National Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Iraq

National Statement on behalf of Sweden, Ambassador Carl Skau, at the Security Council briefing on the Situation in Iraq. Monday, 22 May 2017, New York.

Mr President,

Let me first thank the Secretary-General for the comprehensive report before us today, and the SRSG, for his detailed briefing to the Council. Mr. Kubiš, we appreciate the work that you and your team are doing on the ground, often in very challenging circumstances. We also welcome the recent visit by the Secretary-General to Iraq.

I would like to begin by expressing our strong support for Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, and to the government and people of Iraq at this critical juncture for the country. The offensive against Daesh in Mosul and beyond is a fight not only to reclaim Iraqi territory, but against an enemy that is a threat to us all. For this reason, Sweden is stepping up its contribution to the global coalition against Daesh.

In responding to an ideology that is devoid of any decency or humanity, it is imperative that we uphold the principles and values that we share, and which, indeed, we are fighting for in this struggle. In the context of the current offensive, this means ensuring that civilians are protected. The humanitarian situation in the remaining part of Western Mosul is gravely concerning. We commend the humanitarian response to date by the Iraqi authorities, the United Nations and its partners, and we emphasise the importance of continued respect for International Humanitarian Law and the protection of civilians during the final, difficult, phase of the liberation of Mosul. We are also concerned by the presence of armed actors in and around IDP camps and emergency shelters, which compromise their civilian character.

Mr President,

As the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq has made clear, significant additional humanitarian needs are likely to arise before the end of the Mosul operation. And the end of the operation will not be the end of the road. Major stabilization efforts will be needed for a long time to come. Sweden is contributing to both the humanitarian response as well as towards post-Daesh stabilization through UNDP's Funding Facility. We call on all member states and other partners to show solidarity with Iraq and to contribute financially to the humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

Mr President,

The period ahead will require strong leadership from the government supported by the international community and with the continued attention of this Council.

UNAMI has the potential to continue to contribute significantly to preventing a relapse into conflict by strategically focusing its efforts and resources. Let me therefore turn to some of the key challenges to sustaining peace in Iraq after the Daesh offensive has been completed.

Firstly, reconciliation will be critical to building a stable Iraq and preventing future conflicts. Strong Iraqi leadership will be required to help bring the many initiatives currently underway together - within a joint plan -, with tangible proposals to build confidence between different parts of the Iraqi population. We encourage UNAMI to continue to deepen its reconciliation efforts and its coordination within the UN family, with other initiatives and with Iraqi stakeholders. Reconciliation must be inclusive to be successful. In this context, the UNDP initiative that would increase the participation of civil society in reconciliation deserves support. In addition, constructive engagement by regional and international actors will be crucial to these reconciliation efforts.

Building a new future for Iraq will require recognition of the past, however difficult it may be. Accountability will be critical to reconciliation. Sweden is supportive of initiatives aimed at strengthening accountability for violations of international law and crimes committed throughout the conflict. It is also essential to strengthen the Iraqi legal system, and we encourage international partners to consider how they can support such efforts.

We also encourage UNAMI to increase preventative diplomacy to facilitate dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil. In this regard, we echo the Secretary-General's encouragement to political leaders in Baghdad and Erbil to engage in a constructive dialogue on outstanding issues.

Secondly, building institutions that are inclusive and equitable must be a priority in the coming period. UNAMI has an important role to play in advising and assisting the Iraqi authorities to strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities. Freedom of expression is an important element of a functioning democracy. Therefore, we are concerned by the recent reports of the disappearances of political activists and journalists.

Building a security sector that is at the service of the whole of Iraqi society will also be critical to the future stability of Iraq. The ongoing security sector reform work is encouraging and we hope that the European Union can enhance its engagement in support of long-term civilian stabilisation and to the security sector in Iraq in the near future.

Thirdly, as the Secretary-General has made clear, gender equality is central to recovering from conflict. We welcome the establishment of the Women's Empowerment Directorate and urge the government to finance and implement the objectives set out in the National Action Plan on 1325. More must be done by UNAMI to increase women's participation in reconciliation and governance post-Daesh. We look forward to the second follow-up meeting on Iraq in the Security Council's informal expert group on women, peace and security in June.

Finally, we call upon the Iraqi Parliament to swiftly adopt the electoral laws and to hold provincial and parliamentary elections. We emphasise, in this context, the importance of transparency by the Independent High Electoral Commission.

Mr President,

The government and people of Iraq now stand on the cusp of liberating the last parts of their country from the tyrants of Daesh. After liberation they will need to turn their attention to reconciliation and building an Iraqi state that represents all Iraqis. This will take commitment and determination. It is important that we in the international community continue to support them in this endevour.

Thank you

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis