December 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2010
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action

At press time there were indications that the US (Council president in December) is planning to convene a high-level meeting on Iraq in December. It remains to be seen what the focus for such a meeting will be.

Council members should have before them the Secretary-General’s regular four-monthly report on Iraq. In addition the Council will need to address the question of funding for the activities of the high-level coordinator on the Iraq and the Kuwait missing persons issue, which expires at the end of December. A progress report on the issue is expected during the month. Also, the mandate for the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and related immunities also expires at the end of the year. Some action with regard to the DFI is also likely during the month.

Key Recent Developments
Efforts to form the new government in Iraq progressed on 11 November when the Iraqi parliament re-elected Jalal Talabani as president. The move was part of an agreement among Iraq’s political parties which apparently also included a point system to match ministry posts to political parties based on the number of seats held in parliament, with Nouri al-Maliki to serve another term as prime minister and Ayad Allawi of the Iraqiya coalition heading a new national council on strategic policies that has yet to be created.

However, Ayad Allawi and members of his Iraqiya coalition walked out, reportedly after failing to secure a vote on several provisions pledged by Maliki as part of the agreement. While the walkout illustrated the remaining tensions in the Iraqi government, it was unclear whether the agreement on government formation would be affected.

On 12 November the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the Iraqi agreement to form a national partnership government.

On 25 November Talabani formally nominated Maliki for a second term as prime minister, after which Maliki has thirty days to appoint ministers.

On 10 November UN Controller Jun Yamazaki briefed the Council on the DFI. He said that while progress has been made to enable Iraq to fully manage its own export evenues, further progress was required. In particular, he noted that the independent interim audit for the first half of 2010 showed that the installation of a comprehensive oil metering system was behind schedule, with 51 percent of meters installed so far. He also encouraged Iraq to address recommendations made by the independent audit, including appointing an independent party to verify the technical implementation of the plan.

With regard to the immunities associated with the DFI that expire at the end of December, Yamazaki noted that Iraq has proposed they be extended for another year and that the Secretary-General had addressed the legal issues relating to the immunities in his 1 April DFI report. In light of these issues, it remains for the Council to assess the Iraqi proposal. (The 1 April report stated that “there is no legal basis on which to perpetuate the protected status of the fund once it becomes a fully nationally owned and controlled fund”.) With regard to remaining outstanding letters of credit related to the oil-for-food programme, Yamazaki noted that Iraq was willing to pay 32 of the letters and that if the Secretariat does not receive requisite documentation for the others, the Council has the option of cancelling the remaining letters of credit. This should be subject to Iraq’s providing an indemnity for all UN activities connected with the oil-for-food programme.

Abdul Basit Turky Saed, head of Iraq’s Committee of Financial Experts, presented Iraq’s quarterly report to the Council. Regarding potential foreign financial claims against Iraq, he said that despite efforts made with foreign banks and international financial institutions, Iraq had been unable to secure guarantees to protect its assets at the level of protection provided by the DFI-related immunities. In light of Iraq’s circumstances and the delay in forming a government, Iraq requested the extension of the DFI immunities for another year. He said Iraq also hoped the Council would consider setting a June 2011 deadline for Iraq to accept further commercial creditor claims in order to address the issue of unknown and unregistered claims. In addition, Iraq had continued contacts with the US Federal Reserve Board with regard to establishing accounts for a successor mechanism and had taken steps to strengthen financial and administrative control of the DFI.

On 12 November the president of the Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) reported to the Council on its 9-11 November meeting. The Governing Council supported consultations between Iraq and Kuwait resuming as soon as possible and stressed the importance of maintaining arrangements to transfer 5 percent of Iraqi oil proceeds to the UNCC in a successor mechanism. An outstanding balance of $21.7 billion of compensation remains to be paid to Kuwait.

Violence in Iraq continued. On 10 November the Council issued a press statement condemning recent terrorist attacks targeting civilians, including Christian and Muslim places of worship, killing dozens of people. (Recent attacks included a 31 October attack on a Baghdad church and a series of bombs in the capital on 2 and 10 November.)

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 26 October the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, commented on the Wikileaks release of information on torture and ill treatment of detainees by Iraqi forces. Pillay expressed her concern that serious breaches of international human rights law had occurred in Iraq, including summary executions of a large number of civilians and torture and ill treatment of detainees. She stated that the US and Iraqi authorities should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses. She also called on Iraq to ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol and urged the Iraqi government to facilitate visits of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq human rights teams to monitor the human rights situation in detention facilities. On 4 November, Pillay strongly condemned attacks targeting religious communities in Iraq and urged the government to do more to protect civilians in an effort to prevent a “deadly” upsurge in sectarian violence. She was speaking in the immediate aftermath of the deaths of many Christians and Shi’as in separate incidents.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in December is assessing progress made by Iraq to establish a successor mechanism to the DFI, as called for in resolution 1905. Another key issue is how much progress has been achieved with regard to resolving the question of missing Kuwaiti persons and property and whether the activities of the high-level coordinator should be continued.

Another issue is when Iraq will take the steps necessary for the lifting of restrictions imposed by the Council in Saddam-era resolutions. A related issue is the overall security situation in Iraq.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • allowing the DFI successor mechanism to begin functioning on 1 January;
  • extending the DFI and the related immunities for another year, as requested by Iraq;
  • extending the DFI or immunities for a shorter period, perhaps three months or six months;
  • removing one or more measures imposed on Iraq in historical resolutions related to the regime of Saddam Hussein as part of the action on the DFI (perhaps with relation to the oil-for-food programme);
  • reasserting the ongoing importance of resolving the issues of concern to Kuwait; and
  • approving the continued financing of the high-level coordinator.

Council and Wider Dynamics
While Council members remain concerned over the tortuous process of government formation in Iraq, the recent agreement is seen as a positive step that may provide some increased stability and down the track open the way for appropriate action on the DFI. Some Council members are open to some sort of extension of immunities in order to provide additional support to the Iraqi government in the near term. Others remain more sceptical and would like a stronger case to be made by Iraq on the necessity of continued financial protection.

While Council members appear to hold different views on how much progress has been achieved in resolving the issue of missing persons and property, none seem to advocate ending the activities of the high-level coordinator at this time. It is hoped that more progress will be possible on the issue in the months following the formation of a new Iraqi government.

It seems uncertain how much additional progress with regard to resolving other outstanding Chapter VII issues (such as disarmament and Iraq/Kuwait issues) may be possible.

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

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1905 (21 December 2009) extended the arrangements for the DFI and the IAMB until 31 December 2010 and called on Iraq to develop an action plan and timeline for a post-DFI mechanism in 2010.
  • 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 Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2010/23 (12 November 2010) welcomed the Iraqi agreement to form a national partnership government.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6418 (10 November 2010) was the latest briefing on the DFI and the IAMB.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/567 (28 October 2010) transmitted Iraq’s third quarterly report on the DFI.
  • S/2010/378 (12 July 2010) informed the Secretariat that the Council had approved funding for the activities of the High-Level Coordinator for missing Kuwaiti persons and property.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/606 (26 November 2010) was on UNAMI.
  • S/2010/563 (1 November 2010) was on the DFI and the IAMB.
  • S/2010/300 (9 June 2010) was on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.

Selected Press Statement

  • SC/10081 (10 November 2010) was on recent terrorist attacks targeting civilians in Iraq.

Other Relevant Facts

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

Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

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