Following Year of Political Discord, Iraq's New Government Tackles Pressing Challenges, Institutes Reforms, Senior Official Tells Security Council
Country Representative Details Initiatives, Reforms, Diplomatic Endeavours
In its first three months in office, Iraq’s new Government has shown its commitment to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the country, including endemic corruption, poor public service delivery and high levels of unemployment, the senior United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, while underscoring the need of accountability.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said that, since 2003, too many opportunities to conduct meaningful reform have been wasted due to pervasive corruption. However, Iraq’s new Government, ending more than a year of tensions, political discord and power play, has tackled the myriad national challenges, including the recovery of stolen funds and the investigation of corruption allegations.
Encouraging the Iraqi Government to persevere, she called for systemic change through socioeconomic reform, stronger institutions and better governance. She also spotlighted the recent victory of Iraq’s national football team, adding that after decades of violence, Iraq’s hosting of the Gulf Cup for the first time since 1979 was a testimony to a return to normality the country’s potential to rally not only the nation but also regional partners around a common and positive objective.
Nonetheless, there are concern over violations of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, she noted, declaring: “Messaging by strikes does nothing but recklessly heighten tensions, kill people and destroy property.” Moreover, Iraq is one of the most explosive-ordnance-contaminated countries in the world, she said, noting that in 2022, those remnants of war are the leading cause of child casualties and one third of civilian casualties.
Echoing her concerns, Dr. Ahmed, Director of Donor and International Relations, Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, also described Iraq as one of the most explosive-ordnance-contaminated countries in the world. Decades of successive wars and conflicts — including the latest conflict with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da'esh — have created an obstacle to the safe and dignified return of Iraq’s 1.2 million displaced persons and a threat to people’s lives.
He also described the process of accreditation for mine action organizations as lengthy and wasteful. Citing a “steep winding down in donor funding” that has hit mine action operators — in particular national non-governmental organizations — he reported that humanitarian funding for local actors dropped from 4.7 per cent in 2020 to 2 per cent in 2021, far from the target of 25 per cent. Nonetheless, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been leading efforts to “localize” demining processes through a model that brings together international and national non-governmental organizations to transfer skills and knowledge.
In the ensuing discussion, many speakers, congratulating Iraq’s national football team for its recent victory, commended not only the formation of the new Government, but the appointment of three women to the Cabinet, while also stressing the need to combat corruption, tackle unemployment and promote security in the country.
Japan’s delegate, underlining the importance of UNAMI’s electoral assistance, also welcomed the Iraqi Government’s active engagement in building confidence among neighbouring countries through regional dialogues. In that regard, closure of the United Nations Compensation Commission in December 2022 — following Iraq’s final payment to Kuwait — marked an important milestone. He also drew attention to steady cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait on missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property.
In another vein, the representative of China warned that the current situation in Iraq remains dire as terrorists are still conducting asymmetric attacks, resulting in casualties among civilians. He called on the international community to support Iraq in combating terrorism, eliminating extremist forces, such as Da’esh, preventing their return and consolidating hard-won gains in countering terrorism.
Along similar lines, Albania’s delegate expressed concern about continued attacks by terrorist groups, voicing support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also drew attention to the risks posed to Iraq by climate change, which are already seriously impacting the country’s security and human rights situations.
The representative of Mozambique, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, said that, while the end of Iraq’s year-long political deadlock is encouraging, efforts to ensure the defeat of Da’esh, and international support for Iraq’s role in that endeavour, must continue.
Rounding up the discussion, Iraq’s delegate, outlining the Government’s new priorities, noted they are built upon international partnerships and focus on holding early elections, countering corruption, countering poverty and unemployment, and improving national security, among others. Reporting on improved relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government, he said talks are under way on legislation relating to oil and gas, customs revenues and other matters. He also reported that 4 million internally displaced persons have already returned to Iraq.
