Expected Council Action
The mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) will expire on 10 August. The Council is expected to extend it for twelve months. Resolution 1546 in June 2004 established the mandate of the UN in Iraq and authorised the presence of the Multinational Force (MNF). Resolution 1723 in November 2006 extended the MNF authorisation and, in a preambular paragraph, updated the UNAMI mandate.
Council members seem keen to take this opportunity of renewing the mandate to formally revise and adapt it to the current situation. There is also an interest in delinking the UNAMI mandate from the MNF resolutions. In addition, there seems to be a US interest in expanding the role of the UN in Iraq and perhaps also enhancing its role and status with the appointment of a new high-level envoy.
Key Recent Developments
On 28 May and 24 July, the ambassadors of the US and Iran met in Baghdad at meetings attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to discuss the security situation in Iraq.
The 5 June report of the Secretary-General on UNAMI noted that:
the humanitarian situation was deteriorating steadily and that UN agencies needed to undertake immediate humanitarian assistance in light of growing demands for UN leadership;
political, sectarian and criminal violence continued despite the “surge” of the MNF in Baghdad in early 2007;
the security situation was “a major limiting factor for the UN presence and activities in Iraq” especially since instances of attacks in the Green Zone have increased;
an “expanded role and presence” of the UN in Iraq where possible and when circumstances permitted would be considered; and
there had also been some progress: the neighbouring states’ technical committees on security, displaced Iraqis and energy supplies were activated in May in Baghdad following the early May Sharm El-Sheikh aid commitments. The adoption of a law to establish an Independent High Electoral Commission was seen as a notable achievement.
On 13 June, the Council reviewed the mandate of the MNF, following briefings by the US, the Iraqi foreign minister and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq. That same day the Council adopted a press statement welcoming the planning of a new UNAMI compound in Baghdad (SC/9042).
In a statement on 5 June, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned that the situation continued to worsen with more than two million Iraqis now believed to be displaced within the country and another 2.2 million having fled to neighbouring states. Around 820,000 people, including 15,000 Palestinians, have been displaced since the bombing of the Shi’a shrine in Samara on 22 February 2006, which fuelled sectarian violence. Data also showed that the three months ending 30 June were the deadliest for US troops since the war began in 2003, with 330 killed.
The situation along the border with Turkey also deteriorated. On 7 June, Turkey announced that several areas near the border would become “temporary security zones” and started a military build-up to prevent Kurdish rebels from launching raids into Turkey. This fuelled concerns about a possible Turkish incursion into northern Iraq.
Bombings carried out against Iraqi civilians have continued, but since January 2007, sectarian killings in Baghdad and nationally seem to have declined.
An interim report by the US National Security Council, which was made public on 12 July and presented to the US Congress, claimed that the Iraqi government had made some progress.
Council resolution 1762 adopted on 29 June terminated the mandate of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) established in 1999 and of the Council-mandated work of the IAEA in Iraq, underway since 1991.
simply extend the mandate without change;
revise and update the mandate in a new resolution delinking it from the authorisation for the Multinational Force;
expand UNAMI’s current areas of responsibilities and add new ones, in particular those more forward looking, including reconciliation, rule of law, humanitarian aid and international and regional processes;
re-define the mandate of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative; and
express interest in detailed plans for further enhancement of security conditions for UN personnel in Baghdad.
The main issue for the Council seems to be how far to go in specifying new areas for the UN, mindful that the security situation remains a major obstacle for the UN to undertake any larger role at this time.
A related issue is whether to delink the UNAMI mandate and activities of the MNF, which have gone hand in hand since the adoption of resolution 1546.
Most Council members seem to agree on the need to reformulate the UNAMI mandate in a new resolution. There is wide support in principle for a greater and more independent UN involvement. However, there is also recognition that a more visible UN presence remains a challenge, especially in insecure areas. There seems to be wide support for delinking from the MNF resolutions and for the UN to be seen to have a life of its own in Iraq, independent from the MNF.
On 17 July, US President George Bush asked the Secretary-General to encourage greater UN engagement in Iraq. The US has also publicly asserted that there is a need to redefine and enhance the mandate of the Special Representative to allow him to play a more active political role.
At press time, the US and the UK were preparing a draft resolution. It is likely to support extending the UNAMI mandate by one year coupled with reinvigorating the mandate. While they support increased responsibilities for UNAMI in its current areas (political assistance, constitutional process, human rights, reconstruction, international compact) they are also eager to see the UN playing a greater role in reconciliation and humanitarian assistance and to see an overall larger role played bilaterally in those areas by individual states.
As the fourth anniversary of the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN building in Baghdad approaches, it seems that while the Secretariat is ready to play a larger role, it will not risk sending more UN personnel without secure and adequate facilities.
The refugee crisis remains a major concern for some members. Indonesia has been particularly engaged on the Iraq issue and even organised a reconciliation conference in Jakarta in April gathering Iraqi political leaders.
The Constitutional Review Committee requested an extension of its deadline for submitting its recommendations on constitutional amendments to the Iraqi parliament. At press time, the Committee was still working on changes.
|Latest Security Council Resolutions|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq|
|Ashraf Jehangir Qazi (Pakistan), mandate expires in August|
|Deputy Special Representative|
|Jean-Marie Fakhouri (Lebanon)|
|Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the International Compact with Iraq|
|Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria)|
Useful Additional Sources
Iraq’s Displacement Crisis: The Search for Solutions, Forced Migration Review, June 2007
Taking Sides or Saving Lives: Existential Choices for the Humanitarian Enterprise in Iraq, by Greg Hansen, Feinstein International Center, Humanitarian Agenda-Iraq Country Study, June 2007
Where Is Iraq Heading? Lessons from Basra, International Crisis Group, Middle East Report No. 67, 25 June 2007