Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Mission to Iraq and Kuwait

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 11, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

Personally, returning to Baghdad after three years since I completed my assignment at our embassy there gave me an opportunity to observe first-hand the progress Iraq has made on so many fronts. The first-ever visit to Iraq by members of the Security Council underscored the strong and continued commitment of the international community to support Iraq’s stability, prosperity, sovereignty, and security, as it turns the page to a new chapter.

In our meetings with Iraqi and UN interlocutors, we noted while much progress has been achieved, there remain challenges facing Iraq in transitioning into a post-conflict environment, including the delivery of basic services. We stressed need for economic reform, attracting greater inward investment and regional economic integration to better address the aspirations and concerns of the Iraqi people.

We noted that while ISIS no longer controls any Iraqi territory, the fight is not over. The enduring defeat of ISIS requires the stabilization of liberated areas, building up resilient communities, and ensuring the continued security for all Iraqis, recognizing that Iraq’s diversity is critical to its richness and strength.

We also discussed the humanitarian situation with Iraqi and UN interlocutors and underscored the importance of the safe, dignified and voluntary return of all internally displaced persons affected by conflict, including in areas liberated from ISIS.

Mr. President, we thank all members of the Security Council delegation for their insights, perspectives, and thoughtful questions throughout our many meetings during the course of our mission.

And of course, we want to thank our Iraqi interlocutors for sharing with us the stories of the progress and the remaining challenges that they face. We affirm that the mission of the Security Council to Iraq was a success due to the extensive amount of first-hand information we obtained in face-to-face meetings with Iraqi and UN interlocutors, gathering a better understanding of the aspirations and concerns of the Iraqi people as they begin the process of stabilizing and rebuilding their country.

We extend our thanks to the Government of Kuwait for its co-sponsorship of the mission and its generosity in sponsoring air travel for Council members between Kuwait City and Baghdad as well as accommodation in Kuwait City. Kuwait’s sponsorship of the mission is again a positive reminder of the strengthening bilateral ties between Iraq and Kuwait, which send a great signal to the whole region.

We also extend our thanks and appreciation to the Government of Iraq, to include the President, Prime Minister and Speaker’s offices, the Foreign Ministry, and our friend in New York, Iraqi Permanent Representative Mohammad Hussein Ali Bahr Aluloom, who joined us for many of our meetings.

We also commend and appreciate the time President Bazarni and Kyrgyzstan Regional Government leaders took to join the delegation in Baghdad from Erbil for our meeting on the continuing engagement between the KRG and the Government of Iraq to resolve all outstanding issues, in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution.

We thank the brave civil society members who joined us to candidly speak to members of the Security Council about the challenges confronting Iraqi society in the present and future. They are on the forefront of efforts to realize a better Iraq.

And finally, Mr. President, we wish to give our thanks and appreciation to UNAMI SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, UNAMI DSRSG Alice Walpole and Resident Coordinator Marta Ruedas, UNITAD Special Adviser Karim Khan, as well as all members of UNAMI, UNITAD, the UN Country Team, the Secretariat, and in particular, the UN Security Affairs Council Division, for their hard work in facilitating and implementing this important mission on behalf of the Security Council.

I thank you.