The Security Council recognized the challenges facing Iraq in transitioning into a post-conflict environment and the need for economic reform, the co-leaders of the Council’s first ever visit to the country said today.

In a mission co-led by Kuwait and the United States, Council members visited Kuwait City and Baghdad on 28 and 29 June, meeting with high-level officials to better gauge the situation on the ground. In a joint briefing, the co-leads described the visit’s itinerary and conclusions reached about current achievements and challenges.

Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Alotaibi (Kuwait) said the purpose of the trip was five-fold. It first aimed at demonstrating support for Iraq’s post-conflict recovery and reconstruction. It also was to observe and support efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).

It further aimed to recognize the challenges ahead, he said, including addressing the humanitarian situation, the need for economic reform and attracting inward investment, and to better understand the aspirations and concerns of the Iraqi people as they begin the process of stabilizing and rebuilding their country. Finally, the visit hoped to address the issue of Kuwaiti and third-party nationals and the return of Kuwaiti property, including national archives, in line with resolution 2107 (2013).

The mission began in Kuwait City, he said, where members met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah, discussing regional issues and bilateral engagement between Iraq and Kuwait. Members also met to discuss missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and related outstanding issues with Alice Walpole, Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs for UNAMI, and Omar Odeh, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Kuwait in his capacity as Chair of the tripartite mechanism. Members also met the World Bank representative to discuss follow-up to international financial pledges.

In Baghdad, members met with Iraqi interlocutors, he said, conveying the Council’s recognition of remaining challenges in Iraq’s post-conflict recovery and reconstruction. Welcoming positive progress towards the full formation of the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, members noted their continued engagement to resolve differences, in line with the Iraqi Constitution. Members also commended Iraq for seeking enhanced regional diplomatic and economic reintegration.

Jonathan R. Cohen (United States) said that members underscored the strong and continued commitment of the international community to support Iraq’s stability, prosperity, sovereignty, and security. In meetings with Iraqi and United Nations interlocutors, Council members stressed the need not only for economic reform and more internal investment, but also regional economic integration. They also noted that while ISIL/Da’esh no longer controls any Iraqi territory, the fight is not over. The enduring defeat of the group requires the stabilization of liberated areas, building up resilient communities, and ensuring the continued security for all Iraqis, he said, adding that Iraq’s diversity is critical to its richness and strength. Council members also discussed the humanitarian situation and underscored the importance of the safe, dignified and voluntary return of all internally displaced persons affected by conflict.

The mission was successful due to the extensive amount of first-hand information obtained in face-to-face meetings with Iraq and United Nations interlocutors, he stressed. This helped gather a better understanding of the aspirations and concerns of the Iraqi people as they begin the process of stabilizing and rebuilding their country. He commended the Government of Kuwait for co-sponsoring the mission and the Government of Iraq for joining Council members for many meetings. He further commended President Masoud Barzani and leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government for joining the delegation in Baghdad from Erbil and civil society who remain on the forefront of achieving a better Iraq.

Vladimir K. Safronkov (Russian Federation), recalling the visit, said contact with regional players confirmed that the Council mission remains an important instrument in its activities. Welcoming the intention to establish good neighbourly relations and the desire to find solutions, he underlined the importance of mediation-based diplomacy, emphasizing that every State in the region has an interest in this. The fight against terrorism is not over, he said, highlighting the timeliness of the Russian Federation’s counter-terrorism initiative. Noting that resolving this issue depends on subregional, regional and international cooperation, he said the fight against terrorism should be led in a coordinated manner under the auspices of the United Nations.

Yarob al-Timimi (Iraq) said the visit was timely as Iraq requires the support of all the members of the international community. It is a message to the whole world and all people: Iraq has managed to put itself on the right track and overcome all the shocks of the past, and has reached a developed stage of democracy, he emphasized. Iraq continues to fight terrorism. We have fought terrorism for five years and have been fighting a terrorist group that controlled 30 to 40 percent of Iraqi territory, he said. Iraq looks forward to the Council’s support in rebuilding.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 10:20 a.m.

Source: UN Security Council