A key purpose of UNDP Iraq’s social cohesion and reconciliation interventions in Iraq is to promote an understanding of the causes, consequences and possible resolutions of conflict on the institutional level, and to foster fundamental values such as respect, dignity and equality. The Peace Education Project, implemented by UNDP and Iraqi Al Amal Association, trains both youth and academics across all governorates of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on topics of peace and conflict studies. In 2019, the project launched the first national Diploma for Peace and Conflict Studies – designed in collaboration with the Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. 

Between 2017 and 2019, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Program and local NGO, Iraqi al-Amal Association, provided training to 289 young people (including 122 young women) from across Iraq. Trained in the active promotion of a culture of peace in their communities, students were invited to design activities that would invite the participation of community members from various backgrounds, to engage and exchange ideas. 114 projects were selected to receive small cash grants and supported throughout the planning, promotion and  implementation of their initiatives.

UNDP Iraq and Iraqi al Amal Association bring youth together from across the country to train face-to-face – mixing young women and men and people of mixed ethnic and religious backgrounds – to promote understanding based on shared experience and on shared hope. In these safe spaces, young people can develop a new understanding of those who are different to themselves. Activities under the Peace Education Project were made possible with the generous funding of the Government of Japan and the Government of Germany.

Hassan is among the young beneficiaries of this project in Anbar. He stands by a tall glass cabinet in the courtyard of the Faculty of Political Science & Law. “I decided to install a miniature peace library on campus. I filled the cabinet with books to help people learn about the idea of peace and it’s many interpretations.”

I saw a need – people want to know what causes conflict, and why we need peace-building,” he added. “This is a way for people to discover peace in private. You can take a book and read in the garden or at home alone,” he continued. “Over time, people have become more active in discussing ideas of peace and questioning what is going on in our community. Young people are starting to change the way they talk about conflict and what we need to do as a community to achieve peace.”

24-year-old Noor, an aspiring artist, was a grant recipient for her community initiative, “Anbar Women’s Touch”. “My painting exhibition invited 17 young women living in Anbar to paint their peace,” she said. “The youngest exhibitor was 7 years old.”

From the rehabilitated University of Anbar, youth like Noor, are being empowered to use their skills to help shape the process of recovery among-est the people of Anbar – starting with their ideas of peace.

At the request of the Government of Iraq, UNDP established the Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) in June 2015 to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.

Since the liberation of Ramadi in December 2015, FFS has completed more than 265 stabilization projects in the city. FFS helps local authorities quickly rehabilitate essential infrastructure and services such as water and electricity networks, healthcare facilities, school and homes.

"UNDP is deeply committed to support Iraq efforts to “Build Peaceful and Just Societies” as reflected by the Sustainable Development Goal 16. We are convinced that an integrated and systematic education for peace-building can contribute actively in promoting the culture of peace in Iraq." said Mr. Gerardo Noto, Deputy Country Director of UNDP Iraq.

Info and photo source: https://bit.ly/2kNzz59

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