Global Policy Forum

Multinational Force Mandate Renewal

Picture Credit: AP

At the behest of the US and the UK, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1511 in October 2003, giving the US-led Coalition in Iraq a UN mandate as a "multinational force" (MNF) and authorizing it to take "all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability" in the country. At the time, Council members expected that the mandate would end as soon as a constitutionally-based Iraqi government took power in 2005 or 2006. However, under US/UK pressure, the Council has repeatedly renewed the mandate, in resolutions 1546, 1637 and 1723, with little consideration given to the overwhelming opinion of Iraqi citizens that the MNF should withdraw. Nor has the Council done a serious evaluation of the behavior of the MNF in terms of peace, security or international law.

In late 2007, Washington and London again asked the Security Council to renew the MNF mandate, for an extension of another year. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wrote to the Council to request a mandate renewal without referring the matter to parliament for ratification, as required by the Iraqi constitution. A majority of parliamentarians also had written a letter in April to Security Council members calling for a timetable for MNF withdrawal. The cabinet's actions were unilateral, unconstitutional and illegal.

Iraqi parliamentarians wrote another letter to Security Council members immediately before Council action. Further, the US House of Representatives scheduled a hearing on the matter asking "Is the Iraqi Parliament Being Ignored?" But on December 18, under heavy pressure from Washington, the Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate for a further year.

This section considers the issues at stake, including the reputation of the UN Security Council, the peaceful future of Iraq, and the possible decades-long US presence in the country, with troops, military bases, and preferential investment access to Iraq's fabulous oilfields.

GPF Perspectives Security Council Resolutions |Articles

GPF Perspectives


The Security Council and Iraq: Should the Council Renew the MNF Mandate for 2008? (November 25, 2007)

The UN mandate authorizing the Multinational Force in Iraq was up for renewal in late 2007. In this memorandum, Global Policy Forum argued that the Security Council should not renew the mandate. The memo recalls the many ways that the MNF violates international law and human rights. It points out that the political and humanitarian situation in Iraq is worsening and the great majority of Iraqis see the MNF as an occupying force that prevents national reconciliation. The Iraqi parliament has called for a withdrawal timetable and insisted on its right to ratify any MNF renewal request. A renewal would weaken the UN, promote a US protectorate in Iraq, and damage security in the Middle East region.

The Iraqi Parliamentarians and the UN Security Council: Questions About Renewal of the MNF Mandate (November 5, 2007)

In late 2007, the UN Security Council considered renewal of the mandate that authorizes the presence of the US-led multinational force (MNF) in Iraq. Global Policy Forum outlines the little-known demands of the Iraqi parliament to ratify any new agreement on the MNF. The Iraqi constitution requires the cabinet to submit such agreement for ratification and the parliament has already passed a law demanding conformity with this provision. A majority of parliamentarians also wrote a letter to Security Council members about the matter, calling for a timetable for MNF withdrawal. GPF argues that the Council should take into account the concerns of the parliament and of the great majority of the Iraqi people, so that a withdrawal plan can be set.

Security Council Resolutions on the MNF Mandate
and Related Letters

Resolution 1790 (December 18, 2007)

The Security Council unanimously adopted this resolution, which renews the MNF in Iraq until the end of December 2008. The resolution renews the mandate in a perfunctory way, with nothing that responds to concerns about violations of international law by the MNF or acknowledges that public opinion in Iraq overwhelmingly favors a timetable for MNF withdrawal. The mandate was renewed despite opposition from the Iraqi parliament.

Draft of Resolution 1790 (December 11, 2007)

This early draft of the resolution, proposed by the US and the UK, was the first to be circulated to all Council members and the basis of the first consultations.

Letter from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the President of the Security Council, requesting a Mandate Renewal for the MNF (December 10, 2007)

The official US letter, addressed to the Security Council President, Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, asking for newal of the MNF mandate. The letter is customarily attached to the renewing resolution.

Letter from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki Requesting the Renewal of the MNF Mandate (December 7, 2007)

This letter, sent against the wishes of the Iraqi parliament and without constitutionally-mandated parliamentary ratification, asks the Security Council to renew the mandate of the MNF for 2008. The letter calls for some changes in Iraqi-MNF relations, including Iraqi responsibility for detention and Iraqi takeover of command-and-control of Iraqi military and security forces, but it is doubtful that this will change the reality of US power on the ground. The letter is attached to and becomes part of the renewing resolution.

Resolution 1723 (2006)

The Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the US-led multinational force (MNF) in Iraq following a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The council also extended the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board until December 31, 2007, with a requirement of review no later than June 15, 2007. The timing of the resolution, rushed quietly through the Council far ahead of the December 31 expiration, surprised many observers.

