15 September 2006
Iraq Now One of Most Violent Conflict Areas in World, Challenges Facing People Never More Daunting, Special Representative Tells Security Council
Briefing Council, Highlights Recent Steps to Broaden Government's Support, Says Global Community Has Vital Stake in Helping Country Becomes Peaceful Partner
NEW YORK, 14 September (UN Headquarters) -- Today, Iraq had become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world, and the challenges facing the people had never appeared more daunting, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, told the Security Council today.
Briefing Council members, he said insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights, had continued to inflict untold suffering. The key challenge of the Government of Iraq was to develop a truly national agenda that was responsive to the needs and aspirations of all Iraqis. Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki had laid out a range of initiatives in his National Reconciliation Plan and had taken steps to broaden support for his Government and to increase the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces. The Reconciliation Plan included the Baghdad Peace Initiative, aimed at establishing a basis for mutual trust and protection among Baghdad's diverse communities. "These initiatives merit the widest possible support."
He said that, given Iraq's importance and potential, its neighbours and the wider international community had a vital stake in helping Iraq become a peaceful, stable and prosperous partner. The "International Compact with Iraq" [an economic initiative of the Government, co-chaired by the Government and the United Nations, for a new partnership with the international community] could become an important vehicle towards that end. On 18 September, at United Nations Headquarters, a high-level meeting had been organized to address the proposals in that Compact. The Government had also pledged its strong commitment to tackling corruption and creating a transparent and efficient oil sector.
One of the key challenges remained ensuring greater respect for human rights and the rule of law, he said. One of the priorities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was assisting the Government in setting up a strong national human rights protection system. UNAMI was also providing advice to the Government on the growing problem of internal displacement, as, since the Samarra attack on 22 February, some 200,000 citizens had been displaced. United Nations agencies, funds and programmes had nearly depleted their resources earmarked for emergency humanitarian activities. "There is now an urgent need for new funding to meet the needs of the displaced."
The time had come to hold focused discussions on how best to assist Iraq, he said. Those discussions should be as open and inclusive as possible. The international community must provide real support for Iraq's efforts to transform itself into a participatory and institutionalized democracy that ensured for all its peoples the full, secure and prosperous lives they have struggled and sacrificed for to achieve. "There are few more noble endeavours to devote our energies and capacities to," he said in conclusion.
Briefing the Council on behalf of the 29 countries making up the Multinational Force, John Bolton, (United States), said, since July 2003, there had been significant successes in the development of legitimate political, economic and governmental institutions in Iraq. The unfolding of the democratic electoral process had been a crucial success in building the foundations of a new free and democratic Iraq. Despite those achievements, setbacks in the level and nature of violence in Iraq had continued to create significant challenges to stability, reconstruction and transition. The sustained level of ethno-sectarian violence was one of the most significant threats to security and stability in Iraq.
The insurgency remained potent and viable, although its visibility had been overshadowed by the increase in sectarian violence it had sought to foment, he said. However, Iraqi security forces continued to grow, improve and conduct more and more independent operations each day. Institutional capability within the Ministries of Defence and Interior was an increasingly important factor in the transition to Iraqi security self-reliance. The Joint Committee to Achieve Iraq Security Self-Reliance would develop a conditions-based road map for full transition of security responsibility.
"The evolution of a fully free, secure and prosperous Iraq remained a work in progress," he said, but Iraq's neighbours also shared some responsibility for Iraq's internal security. Syria should prevent financial and material support, particularly arms, from entering Iraq. Iran should stop providing munitions and other support to extremist groups in Iraq. Iraq's regional neighbours should do more to help Iraq's democratically elected Government by following through on pledges to provide economic assistance and debt relief. The Multinational Force and its combined efforts with the Iraqi security forces continued to support an environment that would allow Iraq's democratically elected Government to succeed, and for the Iraqi people to realize a brighter, secure and more prosperous future.
Iraq's representative said much had been said lately of Iraq sliding into a civil war. Iraq had witnessed an increase in violent activities and sectarian tension during the period prior to the launching of the security plan adopted by the Iraqi Government. Those criminal acts might have caused a kind of an internal displacement, which, in fact, was the objective of the terrorists and the remnants of the previous regime that sought the failure of the new, democratic Iraq. The Government and the people were determined to defeat terrorism. Those familiar with the heritage and interrelated familial ties among the components of Iraqi society would realize that the terrorist objective was not achievable.
Despite difficult circumstances, the Iraqi people had succeeded in completing the political and constitutional process, he said. They would also succeed in the battle for dialogue, national reconciliation, defeating terrorists and maintaining unity. It was necessary to take into consideration that the political leaders and the Iraqi people had been victims of grave systematic violations of human rights during the previous regime. That fact would compel the Government to put the issue of the promotion and protection of human rights in Iraq at the top of its priorities.
While he commended the United Nations role in Iraq through UNAMI and had requested the extension of its mandate, Iraq was still bound by other mandates, the justification of which no longer existed due to the change of circumstances that had led to their establishment, namely the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). The time had come to revisit or review UNMOVIC's mandate, with the objective of fully ending it, he said.
Speakers in the debate, expressing concern about the level of violence in the country, underlined the importance of national reconciliation based on all inclusive dialogue in which religious and local community leaders must participate. The representative of the Untied Republic of Tanzania said that the violence bore all the hallmarks of terrorism and anarchism and every action must be taken to prevent civil war.
Speakers also welcomed the launching of the International Compact, expressing the hope that the high-level meeting of 18 September would enable the Government of Iraq to present its plan for national reconstruction. They also hoped that a conference on Iraq organized by the League of Arab States, which had been announced by the representative of Qatar, would take place as soon as possible. They stressed that the international community should continue and even redouble its support for the Government and the people of Iraq, commending the role UNAMI played, in that regard.