Moreso, after four decades of discriminatory policies, a recent decree guarantees land ownership rights to Yazidis, he said, calling for increased international support for services provided to victims of Da’esh crimes. In addition, he pledged the new Government’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — which are being hindered by climate change and the scarcity of water resources — noting that Iraq has implemented several green economy projects to date.
Also speaking were representatives of the United States, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Malta.
The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.
JEANINE HENNIS-PLASSCHAERT, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), pointed out that Iraq’s challenges did not arise overnight. Dealing with both the legacy of the past and the many challenges of the present will take time. Three months ago, the Council of Representatives confirmed Iraq’s new President and Government — ending more than a year of tensions, political discord and power play. However, since 2003, too many opportunities to conduct meaningful reform have been wasted, she observed, citing pervasive corruption as a major root cause of Iraqi dysfunctionality. In its first three months in office, Iraq’s new Government showed its commitment to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the country, including endemic corruption, poor public service delivery and high levels of unemployment. On the fight against corruption, the Government has tackled the recovery of stolen funds and the investigation of corruption allegations.
Encouraging the Iraqi Government to persevere — “as those who stand to lose will undoubtedly seek to hinder these efforts” — she stressed that ensuring accountability across the spectrum is absolutely essential to build a system that serves the need of society instead of serving a closed community of collusion. This means giving no respite to those who extract State resources for private or other interests. Moreover, systemic change will prove vital; effecting meaningful change can only happen through systemic socioeconomic reform, stronger institutions and better governance at all levels. In that regard, delays in long-awaited economic, fiscal and financial reform are palpable throughout the country, she said, voicing concern over the increase in the exchange rate on the parallel market.
Addressing high levels of unemployment, she underscored that Iraq can simply not afford to add to the burden of an already extremely inflated public sector. Oil dependency leaves the Iraqi economy more vulnerable to external shocks, she observed, urging the Government to prioritize sustainable economic diversification, including the development of a value-adding, employment-generating private sector. She pointed to other areas that require immediate attention, including the significant environmental challenges; the importance of energy independence; the continued returns of Iraqi nationals from Al-Hol and other camps and prisons in north-eastern Syria; the need to swiftly implement the Sinjar Agreement; and the protection and promotion of human rights.
On Iraq’s external relations, she reported that the Iraqi Government continued its policy of openness and balance, based on respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, Iraq continues to face repeated and destabilizing violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Messaging by strikes does nothing but recklessly heighten tensions, kill people and destroy property,” she warned. Moreover, Iraq remains one of the most explosive ordnance-contaminated countries in the world. While nationally led clearance efforts — including national budget allocations — are truly commendable, the sector as a whole remains underfunded. Consequently, Iraqi civilians pay the price, she said, noting that in 2022, explosive remnants of war continued to be the leading cause of child casualties in Iraq and caused overall one third of civilian casualties.
Turning to the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, she commended the steps taken by the Government to encourage more witnesses to come forward. She also welcomed the continuous cooperation of the Members of the Tripartite Commission on the provision of satellite imagery. Both are vital to efforts for the identification of other potential burial sites. She stressed the urgency “to finally lift the country out of recurring cycles of instability and fragility”.
There is both a sense of hope, and a sense of urgency, she stated, noting that the hope is that the confirmation of Iraq’s new Government will provide an opportunity to structurally address the many pressing issues facing the country and its people. The urgency is for Iraq’s political class to seize this brief window of opportunity and finally lift the country out of recurring cycles of instability and fragility. She also congratulated the country’s national football team for its recent Gulf Cup victory. After decades of violence, strife, tensions and isolation, Iraq hosted the tournament for the first time since 1979. It is a great testimony to Iraq’s return to normality and its potential to rally not only the nation but also regional partners around a common and positive objective, she said.
Dr. AHMED, Director of Donor and International Relations, Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, said Iraq is one of the most explosive ordnance contaminated countries in the world, as a result of decades of successive wars and conflicts. That includes the latest conflict with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da'esh, during which a new era of unprecedent types of improvised explosive devices emerged and large swaths of civilian areas suffered from ground fighting and aerial bombing.
