September 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2006
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Expected Council Action
No formal Council action is expected. However,

  • the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Acting Executive Chairman, Demetrius Perricos, will brief the Council following the quarterly report of the Commission due 1 September;
  • the quarterly report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is due by 8 September; and
  • the Council will be briefed by US Ambassador John Bolton on the operations of the Multinational Force (MNF). 

Key Recent Developments
On 10 August, UNAMI’s mandate was renewed for one year.  The International Compact for Iraq, a five-year plan involving Iraq’s neighbours and foreign powers to revive the Iraqi economy, was launched on 27 July.  The effort is co-chaired by the UN and the Iraqi government, but no significant developments are expected by September.

In August, US military leaders confirmed that sectarian violence in Iraq has been worsening.

The Council discussed a possible review of UNMOVIC’s mandate in consultations on 8 June.  This process, however, drew no conclusions, beyond general agreement that the basis for UNMOVIC’s continued existence was tenuous and that the timeline for its conclusion would not be derived from the mandate review process.

The Council could:

  • respond positively to the Iraqi government’s desire for UNMOVIC’s conclusion, freeing for other uses the US$1 million per month taken from Iraq’s escrow account to cover UNMOVIC’s expenses;
  • delay action-the Council’s preference for more than two years now; or
  • adopt a concrete plan for concluding UNMOVIC and harnessing its expertise in a permanent form.

Key Issues
Many issues relating to the situation in Iraq will be on the minds of Council members as they listen to Ambassador Bolton’s MNF briefing. But formal proposals tend not to be raised at these briefings. Therefore it is unlikely that any issue will be on the table for decision.

The issue of UNMOVIC will likely come up at a separate briefing. The underlying issue seems to be whether action by the Council would open the possibility of public dispute in the Council regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. At worst, it could reawaken the intense divisions within the Council of March 2003.  A final accounting of what UNMOVIC had—and had not—discovered could provoke a discussion that some Council members are eager to avoid.

Specifically, there is a question of whether it would be necessary for the Council to confirm the completion of Iraq’s WMD disarmament.  While most Council members are content to accept the final report of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) and the statement by the current Iraqi government that disarmament has been achieved, others would like a multilateral confirmation of the ISG’s findings via an analysis of the report by UNMOVIC.

Some Council members are keen for the UN to maintain UNMOVIC’s expertise through either a subsidiary Council body or a unit in the Department of Disarmament Affairs that would maintain and manage UNMOVIC’s archives and roster of experts.  A secondary issue is what, if any, regime is needed to ensure Iraq does not develop WMDs in the future, with Council members divided over whether to retain a strong, Council-based control mechanism or not.

In the absence of any proposals on this issue, which would have to be carefully crafted and consulted, it seems that the likely outcome in September will again be no decision.

With respect to UNAMI, the Council may decide that, given the recent mandate renewal, it is unnecessary to schedule consultations. The ongoing civil strife in Iraq and its effects on both UNAMI’s capabilities and the UN’s role in the Compact for Iraq are constant concerns.  While the issue of improved airlift for UNAMI has been addressed, a larger UN role in Iraq depends on an improved security situation that has not yet materialised.  In the background is the issue of how long resolution 1546, which was meant for the period of political transition in Iraq that has now concluded, should continue to serve as a framework for UN assistance.   In the absence of new ideas or proposals, there is unlikely to be much appetite for taking this up at this time.

Council Dynamics
The US and UK appear to be hinting that they will take up the issue of UNMOVIC’s conclusion by the end of the year.  Russia is reluctant to rubberstamp the ISG’s findings, and has previously supported greater examination of the ISG report by UNMOVIC.  Russia is also more eager to maintain UNMOVIC’s capacity through a formal bureaucracy.  The US opposes these measures and will want assurances via an agreement among the permanent members that no revisiting of the March 2003 debates will occur with UNMOVIC’s closure.  France has proposed that UNMOVIC produce a final report presenting its views on the ISG report without raising questions about it.

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UN Documents

 Latest UNMOVIC Quarterly Report
 Latest UNAMI Quarterly Report
Key Resolutions
  • S/RES/1546 (8 June 2004) endorsed the formation of the interim government and the holding of elections by January 2005, welcomed the end of occupation by 30 June 2004, endorsed the proposed timetable for the political transition, detailed the mandate of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, UNAMI and the MNF, and requested quarterly reports.
  • S/RES/1511 (16 October 2003) reaffirmed the temporary nature of the Coalition Provisional Authority, endorsed the interim administration, called for a political timetable, authorised the MNF to maintain security and stability. It also determined the status of the MNF and its relation to the UN, and asked the US to report every six months.
  • S/RES/1500 (14 August 2003) welcomed the establishment of the “broadly representative” Governing Council of Iraq and created UNAMI.
  • S/RES/1284 (17 December 1999) established UNMOVIC.

For more extensive background information & relevant UN documents, please see our FebruaryJune and August 2006 Forecasts.

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