SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN IRAQ MISSION FOR 12 MONTHS, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1557 (2004)

12 August 2004
SC/8167

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN IRAQ MISSION FOR 12 MONTHS, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1557 (2004)

12/08/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8167

Security Council                                           

5020th Meeting (AM)                                         

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN IRAQMISSION FOR 12 MONTHS,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1557 (2004)

The Security Council today, reaffirming that the United Nations should play a leading role in assisting the Iraqi people and Government in the formation of institutions for representative government, extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for 12 months.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1557 (2004), the Council also expressed its intention to review the Mission’s mandate in one year or sooner, if requested by Iraq’s Government.

Initially established by resolution 1500 of 14 August 2003 for a one-year period to support to the Secretary-General in fulfilling his mandate under resolution 1483 (2003), and to consolidate United Nations activities, UNAMI began its operations on 1 September 2003 with an approved strength of over 300 international and national civilian staff.

As a result of the bombings of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in August and September of 2003, however, and given the overall deterioration of the security situation in Iraq, the Mission has operated primarily from other locations in the region, namely, Cyprus, Jordan and Kuwait, the Secretary-General notes in his latest report before the Council.  Until security conditions “significantly improve”, he adds, the United Nations will continue to operate primarily from the region to assist the Iraqi people in reconstructing their country.

Also this morning, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s appointment of his new Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Hehangir Qazi of Pakistan, who was named by the Secretary-General last month with the primary task of assisting the Iraqis in implementing the proposed transitional timetable leading to the establishment of a constitutionally elected government by 31 December 2005.

The meeting began at 10:44 a.m. and adjourned at 10:49 a.m.

Council Resolution

The full text of resolution 1557 (2004) reads, as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions on Iraq, in particular resolution 1500 (2003) of 14 August 2003 and 1546 (2004) of 8 June 2004,

“Reaffirming the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq,

Recalling the establishment of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 14 August 2003, and reaffirming that the United Nations should play a leading role in assisting the Iraqi people and Government in the formation of institutions for representative government,

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s appointment of his new Special Representative for Iraq,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 5 August 2004 (S/2004/625),

“1.  Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for a period of twelve months from the date of this resolution;

“2.  Expresses its intention to review the mandate of UNAMI in twelve months or sooner if requested by the Government of Iraq;

“3.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Background

When the Security Council met, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 24 of resolution 1483 (2003) and paragraph 12 of resolution 1511 (2003) (document S/2004/625), which summarizes the activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) since 5 December 2003.  Formally established by resolution 1500 (2003) of 14 August 2003 for an initial period of 12 months, UNAMI began operating on 1 September 2003.  Given its essential role in supporting the transition process in Iraq, the Secretary-General recommends that the Mission’s mandate be extended for a further 12-month period.

In the report, the Secretary-General notes that as a result of the attacks against the United Nations headquarters building in Baghdad on 19 August and 22 September 2003, and the overall deterioration of the security situation in Iraq, the United Nations has not been able to carry out the tasks outlined in his first report pursuant to resolution 1483 (2003).  Against that backdrop, the Council recognized, in its resolution 1511 (2003), that the United Nations should implement its mandate “as circumstances permit”.  As the security environment in Iraq has not improved since December 2003, the Secretary-General decided temporarily to establish UNAMI and other Iraq programme activities in Cyprus (Larnaca), Jordan (Amman) and Kuwait.  International staff are allowed into Iraq only for emergency humanitarian relief operations, security operations, or any other operations deemed essential.

Staff security remains the overriding constraint for all United Nations activities in Iraq, the Secretary-General states, and the United Nations, for the foreseeable future, will remain a high-value, high-impact target for attack.  In the absence of a significant improvement in the overall security situation, the United Nations must continue to incorporate into all plans and activities the special measures set out in his previous report, including enhanced minimum operating security standards for offices and residences and a strengthened security management structure.  Any long-term deployment of international staff will require the prior development of United Nations living and working facilities to the minimum operating security standard guidelines.  It would also require security arrangements by the multinational force and the United Nations in line with their respective responsibilities.  In that regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the provision for protection by a distinct entity under unified command of the multinational force.

Summarizing United Nations activities in support of Iraq’s political transition process, the Secretary-General notes that, notwithstanding the constraints imposed by the temporary relocation of international staff from Iraq following the 19 August and 22 September attacks, the United Nations remains fully engaged in Iraq’s political transition process.  The United Nations intensified high-level contacts with Iraqis and governments around the world to discuss the prospects for an orderly political transition, culminating in credible elections.  The fundamental building block of the Secretary-General’s position was the need for the occupation to end as quickly as possible and for the Iraqis to regain control over their destiny.

Concerning electoral assistance, the Secretary-General notes that, concurrently with the efforts of his special adviser, a team from the Department of Political Affair’s Electoral Assistance Division helped Iraqis to lay the essential groundwork for the holding of elections by January 2005.  The Division first identified crucial electoral issues that would affect the holding of and schedule for elections, including the need for an electoral authority, the definition of an electoral system, and the registration and eligibility criteria of voters.  It further proposed that an Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq be established with nine electoral commissioners.  The Governing Council agreed on the definition of the competencies and role of the Independent Commission.  The Electoral Assistance Division is currently in the process of deploying electoral staff to Baghdad to assist in establishing the Commission.

Although Security Council resolution 1546 (2004) gave the United Nations a strong and clearly defined mandate, the situation in Iraq remains a major challenge for both the Iraqi people and the international community, the Secretary-General observes.  He believes, however, that the Iraqis have the necessary human potential and natural resources to succeed in rebuilding their country.  The United Nations stands ready to do everything possible to support and contribute to an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned process.  To that end, the United Nations will concentrate on the essential tasks set forth in resolution 1546, as requested by Iraq’s Government and given the tight deadlines set out in the time frame of Iraq’s transitional process.

The primary task of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, the report continues, will be to assist the Iraqis in implementing the proposed transitional timetable leading to the establishment of a constitutionally elected Government by 31 December 2005.  Security will remain the primary obstacle and constraint.  A qualitative improvement in the overall security environment is an essential prerequisite for the success of the United Nations efforts in Iraq.  The security and safety of United Nations staff will, therefore, remain the overarching guiding principle for all the Organization’s activities.  Until security conditions improve significantly, UNAMI will have to continue to operate primarily from the region.  In spite of the circumstances, UNAMI is promoting operational and sustained contacts with Iraqi ministries to assist in enhancing national capacity and in preparing for the resumption of in-country activities when circumstances permit.

The Mission’s mandate, the report adds, will remain a key component of the international community’s efforts to assist the Iraqi people in their hour of need.  The end of occupation and the formal restoration of Iraqi sovereignty on  28 June 2004 marked a new phase in Iraq’s transitional process.  The Interim Government now has an opportunity to bring the country together in a spirit of national unity and reconciliation.  The National Conference scheduled to take place on 15 August has an important role to play in that regard.  Progress towards a stable Iraq can be achieved only through political solutions. 

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For information media. Not an official record.