MOHAMMAD AKEF JAMAL
The UN mission published the Secretary General’s report on the Iraqi civilians situation on December 7, 2011. The report voiced concerns about their condition as a result of violence.
This is the first report ordered to be published by the UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon after the resolution by the Security Council earlier in 2011 to the effect that a quarterly report has to be submitted by the Secretary-General about the developments taking place in Iraq, the responsibilities of the UN mission in the country and its assistance to Iraq. In paragraph 6 of its resolution 2001 (2011), the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every four months on the progress made towards the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The 22- page report pointed out that violence in Iraq has regressed during the four months prior to the report’s issuance. However, the report added that armed insurgents are still capable of carrying out 500-700 highly complicated and coordinated armed attacks on a monthly basis. The report touched upon many issues related to Iraq’s security and legal situation, and its concord with international standards. However, and most importantly, it called upon the Iraqi government to set up an independent Higher Commission for Human Rights. The report also called upon both the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government to lay down its final national and regional human rights plan as soon as possible and to include the recommendations submitted by Iraqi civil society organisations. The report also criticised the government’s repressive practices against demonstrators, use of violence against political and media activists, and its neglect of prisons, detention centres and other such facilities.
The report paints a negative picture of a country that has not yet found a way towards building a modern state. Nine years after the fall of an anti-democratic regime, the country is not able to meet even a small proportion of the constitutional recommendations in relation to human rights and freedoms, which seems very odd as all Iraqi opposition to the former regime always called for democratic and human rights but sadly did not add these principles in their party agendas.
It is worth noting here that the report was also stressed by Human rights Watch in its report of January 22, in which it pointed out that “Iraq is returning to despotism and is on its way to becoming a security state”. Civil society organisations — that are not under the authority of the government are the ones that control and monitor human rights issues, as is the case in Iraq despite the fact that there is a Human Rights Ministry.
The relationship between the Iraqi government and the UN is not devoid of problems that have not surfaced yet at the official level. However, some of these problems were mentioned by leaders in the National Alliance, which is heads the government.
The Iraqi government completely ignored the intensive efforts made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UNAMI, the EU and the US to reach a peaceful resolution to the Ashraf camp issue and to re-settle its inhabitants. The Iraqi government decided to shut down the camp then extended its decision to an additional six months after pressure from the international organisation. The Iraqi citizen’s demands for human rights are not being met, given what they have gone through, and there is a total disregard of these rights.
The ones responsible for this situation are the political elites that took on themselves the responsibility of educating the Iraqi individual according to their strategies after the downfall of the former regime.
Moreover, Iraqi citizens —– along with other citizens in the region’s countries —- are not so keen on defending their rights in comparison to people in the West, due to the weak culture in this respect.; furthermore, Iraqis are accustomed to being afraid of their government and are keen on carrying out their duties and try their best not to have any friction with it.
Under all Iraqi governments since the country was first established, talking of human rights was a sort of intellectual luxury, touched upon by intellectuals in salons. The different political parties with a measure of popular backing did consider human rights as being central to their political programme and in that they made two mistakes:
The first is that they harmed their political programme which only included flashy slogans about national and ideological beliefs that did not provide a real atmosphere for people to gather around. These political parties did not offer a realistic method for building society in any of the Middle Eastern countries where the citizen is deprived of many rights enjoyed by people in the West. Secondly, these political parties failed to step up people’s level of thinking through educating the population about their human rights regardless of whether these rights were mentioned in the Constitution or not.
Dr Mohammad Akef Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.
– Gulf News