Eight years from the end of large-scale military operations, Iraq’s progress toward peace and stability seems to be struggling under the country’s formidable challenges in governance, financial, economic and environmental management. With protests rocking the country due to declining access to social services and widespread deterioration of human rights, as well as the delays in the formation of a government and complicated relations with neighbouring states, Iraq, for the 11th consecutive year, is among the ten least peaceful countries in the world.
Away from global headlines, Iraq’s inability to make appreciable gains towards establishing positive peace is not a surprise. Positive peace describes the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin and sustain peaceful societies as defined by the Institute for Economics and Peace. These attributes are missing in Iraq as decades of violence have entrenched social divisions, inequality, corruption and other governance challenges in the country.
That is why on July 25 – 27, 2022, World Vision Iraq, in collaboration with the WV Global Centre and the Institute for Economics and Peace, conducted three workshops on Positive Peace, Social cohesion, and inter-faith engagement to increase WV staff and faith leader capacity. The workshop for staff guided them in the development of a ‘Positive Peace’ lens that could be applied to evidence-based programme design, analysis, and delivery in line with Our Promise.
Again, in alignment with WV Iraq’s F&D imperative of “empowerment and agency”, the training also sought to empower Interfaith leaders to proactively influence activities in the peace-development space by engaging their communities to participate in peace and development activities.
The participants who represent Muslims, Christians, Bahai, Turkman, Sabean Mandean, Kakai, Zoroastrian, and Yezidis based in the Kurdistan region of Iraq are all in influential positions to effect positive changes. One suggestion the group of leaders agreed to pursue was put forward by Awat Hussam, Rep. of Zoroastrian in KRG MERA. Awet is proposing: “We must work to integrate the positive peace elements in the school’s curriculum from the elementary students to have a new generation that understands what positive peace is.”
For his part, Imam Barzan Baran, the head of the Islamic Preachers Speeches Committee (IPSC) in the KRG Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, welcomed the discussion on positive peace and committed to organising a conference on implementing positive peace between the faith leaders of Kurdistan and the Faith leaders of other governorates of Iraq which will go some way to bridging divisions in Iraq as a first step.
This article was originally published in World Vision – Faith & Development Community of Practice Update on September 2022.