Presentation on theme: "United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, (UNAMI) Baghdad - Iraq Office of Constitutional Support Presentation at Forum on Federations Conference Erbil,"— Presentation transcript:
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, (UNAMI) Baghdad - Iraq Office of Constitutional Support Presentation at Forum on Federations Conference Erbil, KRG, November 4-5, 2008 ‘Strengthening Iraq’s Constitutional Framework’
ABOUT OCS The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) consists of two pillars – Political Reconstruction and Development A Human Rights Office which is linked to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is established in UNAMI. The work of the Political Pillar is carried out by three offices - the Political Affairs Office (PAO), Electoral Assistance Team (EAT) and the Office of Constitutional Support (OCS). A Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General oversees the work of the political pillar on behalf of the Chief of Mission, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The political pillar operates principally out of the mission headquarters in the Baghdad International Zone. BACKGROUND After the formation of the Transitional National Assembly and upon the request for assistance from the Transitional Iraqi Government, UNAMI provided support and advise to the constitution-making process in the following principal areas: Promoting dialogue on core constitutional issues related to the substance and process of constitution-making; knowledge sharing; institutional support through capacity building; media and public outreach; and coordination of international governmental and non-governmental assistance to the constitutional process.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW PROCESS OCS provided legal and constitutional advice to the Constitutional Review Committee as a whole, various members of the CRC individually, and senior Iraqi political leaders. OCS presented the CRC with a detailed set of constitutional submissions on priority issues and subsequently engaged in direct dialogue with key players on the Committee, including its three Chairpersons. Upon invitation, OCS also addressed the Committee during one of its plenary sessions to further elaborate on the recommendations contained in the OCS submissions and to respond to the questions of Committee members. OCS delivered submissions to the CRC on six substantive constitutional issues and one procedural issue. These included submissions on fiscal federalism; federalism; the Federation Council; independent institutions; the Judiciary; and human rights. The submission on human rights was a ‘triumvirate’ submission involving input from the UNCT (in particular UNIFEM, UNESCO, UNICEF) and the UNAMI Human Rights Office. OCS also submitted written advice on the design of the Constitutional Review process itself. In OCS’ engagement with the CRC, and in the Committee’s statements to the media, the Committee indicated that they utilized the submissions made by OCS to help set their agenda and frame their discussions. The CRC requested additional detail on some issues and textual formulations on others, in response to which OCS drafted targeted supplemental submissions for the Committee.
LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES During the course of the constitutional review, OCS became involved in commenting on several pieces of legislation that were before the CoR. OCS worked behind the scenes both to monitor the progress of these legislation and to indirectly engage with advisors on the legislation. At times, OCS faced scepticism over whether or not it should be engaging on such issues, especially given their political sensitivity. OCS took the course of action it did because the outcome of specific pieces of legislation will affect issues under consideration in the constitutional process. OCS engaged on a number of pieces of draft legislation including the draft Hydrocarbon Law, draft Revenue Sharing Law, draft Law on the Formation of Regions, and the draft De-Ba’athification Law.
KEY CHALLENGES The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) of the Iraqi Council of Representatives submitted its Second Report to the Iraqi President, Vice-Presidents and the Prime Minister in July 2008. This report outlines a set of questions within the Constitutional Review Process on which the CRC has been unable to reach a political consensus. The key issues include: The powers of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the ministers; Provisions pertaining to hydrocarbon regulation; The powers of the Federation Council (Upper House of Parliament); The respective powers of regions and governorates; Article 140 (Normalization of Kirkuk); and Article 41 (Civil Status). As these issues relate to the very core of the design of the Iraqi state, the importance of the Constitutional Review Process and, consequently, UNAMI’s role in facilitating a consensus under UN Security Council resolution 1830, remain undiminished.
NEXT STEPS The OCS work plan for 2008/09 assigns priority to the divisive issues relating to the Constitutional Review Process, particularly the question of Kirkuk, the management of hydrocarbon and water resources, and the respective powers of the federal government and the regions. In addition, OCS will support efforts towards public sector reform, as none of the constitutional and legislative reforms in which the unit is involved can be expected to bear fruit without an effective civil service that can implement and apply them. Over the remainder of 2008 and throughout 2009, the UNAMI Office of Constitutional Support (OCS) will therefore continue to provide technical and legal advice on constitutional and legislative matters to the Iraqi Council of Representatives and its Committees, including the CRC, as well as other relevant elements of the Government of Iraq. This advice may take the form of specific, one- off opinions on particular pieces of legislation, such as the Provincial Powers Law, or the delivery of multi-party technical roundtables with the participation of relevant experts. OCS will also develop opportunities for continued political dialogue among Iraq’s principal factions, in order to facilitate a consensus on the contested constitutional provisions.
