Opening remarks at 83RD UNCC

Remarks by Theodore Allegra
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim
U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

Opening of 83rd Governing Council Session
UN Compensation Commission

Geneva, Switzerland
October 3, 2017

as delivered

Thank you Madame Chair, for serving as Chair today and at any future meetings of the UNCC this year. 

Distinguished representatives of Iraq and Kuwait, distinguished members of the Governing Council, and the UNCC Secretariat:

The United Nations Compensation Commission is considered a model for post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation, demonstrating the value and importance of international law.  As a subsidiary organ of the United Nations Security Council, and pursuant to a Chapter VII Security Council resolution, UNCC decisions have the force of law and have been implemented by the governments of Iraq and Kuwait.

The United States would like 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 has again traveled to Geneva to join us today.

The United States also greatly appreciates Kuwait’s support to and cooperation with the UNCC, and the presence of Chairman Al-Mudhaf of Kuwait’s PAAC.

Since this Governing Council last met, Iraq continues to make important gains in its efforts to defeat ISIS.  The Iraqi government continues to address the various crises precipitated by ISIS in Iraq, including providing humanitarian aid to millions of internally displaced persons, dealing with damaged economic infrastructure, and continuing critical security operations.  We commend the Iraqi government for its efforts to meet these challenges.

In light of Iraq’s extraordinarily difficult security circumstances and related budgetary challenges, this Council has taken the unusual step for the past few years of postponing Iraq’s payment requirements — initially postponed until January 1, 2016, then to 2017, and last year postponed again until January 1, 2018.

More specifically, this Governing Council last November decided to extend for one year the postponement of the payment requirement and directed that deposits resume as of January 2018.  Without any further action of this Council, the deposits would recommence at a level of 5 percent at that time.

At that time, we also requested the Secretariat explore future options for this Council that would ensure continuation of the payments.  Additionally, we encouraged the Government of Iraq and the Government of Kuwait to collaborate on future options, and to apprise the Secretariat accordingly.

The United States is pleased to hear that the governments of Iraq and Kuwait have had some discussions related to future options since this Governing Council last met.  We had hoped to hear last month of an agreed plan setting forth a way forward, but we note instead the request from the Government of Iraq, agreed to by Kuwait, for a an additional two month extension of time.

At the same time, we are aware of Iraq’s on-going discussions on its macro-economic plan with the International Monetary Fund; Iraq’s payments to Kuwait must be factored into that plan.  That macro-economic plan will be presented to the IMF Executive Board for review and approval during the first week in December.

In this context, we urge Iraq and Kuwait to discuss in depth the options for a way ahead, and to arrive at an agreed-upon proposal within the next six weeks – that is, before the IMF meeting in December.  We also request that this Governing Council meet again in November to review their joint proposal and take a decision.

In our view, the ideal arrangement between the two governments would set forth a sliding scale payment schedule to address the full obligation over an approximate four-year period, thereby providing a date certain for the closure of the UNCC.

The objective of the United States is to facilitate a clear plan for the  completion of the UNCC’s mandate in a reasonable time — so that we  can all maintain the UNCC’s positive reputation and credibility — while appropriately taking into account Iraq’s ongoing  efforts to address the difficult security situation and related budgetary challenges it faces.

We want the UNCC’s performance to stand as a 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 — even in these demanding circumstances and in these demanding times.

The United States stands ready to help make that a reality.

Thank you Madame Chair.

 

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