Security Council Presidential Statement Welcomes Accord on Iraq’s New Electoral Law, Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Baghdad

16 November 2009

Security Council Presidential Statement Welcomes Accord on Iraq’s New Electoral Law, Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Baghdad

16 November 2009
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6218th & 6219th Meetings (AM & PM)

Security Council Presidential Statement Welcomes Accord on Iraq’s New

Electoral Law, Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Baghdad

Top United Nations Official Underlines Importance

Of Continued International Support for Building Secure, Democratic Society

Expressing its strong endorsement of continuing assistance by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in preparations for upcoming elections, the Security Council this morning welcomed the parliamentary agreement which would allow the polls to take place in January 2010.

In a statement read out by Tomas Mayr-Harting ( Austria), its President for November, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Baghdad on 19 August and 25 October 2009.  The 15-member body also endorsed the Secretary-General’s appeal to all Iraqi political blocs and their leaders to demonstrate true statesmanship during the election campaign and participate in a spirit of national unity.

The Council encouraged the Secretary-General to continue consultations on Iraq’s security and sovereignty, including the possibility of facilitating technical assistance through the United Nations Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).

Briefing the Council on the situation concerning Iraq in an earlier meeting, Ad Melkert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNAMI, underscored the crucial importance of continued international support for the Iraqi people, who were highly determined to build a secure democratic future as they entered a critical election period.

“Whilst still frequently the face of daily life shows the ugly sides of death and threat, the soul of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis vibrates in reaching towards the prospect of a safe and fair society,” Mr. Melkert said in introducing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report (document S/2009/585) on the situation concerning Iraq.

“This must motivate the United Nations to mobilize all possible support for their progress, for Iraqis are receptive and eager to incorporate the values of the UN Charter in the building of a new State and a new society,” he said, outlining the accomplishments made during the first term of Iraq’s Parliament and expectations for the next one, to be installed after the January elections.

Iraqis must be able to continue counting on the Council to enable UNAMI to meet expectations over the long-term, he said.  In that context, the Council’s willingness to stand up to the horrendous attacks directed at the heart of Government on 19 August and 25 October, which foreshadowed threats for the election, was a very welcome signal.  However, further uphill tasks would include improving neighbourhood relations and solidifying the State framework so as to reduce tensions and disputes.

Most importantly, he emphasized, the coming period should lay the foundation for Iraq’s return to the league of middle-income countries in conjunction with a jump in social development, which was within reach if business initiative thrived and oil revenues were spent wisely.  The coming period would require UNAMI to shift gears under a more “strategically development-focused direction” that would prioritize political advice and facilitation, he said, requesting the Council’s continued support for that transition, taking into account expectations and ambitions to increase the United Nations presence in different parts of Iraq, conditions permitting.

Describing UNAMI’s assistance with preparations for the January elections for the Council of Representative, he recalled that, while the passage of the electoral law had been beset by complex negotiations, the debate had also provided a clear example of the political leadership’s capacity to embrace sovereignty and define the process of people’s representation.  However, the late finalization of the electoral law had presented UNAMI with the “Herculean task” of ensuring that basic standards were met, while the law’s reference to a possible review of voter registration in Kirkuk and other governorates might entail an equally large effort.

Much work had already been done, with more than 1.5 million Iraqis having visited 1,082 voter registration centres to confirm their data or enrol, and 18 million voter information cards having been distributed nationwide, he said.  Soon after election day, it would be time to address the internal boundaries of the federal State as well as revenue-sharing, service delivery and security arrangements.  The protracted discussion on arrangements for the Kirkuk Governorate, in the framework of the election law, had been a reminder of an unfinished agenda in that regard.  The High-level Task force had engaged in a number of confidence-building measures aimed at bridging core issues, and agreement might be reached on expediting property claims, as well as on improving detention procedures and the education of all Iraqis in their respective mother tongues.

He said joint efforts by the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga force on collective security arrangements in relevant conflict areas could potentially underpin future political arrangements for disputed boundaries.  Prime Minister Barham Saleh had given assurances that the new regional government was determined to strengthen the basis for stability, economic growth and social progress.  Political leaders were starting to recognize the inextricable linkage between addressing complex political issues and promoting an improved investment climate.

There was also a need to clarify the legal basis and financial impact of oil extraction, he said, explaining that the continued lack of clarity in contract arrangements and revenue-sharing mechanisms would have a detrimental effect on the credibility of the State vis-à-vis citizens who should benefit from sources of immense richness and not remain at the doorstep of inconceivable poverty.  As for economic growth and social progress, the Government had put considerable effort into the formulation of a National Development Plan, supported extensively by different parts of the United Nations family.  The United Nations Country Team had agreed on the first Common Country Assessment for Iraq, focusing on governance, inclusive economic growth and ensuring quality essential services.

He recalled that on 7 November, international partners had taken stock of the achievements made under the Compact with Iraq, which over the past three years had been an essential instrument in intensifying and solidifying the country’s relations with the rest of the world.  In addition, the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) had met on 8 November, and a lessons-learned exercise between the United Nations and the World Bank would take place during the first half of 2010.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had called for an extensive foreign direct investment (FDI) programme, and it would be important in that regard for the new Government to provide a solid legal framework for doing business, he said.  Some 7 million people, or 23 per cent of the population, lived below the poverty line and scores of young people were unemployed.  Food insecurity, rising food prices and drought remained a reality for many.

The United Nations had embarked on a number of activities aimed at strengthening governance and the rule of law, he said.  The first Iraqi National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which was being prepared, would identify key areas such as the financing of political parties and elections as well as a civil service code of conduct.

