European Scrutiny Committee Contents

60 EU police, rule of law and civilian administration mission to Iraq


Council Decision on the European Union Integrated Rule of Law mission for Iraq EUJUST LEX — IRAQ

Legal baseArticles 28 and 43(2) EU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 11 June 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (30633) —: HC 19 xviii (2008-09), chapter 18 (3 June 2009) and HC 19-xvii (2008-09), chapter 3 (13 May 2009); also see (26356) — : HC 38-ix (2004-05), chapter 9 (23 February 2005) and (27480) —: HC 34-xxix (2005-06) chapter 9 (17 May 2006)
To be discussed in Council14 June 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared, but further information requested


60.1 EUJUST LEX was launched in July 2005 with the aim of increasing capacity and co-ordination in the Iraqi criminal justice system and promoting human rights and respect for the rule of law. During its initial mandate, the mission delivered courses within EU Member States focused on management and crime investigation for senior Iraqi criminal justice officials. For security reasons, all the preparation and the courses were held outside Iraq. But a small liaison office, headed by a Briton, was set up inside the British Embassy in Baghdad. Its costs, and other common costs, have been funded by the CFSP budget; training provided by Member States, including the UK, is funded by them. The full background to and nature of the mission is set out in detail in the previous Committee's Report of 13 May 2009.[254]

60.2 In June 2006, the Council of Ministers agreed to extend the mission's mandate for a further 18 months. This mandate authorised the provision of more specialised courses as well as secondments in EU Member States for senior Iraqi police officers and prison governors. Both these actions were reported to the House.[255] At the time at which the draft Joint Action was submitted for scrutiny, the additional cost had yet to be worked out; the financial reference amount was subsequently increased by € 11.2 million.

60.3 Then, in November 2007, the Council decided on a further extension, until 30 April 2008. The UK was to continue to contribute by providing specialised courses and offering a work-experience prisons secondment for a senior Iraqi official, as well as continuing to support the Baghdad Liaison Office with office and living accommodation. This further extension would be at no additional cost. Looking ahead, the then Minister for Europe (Mr Jim Murphy) said that, with the arrival of an EC Delegation in Baghdad, there was potential for the eventual development of Community-supported institution-building and rule of law programmes to carry forward EU JUST LEX 's work, which was expected to end in 2009.

60.4 In April 2008 the then Minister for Europe submitted the draft of a further Council Joint Action, which extended the mandate, at no additional cost, until 30 June 2008. He supported the continuation of the mission, which had facilitated training for over 1400 Iraqis from the police force, the judiciary and the penitentiary system; as of January 2008, the Mission had received commitments for over 40 training interventions by Member States until June 2009 and would therefore be able to maintain its level of activities.

60.5 Finally, a further "no cost" extension was submitted for scrutiny by the then Minister on 12 June 2008, which we cleared on 18 June 2008. This authorised continuation of the mission until June 2009.

60.6 The previous Committee judged that none of these straightforward, "no cost", extensions warranted a substantive Report to the House, and were cleared accordingly.

The most recent Joint Action

60.7 This Joint Action, which the previous Committee considered on 13 May, extended the current mandate for a further 12 months until 30th June 2010. In brief, the mission had provided 88 training courses and 17 work experience secondments for over 1,900 Iraqis since summer 2005; the UK had provided 17 courses and 3 secondments; the mission's success was recognised in 2008 when the Head of Mission won the prestigious Webber-Seavey Award for "excellence in law enforcement and leadership". In addition to continuing the mission's current activity, the then Minister for Europe (Caroline Flint) explained in her 9 May 2009 Explanatory Memorandum that EUJUST LEX would carry out a pilot phase of activities in Iraq, in which up to 18 activities would be undertaken in Baghdad, Sulamanayah and Talil regions; these activities would include further training courses, providing strategic advice on the ground and follow up mentoring sessions for previous course participants; planning for these activities was ongoing but "by engaging in country EU Just Lex will be able to be more visible, proactive and better placed to aid the Iraqi authorities when needed."

60.8 The then Minister also noted that the UK had:

—  judged that the EU's original strategic objectives for an ESDP mission for Iraq remained valid;

—  been a strong advocate of EU JUST LEX moving in country, which she said would allow the mission to further assist the Iraqi government in strengthening the rule law through the provision of follow up programmes with past course participants and "increase the impact of the EU's intervention by building on the mission's activities so far, improving evaluation of the mission's activities, and improving local ownership, including through increased contact and participation.";

and that:

—  other EU Member States continued "to demonstrate an increased willingness to engage in Iraq", with the Mission having received in January 2008 commitments for over 40 training interventions by Member States until June 2009;

—  the Government of Iraq also remained "highly supportive of the mission with the Iraqi Chief Justice and Acting Minister of Justice both visiting EUJUST LEX courses in Europe in the last few months."

