Skip navigation

Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

Articles and Briefings

About the Iraq Commission

In 2007 the Foreign Policy Centre, in conjunction with Channel 4, set up an independent, cross-party Commission tasked with producing a blueprint for Britain's future involvement in Iraq.

THE IRAQ COMMISSION REPORT CAN BE DOWNLOADED AT:

http://fpc.org.uk/publications/iraqcommissionreport

The Commission published its final report on Saturday 14 July at 7.30pm, televised on Channel 4. The report provides a road map for British commitment in Iraq going forward. The report was be delivered to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the main political parties.

Similar in scope to the Iraq Study Group in the U.S, the inquiry heard evidence from over 50 witnesses from Iraq, Britain and the United States - from eminent military personnel, diplomats, business people and civil servants as well as legal experts, humanitarian aid groups and UK community leaders. It also received submissions from across the world. For the remit, witnesses and submissions to the Iraq Commission, see below.

The Iraq Commission is jointly chaired by Lord Ashdown (former High Representative for Bosnia Herzegovina), Baroness Jay (former leader of the House of Lords) and Lord King (Defence Secretary during the first Gulf War and Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee).

Lord Ashdown said, "One of the greatest international challenges of our time is bringing peace and security to Iraq. It is both in Britain's national interest, and a moral obligation, that a way forward is found for Iraq and its people."

Baroness Jay said, "The Iraq Commission aims to produce a long term strategy for Britain's role in Iraq – this will incorporate the challenges of reconstruction, rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts, as well as security for the Iraqi people and British troops."

Lord King said, "The current situation threatens the stability of the region, and has major implications for the world as a whole. It is up to policy makers on all sides to consider how best to help resolve it, and enhance the security of Iraq itself and the region."

The Chairs were supported by nine Commissioners:

Former British Ambassador to the UN, Lord Hannay of Chiswick; Dr Rosemary Hollis, Director of Research, Chatham House; Sir Paul Lever KCMG, Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies; Lt Gen Andrew Ridgway, former UN and NATO Commander; Maeve Sherlock, former Chief Executive of the Refugee Council; Asim Siddiqui, Chairman of the City Circle; Stephen Twigg, Director of the Foreign Policy Centre; Sir Patrick Walker, former Director General of MI5; and Professor Brian Brivati. For biographies of the Commission members, see below.

The hearings were open to the press, and were televised on Channel 4 from 2 July. This was followed on 14 July by a special 90-minute programme in which Jon Snow was joined by the Commission to discuss their recommendations and the implications of the report. All the hearings can be downloaded from www.channel4.com/iraqcommission

Members of the public can watch hearings, read transcripts and join an online debate at www.channel4.com/iraqcommission

Witnesses to the Iraq Commission

  • Sir Christopher Meyer, Chair of the Press Complaints Commission & former British Ambassador to the United States
  • Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP, Labour MP for Rotherham & former Minister for Europe
  • Greg Mutitt, Co-Director of PLATFORM
  • Dr Bassam Fattouh, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
  • Mohamed Bali, Country Desk Manager for Iraq and Lebanon, Muslim Aid
  • Oliver Burch, Iraq Programme Manager, Christian Aid
  • Professor Amitai Etzioni, Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University
  • Andrew Bearpark, Director General of the British Association of Private Security Companies
  • David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief, The Jerusalem Post
  • Marion Birch, Director of MedAct
  • Dr Heba Al-Naseri, Member of the UK Iraqi Medical Association
  • Tom Porteous, Director of Human Rights Watch
  • Noaman Muna, Chairman of Iraqi Al-Amal Association
  • Dr Ismail Jalili, Chairman of National Association of British Arabs
  • Adnan Al-Dulaimi, General Council for the People of Iraq
  • Dr Toby Dodge, Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London
  • Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Shadow Security Minister in the Shadow Cabinet and National Security Adviser to Conservative Party Leader
  • Dr Ali Ansari, Reader in Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland
  • Sir Richard Dalton, Former British Ambassador to Iran
  • Jan de Wilde, Chief of Mission at the International Organisation for Migration London
  • Thanaa Al Kinani, Lawyer and human rights activist
  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Former British Ambassador to the United Nations in New York and Her Majesty's former Special Representative in Iraq
  • Peter Bergen, Schwartz Senior fellow at the New America Foundation
  • Andrew Alderson, Gulf Capital
  • Professor Fred Kagan, Resident Scholar of American Enterprise Institute
  • David Horgan, Managing Director of Petrel Resources
  • Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, former Foreign Secretary and Conservative Member of Parliament
  • Lt Gen (Ret) Jay Garner, Retired US Army General
  • HE Dr Sami Khiyami, Syrian Ambassador to the UK
  • Duncan Bullivant, Chief Executive of Henderson Risk Group
  • Ammar Al Shahbander, Country Director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • Sir Menzies Campbell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • Ghassan Attiyah, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy
  • General Sir Mike Jackson, Former Chief of the General Staff
  • Dr Barham Salih, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq
  • Peter Kellner, Chairman of YouGov
  • Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
  • Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King's College, London
  • Zainab Salbi, CEO and Founder of Women for Women International
  • Houzan Mahmoud, UK Head of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq and co-founder of the Iraq Freedom Congress
  • Dr Ali Allawi, former Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance in the Iraqi Government
  • Professor Salama Al Khafaji, Independent Iraqi MP and former member of the Interim Iraqi Governing Council
  • Simon Maxwell, Director of the Overseas Development Institute
  • Verena Fritz, Research Fellow, Poverty and Public Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute
  • James Darcy, Director of Humanitarian Programmes, Overseas Development Institute
  • Tom Hardie-Forsyth, Co-Founder and Non Executive director of the Kurdistan Development Corporation.
  • Bayan Rahman, High Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq to the UK and Chair of the Kurdistan Development Corporation
  • Roger Wright, UNICEF Representative for Iraq
  • Rachel Briggs, Head of Identity Programme, Demos
  • Tim Finch, Director of Communications, Refugee Council
  • George Graham, the Advocacy and Policy Officer, International Rescue Committee (IRC) UK.
  • Richard Fenning, CEO of Control Risks
  • Salam Pax, the 'Baghdad Blogger'
  • Patrick Seale, British author and expert on Syria and the Middle East
  • Dr Gareth Stansfield, Reader in Middle East Politics at University of Exeter and Associate Fellow, Chatham House.
  • Professor Brendan O'Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr Kahled Salih, Spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq
  • Abdul Samad Rahman Sultan, Minister for Migration and the Displaced, Government of Iraq

Submissions to The Iraq Commission

The Commission received submissions from across the world. A full list is available at www.channel4.com/iraqcommission

Remit of The Iraq Commission

On the 27th April 2007, The Iraq Commission announced its inquiry into Britain's future involvement in Iraq.

In coming to its conclusions on the scope and focus of Britain's future involvement in Iraq, the Commission will take into account the impact any actions will have on:

  • Southern Iraq's internal security dynamic, and approaches to improving stability
  • The political and economic situation in Iraq
  • The role of UK troops in Iraq, and the strategic objectives of their deployment
  • The UK's wider Middle East strategy including Iran and Syria.
  • Domestic political considerations in the UK including the impact on community cohesion
  • Consequences for key strategic alliances - the transatlantic relationship, EU and the UN
  • Reconstruction and development in Iraq and the role of UK NGOs and other agencies
  • Long term support for Iraq, including budgetary, policing, social services, democracy and civil society support

Issues expressly outside the scope of the Commission and the Report include:

  • The merits and legality of the UK decision to intervene militarily in Iraq.
  • Specific allegations of war crimes by British Forces, or corruption or wrong doing by individual organisations.

Commissioner Biographies

Co-Chairs:

Lord Ashdown served as an officer in the Royal Marines from 1959 to 1972. He then worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, before being elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Yeovil in 1983. He was leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999. After leaving Parliament Lord Ashdown was appointed High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2002.

Baroness Jay was formerly Lord Privy Seal, Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women. Previously, she was Minister of State at the Department of Health. She was a founding director of the National AIDS Trust and a governor of South Bank University. She is currently Chair of the Overseas Development Institute.

Lord King was elected to Parliament at in 1970. He held the posts of Employment Secretary and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He also served as Defence Secretary under Prime Minister John Major during the Gulf War in 1991. After retirement to the back benches, he became Chair of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee.

Members:

Lord Hannay of Chiswick, a British diplomat, spent five years as ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations. Most recently he has taken on specialised roles such as Special Representative for Cyprus and was a member of the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, reporting to the Secretary-General in December 2004. He is the Chair of the United Nations Association UK.

Dr Rosemary Hollis, director of research at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs). Previously she was head of the Middle East programme at Chatham House. From 1990-95, she headed the Middle East Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. From 1980-89 she was a lecturer in Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she also gained a PhD in Political Science.

Sir Paul Lever KCMG, Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. He retired from the British Diplomatic Service in 2003 as Ambassador to Germany. His previous postings included Head of Security Policy Department and Assistant Under Secretary for Defence at the Foreign Office; Leader of the British Delegation to the Negotiations on Conventional Forces in Europe in Vienna; Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office; and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Lieutenant General Andrew Peter Ridgway, CB, CBE, became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey from 14 June 2006 after a long military career. In 1982 he attended the Army Staff College at Camberley, before taking command of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment and the 7th Armoured Brigade (the 'Desert Rats'). In 1994 he was appointed UN Commander in Central Bosnia and Herzegovina, and became Chief of Staff for the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps for NATO's entry into the Kosovo War in 1999. Most recently, for 2003 to 2006, he was Chief of Defence Intelligence, although he was not directly involved in producing the controversial intelligence reports that led to 2003 invasion of Iraq and Operation Telic.

Maeve Sherlock, former Chief Executive of the Refugee Council. Before joining the Refugee Council in 2003, Maeve was a special adviser to Gordon Brown, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer where her brief spanned child poverty, welfare reform and the voluntary sector. Before moving to the Treasury, Maeve was Chief Executive of the National Council for One Parent Families and, prior to that, Director of UKCOSA. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration and a Fellow of Durham University.

Asim Siddiqui, chairman of the City Circle, a network body of mainly young Muslim professionals. In addition to local grass root community work, Asim and his team organise weekly public discussion forums providing an outlet for debate on issues of mutual concern between British Muslim communities and wider society. Asim is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and sits on the Guardian's Muslim Youth Forum.

Stephen Twigg, joined the Foreign Policy Centre as Director in August 2005. He was involved with the FPC from its conception in 1998 and since then as a Member of the Board from 1998 to 2006. After being General Secretary of the Fabian Society from 1996 to 1997, Stephen was elected as a Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate in 1997, which he represented until 2005. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon. Robin Cook MP, from 2001 to 2002 and then a junior minister in the Department for Education and Skills between 2002 and 2005, reaching the post of Minister of State in 2004. Stephen also contributes to the Aegis Trust in their work on genocide education and prevention.

Sir Patrick Walker, the 12th Director General of MI5 (1987-1992). Sir Patrick joined the Security Service in 1963, following a period of service in the pre-independence government of Uganda. He became Director General in 1987, overseeing the Service's transition though the end of the Cold War before his retirement in 1992.

Brian Brivati, is Professor of Contemporary History at Kingston University and runs the human rights programmes at BA and MA level. He was recently part of a panel of leading Ministers, MPs and thinkers who came together in the Houses of Parliament at the end of April this year to discuss the future of humanitarian intervention, after the conflict in Iraq. He has published extensive work on contemporary British politics. His research and teaching has recently extended to comparative work on genocide and human rights.

Further details about The Iraq Commission are available at: www.channel4.com/iraqcommission