Wednesday, 08 August 2018 19:01

Briefing to the Security Council by SRSG for Iraq Ján Kubiš New York, 8 August 2018 [AS PREPARED]

Madam President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council,
I have the honour to present the first report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 2421 (2018), as well as the nineteenth report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 4 of resolution 2107 (2013) on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property.

Madam President,
Following the parliamentary elections on 12 May 2018, complaints and allegations of electoral fraud and mismanagement resulted in the decision to conduct a partial manual ballot recount, thereby delaying establishment of a new government.
The situation was further complicated by public demonstrations that started on 8 July 2018, in Basra Governorate. They subsequently escalated and by 13 July, spread to other southern governorates including Missan, Muthanna, Qadisiya, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Karbala, Babil, Wasit and Baghdad. The protesters were mainly young people with long-standing complaints over the lack of delivery of basic services, shortages of electricity, lack of jobs and pervasive corruption. Their messages, however, swiftly became more politicised, criticising national leaders and successive governments for ignoring the needs of the people and social justice, expressing their deep and growing frustration with the political system, including a sectarian quota system they deemed corrupt, dysfunctional and stagnant, and deploring foreign interference in the internal matters of Iraq. They requested radical action and change instead of promises and slogans. In some cases, these demonstrations turned violent, targeting government and political party offices as well as critical public infrastructure. According to the government, it was infiltrators and political opportunists, exploiting the genuine protests, who were behind these acts of vandalism and violence.
It is to be noted that many of their demands echo requests from previous demonstrations in the pre-Da’esh period that engulfed Anbar, Ninawa, Diyala and Salah-ad-Din provinces.
Many political leaders that have been in power throughout the past periods expressed their support for the demands of the protesters and for their criticism of the authorities. The leader of the Conquest Alliance (Fatah), Hadi al-Ameri, publicly acknowledged that politicians had failed the people and sought forgiveness, reconfirming the need to reform the political process and to establish a government of services and not of privileges for political parties. The head of the Sa’iroun Alliance, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who himself led massive public protests in Baghdad as recently as 2016, with similar demands as today’s demonstrations condemned the crackdown on the protesters. He urged suspension of government formation talks until the legitimate demands of protesters were met.
It is worth recalling that the historic low voter turnout witnessed in southern and other governorates during the 12 May parliamentary elections (some 60% of eligible voters did not participate) had already delivered a strong message of dissatisfaction with the current state of management of public affairs.
The National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, reaffirmed citizens’ right to peaceful demonstration while simultaneously emphasising the importance of respecting the law, preserving public property and refraining from the use of violence. The Council underscored that the security forces were making every effort to protect protesters and prevent sabotage by intruders and opportunists. Meanwhile, the authorities intermittently blocked internet reception and some social media.
Although the scale of protest has now decreased, demonstrations are far from over, including around major oil installations in Basra. As reported eighteen persons have been killed and at least 519 persons have been injured, including 261 members of the security forces. The Iraqi Independent High Commission for Human Rights reported on 23 July that a total of 757 persons had been arrested but that the large majority of these had subsequently been released.
Interior Minister Qassim al-Araji ordered the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate security incidents, to hold those responsible legally accountable.

Madam President,
After meetings with representatives of protesting governorates, the Council of Ministers quickly endorsed a package of measures to address public concerns; this will require substantial budgetary and extrabudgetary resources. Prime Minister Abadi has noted that the Council is keen to fulfil as many demands as possible within existing resources and a tight timeframe. The Council accordingly established a ministerial-level Service and Security Crisis Cell, which first met on 18 July. Similar bodies have been established in each ministry and governorate. The Council of Ministers has also established a Committee for Reconstruction and Services for the Governorates.
The Council of Ministers has also decided to hold ministry and local government officials to account for under-performance and shortcomings in providing services, through a special committee chaired by the Board of Supreme Audit and with the membership of the Council of Ministers' General Secretariat, the Commission of Public Integrity, and the Supreme Commission for Provincial Coordination. On 29 July, Prime Minister Abadi suspended the Minister of Electricity and ordered an investigation into the causes of electricity shortages. The Minister welcomed such investigation and pledged full cooperation.
Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity announced on 20 July that Kuwait would start providing Iraq with fuel for power-generating purposes. Negotiations have started with Saudi Arabia for similar support. Iran has resumed its supply of electricity to Iraq, previously interrupted due to lack of payment. I welcome such gestures of support and urge other countries to provide similar assistance to the people of Iraq.

