The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to approve a
resolution to expand the role of the United Nations Assistance
Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) in the country's post-war reconstruction
The resolution, drafted by the United States and Britain,
extends the mandate of the four-year-old UNAMI, whose current
mandate expires on Friday, for another year.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seen here
in July 2007, said that the United Nations is "deeply committed" to
helping the Iraqis after the Security Council unanimously agreed to
expand the UN mission in Iraq.
It also requires the UN chief's special envoy and UNAMI to
"advise, support and assist" Iraqis on "advancing their inclusive,
political dialogue and national reconciliation."
The UN mission will also be tasked to help Iraqis hold
elections, review their constitution, resolve disputed internal
boundaries and plan a comprehensive census.
UNAMI will help facilitate "regional dialogue, including issues
of border security, energy and refugees," and assist reintegration
programs for former combatants.
The new mandate also authorizes the mission to help with the
return of refugees, coordinate reconstruction and aid efforts, help
promote economic reform and promote the protection of human rights
and legal reform.
The resolution also recognizes the "important role" of the
U.S.-led multinational force in "supporting UNAMI, including
security and logistical support."
It further recognizes that "security is essential for UNAMI to
carry out its work on behalf of the people of Iraq."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the council's decision
and pledged the world body's commitment to helping the Iraqi people
"in crucial areas such as national reconciliation, regional
dialogue, humanitarian assistance and human rights."
"The United Nations looks forward to working in close
partnership with the leaders and people of Iraq to explore how we
can further our assistance under the terms of this resolution," Ban
told the council after the vote.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said that the international
community is deeply concerned with grave challenges that remain in
Iraq's security sector.
The key to the ultimate and proper solution to the Iraqi issue
lies in the achievement of "Iraqis governing Iraq," which can not
be achieved without the earnest assistance from the regional
countries and the international community, Wang said.
Wang pointed out that it will be a gradual process for UNAMI to
play a role, and expressed hope that the Iraqi government and the
multinational forces will provide necessary security guarantee so
as to enable it to accomplish its mission.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said adoption of the resolution
"marks an important new phase in the UN's role in Iraq," and that
the United States will "continue to shoulder all of its
responsibility to assist Iraq's government and people."
UNAMI, established by the Security Council through resolution
1500 adopted on Aug. 14, 2003, now maintains an international staff
of some 50 people in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan withdrew all UN staff
from Iraq after the UN's office in Baghdad was bombed in August
2003, killing 22 people including special envoy Sergio Vieira de
Annan allowed a small contingent of UN international staffers to
return in August 2004 and imposed a ceiling of 35 people. Since
then, the United Nations has maintained a low presence because of
UNAMI has focused its work on helping promote dialogue, organize
elections, draft constitution, coordinate humanitarian assistance
and monitor human rights. But its daily operations have been
severely restricted due to security reasons.
Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynne Pascoe said
Tuesday that the United Nations may raise the ceiling for its
international staff in Iraq from the current 65 to 95 by
The UN chief, in a June report to the Security Council, said he
would "consider an expanded role and presence in Iraq where
possible," and called for the "expeditious construction of a
hardened integrated compound," in order to protect UN staff from
risks of indirect rocket and mortar attacks in the Green
(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2007)