At ‘Critical Juncture’, Iraq Needs More International Support, Not Less, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Tells Security Council

15 July 2016
7738th Meeting (AM)

At ‘Critical Juncture’, Iraq Needs More International Support, Not Less, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Tells Security Council

Permanent Representative Applauds Liberation of Fallujah, Requests Mandate Extension for United Nations Mission

The world must recognize that Iraq was at a critical juncture, requiring more — not less — international support, the senior United Nations official there told the Security Council today, also pressing the strife-torn country to implement substantive economic, institutional and anti-corruption reforms that would place it on the road to recovery.

“People demand genuine change,” said Ján Kubiŝ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) while briefing the 15-member Council on the situation in the country.  He presented the Secretary-General’s eleventh report pursuant to paragraph 4 of Security Council resolution 2107 (2013) (document S/2016/590), and fourth report pursuant to paragraph 7 of resolution 2233 (2015) (document S/2016/592).

He said recent victories against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Fallujah and Qayyarah, and progress in cutting the group off in Hawjia, had shown that Iraqis were capable of defeating Da’esh.  During the Fallujah operation, the Government had accorded unprecedented priority to the protection of civilians, with the military helping to identify safe escape routes and extract civilians from war zones, and the Prime Minister announcing that the battle would be slowed to ensure the safety of those inside the city.

“This made a difference,” he said, noting that 90,000 civilians had made it to safety under the most perilous conditions imaginable.  “That is also a political statement.”  At the same time, UNAMI had received reports of torture, killings, disappearances and other abuse of those detained, committed by elements of the popular mobilization forces and the Iraqi security forces, he said, urging the Government to quickly establish a high-level interministerial committee on children’s rights.

He went on to say that following the liberation of Fallujah, the Prime Minster had sent senior delegations to brief Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member States on that progress and invite them to join forces.  “The need for cooperation and mutual support has never been more apparent,” he emphasized, pointing out that hundreds of civilians had been killed in attacks attributed to ISIL in Iraq, Turkey, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.  Progress against the group had placed the liberation of Mosul strongly on the agenda.

With that in mind, the Prime Minster had prioritized United Nations-supported humanitarian operations and requested international financing, he continued.  Besides planning the military aspects, the Government and local actors must accelerate political planning, addressing issues of governance, law and order and the political management of Mosul, as well as the rest of Ninewah Province.  He encouraged increased coordination between Baghdad and Erbil, urging that any international assistance be coordinated with the Government and that Iraq’s sovereignty be respected.

Turning to the domestic political front, he said the Federal Supreme Court had ruled on 28 June that the parliamentary sessions of 14 and 26 April were nullified, with the situation reverting to the status quo, the Speaker maintaining his position and the five ministerial appointments requiring further thought.  Tens of thousands of supporters of Syed Muqtada al–Sadr had demonstrated in Baghdad, while protests against the Government had emerged in response to deteriorating security.  He expressed concern about repeated calls for the execution of people convicted of terrorist acts.

Urging Iraq’s political and community leaders — especially the Council of Representatives — to prioritize reconciliation, based on a single vision and a coordinated approach, he stressed that peace could only be achieved through a historic compromise to end the divisive policies of intolerance, inequality and injustice.  The Government must also promote women’s participation in politics and support victims of conflict-based sexual violence.

More broadly, he called attention to ISIL’s continued ability to attack the country, despite its losses in manpower, command structure, morale, local support and territory.  Its pattern of reinvigorated urban terrorism had a sectarian focus, as demonstrated by its attacks against civilian targets in Baghdad.  The security of all citizens must remain a top responsibility, he stressed.

On the humanitarian front, he said, 640,000 people had been displaced in Anbar Governorate alone, and more than 10 million required aid nationwide, including 3.4 million displaced since the 2014 rise of ISIL.  The $861 million humanitarian appeal was only 38 per cent funded.  United Nations efforts to stabilize newly liberated areas were expanding to include Ramadi and soon, Fallujah, he said.

Regarding missing Kuwaiti persons, he welcomed the new determination to achieve results, as demonstrated by the Ministry of Defence since taking over the technical review of that file.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also shown new momentum in efforts to locate missing Kuwaiti property, while thousands of Kuwaiti books were being prepared for official handover to that country’s Government.

Following that briefing, Mohamad Al Alhakim (Iraq) said that his country’s Government was making every effort to retake all territory captured by Da’esh.  With help from the international coalition, it was making plans to establish stability, security and services.  More than 700,000 Iraqis had already returned to their homes in liberated areas, he said.  The liberation of Fallujah — first and foremost an Iraqi city — had been a victory for all Iraqis, who were more determined than the “Takfirists” to protect it.

He urged all States to implement Council resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015), particularly those dealing with foreign terrorist fighters and financing of terrorist groups, including through the smuggling of antiquities and oil across the border with Turkey.  Emphasizing the need for the international community, particularly countries in the region, to pursue and prosecute individuals and groups providing financial support to Da’esh, he said the Government of Iraq had asked Saudi Arabia which non-governmental organizations had sent money to Da’esh under the guise of humanitarian assistance.

Pressing the Council to request that Turkey immediately withdraw troops that had entered Iraqi territory without the Government’s authorization, he said that his country was making an ongoing effort to improve relations with Kuwait, Jordan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  It was also in continuous communication with Syria.  Moreover, Iraq was working tirelessly to make progress in the case of missing Kuwaiti citizens and archives, interviewing witnesses and appealing through official newspapers and television for others to come forward with information.

He conveyed Iraq’s desire for a one-year extension of UNAMI’s mandate, saying the request was consistent with the 11 May 2016 message from the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Secretary-General, and in accordance with Council resolution 1770 (2007).  Thanking Mr. Kubiš and his team for their efforts, he condemned the murder of a UNAMI employee, saying that an investigation was under way to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

At the meeting’s outset, the Council observed a moment of silence for the Government and people of France, and in solidarity with the families of victims of the 14 July attacks in Nice that had left more than 80 people dead and scores injured.

Koro Bessho (Japan), Council President for July, said the Nice terrorist attack, as well as those in Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, had affected people from around the world.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 11:44 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.