Letter from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Requesting the Renewal of the MNF Mandate (November 14, 2006)

In this letter, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requests that the Security Council renew the mandate of the "multinational force" (MNF) in Iraq for a further 12 months. Maliki says that the MNF can play a continuing role in the training of Iraqi security forces, until all responsibilities are handed over to the Iraqi authorities. Despite Maliki's and other Iraqi officials' comments suggesting that the government would ask for changes in the mandate, the letter does not call for lifting the immunity granted to US troops, nor does it call for more respect for civilians.

Resolution 1637 (November 8, 2005)

The Security Council unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the US-led multinational force (MNF) in Iraq and to also extend the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) until December 31, 2006. Both mandates would have expired with the end of the transitional government, but Washington pushed for an early renewal, ahead of the December 15 parliamentary elections.

Resolution 1546 (June 8, 2004)

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1546 outlining the terms of the transfer of sovereignty after June 30, 2004. It endorses the formation of the Iraqi Interim Government and the arrangements made between Interim Government and the US-led forces. Many doubt that the resolution will promote effective Iraqi sovereignty or lead to a real end to the occupation. The resolution also extends the mandate of the MNF in Iraq.

See draft versions of the resolutions: First draft Second Draft | Third Draft

Resolution 1511 (October 16, 2003)

In this resolution, the Security Council endorses the occupation, by authorizing the "multinational force" to take "all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq." The document also maps out the political process, including drafting of a constitution and holding elections.



US Weighs UN Option to Remain in Iraq (November 3, 2008)

The US is eager to secure a long term presence in Iraq but Iraqi opposition to the Status of Forces Agreement may force Washington and the al-Maliki government to seek a renewal of the UN mandate which is set to expire December 31, 2008. The Iraqi Parliament wants a timetable for the complete withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq but a US official states that the "Iraqis are asking for things that no US president can agree to." (Washington Times)

Agreement with Iraq over Troops Is at Risk (September 19, 2008)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might ask for an extension of the UN Multinational Force mandate (MNF) set to expire in December 2008 as US and Iraqi officials reach a deadlock in the bilateral discussions. Iraq insists on provisions in the renewed MNF mandate, including limited immunity for US troops and military contractors, which the US has previously rejected. (New York Times)

Iraq May Request Extension For US (June 6, 2008)

Iraq's government might request an extension of the UN Security Council mandate, which authorizes the US military presence in Iraq. By prolonging the mandate, the Iraqi government hopes to reach a consensus on US permanent bases. Almost every major political group in the country, including the Iraqi Parliament, objects to signing a deal without a specific timetable for US withdrawal. Although Prime Minister al-Maliki wants a bilateral agreement with the US, he agrees with his colleagues that the US military should dramatically reduce its role. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Protest against US Military Deal (May 30, 2008)

Thousands of Iraqi's marched in protest against a deal between President Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq beyond December 2008. Bush and al-Maliki hope to sign a bilateral Status of Forces Agreement that would circumvent legislative approval for the US troop presence. However, opposition groups strongly resist the deal, claiming that the agreement would further reduce Iraqi sovereignty and lead to indefinite occupation by US military forces. (Agence France Press)

Letter to Congressman Delahunt from Iraqi Parliamentarians (May 29, 2008)

This letter shows that a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians would reject a Security Agreement with the US that fails to provide a specific timetable for a full military withdrawal. Further, the parliamentarians point out that any arrangement, not ratified by the Iraqi legislative branch, is unconstitutional and illegal. Thirty-one leaders of the Iraqi parliament have signed the letter stating that they will endorse an agreement ending the US intervention in Iraq's internal affairs.

Secret US Plan for Military Future in Iraq (April 8, 2008)

According to a classified draft document leaked to the Guardian, the Bush administration intends to maintain military operations in Iraq for an indefinite period of time. The agreement between the US and Iraqi government, will allow the US to "detain individuals when necessary and contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens." The document seeks to replace the current UN multinational force mandate and faces strong opposition in the US Congress and from the Iraqi Parliament.

Delahunt Panel Examines US-Iraq Security Agreement (February 8, 2008)

In his opening statement, US Congressman Delahunt questions the motives and validity of a proposed US-Iraq security agreement. According to the Declaration of Principles, the US may remain indefinitely in Iraq. Delahunt insists that the Bush administration explain its intentions for remaining in Iraq and consult Congress before passing any further agreements involving Iraq. This hearing marks the third attempt by Delahunt to obtain such an explanation. (House Committee on Foreign Affairs)

US Asking Iraq for Wide Rights on War (January 25, 2008)

The Bush administration has drafted a proposal that calls for an agreement with the government in Baghdad. The proposal controversially calls for the immunity of civilian contractors from Iraqi law. Seeking to bypass ratification in the US Senate, this document faces resistance within Iraq as well as from the Democratic majority in congress. (New York Times)


Transcript of Congressional Hearing on Iraq MNF Renewal Chaired by Congressman William Delahunt (December 19, 2007)

This lenthy transcript includes statements from Congressman Delahunt, Raed Jarrar, Michael Rubin, Kenneth Katzman, Issam Saliba and members of the US House of Representatives.

