The “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” forum engaging youth in the search of ideas for Iraq’s post-Daesh future convened on Saturday 8th April, in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the fifth stop of cross-country meetings and one which is gaining more significance as the triumph over the terrorists in Mosul is approaching.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political and Electoral Affairs Mr. György Busztin, stated in an opening address that unity is key to peace and prosperity and provides hope for the future generation, with peaceful coexistence serving as the main pillar of national unity.
“I confidently hope that all the territory and population of Mosul city as well as all other parts of Iraq would be liberated very soon from the captivity of the extremist terrorist group and rescued from the brutality of their heinous crimes,” Mr. Busztin said.
A total of 80 youth in the age group of 18-35 from Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Halabja Governorates participated in the forum, which the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) organized in cooperation with the Iraqi Al-Amal Association.
The meeting in Sulaymaniyah is the fifth of a series of cross-country youth forums intended to give a voice to youth for their crucial role in charting the road to peaceful co-existence in a future Iraq.
With these kind of fora, the young generation of Iraqis across different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds has the opportunity to deliberate post-conflict issues, engage on national reconciliation and voice their opinion.
The opening session was attended by member of the board of Al-Amal Association Ms. Amena Goyani, and DSRSG Busztin, who stressed the importance of this forum convening in Sulaymaniyah, which he described as the cultural capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
“This meeting is of deep significance, as it does represent fraternity among the youth from diverse communities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and further their willingness to discuss coexistence in a post-Daesh Iraq,” the DSRSG said.
“We are fully aware that comprehensive and frank discussion among all segments of society is essential in order to face the heritage of the past, address the threat of the present, and build a common future for Iraq.”
The cross-country forums were first launched in Basra on 28 January 2017, and brought together about 120 participants from the four southern governorates of Basra, Missan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna. The second followed in Erbil on 19 February with 135 participants from Ninewa Governorate.
The third was held in Najaf on 18 March, with 115 participants from the Najaf, Karbala, Babel and Qadissiyah Governorates taking part, and the fourth was on 25 March in Diyala Governorate where 68 youth participated.
Other conferences are to follow in the Governorates of Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salaheddin, culminating in an overarching national conference in Baghdad in May to be attended by representatives of the youth to incorporate recommendations from these forums in the decisions that support the process of reconciliation and coexistence.
As with the format for all the conferences, the participants in the Sulaymaniyah forum broke up into working groups to deliberate and respond to questions about what they would like to see in a future Iraq and how they can contribute.
At the end of the meeting, the participants debated their responses and adopted a set of recommendations.