Briefing to the Security Council by SRSG for Iraq Ján Kubiš New York, 20 February 2018 [AS PREPARED] | BTSC
Distinguished members of the Security Council,
I have the honour to introduce the second report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 2367 (2017), as well as the seventeenth report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 4 of resolution 2017 (2013) on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property.
This Security Council meeting takes place just days after the Iraq Reconstruction Conference, so generously co-hosted by H. H. Emir of Kuwait, thus showing once again his and his country’s commitment to the humanitarian, peace and development cause in the region and in the world.
The regional and international response to the conference and its appeal is an extraordinary proof of continuous solidarity with and confidence in the Government and in the people of Iraq. By this the international community has shown its lasting appreciation of the courage with which the Iraqi people have defeated the territorial hold of Da’esh, protecting not only themselves but all of us from the scourge of international terrorism.
The conference was attended by seventy member states and international organizations and 2,000 private sector companies, mobilized nearly USD 30 billion to support reconstruction. In a series of presentations during the three-day event, the Government of Iraq affirmed its commitment to inclusive governance and reform, stressed the overriding importance of community and national reconciliation and outlined the steps it is taking to shift from a state to private-sector led economy. Support is being provided in the form of sovereign loans, non-sovereign credit, financing, project guarantees, and other funding, including support for humanitarian assistance and stabilization initiatives.
During the high-level segment, the UN Secretary General launched the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP), a two-year programme designed to fast-track the social dimensions of reconstruction which will be implemented by the UN Country Team.
All this creates the conditions for the Government of Iraq to be successful in implementation of its programme of reforms, recovery and rehabilitation of the country, in cooperation with notably the countries of the region, including on such increasingly important issues transboundary water management. The Secretary-General stated in his concluding remarks “ In a world where unfortunately good news is scarce, and in the region where unfortunately we see many situations getting worse, the fact that Iraq is on the right track and the fact that the international community has shown its confidence in Iraq is a very important piece of good news.”
As the Security Forces continue to clear out remnants of Da’esh, Iraq is increasingly focusing on the upcoming parliamentary elections. The Iraqi Council of Representatives approved 12 May 2018 as the date of the elections. Meanwhile, Iraq’s governorate council elections are now slated to be held on a separate date, with the Council of Representatives voting that such elections shall take place at least 6 months after the parliamentary elections.
Many of the Iraqi political forces decided to form cross-sectarian, cross-ethnic coalitions across the political spectrum. It is indeed essential that the elections will confirm the vision of Iraqis working together across the sectarian and ethnic divides in pursuing the needed political, economic and social reforms based on the principles of citizenship with equal rights, justice and opportunity for all and good governance, void of the compromised quota system and corruption. Only a new government, based on such approach will guarantee the future of Iraq as a united, democratic, fully sovereign and independent federal state, as a factor of stability, cooperation and prosperity for its people and for the region.
I note that several groups with armed formations engaged in fighting Da’esh have announced that they will continue as purely civil or political organisations. They have pledged to integrate their troops into the structures of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, and thus under the control of the Government of Iraq. For example, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stated that his Peace Brigades would be transformed into a civil organisation and called on the group’s members to hand over liberated areas to the Iraqi security forces.
In order to safeguard the democratic process, it is imperative that these intentions are followed through and all political parties relinquish their connections to the Popular Mobilisation Forces and any other armed groups. The Political Parties Law of 2015 and the Popular Mobilisation Commission Law of 2016 stipulate that political parties cannot be affiliated to any armed group and that members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces shall not be allowed to participate in any political activities. Prime Minister Abadi has repeatedly underlined that all weapons must be under the control of the state.
The Independent High Electoral Commission has steadily continued its preparations for the parliamentary elections. The Commission has registered 205 political parties; and 27 political coalitions are approved to contest the elections. The candidate nomination period concluded on 15 February, with the Commission now proceeding to review the list of candidates in coordination with appropriate institutions, prior to their finalization. The Commission has announced progress on several ongoing activities, including the distribution of 52 % of 10.7 million electronic voter cards produced, the arrival of a number of electoral equipment and materials, the refurbishment of electoral facilities particularly in areas affected by conflict and recruitment of polling staff, approval of polling regulations, and the information dissemination campaign for voters and electoral stakeholders, including women. The Commission has also opened registration for out-of-country voting.
Yet, a number of challenges remain.
