Documents considered by the Committee on 14 June 2012 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


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

(33911)

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 31 May 2012
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (32849) — : HC 428-xxx (2010-12), chapter 15 (22 June 2011); (31693) —: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 60 (8 September 2010); (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)
Discussion in Council23-24 June 2011 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested

Background

9.1 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.[43]

9.2 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.[44] 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.

9.3 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 EUJUST LEX 's work, which was expected to end in 2009.

9.4 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 1,400 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.

9.5 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.

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

9.7 The Joint Action that 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 three 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; they would include further training courses, providing strategic advice on the ground and follow up mentoring sessions for previous course participants; planning 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."

9.8 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 EUJUST 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."

9.9 On the financial aspects, the then Minister said that the mission was operating within budget and continuing 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.

9.10 The previous Committee therefore 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.

9.11 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.

9.12 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.

9.13 In the meantime, the document was retained under scrutiny.[45]

The then Minister's letter of 22 May 2009

9.14 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 it had 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; and suggested that, with the current mandate due to come to an end in June 2009, it had been taken at the time to mean that the mission would cease on that date, which she did not believe to be the case.

9.15 With regard to the remark in her Explanatory Memorandum that, though courses were currently run and hosted by Member States, this might change when the mission began 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 would remain as the lead in running them.

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

9.17 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".

9.18 The then Minister then turned to the financial aspects. She explained that the statement in her predecessor's Explanatory Memorandum of 9th June 2008 that the last mandate extension until June 2009 (then under consideration) would be a "no cost" extension was, unfortunately, incorrect: it had been based on 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 .[46]

The previous Committee's assessment

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

9.20 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 2010 Council Decision

9.21 This Council Decision altered the mandate of EUJUST LEX-IRAQ in three ways;

—  the mission's mandate was extended for two years until 30 June 2012.

—  the mission's focus was to shift further towards in-country training activities (although courses held in EU member states would continue).

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

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

9.22 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 11 June 2010, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) described establishing effective rule of law as "central to the future stability of Iraq." He continued 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 3,100 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."

9.23 The Minister supported 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."

9.24 The Minister went on to say that the UK had consistently called for improvements in the way the mission assessed 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."

9.25 The Minister then said that the UK had 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."

9.26 Finally, the Minister said that:

—  the estimated total budget for the two year extension was €17,500,000 which would 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 would be €2,380,000 (£2,019,000); and

—  this Council Decision was due to be agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June 2010.[47]

Our assessment

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

9.28 We also cleared the document.[48]

The first 2011 Council Decision

9.29 We considered this Council Decision on 2 March 2011. It outlined a proposed increase to EUJUST LEX-IRAQ's budget of €4.8 million, from €17.5 million to €22.3 million. This was required to fund the expansion of the mission's presence in-country in line with the last mandate extension, viz:

  • costs incurred by the mission in exchange for increased accommodation and support provided by the British Embassy in Baghdad;
  • a new private security contractor who will take over responsibility for EUJUST LEX-IRAQ 's mobile security from the British Embassy;
  • the transfer of the majority of mission staff from Brussels to Baghdad.

9.30 The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explained that:

  • expanding its presence in-country was designed not only to facilitate more in-country training and mentoring activities but also to address an assessed failing (partly because of its limited presence in country) to capitalise on its otherwise effective work through follow-up activities, but also to evaluate its activity more effectively and improve the mission's impact;
  • the October 2010 feasibility study determined that expanding EUJUST LEX-IRAQ's presence at the British Embassy in Baghdad was judged the most cost effective and timely option available.

9.31 The Minister said the proposed budgetary increase should deliver a greater focus on in-country courses, facilitate better assessment, and allow EUJUST LEX-IRAQ to analyse its effectiveness by conducting more follow up activities with past course participants.

9.32 The Committee concluded that on this occasion there was nothing in this Council Decision that warranted a further substantive Report to the House, and cleared it thus.

The second Council Decision

9.33 This Council Decision outlined a new EUJUST LEX budget, for the period of 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, of €27.25 million (compared with the 2010-2011budget of €22.3 million).

9.34 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 June 2011, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) said that this new budget reflected, over the full year, the higher operational, security, and accommodation costs flowing from the expansion finalised in late 2010 and the consequential budget increase of €4.8 million that was approved in March 2011 to cover the three months until the end of the present budget period.

