The Government led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi continued efforts to fulfil its reform agenda even as the scope and complexity of Iraq’s security, political, social, budgetary and humanitarian challenges increased, Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), told the Security Council this morning.
Introducing the first report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 7 of resolution 2233 (2015) (document S/2015/819), Mr. Kubiš said that despite hopes the Prime Minister would be able to move national reconciliation forward and bring the broader Sunni community into the political process, his efforts had been obstructed by elements within all Iraqi sectors. “Yet, the majority of Iraqis believe that Prime Minister al-Abadi remains their best hope for a better, united, less sectarian and prosperous Iraq, and they support him,” he said.
In the wake of the steep drop in global oil prices, Iraq’s fiscal crisis and growing budget deficit highlighted the need for urgent economic reform, he said, urging the Government and its foreign partners, including international and regional financial institutions, to undertake urgent measures to address the pressing economic and budgetary challenges.
He said UNAMI had continued efforts to promote inclusive national reconciliation among leaders of all Iraqi political groups, civil society and local communities, as well as of neighbouring countries. There was a vital need to show political will, ownership and a commitment to historic compromise and national reconciliation and to capitalize on signals from some Sunni leaders and groups outside the political process that they were ready to join it. Progress on the Syrian issue towards a political solution would also have a critical positive impact on national reconciliation, he added.
The stabilization of Tikrit had been a success, he said, as nearly its entire displaced population, some 155,000 people had returned home. Four governorates — Anbar, Diyala, Salah al-Din and Ninewa — had asked for additional assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Funding Facility. In areas reclaimed from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Government must continue to ensure that good governance and the rule of law were restored as quickly as possible.
He said the Kurdistan region had long been a source of stability and development, but that stability was threatened by deep disagreements between the major political parties. He had encouraged interlocutors to swiftly reach a compromise solution. It was imperative that differences over the December 2014 oil and revenue-sharing agreement be quickly resolved. The current impasse hurt the relationship between the central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, critical to Iraq’s stability and unity and the fight against ISIL.
“ISIL has been successfully pushed back,” he said. The pro-Government forces, including Popular Mobilization Forces and tribal volunteers, had proved that they could conduct military operations in several areas simultaneously. The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL had become more effective in supporting the Iraqi Security Forces and the Peshmerga. In addition, the Government had recently begun to cooperate with the Russian Federation, Iran and Syria in intelligence sharing through a cell in Baghdad. “Yet, ISIL continues to possess the funding and military capacities to prolong its reign of terror over large swathes of Iraq,” he said. The reported use of chemical weapons by ISIL against the Peshmerga was currently under investigation.
He said that the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, during his visit to Iraq last week, had made a strong plea for strengthened mechanisms for the protection of minorities, stressing the need for accountability of crime perpetrators. Moreover, the humanitarian situation in the country remained of the gravest concern. With limited funding, the United Nations humanitarian community had had to cut and reorganize its programmes. Since the vast majority of internally displaced persons wanted to stay in Iraq, the best way to encourage that was to provide humanitarian support at the point of origin.
Introducing the eighth report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 4 of resolution 2107 (2013) (document S/2015/826) on the issue of missing Kuwait and third-country nationals, and property — including the national archives — Mr. Kubiš said that good relations, a positive atmosphere and closer cooperation were prevalent in the relationship between Iraq and Kuwait, as illustrated by the fact the payment of the remaining $4.6 billion in reparations owed to the Government of Kuwait had been extended until 1 January 2017. The Government of Iraq was nonetheless expected to demonstrate complete commitment to that international obligation and to move the file forward. Steps taken so far, and results to date, were insufficient.
Touching upon the issue of Camp Hurriya and the need to alleviate Iraq of that burden, he said that on 30 October, the camp had again been the target of a rocket attack killing 24 residents. Noting that speedy relocation of residents to third countries was the only solution, he strongly urged all countries to work with the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser and consider hosting those residents in their territories. Drawing attention to the fact that a United Nations national staff member had been taken hostage earlier in the year, he urged Iraqi authorities to redouble efforts to secure his release. For six months now, he said, there had not been any credible information about the colleague, nor a positive solution to the case.
In conclusion he said that the new mandate given UNAMI in July provided it the needed flexibility to respond to the evolving challenges in Iraq and enabled the Mission, together with the United Nations country team, to prioritize its activities. “With the continued support of the Council, we will continue working hand-in-hand with the Government of Iraq, political forces and civil society to achieve results in all critical areas while increasingly mobilizing regional as well as international support and cooperation,” he said.
Following the briefing, Mohamed Ali Alhakim (Iraq) said the main problem confronting the country was a complex mix of humanitarian, security and other challenges. More than 3 million people from all Iraqi communities had been internally displaced due to ISIL control. The Government was working to protect them and create conditions for their safe return. Thanking all States and organizations participating in the international coalition, as well as the Iraqi security forces and the Council, he urged expanding support in the fight against terrorism.
In addition, he called on regional States to curtail terrorist attacks. Indeed, defeating terrorism would only be achieved with concerted efforts by all concerned. In that context, he paid tribute to Peshmerga forces and tribal volunteers who were working under a single leadership that had liberated cities including Kirkuk and had laid siege to others, such as Ramadi, paving the way for that city’s liberation from ISIL.
Finally, he thanked Kuwait for postponing until 2017 reparation payments, underscoring that Iraq was using state-of-the-art technology to speed the search for missing Kuwaiti citizens and making concerted efforts to update border maps between the two countries. “We are committed to provide protection to the dwellers of Hurriya camp,” he added, notably by implementing strict security measures and investigating the most recent missile attack.
The meeting started at 10:03 a.m. and adjourned at 10:22 a.m.