Verification/Monitoring Mechanism: Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement
Disarmament: Strand Three
4. The Independent Commission will monitor, review and verify progress on decommissioning of illegal arms, and will report to both Governments at regular intervals.
The accord provided for the establishment of Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to monitor, review and verify the total disarmament of all paramilitary organizations. The deadline for completing the disarmament was May 2000. The Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act (1997), which received Royal Assent on 27 February 1997, had a provision in Article 7 for the establishment of an independent international decommissioning commission. The act was enacted before the accord was signed in 1998. Therefore, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was already established when the accord was signed and was headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.1
The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.2
- 1. "Northern Ireland on track," The Washington Times, December 15, 1997.
- 2. "IRA guns: The list of weapons," BBC News, September 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4284048.stm.
The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1999.3
- 3. Ibid.
The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.4
- 4. Ibid.
The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.5
- 5. Ibid.
The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.6
- 6. Ibid.
While the IICD’s effectiveness was contingent on paramilitary compiling the provisions in accords and because the Government of Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom committed themselves in finding peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues and opposed any use or threat of force for any political purpose (Good Friday Agreement, Declaration of Support, Article 4), and because peace process stalled on issues related to decommissioning of weapons, the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reached an agreement in Dublin on 25 November 2003 to establish an independent International Monitoring Commission (IMC) to monitor any activities by a paramilitary activities and report its findings to the two governments in six month intervals.7
- 7. "Independent Monitoring Commission Act 2003," accessed February 4, 2013, http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/2003/EN.ACT.2003.0040.pdf.
The commission has a provision for four members from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States. The monitoring commission was inaugurated in January and the commission submitted its first report on paramilitary activities on 20 April 2004.8 In 2004, the commission submitted three reports on paramilitary activities.
- 8. "First Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (HC 516)," Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), London: The Stationery Office (TSO), April 20, 2004.
Because the IICD could only verify weapon decommissions and cannot compel paramilitaries to decommission their weapons, the IICD failed to gain trust among unionists. It was only after the IRA announcement in July 2005 that it had ceased its armed struggle and would “dump arms” in favor of democratic means.9 According to the IICD chairman General John de Chastelain, two churchmen had witnessed the decommissioning process.10
In 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted three reports on paramilitary activities.
- 9. "IRA guns: The list of weapons."
- 10. "Report of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning," BBC News, September 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/26_09_05_decommissioning.pdf.
In 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted five reports on paramilitary activities.
In 2007, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted five reports on paramilitary activities.
The Independent Monitoring Commission continued to submit its reports, which was terminated in 2011. By 2011, the commission submitted twenty-six reports.