11/23/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2021 17:25
Outlining Tabulation Process, Key Representative Says Federal Supreme Court Will Have Final Word on Results
Iraq's recent national elections, held under the 2005 Constitution and conducted in a well-run, generally peaceful manner, marked a hard-won victory for the country, despite taking place in the shadow of an unprecedented wave of violent countrywide demonstrations in 2019 and 2020, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), presenting the Secretary-General's three latest reports - on UNAMI (document S/2021/946); the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals, as well as missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives (document S/2021/930); and the electoral process in Iraq (document S/2021/932) - began with a "resolutely positive observation": that the fifth national elections held under Iraq's 2005 Constitution were peaceful, well run and featured significant technical and procedural improvements.
Nonetheless, with many of the protesters' grievances remaining unaddressed and the electoral results awaiting ratification, she said the current outlook of the country was "precarious". In October, parties rejected the electoral results and began demonstrations. Following that was an attempted assassination of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on 7 November. Such unlawful acts must not be allowed to derail Iraq's democratic process, she emphasized. The Federal Supreme Court will ratify the result, which can take place after the Electoral Judicial Panel adjudicates on the appeals brought before it.
One positive outcome of the electoral proceedings was the election of women candidates, she reported, noting that they most likely exceeded the 25 per cent women quota; she added that percentage was a floor and not a ceiling. However, in recent weeks, mistrust has grown between parties, which risked leading to escalation. Voicing concern, she stressed: "Any unlawful attempts to prolong or discredit the electoral results process - or worse, to alter the electoral results through (for instance) intimidation and pressure - can only backfire."
Amal Kabashi, a representative of the Iraqi Women Network, a civil society feminist alliance of more than 100 local organizations, also briefed the Security Council, recalling, among other things, the role she played in drafting the first national action plan in 2014 to implement resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Expressing growing concerns that feminist activists and human rights defenders faced threats of assassination, kidnappings, assaults and defamation, especially during the protests in 2019 and 2020, she said all of these have occurred with impunity.
She outlined key issues regarding Iraqi women, noting that, though the results of the election may raise the percentage of women in the House of Representatives to more than 30 per cent, their meaningful representation must also be reflected through an increase in the number of women in ministerial positions. She also called for the establishment of a National Council for Women's Empowerment, along with national laws and regulations that protect women and girls from gender-based violence. A national mechanism to support inclusion of women was critical to ensure adequate resources and oversight for implementing Iraq's national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000). The Security Council must ensure that UNAMI prioritizes protection for women's rights in its support to the Government.
In the ensuing debate, delegates welcomed the peaceful, orderly elections, voicing their hope that the results will be ratified swiftly and enable the new Government to enact much-needed reforms. Many also condemned the recent assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, with several stressing that any concerns with the election or its results be addressed through legal and peaceful channels.
The representative of Ireland commended the Government of Iraq and the Independent High Electoral Commission, as well as regional and international observers for the largely peaceful electoral process. "To the people of Iraq - we salute your courage and your determination to exercise your democratic right in a very challenging environment," she stated.
Niger's representative likewise welcomed the successful holding of the recent elections and called on the actors to use legal means for any claims related to the results. Calling for renewed commitment to combat the ongoing threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da'esh, he said: "Iraq needs our solidarity to turn this tumultuous page in its recent history."
The delegate of Estonia underlined the importance for the next Government to implement economic reforms, fight corruption and ensure State control over all armed forces. He expressed concern about reports of continued attacks against demonstrators, political activists and journalists, and called on Iraqi authorities to step up efforts to ensure accountability for those responsible for the violations and to safeguard the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.
The representative of Iraq informed the Council that the Independent High Electoral Commission is conducting a recount and tabulation of a number of polling stations before the adjudication of results by competent judicial authorities at the behest of certain parties. The Federal Supreme Court will have the final say regarding the results of the election.
He outlined measures taken to improve women's empowerment, including through a centre for the prevention of gender-based violence and a draft amendment to the Penal Code providing for the protection of women's rights. He also reported that the Iraqi authorities had established 1,000 model schools and were addressing the low water levels and salinity of the Euphrates.