Opening Statement by Chairman William Delahunt at the Congressional Hearing on Iraq MNF Renewal (December 19, 2007)

In his opening statement, Congressman Delahunt notes that serious questions have been raised about whether the Iraqi Executive branch followed the rule of law in its request for an extension of the UN mandate. Delahunt also reaffirms that a "majority of the Parliament has now stated that their constitutional prerogatives are being ignored by the Executive."

Statement by Issam Saliba to the Congressional Hearing on Iraq MNF Renewal (December 19, 2007)

Saliba, Senior Foreign Law Specialist Library of Congress, testified before the US House of Representatives committee that the Iraqi Government is under a "constitutional obligation to seek the Iraqi Parliament's approval for its request to extend the mandate of the multinational forces in Iraq."

Letter from Leaders of Iraqi Parlimentary Groups to Members of the Security Council (December 2007)

The letter concludes: "that the undersigned representatives of the people reject in the strongest possible terms the unconditional renewal of the mandate, and call for clear mechanisms that obligate all foreign forces to withdraw completely from Iraq according to a set timetable, simultaneous with Iraq's leaving the Chapter VII mandate of the United Nations." Original Arabic Text

Letter from Chairman of the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee William Delahunt to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Regarding the Renewal of the MNF Mandate (December 5, 2007)

In this letter, Congressman Delahunt writes to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seeking clarification on the legal status of Iraq's request for a renewal of the Multinational Force mandate (MNF). Delahunt calls attention to a law passed by the Iraqi Council of Representatives in May 2007 that affirms the constitutional provision that two thirds of the Council must agree to a renewal of the MNF before Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki make a request to the UN Security Council. The letter asks for an urgent response given the expiration of the current mandate on December 31, 2007.

Letter from Members of Congress, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woosley and Maxine Waters to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Regarding the Renewal of the MNF Mandate (December 4, 2007)

In this letter three Members of the US Congress, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woosley and Maxine Waters, write to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging any renewal of the Multinational Force mandate (MNF) in Iraq to include a timetable for full withdrawal. The letter asks for a declaration that there will be no long term US bases in the country. The writers call attention to the public support for an end to the occupation and the immense financial and human cost of the occupation. The Congresswomen argue there is no military solution to Iraq and that diplomatic strategies must be pursued.

Bush, Maliki Break Iraqi Law to Renew U.N. Mandate for Occupation (December 20, 2007)

In this lengthy and well-informed article Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland reflect on the renewal of the MNF mandate by the UN Security Council. They argue that the move violates Iraq's Constitution, ignores its elected parliament and defies the overwhelming majority of Iraqi public opinion. Congressman Delahunt's hearing in Congress has made an effort to address the issue. But the Security Council, under tremendous pressure from the US, has ignored international law and renewed the mandate until the end of 2008.

Declaration of Principles for a Long Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America (November 27, 2007)

In late November 2007, President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki entered into a Declaration of Principles for Future Cooperation. The pact claims to recognize the sacrifices made by "Iraqis and Americans for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal and unified Iraq." It lays the basis for extended US presence in Iraq in political, economic and security spheres, including a preference for US companies in foreign investments. The pact suggests that the Iraqi government will request the extension of the MNF mandate for "a final time" and after this a bilateral agreement will dictate the relationship between the two countries.

US, Iraq Set for Talks On Future Relationship (November 27, 2007)

US President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have entered into a nonbinding pact setting out the future relationship between the two countries. Commentators suggest the Declaration of Principles will replace the Multinational Force and set the basis for bilateral talks between the two countries in early 2008. The pact signals US intentions to remain in Iraq in the long term with influence in the "political, cultural, economic and security spheres." For Iraqis the pact confirms US intentions to control Iraq's vast oil reserves, with provisions allowing for the "preferential treatment of American investments." (Daily Star- Lebanon)

Iraqi Parliament to Debate Renewal of UN Mandate (November 26, 2007)