Reiterating his country's serious concern about the human rights situation in Iraq, the representative of Argentina said the Multinational Force and the Iraqi security forces had the responsibility of fully respecting, in all circumstances, the provisions of human rights law and international humanitarian law. The existence of thousands of detainees without due process and the conditions of detention in many prisons throughout Iraq were unacceptable. He expected that all allegations of human rights abuses would be fully investigated and those responsible be brought to justice.
The representatives of Qatar, Ghana, China, Congo, France, Denmark, United Kingdom, Slovakia, United Republic of Tanzania, Russian Federation, Peru, Japan and Greece also participated in the debate.
The meeting started at 10:35 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:35 p.m.
The Security Council had before it the Secretary-General's report pursuant to paragraph 30 of resolution 1546 (2004), which provides an update on United Nations activities in Iraq since June and presents a summary of key political developments, particularly concerning the Iraqi Government's efforts to promote national reconciliation and to improve the country's security situation.
Over the past three years, the Iraqi people have made many sacrifices to support their country's political transition, the report says. Through their active participation in two elections, the constitutional process and the constitutional referendum, they have demonstrated their commitment to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq, despite the very tight transitional timetable and challenging security environment. The Iraqi people now have every right to expect their elected leaders -- first and foremost their constitutionally-elected Government -- to do everything possible to deliver tangible improvements in their day-to-day lives.
Despite the significant achievements in the political transition process, meeting the benchmarks endorsed by the Council in resolution 1546 (2004) has not translated into an improved security and human rights situation, the report states. This remains a major challenge. Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights, including killings, kidnappings and torture, continued unabated in many parts of the country. Iraq today has become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world.
While noting the Government's efforts to take concrete measures to improve security, such as the Baghdad security plan, and the efforts of the Multinational Force to train Iraqi security forces, the Secretary-General states that there can ultimately be no military solutions to the many challenges facing Iraq. As a case in point, growing militia activities are both a cause of, and a response to, the rising level of insecurity and human rights violations. As long as the Iraqi people do not have full confidence in the new Government's impartiality and accountability, there is the danger of a vicious cycle in which rising levels of militia activities breed more fear and insecurity, which in turn will lead to a further increase in militia activities.
In such a difficult environment, the burden of leadership is a heavy one, the report says. Those who are in a position to bring their influence to bear must not only take robust measures to protect the lives of innocent civilians, but also bring to justice those responsible for violent acts, address legitimate grievances and ensure that their own actions are in full accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law. Iraq's Government has a special responsibility to ensure that all those who speak and act on its behalf, do so in the interest of all Iraqi citizens and refrain from responding to particular constituencies or interests.
A vital element in the quest for addressing the security and human rights situation is the improvement of living conditions for all Iraqis, the report states. Most Iraqis today live without reliable access to proper health care, social services, education, employment and other economic opportunities. One important economic initiative of the Government is the International Compact, co-chaired by the Government and the United Nations, for a new partnership with the international community. Considerable preparatory work has been initiated to create an effective framework for the Compact, in which the Government can develop its economic programme according to clearly defined priorities, benchmarks and commitments.
While the focus of the Compact will be economic, due account needs to be taken of the interlinkages with the political and security challenges facing Iraq and the policies the Government has adopted to effectively address them, the report states. The Compact will also need to be as inclusive as possible to ensure a constructive and interactive regional and international engagement. Iraq's Government and the international community must work together to develop and implement the Compact with a view to building a strong Iraqi economy, reintegrating it into the regional and global economy, and ensuring that its benefits are made available to all Iraqis.
Any strategy for reconstruction requires an enabling framework for peace and reconciliation that addresses the causes of violence, insecurity and human rights violations, the report says. Such a framework requires political solutions based on genuine dialogue and consensus-building among the many diverse communities in Iraq. The Government and the Council of Representatives must, therefore, lead in the development of a national agenda that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all Iraqi constituencies. The Iraqi people expect and deserve no less. The Secretary-General welcomes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's National Reconciliation Plan, which identifies key issues requiring effective action. The Iraqi-led Baghdad peace initiative can make an important contribution to realizing the Plan's goals, and the United Nations stands ready to assist.
Regional countries have an important role in supporting national reconciliation in Iraq, given the symbiotic relationship between Iraq and the region as a whole in terms of their security and prosperity, the report states. While Iraq needs to recognize the legitimate concerns of regional countries about the situation inside its own country, regional countries must be responsive to Iraqi needs. The United Nations, therefore, continues to support the planned League of Arab States conference on the Iraqi national accord. The Secretary-General welcomes the meetings of foreign and interior ministers of States neighbouring Iraq, which have helped to promote dialogue between Iraq and its neighbours. However, much more needs to be done through such forums to promote concrete confidence-building measures, as the situation on both sides of the Iraqi border remains difficult.
While regional support for national reconciliation is important, the primary responsibility clearly rests with the Iraqi people, the Secretary-General states. The constitutional review could become an important vehicle to establish a firm foundation for the reconciliation process. The series of multiparty seminars held by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on key outstanding constitutional issues has shown that apparently divisive issues can be resolved if approached in a constructive way. The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in drafting the legal framework for the establishment of the new Independent High Electoral Commission, as requested by the Council of Representatives.
The United Nations remains committed to continuing to fulfil its mandate pursuant to Security Council resolution 1546 (2004), as circumstances permit, the report states. While the United Nations remains responsive to the current challenges facing Iraq, it is keen to engage in a strategic dialogue on plans for the country's future. To this end, the Secretary-General will convene a meeting in New York on 18 September with the representatives of Iraq and its neighbours, the permanent members of the Council, key donors and others.