9.35 The Minister said that the UK wanted to see a strong and stable Iraq playing a positive role in the region and beyond, and once more described improving the rule of law in Iraq as central to this goal. EUJUST LEX's activities were aimed at improving the capacity and knowledge of key personnel within the Iraqi criminal justice system, with courses designed to demonstrate international best practice and provide Iraqi officials with the skills required to carry out criminal investigations more effectively. He went on to note that, to date, EUJUST LEX had facilitated 134 courses, 3 regional seminars and 40 in-country activities, with 4,008 Iraqi attendees (1,930 police, 849 judiciary and 1,229 penitentiary including 1,064 from the Kurdistan region and 267 female participants).

9.36 The Minister then recalled that the one of the reasons why the Government supported a two year extension of EUJUST LEX in June 2010 was allowing EUJUST LEX to expand its presence in Iraq and focus on in-country training activities would allow more frequent contact with Iraqi officials and past alumni, and thus more evaluation to assess the impact and sustainability of the training provided.

9.37 The Minister then explained that the new annual budget of €27.25 million was broken down as follows:

  • Personnel Costs: €4.83 million
  • Mission Costs €538,000
  • Running Expenditure: €20.84 million
  • Capital Expenditure: €710,000
  • Representation/Contingency Fees: €332,000

9.38 The Minister said that, despite being a significant rise, reductions had been made to parts of the budget that had limited the overall increase, and set out the services that the new budget would cover and the areas where reductions had been made. The main item was an €8.6 million increase in the running costs; this was, he explained, required to cover increased costs as a result of the mission's expansion in-country, and included key services such as twelve months rent for office space/staff personnel accommodation in Baghdad, Basra, Erbil and Brussels (€9.3 million) and the services of a new private security contractor to cover the mission's mobile security requirements in Baghdad and Erbil (€10.26 million).

9.39 The Minister said the new budget would allow the mission to continue to deliver in-country training courses, facilitate better impact evaluation of the training and increase Iraqi ownership of the training process. He emphasised that clear evaluation of EUJUST LEX's training courses would be a priority over the next twelve months, to demonstrate the impact of the mission's expansion in-country; and noted that, to reinforce the importance the UK placed on evaluation and ensure that it remained such a priority, a UK expert had been seconded as EUJUST LEX's head of evaluation.

Our assessment

9.40 We thanked the Minister for having provided such a thorough exposition of the next year's budget, and commended his determination to improve the level and quality of the evaluation of EUJUST LEX's impact.

9.41 We looked forward to hearing more about this as and when any further mandate extension and/or budgetary increase proposals are put forward.

9.42 In the meantime, we cleared the document from scrutiny.[49]

The draft Council Decision

9.43 This Council Decision extends the mandate for 18 months, to 31 December 2013, and proposes a new budget of €27,150,000.

9.44 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 31 May 2012, the Minister of Europe (Mr David Lidington) notes that the mandate will focus on:

—   the Federal Investigator Training Programme for the Iraqi Police , so as to reinforce training capacity, capitalise on the Mission's previous work, and unify and give coherence to the instruction of all Police investigators in Iraq;

—  in terms of the transition of the Judiciary to Iraqi ownership, in Baghdad, on reinforcing the Iraqi capacity to train its judges in white collar crime, using previously trained judges as trainers, and on enhancing Iraqi knowledge of and links with European and regional judicial institutions and related agencies; and, in Kurdistan, on enhancing the didactic capacity of the Judicial Training Institute's body of trainers in order to underpin the quality of the training delivered, as well as on carrying out MMA activities with the Institute's management to facilitate its establishment;

—  activities for the Penitentiary that will include the further extension of the International Standards of Audit Programme, prisoner classification to improve security and conditions for inmates, rehabilitation and reintegration including creation of a Probation Service, Leadership Training and Strategic Advice on the Transfer of Authority from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to the Ministry of Justice;

—  continuing the mainstreaming of human rights and gender approaches in all Mission activities, which he says has proved to be and efficient way to advance these topics, while also implementing two specific activities: one on domestic violence and one on trafficking in persons.

