Ban Ki-moon hails Security Council resolution on strengthened UN role in Iraq

Ban Ki-moon hails Security Council resolution on strengthened UN role in Iraq

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that a new Security Council resolution on the work of the United Nations in Iraq paves the way for the world body to “enhance” its role in such key areas as national reconciliation, regional dialogue, humanitarian assistance and human rights.

Mr. Ban told the 15-member body that he welcomed the unanimously passed resolution to renew for a year and strengthen the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

“A peaceful and prosperous future is for Iraqis themselves to create, with the international community lending support to their efforts,” he said.

“The United Nations looks forward to working in close partnership with the leaders and people of Iraq to explore how we can further our assistance under the terms of the resolution.”

UNAMI, established in 2003, noted in a fact sheet released today that the resolution establishes responsibilities for the mission to “advise and assist in areas such as political facilitation and national reconciliation and the promotion of regional cooperation between Iraq and the countries of the region, including through the continued role of the United Nations in the International Compact with Iraq.”

Although tackling challenges the Iraqi Government and people face is a “national responsibility, we however cannot achieve it without the assistance of the international community represented by the United Nations, especially the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, UNAMI,” Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Al Bayati said in his address to the Council.

“For three years, UNAMI has stood by the Iraqi people and successive Iraqi governments during that period and especially with the current national democratically constitutionally elected Government,” he said.

Mr. Ban told reporters after the Council’s meeting the UN will act as a facilitator to foster talks regarding Iraq.

“Promoting and encouraging political facilitation and dialogue among different factions and ethnic religious groups – this will be one of the important areas where the United Nations will be engaged,” he said.

Although the Secretary-General also intends to increase the UN’s presence in Iraq, “the safety and security of our staff is of paramount concern and interest, as you may understand,” he said.

At present, he said he has not reached a final decision on how many and which staff members will be dispatched to the war-torn country.

After a bomb attack four years ago this month which killed the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others, many UN international staff were relocated from Iraq. They began returning in April 2004, and currently there are almost 300 international staff and nearly 400 national staff in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan.

While taking into account concerns regarding staff safety, Mr. Ban stressed that “we cannot shy away because of” security concerns. “There must be somebody who should work for those people to help them overcome social and economic and political difficulties.”