Fresh from victory in retaking the northern city of Mosul from terrorists, Iraq must now address the long-standing grievances, needs and aspirations of its people, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council today, paving the way towards national settlement and reconciliation.
Ján Kubiš, who is also the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attributed that 10 July victory over Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to the Iraqi security forces, as the only fighting force on the ground, and their “exceptional” efforts to save civilian lives. Yet, the city’s historic liberation should not conceal the fact that the road ahead was challenging, notably in reclaiming territories in the Governorates of Ninawa and Anbar, Hawija District in Kirkuk Governorate, and elsewhere.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2017/592), he emphasized the need for demining, stabilization and reconstruction to enable the return of internally displaced persons. The enforcement of law and order, rule of law, justice and accountability, as well as reforms, good governance and development were also critical. “Da’esh’s ultimate defeat can only be secured through inclusive solutions,” he said, welcoming the guidance of the Al-Marja’iyya, who in their victory sermons, pressed those in power to view citizens as equals, regardless of religion, sect, ethnicity or nationality.
In that context, he expressed concern over the rising sentiment in favour of collective punishment of families perceived to be associated with Da’esh. UNAMI had prioritized justice for those affected by human rights violations committed in the ongoing armed conflict. It was pursuing a national strategy that aimed to allow domestic courts jurisdiction over international crimes, which would complement international efforts to gather evidence on crimes committed by ISIL.
Further, he said, as the fight to eliminate Da’esh was nearing a close, the United Nations was repositioning its response to sexual violence to support the reintegration of survivors into their communities. It also had engaged with senior Iraqi officials on the establishment of the Interministerial Committee on Grave Child Rights Violations.
Mohammed Sahib Mejid Marzooq (Iraq) congratulated Government forces and their partners in liberating Mosul from the terrorist gangs of Da’esh. In those operations, the Government had prioritized “people before land”, working to ensure civilian safety. The fatwah issued by the supreme religious authority also had lent great momentum to that fight and work to preserve Iraq’s territory.
He said that, in the liberated areas, Iraq was restoring services and paving the way for 3 million displaced persons to return home. It was in dire need of international support, especially in removing mines and other ordinances planted by Da’esh. Such efforts were part of a plan for domestic governance which required financial and technical support, and consultations from international partners.
Welcoming efforts by Kuwait to alleviate the suffering of displaced Iraqis, as well by the European Union in supporting humanitarian and reconstruction needs, he reiterated the vital role of UNAMI and the United Nations country team in addressing those concerns.
Indeed, he said, Iraq was a unified federal State that enjoyed sovereignty based on a democratic federal Constitution adopted in 2005 by all segments of the population in a transparent referendum. It reaffirmed the values of citizenry and political representation for all in its ministries and independent agencies. With that in mind, it was important to implement resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015), and strengthen the rule of law. Iraq was considering alternative ways to bring about justice, including through a draft resolution on evidence collection in crimes committed by Da’esh, and he pressed the Council to demand that Turkey withdraw its forces from Iraq.
More broadly, he said Iraq was working to strengthen its relations with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey and Iran, and continue its relations with Syria. With Saudi Arabia, Iraq had established a coordination council, which both sides would elevate to the required strategic level. They also had opened new cooperation in the areas of politics, security, economics, development, trade, culture and investment, and invigorated private sector partnerships to combat terrorism. Iraq also would host preparatory meetings for the Mecca Conference.
Turning to the Kuwaiti file, he said Iraq was working to locate missing Kuwaiti persons and archives. Furthermore, it was documenting witness information and carrying out field visits and excavations to find the remains of missing persons and Kuwaiti prisoners of war. It would welcome the Council’s response to its request for extending UNAMI’s mandate for one year based on resolution 1770 (2007).
Luis Bermúdez (Uruguay) said Iraq’s victory over Da’esh was a huge step forward in the fight again terrorism internationally. Crimes committed by Da’esh must not go unpunished. The group was the product of a succession of unfortunate events starting with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, followed by the ideological intervention of certain countries in the region which provided arms, troops and supplies. The United Nations must support reforms in Iraq and help ensure stability, he said, underscoring the need to fight corruption and ensure the rights of the entire population.
Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, encouraged Iraq and its partners to rebuild infrastructure, ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, focus on national reconciliation and facilitate the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons. Proper attention also must be given to the issue of accountability for those who committed crimes against civilians, he said, underlining the need for the Government — with support from UNAMI and others — to undertake comprehensive security sector reforms.
Pedro Luis Inchauste Jordán (Bolivia), noting that 82,000 people had died in the campaign against Da’esh, robustly condemned all acts of terrorism, especially the use of civilians as human shields. Those responsible must be investigated, prosecuted and punished. He emphasized the need to focus on clearing all explosive remnants of war to enable the return of internally displaced persons. He expressed hope that an electoral schedule and legal framework would be the fruit of consensus of all parties and stakeholders, and welcomed Iraq’s efforts regarding missing Kuwaiti citizens and property.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 10:51 a.m.