Despite a year-long security crisis and amidst ongoing humanitarian concerns in Iraq, there was now cause for “paranoid optimism” in the Middle Eastern country, Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council today.
In his final address to the 15-member body as Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Mr. Mladenov said that while the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued to commit grave crimes against men, women and children, the country’s political, community and religious leaders had “coalesced to save their country from terror”.
“Today, more than ever, there is a growing understanding that the country can only move forward based on the principles of democracy, rule of law, respect for diversity and inclusivity,” he said, presenting the second report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 2169 (2014) and the fifth report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 4 of resolution 2017 (2013) on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property. Iraq’s most pressing goal remained to win back territory taken by ISIL, he said, encouraging the Government to rapidly empower the thousands of local fighters who had signed up to fight the group. However, despite such positive steps, Iraq’s movement towards peace remained “fraught with risks”. Armed conflict and acts of terrorism had killed at least 12,000 civilians in 2014 alone and injured more than 23,000. The safety and security of civilians residing in ISIL-controlled areas remained of grave concern, most notably in the west. Equally worrying were the reports of revenge attacks, particularly against members of the Sunni community in areas liberated from ISIL control.
The country faced a number of other challenges, including tight financial constraints due to falling oil revenue. Sixty per cent of humanitarian operations in Iraq were likely to shut down or be curtailed unless funding was received in the coming weeks. The Government should move swiftly on the full implementation of the Ministerial Programme and the Political Agreement. Those initiatives held the key to Iraq’s forward progress, and the Government needed to act decisively to rebuild the national Armed Forces. Finally, he said, with Iraq-Kuwait relations on the ascent, the results of the fourth Joint Ministerial Committee meeting — which had addressed, among other issues, missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property — had been encouraging.
Elaborating on that issue, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, representative of Iraq, said his Government was taking strong measures towards a resolution of the matter. Emphasizing that his country valued the cooperation of Kuwait and other neighbouring States in areas that included combatting terrorism, he stressed that ISIL still controlled large swathes of territories in the west and north. The terrorist group had continued to cause civilian casualties, trigger massive displacements and commit systematic human rights violations that amounted to heinous crimes against humanity. ISIL must be held accountable, and he looked forward to bolstered counter-terrorism efforts among regional partners to enhance security and better control borders.
Yet more assistance was required to overcome ISIL, he implored, noting that Iraq needed additional aid to address the humanitarian crisis caused by that group. Thanking the Council for adopting resolution 2199 (2015) to choke financial support for terrorist groups, he underlined that 2015 was a fundamental year for the Iraqi Government to liberate all areas under control of ISIL.
Providing an overview of the Government’s efforts on a range of issues, including combatting terrorism and national security, he said that steps had been taken to boost internal political stability. The Assembly had approved a budget, which was a reflection of collective agreement on its responsibility, including promoting reconciliation. Other measures covered areas such as judicial reform, foreign investment for reconstruction, economic development and reaching an agreement between the central Government and the Kurdistan region.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.