New York, New York
May 17, 2022
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the Representative of the United States.
Thank you, Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert, for your briefing and for your leadership of UNAMI, which plays an important and respected role in Iraq. And thank you to Hanaa Edwar, for your informative and timely briefing, as well as your relentless efforts to promote the rights of women in Iraq.
Today, I want to highlight the need for Iraq’s leaders to quickly form a government that reflects the will of voters – and then turn to the many challenges that the new government will face. First, Iraq deserves considerable credit for the well-managed and peaceful parliamentary elections held in October 2021 and certified by the Federal Supreme Court in December. But seven months after those elections, Iraq remains without a new government.
Let’s not forget: these elections were called early in response to a groundswell of discontent among Iraqis over the dysfunction of their government. So, we’re concerned that the stalled debate among Iraqi politicians has focused on which political party gets what, and not on forming a government that respects human rights, and aspires to improve governance and deliver services to the Iraqi people.
The next government of Iraq will need to account for the impending wind-down of humanitarian, stabilization, and development assistance from the international community. It will need to chart a course for development and will need to answer to calls from the people of Iraq to root out corruption and abandon politicization of democratic institutions and administrative processes. These two roadblocks have hindered the pursuit of prosperity for all Iraqis.
The new government will also need to hold accountable those who committed abuses against the protesters of the October 2019 Tishreen movement, leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded. And the government will need to better protect freedom of expression and improve the treatment and prosecution of detainees and prisoners. But the challenges ahead don’t end there.
The next government will also need to create and implement a plan to help the remaining displaced persons, including Iraqi families and orphans in the al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, acquire essential legal documents and rehabilitate and reintegrate into their communities – safely, voluntarily, and with dignity.
It will also need to fully implement and provide a budget for the Yezidi Survivors’ Law to aid in the recovery of the Yezidi community in Sinjar, the dire situation of which was laid out clearly by the SRSG today. And there are pressing economic and climate matters at hand as well. The Iraqi government will need to bolster electricity delivery, promote entrepreneurship and private-sector development that supports job growth, and empower all Iraqis economically. And let me be clear: a key piece of this agenda must be the removal of all legal and cultural barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce.
Finally, the climate crisis is already impacting Iraq – just look to the disappearance of Lake Sawa and the increased number and intensity of dust storms, as was laid out by the SRSG today. This crisis disproportionately impacts women and girls and, if left unaddressed, will compound instability and lead to further insecurity.
We welcome Iraq becoming a party to the Paris Agreement and Iraq’s partnership with the UN system in mitigating and adapting to climate change through sustainable development, water management, and the use of renewable energy. And we look forward to seeing UNAMI continue its critical assistance in strengthening Iraq’s capacity to tackle climate change.
Colleagues, let me close by making clear that, in all this work, UNAMI is a critical partner to the Iraqi people and it’s the duty of this Council to equip UNAMI with a strong mandate to continue to assist the government and people of Iraq as they take on these challenges.
As the UNAMI penholder, the United States looks forward to engaging with our Security Council colleagues toward adoption and renewal of UNAMI’s mandate later this month. And the United States is eager to continue our partnership with Iraq and to work with the new government once it’s when formed. For the prosperity and security of the Iraqi people, we hope that day comes soon. Thank you.