Amidst reports of growing political and security uncertainties in Iraq, the United Nations is still tending to the crucial and monumental task of bringing international donors to the table. Part of that effort includes the International Compact for Iraq, initiated by the UN at the request of the U.S. and Iraqi governments to spur political, economic, and social development.On Monday, Reuters reported that the Compact appears to be charging ahead with full steam. Over the weekend, representatives from the United Nations, Iraq, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East met in Abu Dhabi to pledge forward movement on the initiative, continue to iron out details in the framework for delivering aid, and prepare for high-level meetings next week in New York and Singapore.
The fact that representatives were forced to meet in Abu Dhabi, hundreds of miles from Iraq, was proof enough of how desperately a new, multi-lateral strategy is needed. According to the International Herald Tribune, the meeting was held where it was “because Iraq was too unsafe.” As the Secretary-General pointed out in a report to the Security Council on Sunday, “The Iraqi people and their leaders have arrived at an important crossroads: if they are able to build firm foundations for the common interest of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity will be within reach. However, if current patterns of discord and violence prevail for much longer, there is a grave danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State, and potentially of civil war, which would be detrimental not only to the Iraqi people, but also to countries in the region and the international community in general.”
The other members of the Compact, including the U.S. and the Iraqi government, rightly agree that international cooperation and a firm commitment to development are the best hope for putting Iraq on the right track. In fact, the International Herald Tribune reported that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said that this “international backing was critical for nothing short of the survival of the Iraqi state.”
Under the terms of the Compact, Iraq will make a commitment to meeting the basic needs and protecting the rights of all its citizens; ensuring the optimal use of the country’s resources for the common good; treating all the country’s ethnic groups fairly and equally; sharing its oil resources through a transparent energy sector; fighting corruption; and adhering to rigorous budgets. In return, the UN has made a commitment to support and facilitate the Compact by bringing together the international donor community and multilateral organizations to help in reconstruction and make Iraq economically self-sufficient within five-years.