Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation Concerning Iraq

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 13, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President. I want to express our special thanks to Special Representative Kubis for his comprehensive briefing on the latest developments in Iraq, to congratulate him on a successful three years and nine months of service, and to thank him for his exceptional leadership of UNAMI during this pivotal chapter in Iraq’s history. And, on a personal note, having worked together in Iraq for the first half of his tenure, thank you, Jan, for your tireless efforts in very challenging circumstances and for your consistent, wise counsel and friendship over these years. Your ability to engage with Iraqi stakeholders from all walks of life has illustrated for all of us UNAMI’s vital role to facilitate critical political dialogue and showed the great potential that UNAMI has to make a positive impact in Iraq.

We, along with the rest of the Security Council, also look forward to working closely with your successor, Special Representative-Designate Jeanine Hennis-Plasscheart, when she begins her tenure in December.

Since the Council’s last UNAMI briefing, Iraq has a new President and Prime Minister, which deserves the UN Security Council’s congratulations. Iraq’s new government is poised to make a series of important decisions that will set the course of the country’s history for decades to come. We encourage the new government to focus on tackling corruption and delivering essential services to all of its people, including its many diverse communities of all ethnicities and faiths. We also call on Iraq’s new leaders to promote the participation and representation of women at all levels.

The United States has pledged to work closely with President Salih, Prime Minister al-Mahdi, and Parliament Speaker al-Halbousi to deliver stability, security, and prosperity for all Iraqis. Much work remains to be done, and bold leadership will be required. The credibility of the new government hinges on providing access to jobs, clean water, and electricity. It’s vital that the government deliver on these essential services as swiftly as possible.

We also call on the new government to ensure the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of internally displaced persons who suffered so greatly from ISIS’s terror. The atrocities committed by ISIS cannot go unpunished, and we call on the new government to work closely with the newly-established UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh Crimes to swiftly begin evidence-based investigations on the ground as mandated by Security Council Resolution 2379.

As Iraq continues to grapple with terrorist threats even after the defeat of ISIS, we must remember that no threat of violence can reverse the spirit of the Iraqi people. We are encouraged by the stories of the many Iraqis who have returned to their homes and are beginning to rebuild their communities.

The UNAMI mandate underscores the importance of supporting Iraq in meeting the needs of all Iraqis, including women, youth, and members of all religious and ethnic groups. We strongly encourage Iraq’s new leaders to work closely with UNAMI to address the unique needs of these groups and individuals as part and parcel to the broader national and community-level reconciliation effort that Iraq needs to undertake.

Iraq’s new leaders should also work closely with UNAMI to help create the conditions that allow Iraqi people to shape their own future free of outside interference.

Iraq has once again entered a key moment in its history, making major strides toward more stable, secure, and democratic futures. Now Iraq’s leaders have the task of showing that they can deliver on the high expectations of their people. The United States stands ready to support Iraq in achieving this goal.

Thank you.