After two decades of international sponsorship… Why did Iraq request separation from UNAMI?

After two decades of international sponsorship… Why did Iraq request separation from UNAMI?

2024-05-11 06:47

After two decades of international sponsorship... Why did Iraq request separation from UNAMIShafaq News/ The Iraqi government asked the United Nations to end by the end of 2025 its political mission that it has been performing in the country for more than 20 years, considering that it is “no longer necessary given its achievement of significant progress towards stability,” according to a letter addressed to the UN Security Council.

But some critics worry about the stability of Iraq’s emerging democracy due to recurring conflicts in the country and the presence of many heavily armed political groups.

Some diplomats and United Nations officials are also concerned about human rights and accountability in a country that is ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world.

Iraq’s request coincides with a similar request by the Somali government last week to end the work of a United Nations political mission.

In this regard, Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani spoke about the merits of his request, noting what he called “positive developments and successes” of successive governments and the completion of the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which was formed after 2003. He pointed out that in these circumstances and “after 20 After a year of democratic transformation and overcoming various challenges, the reasons for having a political mission in Iraq no longer exist.”

Therefore, “we call for the end of the mission’s mandate…permanently on December 31, 2025,” according to what was stated in the letter, provided that UNAMI will focus until then on files related to economic reform, combating climate change, and development issues.

Exiting the care room

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is a special political mission established in 2003 under UN Security Council Resolution 1500, at the request of the Government of Iraq, and its role expanded significantly in 2007 under Resolution 1770.

With the beginning of its work in Iraq, the mission was subjected to a terrorist bombing at its headquarters in the Canal Hotel in Baghdad in August 2003, which destroyed it and killed 23 employees, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sergio de Mello, while more than 100 others were injured.

The Iraqi government spokesman, Bassem Al-Awadi, said during his talk to Shafaq News Agency, “UNAMI’s mandate is to give priority to providing advice, support and assistance to the government and people of Iraq on promoting comprehensive political dialogue and national and societal reconciliation (such as assisting in the electoral process, enhancing human rights protection, and judicial and legal reform). ).

He asserts, “Iraq today is a sovereign country that is gradually recovering from crises, manages its political affairs with balance and national interests, and extends bridges of cooperation, friendship and partnership with various countries of the world through official Iraqi governmental institutions. Rather, it has its own roles to ease regional disputes and play the role of mediator capable of bridging… “Disagreements.”

He continues, “The government was also able to resolve the border intersections with Turkey and Iran in accordance with official agreements, and Iraqi-Arab relations are constantly developing, including the relationship with Kuwait or what remains of its previous files.”

As for the internal level, the government – according to Al-Awadi – is moving on important files, including the file of the relationship with the Kurdistan Region or the Kirkuk file, in which the government accomplished a giant step that has not been achieved since 2005, and other internal files.

He asserts, “Iraq values ​​UNAMI’s role in the past two decades, as they made great sacrifices in their work. There are also important files that Iraq will request technical support from the United Nations, such as the elections file, but this will be within a special mission that ends at the end of each election, and the agencies The specialized international community will continue its work, including the Human Rights Organization, the UNDP, and others, and the Iraqi request does not conflict with the continuation of the work of these organizations, because the main part of it is related to the political aspect.”

In conclusion, “The time has come for Iraq to leave the (care) room. Two decades after the change in 2003, it is difficult to believe that we are not in the stage of (adulthood or political maturity), and therefore there must be permanent assistance in a paternal, pastoral form capable of managing dialogue.” Between the Iraqis themselves or with their neighbors on their behalf or to provide assistance to them,” Al-Awadi says.

Those in charge of the work of the UN mission usually meet with senior political, security and judicial officials in Iraq. These are steps that critics of the mission’s work consider to be an interference with Iraqi decisions, while the other side sees it as being involved in UNAMI’s tasks to contain any problems or conflicts.

The UNAMI mission’s funding is primarily from the United Nations General Assembly, not from Iraq, and most of the mission’s employees are Iraqis, at a rate of 60 percent, according to what an informed source told Shafaq News Agency.

He stated that since 2003, the United Nations has secured billions of dollars in funding for humanitarian and development aid to Iraq at the height of humanitarian crises through its affiliated international organizations.

“A step towards full sovereignty”

In turn, Abbas Al-Jubouri, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, praises the decision to end the UNAMI mission, considering it “a step in the right direction to achieve full sovereignty for Iraq.”

Al-Jubouri added in an interview with Shafaq News Agency: “After the experience of more than 20 years, Iraq can stand on its feet and does not need commandments, another opinion, or a mediator between it and the United Nations.”

The representative asserts, “The decision will not affect the relationship with any country. Rather, Iraq will feel – with this decision – more freely to take on its size and natural extension in dealing with the countries of the world in a way that preserves its independence and sovereignty. Iraq no longer needs mediators.”

Previous introduction to the decision

On February 16, 2024, Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani confirmed, during his meeting with the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the head of the strategic review team for the work of the UNAMI mission in Iraq, Volker Peretz, that internal security and stability made it possible to end the political role of the UNAMI mission in Iraq. .

Al-Sudani pointed out in a statement to the Prime Minister’s Media Office, received by Shafaq News Agency, “the progress achieved in establishing internal security and stability, which made it possible to end the political role of the UNAMI mission in Iraq,” stressing that “the joint activities and programs of the United Nations organization can continue by transferring its activity to… competent organizations.

For his part, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, according to the statement, expressed his optimism about “the security progress taking place in Iraq, and soon he will submit his comprehensive report on the work of the United Nations mission in Iraq, as the positive developments will enable the international organization to gradually end the mission’s work.”

Commenting on the request to end the work of UNAMI by the end of 2025, Shafaq News Agency sent a letter to the office of the United Nations Special Representative in Iraq, Jeanine Plasschaert, who responded: “We are not in the position to comment on that. The letter explains the position of the Iraqi government before the process of renewing UNAMI’s mandate. It is an issue between the government Iraq and the United Nations Security Council.

Last February, Plasschaert announced in a briefing to the Security Council that she would leave her position in late May 2024.

“Allegations of corruption” in the mission

On January 23, the British newspaper The Guardian revealed, in a shocking report, major corruption suspicions at the United Nations in its development program in Iraq, stressing that the United Nations has fueled the culture of bribery that has permeated Iraqi society since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. .

The British newspaper said, “United Nations employees in Iraq are demanding bribes in exchange for helping businessmen win contracts for reconstruction projects in the country.”

The Guardian newspaper found that UNDP employees “demanded bribes of up to 15 percent of the contract value,” according to three employees and four contractors.

In return, the employee helps the contractor navigate the complex UNDP bidding system to ensure it passes the audit process. One of the contractors, without The Guardian revealing his identity, said that UNDP employees “contacted them demanding bribes.”

This prompted UNAMI to issue a clarification about what it called “misleading information” indicating that Jeanine Plasschaert had left the country due to corruption issues.

The mission said in a statement, “UNAMI confirms that the departure of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in May is consistent with established practices within the United Nations, including the usual rotation of senior United Nations officials.”

The statement added: “With regard to the Guardian newspaper’s report on corruption allegations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) issued a statement on January 23, 2024. Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that UNAMI and UNDP have different administrative and financial structures.”

UNAMI concluded its statement by saying: “We urge the media to prioritize accuracy and refrain from circulating misleading information. More broadly, the impact of misinformation and disinformation cannot be overestimated.”