This Report reviews progress made in fulfilling the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), details key political and security
developments in Iraq, and provides an update on the activities of the UN in country since the last SG Report of 13 November 2013 (S/2013/661). The Report
focuses on the “significant deterioration” in the security situation, especially in Anbar and adjacent governates, with frequent terrorist attacks and militant activity,
intensifying government action in response, and a resultant new wave of internal displacement and humanitarian need. Political efforts to defuse the crisis have been
made, but an inclusive national dialogue was urgently necessary. Parliamentary elections are still scheduled for 30 April, as are the governorate council elections in the
Kurdistan region. The conflict in Syria continues to have an adverse impact on the security, humanitarian and political situations in Iraq. UNAMI was calling for
unity and dialogue, an emphasis on protection of civilians, elections to go forward as planned, and for humanitarian assistance in the context of both internal
displacement and the arrival of Syrian refugees, not to mention the plight of remaining IDPs from previous waves of displacement.
This Report includes several strong references to women, peace and security concerns, including especially the launching of the National Action Plan to implement
SCR 1325 (2000), the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region (para. 26). There was also mention of the National Strategy on the Advancement
of Women (para. 26); a conference on women and peace (para. 26); the DSRSG stressing the need to empower women economically and politically in peacebuilding
(para. 26); a focus on women’s participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections through the Gender Elections Task Force (para. 32); and the fact that 224
women out of 718 registered candidates (approximately 30%) were running in the governorate council elections in the Kurdistan Region (para. 13). The Report also
touches upon maternal health statistics from the national census (para. 59), and offers several instances of sex-disaggregated data (paras. 40, 48), including the fact
that 41% of registered Syrian refugees in Iraq are women (para. 48).
One paragraph looked at women’s protection concerns (para. 39), including continuing domestic violence and so-called “honor crimes”. A family protection law
aimed at protecting individuals from domestic violence was under consideration, but the law fails to abolish honor as grounds of mitigation for crimes of violence
committed against family members. The Iraqi Women’s Network condemned two bills on personal status and the administration of justice as contravening the rights
of women and girls as stipulated in CEDAW and CRC, and UNAMI conducted training for women journalists, which focused on reporting domestic and other
forms of gender-based violence.
Although there was some strong language on WPS in this Report, including the launching of the National Action Plan, most of the language was very similar to the
previous Report (yet with fewer references this time), and the SG includes no mention of WPS in his concluding observations. Opportunities were therefore missed
to emphasize women’s particular protection and assistance needs as female refugees and IDPs; to stress the need for women’s active participation in conflict
prevention, resolution and peacebuilding efforts (beyond the one mention by the DSRSG); and to acknowledge – despite some of the positive references contained
in this Report – the reality of a “growing political marginalization” of women in Iraq (quoted from the previous Report), and to urgently call for concrete steps to
reverse this worrying trend.
The SG’s Report was somewhat responsive to the most recent MAP on the situation in Iraq (February 2014), as it does call attention to continuing domestic
violence, “honor crimes” and weaknesses in proposed responding legislation, and it does touch upon women’s participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
However, it does not place women’s human rights at the center of its efforts to address the country’s volatile security situation, nor does it bring a gender analysis to
the situations of detention, displacement and humanitarian access in the country.
There was a fair amount of consistency on WPS from the previous Report on the situation in Iraq, S/2013/661, to the current one, but there are fewer references
this time around. In particular, the previous Report offered much greater attention to the protection and support of vulnerable women, including through
reproductive and maternal health units in refugee camps, tracking of sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking amongst female refugees, legal aid for
vulnerable women and victims of domestic and gender-based violence, and assistance towards the draft policy on safe houses, holding and referrals for women at
risk. The current Report does acknowledge the training of female journalists in reporting domestic and other forms of gender-based violence, but was much less
vocal overall on women’s protection needs in the country. However, one significant positive development from the previous Report was that the current Report
highlights the launching of the National Action Plan pursuant to SCR 1325 (2000).
Security Council meeting on the situation concerning Iraq, 27 March 2014 (S/PV.7149):
Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, SRSG and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), briefed the Council with subsequent comments from the
representative of Iraq. The briefing introduced the two latest Reports of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Iraq, S/2014/190 on the activities of
UNAMI and developments in Iraq, and S/2014/191 on the issues of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property. The SRSG focused
his remarks on the security threat in Anbar governorate, the resultant displacement and humanitarian concerns, the need for political dialogue and concessions in a
climate of boycotts and unresolved negotiations, a security response requiring the protection and advancement of human rights, the regional impact especially from
the crisis in Syria, the upcoming national parliamentary and Kurdistan Governorate Council elections, Iraq’s persistent use of the death penalty, and the continuing
need for relocation of Camp Hurriya residents.
There were two references to women peace and security concerns in the briefing, one by the SRSG and the other by the representative from Iraq. The SRSG
commended the Independent High Electoral Commission for its efforts to ensure the effective participation and representation of women in the electoral process.
The representative from Iraq then stressed the important role that women can play in the prevention and settlement of conflicts and in peacebuilding and
peacekeeping, and announced the launching of a national plan pursuant to SCR 1325 (2000), becoming the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region
to have done so.
Although there were two substantive and significant references to women peace and security concerns in this briefing, there were still missed opportunities, especially
with regards to women’s protection concerns. In the context of a deteriorating security situation with extensive displacement and humanitarian needs, the SG missed
the opportunity to place the protection of women and children forefront, and to acknowledge the gendered ways that conflict may affect women and girls differently,
and to assist them accordingly.
The SRSG and representative from Iraq responded to aspects of the most recent MAP on the situation concerning Iraq (February 2014), with a particular emphasis
on women’s participation, as they acknowledged Iraq’s efforts to ensure the effective participation and representation of women in the electoral process, as well as
the important role that women can play in national reconciliation efforts. However, no specific attention was afforded women’s protection or assistance concerns.
The briefing did stress the need for protection of civilians generally, but did not bring a gender lens to situations of detention, displacement and humanitarian access.
Recognizing that there were only two references to women peace and security in this briefing, they nonetheless represent a marked improvement from the previous
briefing, S/PV.7068, in which the only reference to WPS was one mention of sex-disaggregated data. The current briefing, on the other hand, offers two very
substantive remarks, including the launching of the National Action Plan pursuant to SCR 1325 (2000).