A request for the extension of the Multi-National Force (MNF) mandate in Iraq will be sent to Iraqi parliament for consideration. According to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zibari, the request will not be presented to the UN Security Council before the Iraqi parliament considers the request. This is in contrast to previous extension requests where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ignored legal requirements that parliament ratify any renewal. Meanwhile, the parliament debated the controversial draft accountability and justice law which would allow former Baathists to return to politics. (Alter Net)

White House Releases "Principles" for Permanent Iraqi Presence (November 26, 2007)

In this article Spencer Ackerman suggests the "Joint Declaration of Principles for Friendship and Cooperation" between the US and Iraq reveals US intentions to occupy Iraq well into the future. The pact calls for a final extension of the multinational force (MNF) mandate until 2008 in which time a bilateral agreement will come into force. To Ackerman, such an agreement in Bush's last year as president will "seriously constrain the next administration's options for ending the US presence." The Bush administration claims this pact is not unlike other US agreements with over 100 countries, but unlike those agreements Ackerman argues this pact would commit US troops to a war "opposed by most of the American people." (TPM Muckracker)

The "Multinational Force" Mandate and Related Security Council Action on Iraq during the Occupation (November 16, 2007)

This article tracks the development of UN Security Council resolutions in Iraq since 2003 when the Council controversially gave the US "legal cover" for its occupation of the country. Since then, the MNF mandate has been renewed three times with little variation on its original terms and showing no attention to opposition in the Iraqi parliament. Further, this article examines other Security Council mandates including the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), the Development Fund for Iraq and the International Compact and the future role of the United Nations in Iraq. (Global Policy Forum)

Iraqi MPs Challenge Coalition Mandate (November 13, 2007)

In this Inter Press Service article, Thalif Deen reports on the renewal of the UN mandate of the multi-national force in Iraq. Deen cites a letter from Iraqi parliamentarians calling on the Security Council to refuse an extension of the mandate. The letter which is signed by a majority of Iraq's parliament was not delivered to the Council as intended in April 2007 and was released early November 2007 by Global Policy Forum for the attention of Security Council members.

Iraqi Government to UN: 'Don't Extend Mandate for Bush's Occupation' (November 9, 2007)

The Iraqi parliament has made several attempts to affirm its opposition against the renewal of the multinational force mandate in Iraq. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki under pressure from the US and UK is likely to request that the UN Security Council extend the mandate for another 12 months. According to the authors of this AlterNet article the renewal debate exemplifies the political crisis between the nationalists who control parliament and the separatists who control the Cabinet. Despite the MNF renewal having major ramifications for political reconciliation in Iraq it is not covered in the mainstream US media. Instead conflict in the country is perceived as a "religious war", when in truth it is a conflict about the future of the country.

Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (October 15, 2007)

 UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon reports on the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The Secretary-General summarizes political developments in Iraq, citing political boycotts, assassinations, resignations and the formation of alliances. He criticizes the inadequate effort by the Iraqi government to provide basic services to internally displaced Iraqis. The report concedes that ongoing violence in Iraq impedes the work of the UN in dealing with human rights violations, including the plight of detainees held in Iraqi and MNF facilities. The Secretary-General suggests there is an opportunity for the UN to increase its role in Iraq, especially in the area of national reconciliation.

US Imperial Ambitions Thwart Iraqis' Peace Plans (September 19, 2007)

In this AlterNet article, Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar examine the reasons why Iraqi plans for peace are ignored by the mainstream media and the Coalition. Proposals from different Iraqi political parties include disbanding militias, providing for national reconciliation and rebuilding Iraqi government and security forces along non-sectarian lines. Ultimately all of the proposals call for a US withdrawal. However, according to the authors, the US prefers to follow a policy which involves permanent US bases, international control of Iraqi oil and where resistance is viewed as "sectarian violence."

"War and Occupation in Iraq" – An NGO Report (June 2007)

This major report is an indispensable resource on the occupation. In twelve detailed chapters, the authors provide an informative and readable analysis, concluding with recommendations for action. Among the topics covered are: destruction of cultural heritage, killing of civilians, attacks on cities and long-term military bases. The report has been written and produced by Global Policy Forum and co-published by thirty NGOs.

Letter from a Majority of Iraqi Parliament to Members of UN Security Council (April 28, 2007)

This letter from members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament) argues that the UN Security Council should not renew the multinational force mandate in Iraq without an Iraqi request ratified by parliament. The letter affirms that it is "unconstitutional" for the Cabinet under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to "unilaterally" request such a renewal. The letter also calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of the MNF. Dated April 28, 2007, the letter was apparently handed over to the UN in Baghdad, but never delivered to Security Council members. The 144 signatures represent an absolute majority of the 275 seats in the Iraqi Parliament. See letter in Arabic. (Iraqi Parliamentarians)

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