Madam President,
In his Friday’s sermon on 13 July, the Supreme Religious Authority Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s representative Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i expressed solidarity with protesters and their demands, acknowledging that the demonstrations reflected a lack of public services, and calling on federal and local officials to address people’s demands seriously, while urging protesters not to resort to violence. He further stated that the future government needed to run state institutions professionally and keep away from quotas and favouritism.
On 27 July, in a forward-looking statement, he outlined an approach on reforming and revitalising the system of governance, to respond to the criticism, needs and demands of the people. He called for early formation of a future government comprising competent, honest members and a Prime Minister who should be decisive and courageous enough to fight the financial and administrative corruption that is the root cause of most of Iraq’s problems. The new Prime Minister should have authority, take responsibility for his cabinet and launch a “merciless war” against corruption. The new Council of Representatives should abolish privileges or amend laws that do not achieve justice and equality for the people. If the new government failed to abide by its commitments and to deliver on its reform programme or if the new Council of Representatives or the Judiciary did not act appropriately, the people supported by “all forces of good” of the country would have no other option but to develop other ways to impose their will on the officials.
Following the sermon, Prime Minister Abadi and other political leaders pledged their support for this appeal “that has charted the roadmap for the future of Iraq and its people” and welcomed the guidance of Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani. Following that, a number of political blocs including Sa’iroun and Fateh outlined their own visions and principles on which to build the new government and its programme. Prime Minister Abadi also underlined the prompt actions through which the Government responded to the legitimate demands of the Iraqi citizens and the numerous remedies that have been taken within available resources.

Madam President,
I note with appreciation that Prime Minister Abadi has made major efforts to provide swift and tailored responses to legitimate popular demands, bringing a temporary relief to people living under strenuous conditions. These measures, however, remain insufficient to address the depth of people’s needs and concerns. I urge political leaders to listen to the voice of the people, seize the opportunity and accelerate the process of formation of a patriotic, inclusive and non-sectarian national government that will put all the rich resources of Iraq at the disposal and for the benefit of its people, that will prioritise political, economic and social reforms, justice, equality and accountability, reconciliation, good governance, including the fight against corruption and creation of jobs that would enable economic development, stability and prosperity, that will put all the armed formations under the strict control of the state and will resolutely act against insubordinate militias and criminal gangs, that will ensure full sovereignty and real independence of Iraq, free from foreign interference.

Madam President,
Three months since voters went to the polls to elect their representatives, the electoral process has yet to be concluded. Amidst complaints and allegations of fraud, irregularities, organisational and technical shortfalls political parties and candidates submitted appeals and made persistent demands for a manual recount of the ballots. On 5 June, the Council of Ministers endorsed the report of its own committee which recommended the manual sorting and counting of votes in no less than 5% of all polling centres, the cancellation of out-of-country and internally displaced voting, the prosecution of those involved in electoral violations, and a freeze on external travel by senior officials of the Independent High Electoral Commission.
On 6 June, the Council of Representatives adopted the Third Amendment to the Council of Representatives Elections Law (45/2013), which required the Independent High Electoral Commission to undertake a full manual ballot recount under supervision by judges appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council, and the annulment of the results of out-of-country voting and conditional voting for the internally displaced in camps, prisons, the results of voting by internally displaced persons in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Ninawa, and Diyala governorates, and the results of special voting in the Kurdistan region.
On 21 June, the Federal Supreme Court issued a ruling which upheld some decisions taken by the Council of Representatives but cancelled the provisions which annulled the results of out-of-country voting, voting by internally displaced persons, and special voting in Kurdistan region, citing that it failed to differentiate between those votes validly cast and those with proven irregularities.
Following the court ruling, the Board of Judges took immediate steps to adopt modalities for the recount of ballots that were subject to complaints or allegations of fraud, in line with the Federal Supreme Court ruling of 21 June. The partial manual recount process began in Kirkuk governorate on 3 July. That decision continues to be contested by several political parties, notably in the Kurdistan Region, which rejected the recount’s limited scope as insufficient for addressing the alleged large-scale fraud.
On 6 August, the Board of Judges announced that the manual recount has been completed in all governorates, a month and a few days since the process started. Due to the fire that broke out on 10 June in the IHEC’s Baghdad-Rusafa warehouse, which damaged electoral materials necessary for the recount, the Board of Judges decided not to conduct anymore the recount of Baghdad-Rasafa polling stations. In addition, the Board of Judges has concluded the recount of out-of-country polling stations, notably in Jordan, Iran and Turkey. The process now moves on to results tabulation, another crucial stage to enter the results of the manual recount into the system, prior to generating the provisional election results. The Board of Judges requested further UN support relating to results data entry, considering the sensitivity of the data entry process and the judges limited familiarity with such process. Throughout the recount process, an Electoral Monitoring Team from UNAMI, complemented by UNDP experts, provided oversight, advice and assistance. My Deputy for Political and Electoral Affairs visited several recount centres, including in Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah and Baghdad.
I welcome the orderly, transparent, credible and well-organised conduct of the recount. I applaud the dedication and professionalism of all recount staff, both Independent High Electoral Commission and judiciary personnel, who under the supervision of the Board of Judges have been rigorously devoting their utmost time and energy to complete the task at hand. I also commend the Board of Judges for its hands-on impartial work. The manner in which they have managed the recount has increased public confidence in the electoral process, and the election results.
On 28 July, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Spokesperson Judge Laith Hamzah announced that the IHEC Board of Judges would execute recommendations of the ministerial committee, endorsed by PM Abadi, to dismiss the Directors of IHEC offices in Salah Al-Din, Kirkuk and Anbar, as well as Jordan and Turkey, based on corruption allegations.
Following the completion of the recount process, the Board of Judges intends to submit a report outlining recommendations on the way forward including for future election and possible reforms at the Independent High Electoral Commission taking into account also the experiences from the current role of the judiciary.
Madam President,
The last session of the Council of Representatives was held on 30 June, under the chairmanship of Deputy Speaker Humam Hamoudi, following the last-minute failed efforts to extend its term. Speaker Salim al-Jubouri subsequently expressed his gratitude to the 328 Members of the Parliament who served during the last four challenging years and expressed hope that the new Council of Representatives would expedite the formation of the new government. President Fuad Masum also issued a statement thanking representatives and the Speaker for their services.

