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Top UN official in Iraq urges greater inclusion of minorities in society

Special Representative Martin Kobler.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Special Representative Martin Kobler.

Top UN official in Iraq urges greater inclusion of minorities in society

The United Nations top envoy in Iraq has encouraged the country’s Government and members of its civil society to continue promoting and protecting the role of minority groups in Iraqi cultural and political life.

In a meeting held at his Baghdad office yesterday, Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), hosted a multi-denominational delegation from the Iraq Minority Council in which he stressed the importance of empowering all Iraqi communities to participate and contribute to the country’s decision-making process.

“Iraq is one of the richest nations in terms of its ethnic and religious diversity and this wealth must be preserved and protected as it can be the driving force for protecting democracy in Iraq,” said Mr. Kobler, who voiced his support for coordinating similar meetings at periodic intervals in the future.

The Iraq Minority Council’s culturally diverse delegation included a number of representatives from the Christian, Shabak, Yazidi and Sabean Mandean communities as well as members for the country’s Council of Representatives.

In addressing the meeting, Mr. Kobler also emphasized that empowerment of Iraqi minorities was one of UNAMI’s “important mandated priorities” and underscored the mission’s readiness to continue supporting the Iraqi authorities in protecting ethnic and religious groups.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kobler today attended the closing ceremony of the first human rights film festival in Baghdad, where he carried his message spotlighting the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

“There can be no democracy without human rights and although progress has been made in Iraq on both fronts, there is still a long way to go to ensure that every and each Iraqi citizen’s rights are fully protected and respected,” he stated.

The four-day Baghdad Eye Human Rights Film Festival featured documentaries and full-length films by Iraqi, Arab and Western filmmakers on topics including the rights of women, rights of children and youth, and the right to freedom of expression and opinion.