Expected Council Action
In July, Council members are due to receive the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and the outgoing Special Representative Martin Kobler is expected to brief them on its contents. The Council will likely adopt a resolution extending UNAMI, whose mandate expires on 24 July. The resolution is also expected to acknowledge the addition of the mandate formerly assigned to the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait Missing Persons and Property to the mandate of UNAMI, transferring Iraq’s obligations in this regard from Chapter VII to Chapter VI of the UN Charter.
Key Recent Developments
Council members held consultations on Iraq on 27 June, following a briefing by the Department of Political Affairs on the 35th report of the Secretary-General on Iraq’s non-compliance set out in resolution 1284 (1999) regarding the repatriation or return of Kuwaiti and third country nationals or their remains and the return of Kuwaiti property, including archives that had been seized by Iraq. In that report, the Secretary-General recommended that the mandate previously assigned to the High-Level Coordinator on Iraq-Kuwait issues be folded into the mandate of UNAMI. This recommendation followed the 4 June horizon-scanning briefing from the DPA, at which Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernández-Taranco highlighted the progress that had been made in the normalisation of relations between Iraq and Kuwait. In particular, Fernández-Taranco pointed to two letters from Kuwait to the Council and the Secretary-General (dated 30 May) that acknowledged advances in the maintenance of the border between the two countries and on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country persons and property. Additionally, the letter on missing persons and property asked the Council to adopt a resolution that would add the High-Level Coordinator’s mandate to UNAMI’s responsibilities (transferring it from Chapter VII to Chapter VI) and ensure the following elements:
- follow-up on Iraq/Kuwait issues would not end with the termination of the mandate of UNAMI;
- the Secretary-General’s reporting on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property would be separate from the regular reporting on UNAMI; and
- UNAMI would have a dedicated official whose sole responsibility would be Iraq/Kuwait issues.
The Council adopted resolution 2107 on 27 June, formally transferring the mandate to UNAMI and taking into account the additional elements proposed by Kuwait.
Iraq held provincial elections on 20 April in 12 of its 18 provinces. The party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won the most seats of any party (102 out of 378 possible provincial council seats) but fewer seats than it had won in 2009. Elections in Kirkuk and the three semi-autonomous Kurdish provinces were separately scheduled for 21 September, while elections in Anbar and Nineveh provinces were delayed due to security concerns stemming from anti-government protests that have been ongoing since December 2012. On 14 June, a candidate from the Iraqi Republican Gathering party was assassinated in Mosul (in Nineveh province), the sixth such assassination in recent weeks. Elections in Anbar and Nineveh were ultimately held on 20 June, despite the fact that protests continued. (Results in those elections were not known at press time.)
Iraqi leaders made some efforts towards advancing dialogue in the hopes of ending the political stalemate that has predominated in Iraq for more than a year. On 1 June, Ammar al-Hakim—the leader of the Shi’a political party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council—organised a meeting that included al-Maliki and Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi (they had long opposed one another), as well as several other political and religious leaders. Participants did not reach any decisions at the meeting, but did agree to meet again. On 9 June, al-Maliki visited Erbil, where he met with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani. It was their first meeting in more than two years.
Violence in Iraq continued in April, May and June at levels not seen in Iraq since 2008. According to UNAMI, 712 civilians were killed and more than 1,600 were wounded in attacks in April, whereas 1,045 were killed and more than 2,300 were wounded in May. As of 24 June, the independent public database Iraq Body Count had estimated that 466 civilians had been killed in June. In remarks to the press on 6 June, Kobler condemned an attack that killed 14 border-guard policemen and civilians, and on 16 June he condemned a wave of bombings targeting predominantly Shi’a areas that killed at least 33 people. On 11 June, the Secretary-General also voiced concern regarding the upsurge in violence in Iraq and called on all parties to redouble their efforts towards reconciliation.
In June, violence also struck Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty), the temporary home of more than 3,000 exiles belonging to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Iran (an organisation opposed to the government in Tehran) who previously resided at Camp Ashraf. A mortar attack on the camp on 15 June killed two and wounded dozens. In a statement condemning the attack the next day, Kobler reiterated requests made to the government of Iraq for more protective measures to be installed at Camp Hurriya and to the international community for countries to come forward with serious offers to resettle Camp Hurriya residents outside Iraq. A 15 June statement from António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also condemned the attack and reiterated the same requests. On 20 June the residents of Camp Hurriya and Camp Ashraf submitted a petition of relief to the Council, the Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting the UN return the residents of Camp Hurriya to Camp Ashraf and place the latter under the control of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The petition also called for an investigation of alleged misconduct by Kobler.
On 10 June, the Secretary-General announced that he had appointed Kobler as his Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, effective 1 August. At press time, the Secretary-General had not announced who would replace Kobler as Special Representative for Iraq and head of UNAMI.
Key issues for the Council include determining how UNAMI can best:
- encourage efforts towards political reconciliation;
- support efforts to stem sectarian violence; and
- incorporate the mandate formerly assigned to the High-Level Coordinator on Iraq/Kuwait issues into that of UNAMI.
The Council will also be concerned with continuing efforts to protect and relocate the Iranian refugees housed in Camp Hurriya.
Sectarian divisions have deepened and anti-government protests have expanded in recent months. It remains to be seen whether tentative efforts towards political reconciliation will continue to develop in the coming weeks.
In renewing the mandate of UNAMI, the Council has several options to address the variety of issues currently facing Iraq. The Council could renew UNAMI, acknowledging the mission’s added responsibilities on Iraq/Kuwait issues but not otherwise substantially changing the mandate. Additionally, the Council could:
- express concern over the dramatic increase in sectarian violence in Iraq in recent months; or
- encourage the nascent political dialogue established between Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish politicians.
Following the receipt of the 30 May letters from Kuwait, consensus appears to have developed on the Council that the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator should be added to that of UNAMI; negotiations on the 27 June resolution had so far proven non-contentious.
The renewal of UNAMI in July is considered a routine issue and will likely also create little controversy among Council members, though some may be interested in discussing the ways in which its mandate to provide good offices and facilitate political dialogue might be sharpened or better focused.
The US is the penholder on Iraq. (In the past, the UK has been the penholder on Iraq/Kuwait issues, and the 27 June resolution was jointly authored by the US and the UK.)
UN Documents on Iraq
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 June 2013 S/RES/2107||This resolution transferred Iraq/Kuwait issues to the UNAMI mandate.|
|25 July 2012 S/RES/2061||The Council unanimously adopted this resolution renewing UNAMI for a further year.|
|17 December 1999 S/RES/1284||This resolution established UNMOVIC and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every four months on the compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals.|
|17 June 2013 S/2013/357||This was the 35th report of the Secretary-General on Iraq/Kuwait issues.|
|12 March 2013 S/2013/154||This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNAMI.|
|Security Council Letters|
|30 May 2013 S/2013/324||This contained the letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendations that the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator be folded into that of UNAMI.|
|30 May 2013 S/2013/323||This contained the letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait informing the Council that a joint committee had been formed with Iraq to be responsible for maintaining the boundary between the two countries.|
|3 May 2013 S/2013/305||This contained the results of the 75th session of the Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission.|