November 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 2 November 2009
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Expected Council Action
By 6 November the Secretary-General is expected to submit his regular report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The Council is likely to be briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, and to hold consultations following the briefing. No formal Council action is expected.

Council members continue to discuss the need to review the historical Iraq-related resolutions dating to the Saddam Hussein era, but at time of writing no action appeared likely to be taken in November.

Key Recent Developments
On 28 October, the Secretary-General announced that he would dispatch Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco to Iraq to consult the government on security issues. The announcement came after Iraq reiterated its call for a UN investigation into foreign involvement in attacks carried out in the country. The Iraqi request was made after coordinated truck bombings in Baghdad on 19 August, and reiterated after coordinated bombings in Baghdad on 25 October killed over 150 people and wounded hundreds more. The Council condemned the attack in the strongest terms the following day.

On 26 October senior Iraqi officials put forward a proposal on a revised legal framework for the national elections to be held in January 2010. Although it was hoped that the proposal might be passed quickly by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the revised election law remains stalled over the issue of Kirkuk. On 21 October, Melkert had expressed concern over the delay in passing needed amendments to Iraq’s election law, warning that if the revisions are not approved soon, there is a danger that the elections might need to be postponed.

On 22 October the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator advising the Security Council on Kuwaiti missing persons and property was extended until June 2010.

On 18 October, UNAMI announced that talks on disputed internal boundaries have made progress in addressing concerns of local residents, with senior representatives of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government meeting recently on the subject. The disputed boundaries are located in the ethnically diverse and oil-rich north of the country.

On 16 October, the Secretary-General submitted to the Council his report on missing Kuwaiti persons and property and missing third-country nationals. The report noted Iraqi authorities informed the Coordinator that photographs of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals were published in an Iraqi newspaper on 16 August, along with a request that anyone with information about their whereabouts contact authorities. While the Kuwaiti national archives looted during Iraq’s invasion have not yet been located, the Special Coordinator has continued to urge Iraq to increase efforts to find them.

The Secretary-General’s report says Kuwait would welcome the preparation by Iraq of an action plan that outlines specific and concerted efforts it is making to locate the archives. The Secretary-General welcomed initial indications of movement on missing people but noted that progress remains fragile. His report stressed that recovering the remains of Kuwaiti missing persons can be achieved only through increased cooperation between the two countries, and that this would also strengthen mutual trust and assist in resolving other Iraq/Kuwait issues. The Secretary-General urged both countries to redouble their efforts to achieve significant progress in locating missing persons and property.

Recent violence in northern Iraq has increased concern that insurgents continue to try to exploit tensions in this ethnically diverse part of the country. On 16 October a gunman opened fire on worshippers at a mosque in northern Iraq before detonating a bomb, killing himself and 15 people.

On 15 October, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned Turkey to cease cross-border military operations in northern Iraq. Maliki asserted that the operations targeting rebel Turkish Kurds in Iraq constituted an unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty. The Iraqi warning came after Turkey’s parliament extended a mandate on 6 October allowing its military to cross into Iraq to attack the rebels.

In central Iraq, an attack in Karbala on 14 October killed at least three people and wounded forty when three explosions rocked the city, which is one of the holiest for Shiite Muslims.

On 13 October the Iraq Human Rights Ministry released its first official report on the number of Iraqis killed from 2004 to 2008. The report estimates that over 85,000 people were killed and over 147,000 were wounded.

On 12 October the US military stated that it will have 120,000 troops in Iraq by the end of October, a decrease of 23,000 since the beginning of the year. (This followed a commitment by US President Barack Obama in the UN General Assembly on 23 September that the US would undertake a responsible withdrawal of its troops from Iraq.) No further troop reductions were planned to occur before the Iraqi national elections expected in January.

On 11 October, a series of bombings targeting a meeting for national reconciliation in Ramadi killed 26 people and wounded 65.

On 2 October, the Secretary-General announced his appointment of Christine McNab (Sweden) to replace David Shearer (New Zealand) as his Deputy Special Representative for Iraq. McNab will head the Development and Humanitarian Support component of UNAMI, and hold the position of Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Human Rights-Related Developments

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iraq’s human rights record is scheduled for 16 February 2010 during the UPR 7th session. In August the Human Rights Office of UNAMI and the UN Office of Project Services held a seminar in the northern city of Erbil to train 25 NGOs to collaborate with government institutions to help meet Iraq’s human rights reporting obligations. UNAMI said that it continues to stress Iraqi compliance with international human rights obligations as a fundamental precursor to healthy nationhood.

Key Issues
A key issue forming the backdrop to Council consideration of Iraq issues is the Iraqi request that resolutions adopted during Saddam Hussein’s regime be rescinded. The fact that resolutions related to Iraq involve interrelated and sensitive matters, including outstanding Iraq/Kuwait issues, poses a significant challenge.

Options include:

  • waiting to take action on Iraq issues until December (the most likely option), which is when financial immunities expire for the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB);
  • adopting a statement reaffirming the Council’s commitment to finding a solution to the lifting of resolutions concerning Iraq and to resolving outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait; and
  • reiterating Council support for UNAMI and stressing the contribution of the mission in preparing for Iraqi national elections.

Council and Wider Dynamics
While interested in the forthcoming UNAMI report (the first to be completely overseen by Melkert), most members would prefer to defer significant action on Iraq. However, the report may stimulate a number of Council members individually to express positions on key issues.

Some Council members feel that the elections are complicating discussion on rescinding historical resolutions concerning Iraq and that progress is more likely after the national elections have been held. Many Council members seem to believe that additional action on the part of Iraq is needed to facilitate the lifting of resolutions, for example through increased efforts to negotiate a settlement of outstanding Iraq/Kuwait issues. Aside from DFI/IAMB immunities which will have to be addressed before their expiry in December, there appears to be a growing acceptance among Council members that little may be achieved before 2010.

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/1883 (7 August 2009) extended the UNAMI mandate for another 12 months.
  • 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; a letter from Iraq requesting the lifting of Saddam-era resolutions is included as an annex to the resolution.
  • 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 Press Statement

  • SC/9775 (26 October 2009) condemned the 25 October coordinated bombings in Baghdad.
  • SC/9772 (22 October 2009) noted the Council agreed to extend the financing of the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator for eight months.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6179 (7 August 2009) was a Council open debate on renewing UNAMI.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/539 (16 October 2009) was the latest report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.
  • S/2009/430 (24 August 2009) was the Secretary-General’s latest report on the DFI and the IAMB.
  • S/2009/393 (30 July 2009) was the latest UNAMI report.
  • S/2009/385 (27 July 2009) was the Secretary-General’s report on the review of Iraq resolutions.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq

Ad Melkert (Netherlands)

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

Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

Useful Additional Sources

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