More so, the Government was taking steps to address various national concerns, including by a national counter-terrorism strategy and a recently enacted law to address the negative effects of ISIL (Da'esh) against Yazidis and other communities, he said. Condemning the failed assassination attempt against the Prime Minister, he thanked all the countries and international organizations that also condemned the "cowardly act", in particular, the Secretary-General and the Security Council for their press statements on 7 and 8 November.
Also speaking were the representatives of the United States, India, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Norway, Viet Nam, China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Kenya, Tunisia and Mexico.
The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.
JEANINE HENNIS-PLASSCHAERT, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), reported on the electoral and post-electoral environment, given the recent Parliamentary elections, and the political and security developments that had since occurred. Commencing with a "resolutely positive observation", she said that the fifth national elections held under Iraq's 2005 Constitution were generally peaceful, well run and featuring significant technical and procedural improvements. They were a substantial and hard-earned achievement, she added, noting that they emerged from an unprecedented wave of countrywide demonstrations in 2019, which were marked by violence, excessive use of force, abductions and targeted killings.
In any democracy across the globe, elections and their outcomes can provoke strong feelings, she continued, adding: "If such feelings and debates give way to undemocratic impulses - such as disinformation, baseless accusations, intimidation, threats of violence or worse - then sooner or later, the door is opened to acts that are simply intolerable." She outlined events occurring since 17 October, when parties, rejecting the electoral results, began demonstrations and sit-ins, which escalated on 5 November, with casualties reported in Baghdad. Following this, an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took place in the early hours of 7 November, she reported, calling it a direct attack on the State, a heinous act and one which can only be condemned in the strongest of terms. Such unlawful acts must not be allowed to derail Iraq's democratic process, she emphasized, adding that restraint and dialogue are the only way forward to ease tensions.
Turning to the election results, she said: "The fact is that citizens in democracies often must recognize that, even if the results are not what she or he hoped for, the process as such might have been sound." Women candidates seem to have operated very successfully - taking advantage of, and likely exceeding, the 25 per cent women quota, which is a floor and not a ceiling. Further, some parties may not have gotten the seats they expected despite aggregated votes at the national level. This could be the result of having too many candidates in one constituency, which in turn could have led to a fragmentation of votes. "While losing seats can be difficult to digest, it is important - for any party in any democracy - to examine the reasons and to learn for future elections," she stressed. Moreover, there are open and established legal channels to deal with accusations of manipulation; however, as stated by the Iraqi judiciary, there has been no evidence of systemic fraud, she observed.
In recent weeks, she said there has been a severe lack of trust between parties, between parties and institutions and between parties and authorities, in addition to a long-standing lack of public trust in both politicians and institutions. This was not without risk, as mistrust often led to escalation. Reiterating her calls for political dialogue to prevail, she said: "There is no point in using others as a scapegoat for electoral grievances." Currently, the election results await ratification by the Federal Supreme Court, which can take place after the Electoral Judicial Panel adjudicates on the appeals brought before it. She called for patience as the final results get ratified, the Panel finalizes its work and the Independent High Electoral Commission completes a further examination of more than 800 polling stations.
"Any unlawful attempts to prolong or discredit the electoral results process - or worse, to alter the electoral results through (for instance) intimidation and pressure - can only backfire," she emphasized, urging all stakeholders to not go down that path. She expressed concern about the risk of continued political deadlock, underscoring the need for a Government to be able to swiftly and effectively tackle the long list of unfinished domestic business. More so, it was important for the current situation not to drag on. The grievances and demands that made many Iraqis take to the streets, including a lack of political, economic and social prospects, remain as relevant as ever, she pointed out, adding that Iraq's current outlook is precarious and will not improve without genuine reforms.
Turning to the issue of missing Kuwaiti, third country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, she welcomed the identification on 18 November of another 19 Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing persons, a breakthrough which was enabled through concerted, persistent efforts over the past few years. She called on the Iraqi Government to not lose the momentum and to take steps to locate the remaining 300-plus missing Kuwaitis and third country nationals.
