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UN envoy urges Iraq's political class to 'roll up its sleeves', for the people

Children play in a neighbourhood ravaged by conflict in Iraq.
© UNICEF/UN0330643/Anmar
Children play in a neighbourhood ravaged by conflict in Iraq.

UN envoy urges Iraq's political class to 'roll up its sleeves', for the people

Peace and Security

The top United Nations official in Iraq made an urgent appeal on Tuesday for the prompt formation of a new Government that meets the aspirations of that country’s people.

“National elections took place well over seven months ago and multiple deadlines for the formation of a government have been missed,” Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the Security Council.

Comprise needed

She pointed out that while political leaders subscribe to the notion of dialogue, the necessary willingness to compromise is painfully absent.

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Noting that notorious aspects of Iraq’s political life are repeating themselves in “a seemingly incessant loop of zero-sum politics”, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert – who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – said that Iraqis continue to wait for “a political class that will roll up its sleeves to make headway on the country’s long list of outstanding domestic priorities”.

These include adequate service delivery to all citizens and an end to pervasive corruption, factionalism and pillaging of State institutions.

Accountability is key

The UNAMI chief also emphasized the importance of diversifying the economy and implementing desperately needed reforms.

Moreover, she said that predictable governance rather than constant crisis management is needed, stressing that accountability must be a key feature of the State.

While asserting the State’s authority, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert flagged that it is vital to rein in non-State armed actors.

The neglect of the population’s most basic needs has gone on for far too long,” she underscored.

Sinjar agreement still pending

Turning to the Sinjar agreement, signed in October 2020 by the federal Government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil, she described it as being seen by many as a “glimmer of hope: a very first but important step in the right direction”.

While the agreement could lead to a new chapter for Sinjar, it first needs stable governance and security structures, she pointed out.

Despite having called for a speedy implementation, the UN official said that “clearly, the opposite is true”.

“To date, there is no agreement on the selection of a new independent mayor, and funds for a new local security force remain blocked, possibly due to interference into unclear recruitment procedures”.

Clashes have erupted again in recent weeks, forcing Sinjari families to again pack their belongings and find their way back to Kurdistan to seek shelter, she noted.

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert underlined that the safety and security of Sinjari families should be always front and centre, as “they deserve peace under the authority of the State”.

Push for political resolve

The UNAMI chief concluded by again underlining the importance of overcoming the political stalemate.

“Significant domestic vulnerabilities are being compounded by the ongoing effects of the pandemic and global geopolitical tensions,” she said.

A sincere, collective and urgent will to resolve political differences must now prevail – it must prevail for the country to move forward and to meet the needs of its citizens”.

Click here to watch the meeting in its entirety.