Promoting Iraq’s cooperation with and reintegration into the wider region was part of UNAMI’s mandate, he said, describing the task of normalizing regional relations as a priority, not least with regard to Kuwait and an exit from Chapter VII provisions, which Iraq strongly desired.  The Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Maintenance Project had completed its planning for field maintenance, and the Mission continued to work on promoting and supporting opportunities with other neighbouring countries.  Following a series of meetings involving the Governments of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, the flow of water into Iraq had increased.  However, some bilateral diplomatic relations were severely constrained.

On the promotion of human rights, he said that, given the “somewhat decreasing trend of attacks” by militias, insurgents and criminal groups, it was important to enforce the rule of law and eliminate impunity across the board and increase efforts to bring perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice.  The position of women remained a matter of particular concern, he emphasized, noting that the number of suicides was symptomatic of fundamental issues of equal rights and opportunities.

He went on to say that the relentless attacks on men and women serving as police officers was severely undercutting the State’s capacity to impose law and order, and the situation of detainees and prisoners must also be addressed, in terms of both process and the physical conditions under which they were held.

Also briefing the Council, the representative of Iraq affirmed that the adoption of the electoral law proved that Iraqis could now reach consensus on complex issues.  It initiated a new phase of responsible competition and collective work in the country, moving it away from narrow loyalties and allowing the establishment of a pluralistic federal system that respected rights and strengthened national unity.

He said the open-list election system under the new electoral law and the country’s division into multiple electoral districts represented important steps forward.  The conclusion of a final formula for special parliamentary elections in Kirkuk reflected the determination of political parties to rely on the constitution and mutual understanding rather than coercion in addressing that issue.

Regarding the security situation, he said the Government had requested that the Secretary-General nominate a high-level official to asses the 19 August and 25 October terrorist attacks, as well as the scope of foreign intervention and its impact on security.  The complexity and scope of the attacks could not have been achieved without the support of external Powers, he added, welcoming the dispatch of a team under Oscar Fernandez-Taranco as a first step towards uncovering the forces behind the attacks.

Turning to development, he summarized the results of various international conferences, and noted that oil exports had witnessed an increase to 1,956,000 barrels per day in September 2009.  The Government was working to raise exports to 2,150,000 barrels per day in 2010.  In addition, there was a comprehensive plan to reconstruct Iraq’s service sectors and infrastructure with an estimated budget of approximately $65 million.  Within that plan, the housing sector would be allocated 38 per cent, the agricultural sector 27 per cent, transportation 14.2 per cent, water and sanitation 8.4 per cent, education 8.5 per cent, health 5.7 per cent and communications 0.9 per cent.

Describing recent developments in foreign relations, he said Iraq had affirmed to the United Nations that it no longer posed a threat to international peace and security and had fulfilled many of the international obligations imposed on it over the years, including those related to Kuwait.  On that basis, it was to be hoped that the Security Council would enable the country to restore its international standing to that it had enjoyed prior to 1990.

Today’s earlier meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:08 a.m., while the second one started at 1 p.m. and concluded at 1:06 p.m.

The full text of Presidential Statement S/PRST/2009/30 reads as follows:

“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, and emphasizes the importance of the stability and security of Iraq for its people, the region, and the international community.

“The Security Council reaffirms its full support for the SRSG Ad Melkert and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in advising, supporting and assisting the Iraqi people and Government to strengthen democratic institutions, advance inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, facilitate regional dialogue, aid vulnerable groups, strengthen gender equality, promote the protection of human rights, including through the work of the Independent High Commission for Human Rights, promote the protection of children, and promote judicial and legal reform.

“The Security Council encourages UNAMI’s continued work, in coordination with the Government of Iraq, to help create conditions conducive to voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons, and welcomes further attention to this issue by all concerned.

“The Security Council underscores UNAMI’s important role in supporting the Iraqi people and Government to promote dialogue, ease tension, and develop a just and fair solution for the nation’s disputed internal boundaries, and calls upon all the relevant parties to participate in an inclusive dialogue to this end.

“The Security Council welcomes the agreement reached on 8 November in the Iraqi Council of Representatives on amendments to the electoral law of Iraq, which will allow for parliamentary elections to take place in January 2010, as stipulated by the Constitutional Court of Iraq.  The Security Council emphasizes UNAMI’s efforts to assist the Iraqi Government and the Independent High Electoral Commission in the development of processes for holding elections. The Security Council strongly endorses UNAMI’s continued assistance to the Iraqi people and Government in preparation for the Iraqi national parliamentary elections planned for January 2010.  The Security Council endorses the Secretary-General’s appeal to all political blocs and their leaders in Iraq to demonstrate true statesmanship during the election campaign and participate in a spirit of national unity.

“The Security Council underlines its condemnation in the strongest terms of the series of terrorist attacks that occurred on 19 August and 25 October 2009 in Baghdad, which caused numerous deaths, injuries and damage, including to Iraqi Government institutions.  The Security Council reiterates its deep condolences to the families of the victims and reaffirms its support for the people and the Government of Iraq, and its commitment to Iraq's security.  The Security Council reaffirms the need to combat threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, ensuring that measures taken to combat terrorism fully comply with all obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

“The Security Council welcomes the recent visit of UN officials to Iraq for preliminary consultations related to Iraq’s security and sovereignty.  The Council encourages the Secretary-General’s efforts in this regard, including the possibility of facilitating technical assistance through the UN Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).”

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.