Representatives of 500 CSOs have presented their vision for an agreement between public authorities and civil society in the Kurdistan region of Iraq following four months of consultations.
The draft agreement, which will serve as a basis for upcoming discussions with Parliament and Government, is intended to improve cooperation between public authorities and civil society in areas such as citizen participation in policy making, sustainable and transparent funding for civil society, how best to provide services to the public, and public authority-civil society partnerships for development.
“It’s inspiring to see so many of the CSOs in the region unite around a single vision for civil society participation in public life. So far, the authorities have shown an exemplary commitment to developing this agreement which would be the first of its kind in the Middle East. We hope that the final discussions and adoption of the policy will continue in the same spirit of cooperation,” says Caroline Hammarberg, acting Programme Manager for the Civil Society Portfolio at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). UNOPS supports the process of development of the compact under a project funded by the Government of Denmark.
During the past four months, over 500 civil society organisations, as well as members of academia and the media, have taken part in 25 workshops across the region to discuss their inputs to the draft. In each workshop, a representative was elected to go on to the final CSO workshop where the comments from the regional workshops as well as from email submissions were consolidated into the draft version of the agreement ready to be discussed with the authorities. At the final CSO workshop, the elected representatives also elected 13 from amongst themselves to continue to speak on behalf of the 500 organisations in the upcoming roundtable with Parliament and Government.
Abdullah Khalid, Head of Almesalla CSO which has led the consortium of CSOs organizing the workshops under the project also notes the effort and interest that has gone into this process:
"The almesalla.net website which has hosted the online information about the agreement and consultations has registered some 15.000 hits since the consultation process was launched in October and the many email submissions of inputs and widespread participation speaks for itself. We look forward to finalising the agreement in the coming months and hope to soon be able to see the results of a real partnership compact serving civil society and the general community in the region."