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Full text of Blackshart’s briefing to the UN Security Council
Posted On2022-02-28 By Sotaliraq Given the importance of the speech, and the facts and information it contained.. Al Mada publishes the full text of the speech of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, before the UN Security Council regarding the situation in Iraq. Full text of the briefing:
If I may, I will begin today’s briefing with an overview of rec
After the approval of the electoral results, the Speaker and his two deputies were elected on January 9. Although initially challenged, the Federal Supreme Court ruled on January 25 that the inaugural parliamentary session (during which the Speaker and his two deputies were elected) had been held in accordance with the constitution.
The next step is to elect the President of the Republic (according to the Constitution) within 30 days of the election of the Speaker of Parliament.
However, after the initial nomination period, the parliamentary quorum for the 7 February election session for the president was not completed. Parliament decided to reopen the candidacy door for another three days: The Federal Supreme Court has not yet issued its ruling on the constitutionality of reopening the candidacy door, but it has ruled that one of the candidates is disqualified.
Now, once the president is elected, he or she will (within 15 days according to the constitution) assign the candidate of the largest parliamentary bloc, the Prime Minister-designate, to form the Cabinet, to be approved by the House of Representatives.
It is clear that the current situation suggests that we have not reached that stage yet.
As political consultations continue (or perhaps more precisely: as the political stalemate continues) time is running out. precious time.
Mr. President, beyond the main debate over a majority versus consensual government, many Iraqis are increasingly asking whether the national interest is really the “overriding concern” of the ongoing negotiations – rather than access to resources and power or how to share the cake of political appointments and ministries this time?
Needless to say, the priority should be to urgently agree on a program of work that promptly and meaningfully addresses Iraq’s long list of outstanding internal issues.
And what I’m saying is: the elections ended 4 months ago and it’s time to re-highlight who deserves it: the people of Iraq.
The people of Iraq who are still waiting for profitable and productive job opportunities and for security and safety, adequate public services, full protection of their rights and freedoms, justice, accountability, and effective participation of women and youth, to name a few.
Of course, one can be forgiven for being impatient with the lengthy phase of government formation, if we are witnessing lively dialogues about policy directions, development paths, and economic reform plans. If that is what drives the negotiations, patience is indeed a virtue.
But so far, what we are witnessing is the exact opposite: obstruction of the change and reforms that the country so badly needs.
In addition, as I have repeatedly pointed out, a weak home front leads to weakness, for example, in the face of ISIS, which is ready to exploit any political and security vacuum. As well as vulnerability to continuous external interference. In the case of Iraq, this point is not hypothetical.
Meanwhile, Iraqis’ patience is being tested. In October 2019, this patience reached its limit, and many, many Iraqis took to the streets to protest the lack of social, economic and political opportunities.
We know how it ended. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured. The least that Iraqis can expect now is that their elected representatives will feel this urgency.
A sense of urgency to overcome internal divisions, agree on a program that tells Iraqis what they can expect in the next four years, deal with public expectations, and rise to the challenge to realize the aspirations of the 40 million people who call Iraq home.
Mr. President, I have a few words to say regarding the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil; As you know, I have consistently emphasized the importance of holding a regular, structured and institutionalized dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil – with specific timelines – to address issues that have remained unresolved for a very, very long time.
As I said before: this is a shared responsibility.
The reality is that, sooner or later, the inability to bridge differences (or simply unwillingness to reach agreements) will come at a price.
It is also true that, if a political vacuum exists for too long, the judicialization of areas that are originally legislative or executive, can suddenly become a reality.
Now, with a caretaker government and political parties engaged in negotiations over the formation of a new government, a case of the Federal Supreme Court that has been pending for 10 years has recently been adjudicated. Accordingly, this recent court ruling regarding the unconstitutionality of the oil and gas law in the Kurdistan Regional Government raised questions by many; For example “Why now?”
The truth is that it just happened. Consequently, the importance of this “institutionalized dialogue” has not only increased, but the country now needs its parliament to function.
All in all, what I’m saying is: Lack of control is a risky business that may lead to far-reaching consequences, undermining Iraq’s stability in the short and long term.
So, once again, I call on all parties involved to focus on the things that really matter, and to unite rather than compete. Like it or not, the parties need each other to be at their best; Hence, all efforts should be focused on resolving the outstanding issues, not by seizing power, but by working in a spirit of partnership and cooperation.
I now turn briefly to the subject of the economy: between a sharp rise in oil prices and a depreciation of the currency, the level of deficit fell and foreign reserves increased.
The safety net has been expanded, particularly due to increased spending on social services in response to the pandemic.
At first glance, this may sound encouraging, but it cannot be denied the fact that while important government proposals and efforts are effectively undermined, delayed, or disrupted, these outcomes cannot be seen as a direct result of sustainable strategies.