UNAMI OCS delivered two Baghdad-based workshops on the Constitutional Dimensions of Hydrocarbon Revenue and Water Sharing in July 2008, together with UNOPS and UNDP and with funding support from the European Union. These roundtables were very well received by our Iraqi interlocutors and broke new ground in that they led to a constructive discussion between parliamentarians and ministerial staff in the area of water sharing. Leading Iraqi interlocutors have requested continued support through such discussions. OCS therefore plans to continue to employ the format of these tables for subsequent events, as outlined below. The timing and substance would take close account of and, to the greatest extent possible, attempt to achieve synergies with the Mission’s ongoing work in the area of Disputed Internal Boundaries (DIBS) OCS is planning for a series of roundtable discussions and conferences of one or two days’ duration inside Iraq through fall 2008 and throughout 2009, in support of the Constitutional Review Process and the lead-up to a national referendum on the constitutional amendments. In particular, we envision a high-level conference/forum with the heads of the newly-elected Provincial Councils, the Governors, the KRG/KNA, senior Iraqi Parliamentarians and officials in the executive branch. The first session of this conference would be a two-to-three day event, held in Baghdad in May/June 2009, with the objective of a structured discussion of principles of federalism, including shared powers, in the context of the provision of public goods and services, as well as the processes relating to the formation of regions. A second session would be held in Erbil in September/October 2009, to serve as a follow up to the first.
Supported by UN staff and international experts, as appropriate, they will have the continued objective of improving parliamentary dialogue on the unresolved issues within the Constitutional Review, such as hydrocarbon revenue and water sharing, regional and federal competencies, and the powers of the Presidency. In those cases where discussion will focus on constitutionally- mandated legislation, participants will include ministerial officials. In all cases, participation from the KRG and KNA will be solicited. The roundtable discussions as well as interim bilateral meetings will be supported by the UNAMI OCS Standing Panel of Experts. If it becomes apparent that a constitutional referendum will be indeed held at or near the time of the next federal elections, UNAMI OCS will offer its advice and guidance in preparing the Council of Representatives and its respective factions, in late 2009, for a public outreach campaign in support of the constitutional amendments. OCS will also seek to involve Civil Society in the public outreach/referendum processes, drawing on the lessons learned from the 2007-08 UNOPS-led Civil Society Project.
Roundtable on Womens and Children’s Rights – November 23-24, 2008 The objective of this two-day roundtable will be to achieve greater clarity on the rationale and status of several legislative proposals dealing with the entitlements of widows and orphans in Iraq and to stimulate a broader policy discussion on law and social policy concerning women and children in Iraq. These discussions should lead to recommendations and suggestions to be adopted by the Government of Iraq and the CRC to establish an effective and comprehensive legislative framework for the constitutional protection and advancement of womens’ and children’s rights. Roundtable on Hydrocarbon Regulation and Federalism (25/26 Nov. 2008). The issues of the calibration of federal and regional powers as well as hydrocarbon revenue sharing require both constitutional and legislative clarity. The objective will be to deliver a forum for a focused, intensive discussion over the course of two days on the principles of applied federalism as well as specific options for Iraq in such areas as security, the sharing of natural resources, including water, oil and gas, and financial competencies.
Roundtable on Public Sector Reform/ROL (tentatively Dec 2008). The need for public sector (civil service) reform is widely acknowledged within Baghdad-based representations of international community and among key Iraqi interlocutors. Efforts with respect to the Constitutional Review and legislative development would be in vain unless an effective, functional civil service can apply and enforce the agreed-upon legal framework. For this reason, UNAMI OCS and PAO have taken up the role of co-champions of this issue, together with UNDP. An initial roundtable discussion on this issue in Baghdad, planned for mid-December 2008, would have the objective of bringing together a select group of key players, many of whom are already involved in or are planning related work, in order to agree on a draft work plan or way forward. In light of the complexity and magnitude of this issue, the initial roundtable will require a substantial amount of preparation. For the same reason, it is understood that this initial roundtable would need to be followed by a series of discussions, within a coordinated process that could be led by the UN.
