The role of the United Nations in Iraq – A get-together of former fellowship students in the KAS New York office

A main objective of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) is the support of young talent that promotes liberal democratic values globally. In addition to its political engagement, the KAS New York office aims to connect current and former KAS alumni and grow an interdisciplinary network of international experts.

On May 17th 2018, former fellowship students of the KAS were invited to the office to join Mr. Axel Wennmann, Senior Political Affairs Officer in the UN Department of Political Affairs and a former fellowship student himself, for a talk about the role of the United Nations in Iraq. With various backgrounds ranging from politics to journalism and artificial intelligence, the participants were keen to engage with the other fellowship students and learn about the impact the United Nations had on the conflict in Iraq.

Mr. Wennmann pointed out that, the unanimous decision of the Security Council to fight and defeat ISIS in Iraq was crucial for a comprehensive and resolute reaction to the rising crisis. Interestingly enough, the US and Iran, typically known to have diametrically opposed interests, found themselves in the unusual constellation of operating in the same country and fighting the same enemy. Finally, due to the determined international intervention, ISIS was militarily defeated and does not have control over any significant territory in Iraq anymore.

In addition to the successful military strategy, the United Nations was better able to deal with the humanitarian implications of the conflict. Building on their previous experiences in Syria and Libya, the United Nations were better able to manage the flows of domestic refugees in Iraq and ensure their protection. Today, the new challenge is the reconciliation of different social groups and the reconstruction of Iraq as a sovereign nation. Due to the strong influence of the US, Iran and other countries, the political landscape in Iraq is fragmented and the establishment of a capable coalition proves to be complicated. Furthermore, the low voter turnout in the last parliamentary elections in May 2018 will potentially weaken the legitimacy of the new government. Despite the challenges ahead, Iraq has started the process of political stabilization and the United Nations will continue to monitor the developments in Iraq closely.

Following Mr. Wennmann´s remarks the participants were keen to learn more about the other fellowship students and engaged in a lively conversation. They unanimously expressed their desire to grow a stronger bond with the foundation and its active and former fellowship students. Building on the success of this event, Dr. Stefan Friedrich, the Director of the KAS New York office, stressed his intention to continue his efforts to grow an active KAS-Community in the region.