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[casi] Governing Iraq - New ICG Report (Summary)

this report by the International Crisis Group has just appeared. here is
their summary

for the full report (pdf format) see



The horrific bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003
has focused renewed attention on the question of who, if anyone, is capable
of governing Iraq in the current highly volatile environment and, in
particular, on what ought to be the respective roles, during the occupation
period, of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the Interim Governing
Council and the United Nations. This report proposes a new distribution of
authority between the three – potentially acceptable to the United
States, the wider international community and the majority of Iraqis
– which would enable Iraq’s transitional problems, including
the critical issue of security, to be much more effectively addressed.

The problem of who is to govern Iraq, and how, will persist until national,
democratic elections are held and power is fully transferred to a sovereign
government. But the conditions for such elections will not exist for some
time, possibly as long as two years: the security situation has to
stabilise, a democratic constitution has to be adopted, voters have to be
registered, and – arguably – at least the beginnings of a
pluralistic political culture have to visibly emerge. In the meantime it is
not realistic, on all available evidence to date, to expect the CPA to be
capable by itself of adequately caring for the population’s essential
needs and successfully ruling Iraq. Nor is it realistic to imagine that
Iraqis will view the present Interim Governing Council as a credible,
legitimate and empowered institution.

The most drastic solution to this dilemma is presently unimaginable: for
the occupying powers simply to walk away at this stage, leaving a fully
empowered Interim Governing Council the only player on the field during the
transitional period. What is more realistic to contemplate is the
rebalancing of the respective roles of the CPA and the Interim Governing
Council, with steps being taken to improve the latter’s
representativeness, vest it with more real power, and improve its executive
capacity to deliver – and in this report we argue that this should be
done. But more than that is needed: in particular some broader
international legitimisation of the transition process, and that means a
greater role for the UN in the governance process.

The Coalition Provisional Authority. The CPA until now has retained
quasi-exclusive authority, with Washington’s approach translating
into an unwillingness to involve seriously either the Iraqi people or the
international community. Since its early missteps, the CPA appears to have
engaged in some salutary self-correction and has registered some real
successes. But fundamental problems remain. Policing troubles are mounting
and they have not been addressed with policing solutions. Instead,
coalition troops unsuited to the task have been called in, leading to
inevitable mistakes at the cost of both innocent lives and Iraqi national
pride. Basic infrastructure has not been rebuilt. Iraqis lack jobs and
subsistence income. The CPA lives in virtual isolation, unable to
communicate effectively with the Iraqi population. It has yet to correct
some of its most counterproductive decrees such as the disbanding of the
entire 400,000-man army and the large-scale de-Baathification. Meanwhile,
the occupation’s U.S. face has heightened suspicion and anger in Iraq
and parts of the Arab and Moslem worlds where many view it as part of
Washington’s agenda to reshape the region.

Opposition to the foreign occupation is becoming stronger and more violent.
It comes in various shades: Baathist loyalists; nationalists; Islamists,
who for the time being are predominantly Sunni; tribal members motivated by
revenge or anger at the occupiers’ violation of basic cultural norms;
criminal elements; Islamist and other militants from Arab and other
countries. At present, the vast majority of Iraqis give no indication of
supporting armed resistance; but, dissatisfied with current conditions and
lacking loyalty to or trust in a central authority, many are not willing to
oppose it either. Unless the situation rapidly is turned around, the
distinctions between the different opposition groups could fade; resistance
could become politically organised; radical Shiites could join the fray;
and increasing numbers of Iraqis could relinquish their faith in
institutional politics and look upon the resistance with greater –
and more active – sympathy.

The Interim Governing Council. The formation of the 25-member Iraqi Interim
Governing Council on 13 July 2003 was an attempt by the U.S. to develop an
interim authority that would have legitimacy in Iraq and abroad, appease
the population and deflect criticism of the occupation forces. Under
current conditions, it is unlikely to meet those goals fully. The basic
problems are the Interim Governing Council’s political legitimacy,
actual power and executive capacity. While it can accurately be described
as the most broadly representative body in Iraq’s modern history,
selected as it was by the CPA in consultation with pre-chosen political
parties and personalities, the Interim Governing Council simply lacks
credibility in the eyes of many Iraqis and much of the outside world. On
paper, it enjoys broad powers; in reality, few doubt the deciding vote will
be cast by the U.S. A gathering of political leaders with weak popular
followings, very little in common between them, no bureaucratic apparatus
and a clumsy nine-person rotating presidency at its helm, it is doubtful
that it can become an effective decision-making body.