Madam President,
Preliminary consultations on forming the new government have been taking place within and across political forces and components. The discussions also cover the overarching vision and principles guiding the formation of the government and its programme, this will be necessary for achieving effectiveness and cohesion of the next government acting as one to deliver its reform programme in full.
Prime Minister Abadi as well as President Masum held separate consultations with political blocs, on 16 and 18 July respectively, on accelerating inclusive government formation talks. The participants confirmed their full commitment to abiding by the Constitution and the decisions of the Federal Supreme Court, to adhering to the final results of the parliamentary elections as ratified by the Federal Supreme Court, and to upholding the constitutional timeframe of the political transition while rejecting ideas of an emergency or national salvation government, outside of the political process and Constitution.

Madam President,

If the situation of the population as regards political, social and economic rights and opportunities, justice and equality is difficult, the situation of women is twice as desperate, with layers of problems, marginalization and deprivation added due to the impact of the fight against Da’esh.
The devastation suffered by the Iraqis, has seen an increase in the number of widows and female-headed households. The country, the society owes them a lot. Support must be provided, for families of the martyrs and survivors. Women must be given access to income-generating opportunities ensuring that they are not left behind in the recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Approach to women and girls should not be to treat them only as vulnerable victims, but as leaders and factors of positive change they are. Women must be in leadership positions in Iraq, must get a full chance to play key roles in shaping the post-Da’esh future of their country. Equality and empowerment of women must be central to all peace, justice, legislative, reconciliation and reform efforts. This will guarantee that the outcomes contain gender specific-provisions and that specific needs of women are not neglected, as so often happens in political negotiations that are usually the exclusive domain of men.
My Deputy for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance and myself met with numerous political leaders and actors, including women, minorities and civil society. Among our priority objectives has been active engagement to promote meaningful participation of women in the formation of the next government, and its programme and their representation at the highest levels in political and decision-making structures including in the Government and Council of Representatives i.a. to reverse the trend of declining participation of women in the government since the first post-2003 governments. Here I would like to commend the recent decision of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament that one Deputy Speaker of the next regional parliament must be a woman.
As part of our efforts to promote the effective participation and representation of women in political and decision-making processes, on 3 July in Babil my Deputy for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance launched the national #whynot/#shekobeha advocacy campaign for women, alongside the Chair of the Babil Provincial Council.
In a related development, on 26 June, President Masum reviewed the draft report on the implementation the Iraqi National Action Plan (INAP) on UNSCR 1325 (2000) in Iraq in a meeting with the 5th Committee formed to review the report. On 31 July, I also met with members of the National Team to discuss progress on the implementation of the current NAP and preparations for the development of the 2nd NAP, as well as the challenges, including lack of a dedicated budget to support NAP activities.
Last week, UNAMI’s Gender Advisor facilitated a meeting with women leaders, civil society, activists and elected women that adopted a consolidated vision of women’s demands for the inclusion of gender perspectives and gender equality considerations in the government programme. The outcome and recommendations of this consultative meeting are attached to this report. Following this UNAMI will continue bilateral discussions with political blocs and forces on the inclusion of the priorities of resolution 1325 in their programme, including participation of women in committees formed to negotiate the government programme and national reconciliation agenda as well as consideration of a 30% quota representation of women in the next cabinet and other institutions. This week, DSRSG Walpole chaired a UN meeting with Iraqi women expected to sit in the next Council of Representatives. The Iraqi women politicians undertook to work across the party divide, for example in establishing a Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and women’s platforms, in the development of government policies and strategies on increasing women’s participation and representation in politics, as well as gender mainstreaming in all parliamentary processes.

