Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's Remarks to the Press

Baghdad, Iraq, 30 March 2015

As-salam Alaikum. Good afternoon.

Shukran Jazilan, I want to thank Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for his welcome and for his leadership.  It is a great pleasure for me to be back in Iraq once again. 

We have just concluded a very productive meeting, which was preceded by fruitful discussions with President Fuad Masum and Speaker Saleem al-Jabouri.

Later today, I will speak by phone with President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

I am here to underscore the United Nations’ continuing and full support for advancing peace, development and human rights in Iraq.

I am also very pleased to be here so soon after the arrival of my new Special Representative, Mr.Ján Kubiš. I am confident that the Government and people of Iraq will support Mr. Kubiš and work very closely with him.

I recognize and appreciate the commitment of Iraqi leadership to maintaining the momentum for national reconciliation and unity.  I am encouraged by the Government’s submission of key draft legislation to Parliament since my last visit in August. 

However, I remain extremely concerned about the security crisis in Iraq and its impact on civilians. 

During my meetings today, we reviewed the progress of ongoing military operations to liberate areas under the control of Daesh, including most recently around Tikrit.  I hope that additional areas, and the rest of the region, will soon be freed from the ongoing threat of Daesh.

People have suffered unconscionable levels of casualties as a result of this new wave of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence.  Over 2.5 million people have been displaced. Minority communities, women and children remain particularly affected.

Iraq’s cultural treasures have not been spared.  I strongly condemn the destruction of archaeological sites in Hatra, Nimrud and elsewhere – and express my support for UNESCO efforts to safeguard cultural sites at imminent risk.  We must unite to protect humanity’s shared heritage.

Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and gentlemen,

I know the Government of Iraq, as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government have worked tirelessly to scale-up emergency relief efforts for those affected by the violence.

But vast challenges remain and the threat of additional and secondary displacement during ongoing military operations may overwhelm local and international capacities.

Additional resources are urgently needed to save lives.

I call on the Government of Iraq and the international community to enhance support to Iraq’s displaced and to help alleviate the suffering of all the Iraqi people.

I urge the Government to do all it can to ensure the protection of civilians and their access to humanitarian assistance.

I am also concerned by allegations of summary killings, abductions and destruction of property perpetrated by forces and militias fighting alongside Iraqi armed forces.

Civilians freed from the brutality of Daesh should not have to then fear their liberators.  One form of violence cannot replace another.

I encourage the Government of Iraq to do all it can to ensure the restoration of the rule of law and governance in areas liberated from Daesh as well as to bring volunteer armed groups fighting in support of the Government under Government control.

Alleged violations or abuses of human rights must be investigated and perpetrators need to be held to account.

I further call on the Government of Iraq, alongside its national partners and the international community, to create the conditions for stabilisation and reconstruction of Iraq.

We have also had the chance today to discuss the need for Baghdad and Erbil to uphold their December agreement on oil and revenue-sharing and ensure that the work of the joint committees continues.

This partnership is crucial to addressing Iraq’s security and financial crises. It is essential that disagreements over pending issues be resolved within the framework of the Constitution.

Finally, we discussed Iraq’s relations with Kuwait.  From here, I will go to Kuwait to take part in a pledging conference in support of Syrian refugees and neighbouring host countries.  I want to commend the government and people of Iraq for providing sanctuary and support to so many Syrians fleeing the fighting. 

I also commend the governments of both Iraq and Kuwait for continuously and proactively working to strengthen bilateral ties. I will reinforce that message in Kuwait.

Progress on the missing Kuwaiti persons and national archives is still required. I also commend the enhancement of relations between Iraq and other countries in the region.

We will continue to do all we can to assist the people and Government of Iraq to end this crisis so that they may focus their energy and resources on building a more peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous future for all Iraqis.

Mr. Prime Minister, once again, I am honoured to be here to express my full solidarity and support for the people and the government of Iraq, and I highly command and appreciate your leadership in promoting unity and solidarity and inclusive dialogue which goes to all the people of the society and I express my strong hope that you will continue to enjoy prosperity, development and stability of your country.

Thank you. Shukran Jazeelan.


Off-the-Cuff on 30 March 2015