General Debate Under Item 2: Oral update by the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights worldwide
We would like to thank the High Commissioner for his opening remarks which drew attention to the impacts of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq. Indeed, years of military occupation and intervention have bred an environment where terrorist acts come not only from groups such as Daesh, but also from national security forces and militias. The acts of violence perpetrated against Iraqi civilians exacerbate their already dire living situation.
An estimated 3.3 million Iraqis are internally displaced while a further 11 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Extreme poverty affects 13 percent of the population and poverty is identified as the most pressing need by 75 percent of Iraqis. Labour force participation is below 50 percent as there are fewer and fewer opportunities for employment.
Access to healthcare is also precarious as much of the health infrastructure, hospitals and clinics were lost during the war. Furthermore, the number of healthcare practitioners in the country remains woefully inadequate to serve the population.
Iraqis continue to endure not only limited services and economic hardship, but also fear as the efforts to eradicate Daesh continue. While the barbarity of Daesh cannot be understated, the counteractions undertaken by the Iraqi Security Forces and their affiliated militias pose a challenge for Iraqi civilians. Iraqi forces and militias are well documented to perform extrajudicial killings, torture and rape on those they suspect to be supportive of Daesh. These violations of basic rights and freedoms further complicate the already difficult living conditions of the Iraqi people. Whether it is combatting Daesh or holding state actors accountable, we certainly agree with the statement made by the High Commissioner that counter-terrorism can and must occur alongside preservation of human rights.
In Iraq, the consequences of the 2003 invasion remain long after the occupation has ended. It is time to change the narrative for Iraqis. The situation that persists is, in many ways, a consequence of international actions and the international community must no longer turn away.