AMAL KABASHI, a representative of the Iraqi Women Network, a civil society feminist alliance of more than 100 local organizations, said she played a prominent role in drafting the first national action plan in 2014 to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. As well, she helped prepare the succeeding 2021-2024 national action plan, which focuses on the role of Iraqi women in achieving stability, security and peace, as well as combating terrorism and extremism. Expressing growing concerns that feminist activists and human rights defenders faced assassinations, threats of assassination, kidnappings, assaults and defamation, especially during the popular protests in October 2019-2020, she said all of these have occurred with impunity.
Outlining three key issues that must be addressed to end the cycle of discrimination and exclusion against Iraqi women, she said that first, the elections and the present negotiations for forming a new Government are both critical for ensuring women's meaningful participation and promoting democracy in Iraq. Last month's elections resulted in the emergence of new and independent political movements. Moreover, the results of the election may raise the percentage of women's representation in the House of Representatives to more than 30 per cent, she said, emphasizing the critical need for women to become active participants in Parliament and in the formation of the new Government. Their meaningful representation must be reflected through an increase in the number of women in ministerial positions.
Second, she called for the establishment of national laws and regulations that protect women and girls from gender-based violence in all spheres of society to create an enabling environment for their participation. During the 2014-2021 Parliamentary sessions, women advocated for a law against domestic violence. Despite the existence of such a law in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the law did not pass. "This is due to the tyrannical mentality of many Iraqi legislators, who reject such efforts because they claim such laws unduly regulate family relations," she said, pointing out that the Iraqi Constitution guarantees protection from all forms of violence and abuse in the family, school and society. While welcoming the establishment of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law in April 2021, she said that the law fails to address access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence and their children born to fathers affiliated with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da'esh.
Third, she said a national mechanism to support inclusion of women is critical to ensure adequate resources and oversight for implementing Iraq's national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000). She urged the Government to form a National Council for Women's Empowerment consisting of representatives from Government, Parliament and the Supreme Judicial Council, as well as civil society organizations concerned with women and media. Toward that end, the Security Council needs to effectively lead work at the level of State institutions and local communities, realize the women, peace and security agenda and invest in Iraqi women's potential to reform the political process and build a state of equal citizenship and social justice.
She also urged the Security Council to adopt measures, including calling on the Government to fulfil its duty to provide the legal framework and the necessary mechanisms to protect women and girls, and support victims to access justice. This includes enacting the anti-domestic violence law, amending the Iraqi Penal Code and preventing attempts to legislate laws based on sectarian grounds to regulate personal affairs. The Council should also ask the Government to create the National Council for Women's Empowerment and allocate the necessary budget to implement the national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000). In addition, the Council should ensure that UNAMI prioritizes protection for women's rights in its support to the Government. Moreover, the Council can call on the Government to ensure accountability for the killings of human rights defenders and civil society activists during the 2019-2020 protests and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The Council should urge the international community to fund women human rights defenders, their organizations and all civil society representatives and non-governmental organizations working to promote human rights, gender justice and the inclusion of women in peacebuilding and sustainable development.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), recalling the protests of 2019 by the Iraqi people, highlighted the Mission's essential role in the conduct of peaceful elections in which the polling was well managed and voters cast their votes in an orderly manner in a peaceful environment. Calling this a remarkable achievement, she congratulated the people of that country, and especially the Iraqi women and members of various minority groups who won a historic number of seats in the Parliament. Praising the Council for speaking in unison to provide resources to the Iraqi Government and to authorise the Mission to provide election assistance, she looked forward to the publication by the Mission of detailed analysis from its monitoring activities. Condemning the recent assassination attempt on the Prime Minister and others acts of violence, she reaffirmed her country's commitment to Iraq's economic development, climate adaptation, public health and human rights.
