STATEMENT BY AHMAD CHALABI,
HEAD OF THE IRAQI DELEGATION,
TO THE 58TH UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
2 OCTOBER, 2003
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In the name of God, the merciful and benevolent.
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I stand in front of you today representing the voice of the Iraqi citizen
who has long suffered from cruelty within and outside his homeland. Those
within his country have inflicted on him the worst kinds of torture: they
have attacked his honour, betrayed his family, humiliated him, enchained
him and thrown him into miserable wars. His brothers and friends in the
region not only maintained silence, ignorance and blindness toward his
catastrophe, they also criticised him and shamed him the day he dared
raise his voice. And throughout the world, those that stood to benefit
scrambled to trade and work with his torturer.
Very few spoke the truth and embraced it. Very few turned to the catastrophe
of this fellow human being and declared that he was a victim. To our calls
we heard nothing. So the Iraqi remained lost and persecuted twice over,
first from the injustice of the sword with which the dictatorial regime
attacked him at home, and then from the injustice of the criticism, a
more painful affliction, from those outside. But the Iraqi did not give
up, rather he was persistent and patient and he continued his struggle
with his thoughts, words and actions to achieve liberation, the. foremost
ideal that he has always yearned for.
I stand today before you expressing to you as much as possible the voice
of this Iraqi individual, declaring with him and for him the end of silence.
I ask you all to listen to him, one by one.
I come today to present you with four essential truths and to demonstrate
through these truths two fundamental rights.
The first truth that I begin with is that Iraq's long dark night has been
ended. The bitter experience of humiliation, pain and suffering that Iraqis
have endured for more than three decades has ended. It ended with Saddam
Hussein fleeing, along with his cronies and with the collapse of the symbols
that they had erected in Baghdad and throughout Iraq.
As for the second truth, it is that the liberation of Iraq, and what happened
is indeed liberation, could not have been achieved without the determination
of President George W. Bush and the commitment of the Coalition. At the
forefront are the United States of America and Great Britain. If today
we hear the voices of those in doubt of the intentions of the American
and British governments in undertaking this liberation, we invite them
to go and visit the mass graves, to visit the dried up marshes, to visit
the gassed city of Halabja, to examine the list of the missing whose very
right to live was taken away from them by the regime.
The third truth is that the liberation came as an embodiment of a universal
national Iraqi will. It came as a result of the vigorous efforts undertaken
by the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime during many long years,
when hundreds of thousands of martyrs were sacrificed. The martyr Ayatollah
Muhammad Bakr alHakim and his companions were not the last to be sacrificed,
may God's mercy be upon them. They added another page to the register
of Iraqi bravery on August 29th, the day of the Iraqi martyr. Nor was
the martyr Akila al-Hashemi, who would have been in this chamber today,
spared from death.
There is no doubt for us to confirm that removing Saddam's regime is the
culmination of a national Iraqi will that insisted on removing the nightmare
from the chest of the nation. And from here stems the fourth truth, that
the fall of the regime is only a beginning for the birth of a new Iraq.
This birth that so many faithful Iraqis have prepared for, both in Iraq
and abroad, is now ready.
Today, in Iraq we are facing a unique experience. What will prove our
success is the will for good, for development and for freedom to spread
and flourish. I stand here today to confirm that we in Iraq will not accept
anything but success. Iraqis are capable of success and want success.
We will not allow a gang limited to mercenaries and terrorists to deprive
a person, a society and a nation from a bright tomorrow.
The land of the two rivers, the cradle of civilisation in Sumer, Akkad,
Babylon and Assyria, the land of peace, the land of the Caliphate and
the house of wisdom, the home of Hammurabi's code and the depository of
continuous knowledge, literature, poetry and intellectual achievement
depends first and foremost on its human resources before its natural and
oil resources. Based on this human wealth, Iraq can achieve a renaissance
transporting it from the grips of totalitarianism and fear to stability,
prosperity and forgiveness. What the international community puts into
Iraq will be returned in multiples. Put your confidence in Iraq, take
from it stability and prosperity and you will see it spread to the region
and the entire world.
The Iraq that we want is the Iraq of the brilliant individual. More than
sixty percent of Iraq's population is below the age of 20. Our first priority
in preparing them for the 21st century is to give them cultural and educational
values that will allow each one of them to bring out his dignity and self-respect.