Madam President,
I welcome the advancement of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda in Iraq, as part of our joint efforts to promote the application of the recently adopted resolution 2427. Following the listing of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), as a state actor in Iraq, for the use and recruitment of children, UNAMI Child Protection Advisor met with the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other partners to address their concerns, explain the listing process and the next steps in proceeding with the development of the Action Plan, the purpose of which is to ensure that there is no use or recruitment of children by the PMF. On 30 July Iraq’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on grave violations of child rights discussed prevention of and response to violations against children by all state actors including PMF, it was agreed that the Action Plan will prioritise prevention, reintegration, rehabilitation. I am encouraged by this development. I also welcome the agreement amongst a number of embassies to establish a Group of Friends of CAAC in Iraq.

Madam President,
On 30 July, Prime Minister Abadi hosted Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at a meeting in Baghdad, where they discussed the political situation in Iraq, continued cooperation notably in the intelligence and security fields to prevent the re-emergence of terrorist groups, re-opening of Erbil-Kirkuk road, Duhok-Mosul road and Shingal-Duhok road and the resumption of exports of Kirkuk oil through the KRG pipelines to Turkey. Both sides also underlined the need to expedite formation of the next government to address economic and social needs of all Iraqis, including the Kurdistan Region, offering better services and job creations. They further reiterated the need to do their utmost to resolve all issues between Erbil and Baghdad based on the Iraqi constitution.
On 27 June, the Federal Supreme Court postponed until 14 August 2018 a ruling on the legality of the Kurdistan region Ministry of Natural Resources’ previous independent oil exports from the Kurdistan region and Kirkuk.
Preparations for the Kurdistan Parliamentary elections, scheduled for 30 September, have proceeded steadily. The Kurdistan Independent High Electoral Commission has registered three coalitions and 26 political parties, including 19 political party lists for minorities – 11 for Christians and eight for Turkmen. Four entities were disqualified for failure to meet relevant criteria. The Commission also announced that it has prepared the register containing more than 3 million voters eligible to participate in the elections.

Madam President,
On security, Da’esh remnants continue sporadically to conduct terrorist attacks against civilians, government premises, and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), in particular in Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninawa, and Salah al-Din governorates.
In response to kidnappings along the Baghdad-Kirkuk highway, the ISF on 4 July launched a security operation in northern Salah al-Din and Diyala governorates named “Revenge of the Martyrs”. The ISF also conducted clearing operations in Anbar, Ninawa, and Salah al-Din governorates. On 16 July, the Iraqi security forces including the Peshmerga conducted coordinated clearance operations in part of Makhmour district to remove remaining Da’esh fighters from their safe havens. Da’esh had been using the rough terrain to stage attacks, capitalising on coordination gaps between the Peshmerga and federal security forces. The operation was supported by extensive airstrikes by the International Coalition to counter Da’esh. A large-scale operation against Da’esh sleeper cells in the western deserts of Anbar governorate commenced on 22 July.
The Iraqi Security Forces have supported anti-Da’esh operations conducted by the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria with cross-border air and artillery strikes, including a successful airstrike near the town of Hajin which was estimated to have killed 45 Da’esh fighters. The security forces also prevented the escape of terrorists from Syria into Iraq by maintaining a strong border presence. The liberation of the Dashisha area along the Iraqi-Syrian border on 20 July has further weakened Da’esh ability to infiltrate Iraq. At the same time Prime Minister Abadi has reaffirmed that Iraq does not wish to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.

Madam President,
Kirkuk governorate has witnessed significant violence. On 27 June, the ISF found the bodies of eight persons who had been abducted by Da’esh five days earlier on the Baghdad-Kirkuk highway. Earlier in the month, in the evening of 8 June, in Kirkuk city, an IED exploded killing one woman and wounding 19 civilians, including 6 who were in critical condition, in a commercial compound. Prime Minister Abadi ordered the immediate execution of 13 convicted Da’esh members on death row as a response to the incident. On 1 July, a suicide vehicle bomb attack exploded outside a Kirkuk warehouse storing ballot boxes, with one person killed and another 22 persons, including Iraqi Security Forces, wounded. In the late evening of 18 July, eleven explosions rocked three different neighbourhoods of Kirkuk City wounding 13 persons. On 20 July, an explosion occurred near a Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) base in Altun Kupri, Kirkuk governorate. The increased number of incidents may be linked to renewed activity by remnants of Da’esh, profiting from the redeployment of Iraqi Security Forces and Popular Mobilisation Forces to Baghdad and southern Iraq due to the demonstrations.
On the early morning of 23 July, three gunmen believed to be Da’esh members forced their entry into the Erbil Governorate Office, injuring four members of the security forces and later killing one hostage. A counter-terrorism operation led by the Kurdistan Region security forces resulted in the death of all three gunmen.

