UN urges Iraq to implement reforms and fight corruption – and supports its fight against terrorism

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council encouraged Iraq’s newly formed government to implement reforms and tackle corruption in a resolution passed unanimously on Tuesday that backs the country’s continued fight against the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

The resolution, which extends the UN’s political mission in Iraq for another year, welcomes the confirmation last October by the Iraqi Council of Representatives of a new government and cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani after a political stalemate of more than a year that was punctuated by outbreaks of violence in the streets.

Twenty years after the US invasion toppled longtime dictator Saddam Hussein and split the unified country at the heart of the Arab world, Iraq is still in search of stability. In 2014, Islamic State fighters seized Iraqi cities and declared a so-called caliphate over a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq. The group was officially declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a bloody three-year battle that left tens of thousands dead and cities in ruins, but its sleeper cells continue to stage attacks in different parts from the country.

The upheaval between 2003 and 2023 killed an estimated 300,000 Iraqis as well as more than 8,000 American military, contractors and civilians.

The resolution helps Iraq “address the challenges it faces as it continues its stabilization efforts”, including combating the Islamic State, Al-Qaida and their affiliates and ensuring respect for international human rights law. of human and humanitarian law. It also supports the continued recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation of Iraq.

The council encouraged al-Sudani’s government not only to implement reforms and fight corruption, but to protect and respect the human rights of all Iraqis, promote accountability for rights violations, provide essential services, diversify the oil-dependent economy, create jobs, improve governance. , combating climate change and strengthening the security sector.

The UN special envoy for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, told the council on May 18 that the past 20 years had been “a very difficult road”, but that the new government had shown determination to tackle a number of pressing issues.

“That said, we’re just at the beginning and we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the unknowns, which could include the rise of potential disruptors,” she said. “Any government in this position needs time”, but “the harsh reality is that there is no time to lose”.

Hennis-Plasschaert stressed the need for all political actors to put national interests ahead of individual or party interests, and to support independent state institutions and “an active, autonomous and protected civic space.” She stressed that “the healthy interaction of the opposition and the coalition must be able to work” and urged the passage of a federal budget to provide funds to turn certain government objectives into realities, including the delivery of public services.

“The good news is that the government has taken an express stand against the damaging effects of corruption, which stem from the system as it has been built over the past two decades,” she said. “And, yes, vested interests will undoubtedly make the required systemic reform an uphill struggle. But it must be done. »

The resolution, adopted by 15 votes to 0, extends the so-called UNAMI political mission headed by Hennis-Plasschaert until May 31, 2024.

He says his top priority is to provide advice, support and assistance to the Iraqi government to advance inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation at the national and community levels.

UNAMI should also advise, support and assist the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq and other institutions to strengthen electoral preparations, including for provincial and legislative elections in the Kurdistan region, and should assist the government revising the constitution and efforts to reform the security sector.

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