Iraq: UN affirms progress despite extremist violence
“Peace is not a noun; it is a verb. It requires us to spend ourselves in its pursuit. To achieve the peace we say at Christmas time that we want, we must change ourselves. As Dorothy Day once wrote, ‘As you come to know the seriousness of our situation… you come to realize that… It’s a question of living your life in drastically different ways’.”
On Dec. 15, the UN Security Council, in special session chaired by Vice President Joseph Biden, took significant steps to return Iraq to the legal and international standing it held prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Three Security Council Resolutions were passed:
- Resolution 1956 formally terminates arrangements established in 2003 to accumulate all proceeds from the export sales of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in Iraq until such time as an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq had been properly instituted. The passage of this resolution indicates that Iraq has made significant progress toward resolving debts and claims inherited from the previous regime and establishing accountable successor arrangements for the transition of the Development Fund for Iraq, effective June 30, 2011.
- Resolution 1957 (Weapons of Mass Destruction Resolution), lifts restrictions imposed by previous Security Council resolutions relating to weapons of mass destruction and civilian nuclear activities after the first Gulf War. Iraq has demonstrated its commitment to the international non-proliferation regime and to the highest non-proliferation standards. In 2009 and 2010, Iraq also acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.
- Resolution 1958 (Oil-for-Food Resolution), terminates residual activities of the Oil-for-Food Program in recognition of Iraq’s success in closing out remaining contracts under the program. With the closure of this program, approximately $650 million in remaining funds will be returned to the Iraqi government.
In addressing those gathered, Vice President Biden said:
To be sure, Iraq faces further challenges on the road to security and prosperity. Attacks by extremists remain an unacceptable aspect of daily life in Iraq. We are particularly concerned about recent attempts to target innocents because of their faith, including both Christians and Muslims, and to lash out at security forces working to keep the country safe. But I firmly believe that despite these challenges, Iraq’s best days are ahead. As a founding member of the United Nations, Iraq seeks and deserves the opportunity to resume its rightful role in the community of nations.
While the mood in the Security Council chamber was quite positive in terms of Iraq’s progress, there is another reality that is played out day after day in the lives of ordinary Iraqis in towns and villages throughout the country. This was most poignantly brought home to me in a letter I read from our Iraqi Dominican Sister Maria Hanna, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. Here is Sr. Maria Hanna, in her own words:
May the message of Christmas, which is Love, Hope and Peace, be with you throughout the Season and the New Year of 2011… The Oct. 31 massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance has put us in a situation of trauma and insecurity. We are no longer safe in any of our convents, nor in our churches. No road is safe from explosions, nor is there a school, hospital or work place that feels safe since this crime… Accompanied by our sisters in the Kirkuk convent, we visited the Church in Sulamania, Kurdistan, which offered shelter for 20 families who fled Baghdad after the massacre. Their suffering is heavy and difficult; nothing is clear; they do not know which direction to go… The violence spread to Mosul, too. We have gotten used to migration before Christmas; this is the third Christmas the Christians have migrated to other places; but this time the cause of the migration is more violent…
Thanks be to God, all the sisters in the three convents in Baghdad and two convents in Mosul are safe. They continue their work in spite of fear and worry… It is our intention to stay here to serve our people, to contribute to the rebuilding of our country, and to see it progress and grow safe, strong and secure for all of its citizens. We believe that the schools and hospitals are excellent places for dialog, reconciliation and peace-building…
Please continue your prayers. They are Manna for us in the desert through which we now travel with bitter pain and tears. There is no celebration for the Christmas of this year, except prayer. The situation is still obscure; the threat continues… the youth are almost lost and there is no safe haven for them. We are threatened in every turn, and in every place. May the Infant Jesus grant our land the warmth of love, fraternity and peace.
Joan Chittister writes, “Peace is not a noun; it is a verb. It requires us to spend ourselves in its pursuit. To achieve the peace we say at Christmas time that we want, we must change ourselves. As Dorothy Day once wrote, ‘As you come to know the seriousness of our situation… you come to realize that… It’s a question of living your life in drastically different ways’.”
As we continue to enjoy this Christmas season, and prepare to enter a New Year, may we each give careful consideration to what it might mean for us to live our lives in “drastically different ways” as we spend ourselves in the pursuit of peace.
Margaret Mayce, OP (DLC/Amityville)
NGO in Special Consultative Status at the United Nations
Dominican Leadership Conference
211 East 43 St. Rm 704
New York, NY 10017