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National unity conference for civil society organizations

National Unity Conference

 For Civil Society Organizations

October 2006

Preview:

In view of the political and economical deterioration, the rampage of holy shrines and houses of prayers, killing of clergymen and academia and army officers, in addition to murdering Iraqis from other categories of men and women, young and old,  recurrence of unprecedented violence through car bombs and death squads, paving the grounds for a civil war; comes the Arab States’ League initiative to convene a preparatory meeting for an Iraqi National Accord Conference, ( planned for August 2006), elaborating on the success of the preparatory meeting convened in Cairo in November 2005, with a broad prospective of a diverse political, ethnic, and religion Iraqi participations. Amongst the main recommendations of the preparatory meeting was to encourage/enhance the participation and role of the Civil Society Organizations in the National Accord Process, where the activists’ of these organizations devote their work regardless of the existing ethnic, sectarian, and political vision and policies.

The initiative by the Iraqi AlAmal Association came in order to enhance the participation of the CSO in the National Unity Process, and strengthen their contribution in political decision making to promote the culture of dialogue between the different Iraqi social components, while paving a common ground for all to build a new Iraq, based on tolerance and commitment towards national identity, denouncing all kinds of violence. The initiative was implemented in collaboration with 10 other organizations to form a preparatory committee, where multi cultural backgrounds, with regional and gender balance representation was assured, this committee set to prepare for a Parallel Conference  – with attendance of nearly 100 organizations- to the Official National Accord Conference, the parallel conference was to be convened in August, prior to the official conference where political and religious institutions and parties were to be represented.

Objectives and Activities:

The preparatory committee convened several meetings in sequence, prior to calling for the Parallel Convention, focussing on the topics:

–   Citizenship as a basic rule for equality in front of the law

–   The civil society and the democratic transaction into a civil movement, the role of women in decision making.

–  The security file, resolution of armed militias, and programmes to reintegrate them in civil society.

–  Reconstruction/recovery of Iraqi economy based on transparency, monitoring and auditing.

A delegation of the preparatory committee held a meeting with the Arab States’ League Envoy in Baghdad, H.E. Mukhtar Lammany, where it was agreed to invite representatives from the Parallel Conference to attend the Official Conference, in order to convey the CSO vision into the conference. A representative from the Iraqi AlAmal Association attended the preparatory meeting for the Official Iraqi National Accord Conference, convened in Cairo July 25-26.

The official conference postponement came without specifying a new convening date; this has provided the preparatory committee for the parallel conference with the opportunity to broaden the participation of NGOs by planning to convene four regional conferences where recommendations will be presented in the final one. On this basis, regional preparatory committees were formed and held meetings with faculty, academia, clergymen, heads of tribes, and civil society organizations, from each region, in preparation for topics’ discussions and facilitation. A representative of IAA was present in all regional preparatory committees meeting to facilitate the following regional conferences:

Seq.RegionDateNumber of ParticipantsGovernorates representedNumber of research papers
1.Erbil Governorate-ShaqlawaJuly 15th200675 activists representing 60 organizationsNineveh, Duhok, Erbil, Sulaimania, Kirkuk17 papers
2.Babil Governorate-HillaJuly 22nd2006100 NGO, political, members of parliament, Academia and cultural figuresBabil, Najaf, Kerbala, Qadissiya, Wassit14 papers
3Thi Qar Governorare-NassiriyaAugust 5th 2006,130 activists, 100 NGOs and prominent figuresThi Qar, Muthana, Missan , Basra9 papers

Summary of recommendations from the three conferences:

  • Neutrality of government institutions against all sectarian and ethnic ideologies,
  • Revision of the constitution towards purifying the draft from sectarian, religious and ethnic orientation.
  • Mobilizing an independent Iraqi judiciary system, specifically with relevant to human rights, and removal of special courts and jails, that appeared lately under chaos and lawless system.
  • Work towards halting the sectarian violence, returning forced IDPS to their cities and homes, and study options for compensating damages.
  • Pressure the political powers to rid their programmes and speech from sectarian, tribal, and ethnic tendencies, which will encourage sectarian violence and congestion, while tearing the social tissue of the Iraqi society apart.
  • Assure the independence of CSOs, their freedom and neutrality, while emphasizing their role in promotion for citizenship, human rights, sovereignty of law concept, spreading the culture of non violence, fighting illiteracy and extremism in the society.
  • Deleting article 41, related to personal status law, from the constitution as it contradicts the national unity of legislations, and endangers the unity of the social texture.
  • Building neutral and professionally qualified security forces, without considerations of sectarian and ethnic quotas and balances.
  • Demobilization of non governmental armed forces, reintegrate them in civilian institutions, not military institutions.
  • Demands for scheduling withdrawal of US forces.
  • Transparency and monitoring for the State budget.
  • Modernizing the oil excavation and extracting industries, away from the monopoly of the big firms, investment to be controlled by a legislation and system accessible to monitoring, while safeguarding the national oil wealth.
  • Demanding dedicated and professionally lead Economy of the country, a management which is subject to monitoring, immune to exploitation by high ranks and political compromising.

The preparatory committee for Baghdad, Salahddin, Anbar, and Diala governorates convened a meeting to prepare for the last regional conference dedicated to these governorates, it was agreed to postpone the scheduled date because of the recent security deterioration, another preparatory meeting will convene in November to settle for the conference date.

Final notes:

–    In addition to CSO activists, academia and experts, the three regional conferences witnessed the presence of few local governments representatives, clergymen, heads of tribes, Deans of few scientific and economical faculties.

–   There were full media coverage for the three regional conferences, with interviews and publish of few researches, while the rest will be published later on.

–   The main topics for discussions were points of meeting for all participants and groups, in spite of the ethnic, religious, and sectarian discrimination, the discussions covered unprecedented areas of concern, specifically the role of civil society in the political process and in the economy.

–  The conferences were the first initiative that was followed by similar initiatives by other CSOs and governmental institutions, it was acknowledged by the UN agencies and International organizations, the international press, in addition to the moral support and encouragement by the Arab States’ League, which has considered the credibility and accountability of the conferences’ recommendations, and considered them as the closest to the whole Iraqi society aspirations.  

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