Firstly, thank you to SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert for your briefing.
We highly appreciate UNAMI’s work in Iraq, and your support for the preparation of national elections in October. Norway also fully supports Prime Minister Kadhimi’s efforts in preparing for the elections. Free, fair, and transparent elections, and an inclusive political process - that ensures the participation of women - are vital for the integrity, and public trust in the electoral process.
We take note of the Iraqi request for election observation, and look forward to the Council’s discussion on how to best meet this request. We call on all Iraqi stakeholders to ensure that all electoral and legal requirements are in place, including the adoption of a Federal Supreme Court law.
The security situation in Iraq continues to be of grave concern, with continued attacks against diplomatic missions and convoys. Norway condemns last night’s rocket attacks on Erbil which killed one civilian contractor and injured several members of the Global Coalition against ISIL. All efforts must be done to investigate and hold the responsible accountable.
ISIL, too, remains a serious threat, and our condolences go to the victims and families of the appalling suicide attacks on January 21. Norway is committed to the Global Coalition against ISIL through which we continue to support Iraq in its efforts to combat ISIL. Continued international support to Iraq’s democratic process, and their efforts to rebuild after the territorial defeat of ISIL, is vital. This includes significant stabilization and humanitarian support.
Iraqi ownership, and commitment, remains key to success. Long-term stability cannot be achieved without addressing underlying causes of conflict and instability. These range from economic, social, and political aspects, to water security issues and climate change.
We welcome the government’s efforts to address these challenges, including their plans for much needed economic reform.
National dialogue and reconciliation remain vital for the stability of Iraq.
We call upon the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to reach an agreement on federal budget allocations and oil revenues. The Sinjar agreement is a positive step towards peace and stability after much suffering, especially by the Yezidi population. It is critical that the agreement is implemented in dialogue with the affected parties and leads to rebuilding and the provision of basic services. Continued focus on, and commitment to the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence also remains important. Both nationally and globally.
Allow me to also echo the concerns of the SRSG about the humanitarian consequences of the hasty closing of IDP camps. All returns must be safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable. We urge the Government to coordinate with the UN and the humanitarian organizations to this end. Furthermore, we remain concerned by the reported abduction, torture and targeted killing of protesters and activists. Perpetrators must be held accountable, and the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be ensured.
Norway welcomes the recent announcements regarding the identification of human remains of 20 Kuwaiti and third country nationals. We commend Iraq’s commitment to cooperate with Kuwait and bring this humanitarian file to a close.