Institutional, Legislative Reforms Key To Preserving Iraq’S Unity, Special Representative Tells Security Council

The humanitarian situation was of the gravest concern in a situation where at least 8.2 million people, roughly one in four Iraqis, needed urgent assistance

While Iraq was living through one of the most difficult phases in its modern history since last summer’s onslaught by terrorists, there were also hope, opportunity and vision for the way out of the crisis, the senior United Nations representative in that country told the Security Council today.

The political process was moving forward, but without the needed vigour, Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said, briefing the 15-member body on the Secretary-General’s reports on the Mission and on Iraq’s compliance regarding the repatriation or return of Kuwaiti missing persons or property. Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, also addressed the meeting.

There were signs of growing understanding in Iraq that the time had come for comprehensive political accords, Mr. Kubiš said, adding that compromises were urgently needed to accelerate the implementation of the National Political Agreement and Ministerial Programme. Institutional and legislative reforms remained key to preserving Iraq’s unity, encouraging political reconciliation and defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS). “Regrettably, the absence of consensus has halted the reform process.”

One year after the fall of Mosul, a third of Iraq remained under the control and governance of ISIL, he said. Iraqi military offensives had yet to significantly change the situation on the ground. While Tikrit was liberated in March, Ramadi fell in May. The Government’s ongoing offensive in Anbar aimed to reverse that setback.

The human cost of the conflict remained too high, Mr. Kubiš said, adding that UNAMI had recorded a minimum of 1,200 civilians killed and more than 2,000 wounded as a result of armed conflict or terror attacks during the reporting period. The humanitarian situation was of the gravest concern in a situation where at least 8.2 million people, roughly one in four Iraqis, needed urgent assistance. To restore trust and to rebuild unity between the various communities that formed Iraq, it was necessary to ensure justice and accountability for violations and abuses and to eliminate discrimination and marginalization.

Turning to Iraq-Kuwait relations, Mr. Kubiš said there was much goodwill between the two sides, which could only increase if tangible results were achieved on the issue of missing Kuwaiti persons and property.

From the lessons learned from the implementation of the UNAMI mandate and through a consultative process, the Secretary-General had spelled out his recommendations regarding the future of the Mission. The Council’s decision on the mandate would provide a clear guidance and establish a re-focused political framework for the United Nations, he said. “At this critical juncture, the Government of Iraq, its leadership, and most of all, Iraqis themselves need the continued and massive international support and assistance.”

Mr. Alhakim said his Government attached great importance to the work of UNAMI, and therefore, submitted to the Secretary-General a letter requesting the extension of the Mission’s mandate until 31 July 2016. Expressing hope that UNAMI would continue to provide aid and advice to Iraq, particularly on the issue of internally displaced persons, he also underscored the need to tackle terrorism. Any procrastination would allow terrorists to expand their forces into other regions, and international cooperation was vital to implement a number of United Nations resolutions condemning Da’esh and a call to cut off its oil funding and other activities. Welcoming the adoption of the European Council Convention on combating terrorism earlier this year, he said Iraq was putting in place measures for the return of internally displaced persons fleeing the scourge of terrorism. On human rights, Iraq had adopted a strategy to promote women to decision-making positions. It had established, within the Ministry of Human Rights, a mechanism monitoring violations of women’s human rights and following up on women’s advancement.

Noting that terrorist groups were targeting civilians and recruiting children, he said Iraq was seeking to address the underlying causes and had put in place a penal code against those recruiters. Turning to its ties with Kuwait, he said that the two neighbouring countries had at its fourth joint ministerial meeting signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in such areas as security, maritime affairs and trade. Iraq set up units within the Ministry of Human Rights to resolve the issue of missing Kuwaiti nationals and property. The technical support of UNAMI in that area was also welcome. On the mutually destabilizing impacts of the situations in Syria and Iraq, he said it was crucial to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, as armed groups did not respect borders. He also welcomed the 14 July agreement in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear programme.

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