Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 10, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert and Ms. Al-Jarahi, for your briefings. Madam SRSG, we appreciate your steadfast leadership of UNAMI in Baghdad, and your support for other UN missions in Iraq. Your briefing and the Secretary General’s latest report are testament to Iraq’s progress in reconstruction and reconciliation. As President Biden has said, a strong Iraq capable of self-defense is essential for achieving stability in the region.
We encourage the Government of Iraq to maintain its commitment to essential economic reforms, combatting corruption, and improving public services to meet the demands and aspirations of the Iraqi people.
UNAMI has played an important role in this regard. We welcome its completion of the project to rehabilitate the Tigris riverfront in Baghdad and its partnership with other UN agencies to upgrade wastewater treatment plants in Iraq. UNAMI is well positioned to provide assistance in other areas of reform consistent with its mandate, including on elections, promoting the protection of human rights, and combatting impunity for violations, and facilitating cooperation with respect to the adverse effects of climate change.
The United States welcomes the Government of Iraq’s ongoing preparations to hold provincial council elections on December 18, as well as the preparations of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission to support the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary elections next February. To further this progress, we also encourage the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve all outstanding issues through mutually agreeable and durable solutions.
Colleagues, Iraq and UNAMI have achieved considerable progress in recent years. We commend UNAMI’s efforts to promote women’s political participation by holding consultations this past summer across Iraq. We also laud the partnership between Iraq and UNAMI to support religious and ethnic minority communities, including the implementation of the Sinjar Agreement. Iraq’s progress towards full implementation and funding for the Yezidi Survivor’s Law, which provides much needed support and rehabilitation to survivors of ISIS atrocities, should also be recognized.
These welcome developments have taken on particular importance in the wake of Quran burnings earlier this year. We took note of the Secretary-General’s condemnation of such acts of Islamophobia and citation of the Human Rights Council Resolution on “countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. At the same time, following the attack on the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, we welcomed the Iraqi government reaffirming its commitment to protecting diplomatic missions in the country.
An essential element of our shared campaign to ensure the defeat of ISIS is collective efforts to help bring ISIS perpetrators of genocide and other atrocities to justice wherever they reside. Repatriating individuals from northeastern Syria is also a critical line of effort, and we commend the Iraqi government for its continued leadership on this issue.
We fully support Iraq’s desire to further integrate into the region and foster good relations with its neighbors. We welcome recent statements from Prime Minister Sudani and other senior Iraqi officials affirming Iraq’s full respect for Kuwait’s sovereignty and Iraq’s continued commitment to bilateral agreements and UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 833, which finalized the work of the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission. We appreciate dialogue between both governments to resolve all outstanding issues.
Finally, we look forward to UNAMI’s independent strategic review team beginning work. The team’s assessment will ensure that UNAMI can continue to provide Iraq meaningful support as the country builds momentum in its transition from conflict to peace and prosperity. We would like to see the review take a forward-looking focus on how UNAMI can most effectively support Iraq’s political stability and economic development.
In conclusion, the United States stands strongly in support of UNAMI’s mandate and looks forward to seeing how much more progress the mission and the Iraqi government can achieve in the coming year.
Thank you, Mr. President.