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26 February 2009 - The situation in Iraq - Statement made by H. E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Security Council Debate on UNAMI

Unofficial translation

Mr. President,

First of all I would like to thank Mr. de Mistura, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq, for his report to the Council. I would like to take this opportunity to hail UNAMI’s courageous, effective actions as well as Mr. de Mistura’s tireless commitment to implementing the mandate given to him by the Security Council.

The last few months in Iraq have been marked by important progress toward the establishment of a secure, stable, democratic, unified and prosperous country where human rights are respected. France congratulates the Iraqi government on its efforts to this end, and underscores its readiness to continue and strengthen its contribution to Iraq’s stability and prosperity.

1. The holding of provincial elections on January 31 was an important step on the way to shoring up democracy and reconciliation. It was important for those elections to be well organized and to unfold in conditions of pluralism and, generally speaking, calm, which is indeed what happened. On February 23, the Security Council, the secretary-general and the EU foreign ministers hailed the conduct of those elections.

They represent first and foremost a victory for the Iraqi people, which showed it was fully embracing this democratic process. France can only rejoice that the Iraqis are progressively taking all of their country’s affairs in hand. The Iraqi government must also be congratulated for its organization of these elections. Finally, we hail the essential role played by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which supported the independent High Electoral Commission in preparing these elections.

2. As the EU foreign ministers indicated on February 23, the results of the balloting must now must be used to achieve new progress in order to improve the living conditions of the Iraqi people, as well as the process of national reconciliation. That means continuing the positive commitment of the Iraqi government, the international community and neighboring states. Let me highlight three important areas in this regard:

- First of all, the question of disputed internal borders (particularly with respect to Kirkuk), to which we will now be turning our attention, as the secretary-general stressed in his report. UNAMI must continue to provide its expertise to the Iraqi government so that it may move forward on this issue, as on the process of constitutional reform. The success of this difficult endeavor will depend in large part on a spirit of compromise and will help gauge the willingness of all pertinent actors to work in that spirit.

- Reconstruction and economic growth are a second major challenge for this new year. The Iraqi people are waiting for concrete results. France, which has cancelled €4 million ($5 million) of Iraqi debt is prepared to contribute to all areas desired by the Iraqi authorities.

- UNAMI must also continue, and this is the third point, to support the efforts of the Iraq Neighbors Process to bring about concrete advances in energy, security and borders, refugees and displaced persons. Their assistance seems equally useful with respect to the regional dialogue, which must continue, particularly on the question of disappearances and assets seized during the Gulf War. Iraq’s neighbors, of course, have a major role to play in this regard, and we appreciated the references made by the Iraqi permanent representative in this regard.

- Finally, efforts must also continue in the area of respect for human rights, notably with regard to the situation of prisoners. As the secretary-general noted, the creation of the Independent High Commission for Human Rights is a positive first step.

Mr. President,

The visit by the President of the Republic to Iraq on February 10 solemnly marked France’s resolute support for bolstering democracy, restoring sovereignty and supporting Iraq’s reconstruction efforts. That visit followed two trips by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner in August 2007 and in June 2008, which provided opportunities to concretely demonstrate France’s solidarity at the same time that we were canceling the Iraqi debt and were actively participating in the European program EUJUST LEX to train Iraqi civil servants. Depending on the wishes of the Iraqi authorities, France’s efforts could be deployed in all institutional and economic sectors.

More generally, it is important for the current positive cycle to allow Iraq to recover its full sovereignty. To this end, we recall the demand formulated by the Security Council in resolution 1859 that the secretary-general prepare a report, after consulting with Iraq, on all the actions needed to allow it to regain an international status equal to the one it had before SCR 661 of August 6, 1990. As the President of the Republic signaled in Baghdad on February 12, "Iraq can count on France’s friendship to help bring about its complete reintegration into the community of nations."

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