The situation in Iraq- Security Council, 8842nd Meeting

Preview Language:   Six Official
25-Aug-2021 02:03:55
With elections nearing in Iraq, transparency, accountability key to gaining public trust, assistance mission chief tells Security Council amid calls for reforms.

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Permanent Representative Pledges Voting Process Will Be Free, Fair, as Bagdad Works to Fulfil Promises

With “the clock ticking” on all-important elections in Iraq scheduled for 10 October, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country stressed the importance of a free, inclusive and safe process as she briefed the Security Council today.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who is also and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), cited both progress and challenges at every level. She noted advances in candidate lists, ballot‑printing and other election elements, with preparations for United Nations monitoring proceeding apace as the team is mostly deployed to Baghdad. Meanwhile, the Independent High Electoral Commission is applying lessons learned, improving electoral mechanics — including an independent technology audit, new voter‑verification devices and real-time election results.

However, successful elections are not the sole responsibility of the Electoral Commission and she reminded that all involved must commit to a transparent and credible process — “in words and in deeds”. With UNAMI stepping up its strategic communication efforts to inform Iraqi voters, she emphasized the need for truth and accuracy. She called for all stakeholders to stick to facts and responsibilities, refraining from using the United Nations as a scapegoat, and for media outlets to provide accurate, reliable and timely information. Despite understandable long-standing and widespread suspicions about the process, she stressed that participation by the Iraqi people is paramount. “By not voting, you place yourself outside the electoral process, gifting your silence to those you may disagree with,” she stressed.

With the country in desperate need of deep structural reforms, she urged authorities and political actors not to let the Iraqi people down — halting intimidation, abductions and assassinations. “Understand that accountability is key to restoring public trust,” she stressed. On the issue of missing Kuwaiti, third-country nationals and Kuwaiti property, she noted that Kuwait conclusively identified the remains of a further 10 individuals from its list of those missing since 1991. With a total of 30 cases of missing persons formally closed since November 2020, she expressed hope that “this important step will bring some closure to the families”.

In the ensuing debate, all Council delegates echoed and emphasized the definitive importance of the elections for a safe and prosperous future Iraq.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines hailed a “flagship moment” for people to exercise their rights. Kenya’s delegate stressed that the process must be safeguarded from intimidation, warning that political activists must not be targeted and that perpetrators must be held to account. On that point, the United States representative pressed authorities to “take all measures” to protect the election monitoring team. The representative of India, Council President for August, said in his national capacity that a free and credible election conducted in a safe environment with high voter turnout will empower the new Government to implement reforms and meet its people’s aspirations.

However, speakers recalled that Iraq remains an unstable country facing threats from terrorism, including the bombing of a Baghdad market on 19 July. The Russian Federation’s delegate, citing a host of problems accrued over years, said “it is simply impossible to solve them all overnight”. She called for broad coordination of counter‑terrorism efforts, respecting the sovereignty of the country as “Iraq should not become an arena for score-settling”. Norway’s representative expressed concern about Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), but nonetheless welcomed signs of judicial progress, including passage of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law. Ireland’s delegate welcomed Iraq's recently launched five-year human rights plan, but expressed concern that civil rights are actually shrinking and that accountability remains limited. Meanwhile, Tunisia’s delegate pointed to the issue of internal displacement, with 1.2 million people still living in camps, urging Iraq’s authorities to ensure their return to places of origin.

The representative of Iraq affirmed that the Government is working to fulfil promises to its people — with an early, free and fair election process, as well as tackling the manifold tremendous challenges of combating terror and COVID-19 and instituting economic reforms. An investigative team is addressing human rights violations, and authorities are working to establish the rule of law and bring weapons under State control.

He thanked the Council for its solidarity in condemning the cowardly 19 July attack in Baghdad and called on all actors to respect State sovereignty. Turning to Kuwait, he cited a disbursement of $600 million in compensation on 27 July and welcomed reports on identified missing persons, with the remains of 28 of 69 handed over since August 2019.

Also speaking were the representatives of Niger, Mexico, Viet Nam, France, Estonia, United Kingdom and China.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:41 a.m.
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