Madam President,
During the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Summit held in Brussels on 11 and 12 July, NATO announced the launch of a non-combatant training and capacity-building mission in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi Government. NATO will advise officials within the Ministry of Defence and the Office of the National Security Advisor to help Iraq develop its capacity to build more effective national security structures. The Organisation will also train and advise instructors at professional military education institutions. The training mission is complementary to ongoing International Coalition to Counter Da’esh efforts in Iraq.

Madam President,
During the months of June and July, the Turkish Armed Forces continued their anti-PKK air operations in northern Iraq as well as ground operations in areas along the Iraqi-Turkish border entering dozens of kilometres into the Iraqi territory. During his weekly press conference on 5 June, Prime Minister Abadi confirmed the presence of Turkish military in northern Iraq while denying any military coordination with Turkey on this issue. He also called on Turkey to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and reiterated that no-one is allowed to use Iraq’s soil to attack any country, including Turkey. He confirmed the readiness of Iraq to cooperate with the neighbouring countries to protect and maintain security at the border territories.
On 13 and 17 July, representatives of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan claimed that several of its bases on the Iraqi side of the Iraqi-Iranian border had been shelled by the Iranian Armed Forces.

Madam President,
Turning to the developments in the area of human rights, I note with concern that although the level of violence in Iraq has decreased since last year, armed conflict, terrorism and acts of violence continued to take a toll on civilians. In June, at least 76 civilians were killed, and 129 were wounded, and in July at least 79 civilians were killed and 99 wounded. These figures represent a continuation of the overall trend of lower civilian casualties that started in October 2017 coinciding with the reduction in hostilities between the Iraqi security forces and Da’esh.
Despite the decrease in civilian casualties, Da’esh remains a threat. Da’esh tactics include the targeting of local mayors and their families, and the abduction and killing of other civilians, including at fake checkpoints. For example, on 6 July, in Ba’aj district of Ninawa governorate, Da’esh fighters set up a fake checkpoint where they killed two men, a woman and a 14-year-old child from one family and wounded one Iraqi soldier. Improvised explosive devices, including those planted by Da’esh, remain the single largest cause of civilian casualties.
Iraqi courts continued to issue death sentences for terrorism-related crimes. So far in 2018, the Supreme Judicial Council has publicly announced the imposition of 76 death sentences for terrorism-related crimes, including against 24 women, 23 of whom were foreigners (17 Turks, 3 Kyrgyz, 2 Azerbaijanis and 1 German) and 47 men.
As a retaliation for the killing of members of Iraqi Security Forces, on 29 June, the Ministry of Justice announced on its website that 13 persons were executed for involvement in terrorism, the underlying offences included conducting armed operations, kidnappings, bombings and the killing of civilians. This brings the total number of executions to 26 announced in 2018 by the Ministry of Justice. My Mission reiterates its call for a moratorium on executions pending the eventual abolition of the death penalty, and for law reform to address due process and fair trial concerns. On 27 June and 25 July, the Ministry of Justice formally declined to provide my Mission and OHCHR with information about Iraq’s use of the death penalty, including the name of executed persons, their age, ethnicity, gender, charges, the dates of offence, the dates of conviction, and the location of execution.
My Mission continued to advocate for the appropriate protection of mass graves to collect, secure and preserve evidence of crimes committed in Iraq. It is supporting a visit, from 6-14 August, by the Special Adviser to the independent investigative team, established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 (2017), to support Iraqi efforts to hold Da’esh accountable for the crimes committed in Iraq. My Mission stands ready to assist him in this regard.
On 1 August, the Department of Yazidi Affairs in the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Region reported that, of the 6,417 Yazidis (3,548 female and 2,869 male) abducted by Da’esh since August 2014, just over half (3,315 or 51.70%) have been freed or escaped. On the same date, my Mission was informed that 3,102 Yazidis (1,440 female and 1,662 male) remained in Da’esh captivity or were missing. This situation is unacceptable, especially considering that four years have passed since the start of the genocidal atrocities committed by Da’esh against Yazidis.
As of 31 July, the Civilian Defence Corps informed my Mission that a total of 4,345 bodies had been recovered in Mosul city, of which three were found in east Mosul.