While the Organization's presence and ability to operate effectively remains severely constrained by the security environment, UNAMI is exploring how it can maximize its impact and which tasks can be prioritized, the report says. Following the formal completion of Iraq's political transition, the time has come for its constitutionally elected Government and the international community to place the safety and welfare of the Iraqi people at the front and centre of all their collective efforts. "The Iraqi people have arrived at an important crossroads: if they are to build firm foundations for the common interest of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity will be within reach," the Secretary-General states.
If current patterns of discord and violence prevail for much longer, there is a grave danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State, and potentially of civil war, which would be detrimental not only to the Iraqi people, but also to countries in the region and the international community in general. The Secretary-General hopes that at this critical time, the Iraqi people will resolve to unite with a view to building a better future for all, living up to the country's significant human and natural potential. They will need the region's and the international community's active support, which must recognize that overcoming the many challenges facing Iraq will require long-term solutions that can only be achieved through a sustained commitment of cooperation and support.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, ASHRAF JEHANGIR QAZI, introducing the report, said the report had come at a time "when the challenges facing the Iraqi people have never appeared more daunting". The key challenge for the Government of Iraq was to develop a truly national agenda that was responsive to the needs and aspirations of all Iraqis. Prime Minister Al-Maliki had laid out a range of initiatives in his National Reconciliation Plan and had taken steps to broaden support for his Government and to increase the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces. The Reconciliation Plan included the Baghdad Peace Initiative, aimed at establishing a basis for mutual trust and protection among Baghdad's diverse communities. The Government was also seeking to establish a dialogue with those who have remained outside the political process. "These initiatives merit the widest possible support. Ultimately, lasting improvements of security can only be achieved through negotiated solutions to complex political, economic, social and religious issues that meet the legitimate needs and interests of all Iraqis."
He said Iraq today had become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world. Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights had continued to inflict untold suffering. Given Iraq's importance and potential, its neighbours and the wider international community had a vital stake in helping Iraq become a peaceful, stable and prosperous partner. The International Compact with Iraq could become an important vehicle towards that end, as an initiative for a new partnership between Iraq and the international community. At the preparatory meeting in Abu Dhabi on 10 September, the Government had outlined the key priorities on which to form the International Compact, such as effective public resource management, economic reform in private sector development and social sector reforms. The Government had also pledged its strong commitment to tackling corruption and creating a transparent and efficient oil sector.
The Government's commitments to make urgent progress on national reconciliation, political inclusion and consensus-building in addition to the International Compact also deserved the full support of the region and the international community, he said. Those processes, however, must be Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned. The elected Council of Representatives must decide on legislation to make substantial parts of Iraq's Constitution operational and must commence a review process to strengthen the Constitution. The UNAMI Office of Constitutional Support had facilitated preparatory work for the constitutional review process. He hoped that review would be used as a vehicle to promote national dialogue and reconciliation. UNAMI, in all contacts with the Council of Representatives, had emphasized that Iraq's new independent institutions must be protected by effective laws and enabled to discharge their responsibilities independently and impartially.
He said one of the key challenges remained ensuring greater respect for human rights and the rule of law. UNAMI's priority was in assisting the Government in setting up a strong national human rights protection system. Strengthening human rights and the rule of law was necessary to create solid foundations for development and reconstruction efforts. If effective remedies for present and past crimes remained elusive, more Iraqis might take the law into their own hands.
UNAMI was also providing advice to the Government on the growing problem of internal displacement, he said. Since the Samarra attack on 22 February, some 200,000 citizens had been displaced, mainly in Baghdad. United Nations agencies, funds and programmes had nearly depleted their resources earmarked for emergency humanitarian activities. Similarly, the Government was constrained in its ability to respond to the situation. "There is now an urgent need for new funding to meet the needs of the displaced."
Highlighting these challenges was not to deny that, in a number of areas, there had been measurable progress in the delivery of services, he continued. But the Iraqi people and their leaders had arrived at an important crossroads; if they were able to build firm foundations for the common interest of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity was likely to come within reach. However, if current violence prevailed for much longer, there was a grave danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State, and potentially civil war. There was still reason for optimism. The resilience of the Iraqi people was reason enough to know they would not be defeated in achieving their aspiration. "The best option of the international community is to prove the pessimists wrong by assisting the people and Government of Iraq in realizing their national vision."
The time had come to hold focused discussions on how best to assist Iraq, he said. Those discussions should be as open and inclusive as possible. The international community must provide real support for Iraq's efforts to transform itself into a participatory and institutionalized democracy that ensured for all its peoples the full, secure and prosperous lives they had struggled and sacrificed to achieve. "There are few more noble endeavours to devote our energies and capacities to," he said in conclusion.
JOHN BOLTON (United States), reporting on behalf of the 29 countries making up the Multinational Force, said the most recent reporting period coincided with the first 90 days of a democratically elected, representative unity Government -- a substantial break from Iraq's past. In early June, the formation of a national unity Government had been completed with the appointments of the Ministers of Interior, Defence and State for National Security Affairs. On 25 June, Prime Minister Al-Maliki had presented a "National Reconciliation and Dialogue Project" to the Council of Representatives. That Project sought to reconcile past inequities and rally Iraqis around the principle of equality without sectarian divisions. It looked to establish the basis for national unity through the democratic process and create the conditions for Iraq to assume a leading regional and international role. Most of the 24 Council Committees had formed and named chairs, and was making progress on key legislation required to implement the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution.
