Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
Opening of 80th UNCC Governing Council Session
October 28, 2015
Thank you, Madam President.
Distinguished representatives of Iraq and Kuwait, and distinguished members of the Governing Council,
Five states will leave the Governing Council in 2016. I would like to take a moment to thank them for their leadership and contributions. Thank you in particular to Jordan. Jordan has served as a Vice President, and contributed its valuable regional perspective to our discussions, bringing to these meetings the singular experience of having earlier attended the meetings as a state whose environment was also severely damaged by war.
The United Nations Compensation Commission — though little-known — is a model for post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation. It also demonstrates the fundamental value and importance of international law.
Iraq has complied with its Security Council obligations, redressing the damages caused by Saddam Hussein’s illegal invasion of Kuwait. I want to recognize and thank Iraq for its continued cooperation with the UNCC, in fulfillment of those Security Council obligations. And thank you to Iraq’s Committee of Financial Experts, COFE, and its head, Dr. Abdulbasit, who is again travelling to Geneva to join us.
I also appreciate Kuwait’s support, and the presence of Chairman Al-Mudhaf of Kuwait’s PAAC. Our meeting today shows the current supportive, brotherly state of relations between Iraq and Kuwait, which embodies the power of reconciliation.
Today’s discussion will be largely driven by the difficult situation that Iraq faces. I want to say to our Iraqi colleagues: As you struggle against ISIL — our common enemy — you have the full sympathy, support, and solidarity of the United States.
In light of Iraq’s extraordinarily difficult security circumstances and unusual budgetary challenges, last December this Council took the unusual step to postpone Iraq’s payment requirement until January 1, 2016. At today’s meeting we will decide what to do after that date.
Given the concurring views of the two parties — that is, Iraq’s request for a further postponement by one additional year, and Kuwait’s supportive response to that request — the United States will favor a Governing Council decision today to extend the postponement for an additional year, until January 1, 2017. This postponement would free Iraqi resources for the crucial struggle in which it is engaged.
At the same time, we believe it is imperative to have a clear plan leading to completion of the UNCC’s mandate in a reasonable time, and to maintain the UNCC’s positive reputation. These considerations also influence the Governing Council’s decision today.
Thus, the Governing Council will continue its planning for the prompt and orderly wind-down of the UNCC. The staff level — now reduced from a high of 257 people to a minimal level of only four — indicates that this task is being addressed, as does the large volume of archiving and other concluding operations that they have completed.
While circumstances have delayed the UNCC’s anticipated completion of its task, we still hope for this agency to finish its mandate within a few years, and then to close its doors. Once this happens, we expect that the UNCC’s performance will stand as a UN success story that serves not only to discourage illegal acts of aggression, but also to showcase a positive example of post-conflict recovery and reconciliation.
Thank you, Madam President.