Tomorrow (14 June), the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) for ten months, until 31 May 2019. It seems that the US, the penholder, was aiming for an earlier adoption of the mandate, which is set to expire on 31 July, in anticipation of a possible rise in political tensions in the aftermath of the 12 May parliamentary elections. Following reports of fraud, the Iraqi Parliament mandated a full recount, which was rejected by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who maintained that such a decision was not within the parliament’s constitutional role.
UNAMI’s mandate has not substantially changed since the adoption of resolution 1770 in 2007. It seems that this year the US wanted to streamline the text of the resolution, which previously included a preambular part stretching over several pages. The text in blue contains only three preambular paragraphs, including one referencing Iraq’s victory over ISIL/Daesh.
The mandate itself is largely unchanged as neither the penholder, nor Iraq or UNAMI, consider the current situation in Iraq conducive to a mandate overhaul. However, a number of new elements have been incorporated in this year’s text. According to the draft, UNAMI’s role in advancing an inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation is now a priority. Furthermore, language was added this year on UNAMI’s role in advising, supporting and assisting Iraq in facilitating regional dialogue and cooperation on issues of environment and water. New text has been added noting that one of UNAMI’s responsibilities is to promote accountability and support the work of the investigative team established by resolution 2379 to collect, store and preserve evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. New language on mainstreaming gender as a crosscutting issue throughout UNAMI’s mandate and assisting the Iraqi government and the UN Country Team in strengthening child protection was also incorporated in operative paragraphs in this year’s draft text.
Upon the suggestion of the Special Representative Ján Kubiš, the mandate will come up for renewal in ten months instead of a year, as was previous practice. The reason behind this appears to be to bring the UNAMI mandate renewal closer to the start of the budget negotiations in the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, thus more directly aligning the mission’s authorisation with the budget cycle.
The results of the independent external assessment of UNAMI completed late last year are welcomed in the draft, and the UN is encouraged to implement the recommendations.
The draft also requests the Secretary-General to report on the actions taken in response to the independent external review in his regular quarterly reports. As a supporter of independent external assessments of peace operations and special political missions, it seems that the US pushed for the Secretary-General to address this issue in his quarterly reports. In February, Council members were briefed by the review team that conducted this assessment in an informal interactive dialogue.
Only one round of negotiations was required on the draft resolution, and it appears that the discussion was largely uncontentious. Some members tried to push for stronger language on accountability, but it appears that others, including the penholder, did not consider this to be a priority at this point.
Looking ahead, Special Representative Ján Kubiš might address the Council on UNAMI in July.