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ISIL ‘down but not out’ in Iraq

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The military victory against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) is only one component of a complex battle that addresses the root causes of extremist ideology, the United Nations envoy for Iraq said Wednesday.

“Da’esh remains able and determined to continue devastating random attacks against the Iraqi civilian population, against civilians globally,” Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), told the Security Council.

“Da’esh is down but not yet out even in Iraq,” he stressed, adding that “only by defeating its loathsome ‘takfiri’ ideology, choking off its external support, and addressing the causes that prompted so many Iraqis to join or tolerate Da’esh can this terrorist organization finally be eliminated.”

He noted that on 17 November, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fully recaptured Rawa, the last remaining densely settled area under Da’esh control in Iraq. Since summer 2014, Da’esh has lost 95 per cent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria and more than 7.5 million people have been liberated from its grasp.

But “this victory has come at a very high cost,” said Mr. Kubiš, noting that thousands of fighters and civilians were killed or wounded, hundreds of thousands of children brainwashed, entire cities in ruins, and some six million people have been displaced.

Further, Da’esh has exterminated or enslaved thousands of Muslims, as well as minority communities, particularly women and girls, in action amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, perhaps even genocide.

Mr. Kubiš encouraged the global coalition against Da’esh to continue both military and non military efforts to help Iraq ensure the lasting and sustainable defeat of Da’esh.

He said that inside Iraq, priority must be accorded to facilitating the voluntary return of internally displaced persons, stabilization, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It would also be crucial to reform the security sector and to enforce law and order against armed groups outside State control, including criminal gangs, militias and tribal elements.

Tensions between Central Government and Kurdistan Regional Government

He went on to state that among the prominent current concerns are the tensions between the Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in the wake of a decision by the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to hold a unilaterally-declared independence referendum. The central authorities have rejected the referendum as unconstitutional and have taken steps to re assert federal authority over Iraq’s external border crossings, including the international airports in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

On 6 November, he reported, the Federal Supreme Court issued an opinion stating that the constitution does not provide for authorizing the secession of any component of Iraq’s federal system, and that the referendum was illegal.

All outstanding issues between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government must be resolved through sustainable solutions based on the constitution, he emphasized, noting that UNAMI has also called for immediate negotiations with Government representatives on such issues as the budget, salaries and oil exports.

Turning to elections, he said the new Board of Commissioners for the Independent High Electoral Commission has a herculean task ahead, including holding two simultaneous elections, a tight timeline and security concerns.

He called upon the Council of Representatives to pass legislation to ensure that elections are held on 15 May 2018, adding that a United Nations electoral needs assessment mission has been deployed to help in identifying priority areas for support. UNAMI has also completed a draft law on the Establishing of National Specialized Court on Most Serious Crimes, to be discussed with relevant authorities.

Turning to the question of missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including that country’s national archives, he said Iraq and Kuwait served as models of good neighbourly relations in a region fraught with instability. Iraq’s Government has made impressive efforts to identify grave sites, but efforts to identify missing Kuwaiti property has met with limited success.

Although there has been no progress in locating the national archives, the Government of Iraq has identified more than 6,000 Kuwaiti books. The United Nations and the international community will continue to pursue the matter and to support Iraq on that question until that chapter could be closed, he said.

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Digital Technology Will Help Djibouti Leap into the Future

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Digital technology will have a critical part to play in boosting Djibouti’s socio-economic development and meeting the ambitious goals set out in its national strategy, Vision Djibouti 2035. As a key step toward building a strong, inclusive digital economy, the Government of Djibouti and the World Bank are co-hosting a high-level event that will explore the potential benefits of digital development and propose a concrete roadmap of action.

“Disruptive technologies are creating new business models, opening up new markets, and giving consumers access to more products and services than ever before. It is hard to overstate the economic potential of these transformations,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. “In a country like ours, developing a high-performing digital ecosystem will provide a unique chance to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The Digital Economy conference starting today will bring us one step closer to this vision.”

“The digital sector will be key to improving the lives of Djiboutian people, expanding our economy, and strengthening our position as a logistics and commercial hub. With eight submarine cable landing on our shores, there is no doubt Djibouti has what it takes to become a digital leader in the region,” noted Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, Minister of Communications. “We are keen to bring in development partners like the World Bank to leverage this infrastructure to the fullest and reinforce all the other fundamentals that are necessary to nurture a vibrant digital economy.”

The conference will bring together a wide range of government representatives, technology pioneers, and development partners. Building on this uniquely diverse combination of knowledge and global perspectives, participants will assess Djibouti’s digital landscape, share international best practices, discuss how technology can help modernize all sectors of the economy, and outline a clear strategy and action plan for digital development in the country.

“Countries around the world are leveraging digital innovation to accelerate economic growth and build a better future for people, and Djibouti is very well positioned to gain from that approach,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Digital Development. “I am confident this event will pave the way for close collaboration on digital development between the Word Bank, Djibouti, and countries across the Middle East and Africa.”

In addition to discussing Djibouti’s opportunities and challenges, the event will also highlight the need for bolder action on digital development engagement across the region.

Sessions will cover all key dimensions of digital development, with a focus on how to strengthen the five pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure; innovation and entrepreneurship; digital financial services and identification; digital platforms; and digital literacy and skills.

“Technological innovation holds great promise for Djibouti. By harnessing the full power of the digital economy, the country could see significant GDP growth, create a future-proof labor market, and raise living standards for all segments of the population. We stand ready to work hand in hand with Djibouti on this journey, to help create the right conditions for a thriving digital sector,” said Atou Seck, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti.

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The first shopping tourism project in Mexico

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Municipality of León (Guanajuato, Mexico) have signed an agreement to carry out the country’s first project to develop Shopping Tourism, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato.

The project is expected to serve as an international reference point and as a showcase at major tourism forums.

The Tourism Observatory of the State of Guanajuato has been a member of the UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories since 2014. At the World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, in September 2015, Guanajuato expressed its interest in being one of the destinations to develop a project on shopping tourism, and León was the selected destination in light of the fact that 27% of its tourists visit the city to go shopping.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The project will help León (Guanajuato, Mexico) to develop innovative shopping tourism offerings that link the public and private sectors and that highlight the destination’s tourism attractions and products as well as tourism’s contribution to socio-economic development, which includes the creation of jobs directly in the tourism sector and in the many activities related to the sector.

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Smart city matchmaking in Barcelona

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This year’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), Europe’s biggest Smart City related event, takes place from 13 to 15 November in Barcelona and will, like previous editions,  attract several thousand stakeholders.

During the congress, on November 14, the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC) will organise its next matchmaking event, seeking to bring projects and investors together to stimulate action. It is especially tailored to match individual projects with financing.

To take part, stakeholders must register on the matchmaking platform where they will join other cities, industry and financial players. Registered users need to submit short descriptions of their upcoming projects. A dedicated team will then process and match them with financiers’ interests, leading to one-to-one meetings, organised specifically and individually for them and their projects.

Should participation in above-mentioned event not be possible, the matchmaking platform will remain available also after the Barcelona congress, as the EIP-SCC will organise further matchmaking events in the future.

In addition, there will be an exhibition stand, where interested stakeholders can meet any of the 12 Horizon 2020 Lighthouse projects (representing € 270 million of EU funding), experts from the EIP-SCC, the Smart Cities Information System, as well as the European Commission.

Finally, there will be a number of sessions organised at the mentioned exhibition stand as part of the SCEWC programme covering a wide range of Smart City related topics. The full programme is available at http://www.smartcityexpo.com/en/agenda-2018.

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