60.9 On the financial aspects, the Minister said that the mission was operating within budget and continued to deliver a full training schedule; had cost €28.4 million since 2005; and would require a further €11.5 million to cover the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

60.10 The previous Committee noted that the then Minister's predecessor had envisaged that the Mission was likely to end in 2009, and that the Commission would thereafter be left to pursue union-supported institution-building and rule of law programmes. Neither from her Explanatory Memorandum nor the draft Joint Action was it clear why this had not happened; nor why, as she asserted, "an EU contribution to the emergence of a stable, secure and democratic Iraq through addressing the needs of the Iraqi criminal justice system is still required".

60.11 Nor were the previous Committee entirely clear as to what she meant when she said that, though the courses are currently run and hosted by Member States, "this may change when the mission begins undertaking activities in country".

60.12 The draft Joint Action also referred to a review in 2010 and a further decision on the mission's future, suggesting at least the possibility of a further extension.

60.13 In summary, the previous Committee asked the Minister to explain more fully what the rationale was for continuing with the Mission for a further year when, last April, her predecessor said that he expected it to end in 2009, and the basis of her thinking about its longer-term future.

60.14 The previous Committee were also now able to see that, when what became Council Joint Action 2008/190/CFSP was adopted on 23 June 2008, it contained a provision authorising a new financial reference amount to cover the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009; and that, from the draft text, this amounted to a further €7.2 million — notwithstanding having been told by the then Minister's predecessor that this was to be a "no cost" extension — and asked the Minister to explain this discrepancy.

60.15 In addition to the UK share of the overall CFSP expenditure, the previous Committee also asked what the cost was of the UK's direct and indirect contributions to EUJUST LEX so far.

60.16 In the meantime, the document was retained under scrutiny.[256]

The Minister's letter of 22 May 2009

60.17 With regard to why the mission was being extended after the previous Minister for Europe stated that it would end in 2009, the then Minister said that her understanding was that the mission was never due to end in 2009:

"It has always been the intention that EUJUST LEX would, depending on developments in-country, continue into 2010 with a view to conducting training activities in Iraq. However, the current mandate is due to come to an end in June 2009 and it may be that this was taken at the time to mean that the mission would cease on that date, which as I have said, I do not believe to be the case."

60.18 With regard to the remark in her Explanatory Memorandum that though courses are currently run and hosted by Member States, "this may change when the mission begins undertaking activities in country", the then Minister said that, as more training courses were hosted in Iraq, the number hosted in Member States would decrease, "though the Mission and national secondees will remain as the lead in running the courses." She also said that "the initial pilot phase of the move in country should include activities such as providing strategic advice, follow-up mentoring of EUJUST LEX alumni and conducting up to 18 thematic seminars or workshops (as and where security and resource conditions allow)".

60.19 The then Minister also said that the rationale for continuing the mission was that "there is a lot of work still to be done in Iraq." She further said that in its four years EUJUST LEX "has achieved a great deal but the improved security situation presents an excellent opportunity to move training activities in country where they will have a greater effect and increase the levels of Iraqi ownership." The then Minister supported this move "because the in-country activities will allow the development of a more strategic approach to rule of law in Iraq, targeting a wider range of participants for follow up, and ensuring the sustainability of the mission's work".

60.20 Turning to the 2010 review, the then Minister said that it would "evaluate all aspects of the move of activities in country … take into account Iraqi capabilities as well as activities of other international actors [and] inform the decision as to whether EUJUST LEX should continue beyond June 2010 and, if so, in what capacity." The review would "be the point at which we and other Member States consider again the long term future and direction of the mission".

60.21 The then Minister then turned to the financial aspects. She recalled that her predecessor's Explanatory Memorandum of 9th June 2008 said that the last mandate extension until June 2009 (then under consideration) would be a "no cost" extension. She explained that this was, unfortunately, incorrect: that Explanatory Memorandum had been prepared from a draft version of the Joint Action text which, at the time, did not include the financial reference amount of €7.2 million, and when this was agreed upon in a separate document (the mission's financial statement) it had not been included in the Explanatory Memorandum sent to the previous Committee. Having apologised for the misunderstanding that this caused, the then Minister said that she would endeavour to keep the Committee better informed in the future and provided a note with more detail on the direct and indirect costs to the UK of supporting EUJUST LEX .

The previous Committee's assessment

60.22 The previous Committee thanked the Minister for this further information, and accepted her explanation, apology and assurances.

60.23 It also looked forward to hearing from her in due course about the outcome of the 2010 review and her views on it, ahead of any fresh Joint Action to extend the mission mandate. In the meantime, it cleared the extension.

The proposed Council Decision

60.24 This Council Decision alters the mandate of EUJUST LEX-IRAQ in three ways;

—  The mission's mandate will be extended for two years until 30 June 2012.

—  The mission's focus will further shift towards in-country training activities (although courses held in EU member states will continue).

