Security Council to end UN Iraq mission next year

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At the request of Baghdad, the UN Security Council unanimously decided Friday that the United Nations political mission in Iraq would leave the country at the end of 2025 after more than 20 years.

Earlier this month, in a letter to the council, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani called for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to be closed.

Al-Sudani said UNAMI had overcome “great and varied challenges” and that “the grounds for having a political mission in Iraq” no longer exist.

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The UNSC resolution adopted on Friday extended the mission’s mandate for “a final 19-month period until 31 December 2025 after which UNAMI will cease all work and operations.”

The mission was established by a UN Security Council resolution in 2003 at the request of the Iraqi government after the US-led invasion and fall of Saddam Hussein.

It advises the government on political dialogue and reconciliation, as well as helping with elections and security sector reform.

During the mission’s previous renewal in May 2023, the Council asked the secretary-general to launch a strategic review, which was overseen by German diplomat Volker Perthes.

In a report issued in March, Perthes signaled that an end to the mandate could be appropriate, concluding that “the two-year period identified by the government for the mission’s drawdown can be a sufficient time frame to make further progress.”

He also said that the period would provide time to reassure reluctant Iraqis that the transition “will not lead to a reversal of democratic gains or threaten peace and security.”

Given that UN missions can only operate with the host nation’s consent, Russia, China, Britain and France this month all voiced support for a transition in the partnership between Iraq and the United Nations.

The United States was more vague, with UN ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield saying UNAMI still had “important work to do,” and making no mention of Baghdad’s request.

She emphasized the mission’s role in organizing elections and promoting human rights, even though Iraq asked that the mission focus more on economic issues.

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