Baghdad II Conference, Amman, Jordan, 20 December 2022 Speech by Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-general for Iraq
20 December 2022
It is a true honour to be here, representing UN Secretary-General António Guterres. And while the Secretary-General regrets not being able to participate in person, he has asked me to convey his greetings to you all.
I would also like to extend our appreciation to His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Husseinfor hosting the second iteration of the Baghdad Conference. This initiative and today’s attendance clearly exemplify the depth of relations between Iraq and its neighbouring countries.
There is no denying it: the convening of today’s meeting is, in itself, a message of great importance. And yes, it is our hope that this demonstration of “regional partnership” will now result in a number of concrete steps. Steps that will solidify regional cooperation, coordination and collaboration. Steps that might even lead to a framework for regional integration as an effective means of achieving prosperity, peace and security. And of course, for that to happen “frank talks” are, at all times, a prerequisite.
Throughout the world, regional cooperation is increasingly seen as indispensable. While it is true that any geopolitical environment can be quite challenging, it is also true that regional cooperation acts as an important facilitator on the global stage.
Moreover, and as we all know, many of today’s challenges do not recognize borders: climate change, water scarcity, natural disasters, energy shortfalls, pandemics, financial shocks, corruption, poverty, food insecurity, terrorism - to name but a few.
And facing these challenges, requires (as I said) close cooperation, coordination and collaboration. The simple fact is, we need each other to be at our best.
In my capacity as the Special Representative for Iraq, I wholeheartedly support Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in his priority to position Iraq as an arena for dialogue and investment. In my briefings to the UN Security Council, I stated it often: the centrality of Iraq to regional stability cannot be overstated.
And for Iraq to further build its domestic stability, it is incumbent (on us all) to help foster an enabling environment. Hence, renewed and continued support for Iraq’s regional outreach and extended hand will remain vital.
Within this context, allow me to emphasize the importance of respecting the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and good neighbourliness. Established diplomatic instruments are at everybody’s disposal, also in times of heightened tensions or when faced with legitimate national security concerns.
Excellencies, in closing, the United Nations sincerely hopes that regional confidence-building will remain a priority for all. Meanwhile, the UN looks forward to the next steps, and stands, as always, ready to support and assist.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq