The EU’s contribution to state-building has been limited to training criminal justice officials in the EU, but in 2010, the European Council decided to move the mission to Iraq.
2010 was a momentous year for Iraq with the end of US combat operations in the country and highly contentious elections. European powers no longer play a significant direct role in Iraqi security, but the EU has expanded the work of EUJUST LEX, a rule-of-law mission focused on training Iraqi criminal justice officials – including judges, senior policemen and penitentiary advisors – since 2005. However, the budget of EUJUST LEX is just €17.5 million.
Prior to 2010, EUJUST LEX oversaw the training of Iraqi officials in EU member states rather than in Iraq itself for security reasons. A relatively small number of member states – notably France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK – have hosted most training programmes. In July 2010, the European Council approved a decision to move the bulk of mission staff from Brussels to Baghdad to oversee more in-country training. Having peaked at over 1,000 in 2009, the overall number of individuals being trained appears to have dropped off slightly in 2010. However, far more officials are now attending courses in Iraq and the mission is mandated to continue to 2012.
EUJUST LEX clearly only focuses on a narrow dimension of strengthening the Iraqi state, and other international actors – not least the US – have also worked on criminal-justice reform. There is evidence that unlawful detentions and the use of torture in Iraqi jails remain common. This suggests that the EU’s programming – although generally agreed to be useful for trainees – has failed to resolve fundamental problems in the delivery of justice in post-war Iraq. However, the decision to finally move EUJUST LEX’s centre of operations to Baghdad at least gives the EU the potential to play a more substantial role in the future.