Archive for September, 2006

International Compacts, flavour of the month

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Has anybody worked out what to make of the International Compact with Iraq, a deal with the IMF, the World Bank and the UN for “Iraq’s economic transformation and integration into the regional and global economy“.

This compact is being railroaded pretty quickly: meetings and plans are emerging quickly, the Compact has the blessing of a Security Council resolution, as well as support from the EU, US, UK, and just about everyone else.

Who is doing the railroading? Naturally, the documents give the impression that the initiative comes from the Government of Iraq. So George Bush says that Nouri al-Maliki is “working to develop what he’s calling an international compact“, the FCO talks about “a chance for the world to line up behind the new Iraqi government“, and the Afghanistan Compact which was launched earlier this year. Are ‘Compacts’ just the currently popular framework for the IMF and World Bank to strongarm countries into economic liberalization?

And more trivially, why does something this important have to be explained to the world by means of a jumble of powerpoint?

Phosphorus bombs in Afghanistan

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

Leaked emails from Major James Loden of 3 Para give incidental information about RAF use of phosphorus bombs in Afghanistan.

Iraq torture ‘worse after Saddam’

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

The BBC reports today that ‘the UN’s chief anti-torture expert’ Manfred Nowak believes torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein.

Nowak was speaking at a briefing on a new report by the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

Here’s the UNAMI press release:

Latest UNAMI Human Rights Report on Iraq calls for firm action to tackle old and new human rights violations in Iraq [9/20/2006]


Baghdad- 20 September 2006 — The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed concern that “human rights violations, particularly against the right to life and personal integrity, continued to occur at an alarming daily rate in Iraq.” In its latest human rights report for the months of July and August 2006 UNAMI affirms that number of civilians killed violently in the country were an unprecedented 3,590 in July and 3,009 in August. The report points that terrorist attacks, the growth of militias, the emergence of organized crime reflects a lack of centralized and authorized control over the use of force in the country, which results in indiscriminate killings of civilians. In this context, hundreds of bodies have continued to appear throughout the country bearing signs of severe torture and execution style killing. Displacement of population has also continued to grow and affected all Governorates.

The document also raises the alarm at increasing number of “honour crimes” affecting women in a disproportionately manner. “In their fight against generalized violence, central, regional and local authorities should provide greater protection to women from crimes committed within the family, including all types of violence against women and girls on the grounds of honour.” Torture remains a widespread problem in official detention centres while victims extra-judicially executed by death squads, insurgents and militias bear also signs of horrific torture. The report documents terrorist attacks aimed at inflicting death and injury to civilians and other attacks against minorities and religious pilgrims as well as professional categories such as journalists, lawyers and judges. “The inability of State institutions to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and to provide adequate protection to ordinary citizens…risk polarizing Iraqi society to a previously unknown degree and result in a self-reinforcing pattern of sectarian confrontation.”

While progress has been reported in the transfer of detainees held by other authorities to the Ministry of Justice, the report raises concerns regarding an increase in the overall number of detainees, reversing an earlier trend. However, UNAMI states that “a growing perception of impunity for current and past crimes committed risks further eroding the rule of law.” For this reason, UNAMI also called for the full publication of the results of the Government inquiry into allegations of human rights violations committed in Al-Jadiriya detention centre in November 2005, and stated: “The publication of the Al-Jadiriya’s report, the establishment of a formal inquiry into this case and the prosecution of those found to be responsible for allegations of human rights violations, would serve the people and the Government of Iraq and provide a powerful signal that the country is firm in its commitment to establish a new system based on the respect of human rights and the rule of law.”