Analysis of the Report of the Secretary-General on Iraq (October 2018)


The report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2421 (2018), which requested the Secretary-General to report every three months on progress made towards fulfilling the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The report covers key developments relating to Iraq and provides an update on the activities since the previous report of 9 July 2018 (S/2018/677).

The Secretary-General reports on key political developments, including the first session of the Council of Representatives and the election of Barham Salih as the president of Iraq, as well as parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region, which were not issued due to outstanding complaints reported to the Kurdistan Independent High Electoral Commission. [1]S/2018/975, paras. 3, 5, 9, 12-14 The Secretary-General also reports on the security situation and human rights violations, including operations by Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh) in northern and north-central Iraq, and Turkish airstrikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party targets in northern Iraq. [2]S/2018/975, paras. 21, 23   The Secretary-General notes that civilians continue to bear the brunt of insecurity in the country, as civilian casualties total 281 in the reporting period and more than 1.8 million people remain displaced inside Iraq. [3]S/2018/975, paras. 22, 43,

Consistent with the previous report (S/2018/677), the Secretary-General reports on issues of women, peace and security (WPS) in the context of political processes, including elections, human rights violations, including efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and in regards to arrests made of those with suspected affiliation of ISIL/Da’esh. Reporting provides little information as to the extent to which the mission is mainstreaming gender as a cross-cutting issue pursuant resolution 2421 (2018), as references to WPS are broad, contain minimal sex and age-disaggregated data, and no gender analysis. [4]S/RES/2421 (2018), OP 2(e)

Analysis by Issue Area

Political Processes

The Secretary-General reports on the number of women candidates in the election by the Council of Representatives for President of Iraq and the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan region, noting that 31 percent of candidates in the Kurdistan parliamentary elections were women, which is in line with the election law. [5]S/2018/975, paras. 6, 7, 12, 40 In the observations, the Secretary-General expresses regret that no female political figures have thus far been elected to senior leadership positions, and urges political leaders to be true to their pledges to elect women to senior leadership positions. [6]S/2018/975, para. 81 Future reports should continue to report on women’s participation as candidates and should expand reporting on efforts to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all phases of electoral processes, including efforts to ensure women’s safety prior to, and during, elections pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013). [7]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 8

The Secretary-General also reports on women’s participation in meetings with the Special Representative and Deputy Special Representative, and in regards to high-level consultations for the development of a second national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000). Positively, the Secretary-General provides context-specific information on the goals of meetings with parliamentarians, including “the possible establishment of a women’s parliamentary caucus to promote and strengthen gender equality in Government programmes”. The Secretary-General should continue this trend in reporting, and should also include such context-specific information in regards to meetings with women’s groups and high-level consultations on a second national action plan. [8] S/2018/975, para. 34 Across reporting, the Secretary-General should provide follow-up on women’s participation in all decision-making. Moreover, pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015), the Secretary-General should include a gender analysis of participation in political processes, such as information on the concerns or needs expressed by participants, and how such concerns or needs are integrated into any outcomes of meetings. Such information is essential in providing the Council with a picture of the gender dynamics of political processes and the multiple, gendered impacts of such processes on individuals, groups, and the broader outcomes and progress towards a sustainable political solution. [9]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2

Finally, the Secretary-General makes one broad reference to government’s support for future civil society reconstruction initiatives in the discussion of civil unrest in Basrah. [10]S/2018/975, para. 10 In future reports, the Secretary-General should report on progress in regards to civil society participation and include explicit information on efforts to provide sustainable assistance to women and girls pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013). [11]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 11

Human Rights

The Secretary-General provides information on the number of women civilians killed and wounded, the number of women abducted by ISIL, and the number of killed and wounded female activists during protests. [12]S/2018/975, paras. 43, 49, 53 Additionally, the Secretary-General providessex-disaggregatedd data on grave violations against children. While the report references and provides data on violence against women reflective of resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015), the Secretary-General should report on the gender dimensions of threats and violence, and include data and details on all gender-based crimes, including crimes against women human rights defenders (HRDs), LGBTIQ persons, men and boys, and those persecuted for defying prescribed gender roles. [13]Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: November 2018 Future reports should also provide information on the implementation of the UN-Iraq Joint Communiqué on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). [14]Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: November 2018 Further, in the observations and recommendations, the Secretary-General should include a call for the passage of the draft Family Violence Protection law, call on the Government to issue a directive that allows NGOs to continue to provide shelter while the draft law is pending before Parliament, and urge the Government to amend articles 409 and 398 of the Criminal Code in order to guarantee adequate protection of women. [15]Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: November 2018