Describing explosive ordnance contamination as an obstacle to the safe and dignified return of Iraq’s 1.2 million displaced persons and a threat to people’s lives, he added that it can lead to disabilities. The latest recorded victims, in December 2022, were four children aged between eight and nine years old in the town of Ninewa, who encountered a metal object when they went out to play. Three were killed and one was injured when the object exploded. “This sad accident is not unique as tens of other different occasions caused fatalities and physical implications on civilians,” he said, adding that explosive ordnance contamination impedes normal daily life socioeconomic activities, as well as Iraq’s stabilization efforts, reconstruction and development.
In recent years, international donors, the United Nations, the Government of Iraq, national and international non-governmental groups and the private sector have joined forces to mitigate the negative humanitarian and socioeconomic impact of explosive hazards, he continued. Despite significant search and clearance, explosive ordnance risk education and victim assistance activities — which resulted in noticeable improvements — more help is needed. Medical services, rehabilitation, socioeconomic integration and empowerment activities are generally overlooked by mine action programmes in Iraq. Calling for a rethinking of such programmes — and efforts to better align them with the national mine action strategy for 2022-2028 — he said the Government is working closely with the support of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. However, the country is not expected to meet its 2028 target obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, due to its slow rate of clearance.
Describing the process of accreditation for mine action organizations in Iraq as lengthy and wasteful, he added that international funds donated to Iraq on the heels of the Islamic State crisis have dwindled and resources are now limited. “Other crises have emerged globally in Europe, Africa and Asia,” he observed. Iraq is technically designated as a middle-income country according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and a recent spike in oil prices accumulated unprecedented revenue, all of which should bring benefits to Iraqis. However, corruption and inequality remain high, and poverty has, in fact, increased from 20 percent in 2019-2020 to 25 per cent in 2022.
“Mine action operators have been suffering from this steep winding down in donor funding,” he continued, noting that national non-governmental organizations have been hit hardest and have the most at stake. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been leading efforts to “localize” demining processes in Iraq through a model that brings together international and national non-governmental organizations to transfer skills and knowledge. More support is required for such work and for humanitarian efforts in Iraq more broadly, he said, pointing out that humanitarian funding for local actors dropped from 4.7 per cent in 2020 to 2 per cent in 2021 — far from the target of 25 per cent.
Emphasizing that non-government organizations are integral components of civil society, he said localization is about creating a humanitarian system that is as local as possible and “as international as necessary”. It is also about local ownership, first and foremost. “Donors are encouraged to break the taboos of engaging, funding and dealing directly with national [non-governmental organizations],” he stressed, calling on Council members to bolster their support to such groups.
RICHARD M. MILLS JR. (United States), welcoming Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed S. al-Sudani’s goals to root out corruption and improve the provision of public services — electricity, in particular — encouraged the Government to also work to promote private sector development and job growth, including by increasing women’s participation in the workforce. Further, the United States is eager to work with the Government to address the impacts of climate change, he said, voicing support for UNAMI to continue its efforts in this area as tackling these issues will have positive economic impacts in Iraq. He also urged the Government to respond to calls from its constituents to improve respect for human rights, and to demonstrate its commitment in this area, to hold accountable those responsible for the brutal repression of protestors by Iran-affiliated militias in October 2019. On the issue of displaced persons, he encouraged continued cooperation between the Government and UNAMI to seek durable solutions for all displaced Iraqis. He also called on all Member States to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate — and where appropriate — prosecute foreign terrorist fighters and their family members from Iraq and Syria.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), commending Iraq’s long-awaited formation of a new Government in October 2022, stressed that it is critical for Iraq to continue working diligently at reforming various sectors, particularly through promoting the rule of law, strengthening State institutions and accelerating development and economic progress. He further welcomed the appointment of three women in the new Government and the ongoing efforts to empower Iraqi women economically. Warning against the continuous threats posed by Da’esh, he said this terrorist group continues its activities across several areas in Iraq. Just recently, several terrorist attacks have taken place, including the attack near Kirkuk and the village of Al-Bubali on 18 December 2022, which claimed the lives of eight civilians and nine police officers. He also condemned any interference in the internal affairs of Iraq and any actions that may undermine its security. In December 2022, Iraq, Jordan and France jointly organized the second session of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, he recalled, adding that the Conference demonstrated the willingness of the countries in the region to strengthen cooperation with Iraq.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique), also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, described the end of Iraq’s year-long political deadlock as encouraging. Welcoming the formation of a new Government and the appointment of three women to the Cabinet, he called on those authorities to implement the necessary reforms to improve living conditions of the Iraqi population. Combating corruption, tackling unemployment, supporting vulnerable groups, enhancing public services and reforming the economic and financial sectors must be top priorities.