In late July, the Iraqi Government and the United Nations, with the strong support of the United States, the United Kingdom and other donors had launched the International Compact with Iraq. The Compact would, over the next five years, bring together the international community and multilateral organizations to help Iraq achieve its vision of a united, federal and democratic country, at peace with its neighbours and itself, and economically self-sufficient and prosperous.
Since July 2003, there had been significant successes in the development of legitimate political, economic and governmental institutions in Iraq, he said. The unfolding of the democratic electoral process had been a crucial success in building the foundations of a new free and democratic Iraq. Despite those achievements, obstacles remained. Setbacks in the level and nature of violence in Iraq continued to create significant challenges to stability, reconstruction and transition. Sectarian tensions purposely incited by insurgents and extremists had increased over the last quarter, resulting in increased killings, kidnappings, attacks on civilians and increasing numbers of internally displaced persons. Extremists were increasingly interlocked in retaliatory violence and seeking to expand their existing areas of influence. The sustained level of ethno-sectarian violence was one of the most significant threats to security and stability in Iraq.
Nonetheless, the Iraqi people continued to reject violence overwhelmingly as a means to drive political change, he said. The international community remained steadfast with the Iraqi people in their determined drive for a secure, stable and democratic country.
On the security situation, he noted that insurgents, extremists and terrorists remained capable and intent on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilian officials and security forces, with a goal of destabilizing the legitimately elected Iraq Government and denying the Iraq people the democracy and promise of a better future that they had chosen through free and fair elections. During the period, 4 of Iraq's 18 provinces, namely Baghdad, Al Anbar, Salah ad Din and Diyala, continued to experience more than 81 per cent of all attacks. Al Anbar and Baghdad were the most seriously affected, accounting for some 55 per cent of all attacks. Twelve provinces, containing more than 50 per cent of the population, had experienced only 5 per cent of all attacks.
Attacks and civilian causalities had risen, characterized by ethno-sectarian attacks and reprisals, he added. Violence had escalated notably in Baghdad, which, as the political, population and media centre of the country, was a high value target for terrorists. Nonetheless, terrorists had failed to advance their primary objectives, including derailing Iraq's political process and widening their political support among the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people continued to express confidence in the Iraqi army to provide for their security, and to reject the extremists' vision of Iraq's future. The average number of weekly attacks had increased by 15 per cent over the previous reporting period's average, and Iraqi casualties had increased by 51 per cent compared to the previous quarter. The Multinational Force and the Iraqi Government continued to make progress, improving the security environment in Fallujah and some parts of northern Iraq. The Iraqi army had taken the lead in more counter-insurgency operations and had assumed security responsibility in more areas.
The insurgency remained potent and viable, although its visibility had been overshadowed by the increase in sectarian violence it had sought to foment, he said. The rising sectarian strife defined the emerging nature of violence in mid-2006. On 14 June, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki had announced the Government's plan to provide improved security conditions in Baghdad. "Operation Together Forward" was an Iraqi planned and led operation to ensure Baghdad's security against attacks designed to uproot democracy and derail Iraq's commitment to progress. In July, Prime Minister Al-Maliki and United States President George W. Bush had announced an adjustment to the Baghdad Security Plan. The effort appeared to have reduced Baghdad violence in the month of August.
Attacks on Iraq's infrastructure continued to adversely affect oil revenues and the availability of electricity, he said. Although the number of attacks was decreasing, the essential services infrastructure would continue to be a high-value target for enemy elements. The Multinational Force would continue to work with the Iraqi Government to strengthen further infrastructure security.
Although Baghdad remained the focus for sectarian and terrorist violence in Iraq, violence tied to the rejectionist insurgency, terrorist intimidation, political and tribal tensions and criminality continued in other regions. Sectarian violence was gradually spreading north and Al-Qaida in Iraq continued its intimidation to coerce passive Sunni support, although tribes were pushing back to eject Al-Qaida and to re-establish their dominant role.
Iraqi security forces continued to grow, improve and conduct more and more independent operations each day, he said. Multinational Forces continued to train the Iraqi security forces and to transition security responsibilities of areas to the Iraqi forces as proficiency allowed and conditions permitted. Iraq had achieved another historic milestone on 13 July, with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from Multinational Force to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Police Service. Moreover, on 26 May, the Multinational Force had transferred an additional 10 Forward Operating Bases to the Government of Iraq. Iraqi security forces were increasingly taking the lead in operations and assuming primary responsibility for Iraq's security, as Iraqi army and police forces demonstrated an increased capability to plan and execute counter-insurgency operations.
Institutional capability within the Ministries of Defence and Interior was an increasingly important factor in the transition to Iraqi security self-reliance, he added. With more than two thirds of the Iraqi army combat units in the lead, the Multinational Force's focus was shifting towards helping the Iraqis develop stronger logistics and command and control capabilities. In the first week of September, the Ministry of Defence and the Joint Headquarters had assumed operational control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command, the Iraqi Navy and the Iraqi Air Force. The Joint Committee to Achieve Iraq Security Self-Reliance would develop a conditions-based road map for full transition of security responsibility.
Noting that the United Nations contributions in Iraq were vital, he urged the United Nations to continue to fulfil its mandate under resolution 1546 (2004). The United Nations role in supporting and co-chairing the International Compact was a key new component of the United Nations role. The Multinational Force continued to provide security for the United Nations in Baghdad, Basra and Irbil, respectively.
"The evolution of a fully free, secure and prosperous Iraq remained a work in progress," he said. Training Iraqi security forces to assume primary responsibility for security was essential. Since taking the reins of government in June, Prime Minister Al-Maliki's Government had taken promising steps towards national reconciliation as well as economic development, reform and reconstruction through the launch of the International Compact. The Multinational Force and the international community stood with the Iraqi people as the Government continued its efforts to promote national dialogue and inclusion.
