Press Releases

    SG/SM/9949
         IK/497
         23 June 2005

    World Community Must Be Dedicated Companion for Iraqis on Tough Road to Peace, Democracy, Says Secretary-General to Brussels Conference

    NEW YORK, 22 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s opening statement to the International Conference on Iraq in Brussels, 22 June:

    I thank you all, the representatives of nearly half the world's nations, for your presence today at this conference. You send an important message which I hope is heard loud and clear both in Iraq and elsewhere: the international community supports the Government and people of Iraq, and we are determined that the reconstruction of Iraq, as outlined one year ago in Security Council resolution 1546, must succeed.

    The large and diverse Iraqi delegation at this conference has put before us its comprehensive vision of the future. We hope to hear from Prime Minister Jaafari what that vision is. It covers the three main areas in which the United Nations is mandated to work: the political process, reconstruction, and rule of law. All of us must respond generously to that vision, to forge a true partnership between the international community and the Transitional Iraqi Government, a partnership that yields tangible benefits in the everyday lives of ordinary Iraqis.

    Many Iraqis are enduring terrible trials and torments, and we can only admire their courage and resilience as they seek to rebuild their country. The people of Iraq have made very important progress in the political transition. In direct elections held on 30 January, they showed that they are keen to take their future and destiny into their own hands. The United Nations is proud to have played its part in ensuring the effective conduct of the elections, and in helping the Iraqis meet each deadline over the past year. Iraq's newly elected authorities now bear the sovereign responsibility, and heavy burden, of leading their country successfully through the next steps of the transition.

    Iraqis must come together to draft a new constitution, in an inclusive, participatory, transparent process that responds to the demands of all constituencies. Achieving consensus on a new constitution will require compromise, but we have seen that compromise is possible, and that it bears fruit. We saw that last week in an agreement that enabled Arab Sunni representatives to participate in the committee that will draft the constitution. Compromise and reconciliation are the way forward, not hatred and violence. Iraqis must find it within themselves to reach out to one another and address issues on which they may differ.

    While restoring security must be a priority, ultimately, political problems require political solutions. Without an inclusive process, security initiatives are unlikely to yield enduring results. Similarly, a credible political process is vital if Iraq's new institutions are to take root and prosper, and if respect for the rule of law and human rights is to become more widespread.

    The importance of political initiatives also extends to Iraq's place in the international community. I hope to see urgent and concrete steps to normalize its relations with the rest of the world, and its status in the region.

    Faster progress is also needed on reconstruction, development and humanitarian assistance. The Iraqi Government, through the focal point of the Ministry of Planning and Development, has moved quickly to coordinate assistance received from donors. This conference must enable the Government to avail itself fully of the advice, expertise and resources on offer from both inside and outside Iraq. And next month's donors’ meeting in Amman must ensure that those resources will, indeed, be available.

    The United Nations will continue to implement our mandate to the fullest extent possible, and we are delivering. The elections of 30 January were widely heralded. The good offices of the United Nations are being used to bridge differences. We are giving concrete assistance to the constitution-making process. And we are supporting institutional capacity-building and coordinating donor assistance.

    The measures of our collective success will be broader international burden-sharing and a positive impact in the lives of ordinary Iraqis. They look to this conference for a clear sign that the international community will be their determined and dedicated companion on the tough road that they must walk to achieve a stable, peaceful, democratic Iraq. By our words, and more importantly by our deeds, we must reassure them that we will not let them down.

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