Madam President,
On 1 July, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament voted in favour of re-introducing the Kurdistan region Anti-Terrorism Law No. 3 of 2006, despite our concerns that the law allows confessions extracted under duress to be used as evidence in court. On 4 and 9 July, my Human Rights Representative met with stakeholders in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament who expressed a willingness to review the law to bring it in line with Iraq’s human rights obligations. The law came into effect on 19 July 2018, and the review of the amendments to the law is ongoing.

Madam President,
On the efforts of United Nations Country Team, my Deputy for Humanitarian Affairs and Development continued to work with Government officials and diplomatic missions on stabilisation, humanitarian, and development issues. On 19 July, she convened a meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum in Baghdad, where more than 20 international partners were presented with 61 UNCT projects that are ready for funding through the $1 billion Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP) launched by the UN Secretary-General at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, held in Kuwait City in February 2018. I urge Member States to consider the importance of supporting Iraq to strengthen stability and prosperity by accelerating our commitments made in Kuwait in February and ensuring support to the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework through the bi-lateral and multi-lateral mechanisms agreed in Kuwait. In tandem with our collective humanitarian and stabilisation efforts, recovery and development efforts are critical to Iraq and Member States are requested to continue supporting them.
On 22 July, my Deputy for Humanitarian Affairs and Development participated in the first meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on the rehabilitation of Mosul’s old city, which will coordinate efforts of the government, World Bank, UNMAS, UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilisation, UN-Habitat, UNESCO, and others to remove rubble, clear explosive hazards, open markets, restore historic buildings, and reconstruct housing in this heavily damaged urban area. Also, during the reporting period, UNESCO, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement under which the latter donated US$50.4 million to restore the cultural heritage of Mosul including Al-Nouri Mosque.

Madam President,
Displaced Iraqis continue to return home but at a slower rate than at the beginning of the year. It is projected that this trend will continue, leading to a levelling off both returnee and IDP numbers. This, in turn, will contribute to a ‘protracted caseload’ of IDPs, for whom additional assistance will be required to facilitate return. Since January, more than 684,000 displaced people have returned while just under two million Iraqis remain displaced as of 15 July 2018. At least 1.6 million of the 3.4 million people targeted have received some form of humanitarian assistance. Most of these recipients are located in Ninawa governorate.
The security and protection environment remain volatile, posing serious protection risks to Iraqi civilians, including displaced persons and returnees. Abductions, detention, increased risks of sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) and grave violations of child rights continue in an environment of increasing impunity, which must be addressed as a priority. For many, a combination of these factors has led to secondary or repeated displacement. A considerable number of adults and even children formerly associated or perceived to be associated with extremist groups face stigma, discrimination and security risks. My Senior Women’s Protection Advisor in cooperation with other UN partners is actively engaged on these and other issues.
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) continued with surveys and clearance tasks during the reporting period. A highlight of their work is the state-owned Textile Factory of West Mosul. This 2,400m2 factory employed 2,500 workers, mostly women, producing fabric, much of it for export, prior to its occupation by Da’esh. The factory sustained heavy damage during the Mosul liberation and was contaminated by a wide range of explosive hazards. The clearance and rehabilitation of the factory is an important contribution towards economic recovery in Mosul.
I note with appreciation that one year after the liberation of Mosul, UNMAS clearance teams have removed 43,700 explosive hazards in the city, including 1,000 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from which 450 were suicide belts and vests, many still attached to human remains. The operations have included roads, bridges, schools, universities, hospitals, clinics, water treatment plants and municipal buildings in Mosul city.

Madam President,
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Funding Facility for Stabilisation (FFS) continued to support 2,361 projects, with successful completion of more than 1,000 in five governorates. A concerted effort in Mosul is focused on the restoration of water, electricity and health services across the city, allowing many to return to their homes. In Mosul, both East and West, by 21 July, UNDP/FFS completed 320 projects with 216 under implementation and 195 in development. In early June, UNDP/FFS restored electricity for approximately 170,000 people in East Mosul. In Ramadi, on 07 June, UNDP contracted for the rehabilitation of 507 housing units. This adds to the more than 15,000 housing units in Anbar and the Ninawa Plains that either have been completed or are in the process of being rehabilitated by FFS.
The expansion of the maternity department of the General Hospital in West Mosul, supported by UNFPA, was finalized and opened on 8 July. On June 15, UNDP/FSS rehabilitated a primary healthcare centre in Bartala, Ninawa Plains, restoring health services for 1,500. This builds on the broader work of the UN in the health sector in the Ninawa Plains, such as the completion of Phase I of the rehabilitation of Hamdaniya Hospital. Once totally completed, the hospital will be able to service 500,000 people.