In the previous period, in Iraq as in other nations that suffered from
the worst ideologies of the twentieth century, the individual was suppressed
by the masses, the masses by the revolution, the revolution by the party,
and the party by the leader. The result is that the human being is subsumed
under continuous layers of oppression that obliterate his individualities,
making him an object for consumption in defense of the nation and the
economy in the name of the revolution or to be sacrificed for the leader.
Today we confirm that the concerns of Iraqis are no different from those
of all others in the world. Tomorrow's Iraq must embark by acknowledging
the individual citizen as the basis of sovereignty and the starting point
for legislation. The rights of the individual person are basic rights,
and the rights of the group only derive from this.
Iraqis like others insist on their rights for Dignity, Freedom, Justice
and Peace. Asserting these rights is the foundation for tomorrow's Iraq.
The dignity of a human being in Iraq will be protected without exception,
without consideration for social status, political position and economic
situation. We will not give away the dignity of an accused even if convicted
guilty. We begin with dignity because the previous regime worked to convince
the Iraqi that his dignity is an endowment from the ruler. We confirm
today that the dignity of the nation stems from the dignity of each citizen
As with dignity, so too freedom. Freedom is not a gift from the ruler
and the state. It is a principle, a basis and the essence of a human being.
Responsible freedom that does not impinge upon the freedom of others is
the core of the social contract. Despite the excesses that outsiders and
infiltrators have inflicted, with the fall of the repressive regime, Iraqis
have proven to themselves that freedom is not chaos.
As is the individual's instinct for freedom, so is his demand for justice.
Justice will be a basic tenet that ensures the neutrality and independences
of the judiciary. The previous regime took away justice, making the apparatuses
of the state means of repression and control.
Last but not least, and after wretched wars that took people's lives and
destroyed nations and created catastrophes in their wake, the new Iraq
will abide with a new defensive policy whose pillar is peace. Iraq will
be an activist for peace for the region and the world.
We have mentioned as the first of these fundamental principles, Dignity,
Freedom, Justice and Peace because they represent the basis for a political
future. The new Iraq will certainly uphold all human rights, starting
with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including of course the
right of man to life, property and the pursuit of happiness.
We take responsibility that Iraq in its legislation and laws will be equally
just to its entire people. No person is above the law; indeed there will
be no distinction on the basis of religion, sect, race, language, ethnicity,
gender, class or tribe. The previous regime has dug deep into these divisions.
As for the new Iraq, it will rely on justice and fairness.
The Iraqi woman is capable of achievement, excellence and generosity of
spirit. She can take on all responsibilities in the nation. It is the
duty of the society and the state to remove additional burdens blocking
The constant dialogue required between the Iraqi citizen and the state
that represents him and serves him will be on the basis of an honest,
democratic and representational system. This system stands on the principle
of separation of powers and upholds elections as the as the ultimate arbiter.
We are not concerned simply with democratic appearances, but more so the
safety of the political system as the embodiment of the democratic spirit.
The pillars of this system are first, a separation of powers, by writing
a constitutional framework that ensures non-interference between the judicial,
legislative, executive powers. This forms a sound basis for each to oversee
the other. Second, ensuring accountability, starting with the above mentioned
supervision and going through elections that form the main entry of the
individual in participation in politics and finally arriving at empowering
civil society through the free press, unions and independent institutions.
These will take the role of monitor, critic and pursuer of political power
in its many faces. The third pillar is to uphold transparency as a fundamental
principle stemming from the fact that the source of sovereignty is the
citizen. The state is there to serve him and it is answerable to him.
It is his right to inquire about its affairs and it is not within the
right of the state to withhold such information. Fourth is to respect
the rights of the minority in relation to the majority. Here it is important
to distinguish between a political majority and minority and a factional
majority and minority. Political majorities and minorities are those that
are exposed through the ballot box, not through population census and
not through a random correlation between them. It is not in anyone's authority
to demand a political right on the basis of a presumed factional majority.
We do not want a political, sectarian or national allocation in Iraq.