The principle behind the Interim Governing Council’s composition also
sets a troubling precedent. Its members were chosen so as to mirror
Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic makeup; for the first time in the
country’s history, the guiding assumption is that political
representation must be apportioned according to such quotas. This decision
reflects how the Council’s creators, not the Iraqi people, view Iraqi
society and politics, but it will not be without consequence. Ethnic and
religious conflict, for the most part absent from Iraq’s modern
history, is likely to be exacerbated as its people increasingly organise
along these divisive lines.

The United Nations. The missing ingredient in Iraq’s governance
during the transitional period is the United Nations, which has so far been
granted by the occupying powers only an advisory and wholly subordinate
role. The UN has been a visible presence in Iraq, but its visibility
– and awful vulnerability – has not been matched by any
compensating responsibility. There needs now to be a three-way division of
real governing responsibility between the CPA, the Interim Governing
Council and the United Nations, embodied in a new UN Security Council
resolution. The UN, as the institutional embodiment of international
legitimacy, should be given, in addition to responsibility for the
coordination of humanitarian relief, explicit authority over all aspects of
the political transition process, including oversight of the Interim
Governing Council and other transitional institutions; supervision of the
constitutional process; and the organisation of local, regional, and
national elections. It would, in addition, be given a defined role in
supporting the development of civil society, rule of law institutions and a
free media.

The UN would have a particular responsibility, through its newly
constituted mission in Iraq, to identify as soon as possible, after
consultation with the CPA and the Interim Governing Council, a realistic
indicative timetable for the adoption of a constitution, the holding of
local and functional elections, the holding of national elections (to be
held within 24 months, and preferably sooner) and the withdrawal of foreign
forces subject to a request to that effect by a newly elected sovereign
government of Iraq.

Rebalancing Transitional Governance. Under this new distribution of
authority, the CPA, in its capacity as the institutional representative of
the occupying powers, would have the primary responsibility in all matters
relating to immediate security and, through the restoration of
infrastructure, ensuring satisfaction of the Iraqi people’s basic
needs. The present CPA military force would be transformed into a U.S.-led
Multinational Force endorsed by the UN Security Council – with member
states being encouraged to contribute personnel to such forces on an urgent
basis. While civil policing would remain the primary responsibility of the
CPA in the first instance, the Security Council would endorse the
establishment of an international police force which would take over this
role as soon as possible, and prepare the ground for the ultimate full
transfer of responsibility to reconstituted Iraqi services.

And the Interim Governing Council would, working through an interim cabinet
reporting to it, be responsible for all other matters of day to day
governance, including social services, economic reconstruction, trade and
investment, and managing relations with other countries and international
institutions. It would also work with the CPA in reconstituting
Iraq’s police and security forces. Although its sovereign powers
would be incomplete during the transition period, it would be appropriate
for the Interim Governing Council – on the recommendation of the
Security Council, and with the endorsement of the General Assembly –
to occupy Iraq’s UN seat during that period, perhaps at the chargé
level to underscore its temporary status.

Granting the UN a stronger role and devolving more power to the Interim
Governing Council in the ways described would meet several crucial
objectives. It would help overcome reluctance on the part of many countries
to participate in efforts to stabilise Iraq, enabling the rapid dispatch of
military and police forces. It would diminish the perception that the U.S.
seeks to dominate Iraq, projecting instead the image of a broad-based
international effort, including with the participation of Iraq’s Arab
neighbours, to rebuild the country. And it would strengthen the legitimacy
of the political transition process in the eyes of the Iraqi people while
accelerating steps toward self-government.

Until now, the U.S. has strongly resisted giving the UN such authority and
the UN itself has not vigorously pushed for it. The Secretary
General’s Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello –
tragically killed in the 19 August attack – was able to perform a
valuable role behind the scenes (not least in the construction of the
Interim Governing Council) because he gained the trust of both the U.S. and
important Iraqi players. But that role was never clearly defined, and the
CPA remains for all intents and purposes in charge. While it is still
unclear whether the bombing will change that reality, it should. The attack
is yet another reminder to the U.S. that it needs partners to ensure
security in Iraq; for that it needs a UN mandate. The UN has paid a
terrible price for its presence in Iraq, and it deserves to exercise real

The more Iraq’s future can become a matter for the Iraqi people and
the international community as a whole, the greater the chances of success.
Many of the problems that currently exist stem directly from the initial
choice not to share more widely the burdens of transitional administration.
Today, the U.S. ought to agree to a more effective and rational
distribution of responsibility between the occupying powers, the Iraqi
people through the best interim representation that can be devised and the
broader international community represented by the UN. It is a step it will
have to take if it is serious about addressing Iraq’s most urgent
priorities – restoring law and order, providing basic services and
holding national elections that will genuinely transfer power to the Iraqi


To the United States, Other Coalition members and the UN Security Council:

After consultation with the Interim Governing Council, agree to a Security
Council resolution clearly allocating responsibility between the CPA, the
United Nations and the Interim Governing Council as follows:

(a) The CPA would have primary authority and responsibility for military
security, civil law and order, and restoring basic infrastructure.

