United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday, 13 February, where he was to speak at the opening session of the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq the following day. He was received at the airport by Abdullah al Matouq, Chairman of the International Islamic Charitable Organization.
His bilateral meetings on Tuesday included one with Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State of the United States of America.
That evening, he attended a dinner hosted by Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait.
The following morning, the Secretary‑General spoke at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, where he launched the United Nations Recovery and Resilience Programme for Iraq. (See Press Release SG/SM/18895).
He said the Programme is a two‑year strategy designed to help the Iraqi Government fast‑track the social dimensions of reconstruction. He added that it aims to make immediate and tangible improvements to people’s daily lives, rather than the long timelines associated with major infrastructure projects and economic reforms.
The Secretary‑General said that reconstruction and development programmes must go hand in hand with a strategy to prevent the recurrence of violent extremism and terrorism in Iraq. This must include full respect for human rights, including political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. He added that he was encouraged to see progress in the Baghdad‑Erbil dialogue, and the Secretary‑General hopes that meetings between the federal Government and Kurdistan Regional Government will continue and resolve outstanding issues.
The United Nations sought $482 million for the first year of the Recovery and Resilience Programme and an additional $568 million to help stabilize high‑risk areas. Separately, partners were seeking $569 million to provide life‑saving assistance to 3.4 million highly vulnerable people across Iraq through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan.
Following that meeting, the Secretary-General met with the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al‑Ahmad Al‑Jaber Al‑Sabah, whom he thanked for sponsoring the Conference. He also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, with whom he discussed reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
In the afternoon, the Secretary‑General met separately with other participants at the conference, including Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development; Gerd Müller, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany; and Anders Samuelsen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
Also in the afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke to the press and told them that the response to the Kuwait conference and the appeal for Iraq is an extraordinary proof of confidence in the Government and in the people of Iraq. The international community has shown the recognition that Iraq is on the right track for recovery and stabilization. He said that the international community has shown its appreciation for the courage with which the Iraqi people have defeated Da’esh and terrorism, protecting not only themselves but protecting all of us, because terrorism is unfortunately a global phenomenon.
In a world where unfortunately good news is scarce, and in a region where unfortunately we see many situations getting worse, the Secretary‑General said that the fact that Iraq is on the right track and the fact that the international community has shown its confidence in Iraq is a very important piece of good news.
The following day, 15 February 2018, the Secretary‑General departed Kuwait to travel to Munich, where he was to speak at the Munich Security Conference.