Basically, Iraq today is not less vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations, and it is not less suffering as a result of poverty or unemployment, and Iraq does not witness a lower level of corruption than it was last year or the year before.
I repeat what I have said again, but lasting structural solutions can only come through meaningful reform. Yes, it is easier said than done and I realize that.
However, time is running out for Iraq. As an Iraqi official told me some time ago: Even if we start implementing the most urgent reforms, it will take superhuman efforts to adequately address today’s financial, economic, and environmental challenges.
While I like to think in terms of a “glass half full,” these observations should not be underestimated.
Also, in terms of environmental challenges: they are a present threat that is often less urgent, but ultimately one of the biggest global challenges we face collectively.
A few weeks ago, I visited the marshes in southern Iraq, which have a beautiful landscape whose biological diversity is only matched by their cultural significance.
However, water scarcity in that region is not just a looming threat, but an existential threat. As in other parts of the country, salinity of water and soil, desertification and disappearance of arable land are just existing environmental concerns.
In addition, water scarcity, as we all know, is a threat multiplier as it comes with increased risks of poverty, displacement, instability and conflict.
Most, but not all, of this scarcity can be attributed to climate change: in addition to the lack of effective water flow by neighboring countries.
Moreover, drinking water, irrigation infrastructure and maintenance are greatly degraded. Also, water resources in Iraq have not been managed effectively for a long time.
In other words: Iraq is acutely vulnerable to the effects of water scarcity due to climate change and the lack of water flow from its rivers.
While I know that this is a priority for the current caretaker government, I would like to stress that joint ownership of this very important file across the political spectrum will be essential.
Mr. President, there is one more thing: the camps and prisons beyond the border are housing many Iraqis, in northeastern Syria specifically.
Perhaps we all followed the recent events closely. The events that made the risks associated with this slow-moving disaster become apparent once again.
The situation in these camps and prisons poses unprecedented challenges that have implications for the region and beyond. They are like ticking bombs.
Over the past three years, you have heard me assert that the legacy of yesterday’s fight against ISIS can easily turn into tomorrow’s war, and that we should not wait for young children to come of age in a camp like Al Hol.
These children, living in harsh conditions, never wanted to be part of this mess. However, they found themselves stripped of their rights. These children find themselves vulnerable to forced recruitment and violent extremism.
Of course, I am aware that a number of countries have fulfilled their responsibilities by returning children and, in some cases, a limited number of women as well. I can only hope that other countries will soon follow suit. And as an increasing number of countries have proven: this can be done successfully.
The reality is that this status quo is not sustainable. Keeping people indefinitely under restrictive and poor conditions in these camps ultimately leads to more protection and security risks than returning them in a disciplined manner.
At the same time, Iraq has shown courage. Some 450 families, or nearly 1,800 people, have been returned to Iraq so far. While thousands of Iraqis remain in those camps, the Iraqi authorities know that they cannot stop there.
Mr. President, by referring to the issue of Al-Hol camp, to the suspected ISIS fighters who are currently in detention in the areas of northeastern Syria. Once again, this situation is not sustainable.
Moreover, as with a camp like Al-Hol, these facilities fuel resentment as well as inspire terrorists: from prison breaks to large-scale attacks, as we’ve seen.
Also, the fact that some fighters (and their associated family members) managed to escape suggests that it would be better to control the situation and manage returns, rather than risk losing track of them slipping – undetected – into a country.
Here, too, Iraq deserves to be commended. The Iraqi government has not only begun repatriating the Iraqi families in al-Hol camp, but has also begun repatriating Iraqi ISIS fighters.
Essentially, what I’m saying is: For everyone’s sake, the ultimate security argument (versus the short-term political argument) is the recognition that continuing the status quo is the most dangerous option.
In order to calm the aggravating grievances, prevent the emergence of new conflicts, and defuse the time bombs: it is important to remedy and mitigate and it is important to expedite the handling and completion of matters.
Mr. President, I now turn to the issue of missing Kuwaitis, nationals of other countries, and missing Kuwaiti property, including the National Archives.
On 16 February, UNAMI facilitated the return (from Kuwait to Iraq) of the last 6 human remains that were determined not to be part of the missing persons lists to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.
With this transfer, the identification of all human remains discovered in Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, in 2019 and 2020, was completed.
As I emphasized before, it is imperative for the Iraqi government not to lose this momentum, but rather to take advantage of the experience gained so far, and thus move towards the complete completion of this important humanitarian file.
Mr. President, in conclusion: Allow me to reiterate the importance of a sense of urgency. It is imperative that political leaders in Iraq overcome divisions, put aside partisanship, and bury personal revolts.
And as you know, Iraq already has huge potential! And if this potential is harnessed, you can imagine how bright the future of Iraq will be. Thank you very much, Mr. President LINK
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