(b) The UN would have primary authority and responsibility for overseeing
the Interim Governing Council and other institutions; organising local and
national elections; supervising the constitutional process; ensuring
transitional justice; promoting the return of refugees and displaced
persons; and coordinating humanitarian relief; and a defined role in
monitoring and supporting human rights and supporting the development of
civil society, rule of law institutions and a free media.

(c) The Interim Governing Council would have primary authority and
responsibility, through its appointed interim cabinet, for all other
matters of day to day governance, including budgetary management, social
services, education, economic reconstruction, trade and investment, and
foreign relations; and a defined role in reconstituting Iraq’s
military and police forces.

Agree to that Security Council resolution expressly requiring the newly
constituted UN Mission in Iraq to identify as soon as possible, after
consultation with the CPA and the Interim Governing Council, a realistic
indicative timetable for the adoption of a constitution, the holding of
local and functional elections, the holding of national elections (to be
held within 24 months, and preferably sooner) and the withdrawal of foreign
forces subject to a request by a newly elected fully sovereign government
of Iraq.

Agree to a Security Council resolution that would:

(a) vest responsibility for military security during the transitional
period in a Multinational Force led by the U.S., which would prepare the
ground for ultimate transfer of responsibility to a reconstituted Iraqi
defence force;

(b) establish an international police force for Iraq, which would in due
course take over primary responsibility for policing from the CPA and
prepare the ground for ultimate transfer of this responsibility to
reconstituted Iraqi services; and

(c) encourage Member States to contribute to both the Multinational Force
and the international police force.

Agree, if satisfied that the composition of the Interim Governing Council
is broadly representative of the Iraqi people (to the extent reasonably
possible in circumstances of post-war transition), to a Security Council
resolution recommending to the UN General Assembly that it occupy
Iraq’s UN seat for the transition period.

To the United States and CPA:

Ensure the Interim Governing Council has appropriate capacity, in terms of
personnel and resources, to fulfil its executive tasks.

Transfer primary responsibility for policing to the newly constituted
international police force as soon as possible, and devolve, at an
accelerated pace, municipal police and other local security
responsibilities to reconstituted Iraqi security and police forces.

Review existing rules of engagement for occupation forces (to be continued
in operation by the Multinational Force when constituted) to sensitise them
to local norms of conduct while carrying out operations.

Promptly investigate through an impartial, independent body all reports of
Iraqi civilian deaths or injuries in the course of post-war military
operations; and publish the results, including actions taken by the CPA and
compensation paid, in accessible form. With regard to civilian casualties
during the war itself, implement the legislative provisions authorising
humanitarian assistance.

Ensure proper treatment of Iraqi detainees consistent with the applicable
Geneva Convention of 1949.

Create ombudsman offices throughout Iraq where civilians can bring their
concerns without having to approach soldiers on the streets: these should,
in particular, receive and handle Iraqi complaints of mistreatment and
misappropriation of goods that occurred during military raids.

To the (newly constituted) United Nations Mission in Iraq:

Working closely with the Interim Governing Council, organise nationwide
elections at the local (regional and municipal) level as well as functional
elections for trade unions and business and professional associations.

In consultation with the CPA, broaden participation in the Interim
Governing Council to include social and political forces that currently are
not represented adequately or at all, in particular by drawing on the
results of local and functional elections, and according greater weight to
grass-roots forces, above all business and professional and trade
associations, as well as other civil society representatives such as human
rights and women’s movements.

To the Interim Governing Council:

Cooperate with UN efforts to include currently unrepresented and
under-represented social and political forces in an expanded Interim
Governing Council.

Name a cabinet as soon as possible and ensure that it is a non-partisan,
technocratic one, with appointments made on the basis of competence rather
than sectarian or ethnic affiliation alone.

Ensure the early dissemination of information regarding its decisions to
the Iraqi public and operate in as open and transparent a manner as

To the Arab League:

Support adoption of a UN Security Council resolution granting the UN and
the Interim Governing Council appropriate powers and in that context
assuming adoption, recognise the Interim Governing Council as the temporary
Iraqi representative, allowing it to participate in the League’s
deliberations. Support adoption of a UN Security Council resolution
creating a U.S.-led multinational force and an international police force
in Iraq, and member states contribute personnel.

Baghdad/Washington/Brussels, 25 August 2003

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