Prof. U. Joy Ogwu

Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations

New York, NY

15 December, 2010

As Delivered

Allow me to congratulate you, Sir, and your delegation on organizing this high level meeting to review the journey in Iraq. I would also like to acknowledge the remarkable effort of the Secretary-General on behalf of our Organization, and welcome him to this meeting.

 Today’s Iraq bears little resemblance to its image at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A new Iraq has emerged, with a fledgling democratic system supported by the presence of international combat troops and the United Nations. It is evident that Iraq enjoys stability and self-governance to a far greater extent than it did a decade ago. In spite of the phased withdrawal of the bulk of international combat troops from its territory, it appears that the country is regaining its strength and operational capacity.

 After months of political stalemate following the elections of 7 March, it is heartwarming that Iraq’s political leaders have finally agreed on the formation of a new, inclusive partnership Government. Nigeria is encouraged by this demonstration of unity in the country, involving the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish communities. This, we believe, is a long-awaited and important milestone.

 The path to true and lasting political stability and economic independence is a difficult one for any nation, not least for a country emerging from war. By way of example, the provision of basic infrastructure and services presents ongoing challenges to the Iraqi people. We are therefore pleased to note the planned implementation of a five-year National Development Plan. We are convinced that the implementation of the Plan within the context of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework will help to address the current gaps in infrastructure and service provision.

 Given the recent history of Iraq, there is a continuing imperative for international support and partnership. We welcome the extension by six months of the immunity granted to the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) to support the Government’s efforts in setting up the successor mechanism to the DFI/International Advisory and Monitoring Board. We particularly welcome the adoption of the resolutions bringing the oil-for-food programme to an end and removing Iraq from numerous Chapter VII measures.

 While we are encouraged by the progress that has been made in terms of Iraq’s relationships with its

neighbours, we hope that these positive measures will help to reinforce the confidence of the international community in Iraq’s Government and its people. To ensure sustainable outcomes, it remains important that Iraq’s Government work assiduously to fulfill all of its remaining obligations under Chapter VII, including those owed in respect of Kuwait. We are pleased that this morning His Excellency Mr. Zebari totally reaffirmed Iraq’s commitment to meeting its international obligations.

 The security situation in Iraq remains dire. We commend the Iraqi forces for assuming leadership of their security following the end of the United States combat operation in August 2009. However, insurgent elements continue to feature in Iraqi life, causing mayhem with targeted terror attacks against innocent civilians, including minorities and religious sanctuaries. Such incidents are a grim reminder of the fragility of the security situation and the obligation to guarantee the rights of minorities, particularly Christians and other vulnerable persons.

 The Government of Iraq should thoroughly investigate and hold accountable the persons behind all acts of violence in the country. In cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, we must bring to justice all perpetrators, organizers, financers and sponsors of terrorism who seek to dismantle the hard-won democracy in Iraq.

 Iraq’s future hangs in the balance for several reasons, not least of which the fragile security situation. Although 50,000 United States troops will remain in Iraq, their role will be essentially non-combat. This shift will create a window of vulnerability in the country’s security framework that extremists could possibly exploit. The Council should therefore lend its weight to further operational and logistical training and counter-terrorism support for Iraq’s security sector. Now more than ever, Iraq needs the backing of the international community in order that we might declare with one voice that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq — a peace representing the shared aspiration of the people and Government of Iraq and the international community.