The voluntary and dignified return of IDPs under condition of safety and security is an issue critical for the success and credibility of the elections. In the months ahead, the Government expects that as many as two million of the 2.5 million who are still displaced will return home. During his speech at the opening of the International Reconstruction Conference for Iraq, the Prime Minister reiterated his Government’s commitment to safe, voluntary and dignified return movements. I am also encouraged by the decision of the Government to establish voluntary return committees, with humanitarian representatives, in each Governorate to oversee the return process.
At the same time, the Independent High Electoral Commission is preparing to implement special provisions to enable the displaced to vote, should eligible IDP voters not return to their homes in time for the election.
Here I have to note with deep concern that returns to many of the areas liberated already 2-3 years ago in Diyala, Sallah-ad-Din, Babel or the Baghdad belt have not taken place, yet.
Providing a security environment by the Iraqi Security Forces which enables voters to exercise their right to vote in safety, free from terror, fear or intimidation, is an overriding concern.
In addition, the new electronic ballot counting system, including the customization and development of the software for results tabulation continues to be a work in progress and requires accelerated support, including from the UN and other international partners, in order to ensure the envisaged enhanced integrity and credibility of the elections. In this regard, I welcome the initiative of the Electoral Commission to hold a nationwide simulation of the voting system well before the election takes place.
Observation of the elections, both domestic and international, will be a vital component in fostering credibility and acceptance of the results. I strongly urge domestic observer groups, as well as the international community, to participate in the observation of the elections, and the international community to provide the necessary support.
Credible and acceptable elections with high voter turnout, including in the liberated areas and in the Kurdistan region, and with specific measures to facilitate women’s participation, will empower the new government to implement reforms, improve accountability and promote inclusiveness and reconciliation between different components and groups in Iraq.
The United Nations has received requests from the Electoral Commission for further technical support and we are ready to provide assistance. In order to assess the preparations for the elections and to identify the specific areas and measures to be taken by the Iraqi Electoral management bodies and by the UN in their support, a second stage of the UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission will shortly deploy to Iraq.
I am encouraged by the recent positive developments in relations between Baghdad and Erbil. The federal Government had formed a high-level committee to oversee negotiations over issues related to security, borders, border crossings, customs, airports, dams and oil. On 20 January, for the first time since the referendum, Prime Minister Abadi received a KRG delegation led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Mr Abadi and Mr Barzani met again the following week, in Davos and on the margins of the Munich Security Conference on 17 February. On 4 February, the federal Government committee, which had travelled to Erbil earlier, completed its examination of the payroll of the Ministries of Health and Education, while the Government of Iraq announced plans to pay some civil servant salaries in the Kurdistan region. Also in early February, the federal Government agreed in principle to allow international flights between Kurdistan region and Saudi Arabia for the purpose of performing Umrah. The Baghdad-Erbil relationship is also affected by the ongoing stalemate over the 2018 Federal Budget Law.
UNAMI continues to engage actively with the main stakeholders in Baghdad as well as in the Kurdistan region in favour of just and sustainable solutions on the basis of the Constitution, which will also guarantee the full constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region. Prime Minister Abadi these days confirmed that the federal and regional Governments are in the final stages of negotiations as regards some concrete areas that would address urgent needs and concerns of the people of the region, starting with payment of salaries and re-opening of the airports in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. Such steps are urgently needed.
The dire economic and social situation in Kurdistan triggered further protests across the region. In December, protests took place in Sulaymaniyah Governorate. The demonstrations had a political undertone, amidst calls for a transitional (or “salvation”) government in the Kurdistan region. Subsequently, the Kurdistan Islamic Group, the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union announced their withdrawal from the Kurdistan Regional Government. In an attempt to resolve the crisis, on 17 December, Prime Minister Barzani requested the regional parliament to set a date for Kurdistan parliamentary elections.
Regrettably, pressure on the media continues. In December, NRT TV station, accused of inciting violence, was ordered by the authorities in Kurdistan Region temporarily to suspend its broadcasts. Also in December, some offices of Al Sharqiya TV channel were ordered to close in other parts of Iraq. I reiterate my call upon the authorities to respect and protect the media. I emphasise the critical role of free and impartial media in any democratic society. At the same time, the media must operate in full compliance with the law and applicable rules and regulations. Hate speech and incitement to violence based on religion, race or political affiliation, have no place in a democracy.