Iraq's neighbours shared some responsibility for Iraq's internal security, he said. Syria should prevent financial and material support, particularly arms, from entering Iraq. Iran should stop providing munitions and other support to extremist groups in Iraq. Iraq's regional neighbours should do more to help Iraq's democratically elected Government by following through on pledges to provide economic assistance and debt relief. The Multinational Force and its combined efforts with the Iraqi security forces continued to support an environment that would allow Iraq's democratically elected Government to succeed, and for the Iraqi people to realize a brighter, secure and more prosperous future.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER (Qatar) said Iraq was witnessing progress at the political and democratic levels. Nevertheless, progress was overshadowed by lack of security and widespread violations of human rights. It was incumbent upon the Government to make a national dialogue towards national reconciliation a priority. Escalating violence had made Iraq one of the worst humanitarian crises, and regional and international efforts must be mobilized to address the crisis. The League of Arab States was preparing a conference on the situation. He hoped the Reconciliation Plan would be a success and that Iraq could overcome the obstacles on the road to stability.
He said the current security situation must be brought under control to enable Iraqi security forces to take over from the Multinational Force. The improvement of living conditions was no less important than national reconciliation or strengthening the security forces. The ministerial meeting to be convened in New York would be an opportunity for Iraq to present its economical programme. In light of the difficult situation in Iraq, UNAMI had an important and commendable role in providing support and advice to the Government of Iraq.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN (Ghana) said that, in August, international forces had been deployed in Baghdad and the Reconciliation Plan had been adopted. He hoped those measures would yield positive results. He welcomed the launching of the International Compact, which must reflect the interconnectedness of economic and security developments. Active involvement of United Nations agencies and multilateral financial institutions was commendable. He expected that the regional foreign ministers meeting of 18 September would enable the Government of Iraq to present its plan for national reconstruction. He noted ongoing efforts of the UNAMI Office of Constitutional Support. It continued to provide advice and assistance to the Government and the Council of Representatives on issues relating to the constitutional review process.
He noted with concern that United Nations agencies, funds and programmes had heavily depleted the resources earmarked for emergency humanitarian activities. The Secretary-General's request for substantial new funding should be urgently addressed. The acute human rights and humanitarian crisis characterized by indiscriminate killings, targeted attacks, crime and corruption was also of great concern. It was clear that State institutions were unable to protect individuals or address the needs of victims of gross human rights violations.
He said: "We wish to place on record the exemplary work being done in Iraq by the United Nations, whose staff are often exposed to considerable risks." The United Nations presence and ability to operate effectively in Iraq remained constrained, but it had been able to provide assistance to the Government of Iraq in several key areas. He hoped that UNAMI would soon develop adequate self-reliance mechanisms that would enable it to operate safely and effectively.
LIU ZHENMIN (China) said the Iraqi people had achieved important results in the last three years, including the holding of elections, the formulation of a Constitution and the establishment of a Government. Such results demonstrated the Iraqi people's commitment to peace and democracy. He hoped they would be able to overcome all difficulties and soon be able to live in peace. Iraq was currently at a critical crossroads and still faced formidable economic and security challenges. The new Government should do all it could to enhance the inclusiveness of the process and settle outstanding issues regarding the Constitution. He welcomed the National Reconciliation Plan and hoped the various factions and ethnic groups would unite with the Government in implementing the Plan. China supported the initiative of the League of Arab States on convening a national reconciliation conference.
On the issue of security, he said Iraq's Government and the Multinational Force must try harder to address the causes of the instability. Military means alone could not solve the root causes of the problem, but would only exacerbate the vicious cycle of violence. The Government and the Multinational Force had taken measures to improve the situation, and he hoped the new Government would take more responsibilities for creating an environment that was favourable to improved law and order.
In the political field, he said the Government must try harder to achieve early results in economic reconstruction and improve the living standard of the people. His delegation hoped the International Compact would enable Iraq to establish a new type of partnership. The Compact should be inclusive and ensure that all parties participate in the country's economic reconstruction. Political and economic reconstruction could not be realized without the international community's support. He welcomed the Secretary-General's initiative on convening a meeting next week on the question of Iraq. He hoped that meeting would speed up reconstruction, in an effort to build a better future for Iraq.
PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo) said, for the most part, the security situation remained grave, in spite of developments in the political process in Iraq. Encouraging initiatives had been taken by the constitutionally elected Government and, among other things, he welcomed the launching of the Baghdad Security Plan. However, violence and human rights violations remained endemic and the country was on the brink of an all-out civil war. That was precisely the aim of the proponents of chaos.
He said the international community must help Iraq in mastering the situation. Only national reconciliation through an inclusive dialogue could offer a solution to the current crisis, and all parties must be included in the process. He called upon the League of Arab States to convene, as soon as possible, its conference on national unity in Iraq. The plans of the Government of Iraq deserved the full support of the international community.
JEAN MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said his delegation fully supported the Secretary-General's observation that Iraq stood at a crossroads. While the security situation was a matter of deep concern, the prospects for improvement existed. It was not too late to break out of the impasse and chart a course to end the crisis. The Government had taken commendable efforts at the political level with the National Reconciliation Plan, and at the security level to re-establish security in Baghdad, as well as with the International Compact. Still, the challenges remained huge. Iraq had become one of the most violent conflict zones in the world. The number of civilian causalities had grown to more than 100 per day. The number of displaced persons had also grown considerably. France reiterated its support to the Government and its willingness to remain at Iraq's side.
