The Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was established in 2004, subsequent to the relocation of UN and OHCHR international staff from Iraq in September 2003. UNAMI’s Chief Human Rights officer also represents the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq.
UNAMI Human Rights Office, conducts all activities in an impartial manner aimed at assisting the Government of Iraq to promote and protect human rights in Iraq (including the Kurdistan Region (KR)) in accordance with its mandate bestowed by the UN Security Council at the request of the Government of Iraq. UN Security Council Resolution 1546 of 8 June 2004, mandated UNAMI, inter alia, to “promote the protection of human rights, national reconciliation, and judicial and legal reform in order to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq;” This mandate has been renewed every year by the Security Council at the request of the Government of Iraq in almost the same terms, the latest extension was for 2013 pursuant to Security Council resolution 2061 of 25 July 2012. OHCHR supports the work of the UNAMI by assisting in the implementation of activities and providing guidance and expert advice on specific human rights questions.
UNAMI Human Rights Office works with the Government of Iraq as well as members of Iraqi Civil Society to support the promotion, respect and protection of human rights of all Iraqis without discrimination. UNAMI Human Rights Office also works closely with other United Nations Funds, Agencies and Programmes, including UNDP, UNWomen, UNHCR, UNICEF, and UNOPS, to ensure that the respect, promotion and protection of the rights of all Iraqis are fundamental to their programmes and activities.
UNAMI Human Rights Office, in collaboration with the Government of Iraq (in particular the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Justice) and Iraqi Civil Society, works on key focus areas, including the protection of civilians from the effects of armed conflict and violence, the rule of law and the protection of the rights of Iraqis who are detained or are being tried before the courts, the rights and protection of Iraqi women and children, the rights of persons with disabilities, the rights and protection of minorities, and the protection of freedom of expression. With other UN partners, including UNDP and UNOPS the Human Rights Office has been working to establish the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq, and to develop and implement a national action plan on human rights implementing the recommendations accepted by Iraq from the Universal Periodic Review Process in 2010. Important also are economic, social and cultural rights, which include access to healthcare, education, housing, employment, and a reasonable standard of living for all Iraq’s people.
The Human Rights Office, in collaboration with its partners, undertakes a number of specific activities all of which are aimed at promoting and protecting human rights in Iraq. These activities include: monitoring the human rights situation in the country and reporting on it publicly and to the United Nations, advocacy with the Government of Iraq and other actors who have the obligation to promote and protect the human rights of Iraq’s people, training of government officials, security forces, judiciary and prosecutors, and members of civil society organisations on human rights law and obligations, awareness raising and education of ordinary Iraqi citizens on their rights, and the training and empowerment of members of civil society on how to undertake advocacy, monitoring and reporting activities aimed at promoting and protecting human rights in Iraq.
UNAMI Human Rights Office, in collaboration with OHCHR, also advises and assists the Government of Iraq and members of Iraqi civil society on international human rights mechanisms which are designed to assist States to respect and protect human rights. These mechanisms include the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.
The Human Rights Office has officers working directly in Basra, Erbil, Kirkuk and Baghdad, with a small presence in Mosul. However, through government and civil society partners, academics, NGOs, UN Funds Agencies and Programmes, members of the international community present in Iraq, and ordinary Iraqi citizens, the Human Rights Office undertakes its activities throughout the country.
Most importantly, UNAMI Human Rights Office works with ordinary Iraqis to raise their awareness and understanding of their rights so that they can act to ensure that the Government and other relevant duty bearers respect and protect those rights.