UN / IRAQ

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11-May-2021 00:03:04
The head of the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said failure to hold credible elections would cause “significant, lasting, widespread anger and disillusionment, which in turn could further destabilize the country at a time where strength and unity are desperately needed.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / IRAQ
TRT: 3:04
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 11 MAY 2021, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN flag outside headquarters

11 MAY 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI):
“These elections were a central demand of the protest movement; and yet, many of its members continue to be persecuted with rampant impunity. The assassination of prominent activist Ihab Jawad Al_Wazni just two days ago, by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Karbala, is yet another tragic example. Now the killers, the perpetrators, they many think they have silenced a voice. The truth is they have only amplified it. And our heart goes out to his loved ones and all of those who have lost friends and family in the struggle to have their voices heard.”
4. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI):
“The people of Iraq have spoken loudly and clearly as they demanded these elections, too many of them paying the ultimate price: now is not the time to let them down. The failure to hold credible elections would cause significant, lasting, widespread anger and disillusionment, which in turn could further destabilize the country at a time where strength and unity are desperately needed.”
6. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI):
“Cynical and callous armed entities continue to seek a destabilized country. And despite the government’s objective of bringing all arms under state control, we are witnessing the use of new capabilities by non-state actors, with potentially devastating effects.”
8. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI):
“The position of the UN remains unchanged: we fully understand and support the goal of the Iraqi authorities to end displacement. However, durable solutions must be in place to succeed in doing so. In other words: the focus must be on solving displacement rather than closing camps.”
10. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI):
“At this critical juncture, transparency and the rule of law must prevail. A trusted electoral process, with free and wide-ranging participation, can help steer the country towards the safe and prosperous future Iraqis deserve. The way to express one’s voice, to make one’s choice, is at the ballot box: this essential democratic exercise requires every voter, candidate, journalist and activist, all of them to play their part. Boycotting elections, and thus staying outside the electoral process, is risky business and comes potentially at high costs.”
12. Multiple screens, participants in virtual Security Council meeting

STORYLINE:

The head of the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said failure to hold credible elections would cause “significant, lasting, widespread anger and disillusionment, which in turn could further destabilize the country at a time where strength and unity are desperately needed.”

Speaking today (11 May) at a virtual meeting of the Security Council, Hennis-Plasschaert said the elections set to take place on 10 October were a “central demand of the protest movement; and yet, many of its members continue to be persecuted with rampant impunity.” She said the assassination of prominent activist Ihab Jawad Al_Wazni just two days ago, by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Karbala, “is yet another tragic example.” She added, “Now the killers, the perpetrators, they many think they have silenced a voice. The truth is they have only amplified it. And our heart goes out to his loved ones and all of those who have lost friends and family in the struggle to have their voices heard.”

Hennis-Plasschaert noted that all the necessary laws have been adopted and over a third of parliamentary candidates are women. She reiterated her called to all Iraqi stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and stressed that candidates, campaigners, the media and voters must be free to exercise their democratic rights before, during and after the election.

She said, “The people of Iraq have spoken loudly and clearly as they demanded these elections, too many of them paying the ultimate price: now is not the time to let them down. The failure to hold credible elections would cause significant, lasting, widespread anger and disillusionment, which in turn could further destabilize the country at a time where strength and unity are desperately needed.”

Hennis-Plasschaert said despite public statements expressing intent to ensure accountability and the establishment of investigative committees, there have been few prosecutions for the killing and serious injury to protestors. She added that progress was being made in combatting the remnants of ISIL, with international support, but terrorism continued to claim far too many innocent lives in the country.

She added, “Cynical and callous armed entities continue to seek a destabilized country. And despite the government’s objective of bringing all arms under state control, we are witnessing the use of new capabilities by non-state actors, with potentially devastating effects.”

The Special Representative said the Iraqi government was deeply committed to playing a constructive regional role rather than falling victim to external tensions. She underscored that Iraq has great potential to operate as an honest broker, promoting peace and stability in the region. However, she said this should go hand in hand with concrete actions focused on bringing all arms under state control.

Turning the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil, the UN Special Representative said, despite some intermittent successes in the form of one or two specific agreements, there is still a dire need of a long-term, constitutional way forward. She said parties continued to express their willingness to come to the table, but in the absence of institutionalized, regular, structured dialogue, sustainable progress would remain elusive.

Hennis-Plasschaert said over the past seven months, sixteen IDP camps have been closed or reclassified - affecting around 50,000 Iraqis. She said when camps are closed before return conditions are appropriate, Iraqis face dire consequences. She said, “The position of the UN remains unchanged: we fully understand and support the goal of the Iraqi authorities to end displacement. However, durable solutions must be in place to succeed in doing so. In other words: the focus must be on solving displacement rather than closing camps.”

Closing her remarks, the UNAMI chief emphasized once again the importance of credible elections. She said, “At this critical juncture, transparency and the rule of law must prevail. A trusted electoral process, with free and wide-ranging participation, can help steer the country towards the safe and prosperous future Iraqis deserve. The way to express one’s voice, to make one’s choice, is at the ballot box: this essential democratic exercise requires every voter, candidate, journalist and activist, all of them to play their part. Boycotting elections, and thus staying outside the electoral process, is risky business and comes potentially at high costs.”
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