On Friday, Amnesty International issued a press release criticizing a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to extend the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) as failing "to acknowledge and address meaningfully the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the country that have rightly been highlighted by the most senior U.N. officials."[1]  --  It quoted Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, who said: "The Security Council must take account of the sectarian and other killings of civilians by both armed groups and government forces, the continuing detention of thousands of Iraqis without charge or trial by the U.S.-led Multinational Force and Iraqi security forces, the widespread reports of torture, the sharp rise in the use of the death penalty, and other gross abuses."  --  DPA's report, which ignored AI's criticisms, said that the resolution was "expected to be voted on on Thursday."[2]  --  “Despite the lack of any significant presence inside the country, the mandate has been renewed each year,” ISN/ETHZ noted Tuesday.[3]  --  But “the U.N. has taken small but worthwhile steps toward reestablishing its presence on the ground, through supporting efforts to draft a new constitution, observing elections in January and December 2005, and supporting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's 24-point national-reconciliation initiative,” Kathleen Ridolfo said.  --  Ridolfo reviewed the sorry history of international diplomatic efforts with respect to Iraq, noting that the International Compact of July 2006 has had little effect due to “security issues in Baghdad, as well as reluctance by neighboring Arab states to support the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government.”  --  On May 3, 2007, at Sharm el-Sheikh, more than fifty countries and international organizations, including Arab states, “grudgingly” signed on, following inclusion of a commitment to “the basic right of all Iraqi citizens to participate peacefully in the political process through the country's political system,” but little has happened since.  --  And “the decision of the Sunni-led Iraqi Accordance Front this week to withdraw its ministers from al-Maliki's cabinet is likely only to worsen Iraq's relations with neighboring Arab states,” Ridolfo said.  --  Although “regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia committed this week to reopen its embassy in Baghdad, it is unlikely to follow through with the commitment anytime soon.”  --  ISN/ETHZ ignored AI’s critique of the draft U.N. resolution, and U.S. media are completely ignoring the U.N. resolution, a GoogleNews search shows....

1.

Press release

AI Index: MDE 14/038/2007

Iraq

DRAFT U.N. RESOLUTION FAILS TO ADDRESS HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Amnesty International
August 3, 2007

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE140382007

Amnesty International today expressed deep concern that a draft resolution before the Security Council to expand the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) fails to acknowledge and address meaningfully the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the country that have rightly been highlighted by the most senior U.N. officials.

In June, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the growing number of detainees resulting from intensified security operations and the U.N.'s chief humanitarian official has stressed that Iraq is now witness to the largest population displacement in recent history in the Middle East.

"The draft resolution is completely silent on the gross human rights abuses taking place on a daily basis in Iraq, and on the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country," said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

"The Security Council must strengthen the current text to express its deep concern about continuing grave human rights abuses and their dire humanitarian consequences," said Irene Khan. "The Security Council must take account of the sectarian and other killings of civilians by both armed groups and government forces, the continuing detention of thousands of Iraqis without charge or trial by the U.S.-led Multinational Force and Iraqi security forces, the widespread reports of torture, the sharp rise in the use of the death penalty, and other gross abuses."

"The least the Security Council can do is to call on all parties concerned to halt and prevent further human rights abuses, to protect civilians including internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups, and to put an end to impunity. We call on the Security Council to strengthen UNAMI's mandate and resources to monitor, promote and protect human rights. The vague and inadequate human rights provisions in the current draft must be substantially revised to give UNAMI a clear mandate to monitor, analyze, help protect, and publicly report on human rights in Iraq," said Irene Khan.

"The Security Council must also address the Iraqi refugee crisis, including the urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to the more than two million internally displaced persons," said Amnesty International's Secretary General.

BACKGROUND

The mandate of UNAMI is due to expire on 9 August 2007 and the Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would expand the mandate of the U.N. mission for Iraq to help promote national dialogue and reconciliation, support constitutional review, and facilitate regional dialogue on security and refugees.

The draft is silent about the current human rights and humanitarian situation and the need to protect civilians, and includes a proposed UNAMI mandate to assist in the orderly return of refugees and displaced persons, rather than assisting in their protection. It also includes a vaguely worded mandate, using the same language as that already provided in Security Council resolution 1546, "to promote the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reform in order to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq."

In his last report to the Security Council on Iraq in June 2007 (S/2007/330), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon identified "pressing human rights concerns in Iraq," including increased numbers of detainees and security internees as a result of increased security operations. Some of this increase is believed due to the deployment of additional U.S. troops in the Baghdad area as part of a military "surge" into areas seen as sectarian strongholds.

John Holmes, the U.N.'s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, now describes Iraq as one of the world's "largest and fastest-growing humanitarian crises," with the largest population displacement in recent history of the Middle East: one out of seven Iraqis have fled their homes.

Amnesty International warned of a new humanitarian crisis causing an unprecedented three million Iraqis being forcibly displaced. The sectarian war between Shi'a and Sunni Iraqis has forced more than two million Iraqis to flee the country, mainly to Syria and Jordan, and has swelled the number of internally displaced persons to more than two million.

2.

Middle East News

U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ TO HAVE ENHANCED POLITICAL ROLE

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
August 7, 2007

Original source: DPA

NEW YORK -- The United Nations Security Council plans to give its mission in Iraq a more important role in assisting the Iraqi government by promoting national dialogue and political reconciliation in addition to the reconstruction of the war-torn nation, diplomats said Tuesday.

