Expected Council Action
The Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on Iraq in February. Some discussion of the expected report from the Secretary-General is likely. However no action is expected. (UNAMI’s mandate expires on 6 August.)
Key Recent Developments
On 23 January US Vice President Joe Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and discussed a recent decision by Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) which banned many Iraqi Sunni leaders from running in the upcoming national elections on 7 March. On 21 January, the Iraqi Presidency Council requested a court ruling on the legality of the decision.
On 19 January Maliki said that Sunni Muslims were not being targeted. (On 14 January the IHEC had upheld a decision to prohibit more than 500 individuals from running in national elections on 7 March because of their past links to the Ba’ath party of Saddam Hussein.) The IHEC subsequently stated that a roughly equal number of Shi’a and Sunni were included in the ban. Critics contended that officials appointed by Maliki largely control the IHEC and argued they were trying to bolster his position in the elections.
On 18 January the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Christine McNab, spoke in New York at a conference on the International Compact with Iraq. McNab stated that the Compact had accomplished much but Iraq was now ready to transition to a longer-term development agenda. The outgoing Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Compact, Ibrahim Gambari, also spoke.
On 14 January an Iraqi court sentenced 11 Iraqis to death for the coordinated bombings that took place in Iraq on 19 August 2009.
On 21 December 2009 the Council adopted resolution 1905, extending the arrangements for the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the DFI auditing entity, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), until 31 December 2010. The resolution calls on Iraq to establish an action plan and timeline for transitioning to a post-DFI mechanism by 1 April, and thereafter for Iraq to report to the Council quarterly through the Committee of Financial Experts on progress made.
On 8 December 2009 coordinated vehicle bombings in Baghdad killed 112 people. The Council issued a press statement condemning the bombings the same day. Maliki said that the attack involved foreign support, and subsequently dismissed the commander overseeing security in the capital. The attack followed two other large-scale coordinated bombings on 19 August and 25 October 2009.
On 8 December 2009 the Iraqi Presidency Council set 7 March as the date for national elections after amendments to the election law were finalised on 6 December 2009.
In its latest report published in December 2009 (covering 1 January to 30 June 2009), the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) placed special emphasis on the areas of rule of law, the reimplementation of the death penalty, the situation in prisons and detention centres, and allegations of torture. Concerns included increased violence directed at persons based on their perceived sexual orientation and continued violence against women, especially honour-related homicides in the region of Kurdistan where many crimes went unpunished. During the reporting period 31 death row inmates were executed, including one woman. Noting that UNAMI has continuously stated that security in Iraq may not be sustainable unless significant steps are taken to uphold the rule of law and human rights, the report stressed that “significant progress remains to be achieved to fully restore the rule of law and to systematically address the issue of impunity”.
The legitimacy of the national elections on 7 March is an issue in light of the IHEC action. Members will want to see elections that are legitimate and credible so as to maintain international acceptance and support.
The issue of historical resolutions adopted during the regime of Saddam Hussein remains a problem but is unlikely to be addressed in February.
An underlying problem is the still fragile cohesion of the Iraqi state, despite some progress made in recent years. The perception of some political actors that they are not equal partners in governance, and continuing violence, are related challenges. Fragile commitment to rule of law reinforces these problems.
members using the February meeting to set out their concerns and objectives in the lead up to national elections through their individual statements;
the Council collectively recognising the need for safe, credible and successful elections, and agreeing on the value of emphasising this (and the significance for the UN because of UNAMI’s role) through a presidential or press statement; and
refraining from any formal discussion until after the national elections on 7 March.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There is concern among many Council members that the disqualification of so many people from running in national elections may precipitate a new political crisis. (Members are very conscious of what happened in the Afghanistan elections in 2009 and the taint that affected not only the process of governance but also the UN itself.)
Members are not pushing for resolving the historical Council resolutions on Iraq at this stage. Many feel that advancement of this issue is unlikely until after the elections.
Some members now seem to believe that progress on the contentious Iraq/Kuwait issues may be necessary as an integral part of this process to facilitate the lifting of resolutions and that increased efforts are therefore necessary on Kuwait-related issues.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Selected Presidential Statement
Selected Press Statements
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq
Ad Melkert (Netherlands)
Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks, Congressional Research Service, 8 December 2009
Iraq‘s New Reality: The Politics of Governance and Federalism, The Stimson Center and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, November 2009