SANJAY BHATTACHARYYA, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of India, said that the people of Iraq, despite the difficult economic and security situation and the continued threat of terrorism, have expressed their will for a safer, inclusive and prosperous country. Women candidates running for Parliamentary elections have secured 97 seats out of 329, an increase of 14 seats over and above the seats reserved for women. This represents a significant development towards ensuring greater political participation of women. Strongly condemning the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, he also stressed that any concerns regarding the elections or its results should be addressed through legal and peaceful means within Iraq's Constitutional framework. He also condemned all terrorist attacks by ISIL against the people of Iraq and extended his sincere and deep condolences to the families of victims. "India's friendship with Iraq is steeped in history," he said, noting that the Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme has grown over the years and has continued even during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), welcoming the holding of early legislative elections in Iraq in October, noted that the electoral process was largely peaceful and orderly. Applauding the Government of Iraq and the Independent High Electoral Commission and thanking regional and international observers, she added: "To the people of Iraq - we salute your courage and your determination to exercise your democratic right in a very challenging environment." Voicing regret about the recent assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, she condemned all incidents or threats of violence. She also spotlighted the second round of voluntary returns from the Al-Hol camp in Syria in September, reiterating that all returns must be safe, voluntary and dignified. More so, Iraq's exemplary commitment to enhanced engagement with its neighbours has the potential to greatly improve the region's stability, she said.
ISIS AZALEA MARIA GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) expressed hope that the newly formed and inclusive Iraqi Government will prioritize the creation of a space for dialogue with the Iraqi people, so that their needs and aspirations can be met. Emphasis should be placed on those most vulnerable and marginalized, thus enabling meaningful participation in discussions about their future and the direction of their country. Regional and international stakeholders and partners of Iraq must also contribute to a constructive post-electoral environment. In this regard, she underscored the need for all actors within Iraq to contribute to an atmosphere of peace that facilitates a stable, secure and prosperous future for the country. She condemned the attempted assassination against the Prime Minister, as well as the ongoing threats against UNAMI and others, which threaten to erode the political progress that has thus far been made. She also noted the pandemic's impacts on efforts to advance the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) commended Iraq's Government for the recent elections, the Independent High Electoral Commission for its significant technical and procedural improvements to the election process and UNAMI for its efforts to advise, support and assist the Government and Commission, including with monitoring on election day. "We now look forward to the formation of a new Government," she said, emphasizing that an inclusive Government - with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women - is needed to address the underlying causes of conflict and instability and usher in necessary economic, social and political reform. Expressing concern, however, over the reported lack of progress on accountability and redress for crimes perpetrated against political and civic activists by unidentified armed elements, she encouraged the Government to increase its efforts in this regard. She also expressed concern over conflict-related sexual violence in Iraq.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) commended the well managed and generally peaceful elections and reiterated his support for UNAMI and the United Nations staff operating in the country, despite the pandemic and violent threats from various sources. However, the last few months were marked by hundreds of terrorist attacks, as well as a failed assassination attempt against the Prime Minister. In addition, those who publicly advocate accountability continue to face intimidation or even assassination. All stakeholders should respect the legal processes and facilitate a peaceful and independent judicial review of electoral appeals. Turning to humanitarian issues, he also expressed concern about the nearly 1.2 million internally displaced persons whose return continues to be delayed almost five years after the defeat of ISIL. He called upon Iraqi authorities and international partners to redouble their efforts to ensure the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return or settlement of internally displaced persons, and to ensure their access to basic services, particularly food and water.
GENG SHUANG (China) applauded Iraq's successful holding of the recent Parliamentary elections and commended the support provided by UNAMI. Condemning an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, he called for a solution to electoral disputes through peaceful means. All parties should seize the opportunity presented by the elections and form an inclusive new Government to lay the political foundation for nation-building and prosperity. Highlighting the dire security situation and attacks by the remnants of ISIL, he said support is needed for the country's counter-terrorism efforts. Further, early repatriations of foreign terrorist fighters were needed. On 4 November, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations wrote to the rotating Security Council president listing Turkey's violations of Iraq's territory and airspace during the June-September period. Iraq's sovereignty must be respected. He also welcomed the holding of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership in August, which achieved important consensus on supporting Iraq's peaceful development.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) stressed that the electoral assistance provided by the Mission strengthened the capacity of the Independent High Electoral Commission. The elections ran smoothly by and large, she said, highlighting the role of various observer missions, including those of the United Nations, European Union and the Arab League. Condemning the assassination attempt against the Prime Minister, she rejected all forms of destabilization, violence and intimidation. Iraq must not get caught up in another cycle of violence, she said, adding that any challenge to the election results must be formalized through legal means. The legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi men and women must be embraced through the formation of an inclusive Government, she said, also noting that the threat represented by terrorism has not diminished. Further, Iraq can play a positive role in the region, she said, welcoming the balanced diplomacy practised by its Government.