The Government's view

9.45 Reiterating the Government's wish to see a strong and stable Iraq playing a positive role in the region and beyond and the centrality of the effective rule of law to the future stability of Iraq, the Minister continues as follows:

"Through support to the Iraqi criminal justice system, EUJL has made an important contribution to building the institutional knowledge necessary to develop the rule of law. EUJL 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, EUJL has facilitated EU Member State courses and work experience secondments. It has also conducted regional thematic seminars, preliminary in-country events and successfully completed pilot in-country activities. 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."

9.46 The Minister then recalls the two year extension approved in June 2010 and notes that, as well as allowing an expanded presence in Iraq, increased focus on in-country training activities, more frequent contact with Iraqi officials and past alumni, it would facilitate more evaluation to assess the impact and sustainability of the training provided; and continues as follows.

"Following a Strategic Review of the Mission's activities, a mandate for a further 18 months has been agreed to give it sufficient time to enable it to implement a tighter, refocused mandate and make a positive impact on Rule of Law in Iraq. At the same time EUJL will simultaneously prepare a proper exit strategy, in particular by building relations with the Iraqi Authorities to ensure a smooth transition to Iraqi ownership. This will ensure that the investment and resources deployed to date will be more fully utilised as the mission moves towards closure. The government supports this new mandate which will strengthen efforts to increase local ownership, including with co-funding in order to improve sustainability; and to refocus its efforts on particular aspects of rule of law which are of most interest to the Iraqi authorities and which they wish to continue beyond 2014. Within this period, the mission will report on progress after six months and again after twelve months and following these reviews, will start to reduce the size of its staff as the exit strategy is being implemented and as individual Mission objectives are achieved.

"From an Iraq policy perspective, the extension of the mission will send a positive message to our Iraqi interlocutors, substantially enhance Iraq-EU relations and will increase the visibility of the EU with local and international counterparts. NATO has withdrawn its training mission at short notice. Against this political backdrop, the Government is committed to supporting Iraq in building up a network of sustainable and positive international relations, in particular with Europe and the West."

9.47 The Minister then outlines the breakdown of the new budget of €27,150,000 as follows:

—  Personnel Costs: €4,832,177

—  Mission Costs: €436,925

—  Running Expenditure: €21,754,486

—  Capital Expenditure: €58,990

—  Representation / Contingency Fees: €67,422

9.48 The Minister supports the proposed budget because "it will allow the mission to increase Iraqi ownership of the training process and implement an exit strategy." Noting that it is currently being reviewed at the RELEX working group, the Minister says that he will update the Committee once the budget has been agreed.

Conclusion

9.49 With this latest budget, the EU will have spent some €118 million on EUJUST LEX. The Minister has previously, and rightly, made much of the scope for more assessment of the Mission's achievements that would flow from the move to greater in-country training, and how it would facilitate better impact evaluation of the training and increase Iraqi ownership of the training process. A year ago, he emphasised that clear evaluation of EUJUST LEX's training courses would be a priority over the next twelve months, to demonstrate the impact of the mission's expansion in-country; and noted that, to reinforce the importance the UK placed on evaluation and ensure that it remained such a priority, a UK expert had been seconded as EUJUST LEX's head of evaluation. The Committee commended his determination to improve the level and quality of the evaluation of EUJUST LEX's impact and looked forward to hearing more about this as and when any further mandate extension and/or budgetary increase proposals are put forward (c.f. paragraphs 9.40-41above).

9.50 We would therefore have hoped to have seen some concrete indications of such evaluation in the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum, since we presume that it was reflected in the strategic review to which he refers, and especially as it was requested a year ago. However, there is but a brief description of some of the activity (c.f. paragraph 9.45 above). We should therefore like to hear more of what evaluation has taken place in the past year of the impact and sustainability of the training provided, and about how the findings have been reflected in the strategic review concerning the evaluation.

9.51 We should also like to hear about the cost of the UK's direct and indirect contribution thus far, especially as a further three years have passed since we first asked for this information (c.f. paragraph 9.12 above).

9.52 We should also like the Minister to explain what NATO training mission has been withdrawn at short notice, and why (c.f. paragraph 9.46 above).

9.53 In the meantime, we shall retain the document under scrutiny.


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

44   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

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

46   Reproduced at the annex to chapter 15 of the Committee's Report of 22 June 2011. Back

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

48   See headnote: (31693) -: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 60 (8 September 2011). Back

49   See headnote: (32849) -: HC 428-xxx (2010-12), chapter 15 (22 June 2011). Back


 
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