The United Nations works under challenging conditions in Iraq to provide valuable assistance to the country’s post-war political transition, and to meeting its humanitarian, reconstruction and development needs.
Leading and coordinating UN on the ground is the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a DPA-led field mission based in Baghdad and other locations, and headed currently by Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq.
The UN support role in Iraq was established by Security Council resolution 1546 (2004) and expanded under resolution 1770 (2007). The UNAMI mandate has been extended since then, most recently until 31 July 2015.
These resolutions are implemented by UNAMI and the United Nations Country Team, which includes UN agencies, programmes and funds. UNAMI works to promote national dialogue and reconciliation, and carries out its responsibilities in contact with the Government of Iraq and leaders from all segments of Iraqi society, as well as with representatives of countries around the region and the wider international community.
Key support role on elections and national dialogue
The Mission played a key support role in the process by which Iraqis drafted and adopted a new constitution in 2005, and assisted the country in the holding of two national elections that same year as well as subsequent elections in 2009 and 2010. Since the formation of the permanent Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in 2007, the United Nations has continued to provide technical support to the institution as well as policy advice and assistance. UNAMI is currently supporting efforts to promote dialogue to resolve Iraq’s disputed internal boundaries, including the future status of the northern city of Kirkuk. UNAMI is also supporting Iraq’s Parliament, the Council of Representatives on constitutional issues.
The United Nations promotes cooperation and dialogue between Iraq and regional countries through the diplomatic efforts of DPA and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
Activities on human rights and in development
UNAMI is working with Iraqi ministries, judicial institutions and civil society to promote the establishment of a strong human rights protection system, including the establishment of an Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR). The mission also issues a semi-annual report on the human rights situation.
United Nations agencies, programmes and funds continue to work together to improve the quality of life in critical areas such as health, education, water and sanitation – and to assist vulnerable populations including internally displaced persons, refugees, and returnees. UNAMI is also helping to strengthen Iraqi ministries and institutions, as well as coordinating UN humanitarian programmes and the financial assistance of the international donor community.
UNAMI has played an important role in facilitating a peaceful solution to the contentious issue of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) – home until recently to more than 3,000 members of an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK). Clashes with the Iraqi Security Forces resulted in the deaths of several dozen residents from 2009 to 2011. The Government of Iraq subsequently made it clear that it wanted Camp New Iraq shut down and the MeK to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
At the request of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the Government of Iraq decided to extend the deadline for the closure of Camp New Iraq. Following a series of extensive consultations with the residents and Iraqi authorities, the United Nations and the Government of Iraq agreed on a peaceful resolution of the situation in Camp New Iraq.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in December 2011 paved the way for a voluntary relocation of the residents to a temporary transit location, Camp Hurriya, near Baghdad. The Government of Iraq committed not to forcibly return residents to Iran and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the residents.
Of the 3,280 residents originally in Camp Ashraf, only a small group now remains on a temporary basis to arrange the details pursuant to the closure of the camp.
The role of UNAMI in this process is to monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation during the relocation and to provide round-the-clock human rights monitoring at Camp Hurriya. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is determining the residents’ eligibility for refugee status with a view of a longer-term solution: their resettlement outside of Iraq.
In January 2014, the Secretary-General named Jane Holl Lute as his Special Adviser for Relocation of Camp Hurriya Residents Outside of Iraq.