• Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Outgoing UN Envoy Highlights Iraq’s Progress and Challenges in Final Address to Security Council

Outgoing UN Envoy Highlights Iraq’s Progress and Challenges in Final Address to Security Council

In a poignant farewell address to the United Nations Security Council, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, reflected on the nation’s substantial progress and persistent challenges as it continues its recovery from decades of conflict.

Hennis-Plasschaert underscored Iraq’s evolving landscape, highlighting significant advancements in service provision, construction, investment climate, financial reforms, and environmental initiatives. "Iraq is a country of great opportunity," she emphasized, despite ongoing hurdles.

Key issues discussed included Iraq’s efforts to reduce dependence on imported fuels, improve water management, and the successful holding of local elections in December 2023. However, she expressed concern over political deadlocks in provinces like Diyala and Kirkuk and the ongoing delay in appointing a new Parliamentary Speaker.

The envoy also addressed the polarized political environment in the Kurdistan Region and the critical need for timely, inclusive elections. The situation in Sinjar, still devastated nine years after liberation from the Islamic State (IS), was highlighted as a significant concern, particularly with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Yazidi genocide.

On the regional security front, Hennis-Plasschaert commended the Iraqi Federal Government’s efforts to maintain stability and prevent escalation amidst volatile conditions. The continued return of Iraqi nationals from northeastern Syria was noted as a positive development, though she emphasized the urgency of addressing the remaining challenges.

In her conclusion, Hennis-Plasschaert called for Iraq’s leaders to work collaboratively for the country’s success, stressing the importance of safeguarding fundamental rights and ensuring women’s empowerment beyond mere symbolism.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani has requested UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to permanently end the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) by the end of 2025. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has extended UNAMI's mandate until May 31, 2024, with discussions on further extensions pending.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert will step down from her role at the end of May.