A critical question in the discussion of the Kirkuk referendum is how to define the region’s administrative boundaries, a question that the current legal framework fails to resolve. Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) and Article 140 of the Constitution offer no clear definition of the phrase “disputed territory”, which technically applies to any dispute over territory in any part of Iraq. Section B of Article 58 outlines the procedure for “remedying the unjust changes” to administrative boundaries made by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Kirkuk lost four Kirkuk districts—Chamchamal, Kalar, Kifri, and Tuz—under Saddam Hussein, but remedying this loss requires making alterations to three other governorates, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Sulaimaniya. Defining Kirkuk’s boundaries to include these four lost districts may be problematic for Iraq’s national cohesion, as under the Ba’athist regime, provincial boundaries in the whole nation were altered several times, in most cases, not due to ethnographic reasons. Limiting the “disputed territory” discussion to Kirkuk will simplify the issue and bring an unfair advantage to one ethnic group; however opening the discussion on a national level has potentially destabilizing effects for Iraq.
A more serious problem is the discrepancy between the mechanisms established to resolve territorial disputes and the nature of the territory the Kurds sought to reclaim. Article 140 establishes a census/referendum mechanism resolving all of the problems associated with disputed territory, but fails to identify the administrative level at which these are supposed to take place.
What is CKRO?
The Center for Kirkuk Referendum Operations (CKRO) is a collaborative initiative of the Center for Democracy and Society at Georgetown University. A policy institute and professional network, CKRO seeks to enable a successful vote in Iraq and refine the model for status referenda worldwide.
You can contact the Center at any time via email at CKRO@georgetown.edu.
From the Democracy and Society Blog
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