What's In Blue

Posted Mon 18 Jun 2012

Iraq-Kuwait Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (19 June), the Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property, Gennady Tarasov, is scheduled to brief Council members in consultations. The Council is likely to issue a press statement on the High-Level Coordinator’s activities and extend the financing of his mandate—which expires on 30 June—until 31 December. (This would be in keeping with the Council’s prior practice on the issue.)

Council members will be interested in hearing more on the latest report of the Secretary-General, which was shared among Council members last week (S/2012/443). Unlike the previous report (S/2011/754), the current document highlights the improvement in Iraq-Kuwait relations, which has led to several high-level visits this year. (These include Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Kuwait on 14 March and that of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, to Baghdad to attend the League of Arab States’ summit held from 27 to 29 March.)

The latest report commends the agreements reached between the two sides which have apparently brought about the “increased momentum towards the resolution of outstanding issues pertaining to the fulfilment of Iraqi obligations under Chapter VII.” Significantly, the report also encourages “both sides to begin exploring other arrangements to consolidate and ensure their continued cooperation.”

Regarding the significant issue of the return of Kuwait’s national archive, the report notes that “no substantial progress has been made.” (The historical records of Kuwait disappeared during Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of the country. Resolution 1284 [1999], which established the High-Level Coordinator’s mandate, specifically refers to the return of “all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq”. Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, also called for the return of the Kuwaiti archives, which the Saddam regime had failed to produce.) The issue is significant and seems to be a central factor in the agenda item continuing to be before the Security Council.

Despite the lack of information about the “fate or whereabouts” of the national archives, the latest report does note the return in April this year of other items, including Kuwaiti currency, documents and microfilm cassettes of a Kuwaiti newspaper. The Secretary-General’s report indicates that such “credible and sustained efforts” by Iraq with respect to returning Kuwaiti property “can bear results.”

Council members are generally supportive of the activities of the High-Level Coordinator. However, there appears to be a growing consensus among Council members that an alternative means of reporting on Iraq-Kuwait issues needs to be established. Some also see mediatation between Iraq and Kuwait as increasingly unnecessary given the recent improvement in bilateral relations. At the same time, Council members are mindful of the continuing need for oversight and reporting on Iraq-Kuwait issues but see this possibly being taken on by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in the future instead of a dedicated high-level coordinator. Yet Council members are also aware that any changes to the current mechanism regarding Iraq-Kuwait issues would have to be agreed to by both parties.

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