Security Council resolution 2522 (2020) mandates UNAMI to advise, assist and support the people and Government of Iraq on inclusive political dialogue, national and community-level reconciliation, electoral and constitutional assistance, regional dialogue, security sector reform, human rights (including minority rights, conflict-related sexual violence, child protection and gender equality) and - working with the UN Country Team - humanitarian, stabilisation and development activities. Further to Security Council resolutions 1500 (2003) and 1546 (2004), the mission’s mandate is renewed annually, usually with minor adjustments (for example, the 2021 iteration, Security Council resolution 2576, expanded UNAMI’s remit on electoral assistance in anticipation of the upcoming parliamentary elections).
Separately, under Security Council resolution 2107 (2013) UNAMI promotes, supports and facilitates Iraq’s efforts to locate missing Kuwaiti citizens and property, including the national archives.
The UNAMI Office of Political Affairs and Analysis (OPAA) carries out its responsibilities in close coordination with the Government of Iraq, the Council of Representatives, leaders from all segments of the Iraqi society, the UN Country Team and the international community at large. UNAMI international and national staff are based in Baghdad, Erbil, Kirkuk, Mosul and Basra; the mission also works with governorate liaison officers in all governorates.
National Reconciliation and Dialogue
Since the adoption of a government programme which prioritizes the launch of a “national dialogue with all sections of Iraqi society”, opportunities for political engagement and national dialogue efforts have gained new momentum. The leadership of the Committee for Societal Peace and Co-existence (CSPC) under the Prime Minister’s Office has affirmed its eagerness to work with UNAMI to implement and support activities aimed at facilitating an inclusive national dialogue. The government’s priority areas include addressing outstanding issues in Kirkuk and Sinjar, the return of internally displaced people (IDPs), and minorities and tribal issues. These offer important entry points for UNAMI’s political engagement and national reconciliation efforts, in line with its mandate and strategic priorities. With regards to electoral affairs, OPAA supports the good offices of the mission leadership with national political leaders to help ensure that stable conditions are in place for the conduct of national elections.
Engagement with Youth and Minorities
As part of its support to Iraq within the areas of stabilization, reconstruction and reconciliation, UNAMI is specifically mandated to help the government meet the needs of ethnic or religious minorities and the youth, as well as women, children, and displaced persons.
In 2019- 2020, UNAMI organized 18 workshops across Iraq under the theme “Iraqi Youth: Pioneers for Dialogue and Stability”, in cooperation with the Committee for Coexistence and Societal Peace and the Iraqi Al-Amal Association. Participants included students, professionals, activists and the unemployed, all aged between 18 and 30. Over 300 men and 200 women were involved. The project ended with a National Youth Conference, held in Baghdad in November 2020, where participants presented conclusions and recommendations from the workshops to the attending Iraqi officials. The demands and messages of the participants were consistent: the youth want their voice heard and want more say in running their country. The recommendations covered diverse topics including: enhancing the role of youth in decision-making processes; fostering youth political participation and economic empowerment; strengthening the rule of law; improving local employment and investment opportunities; asserting state control over weapons; empowering young women to increase their political participation as well as protecting them from domestic violence; protecting the environment; and overcoming tribal conflicts.
Iraqi minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and smaller religious communities such as Shabak, Kakai, Baha’i and Sabaean-Mandeans, are mostly located in northern Iraq and became the main targets of ISIL terrorism in 2014-17, experiencing mass killings and expulsions. Many minority populations remain displaced from their homes, mostly in the Kurdistan Region, with an unknown number relocated in foreign countries. Mistrust continues to drive inter-community relations and political dynamics. Minorities suffering from isolation and insecurity are likely to seek emigration, thus continuing to reduce Iraq’s diversity.
The engagement of UNAMI and the UN Country Team with minority communities seeks to alleviate their political, social and economic marginalization as their interests, leaderships and institutions come under pressure from a variety of competing domestic and regional powers. We also facilitate intra-minority dialogue in order to foster internal coherence within individual minority communities, which continues to be weak.
Disputed Internal Boundaries
Security Council resolution 1770 (2007) places the issue of Disputed Internal Boundaries (DIBs) at the heart of the mission’s mandate. UNAMI accordingly works closely with the Federal and the Kurdistan Region governments to reinforce peace and stability in the disputed territories along the border between the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq. In 2017 and 2018, research studies were conducted and delivered to the Federal and Kurdistan Region governments. The studies covered governance and administration, elections, demographic changes, land disputes and population movement in the disputed areas of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Diyala and Salah al-Din. The reports presented recommendations which set the ground for tailored UNAMI engagement and potential mediation in these areas according to the Iraqi Constitution, promoting peace and coexistence in these areas, notably Kirkuk and Sinjar.
Following the outbreak of protests in October 2019 and in an effort to demonstrate responsiveness to popular demands for a more effective and representative governance structure and political system, the Council of Representatives (CoR), the Presidency, and the Council of Ministers (CoM) embarked on a constitutional review process, each establishing separate constitutional review committees.
UNAMI provides technical support to the review committees, helping to monitor progress and map out options and recommendations for the reform process. OPAA works closely with the committees and submitted a draft report setting out constitutional reform options and recommendations. This draft report is currently under review, and focuses on five key areas: (1) the nature of the political system; (2) the relationship between the capital and the regions; (3) reform of the judicial system; (4) consolidating liberties and rights guaranteed by the Constitution; and (5) the procedural formula for constitutional amendments.
Joint Analysis Team
The Joint Analysis Team is integrated within OPAA and supports the planning and decision-making undertaken by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as well as the Mission Leadership Team. The primary task of the Joint Analysis Team is to serve as the analytical hub for the UN Team in Iraq, ensure the coordination of information and policy analysis between and within the UN Country Team in Iraq, collect and synthesize multi-source information - political, security, economic, social, humanitarian and development - and produce integrated in-depth analysis, as well as focus on predicting medium to long-term threats that may affect the implementation of the Mission mandate. This role is critical for the Mission’s Early Warning and Early Response mechanisms.
Regional and International Affairs
The Government of Iraq actively seeks to strengthen its ties with international and regional partners, advancing cooperation, notably economic and trade ties, to improve security and stability within Iraq and the region. The Government has underlined that it does not want Iraq to be an arena for regional conflicts. OPAA supports the good offices of the leadership of the mission to facilitate regional dialogue and cooperation on issues including border security, energy, trade, the environment, water, infrastructure, public health and displacement. UNAMI leverages its presence across Iraq, as well as its liaison office in Tehran, in fulfilling this responsibility. The mission’s senior leadership also frequently travels to meet regional and international stakeholders in neighbouring countries and further afield, seeking to consolidate support for Iraq and enabling the country to focus on pressing domestic matters rather than endure the effects of regional tensions.