A representative, federal political system can best express the interests
of all Iraqi citizens regardless of their religion, creed, ethnicity or
If the previous period was characterised by limiting all powers to an
abusive few in Baghdad then tomorrow's Iraq will stand on the principle
of local authority in the context of a federal union. Federalism in the
way that Iraqis understand it now is not dividing the homeland; rather
it is a means of empowerment and rehabilitation of those living in different
regions to take responsibility of their affairs in their regions without
constant interference from the central government. We rely on the federal
system, like the democratic system, because of our clear understanding
of the relationship between a state and its citizens. This relationship
is not one of guardianship because the Iraqi citizen is not a minor and
is therefore not in need of the state's interference in all his affairs.
Our concern is that this relationship be one of care where the state is
the vigilant servant of the safety of the citizen, and a relationship
of nurture in some areas, especially for the youth in providing social,
education and health services.
Complementing our belief in federalism, and in contrast to the nationalist
excesses of the previous regime, we declare to you all that Iraq is one
nation, permanent and whole. There is nothing in this declaration that
reduces the continuity of Iraqis with Arabs and Muslims. This does not
contradict the sentiment that many Iraqis inside have about their own
culture and identity. It confirms rather, that Iraq in all its territory,
from its mountains in the far north to its marshes and gulf in the extreme
south, passing through its rivers, meadows and deserts is a lasting unit
unable to divide. When we declare this, we not only express the opinion
of most Iraqis, we consider it a principal belief.
We seek to strengthen the rule of law and institutions of governance.
That is, that authority extending from the citizen is emanated not usurped
through a political office. This position is upheld because of a legal
basis, not because of the whims and opinions of the person holding the
position. The previous regime issued many arbitrary rules and regulations
based on the disposition of one man. The alternative in tomorrow's Iraq
is the application of the rule of law through sanctioned legislative authority
that embodies the will of the Iraqi people through an independent judicial
authority and under supervision of an independent legal body.
Last but not least, we will address the relationship between religion
and state in the new Iraq. Islam is the religion of the majority in Iraq;
it etches out the Iraqi identity as well as the state and the nature of
In any case, the great civilisational heritage and valuable cultural depository
of Islamic jurisprudence is no doubt one of the assets of Iraq. We will
benefit from it through a judiciary that is based on equality and pluralism.
It is important for us to point out to a truth often overlooked. That
the state in the previous century has used religion and taken out of it
what suited the wishes of those usurping power. It negated the independence
of institutions and religious centers, taking over the awgaf and imposing
a religious terminology suitable to its interests at the expense of others.
Religion in Iraq is one of the most important assets of the individual
and of society, and we will not abandon it, neither in its juridical,
intellectual or daily implications.
These are the main points of what we want for our country. Our right today
from the world is to demand help and assistance, thanking all those that
stood by Iraqis at their worst hour and forgiving those that did not stand
It is important for all the nations of the world to acknowledge that what
happened in Iraq yesterday in terms of horrors, and what is happening
today in terms of reconstruction, presents a dramatic historic event.
The international community must stand with Iraq in this.
This is what we want of ourselves and what we want from you on the road
to a free, just and peaceful Iraq.
We want an Iraq to recognise that unity and plurality are two faces of
the same truth.
We want an Iraq that returns sovereignty to the individual, citizen, human
being, not to the leader.
We want an Iraq imbedded in its cultural and religious identity, but in
dialogue, without compunction with the global heritage.
We want an Iraq in continuity with its past, but looking forward towards
We want an Iraq that lives in peace with itself, its neighbours and the
May peace be upon you.
I stand before this Assembly as a representative of free Iraq. To all
those here who helped us in our struggle for liberation we extend our
gratitude. Our liberation would not have been achieved without the determination
of President, George W. Bush and the commitment of the Coalition, at the
forefront of which stand the people of the United States of America and
Great Britain. The Iraqis will never forget your courage and sacrifice
on our behalf.
To those who stood with the dictator and who continue to question the
intentions of the American and British governments in undertaking this
liberation, we invite you to come and visit the mass graves where half
a million of our citizens lie, come and visit the dried up marshes, come
and visit Halabja where chemicals were dropped on civilians, come and
examine the lists of the disappeared whose right to live was taken away
from them by Saddam Hussein. And we the Iraqi people will ask you why
you chose to remain silent.
We are here today to declare that a new Iraq is born. An Iraq where dignity,
justice and human rights are assured for all citizens. An Iraq at peace
with its people, its neighbours and the world. An Iraq that stands ready
to regain its rightful place in the international community of free and