Expected Council Action
In December, the Council is expected to consider the 34th report of the Secretary-General on Iraq-Kuwait issues pursuant to paragraph 14 of resolution 1284 (1999), and to receive a briefing in consultations from Gennady Tarasov, the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property.
At press time it was unclear whether or not the Council would renew the financing for the High-Level Coordinator, which expires on 31 December. Should the position be eliminated, it was also unclear what alternative oversight mechanism would be endorsed by the Council to continue reporting on cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait in the search for missing persons and property. Tarasov is not expected to continue in the position regardless of whether or not it is renewed.
Key Recent Developments
Following a briefing by Tarasov on 20 June, the Council renewed the funding for the High-Level Coordinator for six months via a press statement (SC/10680). The statement welcomed cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait and indicated that the Council was “encouraged by the recent positive developments in Iraqi-Kuwaiti bilateral relations.” The statement also supported the Secretary-General’s opinion, expressed in his 14 June report on Iraq-Kuwait issues (S/2012/443), that the two sides should begin exploring other arrangements so that the Council will “be in a position to consider other modalities” to continue reporting on the search for missing persons and property. From 18-21 September, Tarasov visited Kuwait for consultations with Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
At press time, the Council was expected to receive a briefing on 29 November from Martin Kobler, head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), to be followed by consultations. The latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/848), issued on 16 November, found that though there had been some efforts to address the political stalemate in Iraq, “no tangible progress” had been made. On 1 November, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi (who had been tried in absentia, convicted of two murders and sentenced to death in September) received a second death sentence on a charge that he was involved in an assassination plot against an official at the Ministry of the Interior. On 4 November, al-Hashemi received a third death sentence after being found guilty of ordering attacks on Shiite pilgrims. Al-Hashemi has been living in exile in Turkey since December 2011.
The Secretary-General’s report also noted that relations between Iraq and Kuwait are “still characterized by a mutual lack of confidence.” On 27 September, on the margins of the General Assembly, the Iraqi and Kuwaiti delegations met to discuss Iraq’s remaining obligations towards Kuwait under Chapter VII. A follow-up meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Iraq and Kuwait occurred on 29 September. However, the Secretary-General’s report noted a lack of progress by Iraq on its Chapter VII obligations, in particular the failure of the government to remove inter-boundary obstacles on the Iraq-Kuwait border, as previously agreed with the Kuwaiti government. The report concluded by noting that “a historic opportunity is at hand for Iraq and Kuwait to normalize their relations” and urged both parties to “implement all agreements reached between them.”
Violent incidents continued in Iraq in November. On 14 November, a series of bombings killed at least 17 people in the cities of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Hawija and Hillah. On 16 November, clashes erupted between Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish forces in the town of Tuz Khurmato in northern Iraq in which two persons were killed and 10 were wounded. On 27 November at least 29 people were killed in a string of eight car-bombings across Iraq.
Significant spill over from the Syrian conflict continued to affect Iraq as well: as of 30 October more than 50,000 Iraqis had returned to Iraq from Syria, and more than 45,000 Syrians had sought refuge in Iraq.
Regarding the former Camp Ashraf (now known as Camp New Iraq), the Secretary-General’s report indicated that approximately 100 people—Iranian exiles belonging to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Iran (the MEK), an organisation opposed to the government in Tehran—remain in the camp, while 3,112 individuals have been relocated to Camp Hurriya, a temporary transit facility. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified 637 of these individuals as having international protection needs. A 2 October conference on resettlement organised by UNHCR in Geneva called on member states to accept these persons but received only “a limited number of positive responses,” according to the Secretary-General’s report.
Human Rights-Related Developments
According to the latest Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI, scores of civilians, including children, were killed and injured by indiscriminate terrorist attacks during the reporting period. There were also reports of direct attacks against schools and medical facilities, allegations of recruitment of children by terrorist groups, an increasing number of reported cases of gender-based violence in the Kurdistan region and allegations of torture in detention facilities.
The Secretary-General furthermore noted that, since his last report, another 43 individuals had been executed, bringing the total number of executions so far in 2012 to 113 in comparison with 67 executions in 2011 and 18 in 2010. He called on the government of Iraq to positively consider a moratorium on the implementation of all death sentences and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with a view to the abolition of the death penalty.
The key issue for the Council in December is whether or not to renew the funding for the position of the High-Level Coordinator, and if not what alternative oversight mechanism should replace that position.
Additionally, the continuing political stalemate in Iraq, the fragile security situation throughout the country and the lack of progress on the resettlement of the MEK exiles in Camp Hurriya will all remain of concern to Council members.
On Iraq-Kuwait issues the Council could:
renew the funding for the High-Level Coordinator via a press statement that would also endorse a new appointment to the position;
endorse, through a statement or other document, a new position to oversee Iraq-Kuwait issues, such as a Special Representative or other Envoy;
add the responsibilities currently mandated to the High-Level Coordinator to the mandate of UNAMI through a resolution; or
develop some other alternative oversight mechanism to monitor progress on Iraq-Kuwait issues.
Council members agree that any changes to the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator should be contingent on the agreement of Iraq and Kuwait and on being especially sensitive to the Kuwaiti position on the issue. Nonetheless, some Council members have made clear their desire to see progress implementing the Secretary-General’s recommendation that Iraq and Kuwait begin exploring other arrangements and hope that the position will not be renewed. It appears that Kuwait agrees in principle that Iraq could be released from its current Chapter VII obligations but also remains committed to maintaining a UN position to oversee Iraq-Kuwait issues separate from UNAMI. Several other Council members remain wary of transferring the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator to UNAMI. Iraq’s lack of progress in recent weeks on its Chapter VII obligations (in particular the removal of obstacles on the Iraq-Kuwait border) is also a concern to many on the Council. Many Council members are awaiting the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his December report on Iraq-Kuwait issues before formulating a position on the issue.
The US is the lead country on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the lead on Iraq-Kuwait issues.http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2012-12/iraq_1.php