Roundtable on Water Sharing (Tentative: Winter 2009). This would be a follow up to the OCS/UNDP-led Roundtable on the Constitutional Dimensions on Water Sharing held on 14 July 2008 at the Rasheed Hotel. That event included participants from the CRC and Iraqi Parliament, officials from the Ministry of Water Resources, as well as Iraqi and UN experts. The discussion mapped out the complexity of the issues, including the transnational dimension to water sharing and also generated some specific proposals for possible amendments to the constitutional text. In particular, participants focused on a proposal by UNDP for the creation of an inter-ministerial coordinating body. In view of the number of ministries that are involved in the administration of water (including the Ministries of Water Resources, Electricity, Municipalities and Public Works, and Agriculture), inter-ministerial coordination remains a paramount challenge, and continued dialogue will be necessary. Roundtable on Minority Rights Protection (Tentative: January 2009). This roundtable would have the broader objective of addressing minority rights issues, in the broader context of federalism, the Constitutional Review Process and related political negotiations, including the discussions on the Disputed Internal Boundaries, the status of Kirkuk and power-sharing. It is anticipated that any solution that is, ultimately, acceptable to all parties would have to be supported by strong minority rights guarantees. Depending on the status of the Iraqi political discussions at the time, the roundtable could therefore serve as a venue to float a UNAMI draft of a minority rights charter. The agenda should stress such issues as institutional independence and the importance of effective and impartial mechanisms that ensure public access to justice (courts, tribunals, ombudspersons).
Conference on the Iraqi Constitution (Tentative: February 2009). Following the submission of the CRC Report to the "3+1” in July 2008, CRC Chair Sheikh Hammoudi is preparing to conduct follow-up discussions over the coming weeks on the unresolved constitutional issues with the Advisory Council of the “3+1,” and with Tareq Al Hashemi and Barham Saleh. On the assumption that, following these discussions, the Government of Iraq (including the CoR) would continue to welcome the assistance of the international community in working towards a resolution of these issues, UNAMI OCS has given some early thought to a substantial, well-publicized UN/EU-led conference on the Iraqi Constitution for early 2009. The event would serve as an opportunity to: signal that the Constitution remains a key item on the Iraqi and UNAMI agenda for 2009; demonstrate to the Sunni community that the UN continues to support the Review Process; send a strong message of international support for the Constitutional Review Process; outline an Iraqi work plan for 2009 to address the unresolved constitutional questions; allow Iraqi officials to network with counterparts from other jurisdictions; consolidate and expand relationships between the UN/EC and Iraqi government; set the stage for a broader UN effort to encourage National Dialogue/Reconciliation; elevate the substance of the other planned 2008-09 OCS-led roundtables to a higher level. This event, conceptualized as a “launch-pad” for continued work on the Iraqi Constitution during 2009, could trigger interest in an ongoing Iraq–UN–EU dialogue on constitutional governance, democratic institutions and other aspects of public administration.
ICFS CONTRIBUTION TO FEDERALISM IN IRAQ The establishment of the Iraq Centre for Federalism Studies can make a substantial contribution to the evolution of the theory and practice of federalism in Iraq. Consideration should be given to establishing a branch of this centre in Baghdad. There is no gold standard of federalism. Federalism cannot be imposed from above or outside. UNAMI, the Forum on Federations and the ICFS can help the people of Iraq to design and construct a federal system that avoids asymmetries and assures national cohesion.
CONCLUSION In its overall engagement in Iraq, UNAMI has tried to ensure an Iraqi led and owned political process encouraging inclusiveness, transparency and participation at all stages. The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) continues to face considerable challenges in relation to the remaining disputed issues being considered by the committee. Committee members have expressed their view that these issues are largely political in nature and require the intervention of national political leaders. The Chair of the CRC, Sheikh Humam Hammoudi, indicated to the UNAMI Office of Constitutional Support (OCS) that the Committee may request a further extension of its mandate until the end of the year to address outstanding constitutional issues.