:09 am and ended at 11:04 pm.

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