Speech delivered by Mr. Mladenov at the Interfaith Harmony Conference

Excellency, President of Iraq Dr Fu’ad Ma’soum

Excellency, Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr Haider Al-Ibadi

Excellency, Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Dr Saleem Al-Jubouri

His Eminence, Sayid Ammar Al-Hakeem, our host 

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen


It is my pleasure to participate in today’s important event.  I would like to thank the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Hakim International Foundation. 

Iraq holds a special place in the history of world religions, as a holy land from which religions and prophets have grown. 

As a country of religious diversity, Iraq is well placed to prove that Islam and all other religions can live together in harmony. 

Respect for diversity and peaceful dialogue are essential if humanity is to cooperate in addressing the global challenges of today. The rising threat of extremism and intolerance is one of the biggest challenges of our time.  

That is why efforts to build trust among communities and individuals lie at the heart of so many of the United Nations’ initiatives, from the Alliance of Civilizations to our wide-ranging work to protect human rights, promote social cohesion and build a culture of peace.

Today’s annual conference comes at a time when Iraq is under threat from terrorism, violence and sectarianism.  

It is an opportunity to reject these threats to Iraq’s rich culture of tolerance, harmony and coexistence.  

For the past year, ISIL has occupied Iraqi cities and infrastructure, resulting in significant civilian casualties and displacement, all the while committing serious human rights violations.  

In so doing, it has sought to destroy the State of Iraq and replace it with a state of terror. 

Its tactics have been clear from the outset: to exploit fault-lines in the Iraqi social fabric; to foment sectarian division; and to undermine legitimate authority.  

The tools it has chosen are anathema: genocide; enslavement of women and children; destruction of religious heritage; and blatant disregard for human rights, human dignity and human life of individuals belonging to all religious and minority communities. 

These acts against humanity are contrary to the inherently tolerance nature of Islam and all the religions we represent here. The United Nations has sent a special investigation team to document the crimes of ISIL in order to bring those who have perpetrated them to justice.

Today, Iraq’s Government of national unity is facing-up to the challenges of terror and extremism. The world has shown solidarity with Iraq as over 60 countries -- allies, neighbours and friends, have come to support you in your just cause against terrorism. But today Iraq is also moving to address the root causes of violence, it is engaging on an agenda of inclusion and unity. 

I welcome the recent decision to investigate the alleged massacre in Diyala Province as a sign of the Government's willingness to assert the rule of law, protect the lives and rights of citizens, and ensure that those who have fled from ISIL can return home in safety and secuirty. 

As the world has shown solidarity with Iraq against ISIL, so will the international community show solidarity with the efforts to support recovery and reconstruction in the areas freed from ISIL.  The United Nations and the Government are working on this together. 

Most importantly, the leaders of Iraq must together deliver on the national reconciliation agenda and address challenges of poverty, rule of law and development.  They must seek longer-term and durable solutions for the massive number of internally displaced. They must protect the unity of the country and its democracy.

Effective security cooperation between the Iraqi security forces, the Peshmerga, volunteers and local communities is vital in order to secure the areas currently occupied by ISIL.  Discussions on the establishment of a national guard are at advanced stage.  Such a force will empower people to take greater responsibility for their own security.  

It is crucial that political progress and the process of inclusion proceed simultaneously.  It is vital that the national reconciliation agenda be advanced based on the principles of inclusivity, with the participation of political, religious and community leaders from across Iraq’s diverse communities.  This would mark the beginning of a new chapter of inclusion and unity in Iraq.

It is my hope that our gathering today should not remain an isolated event but we should spread the messages from this gathering to all communities.

The United Nations looks forward to continuing to work with and supporting Iraqis of all faiths to rise above misunderstandings and misconceptions, and find the path of harmony and mutual respect.

Thank you.


Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017 13:54

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