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Statement Delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Iraq/UNAMI

Thank you very much indeed Madam President, and I want to say a special thank you to Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert for your really excellent briefing this morning. Jeanine, you know Ireland strongly supports the important work you and your team are doing so thank you again.


Before I begin my statement, I also wanted to recognise the dedicated service of Ms. Walpole as Deputy Special Representative and congratulate her successor, Ms. Gísladóttir. We wish her all the best in her new role at a critical juncture for Iraq. I have to say, that it is very welcome to see the continuation of an all-female leadership at the team at UNAMI. 


Madam President,


I want to begin by strongly condemning the terrorist attack carried out at a Baghdad market on 21 January, as well as the continued ISIL attacks across the country. Our condolences and sympathies are with the families of the victims and all those affected by this senseless violence. Just last week, this Council heard that the threat posed by ISIL has increased during the pandemic, and that Iraq, along with Syria, remain the primary focus of ISIL objectives.


Of course, we also condemn in the strongest possible terms the rocket attack carried out overnight in Erbil. This has tragically, as we heard, resulted in loss of life. We encourage cooperation between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government towards a swift investigation into this attack in order to hold perpetrators to account.


Ireland firmly rejects any attempt to destabilise Iraq on its pathway to a more peaceful future. This Council is united in its support for Iraq’s security and territorial integrity. We are also united in the fight against terrorism, which the international community remains committed to countering in accordance with international law, including international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.


And, as Iraq’s Yazidi community gathered just last week to bury their loved ones, let me echo Nadia Murad’s clarion call for this Council to ensure that the perpetrators of horrific crimes against this community are brought to account.


While accountability is essential, the manner in which we pursue justice is also important. Ireland remains opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, and we regret the recent executions in Iraq.


Madam President,


Ireland fully supports Iraq’s democratic processes. We welcome Prime Minister al-Kadhimi’s commitment to important political reforms and to holding early elections, and we take note of the decision to postpone these elections to October.


Important work clearly remains to be done to ensure that the Iraqi people are empowered to vote freely and safely, and all actors in Iraq have a responsibility to ensure this. The recent finalisation of electoral legislation is very welcome, and the international community too now must play its part.


I would like to acknowledge the letter received last week from Foreign Minister Hussein regarding electoral observation.  We are carefully considering this important issue and look forward to further discussion on this matter.

I want to underline today that the political process must be inclusive, if it is be successful. Women, young people and minority communities should be included at every stage of the electoral process. We are pleased to see that the Government of Iraq has paid particular attention to promoting the inclusivity of elections in this preparatory phase and we urge the Government to continue to prioritise this, as the process continues. 


Madam President,


Civil society and freedom of assembly are crucial for the democratic process. Just like the Special Representative has said to us now, Ireland is concerned by the continued targeting of protestors, activists, human rights defenders, and journalists in Iraq. Those who perpetrate violence against people exercising their rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be held to account. We call upon the Federal and Regional Governments to end impunity and ensure the realisation of these fundamental human rights for all.


We encourage the Iraqi authorities to continue engaging with UNAMI on a strategy to create durable solutions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of internally displaced persons. While for many Iraqis the idea of returning home is a cherished prospect, there are also considerable challenges and obstacles to overcome. As the Secretary General has said in his report, – “a new crisis in the form of secondary displacement should be avoided at all costs”.


Finally, I want to end by welcoming the positive news of a significant breakthrough in recent weeks with the identification of twenty Kuwaiti missing persons by Kuwaiti authorities following the successful transfer of remains by the Government of Iraq in recent years.


This is testament to the commitment of the governments of both Iraq and Kuwait to resolve outstanding issues and address the tragic legacy of the past. We commend the tireless work of the ICRC and UNAMI to support them. We hope that the recent developments will bring some closure to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.


Thank you Madam President.



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