Held up as a shining example of positive developments in the region, Iraq had succeeded in overcoming many obstacles, yet challenges remained to establish lasting stability, the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) told the Security Council today.
Among such successes were the recent defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), a robust pledging conference that raised $30 billion for reconstruction and significant strides in election preparations ahead of parliamentary polls in May, said Ján Kubiš, as the Council considered the Secretary‑General’s latest reports on key political developments (documents S/2018/40 and S/2018/42).
Pressing challenges now included the safe return of internally displaced persons and a secure environment for voters. Regarding relations with Kuwait, he said their normalization would only occur upon the resolution of outstanding issues concerning missing persons and property. Going forward, he said credible and acceptable elections, with high voter participation, would empower the new Government to implement reform, enhance accountability and reconcile differences among various groups.
Iraq’s representative thanked all stakeholders for their support, expressing hope that the Mission would play a coordinating role in areas such as good governance, combating corruption, improving economic growth and delivering humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons. However, Iraq did not support the Secretary‑General’s latest report’s recommendations on conflict prevention, women’s empowerment and relations between the central Government and Kurdistan, he said, emphasizing that the Government had taken steps in those regards, was working diligently on the forthcoming elections and stood ready to undertake greater efforts to achieve further progress on Kuwaiti missing persons and to achieve tangible results.
Council members praised such gains, but raised several issues. Côte d’Ivoire’s representative expressed hope that the pledges from the reconstruction conference would deliver results in Iraq’s rebuilding and recovery. Indeed, successful elections were a key factor and depended on ensuring their credibility and transparency, Peru’s delegate stressed, while Bolivia’s representative said they hinged on the safe return of 6 million internally displaced persons.
Regarding security concerns, Kazakhstan’s delegate underlined a need to enhance counter‑terrorism mechanisms in Iraq and to strengthen border security measures. Similarly, Equatorial Guinea’s representative said all Iraqis must remain united in the face of terrorist threats, calling on the international community to support Iraq in convening its planned elections in a fair, safe and peaceful manner.
Kuwait’s representative congratulated Iraq on its “historic victory” in liberating the parts of its territories formerly held by ISIL/Da’esh. Turning to the missing Kuwaiti citizens and property — which included the country’s national archives — he called on all parties to use innovative approaches to fulfil their obligations in that regard.
The meeting began at 3:12 p.m. and ended at 4:19 p.m.
JÁN KUBIŠ, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), briefed the Council on recent political and security developments, notably the Iraq Reconstruction Conference that had been hosted by Kuwait. Attended by 70 Member States, international organizations and 2,000 private sector companies, it had mobilized $30 billion.
As Iraq continued to clear out Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said the Government was increasingly focused on May parliamentary elections. The Independent High Electoral Commission had steadily continued its election preparations, having registered 205 political parties and 27 coalitions. Yet, challenges remained, among them the safe return of internally displaced persons and a secure environment for voters. In addition, the electronic ballot counting system required accelerated support, he said, also underlining the importance of domestic and international election observers. Credible and acceptable elections, with high voter participation, would empower the new Government to implement reform, enhance accountability and reconcile differences among different groups.
Encouraged by recent positive developments in relations between Baghdad and Erbil, he also commended the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for their efforts and strong coordination towards implementing the national action plan on women, peace and security. Ahead of elections, he urged Iraqi senior political leaders to broaden women’s political space and ensure their participation.
Addressing a range of issues, he welcomed the Government’s willingness to work with the United Nations country task force on monitoring and reporting to develop an action plan to address violations against children in times of conflict. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization had continued to scale up efforts, with a current total of 1,887 projects.
Regarding relations with Kuwait, he said their normalization would only occur upon the resolution of outstanding issues concerning missing persons and property. The Government of Iraq was undertaking efforts and the last session of the tripartite mechanism had seen members recognizing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) review project as a means to streamline and prioritize work. Calling on the international community to consider how to support the search for missing Kuwaiti persons, he encouraged States possessing satellite imagery from 1990 and 1991 to come forward to assist the Government of Iraq in identifying burial locations. He also reiterated a call for Iraq and Kuwait to agree on the swift repatriation of located Kuwaiti academic textbooks, which had been awaiting an official handover for more than one year.
SHEIKH SABAH KHALID AL HAMAD AL SABAH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Council President for February, delivered a statement in his national capacity at the meeting’s outset, congratulating Iraq on its “historic victory” in liberating the parts of its territories formerly held by ISIL/Da’esh. Expressing hope that Iraq’s Government would succeed in holding terrorists to account, he said the country still faced many challenges. In response, Kuwait — along with the United Nations, European Union, the World Bank and other partners — had recently convened a donor conference, raising some $30 billion to assist in Iraq’s post‑war reconstruction. Kuwait itself had pledged $1 billion to those efforts. Turning to the missing Kuwaiti citizens and property — which included the country’s national archives — he said Kuwait was closely following the briefings of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General in Iraq, and called on all parties to use innovative approaches to fulfil their obligations in that regard.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) welcomed Iraq’s courageous fight against terrorism, and said the focus now should be on ridding the country of sectarian discord, identifying those responsible for criminal acts and bringing them to justice. Expressing hope that the donor conference convened last week by Kuwait would help support Iraq’s reconstruction efforts, he nevertheless voiced concern about such critical challenges as continued asymmetrical attacks and the situation of Yazidi women and girls. Iraq’s elections, slated to take place in May, must be held in a peaceful and orderly fashion. Critical to those elections was the safe, dignified and voluntary return of 6 million internally displaced persons. Calling on the international community to help ensure that Council resolution 2365 (2017) on the removal of landmines was properly implemented, he also urged Member States to lend their support to capacity‑building which would help the Iraqi Government identify mass graves and improve its forensic testing methods.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the recent military victory over ISIL/Da’esh had put an end to years of that group’s brutal rule across many parts of Iraq. Noting that donors convening in Kuwait had pledged some $30 billion to begin Iraq’s post‑war reconstruction, he called on all Member States to support those efforts. He voiced support for the Secretary‑General’s initiative — also launched last week — which called for the creation of a “Recovery and Resilience Programme” in Iraq. Indeed, the country still faced a number of challenges, including ongoing tensions between the central Government and those of the country’s Kurdish regions. All Iraqis must remain united in the face of the continued terrorist threats, he stressed, also calling on the international community and the United Nations in particular to support Iraq in convening its planned elections in a fair, safe and peaceful manner.
MUKHTAR TLEUBERDI, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, expressing support for Iraq’s efforts to convene national and provincial council elections in May, said they would enhance democracy and State‑building processes, consolidate the Constitution and introduce reforms by fully integrating all ethnic and religious groups — especially in the country’s northern region — thereby reducing violence in the recently liberated territories. Welcoming the inter‑Iraqi agreements to extend the ceasefire regime until the parties agreed on the joint management of disputed territories, including border crossings, he went on to note that some 3.2 million previously displaced persons across Iraq had returned home. Such trends, along with the liberation of many areas previously under ISIL/Da’esh control, indicated the need to enhance counter‑terrorism mechanisms in Iraq and to strengthen security measures at the borders. Disbanding all armed groups in order to prevent further internal political conflicts and move towards stability would also be critical.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), welcoming the defeat of Da’esh, said attention must be paid to development, with support from the international community and with a view to maintaining an early warning mechanism regarding a re‑emergence of such terrorist groups. It was also necessary to move forward in promoting human rights and guaranteeing justice was served for atrocities that Da’esh had committed, as outlined in resolution 2379 (2017). Commending dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil, he underlined the need to consolidate and sustain peace, rebuild the country and strengthen its institutions. Other critical actions included combating corruption, promoting reconciliation, facilitating the return of internally displaced persons and ensuring that elections were credible and transparent. He also underlined the importance of UNAMI and its mandate in assisting the Government and people of Iraq.
THÉODORE DAH (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed the defeat of Da’esh, expressing hope that the pledges that had been made at the reconstruction conference would deliver results in Iraq’s rebuilding and recovery. The time had come to strengthen the country, with credible elections and efforts aimed at ensuring the safe return of internally displaced persons. Welcoming the UNAMI mandate to assist political and electoral processes, he raised several concerns about security and urged the international community to help Iraq to address those threats, while commending the Mission and Iraq in their efforts to address such challenges.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), thanking all stakeholders for their efforts, provided a snapshot of current developments. Security forces had managed to establish control over border areas near Syria and, at a new stage of reform, Iraq was focused on efforts in political, economic and security areas with priorities being building a lasting peace for all its citizens. Emphasizing the principles of unity, as could be seen in the victory against Da’esh, he called on Member States to support the establishment of the investigative team to identify atrocities that had been committed by Da’esh. Turning to sustainable development efforts, he said Iraqi authorities and international partners had established plans to make headway, with a national development plan for 2018 to 2022 including the empowerment of women and youth, revitalization of the private sector, investment in human capital and job creation.
Iraq expected the Mission to play a vital role in forging mechanisms enabling coordination among United Nations agencies operating in Iraq, he said, pointing to the need for capacity‑building in areas directly affecting the people. The Mission could play that coordination role in such areas as good governance, combating corruption, improving economic growth and delivering humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons.
However, Iraq did not support the latest report’s recommendations on conflict prevention, women’s empowerment and relations between the central Government and Kurdistan, he said, noting that his country had fought against an international terrorist group, with members coming from many United Nations Member States. Further, Iraq’s Constitution recognized the empowerment of women, he said, adding that in response to resolution 1325 (2000), a task force had been set up. Iraq also did not support the report’s section on minorities, he said, noting that his country was wealthy because of all of its ethnic populations.
Citing gains, he said the Government was working on the return of internally displaced persons and called on the international community to support the reconstruction of destroyed cities. Those populations would also participate in the coming elections, which were currently being planned. With regard to Kuwait, he thanked all States that had attended the recent reconstruction conference. Iraq stood ready to undertake greater efforts to achieve further progress on Kuwaiti missing persons and to achieve tangible results.