Iraq must develop a truly national agenda for all its people UN

Iraq’s leaders must develop a “truly national agenda” relevant to all its people, the top United Nations envoy to the war-torn country told the Security Council today during a meeting to discuss Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest situation report.“The key challenge of the Government of Iraq is to develop a truly national agenda that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all Iraqis,” said Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, at the start of the Council’s discussions.“Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki has laid out a range of initiatives in his National Reconciliation Plan and has taken initial steps to broaden the basis of support for his Government and to increase the effectiveness of the Iraqi Security Forces.”Mr. Qazi, who spoke ahead of 16 other representatives, acknowledged the extent of the violence in Iraq – as laid out in the Secretary-General’s report – but he said despite this there were still reasons for optimism. He also emphasized the importance of attaining stability.“Whatever the challenges of the moment – and there are many – there is still reason for cautious optimism. The demonstrated resilience of the Iraqi people in the face of a succession of calamities and tribulations is reason enough to know they will not be defeated in achieving their aspirations,” he said.“Given Iraq’s importance and potential, its neighbours and the wider international community have a vital stake in helping Iraq become a peaceful, stable and prosperous partner, fully integrated within the region and the international community.”He repeated Mr. Annan’s warning that the country stands at an “important crossroads” that could lead to civil war but reiterated praise for Iraqi efforts to rehabilitate the country, in particular through the International Compact with Iraq.The Compact, which is co-chaired by the UN, is a new partnership with the global community that was launched in July and aims to pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years, and Mr. Qazi says this could become an “important vehicle” for reconstruction.He highlighted that in a preparatory meeting on the Compact last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the Government outlined its key priorities under the plan and also pledged its “strong commitment to tackling corruption…improving governance, and building and consolidating effective national institutions,” as well as reaching a host of other targets.The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) is fully committed to supporting the development of the Compact, which was also backed at last Sunday’s gathering by representatives of 13 Governments, the League of Arab States, the World Bank and other regional and international organizations.Mr. Qazi said that the Secretary-General will convene a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters next Monday to review the development of the Compact along with other issues relating to Iraq, emphasizing that it was important to decide how best to assist the country.“The best option of the international community is to prove the pessimists wrong by assisting the people and Government of Iraq in realizing their national vision,” he said. “There are few more noble endeavours to devote our energies and capacities to.” read more