The Council of Representatives (COR) this week launched in Baghdad the NGO Human Rights Advisory Board, which will assist the parliament's Human Rights Committee to effectively engage with the civil society and promote human rights through the legislative body.
The UN Development Agency (UNDP) played an instrumental role in creating this platform, first of its kind in Iraq.
"The parliament needs to consult and communicate with the Iraqi people; the board will handle the parliament's civil society consultations in relation to human rights laws," said Arshad Al Salihi, Head of the Human Rights Committee.
The main function of the board is to substantively contribute to the legislative process, particularly in relation to the development of human rights policies. The board, together with the Human Rights Committee and other relevant institutions, is also expected to strengthen the civil society oversight of the government’s performance.
In 2012, UNDP facilitated the first meeting between civil society organizations and the parliament. Consultations took place in different parts of the country. Civil society organizations nominated 19 representatives as members of the board. Three other members joined the NGO Human Rights Advisory Board to speak for Iraqi minorities.
“The promotion of participatory governance and human rights in Iraq requires that voices of people, their interests and opinions be incorporated in the legislative process and policy making," said Ms. Rini Reza representing UNDP. "The UN development agency will continue and provide support to a meaningful engagement and true partnership between the legislative body and civil society in Iraq," she concluded.
Dr. Slaeem Al Joubori, Speaker of the Council of Representatives, congratuled UNDP and the Human Rights Committee on the establishment of this advisory platform and promised to use this experience as a model for future councils supporting other parliamentary committees.
(Human rights image via Shutterstock)