Friday, 19 September 2014 03:00

Statement of SRSG Nickolay Mladenov at the UN Security Council’s 7270th meeting - The situation concerning Iraq 19 September 2014, New York

Thank you Mr. President of the Council,

It is an honour, indeed, to brief the Security Council today on behalf of the Secretary-General.

This is the 4th time that I address the Council on the devastation from the people of Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

 

On behalf of the UN Mission in Iraq let me thank the Security Council, for its continued interest and unity in expressing support to the people and the Government of Iraq, as well as for making it possible for our Mission to fulfil its mandate.

Your consistent calls for inclusive political engagement, timely elections and a government formation process have not gone unheeded. Your condemnation of the violence and the human rights abuses has been welcomed by Iraqis. And finally, your consistent pronouncements, most recently through a series of Presidential Statements and most recently through the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2170 (2014), continue to encourage the people of Iraq that they are not alone. 

Mr. President,

Iraq's transition has been painful and scarred by much violence. Its people however have shown an unmatched ability to persevere, despite the difficulties. Most re cently, amidst the rapidly deteriorating security environment, they came out to vote in a competitive election that was followed, finally, by a peaceful transition of power.

As Iraq’s new government of national unity is moving to restore security to large parts of the country, it also seeks to strengthen the relationship between the ethnic and religious communities, to develop inclusive policies that contribute to social peace and cohesiveness. The government is also looking to the international community for support.

Today when Iraq faces a life-threatening danger from the advances of ISIL, the people of Iraq look to your countries— Members of the Security Council, neighbours, allies and friends; they look to the international community and the United Nations for collective measures for the removal of a threat to peace in Iraq and the rest of the region.

Since the beginning of the year ISIL and its affiliated armed groups have captured large parts of Northern and Western Iraq. They have gained access to substantial amounts of weapons, financial and natural resources. Their networks spanning the globe have allowed them to recruit foreign fighters in their battle to dismantle the Iraqi state.

Months before Mosul fell into the hands of ISIL, the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa had become fertile ground for this terrorist organization. Throughout this period the UN Mission in Iraq observed and underscored the organisation’s evolving strategy of terror. Even after the fall of Mosul, ISIL continues to systematically undermine legitimate authorities through kidnappings, assassinations and violence.

It seeks to use the discontent among some communities to turn that discontent into violence. They used consolidated control over extended territory in both Iraq and Syria, combined with their ideology of hatred, fear and nihilism to present a clear danger to the very existence of a united Iraqi state, and a threat to the regional and international security.

Mr. President,

Over the last period, the combined efforts of targeted airstrikes, Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga operations have allowed for some areas to be brought back under the control of legitimate authorities. They have been instrumental in saving thousands of lives from imminent death in the mountain of Sinjar, in the town of Amerli and elsewhere; they have protected the city of Erbil, they have safeguarded key infrastructure, including the Mosul and Haditha Dams, and they have arrested the advance of ISIL towards the capital Baghdad.

Despite these successes, however, most recently ISIL forces have been able to take the key town of Dulueeya in Salahadine Province. 

I am encouraged to report that, in the face of this growing threat, the security cooperation and co-ordination between the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government has substantially increased.

Mr. President,

Iraq is facing an escalating emergency with up to 1.8 million Iraqis displaced since January. 850,000 of those have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region alone. Just in the past fortnight alone, an additional 10,000 families from Diyala province have been displaced from their homes.

The humanitarian crisis is not just in the North of the country, as tens of thousands of people have fled to the South, where many of them are hosted by families and religious institutions. The pressure on local communities across the country is growing as the continuing influx has created a massive shelter crisis. With winter fast approaching, immediate and critical measures need to be enacted. Furthermore, as over 2,000 schools are currently providing shelter to IDPs throughout the country, the start of the school year has already been delayed by one month.

In response, the UN has mounted a massive humanitarian effort across Iraq to provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and health assistance. We continue to face immense challenges in reaching an estimated 650,000 people who are still in the areas of active conflict.

I use this opportunity to call on the Government of Iraq to put forward a national strategy to address the situation of the displaced people, as well as the immediate restoration of payment of salaries and essential services throughout the country.

Their efforts must be encouraged and their financial commitments to help this humanitarian catastrophe must be recognized. The UN stands ready to provide additional assistance in improving the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

On behalf of the entire United Nations family let me thank those Member States who have so far responded to our call for assistance and have followed through with generous support for the UN humanitarian efforts in Iraq.

I want to also recognize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has contributed some USD 500 million out of a total of USD 712 million for the UN humanitarian effort in Iraq. Over 60% of this substantial donation has already been spent on tents, food and other items for the hundreds of thousands of IDPs.

Having said this, I have to note with growing concern that available funding for humanitarian operations will be exhausted before the winter and additional support will be needed.

