Remarks from Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations Representative for Iraq
Office of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Baghdad
18-19 July 2003
Dear colleagues and friends, I am honoured to have been invited by you to address the Socialist International Conference on "Building Democracy in Iraq" - albeit in absentia due to my upcoming briefing to the Security Council on our work under resolution 1483.
I did not, however, want to miss this opportunity to provide some remarks on the immensely important topic you are considering and to salute the members of the Governing Council who are representing Iraq - for the first time in its new history - in the international arena.
With your presence here at this very Conference, the process of building democracy in Iraq has already begun.
I characterised the formation last Sunday of the Governing Council as a defining moment in history.
It marked the first major development towards the full restoration of sovereignty, bringing Iraq one step closer to fulfilling the explicit wish of the Security Council which, in its resolution 1483, resolved that the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly.
It is vital that Iraq’s nascent political process is consolidated. The Governing Council will require the full support of the international community, not least of the Socialist International.
It will also need to earn the trust and respect of the Iraqi people, in order to tackle the significant challenges that lie ahead.
Basic services must be restored. The economy must be urgently revived. The jobless must be found jobs. New skills must be learnt. Law and order must be re-established; the police force must be rebuilt, as must the army; the justice system reformed. Elections will need to be held; and a constitution will need to be written.
But building democracy is more than a new constitution and elections. It is nurturing an environment in which free and fair elections can be held. This means promoting human rights, developing an independent media, encouraging Iraq’s fledgling civil society and assisting the development of institutions based on democratic principles and the rule of law.
Iraq is not alone in this new democratic venture. The solidarity and support in this very room alone lends tremendous hope and encouragement.
There is unanimity amongst all those that I have met in Iraq and in the region, as well as amongst the high-level delegation of the Socialist International I had the pleasure of meeting in Baghdad last month, that the UN must play a central role in building democracy in Iraq.
Let me assure you the United Nations - as the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General will show - stands ready to assist in whatever way it can.
I salute your initiative and look forward to hearing about the fruitful deliberations you will be having over the next two days and to continuing the discussion back in Iraq.