Press Release: Iraq census without UN mandate is an uncalculated risk

On Feb 13, 2008 the Iraq parliament passed three crucial legislations: the 2008 budget, provincial representation and general amnesty laws. The Arabic news media also included mention of an agreement to run population census before the end of 2008, curiously none of the major US media had this mention.

Since the running of a census is a major part of our call for UN Census and Elections for Iraq (Internet search: UNCEI), we have to clarify what we see as necessary to insure the success and avoid more potential division and violence in Iraqi.

It is positive to see heightened awareness of the importance of census for Iraq, and the insistence of Iraqi legislators to run it within time limit. But the conduct of past elections and the delay at the cost of misery and division of the Iraqi people, and the timing which coincides with the end of the U.S. term of presidency lead us to be doubtful of the intentions of the present administration; this may be a promise of census given just to buy time.

What the news did not mention was more important: No mention of UN mandate and direct supervision over the process. We see a UN mandate for census and future elections is vital to insure success and avoid suffering for the following reasons:

  • The definition of who is an Iraqi citizen must be based on internationally accepted standards and objective, non-controversial considerations, not on political agreements between factions and parties or local pressures. Only a UN mandate guarantees acceptance by all parties.
  • The census data must be transparent and credible and be deposited in safe and accessible locations with international guarantees. The recent central bank fire in Baghdad highlights the security risk of guarding vital data. Only a UN mandate can provide the framework for transparency and backup needed in this extreme state of insecurity.
  • In the light of the existence of such high number of displaced persons outside Iraq, the matter of counting of refugees should not be left to bilateral agreements between Iraq and the host countries, such agreements can easily be manipulated and the census could become an excuse to roundup delinquent residents and to forced deportations. Only a UN mandate can provide the assurance to displaced Iraqis to come forward and be counted without risk of retribution.
  • Some Iraqis are not willing to show their residence or ethnicity to the present authorities, an article appeared in the New York Times on December 20, 2007 illustrates this fear. The fear comes from infiltration or domination of some government institutions with hostile factions. Therefore we consider the existence of a neutral body such as the UN to be vital in order to guarantee the participation of all Iraqi minorities.

Therefore we call upon all those who support us to reaffirm their position and on the present US administration and presidential contenders and all concerned politicians to declare their position vis-à-vis the petitioned UN mandate for census and elections in Iraq.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.