December 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2011
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Expected Council Action
A briefing by Martin Kobler, Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is envisaged in December.

The funding for the activities of Gennady Tarasov, the high-level coordinator who advises the Security Council on the Iraq-Kuwait missing persons and property issue, is due to expire by the end of December. It is expected that the Council will receive a report on the issue and a briefing from the high-level coordinator. The Council is likely to extend the coordinator’s activities before the end of the month through a press statement.

The mandate of UNAMI expires on 31 July 2012.

Key Recent Developments
At press time, the Council was due to receive the Secretary-General’s regular report on UNAMI.

On 19 July, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMI, Ad Melkert, (whose term ended in August) told the Council in a briefing that there were grounds for “cautious optimism” should a determined Iraqi leadership and a stronger regional cooperation with Iraq prevail. On 28 July, the Council unanimously agreed to extend UNAMI’s mandate for another year. The resolution also called on Iraq to continue its ongoing cooperation with Kuwait and meet its outstanding international obligations on that issue.

On 4 August, the Secretary-General announced his intention to appoint Kobler (Germany) as his Special Representative and head of UNAMI. On 8 October, Kobler arrived in Baghdad to take up his duties and met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on 9 October. On 11 October, Kobler reiterated UNAMI’s commitment to assisting Iraq in a meeting with President Jalal Talabani. On 16 October, Kobler expressed his gratitude to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for the support provided to UNAMI.

The Department of Political Affairs included Iraq in its September monthly briefing by Under-Secretary-General, B. Lynn Pascoe, on new or ongoing issues of concern. Pascoe briefed the Council on the latest political developments, the appointment of Kobler as well as UNAMI’s new security arrangements ahead of the withdrawal of the remaining US troops by the end of 2011.

On 23 September, President Talabani, in an address to the General Assembly, stressed that Iraq had succeeded in getting rid of sanctions and restrictions imposed as a consequence of the invasion of Kuwait by the Saddam Hussein regime. Talabani also said that Iraqi security forces had proved that they were capable of providing security.

In a letter addressed to the President of the Council dated 15 November, Hamid Al-Bayati, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN, reported that the Iraqi Government had implemented the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report of June 2011 by forming a committee to coordinate the efforts relating to Kuwaiti national archives. Moreover, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iraq had informed the Kuwaiti Embassy in Baghdad of the existence of 136 microfilm cassettes including the official archives of Kuwait Today, the official Kuwaiti newspaper.

On 17 November, the 34th session of the Tripartite Commission, composed of representatives of Iraq, Kuwait and the 1990-1991 Coalition (the US, the UK, France and Saudi Arabia) was held in Geneva under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Members of the Tripartite Commission agreed to further improve the process of gathering information on the whereabouts of hundreds of missing people and to establish a firm plan of action for future excavations in both Iraq and Kuwait. (The Tripartite Commission and its Technical Sub-Committee were established under the auspices of the ICRC in 1991 and 1994 respectively. Their role is to ascertain the fate of missing military and civilian personnel of the 1990-1991 Gulf War.)

The UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) approved the payment of $1,038,375,281 to Kuwait for distribution to eight successful candidates. To date, the UNCC has made available $34.3 billion.

Violent incidents continued to occur during the past months. On 19 July, Melkert, during an interview with the UN radio in New York, said that the security situation in Iraq remained unpredictable and that for many Iraqis life was still very troublesome. On 15 August, a series of bombings reportedly killed 80 people and wounded up to 300 others. On 18 August, the Council issued a press press statement strongly condemning these bombings. On 25 September, the acting head of UNAMI and Deputy Special Representative, Jerzy Skuratowicz, strongly condemned the terrorist attacks that reportedly killed 15 people and injured more than 100 in Kerbala earlier that day.

On 21 October, US President Barack Obama announced that all US troops would be withdrawn by the end of the year, as established by the Status of Forces Agreement approved by the Iraqi parliament and the Bush Administration in late 2008.

On 19 October, Turkish forces launched air and ground operations in Iraq’s northern Qandil mountains to retaliate against an earlier attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that reportedly killed 26 of its soldiers.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 8 August, a joint UNAMI-Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report noted that “the human rights situation throughout Iraq remains fragile.” On 12 September, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Director-General, Irina Bokova, called for an investigation into the killing of Hadi Al-Mahdi, an outspoken radio journalist in Iraq. Al-Mahdi’s body was found on 8 September after he was shot in his home in Baghdad.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council will be to revisit the issue of security provision for UNAMI personnel, especially in light of the potential effect that the US military withdrawal may have on the dynamics on the ground.

Another key issue for the Council is assessing the level of contribution that UNAMI makes to the stability of Iraq and whether UNAMI’s composition ought to be modified in order to better address the challenges it faces.

An additional key issue before the Council is whether an extension of the high-level coordinator’s activities would help resolve the issue of missing Kuwaiti persons and property.

Underlying Problems
Significant sectarian and political divisions continue to adversely affect Iraq. In addition, key ministerial posts such as that of defence and interior have been unfilled for months and different political blocs remain divided over power sharing.

One option for the Council is to simply receive the briefings on UNAMI and the Iraq/Kuwait issues.

Regarding UNAMI, another option would be issuing a presidential or press statement that could include all or some of the following elements:

  • acknowledgement of the increasing security needs of UNAMI (and the related increased cost) and the persistent violence impacting on Iraqi civilians with some reference to the protection of civilians; and
  • urging Iraq to finalise its government formation by filling all vacant ministerial posts.

On Iraq/Kuwait issues the Council could issue a press or presidential statement:

  • reiterating the importance for Iraq to make progress on resolving outstanding issues related to Kuwait (including borders, missing persons and property);
  • extending the activities of the high-level coordinator for an additional six months or longer; and
  • reaffirming previously agreed language and reiterating the need to resolve outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait before the removal of any further Chapter VII measures imposed during the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members remain concerned about the overall security situation in the country, as well as the significant social unrest over the provision of government services that has been apparent during the last several months. Members are also aware of UNAMI’s expanding security needs in light of the US withdrawal.

Many Council members feel that it is important for Iraq to make further efforts to fulfil its obligations to Kuwait.

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

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UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/2001 (28 July 2011) extended UNAMI’s mandate until 31 July 2012.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports


  • S/2011/721 (15 November 2011) was from Al-Bayati to the President of the Council updating him on the formation of an Iraqi coordinating committee to deal with Kuwaiti national archives.
  • S/2011/503 (8 August 2011) and S/2011/502 (4 August 2011) was an exchange of letters between regarding the appointment of Martin Kobler as Special Representative and head of UNAMI.
  • S/2011/478 (29 July 2011) and S/2011/477 (26 July 2011) was an exchange of letters regarding funding in support of Tarasov’s activities.

Press Statements

  • SC/10362 (18 August 2011) condemned terrorist attacks on 15 August in Iraq.
  • SC/10289 (22 June 2011) expressed the Council’s intention to continue funding for the activities of the high-level coordinator for missing Kuwaiti persons and property.


  • S/AC.51/2011/6 (3 October 2011) was the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict’s report stating conclusions on children and armed conflict in Iraq.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq

Martin Kobler (Germany)

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

Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

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