UN Human Rights Chief Urges Iraq to Address Climate Change, Human Rights Issues
Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrapped up his historic first trip to Iraq on Wednesday, where he emphasized the urgent need for reforms, the effects of climate change, and pressing human rights issues.
Türk met with government officials, civil society representatives, and victims of human rights abuses during his four-day visit. He also visited the southern city of Basra, which has been hard hit by climate change.
“The era of global boiling has in fact started,” Türk said after visiting Basra. “I saw how the lush date palm trees that lined parts of the now dried-up Shatt-al-Arab waterway have disappeared.”
Türk also called on the Iraqi government to address the country’s history of human rights abuses, including forced disappearances, torture, and other violations under the Saddam Hussein regime. He also urged the government to take action to stem the impunity that has taken hold in relation to the Tishreen protests, which broke out in Baghdad and the southern provinces in October 2019.
In addition to climate change and human rights, Türk also spoke about the importance of women’s empowerment and gender equality in Iraq. He expressed concern over efforts to outlaw the use of these terms and the threats and intimidation directed at women who work on these issues.
Türk concluded his visit by calling on Iraq’s leaders to be guided by the interests and human rights of the Iraqi people above all else. He urged them to tackle corruption, discrimination, impunity, climate change, and the remaining obstacles to lasting stability and peace.