ABDOU ABARRY (Niger) said that all segments of society must participate in the stabilization of Iraq so that the country can regain its former glory and its place among the nations of the region. Iraqis deserve to live in peace and prosperity, he said, noting the many challenges ahead. Recalling that political violence can only lead to increased tensions, he strongly condemned the assassination attempt against the Prime Minister. As well, The Iraqi Government must guarantee the right of Iraqis to peaceful protest, he said, denouncing systematic attempts to restrict it. He welcomed the successful holding of the recent elections and called on the actors to use legal means for any claims related to the results of these elections. He also highlighted the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait and the progress made in resolving outstanding issues. He called for a resolute commitment to fight the threats of Da'esh. "Iraq needs our solidarity to turn this tumultuous page in its recent history," he stressed.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed hope that Parliamentarians will soon be able to agree on a new capable Government which enjoys wide support in the country. Calling on the authorities to exercise restraint, he said that the gamut of problems that have mounted over the years cannot be solved overnight. He acknowledged that it will be difficult for Iraqi leadership to consider the opinions of different groups in the country, as well as to provide security and uphold law and order, against a worrying socioeconomic backdrop exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Economic assistance was needed for Iraq to rebuild after decades of war against ISIL (Da'esh), he said, also condemning the recent attack on the Prime Minister by unmanned aerial vehicles rigged with explosives. It was critical to step up practical and effective cooperation in counter-terrorism. The work of the Baghdad quadripartite mechanism is important in coordinating efforts to combat terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Turning to foreign military forces in the country, he said that any illegal military presence, without the consent of Iraqi authorities or through resolutions passed by the Security Council, is unacceptable. He urged all external players to refrain from taking unilateral and destructive steps.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) welcomed the historic development of having the highest percentage of women elected to the Iraqi parliament. He reiterated his strong condemnation of the assassination attempt against Prime Minister Kadhimi and called on the Iraqi authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is essential that all political parties and other actors accept the election results and address any possible claims of irregularities through the relevant legal procedures, he said. The next Government must continue the path of implementing economic reforms, fighting corruption and ensuring State control over all armed forces. Regarding the reports of continued attacks against demonstrators, political activists and journalists, he called on the Iraqi authorities for increased efforts to ensure accountability for those responsible for the violations and to safeguard the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. He also reiterated his appreciation to the Iraqi Government for a constructive engagement on the issue of irregular crossing of migrants from Belarus to the European Union, strongly condemning instrumentalization of migration and using vulnerable human beings to advance political goals.
FERGUS ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom), joining others in condemning the 7 November assassination attempt against Iraq's Prime Minister, deplored the use of violence to settle election-related grievances. He also condemned the repeated and coordinated efforts to discredit both the election results and the efforts of UNAMI, as well as threats of violence against the Mission and the Special Representative. Such threats are unacceptable. Welcoming the findings of the Independent High Electoral Commission, he said partial manual recounts of polling stations have matched the body's electronic results-transmission system. He then urged all stakeholders to respect the legally defined processes and the rule of law after the Federal Supreme Court has ratified the electoral results. The Security Council will continue to monitor any attempts to undermine the election process.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), noting the significant rise in the participation of women during the recent election process, declared: "This is a demonstration of the appreciation by the Iraqi electorate of the paramount role that women play in the pursuit of security, political stability and the well-being of all." Calling on the parties to accept the election results once legal processes are completed, he stressed the importance of engaging in constructive dialogue to build an inclusive governance system that delivers for all Iraqis regardless of their religious, ethnic, cultural or social backgrounds. The Government should remain conscious of the imperative to pay special attention to vulnerable groups, especially women, children, youth and marginalized groups, including minority ethnic and religious communities. On the assassination attempt on the Iraqi Prime Minister on 7 November, as well as the targeting of UNAMI and Independent High Electoral Commission officials, he called for expeditious investigations into these atrocious actions to bring those culpable to justice.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) commended Iraq for the successful holding of the early Parliamentary elections in October and applauded the Independent High Electoral Commission and UNAMI for their roles in ensuring transparency. He also commended the participation of women beyond the target of the 25 per cent quota. The polls enabled the Iraqi people to use their rights and make their voices heard. The next steps should be carried out in line with the laws and the Constitution. Underscoring Iraq's diplomatic role, he welcomed the holding of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, declaring that Iraq should not be a theater of regional conflict. He also welcomed efforts towards reconciliation between the Kurdistan region and the central Government and the progress made on the return of missing Kuwaiti persons, including the identification of the remains of 19 individuals.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, condemning the assassination attempt against Prime Minister Kadhimi as well as the persistent threats against the Mission and the Independent High Electoral Commission. Acknowledging the efforts of those bodies in the elections, he recalled his own country's role in Iraq in 2005 in training the first members of the Independent High Electoral Commission. The new Government has the challenging task of rebuilding trust in institutions, he said, also highlighting the participation of women voters and candidates. The holding of free and transparent elections is not the only component in building a democratic State, he stressed, noting the slim progress in ensuring accountability for human rights, as evidenced by the suppression of demonstrators and mistreatment of detainees. Also applauding the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait, he said Iraq has demonstrated great diplomatic activism in the region and has shown willingness to rebuild the "bridges of cooperation".