Among other things, he urged the Government to continue its efforts to resolve challenges in Baghdad-Erbil relations, return internally displaced persons to their places of origin and address human rights concerns. Affirming the importance of regional dialogue to promote security and stability in Iraq, he voiced concern over continued asymmetric attacks by Da’esh and other terrorist groups, as well as the proliferation of arms in the region. Efforts to ensure the defeat of Da’esh, and international support for Iraq’s role in that endeavour, must continue, he stressed, adding his voice to expressions of support for the United Nations humanitarian efforts in Iraq.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) welcomed efforts carried out by UNAMI and the Special Representative in Iraq, including the latter’s efforts to enshrine the Yazidi Survivor’s Law. Nonetheless, he expressed concern over persistent Da’esh attacks, which, together with improvised explosive device explosions, have been the leading cause of death for Iraqi women and children. During her last briefing four months ago, the Special Representative presented the Council with a precise diagnosis of the cause of Iraq’s political deadlock. Welcoming the fact that the stalemate has now ended, he said free elections and democracy are the best strategy to ensure stability and overcome conflict. Additional resources are needed to help Iraq fight terrorism, combat desertification and enhance the access to health, education, justice and human-rights-protection services. Meanwhile, he noted that incorporating a participatory approach for gender and intergenerational equality in dialogue and negotiation processes is critical to building and sustaining peace, and praised steps undertaken in Iraq to that end.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) expressed hope that all political actors in Iraq will strive to resolve existing conflict through negotiations. Pointing out that Iraqi authorities cannot resolve overnight the myriad problems that have amassed over the years, she urged international attention and assistance to focus on the socioeconomic and humanitarian sectors that were devastated by the consequences of “what happened in 2003” and the subsequent war waged against Da’esh. She went on to express hope that reform of the national financial system will counter unemployment and assist vulnerable people, also urging “meaningful dialogue between Iraq’s federal centre and the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan” to resolve existing conflict, firstly in the area of oil and gas. Continuing improvement of relations in this regard well help Iraq strengthen security and benefit the country’s people. On the continued threat posed by terrorism, she stressed that the only way to effectively counter the same is through the broadest possible coordination of counterterrorism efforts that respect Iraq’s sovereignty and enjoy Baghdad’s consent. She added that ensuring national security for Iraq’s neighbours should not be pursued to the detriment of that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) reaffirmed her support for security and stability in Iraq, stating: “The country and its people have come a long way and are looking forward to consolidating a prosperous and democratic future.” Such an achievement could contribute to stability in the wider region by facilitating dialogue. The second Baghdad Summit, hosted in December 2022 by Jordan and co-organized by Iraq and France, is one example thereof. Congratulating the new Iraqi Government, she wished it success in implementing reforms, while urging it to deepen dialogue with the Kurdistan Regional Government and ensure the meaningful participation of women in public life. Meanwhile, the return and reintegration of the nearly 1.2 million internally displaced Iraqi men and women is critical to stability and social cohesion. The Government should continue its efforts to find durable solutions in a secure, voluntary and dignified manner. Respect for Iraq’s sovereignty also remains crucial, she said, condemning all violations thereof, and stressing that all efforts to combat terrorism must be carried out in full respect of international law.
