What's In Blue

Posted Wed 26 Jun 2013

Resolution on Iraq-Kuwait High-Level Coordinator

Tomorrow morning (27 June), the Security Council expects to adopt a resolution, which has been put in blue, transferring the mandate formerly assigned to the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property to the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The resolution will also transfer Iraq’s obligations in this regard from Chapter VII to Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Hoshyar Zebari, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, is likely to make a statement following the adoption. Council members will then meet in closed consultations where they are expected to be briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco.

Paragraph 14 of resolution 1284 (1999) requested the appointment of a High-Level Coordinator to report to the Security Council regularly on “compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third country nationals or their remains” and “the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq.” In December 2012, the Council did not renew the funding for the High-Level Coordinator position, causing these reporting responsibilities to fall to the Secretariat.

In his 14 December report on resolution 1284 (S/2012/931) the Secretary-General outlined four options for continuing the mandate, among them folding the mandate of the Coordinator into that of UNAMI. The Secretary-General’s preference for this option was reiterated in his most recent report on Iraq-Kuwait issues (S/2013/357).

On 30 May, Kuwait transmitted a letter to the Council formally endorsing this option (S/2013/324). The letter also asked that the resolution transferring the mandate to UNAMI would ensure that there would be continued follow-up on Iraq-Kuwait issues once UNAMI ended; that reporting on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property would be kept separate from the regular reporting on UNAMI; and that UNAMI would have a dedicated official whose sole responsibility would be Iraq-Kuwait issues.

The draft resolution, co-authored by the US and the UK (the US is the penholder on Iraq and UNAMI, while the UK has been the penholder on Iraq-Kuwait), was circulated to Council members on 24 June, following lengthy discussions with both Iraq and Kuwait on its aims and content. It appears that the resolution takes into account each of the elements from Kuwait’s 30 May letter, requiring separate reports for UNAMI and Iraq/Kuwait, suggesting that the Secretary-General consider designating his Deputy Special Representative at UNAMI covering political affairs as the individual responsible for overseeing Iraq-Kuwait issues, and expressing the Council’s intention to be mindful of the need to continue following up on Iraq-Kuwait issues in the event of UNAMI’s termination.

Most Council members had previously expressed their willingness to support a resolution on Iraq/Kuwait that had the backing of both countries, and there was little disagreement over the draft text. A suggestion by one Council member that preambular language acknowledging the changed situation in Iraq since these obligations were first imposed on it in 1990 might be strengthened to note that the situation had improved was abandoned after receiving a lukewarm reception from Kuwait.

In the consultations following the adoption, most Council members will likely highlight the significance of the resolution and the improved relationship between Iraq and Kuwait over the last six months. In addition to the issue of missing persons and property, Iraq and Kuwait have also made advances in demarcating their common border and establishing a joint committee to ensure the future maintenance of the border. Some Council members may also be interested in making clear that though advances have been made, the issue of missing persons and property remains and the Council must remain engaged with it. Still others may take the opportunity of the consultations to look ahead and consider how the new mandate might affect the renewal of UNAMI in July.

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