Madam President,
Access to education has been recognised as one of the primary drivers for people returning, and as such, the UN continued to scale up the rehabilitation of schools. In Anbar, four schools were rehabilitated during the reporting period as part of a larger expanded stabilisation project, which will see 56 schools across Anbar be rehabilitated with the support of UNDP.
Between 24 June and 5 July, the first in-country mission of the joint Child Protection and GBV sub-clusters’ Child Survivor Initiative, took place to improve the quality of and access to services for child and adolescent survivors of sexual abuse in emergencies. CSI coordinators met with both CP and GBV partners to understand the current practice. Based on the discussion/consultation with CP and GBV partners, a work plan is prepared for the Initiative, which will be implemented in the remaining period of 2018.

Madam President,
The ongoing demonstrations in the southern governorates brought to the fore their massive and long-neglected social, economic and development needs, that have been partly suspended due to the priority given to fighting Da’esh. It is all the more urgent to address these inequalities, since it was from the southern governorates and Baghdad that tens of thousands of young men were mobilized to fight against Da’esh. They are now returning back without jobs, and without adequate support for them and the families of the martyrs. Given all this, the UN, notably the UNCT in Iraq is developing an evidence-based strategy and programmes to scale up assistance to the southern governorates, to provide both immediate and long-term support beyond the already ongoing activities.
Furthermore, in the five southern governorates, it is expected that the water scarcity will increase over the coming months, putting about 25% of this 2 million population at risk of experiencing water service outage, water borne/related diseases and possible displacement. UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR, in coordination with the Ministry of Municipalities, Construction, and Housing and local governmental bodies, have begun to take stock of the Government of Iraq's mitigation activities to identify potential gaps in coverage as the situation worsens over the coming hot and dry months. UNDP, on its part, has provided support to the government to develop Iraq’s strategy on regional cooperation for transboundary water management.

Madam President,
I urge the Iraqi political and state leaders to work for national reconciliation. It is time to address the root causes of terrorism by engaging in constructive and genuine national dialogue. Regarding community reconciliation efforts, which are critical for sustainable returns in the liberated areas, UNDP continued to focus on capacity development related to conflict management and social cohesion for Local Peace Committees (LPCs), with the Government of Iraq, Implementation and Follow-Up Committee for National Reconciliation, and the Council of Ministers Secretariat. Three-day intensive trainings have been delivered for LPCs members and local tribes, minorities, academics, social and community leaders for Ninawa Plains, Sinjar, and Tal Afar (152 men and women). These were in addition to supporting an awareness raising campaign on reconciliation with a focus on representatives of minorities. A digital campaign on awareness launched in June has already outreached over 5000 people. From 8 to 18 July, a Conflict Transformation Simulation exercise was undertaken involving 71 youths who represented IDPs, refugees and host communities in the Dohuk governorate. The simulation supported participants’ dialogue and advocacy skills as well as their capacity to engage in multi-generational and inclusive peacebuilding.
Through its Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP), UNDP is providing technical support to the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to establish government institutions mandated for crisis response coordination. As such, between 25 and 27 June, UNDP facilitated 13 staff from the Government of Iraq’s Joint Coordination and Monitoring Centre and KRG’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre to engage in a study tour to the Singapore Civil Defence Force to deepen their knowledge on civil defence training systems and early warning and disaster preparedness. An additional 20 local level officials from the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Centre (JCMC) were trained on emergency coordination and local preparedness plans. The trained officials are now engaged in supporting preparation of emergency preparedness plans for the three high-risk governorates – Baghdad, Salah al-Din, and Ninawa.
UNDP continued supporting the Government’s implementation of Security Sector Reform (SSR), a significant long-term process in post-conflict Iraq. The Ministry of Interior endorsed the 'Local Police Service Road Map', allowing the implementation phase of a transition to service-oriented Iraqi police. UNDP assisted with capacity development of 60 mid-ranking police trainers in July. Citizen participation has been promoted with small grants awarded to five Iraqi civil society organisations to initiate quick impact projects that strengthen public-police partnerships and improve local security in three governorates.

Madam President,
On Climate change, UNDP conducted a capacity building event from 10 to 12 June for 25 high-ranking officials from climate relevant ministries in Iraq. The objective was to strengthen national capacities to access, manage, track and guide climate financing with particular attention to the requirements of Green Climate Fund (GCF). Also, on capacity building, FAO provided training of trainers for Ministry of Agriculture staff on the artificial insemination of buffalo herds to improve the productivity of the livestock population across the country. In addition, FAO, trained the Ministry of Agriculture staff in Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait on the elimination of Red Palm Weevil that is devastating the date palm industry.