—  The mission's permanent presence within Iraq will increase in line with the increased focus on in-country activities:

  • Baghdad: The mission's current Baghdad Liaison Office will be expanded by 5 members of staff;
  • Erbil: A new liaison office will be opened in the northern city of Erbil with 15 members of staff who will assist with the co-ordination and planning of the proposed increase of in-country training; and
  • Basra: 4 mission personnel will be deployed in Basra to assist with southern based training activities, operating under the Baghdad office. They will also look into the possibility of the mission opening a full scale liaison office in Basra in the future should security conditions allow.

The Government's view

60.25 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 11 June 2010, the Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr David Lidington) says "establishing effective rule of law is central to the future stability of Iraq." He continues as follows:

"Through support to the Iraqi criminal justice system, EUJUST LEX-IRAQ has made an important contribution to building the institutional knowledge necessary to develop the rule of law. EUJUST LEX-IRAQ courses are helping the Iraqi system to work towards meeting international best practice by providing senior Iraqi officials with the skills and techniques to take forward criminal investigations and manage cases more effectively. Since it was deployed in 2005, EUJUST LEX-IRAQ has facilitated 116 EU Member State courses and 22 work experience secondments. It has also conducted three regional thematic seminars, three preliminary in-country events and successfully completed 14 pilot in-country activities with more than 3100 Iraqis participating. The in-country activities have provided training on key issues such as Effective Crime Scene Management, Domestic Violence (a significant problem in Iraq), and Management of Vulnerable Prisoners. The mission is also working to move the criminal justice system towards evidence rather than confession based forms of investigation which can be open to human rights abuses. As a result, the mission is highly visible with senior officials and Iraqi politicians many of whom are supporters of the mission's work."

60.26 The Minister supports a new two year mandate for the mission:

"because of the impact the mission has made and because it is a key way of bringing EU engagement together on a UK foreign policy priority which has previously divided the EU. As the US prepares to drawdown its large scale presence in the autumn, EU support will become increasingly important. In addition, there has been a modest but positive improvement in security in Iraq since 2008. Despite a relapse in politically motivated violence in the run up to the March 2010 elections the civilian death toll in Iraq decreased by half between 2008 and 2009 and inter-sectarian violence (a major problem in 2006 and 2007) has also decreased. With the completion of elections and the improving security situation the timing is right for EUJUST LEX-IRAQ to increase its presence in-country."

60.27 The Minister goes on to say that the UK has consistently called for improvements in the way the mission assesses the impact of its work:

"As a result, an impact assessment will be produced in October in order to target the mission's future training activities. Increasing EUJUST LEX-IRAQ's focus on in-country activities should facilitate better assessment. It should also enable the mission to conduct more effective follow up sessions with course participants to check whether learning has been implemented. This will be supplemented with some mentoring of Iraqi officials. Finally, the Iraq based activity will facilitate more effective liaison with the Iraqi authorities so that EUJUST LEX-IRAQ activities can be better planned to support the Iraqi national training programme."

60.28 The Minister then says that the UK has also argued that the mission should establish a more permanent footprint outside of Baghdad to facilitate training and mentoring activities throughout the country:

"In the northern Kurdistan Region, Erbil was selected as the location for the proposed new office due to the city's favourable security conditions. It has also been the location for the majority of completed in-country activities with training venues and facilities already established. In order to tackle any suggestion of ethnic bias towards Kurds, the activities run out of Erbil will cover the Iraqi population beyond the Kurdish region.

"The proposed smaller presence in Basra is due to the security conditions there with a number of Member States reluctant to see an expansion to the south before testing whether projects could be effectively delivered. The staff placed in Basra under the new mandate will evaluate the ability for the mission to have an impact."

60.29 Finally, the Minister says that:

—  the estimated total budget for the two year extension is €17,500,000 which will be funded from the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy budget;

—  the UK contributes 13.6% to the overall EU budget in 2010;

—  as the EU budget funds the CFSP budget, the cost to the UK for the two year extension will be €2,380,000 (£2,019,000); and

—  this Council Decision is due to be agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June 2010.[257]


60.30 Although no questions arise from the Council Decision itself, we are again reporting this extension to the House because of the widespread interest in developments in Iraq, and especially in the area of rule of law.

60.31 We now clear the document. In so doing, we recognise that the general election and its aftermath militated against the Minister withholding agreement to this Decision until it had been scrutinised by the Committee, and do not object, on this occasion and in these circumstances, to the action that he took in agreeing to its adoption prior to scrutiny.

254   See headnote: HC 19-xvii (2008-09), chapter 3 (13 May 2009).  Back

255   See headnote: HC 38-ix (2004-05), chapter 9 (23 February 2005) and (27480) -: HC 34-xxix (2005-06) chapter 9 (17 May 2006). Back

256   See headnote: HC 19-xvii (2008-09), chapter 3 (13 May 2009). Back

257   And was indeed adopted by the FAC on that day. Back

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