US drawdown in Iraq affecting UN ability to carry out its operations, Ban says

1 December 2010

The ongoing United States military drawdown in Iraq is making it more difficult for the United Nations to carry out its operations, which range from the humanitarian to the development to the political fields, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the country.

The ongoing United States military drawdown in Iraq is making it more difficult for the United Nations to carry out its operations, which range from the humanitarian to the development to the political fields, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the country.

“While there has been gradual progress over the past several years in making the United Nations more self-reliant in Iraq, certain security and logistical arrangements still being provided by the United States will need to be replaced,” he writes in the report, in which he also cites continuing though lower-level violence and the need to build swiftly on gains in the political field to provide essential services to the Iraqi people.

“While steps are being taken in this [security] regard, this will only be possible with strong financial support from Member States,” he says, adding that overall the withdrawal of US forces is likely to have a short- to medium-term effect on the security situation as the central Government attempts to assert itself.

Mr. Ban commends all political blocs for reaching agreements that appear to have ended the deadlock in forming a new government after elections in March. “The breakthrough represents a major milestone in democratic progress for Iraq and should pave the way for the first peaceful transition between elected governments under full Iraqi sovereignty,” he says.

He urges leaders to swiftly complete forming the new government and ensure that it is inclusive and broadly participatory, adding: “Progress in this regard will help put the country on the path towards democracy, national reconciliation and long-term stability.”

He calls for a new impetus to resolve the many political, socio-economic and security challenges, including disputed internal boundaries, particularly the status of Kirkuk, the sharing of natural resources, a revenue-sharing mechanism, hydrocarbon legislation, agreement on the balance between federal, regional, and provincial powers, and respect for human rights.

“In consultation with the new Government of Iraq, UNAMI will continue to support efforts to resolve these outstanding issues,” he says, referring to the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

He calls the recently increasing number of security attacks “a major concern,” voicing particular shock at the attack on the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad, which left many dead and scores injured. “It underscores the fact that Christians and minorities in the country continue to face daily threats of violence and intimidation,” he writes, also condemning the “heinous” attacks on Shia pilgrims in Karbala and Najaf.

“I urge the Government of Iraq to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that all Iraqis, regardless of their religious beliefs, are provided with adequate protection and are able to practice their faith in peace,” he adds.

Turning to development and reconstruction needs, he pledges continued UN support. “The formation of a new government will mean very little to ordinary Iraqis unless they begin to see tangible improvements in their lives, particularly in the delivery of essential services and the creation of new job opportunities,” he warns.

While the focus in Iraq is shifting to long-term development, there are still many humanitarian needs, particularly with respect to internally displaced persons and refugees, Mr. Ban writes, warning that no significant new contributions have been received for the Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan.

“While thanking the donor community and the Government of Iraq for the support received to date, I reiterate my request for increased resources to allow the United Nations and its partners to continue their support of the vulnerable populations of Iraq,” he declares.

On human rights, Mr. Ban notes that the security situation continues to affect civilians, mostly through insurgent and extremist terrorism and violent gang crimes. UNAMI has observed some improvement in detention conditions in Kurdistan, including better living conditions and access to medical services in the facilities.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the report points out, have alleged that Iraqi domestic law and international human rights standards are being systematically violated, citing allegations of torture, ill-treatment and rape of detainees to extract confessions in both State and non-State illegal detention centres.

Turning to UNAMI’s role in the country, the Secretary-General cites its facilitation of dialogue between the Arab and Kurdish sides in the north, its continued engagement with the major parliamentary blocs on the status of the constitutional review process in the forthcoming legislative session, and its focus, together with other UN agencies, on key national development initiatives, including in the private sector and employment generation.

“It is my sincere hope that with the formation of a new government, the security situation in the country will improve,” he concludes. “However, Iraq will still remain a challenging operating environment in the foreseeable future.”


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

With deadlock broken, Ban calls for swift formation of Iraqi government

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the “major step forward” taken with the agreement reached after months of deadlock on the formation of a new Iraqi government, and called on the country’s leaders to swiftly conclude the process.