Census in Di Mistura’s Report

The recent UN report regarding the issues of defining Kurdish regions contained the recommendations of the UN representative for Iraq, Staffan di Mistura. The report is now known as the Di Mistura report; its purpose is “to contribute to the development of processes to resolve these complicated and sensitive issues” and relied on the 2005 election results in specifying the population distribution in disputed areas. The report was heavily criticized by all sides of Iraq’s political forces in what seems like a rejection of its somewhat arbitrary basis. Interestingly, parties from opposite ends of the spectrum made contradictory judgments of the report as Usama Al Najifi, the spokesman of Al Wifaq, correctly observed that the results of the elections are controversial because of suspect fairness and legitimacy, on the other hand the official Kurdistan government position refuses the report because the report “doubts the accuracy of the election results of 2005, despite the supervision of the U.N. over its running, and approval of its results. And since the present parliament and government followed from its results, and the international dealing with Iraq is based on it.” In fact, the 2005 elections were observed, not supervised, by the U.N., and it is a stretch of the imagination to claim that the UN approved the results. It is also obvious that the Kurdistan government is treating the 2005 election results as a holy cow and expecting everybody to adore it, since it is the Kurdish minority who had the highest attendance and was the main beneficiary.

The UN attempted to act like a benevolent broker between Iraqi political factions and aimed at creating a mechanism to follow in deciding how to divide ethnic territories. The policy of the occupation is to continue in brokering among the factions without calling for a census, this is the policy of the status quo and it is understandable that the UN expects to side with the status quo. But the UN had ignored one important factor: Serious divisions of power and wealth in this day and age need to rely on real population data, not on voluntary attendance of disputable elections. By relying on the latter the UN had shown preference towards the divisive fleeting policy of occupation instead of calling for the unifying, concrete and repeatable census data. It is more in line with the UN purpose to defend the right of Iraqi citizens who are suffering directly and indirectly from the lack of credible identification, without which they cannot enjoy freedom of movement and security as guaranteed by the UN charter of human rights of 1947, and to call for clean census and elections under its own supervision. The point is: A UN run census and elections in Iraq should not be a matter of choice of policy, it should be a matter of upholding the charter of human rights, of affirming the existence of the UN, its raison d’etre. If the UN cannot stand up to its own charter then it might as well not exist. Another point is: census has been conducted in Iraq every ten years on regular basis since 1937, it was expected in 2007 and that is the status quo. The UN should have stood up to its own policy and called for one.

Many Iraqis distrust the UN operation in Iraq because of corruption under the Food for Oil program during the rule of Saddam. The UN needs to restore confidence in its role by providing the bare minimum for a functioning democracy: census and elections, but not to act like the purser in a corruption fraught political process.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.