Unless Dividends Promised by New Power-Sharing Government in Iraq Delivered, Democratic Gains May Be 'Hollow' to Ordinary Iraqis, Security Council Told

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Security Council

6511th Meeting (AM)

Top UN Envoy Says Iraqi Officials Taking Demands Seriously; Asks International Community Not to Forget Iraq, as United States’ Forces Prepare to Leave Country

While Iraqi political leaders had formed a power-sharing Government in December 2010, ending a nine-month stalemate following national elections in March of last year, the Iraqi people were still concerned over the country’s lack of adequate employment, basic services and accountability, the United Nations top political official on Iraq told the Security Council today.

“Unless these demands are addressed, the political and democratic gains made thus far may seem hollow to ordinary Iraqis. This will be no easy task for the Government of Iraq,” Ad Melkert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said as he briefed the Council on the situation in that country.

Since February, Iraqi citizens had protested across the country to demand the dividends promised by the new National Partnership Government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he said. That included employment opportunities for youth, who comprised more than half of all unemployed Iraqis and more than 60 per cent of whom had only a primary school education.

Iraq’s elected officials were taking those issues seriously and had shown a renewed determination to act decisively, he said. Prime Minister Al-Maliki had asked Cabinet ministers to introduce within 100 days viable plans to create jobs and deliver services. His Administration had also announced cuts in defence spending and Government salaries, as well as steps to tackle corruption.

The United Nations was doing its part by proposing projects to foster youth employment, improved health and nutrition, solid waste management, public distribution of food rations, and access to water, as well as initiatives to encourage dialogue between Iraq’s Government and civil society to promote human rights, he said. UNAMI was working with Iraq’s Government and Council of Representatives to create an independent High Commission for Human Rights.

In addition, later this month, the United Nations, the World Bank and bilateral donors would meet with Iraqi cabinet members to review policy recommendations for Iraq’s socio-economic development and institutional capacity-building, he said.