DAI BING (China) commended the completion of the new Government last October that lays a political foundation for the development reform in the country. It is in the fundamental interest of the Iraqi people to advance unity, achieve reconciliation and accelerate development. The current situation in Iraq remains dire as terrorists are still conducting asymmetric attacks, resulting in casualties among civilians, he cautioned, calling on the international community to support Iraq in combating terrorism, eliminating extremist forces such as Da’esh, preventing their return and consolidating hard-won gains in countering terrorism. He welcomed Iraq’s continued efforts towards the repatriation and resettlement of Iraqi nationals from the Al-Hol camp in Syria. Explosive remnants of war continue to cause civilian casualties and are the leading cause of child casualties in Iraq, he stressed. Iraq is not an arena for geopolitical competition, he said, supporting it in developing good-neighbourly relationships with countries in the region. Over the last two decades, Iraq’s people have suffered, he recalled, urging the international community to actively help the country rebuild its infrastructure and accelerate economic and social development.
FERGUS JOHN ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom) joined other speakers in welcoming the formation of the new Government of Iraq, as well as its focus on the delivery of services to the population. Pledging the United Kingdom’s support, he advocated for more action on economic stability and climate change, including through an energy transition and green economic reform. He also expressed his hope that the Government will propose and pass a sustainable budget, which stimulates investment in Iraq’s future. Turning to the security situation, he expressed support for efforts by the Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to ensure the safety of Iraqi civilians and the security and sovereignty of Iraq. Commending Prime Minister al-Sudani’s engagements throughout the region and his Government’s efforts to encourage regional stability through broader bilateral relations, he urged further regional dialogue, including on crucial issues, such as water and the adverse impacts of climate change. He also voiced support for ongoing contacts between Baghdad and Erbil to settle outstanding issues of concern.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), underlining the Council’s duty to support Iraq’s security and stability, reiterated her country’s commitment to Iraq’s sovereignty and “the stability of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan within it”. She also condemned all violations of such sovereignty, underscoring that Iraq is not an arena for the settling of scores between regional Powers. Iraq’s regional diplomacy is welcome — as it allows key countries in the region to rekindle dialogue — and credible regional dialogue is the first step towards cooperation, regional economic integration and solutions to climate and environmental challenges. She went on to stress the importance of cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait on the issue of missing Kuwaitis and nationals of third countries. Further, she called for resumed dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil, focused on security and the sharing of oil-revenue profits, underscoring that “cooperation between the federal authorities and the autonomous region is vital”. On the persistent terrorist threat, she welcomed Iraq’s efforts against Da’esh and said that France will continue to stand alongside Baghdad in its fight against terrorism for as long as is necessary at Iraq’s request.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) welcomed the formation of the new Government and their comprehensive list of priorities, including important reforms aimed at meeting the aspirations of the Iraqi people. He also highlighted the inclusion of Iraqi women in high-ranking positions in the new Government, adding that such appointments signal an effort to translate the will of the Iraqi people for inclusive representation. He also commended efforts to resolve outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, including the management of oil revenues. He further acknowledged Iraq's efforts to repatriate its citizens from refugee camps in northern Syria, and to reintegrate them into Iraqi society. However, the threat posed by Da'esh in Iraq and other countries cannot be eradicated only through sanctions and individual accountability mechanisms. The root causes of violent extremism must be addressed, such as the sentiment of injustice felt by marginalized populations, including of economic injustice arising from poverty and inequality. Countering the global threat of terrorism in Iraq also requires cooperation among States, he stressed, encouraging UNAMI to continue working constructively with the Iraqi Government.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) welcomed steps forward towards political stability in Iraq, “which is what the people want and what the region needs”. Reiterating Albania’s support for efforts to put in place meaningful political reforms, he praised the appointment of three women to the new Cabinet and urged the Government to go even further in that arena. He also encouraged it to accelerate its consideration of a draft anti-domestic-violence law, and noted that continued efforts will be required to pass a budget that is acceptable to both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Echoing expressions of concern over continued attacks by terrorist groups, he voiced Albania’s firm support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The country continues to face several serious challenges, for which it needs international support and the understanding and cooperation of its neighbours — not interference by militias. He went on to underline the risks posed to Iraq by climate change, which are already seriously impacting the country’s security and human rights situations.