Iraq

The Global Justice Center, the Eyzidi Organization for Documentation, the Iraqi Al-Amal Association, the Iraqi Women Network, Madre and Yazda sent an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, to the chief of High Judicial Counil and to Mr. Ibrahim Jaafari- Foreign Minister regarding the Terms of Reference for UN Security Council resolution 2379 (2017) on Daesh accountability.

The CSOs demand that those ToR, which are currently being drafted, have a gender justice and a victim-centered approach. In particular, the recommendations stresses the need for identifying an applicable legal framework for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, legal reform, ensuring investigative efficiency, gender expertise, due process, victim and witness protection, community outreach and civil society engagement.

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) launched a book on the enabling environment of civil society in the Arab region. The publication aims to present an overview of the current situation of civil society organizations in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. It uses several country-specific indicators regarding the establishment of civil society organizations and their success. The current conflicts raging in the Arab region constitutes a serious challenge, especially in lack of attention to laws regarding the work of civil associations, in addition to the shifts faced in funding.

The publication highlights several legal challenges, especially those resulting from the lack of commitment to the principles of the separation of powers, as applied by democratic societies, as laws and regulations are often politicized. The book includes several recommendations to invigorate the work of civil society organizations in the regional, in order to consolidate the values of justice, equality, and sustainable development.

The Iraqi Women Network held a national conference in Mosul after the city was recovered by the government, with the participation of women from various cities in Iraq, civil society activists and women who have resisted the culture of violence, exclusion and terrorism during the rule of ISIS.

The conference declaration stresses Iraqi women’s determination to play a real role in the process of political reform "to eliminate the abhorrent sectarian system and combat against corruption, and insuring accountability and no impunity for the criminals or anyone involved in corruption, and building a state of institutions based on respect for human rights and the principles of citizenship and integrity."

“Informal labor is not a marginal issue in Arab countries. It is a core component of modern Arab economies and the distribution of work therein and is doomed to expand under current policies,” explained Samir Aita, lead researcher of the Arab NGO Network on Development (ANND) at the launch of the 2017 edition of the Arab Watch on Economic and Social Rights, last May 8 in Beirut.

The report, launched publicly at the American University, concludes that the “highest percentages of lack of formality are in countries with the least strict laws and bureaucracies, and vice versa. This goes against the stereotype that says that informality is a result of strict laws and bureaucracies.” It also concludes that “informal labor in Arab countries is mostly waged labor, except in rare cases, which contradicts another idea that says that informal labor is a choice, as young people entering the job market have no choice but to find any type of livelihood, no matter how fragile or temporary.”

Photo: IAA

Iraqi Al-Amal Association (IAA), Social Watch focal point in Iraq, conducted its second workshop in Beirut, to discuss the draft bill on “Protection against Domestic Violence".

Activist Hanaa Edwar head of IAA said "Our aim is to explain and discuss the important bill, and to work with the MPs and consultants, in order to reach the full conviction required to adopt and defend this bill, which we hope that the current session of the House of Representatives will be able to vote on and pass it”. Adding: "this law will be a real shield against domestic violence, committed by one family member against another reaching to a relative of the fourth degree, mostly women and children are the victims of such practices, which constitute a hidden crime. The bill includes mechanisms for the protection of victims such as creating safe centers and providing the necessary care and rehabilitation, and to punish the perpetrators of these crimes. Also, there are other steps that could be taken by the media and civil society organizations and other parties to limit the phenomenon of domestic violence, which escalated to levels that cannot be tolerated”.

As global women movement celebrates International Women's Day on March 8th, while everyone is silent listening to the anthem of freedom and peace, and what has been achieved in progress toward full substantive equality in rights, Iraqi women celebrate this day while they are either internally displaced, refugees, abducted, or as slaves and victims of sexual and physical and community violence, with extreme deterioration of their rights under a scene of growing projects and plans  devoted to persecution and the violation of their dignity and degrade of their humanity, with alarming practices of exclusion and marginalization of women in decision-making places, which can be Inferred from the content of the Political Parties Law (No. 36) for 2015, which lacked the inclusion of Women Quota representation at the founding of the party and leadership structures.

March 8th comes this year, with mounting concern, towards serious challenges that faces the country, given the weakness of the State and its institutions, and the escalation of the armed conflict among multiple groups, with the resurgence of violent extremism and terrorism through Daesh (ISIS) control of vast areas of Iraq, corruption and religious and political sectarianism at the State institutions and society levels, and absence of trust between the parties in the political process with the lack of national vision and concept of community reconciliation and social cohesion, as the protest movement widens among our people.

Fifteen years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, Iraqi women and girls are being displaced, abducted, enslaved and made victims of sexual and physical violence as a result of the escalating violence. This has increased since June 2014, when one third of Iraq was occupied by gangs of ISIS (Daesh) perpetrating the most heinous crimes, as contained in the report of the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for human rights in March 2015.

In an atmosphere of unbridled violence, weak law enforcement institutions, absence of protection mechanisms and the entrenching of tribal and religious customs and traditions, women are more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and denial of basic rights such as education, along with the emergence of phenomena and harmful practices, such as child marriage, temporary marriage, trafficking in women, so-called honour crimes. Women become the price to pay debts and settle clan disputes rather than be an active element in resolving disputes and negotiations, as stressed in the resolution 1325.

Iraqi al-Amal Association in collaboration with Ala Ali (Independent Researcher/Analyst and Peace Activist) conducted a focus-group based conflict analysis of the Iraqi province of Nineveh. The findings provide important insights into recent developments in Iraq, and the advancement of ISIS.

Several key issues contributing to and sustaining conflict were identified through this research, as were points of entry for peacebuilding, which can be capitalised on to reduce tensions.

Iraqi civil society organizations and women activists, demand support through the work of the UNAMI and the United Nations family. CSOs present a number of proposals for consideration during the upcoming discussions of the UN Security Council on the renewal of the mandate for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Given the current security situation which has continued to deteriorate due to the conflict with ISIL, which is threatening also the security of the whole MENA region and the global security, we are particularly concerned about the situation of women and children, especially those living in areas under military operations and the huge number of IDPs exceeding 4 million. Plus, CSOs are concerned about the gross violation of Human Rights. Reports of sexual violence against women and girls continue to be received and boys continue to radicalized and recruited as terrorist fighters.

The peoples’ uprisings in the Arab region presented a golden occasion for revisiting the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and particularly the partnership between the Arab countries and the European Union (EU).  The Joint Communication of the High Representative and European Commission, “A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood, ” highlighted important lessons learnt but remained an exercise of self-assessment without the engagement of EU partners and relevant stakeholders (including civil society) for what are widely considered today as major historical changes in the Arab countries.

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