Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD)

International Information

International Operation Name: Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD)

International Mission Name: Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD)

Mandating Organization: Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom establishing the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, 26 August 1997

Region Name: Europe

Location: Ireland; United Kingdom

Mission Date: 26 August 1997 - 25 February 2010

Mission Mandate: To "undertake ... such tasks that may be required of it to facilitate the decommissioning of arms, including observing, monitoring and verifying decommissioning and receiving and auditing arms"

Narrative: The modern phase of the violence in Northern Ireland began in the late 1960s after the Roman Catholic community in the province demanded an end to institutionalised discrimination against its members. Civil disobedience produced a reaction by the Protestant community and, in due course, that led to civil unrest, the development of para-military groups on both sides, and sectarian violence which culminated in the deployment of the British Army to Ulster. Ultimately, three primary interest groups became involved: the pro-united Ireland groups led by the Irish Republican Army (IRA); the Loyalist groups led by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF); and the government of the United Kingdom represented by the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. 

Between 1972 and 1993 there were at least seven well-publicised and formal political initiatives to bring an end to the violence. All ended in failure, and it seemed that the conflicting views and demands of the various parties could never be reconciled. However, the British government and the IRA were also holding direct (and secret) talks through most of this period, and in 1994 the IRA declared a unilateral ceasefire, which was followed by ceasefire declarations by the UDA and UVF in October. Although the interested parties, including the Government of Ireland, would not and could not sit down at all-party talks for various reasons, Britain and Ireland jointly established an international body in November 1995. 

On 26 August 1997, the British and Irish governments signed the “Agreement on Independent International Commission on Decommissioning” (IICD). The international body consisted of US Senator George Mitchell, former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri and retired Canadian General John de Chastelain. Their task was to determine how (and at what point) to bring about the decommissioning (surrender and eventual destruction) of all the weapons held by all the paramilitary groups in Ireland – something that would have to happen for there to be peace in the North. Their report recommended that decommissoning take place during the negotiation process, rather than before (as a precondition, because lack of agreement could prolong discussions forever) or after (when the risk of renewed violence might nullify any settlement) – and that it be supervised by an “Independent Commission.” 

Although the work of the IICD is behind schedule, the Commission's report of 26 September 2005 indicated that the Commission believed the IRA had put their munitions beyond use. This was verified by two witnesses who were independent of the Commission, Father Alex Reid and Reverend Harold Good. 

The mandate was extended annually over the following twelve years by both Governments, until their decision not to renew it in 2010. Thus it ended in Northern Ireland at midnight on Tuesday 9 February 2010 and in Ireland at midnight on Thursday 25 February 2010.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (INVITATION)

Name: Operation INVITATION

Date: 16 April 1998 - 25 February 2010

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: To provide the necessary stable security environment to successfully implement the Ohird Framework Agreement.

CF Mission/Operation Notes: As part of the decommissioning process, the British and Irish governments asked for the assistance of a Canadian Forces explosives ordnance disposal experts. They would give the Commission expert advice on the nature and condition of the arms being presented for decommissioning, and the safety measures required for the handling and disposal of these weapons. This request went to the Minister of National Defence who approved it on 16 April 1998. This tasking was given the name Operation INVITATION. 

The Canadian Forces has provided at least two captains at different times to assist the Commission. A captain remained on stand-by should the Commission have a requirement for advice. The Commission was grateful to Canada for the provision of these officers who did valuable and necessary work in the execution of the decommissioning mandate.

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