Madam President,
As regards refugees, seven years after the start of the conflict in Syria, Iraq continues to register the arrival of new Syrian refugees on a regular basis. In the last few months, the Syrian refugee population in Iraq has increased on average by more than 850 new individuals per month, bringing the total Syrian refugee population to over 251,000 individuals, 97 per cent of whom live in the Kurdistan region.
The living situation for the majority of Syrian refugees remains challenging, with many families still lacking the necessary resources to meet their basic needs. Despite the generosity of Kurdistan Region’s authorities and local communities, the protracted nature of their displacement means that it is increasingly difficult for communities, infrastructure and services to continue providing the same level of support. In July, UNHCR and WFP began a Joint Vulnerability Assessment (JVA) in order to assess food vulnerability for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region in order to better target food assistance for the most vulnerable.
Despite the successes being registered through the humanitarian and development efforts of the UN Country Team, the Government of Iraq and partners, funding remains a critical issue. As of 24 July, donors have contributed $324 million towards the Humanitarian Response Plan which is 57 percent of the plan’s requirement. In order to ensure that critical assistance to vulnerable communities is available, I appeal to the donor community to continue their generous funding as well as to support activities in the humanitarian-development-peace sector.

Madam President,
Regionally, I am pleased to note that the Government of Iraq is working to resolve differences of views over the management of water resources through dialogue. I also note with appreciation that the Government of Iraq emphasised the need to strengthen dialogue with its neighbours to commonly share water resources and requested the Government of Turkey to delay the filling of the Ilısu Dam. In return, I am pleased that the Government of Turkey also aims to resolve all differences pertaining to the construction of the Ilısu Dam through dialogue. Similarly, I would like to praise the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for expressing that it is open to dialogue on the water management issues.
I note that the Government of Iraq has been making tangible steps to ensure development and sustainable management of water resources and electricity, at domestic and regional levels. On 27 June, Prime Minister Abadi chaired a meeting of the Supreme National Water Committee to discuss the procedures of the Ministry of Water Resources and mitigating measures for the water shortage this summer. The meeting also agreed on the way forward to engage bilaterally with Turkey and Iran on the sharing of transboundary water resources. On 11 July, Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi delivered a speech in the Security Council session following an official invitation to give a presentation on dangers of climate changes vis-à-vis international peace and security in the Middle East. During his speech, Minister Janabi reported on the destruction of civil and water facilities in Iraq and underlined that Iraq strongly calls to respect its water rights.
As water is a shared resource between the people of Iraq, Turkey and Iran, its efficient management can have a significant impact on the livelihoods of the region.

Madam President,
From 1 to 5 July, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) undertook a mission to Baghdad and Basra to understand the illicit trafficking and organised crime situation in Iraq and to discuss possible partnership with the national authorities. The production, trafficking and consumption of drugs in Iraq is of great concern, and it is a significant threat to the country’s stability after terrorism. The authorities are conscious of the threat but would require extensive support to adequately address it. Follow-up missions and a detailed partnership proposal will be sent by UNODC to the Iraqi authorities in the coming months.

Madam President,
Allow me to now turn to the nineteenth report of the Secretary-General on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
Although tangible results in the search of missing persons have yet to be achieved, the work of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence continues in a commendable manner despite the many political, security and economic difficulties the country endures. The Ministry continues with the same determination to carry out excavation and exploration missions as well as efforts to identify new witnesses, collecting information to complement the search.
In 25 July, the 104th session of the Tripartite mechanism took place in Kuwait and discussions held among the Tripartite members were constructive and forward-looking. There have been strong indicators that the efforts to find missing Kuwaitis might soon lead to some positive results. More importantly, I am pleased to see that our repeated calls to the international community for their assistance have yield results, and relevant Member States in possession of satellite imagery from 1990-1991 came forward with information that could assist in identification of burial locations. I am pleased to report that UNAMI is also working in acquiring relevant material from the UN’s archives that could potentially assist in the search for relevant information.
Following my meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Ja’afari last week I am also pleased to report that the two sides are close in to setting a date for the official transfer of a significant consignment of Kuwaiti property. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its readiness to already submit the Kuwaiti property to UNAMI for safeguarding till the date of the transfer is agreed. UNAMI has already undertaken the necessary logistic preparations for such prospect, should both sides agree.

Madam President,
These are some positive developments that demonstrate the commitment of the Government of Iraqi to provide the families of the missing with answers about the fate of their loved ones and reach an end to this humanitarian file despite the challenges and the accumulated frustration from lack of results. Nevertheless, procurement of field equipment, provision of forensic, DNA, and anthropological trainings, capacity-building for Iraqi and Kuwaiti technical teams remain a major challenge and requirement for moving this file forward. The support and assistance of the international community in those areas are of a paramount importance.
On the missing property, while I commend both Iraq and Kuwait on moving forward in setting the date for official handover, I would like to once again call on the Government of Iraq to exert more efforts in trying to locate the invaluable national archives.

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