First, our thanks to SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert for her briefing. We greatly appreciate UNAMI’s work in Iraq, and their support to the ‘Independent High Electoral Commission’ in the preparation for early parliamentary elections in October.
Since our last meeting in February, we are pleased to see that the Government of Iraq has taken important steps to prepare for the election- including the necessary amendment of the ‘Federal Supreme Court’ law. We also commend the establishment of a higher committee to promote and monitor women’s participation; and to propose measures to prevent and address violence against women candidates.
We support the Iraqi request for UN election observation. And we call for a solution to be found - and a decision to be made - in the Council as soon as possible. Free, fair, and transparent elections are vital for the integrity and public trust in the electoral process and for the stability of Iraq.
Freedom of expression and assembly remains vital for the democratic development of Iraq. Norway condemns recent violence. Including the assassination of an activist, Ihab al-Wazni, in Karbala last Sunday, and the shooting of a journalist in Diwaniyah yesterday. We call on Iraqi authorities to find, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. The security and protection of all Iraqi citizens is essential as they prepare for elections in October.
Long-term stability cannot be achieved without addressing underlying causes of conflict and instability. Economic, social, and political reforms must be initiated- and an increased emphasis put on reconciliation efforts. Norway fully support Prime Minister Kadhimi’s recent call for a comprehensive national dialogue, following the historic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq in March. We also commend progress on the Federal Budget Law, and the agreement between Baghdad and Erbil. We urge Baghdad and the KRI to continue their dialogue to resolve other outstanding issues, and to promote further cooperation.
Increased attention is also needed on the implementation of the Sinjar agreement. It is critical this is done in dialogue with the affected parties, leading to rebuilding, and the provision of basic services. Norway commends also the adoption of the landmark Yazidi Female Survivors Law. Accountability and justice for survivors is essential to move towards national healing and reconciliation.
However, amid these positive developments, there is still cause for concerted attention during this pivotal time for Iraq. The security situation remains fragile and volatile. We remain deeply concerned by the continued terrorist activity by ISIL, as well as repeated attacks against coalition forces.
However, the continued engagement between Iraq and its international and regional partners- aimed at furthering peace and regional stability- is encouraging. On this point, Norway would like to underline the need to also address the issue of climate change and water scarcity. As stated in the SG report: joint challenges such as climate change, requires joint solutions to ensure a stable and secure future.
Sustained attention must also be given to the impact of displacement. While welcoming the government’s pause on the closure of IDP camps, we remain concerned by the overall grave humanitarian situation, and call for durable solutions. Returns must be safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable. COVID-19 has also undoubtedly put a heavy toll on Iraq, compounding these and other challenges. And we express our deepest sympathy to victims of the tragic fire at Ibn al-Khatib COVID-hospital in Baghdad.
On a final note President,
We welcome the progress made on the return of Kuwait property, and the repatriation of nationals of Kuwait or third countries, as well as their remains. We commend the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait in bringing this humanitarian file to a close.