Mr. President,

The current crisis has had a devastating effect on the respect and protection of human rights in Iraq. The UN estimates that since January there has been some 25,000 civilian casualties including at least 8,500 killed and more than 16,000 wounded.

On behalf of the Secretary-General and the entire UN team in Iraq, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of all civilian casualties across Iraq and the victims of terrorism.

Minority communities, including Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Turkmen, and others, have been particularly targeted by ISIL, who have sought their systematic and deliberate cleansing of territories under their control, perpetrating acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.

The UN Mission in Iraq continues to investigate reports of violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law. Our teams have conducted over 500 interviews with the victims of and witnesses of these violations. As a result of these investigations, the UN has verified systematic and widespread human rights violations committed by both ISIL and associated groups, but also violations and abuses committed by armed groups supportive of the Government as well as some committed by the Iraqi Security Forces. A public report was published in July, while a second one is currently under preparation.

On account of the gravity of the crimes committed by ISIL, I welcome the decision by the UN Human Rights Council to dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

The fall of Mosul forced people to understand that it was not just the survival of their country that was at stake, but the very existence of their communities. All Iraqis, no matter what ethnic or religious community they belong to, stand to lose if they fail to cooperate against the growing threat of terrorism, radicalism and extremism.

Today, there is a growing understanding that for any security plan to succeed it needs to be broadly accepted by all. There is an agreement among key decision makers that security cannot be provided without full respect for the Constitution, rule of law, international humanitarian law and human rights standards.

The conditions that breed discontent and violence in Iraq need to be addressed as a matter of priority so that disaffected communities, particularly those currently located in conflict areas, should be brought back into the democratic process. 

The Iraqi Constitution remains the guiding framework for legitimately resolving all grievances. Reforms that allow for better service delivery, policies that contribute to social peace and development, devolution of authority, fair revenue sharing between provinces, an efficient public service, and measures against pervasive corruption and— perhaps most importantly, the strengthening of rule of law and democratic accountability, all of these will allow for the country to move forward. 

Transitional justice and reconciliation are impossible without addressing the human rights violations of the past and the present. Left unresolved, past grievances or abuses of human rights will undermine any attempt to solve outstanding constitutional, legal or policy issues.

I am pleased to report that since its appointment, the Government has made important steps and had strong beginning for its collective work. I welcome Prime Minister al-Abadi’s recent orders to suspend Iraqi Air Force strikes in civilian areas, including in ISIL controlled areas, and his public commitment to the protection of civilians. I urge the Government of Iraq to fully uphold this crucial commitment. 

As Commander-in-Chief, Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken the initiative to restructure the leadership of the Iraqi Armed Forces. These decisions are encouraging steps towards meeting the demands for reform.

I furthermore welcome the Council of Ministers’ decision to establish a Reconstruction Fund to rebuild the areas damaged by military operations. The UN stands ready to assist in this respect.

I am also very pleased to report that the Council of Ministers has initiated the process of drafting a law for the creation of the National Guard. This will allow for the devolution of authority and will strengthen local engagement in the provision and management of security.

In his most recent address to Parliament, Prime Minister al-Abadi has committed to resolving the outstanding budgetary disputes between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Region. I encourage the Iraqi Government to swiftly move forward on restoring subsidies, starting in September, to the provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should move quickly to reach an agreement on the outstanding payments. And finally, it is time for the pervasive issue of revenue and budget sharing to be resolved in line with the Constitution. As always, the UN in Iraq is ready to continue facilitating this process.

All members of the international community should continue to work closely with both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government and extend to Iraq the security, humanitarian and developmental assistance it needs. 

Mr. President,

Today, the stakes are very high for both the people of Iraq and the region. 

Iraq and all its regional neighbors have an unprecedented opportunity to re-start positive bilateral relations based on mutual interests and partnership. This cooperation should be open and inclusive of all neighbors who can contribute to addressing the challenge of ISIL.

The recent adoption of Security Council resolution 2170 (2014), the Arab League Resolution 7804, the Jeddah Communique, the Paris Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq and the recent discussions at NATO all strengthen international support for Iraq at this time of need.

The UN stands ready to support Iraq and the region by co-ordinating the political, social, humanitarian efforts needed to address the current crisis. 

Mr. President,

In closing, let me be very clear, ISIL is a scourge that has brought untold sorrow to the people of Iraq and Syria. They have shown contempt for equality, fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person. They not only ignore but they also show disdain for international law and their perverse ideas of justice are evidence of their deep reaction against the progress humanity has made over centuries.

This threat, grave as it is, can be addressed if Iraq, the region and the world together come and work together in the framework of the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant Security Council resolutions. 

Thank you.

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  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Sunday, 21 September 2014 10:54

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