Office of Electoral Assistance

Photo: © UNAMI | Public Information Office

UN Electoral Support

Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2576 (2021), UNAMI is mandated to provide a strengthened, robust and visible UN team, with additional staff, in advance of Iraq’s forthcoming election, to monitor Iraq’s election day with as broad a geographic coverage as possible. The Security Council also tasked UNAMI to support, as appropriate, third-party observers invited by the Government of Iraq and to launch a UN strategic messaging campaign to educate, inform, and update Iraqi voters on election preparations, and UN activities in support of elections. This is further to UNAMI’s continuing provision of advice, support and technical assistance to Iraq in the planning, preparation and conduct of an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned elections and referenda.  

UNAMI’s Office of Electoral Assistance (OEA), established in 2004, coordinates all electoral support delivered by UNAMI and all UN entities in Iraq in one integrated electoral assistance team. In coordination with UNDP, UNAMI is currently implementing an electoral assistance project aimed at building electoral capacities and providing technical support to the preparations for the forthcoming Council of Representatives elections. Also, in coordination with UNOPS, preparations are ongoing for the phased deployment of additional UN experts to monitor the election and support the implementation of the strategic UN messaging campaign.

UNAMI OEA provides strategic and technical advice to those Iraqi institutions involved in electoral events, primarily the IHEC, the Council of Representatives, and the various governmental entities. It also seeks to promote close and productive engagement with electoral stakeholders, the media and civil society to facilitate inclusive, sustainable and credible electoral processes.

UNAMI also prepares and publishes monthly reports on Iraq’s ongoing electoral preparations and processes, accessible here.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) 

IHEC is a constitutional body mandated to oversee, organize and conduct elections and referenda in Iraq. It was established in 2007 replacing its precursor the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), which had in turn been set up as an election body in May 2004.

In line with efforts to pursue electoral reforms, Iraq enacted a new IHEC Law on 5 December 2019. The new law significantly overhauled the IHEC’s structure and functions. It provided for the appointment of nine (9) new commissioners, all of whom are first class judges, chosen by lottery based on nomination by the High Judicial Council (5 members), State Shura Council (2 members) and the Kurdistan High Judicial Council (2 members). The law also mandated the appointment of new officials for senior and mid-level positions in the restructured IHEC.

The current nine (9) commissioners drawn from the Judiciary (including one woman) took office on 13 January 2020. The Board of Commissioners (BoC) serves for a non-renewable period of four years, starting from the date of the issuance of the Presidential Decree on their appointment. The BoC elects its Chairman, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Rapporteur and Deputy Chair. The CEO is elected for a period of one year and is responsible for implementing the policies as head of the electoral administration.

Click here to see the list of members of the IHEC BOC.

IHEC has its headquarters in Baghdad, with a regional office in Kurdistan (Erbil) and electoral offices in the 18 governorates (there are 19 IHEC governorate electoral offices (GEOs) overall, since Baghdad governorate has two - Rusafa and Karkh). The Commission has around 4,000 permanent civil servants across its offices, plus additional staff hired on a temporary basis during elections.

Click here to see the map of Iraqi governorates where the GEOs are located.

The COR has oversight responsibility for the IHEC BOC, which is governed by the Iraqi Constitution and the IHEC Law 31 (2019). The staff members of the IHEC work in accordance with the civil service code.

The 10 October 2021 Council of Representatives Elections

Iraq is scheduled to hold its Council of Representatives (CoR) elections on 10 October 2021. The election is governed by the Elections Law No. 9 of 2020.The CoR comprises 329 seats. 320 are distributed among the governorates within 83 constituencies delimited under the new electoral system, while 9 are reserved as component seats for Christians (5 seats), Yezidis (1 seat), Sabean Mandean (1 seat); Shabak (1 seat) and Fayli Kurds (1 Seat).

The Electoral System in Iraq is a plurality electoral system based on multi-seat electoral constituencies; each voter casts a Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV), voting for one candidate. There is more than one seat to be filled in each electoral constituency: the available seats are allotted to the candidates with the most votes.

The Constitution includes provisions safeguarding the seats allocated for female candidates, which is 25% as a minimum of the total COR seats of the. Within the current electoral system under the 83 constituencies, 1 seat in every constituency is allocated for female candidates. If more female candidates garner sufficient votes to win outright, the number of female MPs may increase above the minimum set by the Constitution.