He welcomed Iraq's will to provide a comprehensive response to the challenges before it. Only an inclusive process would help to isolate extremist groups and bring them back into the political landscape. Regarding the response to the legitimate security needs of the Iraqi people, he condemned the growing violence. The training of Iraqi security forces and the handling of the militia remained a priority. At the same time, a clear juncture for the withdrawal of foreign forces was indispensable for allowing the Iraqis to carry on in a framework of sovereignty. France, along with the European Union, welcomed the launching of the International Compact and expressed its willingness to support it. He stressed, however, the need for the process to be conducted by the Iraqi people. The support of the regional and international community was also needed.
Concluding, he thanked the Secretary-General for his initiative to hold a meeting on 18 September. France also supported the process of national dialogue, and was committed to promoting the implementation of the International Compact. The Secretary-General's report described the difficulties facing Iraq, but also presented the hope for an Iraq that was united and capable of finding its way back to stability. The international community must play its role in assisting Iraq in that regard. France would do everything it could to promote such efforts. He hoped the Arab League's initiative would soon result in the convening of a conference.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) said that, although the situation in Iraq continued to present a challenge to the international community on several fronts, the visions and political initiative of the new Government, combined with the continued commitment of the international community, would make the International Compact a success and provide the people of Iraq with a fresh start. However, the security situation remained very serious in several parts of Iraq, and the sectarian nature of much of the violence was a cause for particular concern. Humanitarian needs must be urgently addressed. Human rights must be respected, and the Government should give due attention to the situation. Clearly, the influence of sectarian-based militias could not be curbed by security operations alone. Reconciliation, economic development and a well-functioning independent police force and justice system must form part of the solution.
The Government's peace and reconciliation plan launched in June, contained the right elements, but implementation remained key, she continued. In the national reconstruction process, the United Nations and UNAMI should play a pivotal role. With stronger and more confident national forces and with continued support of the Multinational Force, she hoped that the level of violence would decrease and the main focus could be directed towards the country's reconstruction. The launch of the Compact on 27 July had marked a new departure for international support to the realization of the Government's plans for a united, federal and democratic society at peace with its neighbours.
Denmark intended to maintain its presence in Iraq as long as its support was requested by the Government and the United Nations, and as long as its presence was meaningful, she added. The Danish Parliament had decided to extend the mandate of the Danish troops in Iraq until the end of June 2007. The country's involvement also comprised reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. It had committed approximately $90 million to those goals. Supporting an expansion of the United Nations role in Iraq, Denmark continued to offer direct support to UNAMI. Effective mid-November, it had decided to comply with the Mission's request to deploy a C-130 aircraft suitable for both passengers and cargo.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) commended UNAMI's ongoing work, saying that the importance of that work could not be understated. The Iraqi people, through their participation in elections, had made clear their commitment to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq. However, despite progress in the political field, serious challenges remained, including curbing militias, promoting reconstruction and improving human rights. Tackling violence must be the Government's top priority. He welcomed, in that regard, the Baghdad Security Plan, as well as progress made in training and equipping of Iraqi forces. He hoped that the Iraqi Government would build on that progress by tackling militia issues.
He said progress on the political and human rights tracks was also necessary. In that regard he welcomed the Reconciliation Plan. It was important that the international community at this critical juncture continued its support of the Government through, among other things, the International Compact. He looked forward to the 18 September meeting, which could move the work of the International Compact forward and lead to the engagement of the region in the process. He called on Iran and Syria to do more to prevent the flow of arms into Iraq. Helping Iraq to achieve a stable, democratic and prosperous future was in everybody's interest.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said that there could ultimately be no military solutions to the many challenges facing Iraq. Every strategy aiming at reconstruction and normalization of the situation should address the root causes of the crisis. The Government of Iraq must work with a sense of urgency to overcome the increasingly apparent divisions among various Iraqi groups. Of utmost urgency was the process of national reconciliation. In that connection, he reiterated his country's support to the National Reconciliation Plan put forward by the country's Prime Minister. Likewise, he supported the initiative of the League of Arab States to convene a conference on the Iraqi accord, which unfortunately had been postponed on several occasions.
It was also essential to put in motion the process of review of the Constitution, he continued, noting that almost four months after the inauguration of the Government there had been no significant progress, in that regard.
The great majority of the victims of violence in Iraq were innocent civilians, he said. An average of 100 people were killed per day, and Iraq had become one of the most violent conflict zones in the world. He also reiterated Argentina's serious concern about the human rights situation in Iraq. Sectarian violence was an increasing threat, and growing militia activities were a cause of particular concern, because they bred a vicious cycle of attacks, reprisals and revenge. The Government should take decisive measures to face that problem and to protect the lives of innocent civilians. It should also foster an environment conducive to the disarming, demobilization and reintegration of all militias.
He also reiterated that the Multinational Force and the Iraqi security forces had the responsibility of fully respecting, in all circumstances, the provisions of human rights law and international humanitarian law. The existence of thousands of detainees without due process and the conditions of detention in many prisons throughout Iraq were unacceptable. He expected that all allegations of human rights abuses would be fully investigated and those responsible be brought to justice. Argentina welcomed the progress in developing the International Compact and hoped that it could be formally presented before the end of 2006.
