Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to receive briefings on the Secretary-General’s latest reports on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and also on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property (including the national archives). The Council will also renew the mandate of UNAMI, which is set to expire on 31 May 2019. In addition, the Council expects to receive the second report on the activities of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) in May.
Key Recent Developments
On 13 February, the Council held its most recent briefing on Iraq, during which the members generally welcomed the formation of the new government and called on political stakeholders to reach an agreement on the appointment of the remaining members of the cabinet. Special Representative and head of UNAMI Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert also expressed concern over the prolonged process of appointing the remaining cabinet members, and called on the political blocs in Iraq to reach a compromise. Although there has been a notable decrease of terrorist activity in Iraq, she stressed that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) still poses a threat.
Six days after the briefing, the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait on the issue of missing Kuwaiti nationals and third country nationals and the return of Kuwaiti property, including the national archives. The statement noted, however, that there are still 369 unresolved cases of missing Kuwaiti and third-party nationals.
In March, the government of Iraq and UNITAD conducted its first exhumations in Kojo village in the Sinjar region. The remains of some 30 individuals were recovered. The remains and evidence were then transferred to Baghdad for further forensic analysis by the investigative team. During its peak of power from 2014 to 2017, ISIL committed serious human rights violations against the Yazidi ethnic minority in Sinjar.
On 6 April, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi met in Tehran with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During their meeting, Khamenei urged Mahdi to request the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Two days later, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation. The IRGC is under Khamenei’s direct control and operates independently of Iran’s traditional armed forces. The US has accused the IRGC of providing financial and weapons support for terrorist organisations in the region, including various Shiite militias in Iraq.
On 21 February, members of the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee held a meeting with the Special Representative of INTERPOL to the UN, Emmanuel Roux. The discussion centred on the possibility of cooperation between the committee and INTERPOL. During March and April, the committee removed 26 entities from the sanctions list.
Key Issues and Options
Given that Iraq still does not have a fully formed government, the Council will continue to follow closely developments related to this issue. In renewing UNAMI’s mandate, the Council could urge political parties to compromise to enable remaining cabinet positions to be filled.
Another option would be for the Council to conduct 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. It could request a briefing from Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD, on the team’s report, or alternatively discuss the report with him in closed consultations.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are unanimous in their support for UNAMI. The mandate of the mission has not changed since resolution 1770 was adopted in 2007. Some members have expressed interest in incorporating stronger language in the UNAMI resolution on such issues as the promotion of national reconciliation; accountability; security sector reform; deeper political and economic reforms; women, peace and security; children and armed conflict; and the right of internally displaced persons to return to their homes. It seems that the US, the penholder, and Iraq, the host country, are reluctant to make any substantial changes to UNAMI’s mandate.
Some member states, especially those opposed to the death penalty, have had concerns about the possibility that evidence shared by UNITAD could be used in criminal proceedings in which capital punishment could be imposed. This may continue to affect some member states’ willingness to contribute to the trust fund established by the Secretary-General.
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 2018S/RES/2421||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2019.|
|21 September 2017S/RES/2379||This resolution established an investigative team tasked with collecting, storing and preserving evidence of ISIL crimes in Iraq.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|19 February 2019S/PRST/2019/1||This was a Council presidential statement welcoming the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and the return of missing Kuwaiti property, including national archives.|
|1 February 2019S/2019/101||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI.|
|25 January 2019S/2019/78||This was the Secretary-General’s report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.|
|Security Council Letters|
|15 November 2018S/2018/1031||This letter transmitted the first report of the Special Adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh (UNITAD).|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|13 February 2019S/PV.8462||This was a briefing by the new Special Representative and head of UNAMA, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on the latest Secretary-General’s report and recent developments in Iraq.|
|4 December 2018S/PV.8412||This was the Council’s first-ever briefing by Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, the Special Adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh (UNITAD).|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|13 March 2019SC/13736||This was a press release about the removal of four entities from the sanctions list.|
|21 February 2019SC/13710||This was a press release about the meeting of the 1518 Sanctions Committee and the Special Representative of INTERPOL to the UN.|
|29 January 2019SC/13682||This was a press release about the removal of eight entities from the sanctions list.|