Prominent among current concerns is the adoption of the 2018 Federal Budget Law by the Council of Representatives. The government submitted the draft Law for parliamentary approval at the end of November. However, due to objections of a number of political parties including from the Kurdistan region to one or more provisions, the second reading of the Law was finalised only on 13 February. Speaker Jubouri subsequently stated that the Budget Law would not be submitted for voting until an agreement is reached between the federal Government and parliamentary blocs, and called for a meeting of the top constitutional leaders with the Parliament to discuss and resolve the issue. I urge the Council of Representatives to adopt the Budget Law without further delay. I welcome the continued assistance of the International Monetary Fund to the Government while it implements this ambitious but necessary fiscal adjustment. I call on the federal Government and Kurdistan Regional Government to arrive at an agreement on key issues such as the Kurdistan region's budget share, the ambit of sovereign expenditures and Peshmerga salaries, as well as the modalities for hydrocarbon management.
Prime Minister al-Abadi has, on numerous occasions, reiterated his government’s commitment to tackling corruption. On 21 November, he noted that the Supreme Council for Countering Corruption was following up on investigations of individuals both inside and outside Iraq. This Council met on 4 December to discuss the performance of the General Inspectorate's offices in investigating cases of corruption. On 5 December, Prime Minister al-Abadi emphasised that countering corruption was a judicial issue, and that his government aimed to achieve justice through due legal diligence. Prime Minister Abadi also announced that the Council of Ministers would pass a law to increase the Government’s capacity to fight corruption. As part of the government’s anti-corruption campaign, on 25 January, the Iraqi authorities took into custody former Minister of Trade Abdel Falah al-Sudani, following his extradition from Lebanon. On 12 February he was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. Other similar cases are being pursued by the Iraqi authorities.
In order to ensure that terrorists will never again find fertile ground to operate and thrive, Iraq needs to engage in inclusive national dialogue and settlement, accompanied by a process of grassroots and community reconciliation. As announced by the government of Iraq at the Kuwaiti Conference, Prime Minister has recently approved the “National Initiative for Dialogue”, aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement, which the government plans to launch at an appropriate time. Moreover, the government created a standing high committee on coexistence and social peace to work on:
1. Dismantling of “Da’esh” ideology.
2. Disseminating the values of moderation, coexistence and tolerance.
3. Solving the social problems resulting from the “Da’esh” occupation, whether regional, tribal or ethnic.
Under the committee, offices for women, youth, academics, religious and tribal leaders were established.
Despite the preoccupation of Iraqi leaders, political forces and society with preparing and campaigning for the upcoming elections, I would like to reiterate my call to them to keep up the momentum and engage in a genuine national political and reconciliation dialogue process. This includes addressing the impact of Da’esh on the Iraqi community, combating extremist ideologies and promoting moderation and tolerance.
UNAMI has engaged with Iraqi political parties, civil society organisations, women, youth, tribal and community representatives to promote reconciliation. In particular, UNAMI, in collaboration with the Implementation and Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation of the Prime Minister’s Office, concluded a number of roundtable discussions country-wide on “National Reconciliation: Prospects and Challenges” to bolster inclusive political dialogue throughout the country. The discussions were attended by more than 350 representatives, including 64 women, covering the political and social spectrum in the 13 governorates of Karbala, Babel, Baghdad, Salah Al-Din, Wassit, Basrah, Missan, Thi-Qar, Muthana, Diyala, Anbar, Najaf and Diwaniya. To facilitate the UN’s expanding engagement throughout the country, UNAMI is planning this year to open an office in Mosul, in Ninewa Governorate. We will also increase capacity in our office in Kirkuk, another region of deep and violent political divisions. And my Deputy for Political and Electoral Affairs will increasingly reach out towards stakeholders outside Baghdad, to ensure we are implementing a truly national remit for engagement that will include all provinces and diverse segments of their populations, notably women and youth.
As part of UNAMI’s mandate to assist with national reconciliation, the Mission continued its collaboration on minority issues with the Minority Department of the Implementation and Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation. UNAMI participated in discussions aimed at intra- and inter-minority consolidation. In the same vein, on 23 January visiting Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenča met minority leaders from the Christian, Yazidi, Shabak, Sabean Mandean and Fayli Kurds components, who urged the United Nations to advocate peaceful coexistence among religions and ethnics groups.
