August 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 July 2009
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Expected Council Action
The mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expires on 7 August. The Council is expected to renew the mandate for 12 months. The discussion is not expected to be controversial.

Far more difficult and controversial, however, are the ongoing discussions relating to the future of Council resolutions on Iraq flowing from the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. It is unclear, at time of writing, whether Council members will be able to make progress on this in August.

The delayed Secretary-General’s report on the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), requested in resolution 1859, will be issued in early August. Again, it is unclear how much progress will be made with many Council delegations depleted over the summer.

Key Recent Developments
Resolution 1859 requested the Secretary-General to report on Council resolutions concerning Iraq since 1990. His report, made available on 27 July. addressed several areas which concern Kuwait, such as Kuwaiti missing persons and property, Iraqi reparations to Kuwait and the maintenance of the Iraq/Kuwait border.

On 22 July, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representatives of the P5 in New York. He pressed for an end to economic sanctions and a lifting of other chapter VII resolutions on Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also visited New York in July and raised the same issues in meetings with the Secretary-General and Council members.

Violence continued in Iraq during July with frequent attacks in the north. A constitution was approved by Kurdistan’s parliament in June, and provincial elections were held in Kurdistan on 25 July. Bombings on 9 July in Baghdad and northern Iraq killed over forty people. These highlighted concerns about increased insecurity following the recent repositioning of US troops.

On 30 June, the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), led by the US, withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns. Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq and head of UNAMI, expressed concern over orchestrated bombings that struck several churches in Baghdad and Mosul on 12 July. (The former Dutch cabinet minister replaced Staffan de Mistura after the latter completed his assignment on 30 June.)

Human Rights-Related Developments
Iraq’s resumption of the death penalty. OHCHR and UNAMI expressed concern that the Iraqi justice system did not guarantee sufficient fair trial procedures given Iraq’s obligations under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On 29 April UNAMI issued its 14th human rights report for the period 1 July to 31 December. The report was produced in cooperation with OHCHR. Improvements in security and several institutional developments (e.g., the inclusion of provisions in electoral law for minority representation) were highlighted as offering a basis for bolstering the rule of law and addressing impunity. Specific concerns identified by the report were the need to strengthen the judiciary, improve detention conditions and overcome gender-based violence.

Key Issues
Several key issues exist with regard to UNAMI activities. These include the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections (scheduled for early 2010), human rights and security. UNAMI is also mandated to help the Iraqi authorities to resolve disputed internal boundaries.

A central issue for the Council is how to respond to Iraq’s request that resolutions adopted against the regime of Saddam Hussein be rescinded. A related issue is to determine which mandates should be closed because Iraq has complied with Council requests or because the mandates do not apply to the current situation. Key issues include Iraq/Kuwait, Iraqi recognition of its border, the oil-for-food programme, sanctions and DFI/IAMB immunity provisions which prevent creditors from being able to seize Iraqi funds or oil shipments.

There had been some hope that the outstanding Iraq/Kuwait issues could be settled by bilateral agreement. On 8 July, Iraq informed the Council that 24 boxes of property belonging to the Kuwait Central Bank had been returned to Kuwait on 24 June. Discussions between the two countries continue but the atmosphere seems to have become more terse in recent times with Kuwait increasingly apprehensive that the new Iraqi government is less forthcoming than had been hoped.

In addition to these highly political issues, the closure of the various other resolutions concerning Iraq involves complex technical issues which will not necessarily be resolved quickly.

On UNAMI, the most likely option is renewing the mandate as it currently stands.

With regard to DFI/IAMB, options include:

  • taking up the latest DFI/IAMB report in August as a separate exercise, perhaps aiming for experts to produce a draft by mid-September; or
  • postponing action until solutions are found on the Hussein-era resolutions (however, it is important to note that DFI/IAMB immunities expire in December).

On the Secretary-General’s report on Hussein-era Council resolutions, options include:

  • keeping the issue at the experts level until agreement is found on a resolution addressing the status of all previous resolutions;
  • holding an open meeting in which Iraq and Kuwait would both speak;
  • releasing a press statement urging Iraq and Kuwait to continue negotiating a solution bilaterally;
  • addressing some of the issues contained in the report on Iraq resolutions while negotiations proceed between Iraq and Kuwait;
  • holding off on any action until Iraq and Kuwait come to some arrangement themselves; or
  • deferring action until October when the present mandate expires for the High-Level Coordinator for the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and the repatriation of Kuwaiti property, Gennady Tarasov.

Council and Wider Dynamics
At the present time, there seems to be consensus among Council members on continuing the UNAMI mandate as currently structured. Council members generally feel that UNAMI is adding value and should continue. Any possible changes to the mandate, such as downsizing or otherwise altering the composition of UNAMI, would much more likely be raised after the January parliamentary elections in Iraq. (Assisting with elections is a major feature of UNAMI’s mandate.)

Council members have not yet decided how to proceed after receiving the report on Council resolutions concerning Iraq. It is possible that the Council will adopt a resolution in August but unlikely that action will be taken in all outstanding areas. The Secretary-General’s report covers a broad range of issues and some members, such as the UK, feel that Council members may require some time to digest it. At press time there was no consensus among members on the desirability of holding a debate in which both Iraq and Kuwait would speak.

While Kuwait remains hopeful of recovering more of its nationals, their remains and its national archives, some members think the likelihood of this is decreasing with the passage of time. Missing persons are likely deceased, and in practical terms it may be extremely difficult to locate their remains. Similarly, the national archives may well have been broken up, and thus may be impossible to locate.

Some perceive an advantage in first finding a solution to the outstanding Iraq/Kuwait issues, and then moving on to other issues in the report on Council resolutions concerning Iraq. This is seen as being preferable to trying to address each individual issue separately.

Others feel that, while it would be preferable to settle the Iraq/Kuwait issues first, this should not prevent the Council from addressing the other outstanding mandates in the 1859 report. The US sees some potential benefit in resolving certain issues in advance of the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2010, even in the absence of a final settlement between Iraq and Kuwait.

In addition, some members are sceptical whether Iraq and Kuwait can deal with these issues bilaterally, as lengthy efforts at finding a solution have not yet yielded results. The US has the view that both parties may desire to have some sort of Council imprimatur over a settlement. In this case, a more active Council role might be called for, with perhaps some discussion of timelines or a framework of how to move forward on all the issues.

The US is the lead country on Iraq issues in general and the UK is the lead on Iraq/Kuwait issues.

Selected UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1859 (22 December 2008) extended the arrangements for the DFI and the IAMB until 31 December 2009 and requested the Secretary-General to report on all Council resolutions concerning Iraq since 1990.
  • S/RES/1830 (7 August 2008) renewed the UNAMI mandate for 12 months.
  • S/RES/1483 (22 May 2003) established sanctions against the previous Iraqi government, created the DFI, provided immunity to Iraqi petroleum products and envisaged the termination of the oil-for-food programme.
  • S/RES/1284 (17 December 1999) appointed a high-level coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.

Selected Letter

  • S/2009/350 (8 July 2009) was a letter from Iraq informing the Security Council that 24 boxes of property belonging to the Kuwait Central Bank had been returned to Kuwait on 24 June.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/385 (27 July 2009) was the Secretary-General’s report on the review of Iraq resolutions.
  • S/2009/284 (2 June 2009) was the latest UNAMI report.
  • S/2009/190 (8 April 2009) was the latest report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq

Ad Melkert (Netherlands)

Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait Missing Persons and Property

Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

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