August 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 July 2019
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action

In August, the Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, is expected to brief the Council on the most recent developments in the situation in Iraq and on the two latest Secretary-General’s reports—on UNAMI and on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives. Both reports are due in August.

UNAMI’s mandate expires on 31 May 2020.

Key Recent Developments

Following last year’s 12 May parliamentary elections and his 2 October election as president, Kurdish politician Barham Salih, who has held regional and federal office, named independent Shi’a politician Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister. The formation of the Iraqi government continues. The position of education minister is still outstanding, with two consecutive female candidates not having received enough votes to be confirmed for the position.

On 28-29 June, Council members conducted a visiting mission to Kuwait and Iraq. In Kuwait, members met with the UNAMI Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance, Alice Walpole; the head of the ICRC regional delegation for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Omar Odeh; the World Bank resident representative in Kuwait, Ghassan Khoja; the UN resident coordinator in Kuwait, Tarek El-Sheikh; and the Kuwaiti deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah. In Iraq, the Council met with the following: Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, President Barham Salih, representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government, Foreign Minister Mohamad Al-Hakim, the leadership of UNAMI, the UN Country Team in Iraq, the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), the Iraqi parliament (representatives of political parties as well as minority groups), and members of civil society. Council members held a press conference at the end of the mission and issued a press statement on 30 June. On 11 July, the co-leads of the mission, Kuwait and the US, briefed the Council on the visiting mission.

On 15 July, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD, gave a briefing to the Council, based on his second report on the activities of UNITAD and further developments since the report’s publication in mid-May.

UNITAD was set up through resolution 2379 of 21 September 2017. In it, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish an investigative team to support Iraqi domestic efforts to hold the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) accountable for crimes it committed in the country “by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide”. Additionally, UNITAD is responsible for promoting accountability globally for atrocity crimes committed by ISIL in order to counter ISIL narratives that have led people to join the terrorist group. UNITAD is characterised by resolution 2379 as “impartial, independent, and credible”, operating within its Terms of Reference, the UN Charter, UN best practices and relevant international law including international human rights law. Support for UNITAD is part of UNAMI’s mandate.

In his briefing, Khan addressed the need for evidence collected by his team to lead to fair trials “that will stand the test of time”. He elaborated on UNITAD’s implementation strategy that was laid out in the second report. The strategy entails three initial areas for investigation, with monthly benchmarks for progress. The three areas are: attacks committed by ISIL against the Yazidi community in the Sinjar district in August 2014, crimes committed by ISIL in Mosul between 2014 and 2016, and the mass killing of unarmed Iraqi air force cadets from Tikrit Air Academy (also known as “Camp Speicher”) in June 2014. On UNITAD’s recruitment process, Khan elaborated that his team of 79 staff represents all geographical groups at the UN and that 55 percent are female. He stressed, however, that seconded personnel are “sorely needed”. He further reported that UNITAD moved into its official premises in April. In their statements, a few members mentioned the issue of how and where to prosecute foreign terrorist fighters currently on Iraqi soil. Some members also pointed out that the international crimes that UNITAD is mandated to investigate are not incorporated into the domestic legal system of Iraq and are currently prosecuted as terrorist crimes. Khan’s next report is due in November.

By late June, the UN’s 2019 humanitarian response plan for Iraq of $701.2 million was funded at 41.1 percent, with $412.8 million outstanding.

Sanctions-Related Developments

Since May, the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee has removed 56 entities from its sanctions list.

Key Issues and Options

The Council will continue to follow Iraqi progress in forming a government and how the government responds to the Iraqi people’s long-held demands for basic services, including water and electricity, across the country.

The Council will also keep monitoring UNITAD’s activities. Some members’ statements during Khan’s 15 July briefing indicated their continuing concerns about the possibility that evidence shared by the team might be used in criminal proceedings in which capital punishment could be imposed. Other members stressed during the briefing that this falls under Iraq’s sovereign right, a point shared by Iraq.

The mandate of UNITAD will have to be reviewed ahead of 21 September, having been authorised for an initial period of two years by resolution 2379.

As chair of the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee, Poland could seize upon the momentum and political will of Council members and the Iraqi government to advance the delisting of entities and follow up on concrete proposals on lifting the freeze on Iraqi assets.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members remain unanimous in their support for UNAMI, Iraq’s post-ISIL reconstruction needs, and the positive development of Iraq-Kuwait relations. Regional dynamics continue to affect Iraq: during the visiting mission, Iraqi stakeholders made clear to Council members that Iraq has no intention of taking sides and becoming a theatre for regional and Iran-US tensions. It was further emphasised that the country is still at war with ISIL. Turkey continues to have troops stationed in Iraq, over Iraq’s objections.

The US is the penholder on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the penholder on Iraq-Kuwait issues. Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland) is the chair of the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee. 

UN DOCUMENTS ON IRAQ

Security Council Resolutions
21 May 2019S/RES/2470 This resolution renewed the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2020.
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 The Council welcomed 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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
2 May 2019S/2019/365 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI.
29 April 2019S/2019/352 This was the Secretary-General’s 22nd report on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
Security Council Letters
17 May 2019S/2019/407 This was the second report of the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD.
Security Council Meeting Records
15 July 2019S/PV.8573 This was the Council’s second briefing by Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD.
31 July 2019S/PV.8571 This was a briefing on the Security Council’s visiting mission to Kuwait and Iraq.
21 May 2019S/PV.8531 The Council adopted resolution 2470, renewing the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2020.
Security Council Press Statements
30 June 2019SC/13869 This was on the Council’s 28-29 June visiting mission to Kuwait and Iraq.
Sanctions Committee Documents
31 July 2019SC/13868 This was a press release on the removal of 13 entities from the sanctions list.
31 July 2019SC/13855 This was a press release on the removal of 17 entities from the sanctions list.
31 July 2019SC/13807 This was a press release on the removal of four entities from the sanctions list.
31 July 2019SC/13807 This was a press release on the removal of four entities from the sanctions list.
4 April 2019SC/13766 This was a press release about the removal of nine entities from the sanctions list.