In conclusion, he underlined that, following the completion of the transitional process, the efforts to normalize the situation in Iraq were at an important crossroads. The options were clear; either the solid foundations of a democratic, sovereign and unified Iraq at peace with itself were established, or there was a danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State and potentially of civil war. Argentina would continue to support long-term solutions that could contribute to averting the second scenario.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia) said that Iraq had successfully met the benchmarks endorsed by resolution 1546 (2004), and the first constitutionally-elected Government was now in place. Such a historical achievement should not be lost. Among the country's main priorities, he listed further strengthening of democratic institutions, effective implementation of governmental programmes, mainly in the security and human rights areas, and addressing the basic needs, concerns and aspirations of all Iraq's communities. Stabilization steps were urgently needed. Important confidence-building measures should include inter- and intra-communal dialogue, national reconciliation, constitutional review and the implementation of the Constitution. The Iraqi Government must do everything possible to progressively foster an environment conducive to the demobilization, disarming and reintegration of militias.
Continuing, he welcomed the recent initiative of the Government of Iraq to launch the International Compact for a new partnership with the international community, and the United Nations decision to provide strong support in its development. He also stressed the importance of Iraqi ownership of the process and the broad involvement by the international community, as well as active participation of neighbours and partners in the region. Another welcome initiative related to a meeting of relevant parties' foreign ministers on 18 September.
With the level of violence and insecurity and mounting civilian casualties remaining a source of concern, he said that tangible improvement of overall security in the country remained a key objective. Firm measures were also needed to reinforce the justice and security systems and to develop a robust human rights agenda. He also fully supported and encouraged effective regional engagement and welcomed the continuing efforts by the League of Arab States to convene a conference on Iraqi national accord.
On its part, as one of the troop-contributing countries, Slovakia remained fully committed to the political and economic transition of Iraq, he added. Its position had been directly communicated to Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki in Baghdad by Slovakia's new Prime Minister Robert Fico, during his visit to Iraq in August. The discussions of further possible Slovak assistance had continued last Friday in Bratislava during the visit of the Iraqi Foreign Minister to his country.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the level of violence in Iraq was affecting all levels of the population. Particularly disturbing was that innocent civilians, including women and children, had been victims of the attacks. The violence bore the all hallmarks of terrorism and anarchism. The urgency of restoring order could, therefore, not be overemphasized, as every action must be taken to prevent anarchy and civil war.
He said there was a need for democracy, liberty and the rule of law. Tribute must be paid to the resilience of the Iraqi people. The Government of Iraq must continue and had demonstrated it was effective. He welcomed the political efforts of the Prime Minister, which had included visits to neighbouring countries, of which the visit to Iran had been of particular importance. The need for national reconciliation could also not be overemphasized.
The International Compact deserved the full support of the international community, as it could be an engine for the restoration to peace and prosperity, he continued. The Prime Minister's Reconciliation Plan also deserved support. That Iraqi-led initiative had the potential to be a success, if religious and community leaders were fully involved. Iraq continued to face formidable political, economic and security challenges, and the security forces would continue to need outside assistance. Iraq would also continue to rely heavily on the support of the international community.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said he fully shared the Secretary-General's conclusions in his report. The process of transforming Iraq was proceeding in a complex way against the backdrop of violence and the absence of consensus on key issues. He supported the Government's efforts to normalize the situation in the country and welcomed such actions as the peace initiative for Baghdad and the National Reconciliation Plan, which was designed to ensure the unity of Iraqi society. His delegation was closely following the discussion on the issue of federating the country. Iraq could select the form of governance that met the interests of the country, including the federal State.
Continuing, he said the foreign military presence in Iraq must not be permanent or indefinite in nature. In the end, all foreign troops must leave Iraq's territory, transferring responsibility to the army and police. Combating terrorism only by force was short-sighted. A more realistic way to achieve reconciliation and consensus was through a broad-based dialogue. The active participation of the United Nations in the process was necessary. On the issue of the International Compact, he shared the conclusions of the Secretary-General's report, noting that it must serve the long-term work of economic recovery for an independent Iraq.
VITALIANO GALLARDO (Peru) said security and stability were fundamental issues for the new Iraqi Government. He hoped that the Government's latest plans for dialogue and reconciliation could overcome the existing challenges. His country condemned terrorist attacks in Iraq, as well as sectarian violence and intolerance. The security sector in Iraq must fulfil its functions by protecting civilians and respecting the rule of law and human rights. He hoped that the future establishment of the human rights committee would strengthen the judicial system.
He said reconstruction was another central issue for the Government. The international community must redouble its efforts to help Iraq prosper. The International Compact was important in that regard. UNAMI must continue to provide support, in accordance with its mandate and in all areas that could contribute to stability, humanitarian assistance and assurance of human rights in Iraq.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said Iraq had completed the political process as prescribed by the Council, and he hoped Iraq would continue on its path towards a fee, democratic and prosperous State. However, the people were confronted with challenges in achieving national reconciliation, ensuring security and promoting development. Of particular concern were the sectarian violence and terrorist attacks. While acknowledging and respecting national ownership of national reconstruction programmes, the international community must continue the necessary support in partnership with the Iraqi people and Government. Commending UNAMI, he underlined three areas for its activities in the current situation, namely promotion of national dialogue; assistance in the constitutional process; and participation in reconstruction and development.
Expressing his support for the International Compact with Iraq and the strong role of the United Nations as co-chair of that Compact, he said he hoped the framework would be finalized by the end of the year. Although Japan had concluded its activities in Iraq through the deployment of its contingent, it maintained its commitment to provide support through airlift support activities; support for Iraqi reconstruction, with, among other assistance, $1.5 billion in grant aid; and engagement in the International Compact. Success for the Compact required that the Iraqi Government assumed full ownership and that regional donors and international partners were fully engaged.
