What's In Blue

Posted Mon 22 Jul 2013

Iraq Mission Mandate Renewal

On Wednesday (24 July), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 July 2014. The resolution – which is now in blue -acknowledges changes to UNAMI’s mandate brought on by the adoption of resolution 2107 in June but otherwise does not alter the mission’s mandate. (On 27 June, the Council adopted resolution 2107, which formally transferred the mandate to report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property to UNAMI. This mandate had formerly been assigned to a High-Level Coordinator but in December 2012 the Council allowed the funding for that position to lapse.)

The draft renewal resolution was first circulated on 15 July, in advance of expert-level consultations on 17 July. It seems that during consultations, most Council members agreed on the broad contours of the text, but there was some discussion over preambular language which referred to “improvements in the security situation” in Iraq. Apparently several Council members felt this was not reflective of the increase in violence in Iraq in recent months. (The UN estimates that more than 3,000 people have been killed and more than 7,000 wounded in Iraq in the last four months, a level of violence not seen since 2008. The independent public database Iraq Body Count estimates that as of 20 July at least 584 civilians have been killed this month alone.) As a compromise, the word “security” was struck from the draft, which was then placed under silence until 3:00 on 19 July.The draft mandate renewal resolution borrows some of the language regarding Iraq’s progress on obligations stemming from resolution 661 of 1990 (which imposed sanctions on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait) in its preambular paragraphs and recalls the provisions of resolution 2107 in its operative paragraphs.

The Council met most recently on Iraq on 16 July, when it heard the final briefing from the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Martin Kobler, on the most recent report of the Secretary-General on UNAMI (S/2013/408). Kobler concluded his remarks by emphasising four key issues for the future of Iraq: the full implementation of the constitution, the equitable distribution of the country’s resources, the protection of Iraq’s environment, and the importance of providing opportunities to Iraq’s women and youth.

Kobler also suggested that the international community should elaborate a coordinated, regional approach to the Middle East, in light of the spillover from the Syrian conflict into several neighboring countries, including Iraq. Such an approach would require UNAMI to coordinate more closely with other missions in the region, a scenario which might involve changes to UNAMI’s mandate at some point.

During closed consultations following the briefing, it seems one Council member also pressed Kobler with questions as to whether his office had been able to verify claims reported in the press that the government of Iraq had found members of Al-Qaida in Iraq to be in possession of chemical weapons. It seems Kobler said that he was unable to verify the claim.

Kobler’s last day as Special Representative before taking up a new post as head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was on 22 July. In his final statement to the press as Special Representative, on 21 July, Kobler strongly condemned another wave of violence that had struck Baghdad over the weekend, killing at least 30 people. At press time the new Special Representative and head of UNAMI had yet to be announced.

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