Ban Ki-moon says good words on Iraq must translate into good deeds
“It is precisely because of the difficulty and the daily onslaught of violence that committed collaboration is required,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the foreign ministers, who have gathered this week in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, to hold a series of discussions and help launch the International Compact for Iraq, a five-year plan for peace and development.
“I urge you all to do your part in denouncing sectarian violence, strengthening bilateral exchange in the region, and encouraging national dialogue within Iraq.”
He called on the ministers – from Iraq’s neighbours, the Security Council’s permanent members and other stakeholder countries – to make sure that the commitments and decisions made and relationships developed this week are backed “by proper follow-up mechanisms.”
Yesterday in Sharm-el-Sheikh, world leaders pledged about $30 billion in specific financial commitments to help the Iraqi Government try to implement the Compact.
“Now the implementation of the Compact and its component parts will commence in earnest, including the political and security elements,” Mr. Ban said. “This offers an important arena to promote visible, tangible progress.”
The Secretary-General warned that the situation across the Middle East, and not just Iraq, was “complex and precarious,” with deep mistrust and political stalemate constraining peace in several countries.
“More than ever, our words need to be translated into sustained, concrete progress. Regional and international cooperation in support of Iraq must be one of our top priorities. Without it, the reach of the violence may know no boundaries, and the people of Iraq may know no peace.”
Last month in Geneva, the UN held an international conference to mobilize financial aid and other forms of support to help with the immediate needs of the rapidly swelling population of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the last year alone, an estimated 750,000 people have fled their homes, taking the number of refugees and IDPs to almost 4 million.
Today Mr. Ban reiterated his pledge to have the UN do more for the country, especially in areas “where the Organization has a comparative advantage, such as political facilitation and humanitarian assistance.”
He also stressed that stability and security in Iraq will not be obtained through only military means.
“Instead, it requires genuine and concerted efforts to promote national reconciliation, reduce sectarian tension, and strengthen national unity from the mountains of Kurdistan to Baghdad and the lands of the two great rivers [Tigris and Euphrates] down to Basra and the marshes in the south.”
Also today in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Mr. Ban took part in a working group meeting on the Arab Peace Initiative concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, the League of Arab States and the principal members of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet participated in the working group meeting.
Speaking to reporters later, the Secretary-General said he had been encouraged by the candid dialogue with the Arab participants, adding that now it was important to seize the current momentum to try to realize the two-State vision. International negotiators, including the UN, have been working to achieve the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side by side within secure and internationally recognized borders.