Council President ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking in his national capacity, said the Secretary-General's report and Mr. Qazi's briefing were a stark reminder that much remained to be done in Iraq. The significant achievements had not yet translated into an improved security and human rights situation. The level of violence was a cause of alarm. The Government, with the international community's help, should do all it could to address the needs of the people, both in terms of living conditions and safeguarding the people's security. Greece fully supported the work being done by the United Nations in Iraq and was aware of the difficult circumstances in which it operated. He concurred with the recommendations in the Secretary-General's report. Greece would continue to support Iraq's efforts and would work towards the establishment of a stable Iraq, in which there was full respect for human rights and the rule of law.
HAMID AL-BAYATI (Iraq) said he valued UNAMI's important role and assistance towards the success of the political and constitutional process in Iraq, which had ended with the election of the constitutional Government that was to lead Iraq for the next four years. The Iraqi Government and people still needed the Mission's efforts and looked forward to seeing a vital role for UNAMI during the next constitutional review, in enhancing national reconciliation and developing Iraqi election institutions. That would require the United Nations effective existence and an increase of its working staff in Iraq.
With the full formation of the elected Iraqi Government on 8 June 2006, Iraq had entered a new phase, having achieved a milestone in the path of constitutional and political process pursuant to the time frame determined by resolution 1546 (2004). The Iraqi Government had determined that its priority would be to confront the enormous challenges in the political, economic and security fields. As those fields ere strongly interrelated, the Iraqi Government had decided to address those fields on an equal footing.
In the political field, the Government believed that the political process should be comprehensive and inclusive of all components of the Iraqi society, he said. On 25 June, the Government had announced a plan for national reconciliation that would secure the integration of all Iraqi people with all entities in the core of the political process. The Government had established the High Commission of National Reconciliation and would provide all necessary requirements for its success.
On the issue of security, he said the Government had adopted a security plan that aimed at securing the capital, Baghdad. The Iraqi forces, with the support of the Multinational Force were responsible for implementing the plan. The last 30 days had witnessed a decrease in the level of violence and crime in comparison to the last two months of June and July 2006.
Regarding development and reconstruction, he stressed the need to give more importance to the International Compact with Iraq. The Iraqi Government had requested United Nations support in that regard, as the International Compact was based on a sustainable partnership between the Iraqi Government and the international community to overcome the challenges that had emerged during the political and economic transition. Iraq expected from the international community a commitment to provide the required resources to address the main priorities.
He said Iraq also required the international community's support to rebuild its economy and to link it to the regional and international economy. Through the Compact, Iraq was committed to combating corruption, establishing an effective and transparent oil sector and enhancing its national institutions. To that end, a preparatory group had been established, co-chaired by Iraq and the United Nations, to prepare for a high-level international conference to endorse that partnership. The Secretary-General would hold a meeting for ministers of foreign affairs of concerned countries on 18 September to review progress in the implementation of resolution 1546 and the development of the International Compact. During the meeting, Iraq would present its national perspective within the framework of the Compact, which would add additional obligations to UNAMI. The Government believed that the Compact with Iraq provided an opportunity for donor countries to fulfil their commitments made at the Madrid and other conferences. He urged friendly countries that had not yet supported Iraq's reconstruction to do so through their initiatives in supporting the Compact.
Much had been said lately of Iraq sliding into a civil war, he said. Iraq had witnessed an increase in violent activities and sectarian tension during the period prior to the launching of the security plan adopted by the Iraqi Government. Those criminal acts might have caused a kind of an internal displacement, which, in fact, was the objective of the terrorists and the remnants of the previous regime that sought the failure of the new, democratic Iraq. The Government and the people were determined to defeat terrorism. Those familiar with the heritage and interrelated familial ties among the components of Iraqi society would realize that the terrorist objective was not achievable.
Despite difficult circumstances, the Iraqi people had succeeded during the last few years in completing the political and constitutional process, he said. They would also succeed in the battle for dialogue, national reconciliation, defeating terrorists and maintaining unity. The Secretary-General's report referred to the critical human rights crisis in Iraq that had been referred to by several human rights organizations. Those reports had received careful attention from his Government. While there were several incidents cited as evidence of human rights violations in Iraq, it was necessary to look at them within the context of the security situation as a whole. Those incidents did not indicate systematic violations, as much as individual incidents that took place due to the sectarian tension in the country. The Government was attempting to end those incidents, investigate their causes and bring the perpetrators to justice.
It was necessary to take into consideration, he added, that the political leaders and the Iraqi people had been victims of grave systematic violations of human rights during the previous regime. That fact would compel the Government to put the issue of promotion and protection of human rights in Iraq at the top of its priorities.
While he commended the United Nations role in Iraq through UNAMI and had requested the extension of its mandate, Iraq was still bound by other mandates, the justification of which no longer existed due to the change of circumstances that had led to their establishment, namely the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). The time had come to revisit or review UNMOVIC's mandate, with the objective of fully ending it.
Responding to speakers' questions and comments, Mr. QAZI thanked Council members for their constructive contributions and encouraging remarks. He said there were possibilities for progress in Iraq. Even though it was true that the achievement of all the benchmarks set in resolution 1546 (2004) had not immediately translated into an improved security situation, the new Government had taken positive steps, such as the Reconciliation Plan and the decision to launch the International Compact in partnership with the United Nations. The United Nations was privileged to be associated with those comprehensive initiatives.
He said that, without any doubt, the major challenge was the degree of violence, including sectarian, terrorist and organized criminal violence, which had created a challenging environment for the average Iraqi in those areas where that violence took place. However, there were indeed many areas in Iraq not affected by such violence.
The United Nations would always be ready to lend support to Iraq, he said. Regional countries would also have a critical role to play. The United Nations had assisted and would assist the League of Arab States in preparatory work for the upcoming conference.
* *** *