Press Releases

    SG/SM/9950
         IK/498
         23 June 2005

    Brussels’ Conference ‘Turning Point’ in Iraq’s Transition, Says Secretary-General in Closing Remarks

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

    This conference marks a watershed for Iraq. A sovereign elected Government of Iraq has presented a comprehensive view of its future to the international community at large.

    I am confident that this will be a turning point in Iraq’s transition. In the Joint Declaration, you as members of the international community committed yourselves to respond to the needs and priorities of Iraq.

    I hope that the people of Iraq, who have suffered so much for so long, will take heart from this strong message of support. Indeed, I hope that the challenges that inevitably lie ahead will begin to appear a little less daunting.

    Ultimately, of course, Iraq’s future lies in the hands of the Iraqis themselves. The citizens of Iraq look to their leaders to replace the current climate of violence and fear with one of hope and peace. To do that requires rapid progress in improving security, generating employment opportunities, delivering basic services, ensuring respect for human rights, and increasing mutual trust through political reconciliation and compromise.

    These things can only happen if all Iraqis have the opportunity to participate in the transition, including the constitution-making process, and to contribute to political and economic reconstruction. The process of drafting a new constitution is a seminal opportunity to lay the foundations for a political culture of human rights, the rule of law and inclusiveness. It is an undertaking truly worthy of the obsession of an entire people.

    Needless to say, none of this will be easy. The elected Government will require all the support it can muster to meet the just expectations of its people. Much goodwill and support in many forms have been offered from outside, and more is available. It is now time to channel that support through effective mechanisms to benefit Iraqis directly.

    While I remain mindful of the security situation in Iraq, I pledge today to the people of Iraq that the United Nations is determined to respond to their expectations, and to accompany them all the way on their historic journey of transition.

    We are proud of the contributions that we have made so far under extremely challenging conditions, which many of you have generously acknowledged. We in turn acknowledge that still more needs to be done as circumstances permit.

    This necessary caveat does not in any way detract from our resolve to fulfil our mandate towards Iraq. While our presence in Iraq has increased and is expected to grow further, our focus is not on size or visibility. It is on making a real difference to the Iraqi people despite our relatively limited means.

    Today, a page has been turned. I hope the new partnership forged here will mean wider and deeper consensus in the Security Council in support of our efforts to implement resolution 1546. And when the time comes to judge our performance against the commitments we have undertaken here, let us not be found wanting.

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