UN Hosts wide-ranging international meeting on long-term development for Iraq – March 16, 2007

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UN HOSTS WIDE-RANGING INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON LONG-TERM DEVELOPMENT FOR IRAQ New York, March 16 2007 4:00PM Nearly 100 delegations from Member States, humanitarian agencies and regional organizations gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York for a long – term initiative for Iraq that aims to consolidate peace and pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years in the violence-torn country.

It was the first time that the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), a joint UN-Iraqi Government plan, has met in New York since it was initiated last July, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called it “a tool for unlocking Iraq’s own potential” in public sector resource management, institution building and human development, and in achieving a more holistic approach to energy management.

“Unlike the other initiatives, the Compact focuses on Iraq’s long-term economic development, while also stressing progress in the political and security fields, through a mutually re-enforcing relationship,” he said in opening the meeting, noting that Iraqis have to agree on needed security and political steps as prerequisites for normalization and revitalization of the economy.

“Above all, it is essential that all Iraqi communities come together in a spirit of dialogue to find lasting solutions. As they do so, they should be able to count on the active support of Iraq’s neighbours and the international community,” he added, calling the Compact an important framework for fulfilling those shared responsibilities towards Iraq and its people.

“It is heart-wrenching to see almost daily attacks on innocent civilians, which have left immense suffering and pain in their wake. Beyond the political violence and sectarian strife, a humanitarian crisis is stretching the patience and ability of ordinary people to cope with everyday life,” he declared.

Mr. Ban’s Special Adviser on the Compact, Ibrahim Gambari, told reporters afterwards that the world community could not wait till the end of all violence to help Iraq.

Mr. Ban recalled that the UN is now strengthening its humanitarian efforts and working with countries in the region to address the increasing needs of those who have left Iraq temporarily, those displaced inside the country and those suffering from diminishing access to basic public services.

“The challenges ahead are immense. I am sure you will all agree that we cannot leave Iraq on its own to cope with them. The International Compact is intended to help the Government to build a secure, unified, federal and democratic nation, founded on the principles of freedom and equality, capable of providing peace and prosperity for all its people,” he said, pleading with all sides to end the violence.

Today’s session was technically a preparatory meeting prior to the formal launch, building on previous meetings in the region, and Mr. Ban urged the Iraqi Government to agree on the date and venue for this launch.

The Iraqi delegation, led by Vice President Adil Abdal Mahdi, formally presented the Compact document, committing the Government to a slew of benchmarks from fighting corruption and ensuring human rights to taking concrete security steps and instituting economic reform. He said the formal launch would take place by the end of April.

“We had a very successful conference,” he told reporters, adding that the conference heard “a very important engagement” from the international community and recognized that Iraq had validated its commitment. “We are looking forward to taking Iraq out of its crisis with the help of the international community,”

he added.

Mr. Gambari said the Compact has a framework to address precisely those issues that will contribute to the normalizing the situation. “We cannot wait until every situation is settled on the security aspect before we move to support the Government of Iraq in their commitment to economic reform, to the enactment of the hydro-carbon law, the investment law and the fully funded budget for 2007,”

he added.

“So to the extent that they are doing the right thing according to their own commitment, then . the international community has to honour its own commitment.”

International organizations attending included the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, Organization of the Islamic

Conference (OIC), Arab League and the European Commission.