Mr. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), taking the floor a second time, said he was astonished at the comments made by the representative of Estonia on the issue of irregular crossing of migrants at the Belarus and Polish borders. It seemed his counterpart would use any excuse to talk about that matter. The Council was discussing the situation in Iraq, which has not been addressed properly for many years. Any refugees coming to Belarus have the freedom to leave that country at any point in time; more than 400 people have returned to Iraq with the assistance of the Belarus authorities. The inhumane stance of the European Union should be condemned despite their declared values on that matter. They have turned a blind eye on the situation of migrants, in particular women and children.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said the Iraqi people participated in the recently held elections, determined to build a democratic system and launch reforms. The elections took place much more smoothly than they did in the past, due to technical and procedural improvements. Noting that the Independent High Electoral Commission accepted the request of certain parties to conduct a recount and tabulation of a number of polling stations before the adjudication of results by competent judicial authorities, he emphasized that the Federal Supreme Court will have the final say regarding the results of the election. Condemning the failed assassination attempt against the Prime Minister, he thanked all the countries and international organizations that also condemned the "cowardly act", in particular, the Secretary-General and the Security Council for their press statements on 7 and 8 November.
Turning to the reports before the Council today, he outlined steps taken by Iraq to address concerns, including implementing a national counter-terrorism strategy; enacting a law to address the negative effects of ISIL (Da'esh) against Yazidis and other communities; and the recent repatriation of 441 Iraqis stranded in the Al-Hol camp. He urged countries with foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq to repatriate them by following applicable procedures. He also voiced his rejection of Iraq's territory being used by those who sought to settle political scores through the pretext of fighting terrorism. On the provisioning of basic services, Iraqi authorities have established 1,000 model schools and have taken steps to address the low water levels and salinity of the Euphrates, he said, adding that they have also raised capital for a housing fund and have continued efforts to develop State institutions.
The authorities have also taken steps to improve women's empowerment, he continued. Those included establishing a centre for the prevention of gender-based violence and, through a draft amendment to the Penal Code, providing for the protection of women's rights. On human rights and the rule of law, while a competent investigative committee was considering issues raised in the joint report by UNAMI and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he singled out several instances of inaccurate information detailed within, including a strange reference to violations that were said to be taking place in 3 out of 16 facilities run by the Ministry of Defence, which only has one detention facility. Further, regarding the execution of seven prisoners, he pointed out that the proceedings were conducted in line with national laws.
On the non-governmental organizations, which claimed their humanitarian work was being interfered with, he requested a list of their names and their legal status. Turning to relations between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, he stressed they have "never been better". He also highlighted the issue of missing persons, maritime borders and property with Kuwait, reporting that Iraq is continuing bilateral cooperation in this regard. Kuwait has most recently received the remains of 19 individuals, which have been identified through DNA testing. Further, his country has fulfilled its commitments pertaining to compensation of $52.4 billion, barring $629 million, which it will disburse in early 2022. On archival material and property, he said that 8 metric tons received so far will be handed over through the appropriate channels.