Iraqi society today stands at a critical juncture, says United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, warning that with Government figures showing an average of 100 civilians killed everyday and over 14,000 wounded each month, the State runs the risk of a breakdown into civil war.
“The Iraqi people and their leaders have arrived at an important crossroads: if they are able to build firm foundations for the common interest of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity will be within reach,” Mr. Annan says in his latest report to the Security Council, which was released today.
“However, if current patterns of discord and violence prevail for much longer, there is a grave danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State, and potentially of civil war, which would be detrimental not only to the Iraqi people, but also to countries in the region and the international community in general.”
The report, covering the period from 2 June until 2 September, describes Iraq as “one of the most violent conflict areas in the world,” adding that according to the latest Government figures, the number of civilians killed has increased considerably and stands at an average of 100 people per day, while more than 14,000 were reportedly wounded per month.
Faced with growing violence and insecurity, the Iraqi Government has focused its political efforts on promoting national reconciliation and dialogue, Mr. Annan says, and while he notes “significant achievements” in the political transition process, he points out “there can ultimately be no military solutions to the many challenges” the country faces.
He acknowledges that the “burden of leadership is a heavy one,” and notes in particular the growing threat of militia activities, urging the Government to do “everything possible to progressively foster an environment conducive to the demobilization, disarming and reintegration” of these forces.
Mr. Annan also highlights the role of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), noting that although the country’s insecurity had “severely constrained” its ability to operate effectively, the Mission was exploring how it can maximize its impact and prioritize its tasks.
He also welcomed the Security Council’s decision last month to extend UNAMI’s mandate for another year, adding that the UN also wanted to engage in “strategic dialogue” on future plans for the country and that was why it would convene a high-level international meeting in New York next week with Iraqi representatives.
“A vital element in the quest for addressing the security and human rights situation is the improvement of living conditions for all Iraqis,” Mr. Annan points out, highlighting that one important Government initiative to deal with this is the International Compact with Iraq.
The Compact, which is co-chaired by the UN, is a new partnership with the global community that was launched in July and aims to pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years in the strife-torn country.
Mr. Annan notes that “considerable preparatory work” has already been done to create an effective framework for the Compact in which the Government can develop its economic programme according to clearly defined priorities, benchmarks and commitments. And yesterday an international agreement was adopted to move the process further along.
Representatives of 13 Governments, the League of Arab States, the World Bank and other regional and international organizations met in the United Arab Emirates to welcome the Iraqi Government’s commitment to “making urgent progress” on national reconciliation, political inclusion and other measures.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration also pledged to work closely with the authorities in further developing the Compact with the UN and the World Bank, and “recognized the need to expeditiously complete the development” through a “broad consultative process at the national, regional and international levels.” The meeting also pledged to work towards adoption of the Compact by the end of this year.