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Gender-Based Violence

The Secretary-General reports on efforts to respond and prevent CRSV and gender-based violence (GBV) on three occasions. First, the Secretary-General reports that the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements Technical Working Group on CRSV increased its efforts to analyze trends and patterns, aiming to improve coordination in programmatic responses, advocacy and accountability. Further, the Technical Working Group visited an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Ninawa Governorate to examine the extent to which indicators on CRSV were prevalent in the camp, to identify gaps in response, and propose recommendations. [16]S/2018/975, para. 56 Second, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) started a pilot project with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to collect stories of women survivors in newly liberated areas, with the aim of developing a new therapeutic approach to support survivors and provide information to the Government of Iraq. [17]S/2018/975, para. 63 Third, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Government of Iraq, and the Gender-Based Violence Sub-Cluster rolled out inter-agency standard operating procedures for GBV in the south-central region, consisting of guiding principles, procedures, roles and responsibilities for all actors in Iraq in regards to preventing and responding to GBV, and facilitated coordination and referrals to provide support. In addition, UNFPA held a second stage of training to strengthen the capacity of staff of women’s shelters. [18]S/2018/975, para. 64

The Secretary-General should continue this positive trend in detail-oriented reporting, and provide a follow-up on the progress of the discussed initiatives. As previously stated, in future reports, the Secretary-General should also explicitly report on instances of crimes of CRSV and GBV in the context of the mission’s reporting on human rights violations, including through the provision of sex and age-disaggregated data and gender analysis. [19]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 2, S/PRST/2014/21 para. 11 , CEDAW General Recommendation 35, OP. 34,  S/RES/1888 (2009), OP 24 The inclusion of such information is one way the Council can improve its integration of gender as a cross-cutting issue pursuant to its mandate.

Justice and Security Sectors

The Secretary-General references raids by Iraqi authorities in and around Mosul, including the arrest and killing of several ISIL fighters, including women, notes that five women were arrested by local police due to suspected affiliation with ISIL, and provides sex-disaggregated data on death sentences for terrorism-related crimes. [20]S/2018/975, paras. 45, 48 The Secretary-General also reports on UNAMI’s engagement on ISIL accountability, noting the participation of civil society in meetings with the Special Advisor. [21]S/2018/975, para. 52

The Secretary-General should continue to provide sex-disaggregated data and expand reporting to include specific information on women and women’s groups participation in regards to efforts to hold perpetrators accountable pursuant to resolution 1325 (2000). [22]S/RES/1325 (2000), OP. 15 In the observations and recommendations, the Secretary-General should extend a call for prosecutions of human rights violations against all groups and by all sides, and explicitly call for accountability for crimes of SGBV reflective of resolutions 1888 (2009), 2122 (2013), and 2242 (2015). [23]S/RES/1888 (2009), OP. 7, S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 10, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 14, Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: November 2018

Humanitarian Assistance and Displacement

The report is silent on gender considerations in the context of humanitarian assistance and displacement. While UNAMI’s mandate does not explicitly integrate a gender lens in humanitarian assistance, the mission is mandated to “approach gender mainstreaming as a crosscutting issue throughout its mandate”. [24]S/RES/2421 (2018), OP. 2(c)(i), OP. 2(c)(ii), OP. 2(e) As such, the Secretary-General should acknowledge the gender dimensions of displacement and provide context-specific information on women IDPs, including sex and age-disaggregated data. [25]S/RES/1325 (2000), OP. 12; S/PRST/2014/21, para. 11 To further enhance reporting, the Secretary-General should utilize gender expertise in the mission, the UN Country team, and civil society partners to report on the impact of conflict on women and girl IDPs pursuant to resolution 1889 (2009), and report on engagement with women and women’s organizations in the context of displacement per resolution 2242 (2015), as presently it is unknown if the mission consulted with women or women’s organizations. [26]S/RES/1325 (2000), OP. 12, S/RES/1889 (2009), OP. 5, S/PRST/2014/21, para. 11

Economic Empowerment 

There is one reference to the economic empowerment of young people, including women, in the discussion of a national competency-based training programme launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. [27]S/2018/922, para. 68 Future reports should continue to provide updates on this initiative, including specific information on women’s participation.