A draft resolution, expected to be voted on on Thursday by the 15-nation council, calls for giving the U.N. special representative in Iraq an enhanced mandate to 'advise, support, and assist' the Iraqi government.

The draft calls for extending the U.N. mission for one year when its current mandate expires on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that the draft was a 'balanced' text that has received support from council members and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

'The U.N. needs to play an enhanced role in helping Iraq overcome the difficulties it is having at the present time,' Khalilzad said.

U.S. President George W Bush's administration has been pushing for a larger U.N. role in Iraq as the U.S.-led multinational forces have become bogged down in fighting insurgent troops and Baghdad has been unable to hold together the different factions in the Iraqi government.

Khalilzad, who was the U.S. ambassador in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said one major internal problem in Iraq is the sharing of political power while its neighbors have so far failed to agree on ways to assist the beleaguered Iraqi nation.

Other problems include the humanitarian and refugee situation, he said.

The draft calls for the U.N. mission to assist Baghdad in advancing inclusive, national dialogue and political reconciliation; organize elections, and facilitate regional dialogue, including on issues of border security, energy, and refugees.

The U.N. mission will also provide assistance for a comprehensive census, the orderly return of refugees and the implementation of the International Compact, an economic program for Iraq that has received wide support and billions of dollars.

The U.N. mission will also promote the protection of human rights and embark on reforming Iraq's judicial and legal systems.

The mission's international staff of 65 will be increased to 95 to handle the new tasks and a new U.N. special representative is expected to be appointed soon to replace the current one, Ashraf Qasi of Pakistan, whose term is expiring.

3.

News & current affairs

Security watch

IRAQ: U.N. SET TO EXPAND MANDATE SCOPE
By Kathleen Ridolfo for RFE/RL [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty]

International Relations and Security Network/Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
August 7, 2007

** With the current mandate set to expire on 10 August, the UN Security Council is set to consider a draft resolution that calls for an expanded UN mandate in Iraq. **

http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?ID=17947

The U.N. Security Council will consider in the coming days a draft resolution put forward by Britain that calls for an expanded U.N. mandate in Iraq. The current U.N. mandate on Iraq is set to expire on 10 August.

The proposed mandate, which is expected to be ratified by member states next week, would pave the way for the largest U.N. mission on the ground in Iraq since 2003.

That year, the U.N. pulled its expatriate staff from the country following the August bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 22 others.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was established in June 2004. By then, the U.N. had allowed a small staff (no more than 35) of expatriate workers to return to Iraq. However, the staff size and lack of security largely prohibited the U.N. from carrying out much of its mandate.

SMALL, BUT WORTHWHILE STEPS

Despite the lack of any significant presence inside the country, the mandate has been renewed each year, and the U.N. has taken small but worthwhile steps toward reestablishing its presence on the ground, through supporting efforts to draft a new constitution, observing elections in January and December 2005, and supporting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's 24-point national-reconciliation initiative.

Together with the Iraqi government, the U.N. launched the International Compact with Iraq in July 2006. The initiative sought to "bring together the international community and multilateral organizations to help Iraq achieve its national vision" over five years. The program would work to institutionalize good governance while addressing outstanding political, economic, and security issues.

Through the participation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the Iraqi government would develop a strategy for economic reform and regeneration that would help reintegrate Iraq into the broader region and, by extension, the international community.

SECTARIAN TENSIONS AFFECT RELATIONS

The official launch of the project was delayed for several months due to security issues in Baghdad, as well as reluctance by neighboring Arab states to support the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government. The Arab states -- with primarily majority Sunni populations and Sunni Arab leadership -- fear a Shi'ite government in Iraq and the possible consequences of relations that government may have with Iran.

On 3 May, representatives of Iraq's neighboring states, as well as the U.N. and the U.S., gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for a conference in support of the compact. Representatives from more than 50 countries and international organizations attended the meeting.

In an effort to elicit Arab regional support for the compact, a key article in the conference's final declaration noted that participating states would support the Iraqi government as long as it ensured "the basic right of all Iraqi citizens to participate peacefully in the political process through the country's political system."

Arab states signed onto the compact, albeit grudgingly, but largely ignored their commitments in the months that followed. Unfortunately, the current state of relations among Iraqi political parties does little to prompt Arab states to do more.

REACHING OUT TO NEIGHBORS

Rather, the decision of the Sunni-led Iraqi Accordance Front this week to withdraw its ministers from al-Maliki's cabinet is likely only to worsen Iraq's relations with neighboring Arab states. And although regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia committed this week to reopen its embassy in Baghdad, it is unlikely to follow through with the commitment anytime soon.

The ability of the U.N. successfully to expand its role in Iraq will largely depend on its ability to encourage regional states to engage constructively with Iraq in terms of political and economic initiatives. While the U.S. has worked actively to encourage such engagement, persuading regional states to engage will require a more proactive approach from other Western nations, particularly the EU.

The new draft U.N. resolution calls for an extension and expansion of the current mandate for one year and would authorize UNAMI to facilitate regional dialogue, including on border-security issues, energy, and refugees, according to AP, which viewed the draft.

It also paves the way for the U.N. to help facilitate national dialogue and political reconciliation, resolve disputed internal boundaries, and advise and assist in a constitutional review and a national census.

The draft also calls on the U.N. mission to help plan, fund, and implement reintegration programs for former combatants, signaling that a deal may be nearing between the Iraqi government and nationalist insurgent groups. The U.N. has tried to support talks with native insurgent groups, who are largely comprised of disaffected Iraqis who lost their military or technical jobs following the fall of the Hussein regime in 2003.