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) voiced support for the Iraqi Government’s efforts to tackle corruption, pursue economic and fiscal reform and facilitate job creation. He also welcomed UNAMI’s work to provide electoral assistance, along with its engagement with political leaders and civil society, throughout Iraq’s “difficult endeavour” to overcome its political impasse. Stating that full respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and good-neighbourly relations is necessary for peace and stability in Iraq, he said that any attack that threatens Iraq — including in the Kurdistan region — is contrary to international law and must cease. He also welcomed the Iraqi Government’s active engagement in building confidence among neighbouring countries through regional dialogues, also stressing that compliance with international obligations is a foundation of regional stability. In that regard, closure of the United Nations Compensation Commission in December 2022 — following Iraq’s final payment to Kuwait — marked an important milestone. Steady cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait on missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property is also welcomed. He added that, to ensure a resilient society, investments must be made in basic socioeconomic infrastructure. As well, challenges posed by climate change must be urgently addressed, he said, underlining the importance of UNAMI’s assistance to Iraq in this regard.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta), Council President for February, spoke in her national capacity to welcome the formation of the new Iraqi Government and encouraged all political stakeholders to enable the Government to implement relevant reforms. She urged Iraq’s political leaders to ensure the full inclusion of women in all political processes and at all levels of governance, as well as to adopt the draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law and rigorously pursue accountability for gender-based crimes. Turning to the deadly clashes that occurred at the end of August 2022 in Baghdad, she called on the new Government to address the political, economic, social, and environmental challenges. She also called on all States — particularly neighbouring countries — to respect Iraq’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic political process. She voiced concern over the 42 grave violations committed against children, the high incidence of conflict-related sexual violence and the 84 civilian casualties documented by UNAMI. The Government must fully implement the Yazidi Female Survivors Law and consider similar provisions for the children of survivors, including children born of conflict-related rape. On the humanitarian front, significant needs remain, as a staggering 1.17 million Iraqis remain internally displaced and 990,000 people were in acute need of humanitarian assistance. Further, she called for increased international and regional efforts on addressing the challenge of water scarcity.
SARHAD SARDAR ABDULRAHMAN FATAH (Iraq), outlining some of his Government’s new priorities, noted that they are built upon international partnerships and focus on transparency, holding early elections, countering corruption, controlling the flow of arm, enacting reforms, countering poverty and unemployment, fighting inflation, improving agricultural production and improving Iraq’s security. Spotlighting a range of ongoing diplomatic efforts, he reported that relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government are improving. Talks are under way on legislation relating to oil and gas, customs revenues and other matters. In addition, Iraq is cooperating closely with various United Nations agencies to combat the scourge of terrorism and providing consistent support to victims and has also adopted a unique single definition of the term “terrorism”. Meanwhile, it is working with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to protect holy sites throughout the country.
Thanking Council members for condemning acts of terrorism in Iraq and for declaring that the country should not be a stage “for the settling of political scores”, he emphatically condemned recent aggressions by Türkiye and Iran under the pretext of self-defence, emphasizing that the internal issues of each State must be resolved within its own borders. He also noted that more than 4 million internally displaced persons have already returned to Iraq, while welcoming international support for further progress on that front. He praised a recent decree guaranteeing land ownership rights to Yazidis, which follows four decades of discriminatory policies. In addition, he pledged the new Government’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — which are being hindered by climate change and the scarcity of water resources — noting that Iraq has implemented several green economy projects to date. Among other things, he also called for increased international support for services provided to victims of Da’esh crimes.