Although Da'esh's so-called caliphate has been defeated, the terrorist organisation and its sleeper cells, including among IDPs, continues to pose a threat. On 18 February, in the course of counter terrorism operations in Hawija and surrounding areas, a special force from the Popular Mobilisation Forces was ambushed and over 20 fighters were martyred.
Intermittently, Turkish military attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq have continued, including in the past 3 days.
From 23 November 2017 to 24 January 2018, 193 civilians were killed and 446 others were wounded. On 27 November, a double suicide attack in a market in the town of Nahrawan, south-eastern Baghdad, resulted in the death of at least 11 civilians and wounded 25 others. In the bloodiest attack during the reporting period, on 15 January, in al-Tayaran square in central Baghdad City, two suicide attackers wearing belts laden with explosives targeted civilians, killing 26 persons and wounding 90 others.
These cowardly and indiscriminate attacks have the sole purpose of inflicting maximum casualties among innocent civilians. I urge greater vigilance by the authorities and closer cooperation with citizens to thwart the intentions of terrorists who seek to derail Iraq’s recovery path after long conflict. It is also worrying that civilians have continued to be targeted in and around Mosul city and some other liberated areas. And, following the liberation of areas that were under Da’esh control, as a sad legacy of its former presence, explosives reportedly planted by the terrorist organisation have continued to cause civilian casualties, notably in Kirkuk, Ninewa and Anbar Governorates.
Since the outbreak of violence in the ethnically diverse city of Tuz Khurmatu in Salah al-Din governorate in mid-October 2017, UNAMI has received a number of allegations of human rights abuses and violations. UNAMI teams undertook two monitoring missions to Tuz Khurmatu on 7 and 14 December.
Deplorably, violence in Tuz Khurmatu continued. On 9 December, Aksu, Jamila and Jumhori quarters in Tuz Khurmatu City were shelled, killing a child and wounding twelve, including two women.
On 8 January, the Council of Representatives formed an investigation committee to look into the situation, including potential human rights violations. On 13 January, a brigade of the Rapid Response Division was deployed to the area. On 15 January, the local police offices in Sulaiman Bik sub-district were reopened. I welcome the Government's efforts to restore calm and normality in Tuz Khurmatu and to foster an environment conducive to the return of displaced persons.
Of particular concern is the rising popular sentiment in favour of collective punishment of families perceived to be associated with Da’esh. Iraqis believed to have links with Da’esh are increasingly subjected to revenge measures. For example, on 6 December, attacks using hand grenades targeted four families in south-eastern Mosul. On 30 December, an armed group destroyed three houses in a village in al-Shirqat district in Salah al-Din, using explosives. On 8 January, in Heet city, Anbar, unknown persons burned and partially destroyed three empty houses belonging to families with members allegedly associated with Da’esh. UNAMI urges the Iraqi authorities to maintain the rule of law and order, to prevent vindictive acts and bring those responsible for them to justice.
On 13 February the Security Council approved the Terms of Reference, acceptable to the Government of Iraq, for the UN Investigative Team to be established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 (2017). A UN assessment mission to facilitate the establishment of this Team is planning to visit Iraq at the beginning of April. The issue of Da’esh accountability is particularly important for national reconciliation and transitional justice
UNAMI has continued to prioritise achieving justice for individuals affected by human rights abuses committed in the ongoing armed conflict, in particular serious crimes that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide as the government proceeds to take action against perpetrators of crimes, including foreign nationals and women. These days the High Judicial Council sentenced ten foreign women to life imprisonment for their involvement with Da’esh with another woman from Turkey sentenced to death.
Given the scale of serious crimes, UNAMI is pursuing a strategy at the national level with a view to allowing domestic courts to have jurisdiction over international crimes. This would include legal reforms to introduce definitions of international crimes and penalties into legislation, as well as the establishment of a specialised court with a national jurisdiction to try perpetrators in conformity with international criminal law principles. Such legal reform would complement the criminal legal framework and provide for the establishment of specialised courts with international principles.
This initiative would also complement ongoing international initiatives to gather evidence on the most serious crimes committed by Da’esh. It is vital to ensure that crimes and human rights violations and abuses including sexual violence crimes are properly documented to enable possible prosecutions where perpetrators can be identified and apprehended. Efforts towards implementing the Joint Communiqué on Prevention and Response to Conflict-Related Sexual will also contribute to the work of the Investigative Team. Preserving the evidence of crimes committed by Da’esh is important to ensure that justice will be done. UNAMI remains concerned at the limitations in capacity of the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to protect and systematically investigate crime sites, including mass graves. Since June 2014, at least 113 mass graves have been discovered. Systematic preservation and excavation of these sites remains critical, given that they may contain evidence of the perpetrators of these crimes, but also important evidence of the identities of the victims.
I commend the Iraqi federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for their concerted efforts and strong coordination towards the implementation of the national action plan on women, peace and security. In particular, I welcome the establishment of a National Team on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Iraq’s ability to implement its 1325 National Action Plan will be dependent on allocation of funding and implementation of related national frameworks. Women continue to be underrepresented in political and reconciliation processes at the national level. With elections looming, I will continue to advocate with Iraqi senior political leaders for broadening of women’s political space and appointment in leadership positions within political parties, as well as their meaningful participation in all electoral processes including participating in negotiations towards the government formation after the national elections. I urged political leaders to defend and protect the political, economic, social and legal space for women, to prevent obstacles hindering women’s participation in political life. The UN will continue supporting the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government to advance the women, peace and security agenda in Iraq and support the implementation of the national action plan on UNSCR 1325 and related national frameworks.
I urged Iraq to reconsider the draft amendments to the Personal Status Law that alter fundamentally the legal provisions governing marriage. It is a matter of concern that these draft amendments are silent on the minimum age of consent to marriage and do not apply to all components of Iraqi society. I recall that, in 2016, Iraq signed with the United Nations a Joint Communiqué formally committing to preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence, which foresees legislative and policy reform to strengthen protection against and response to sexual violence crimes. I urge the Government of Iraq to protect children by preventing the adoption of any policies that could harm children already exposed to armed conflict.
I welcome the Government of Iraq’s resolve to hold accountable those violating legal regulations with regard to the age of recruitment to armed forces. I also welcome the government’s expressed willingness to work with the United Nations Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting to develop an action plan to address violations committed against children in times of conflict. To this end, Prime Minister Abadi has endorsed the establishment of the National Inter-Ministerial Senior Committee for Monitoring and Reporting on children affected by the armed conflict. The Committee will be headed by the Minister of Labour and Social Affair and will include the relevant line ministries as members. I commend the Government of Iraq for taking these positive steps towards the termination of the recruitment and use of children and look forward to a continued fruitful collaboration in working towards a protected future for children in Iraq.
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is entering a new phase. Already, three months after the end of combat operations, more than half of the nearly six million civilians who were forced to flee their homes during the conflict, 3.3 million Iraqis, have returned to their communities.
Although combat operations halted in November 2017, humanitarian needs remain high. Assessments confirm that as many as 8.7 million Iraqis will require some form of humanitarian assistance during 2018. Humanitarian partners plan to reach 3.4 million highly vulnerable Iraqis during the year, including 1.5 million displaced people in camps and informal settlements, 350,000 highly vulnerable people who cannot return home unless assisted, 1.25 million Iraqis not adequately covered by social protection systems and more than 2 million people who will need protection assistance.
During 2018, humanitarian operations in Iraq will contract significantly. Government authorities are already decommissioning displaced camps and gearing up social protection programmes in areas where families are returning. I am encouraged by the major efforts being made by authorities to prevent retribution in return areas and deal with the many complicated post-ISIL realities communities are facing.
Funding for the humanitarian operation remains one of our highest priorities. We are grateful for the generosity of donors who continue to ensure that humanitarian appeals in Iraq are some of the most generously funded globally. Humanitarian partners require USD 569 million during this year. I hope we can continue to count on donor support for this crucially important operation.
The problem of unexploded ordnance continues to impact returns and reconstruction in areas across the country. In western Mosul, more than 10 million tons of rubble is contaminated and must be cleared, a process likely to take up to ten years to complete. Already, UNMAS has cleared over 25,000 hazards but families, anxious to return, have started to remove explosive hazards from their houses, depositing them in streets and public spaces. We commend the Government of Iraq for their efforts to clear numerous dangerous items before people return home and call on the international community to provide training and resources to the Iraqi Security Forces to deal with the exponentially growing stockpiles of explosive hazards.
UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization has continued to scale-up its efforts to stabilise newly liberated areas of Iraq. FFS is now cleared to work in 31 of the more than 40 cities and districts which have been liberated by Iraqi Security Forces. Since we last reported to the Security Council, 360 projects have either been completed or are under development bringing the total number of stabilization projects to 1,887. In Mosul alone, nearly 600 stabilization projects are underway.
UNDP is also continuing to accelerate stabilization efforts in ten priority Christian towns in the Ninawa Plains. 209 projects are underway in these areas, an increase from 164 at the end of our last reporting period. These efforts are having significant impact. In Bartella, 445 houses have been refurbished; in coming months, more than 2,100 houses will be ready to receive families. The district hospital in Hamdaniyah is now open, providing state-of-the art health services for over 500,000 people living in the Ninawa Plains. In the Yazidi towns of Western Ninawa, UNDP is restoring major components of the electricity grid, including a high voltage line from Al-Awinat to Sinuni,
The UN continues to support security sector reform in Iraq. On 8 February, at the quarterly meeting of the Security Sector Reform Strategic Partners, the Office of the National Security Advisor briefed on the progress being made to implement the Government’s Security Sector Reform Programme. International partners, coordinated with support from UNDP, continue to take steps to accelerate key components of the national strategy.
Allow me to now turn to the seventeenth report of the Secretary-General on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
As demonstrated by the recent International Conference organised and hosted by Kuwait, the relations between the two countries continues to improve with each passing year. I would like to commend the determination of both countries to forge ahead with strengthening bilateral ties.
Despite strong support demonstrated by Kuwait, and commitment to their international and humanitarian obligation shown by Iraq, full normalization of relations will only take place once all outstanding issues have been resolved.
The Government of Iraq, particularly its Ministry of Defence, are making proactive efforts, through field missions and in the collection of information, to reanimate the search for missing Kuwaiti persons. I deeply regret that the last thirteen years have not yielded tangible results. As emphasised on many occasions before this Council, providing the answers to grieving families waiting to discover the fate of their loved ones depends on commitment, action and the adoption of new and innovative ways to take the file forward.
Commitment and readiness for action are there.. During the last session of the Tripartite mechanism, which took place on 6th February in Kuwait, Tripartite members praised the ICRC review project that would serve to streamline and prioritise work, re-orient activities, and guide the mechanism, agreeing to begin detailed discussions on how best to implement its recommendations during the next sessions scheduled for the second half of April. While responsibility and the brunt of the work lie with the Government of Iraq, all members and UNAMI, as an observer, have pledged their support by drawing upon their respective expertise and available resources. UNAMI, in particular, has identified a number of areas where it can assist, including provision of technical equipment (such as Ground Penetrating Radar) and procurement of high-resolution and satellite imagery. We are also looking into ways to help focus Iraqi efforts more productively.
I would like to take this opportunity to call upon the international community to consider how it can support the search for the missing Kuwaiti persons, including through procurement of field equipment and provision of forensic, DNA, and anthropological training and capacity-building for the Iraqi and Kuwaiti technical teams. Those Member States in possession of satellite imagery from 1990-1991 are particularly encouraged to come forward and provide analysis and information to the Government of Iraq that could assist in identification of burial locations. By working together and translating the recommendations of the ICRC project into a concrete plan of action, there is hope that we will reach tangible progress, while providing valuable lessons to other contexts where efforts to locate and identify missing persons are being planned.
Contrary to the momentum surrounding the missing persons file, there has been no forward movement on the missing property. I urge the Government of Iraq to explore new strategies to revive the search for the Kuwaiti national archives. I also reiterate my call for Iraq and Kuwait to come to an agreement on the swift repatriation of located Kuwaiti academic textbooks that have been awaiting official handover for over a year. UNAMI stands ready to facilitate and observe this process.
Before concluding allow me to use the opportunity to thank my outgoing Deputy and at the same time RR/RC/HC Ms. Lise Grande for the truly outstanding work in her over three years in Iraq. When we praise major achievements in the areas of stabilization, when we applaud hard work and significant results in the humanitarian field including in civilian-military cooperation that so successfully worked for the protection and benefit of the affected civilian population notably during the Mosul liberation campaign we need first of all to recognise the leadership and achievements of DSRSG/RR/RC/HC Lise Grande that together with her colleagues made it happen. Her work is strongly appreciated by the government and people of Iraq, by all of us.