Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks to meeting on the International Compact with Iraq

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York (USA), 16 March 2007

Vice-President Mahdi,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you all for attending this meeting and for your commitment to the International Compact with Iraq.

The preparatory process for the Compact has been under way in Baghdad since July 2006. This process, which included two high-level meetings in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, has brought together the Government of Iraq and the international community in an effort to develop a mechanism that would help Iraq to realize its national vision.

As you know, a small support group was established to support the preparatory process. But it has always been our intention – and that of the Government of Iraq – to expand the group in due course. Today's meeting offers an opportunity to bring the larger international community together to consider how best to support the people of Iraq under the Compact.

I am pleased that His Excellency, Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, Vice- President of Iraq, is here today to inform us about the latest developments in Iraq and, in particular, about the progress that has been made in the preparatory process for the Compact.

We are all aware of the difficult situation in Iraq. It is heart-wrenching to see almost daily attacks on innocent civilians, which have left immense suffering and pain in their wake. Beyond the political violence and sectarian strife, a humanitarian crisis is stretching the patience and ability of ordinary people to cope with everyday life. The United Nations is now strengthening its humanitarian efforts, and working with Iraq's neighbours and other countries in the region, to address the increasing needs of those who have left Iraq temporarily, those displaced inside the country and those suffering from diminishing access to basic public services.

Given these circumstances, some may question why a Compact would be necessary or appropriate. I understand these concerns. However, a framework for normalization is required now more than ever.

I am also aware of the view that there is a multitude of initiatives on Iraq which have yet to yield tangible results. Certainly, there is a need to streamline and consolidate these initiatives, and to concentrate on achievable goals. But unlike the other initiatives, the Compact focuses on Iraq's long-term economic development, while also stressing progress in the political and security fields, through a mutually re-enforcing relationship.

The Compact aims to achieve its objectives in two ways:

First, a “national compact” among Iraqis on the necessary security and political steps would be agreed upon. These steps are prerequisites for the normalization of the situation in Iraq and for the revitalization of the economy.

Second, an “international compact” between Iraq and its partners would set out the Government of Iraq's agenda for the next five years with regard to economic and social reform. This shared vision and mutual commitment would allow the international community to channel support in accordance with the priorities decided upon by Iraqis themselves.

The Compact should be seen as a tool for unlocking Iraq's own potential. It seeks to achieve concrete results in the areas of public sector resource management, institution building and human development, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It also emphasizes a more holistic approach to energy management. Toward that end, the Government's recent efforts to adopt new oil and gas legislation are encouraging. Indeed, a viable arrangement to share the nation's oil wealth and natural resources can also help build much-needed trust and confidence among Iraqi communities.

There has also been welcome progress in adopting other key legislative acts. But these may not achieve their full and positive impact unless the same consensus is also expressed in the Iraqi Constitution. This makes a genuine and meaningful constitutional review process all the more important.

Above all, it is essential that all Iraqi communities come together in a spirit of dialogue to find lasting solutions. As they do so, they should be able to count on the active support of Iraq's neighbours and the international community. The Compact is an important framework for fulfilling precisely those shared responsibilities towards Iraq and its people.

The United Nations is committed to supporting the implementation of the Compact. Through my good offices, and those of my Special Representative in Iraq, Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the United Nations will make every effort to ensure that the international community remains engaged in this process.

I have appointed Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, who is well known to you all, as my Special Advisor on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues, to succeed Mr. Mark Malloch Brown as Co-Chair of the Compact. He will be in active contact with all concerned to move this process forward and to ensure its success.

The challenges ahead are immense. I am sure you will all agree that we cannot leave Iraq on its own to cope with them. The International Compact is intended to help the Government to build a secure, unified, federal and democratic nation, founded on the principles of freedom and equality, capable of providing peace and prosperity for all its people.

A positive political progress and a reduction of violence are essential preconditions for the success of this initiative. I call on the parties to work towards this goal. And to maintain the momentum generated by this meeting itself, I encourage the Government of Iraq to agree on the date and venue for the launch of the International Compact.

Thank you again for attending this meeting. I am hopeful that, through our concerted efforts, we can help to build a country at peace with itself, with its neighbours, and with the wider international community.

Thank you.