Expected Council Action
In November, the Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ján Kubiš, is scheduled to brief the Council on the latest Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI and the most recent developments.
UNAMI’s mandate expires on 31 May 2019.
Key Recent Developments
Parliamentary elections were held on 12 May in a mostly peaceful and orderly manner, but they were marked by a voter turnout of just 44.5 percent, the lowest since 2005. No party managed to gain a majority of seats, and following allegations of fraud, a partial manual ballot recount was conducted in July. On 2 October, the Iraqi parliament elected as president Barham Salih (a Kurdish politician who has previously held regional and federal office); he named Adel Abdul Mahdi (an independent Shi’a politician) as prime minister the same day. The constitutional deadline for Mahdi to form a new government is 30 days.
Starting in early July and continuing for almost three months, protests took place in the south of Iraq and spread to cities in other regions, including Baghdad. Protesters voiced long-standing frustration over a lack of basic services and infrastructure, including water and electricity, as a result of government neglect as well as corruption.
In September 2017, the Council adopted resolution 2379, which requested the Secretary-General to establish an investigative team to support Iraqi domestic efforts to hold Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) accountable for crimes it committed in the country by collecting, storing and preserving in Iraq evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. (Iraqi government forces defeated ISIL in December 2017 after three years of fighting that resulted in massive destruction and the internal displacement of over two million people.) On 31 May, the Secretary-General appointed Karim Asad Ahmad Khan of the UK as Special Adviser and head of the investigative team. Since then, Khan has formed a core team, held meetings in New York, and conducted a visit to Iraq from 6 to 14 August to meet with interlocutors. On 17 October, he briefed the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. The first report to the Council is expected in mid-November in line with the 90-day deadline set out in resolution 2379. During its main session before the end of this year, the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly is scheduled to decide on assessed contributions from the regular budget of the UN for the team.
On 8 August, Philip Spoerri, then-head of the ICRC delegation to the UN, briefed the Council on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals. He reported that 1,080 cases of missing persons remain unsolved and fieldwork, along with excavation missions, was to be continued.
In a 31 August letter, the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to appoint Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert as the new head of UNAMI. Kubiš, who had been in the post since early 2015, had been asked by the Secretary-General to stay on until the creation of the new government.
Human Rights-Related Developments
At a press briefing on 11 September, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the situation in the southern Iraqi governorate of Basra following protests over a lack of basic services. According to the Ministry of Health, at least 11 people were killed between 1 and 8 September in connection with the protests, bringing the number of people who have died since demonstrations began on 8 July to at least 20, the spokesperson said. In addition, more than 300 people have been injured in Basra since July.
Issues and Options
The Council will follow closely Iraqi progress in forming a new government. A statement to express support for the new government is an option. Furthermore, the Council could consider conducting a visiting mission to Iraq to get a better understanding of current challenges on the ground.
As for efforts to hold members of ISIL accountable for international crimes, the Council will continue to monitor developments regarding the investigative team. Some members, especially those opposed to the death penalty, continue to have concerns about the possibility that evidence shared by the team might be used in criminal proceedings in which capital punishment could be imposed. This may continue to affect member states’ willingness to contribute to the trust fund established by the Secretary-General, the sole source of financing for the team until the end of 2018.
Council members are unanimous in their support for UNAMI. Despite diverging views on how to address the recommendations of the November 2017 independent external assessment, the US secured language encouraging the UN to take action on these recommendations in resolution 2421, renewing UNAMI’s mandate in June.
Considering that Kuwait is currently an elected member of the Council, a formal Council product on the Iraq-Kuwait file may be a possibility at some point.
The US is the penholder on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the penholder on Iraq-Kuwait issues. Poland is the chair of the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON IRAQ
|Security Council Resolutions|
|14 June 2018 S/RES/2421||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2019.|
|8 December 2017 S/RES/2390||The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2390, which indicated that measures imposed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter regarding the oil-for-food programme had been fully implemented.|
|21 September 2017 S/RES/2379||This resolution established an investigative team tasked with collecting, storing and preserving evidence of ISIL crimes in Iraq.|
|10 July 2018 S/2018/683||This was the Secretary-General’s 19th report on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.|
|9 July 2018 S/2018/677||This was the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNAMI.|
|Security Council Letters|
|31 August 2018 S/2018/808||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council, informing the Council of his intention to appoint Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert as his Special Representative for Iraq and head of UNAMI.|
|15 August 2018 S/2018/773||This was a letter from the Secretary-General, notifying the Council that the Investigative Team on Iraq/ISIL accountability will begin its work on 20 August 2018.|
|15 November 2017 S/2017/966||This was a letter containing the executive summary, observations and full set of recommendations of an independent external assessment of the structure and staffing of UNAMI submitted by the team of experts.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|8 August 2018 S/PV.8324||This was a briefing by Special Representative and head of UNAMI Ján Kubiš on the latest Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|1 October 2018 SC/13527||This was a press release on the removal of one entity from the sanctions list.|
|28 September 2018 SC/13526||This was a press release on the removal of one entity from the sanctions list.|
|24 September 2018 SC/13521||This was a press release on the removal of three entities from the sanctions list.|
|19 September 2018 SC/13512||This was a press release on the removal of two entities from the sanctions list.|
|28 August 2018 SC/13474||This was a press release on the removal of one entity from the sanctions list.|
|7 August 2018 SC/13447||This was a press release on the removal of one entity from the sanctions list.|
|23 July 2018 SC/13432||This was a press release on the removal of four entities from the sanctions list.|
|22 December 2017 S/2017/1078||This was the annual report of the 1518 Sanctions Committee.|