Iraq can be proud of the progress made in recent years but it still faces considerable political, security and developmental challenges requiring the strong support of the international community, the United Nations envoy to the country said today.
Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon`s Special Representative, Ad Melkert, highlighted some of the gains made, including the holding of regular elections and a system of government that incorporates a power-sharing constitution, guaranteeing participation of women and minorities.
Consolidating and further strengthening the undisputable gains will require a keen understanding of the need to resolve pending issues, " he added, as he presented Mr. Ban`s latest report on the activities of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
In his report, Mr. Ban says that the country continues to face a number of challenges for which it will need the strong support of the UN and the international community.
I am concerned that, in the light of the many pressing challenges in the region, the important basic needs of the Iraqi people may be forgotten, especially as the country`s poverty index remains high, at 22.9 per cent, " the Secretary-General writes.
He also notes that, almost seven months after the Council of Representatives approved the current Iraqi Government, and 16 months after the historic parliamentary elections of March 2010, there are still outstanding issues related to the Government formation process, particularly appointments to key security posts.
Mr. Ban calls on the political leaders of Iraq to put aside their differences and move swiftly to agree on the way forward.
Challenges also remain, he says, to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are protected, tackle the threat posed to the country`s stability by armed opposition groups, build up national institutions, and address the status of Kirkuk and other disputed internal territories.
Echoing the Secretary-General`s comments on the progress made, Mr. Melkert said: Whilst many challenges remain to ingrain human rights and democracy fundamentals into the minds and acts of all stakeholders, it is hard to see that the change could be reversed.
The change, however, has come at an extreme cost, still visible and tangible on a daily basis in the victims and the damage despite eight years that have gone by. Developments in the region are showing that change must and eventually will come primarily from the inside, " he added.
The new Iraq will only be a real opportunity for all Iraqis if their leaders will be decisive in their actions, allies will not turn away in their support, and its sovereignty will be respected, " he stated, adding that the UN will be well placed to remain a trusted partner in this endeavour.