Engaging Iraqi CSOs together with Academics, Lawyers, and Journalists
Mosul, Iraq – 13 - 18th November 2022
For one week in November, Geneva International Centre for Justice delivered crucial human rights training in Mosul, Iraq. This formed the second phase of the project “Strengthening Civil Society and the Rule of Law in Iraq as a Peacebuilding Tool” which is being implemented in partnership with Mercy Hands Europe, and Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid in Iraq.
On 13-14th November 2022, a training workshop delivered by the GICJ to 30 academics, lawyers and journalists active in Iraq took place. Subsequently we organised a session bringing these professionals together with 30 Iraqi civil society organisations for interactive roundtables and in-depth topical discussions over the course of three days between 15th and 17th November 2022. A number of students from Mosul universities were also given the opportunity to participate.
These workshops were entitled "Cooperation of Academics, Lawyers, and Journalists with CSOs to promote Human Rights” and was aimed at supporting the Iraqi people’s march towards democracy and accountability. Throughout the programme GICJ has ensured special attention has been paid to young activists and women along with representatives of minorities with their quantitative and qualitatively equal participation paramount among our objectives..
The main focus of the training delivered by GICJ was on international human rights standards with an emphasis on the work of the Human Rights Committee, UN working groups, and detailed consideration of the obligations on Iraq to implement recommendations of UN treaty bodies including the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, Committee against Torture, CEDAW and other recommendations that have been made to Iraq on relevant matters in recent years.
Upon mastering the international standards and gaining knowledge of the UN human rights mechanisms, the participants engaged in focused discussions and roundtables to further extend their understanding. The dialogue shared between participants was intensive, practical-focussed, and incredibly enlightening for all concerned. While Topics mainly covered treaty bodies, but also included other areas of topical relevance to the participants such as arbitrary detention, use of death penalty, increased violence against women in Iraq, and means to ensure protection of the right to fair trial is extended to all.
Discussions helped participants learn how to support civil society organisations and others in raising human rights issues to the relevant bodies on the international plane, and through this deep engagement they shared best practice on how to provide the necessary support within the domestic system in Iraq.
In total, more than 60 participants gathered to engage in interactive roundtables to discuss substantive human rights violations in Iraq. Drawing on their different backgrounds and experiences, participants discussed individual articles of the Convention against Enforced Disappearances and demonstrated their understanding of the application of these protections in practice based on their previous training. Finally, the roundtables discussed their expectations of the opportunity to engage directly with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances who were conducting a country visit to Iraq during this period (12 to 24 November 2022), and gave an outlook of how this intensive work will help benefit their networks, including in particular, the families of those who have disappeared.
As a result of engaging in this training, the respective Iraqi civil society organisations, together with a number of academics and lawyers, were invited to meet with the delegation of the Committee on Enforced disappearances. The meeting with the Committee delegation was of unparalleled importance for Iraqi civil society as it was the first time that many of them could engage with a UN treaty body mechanism in any way, let alone directly face-to-face.
Based on the training they received the participants were empowered to engage with the CED delegation in a constructive manner on substantive matters of utmost importance to both their work and the reporting activities of the CED delegation. The CED delegation were grateful for GICJ’s help in facilitating the meeting which was informative for the preparation of their report of the country visit.
Geneva International Centre for Justice has observed the impact of training programmes over the last 6 months with civil society organisation participants clearly demonstrating improved knowledge and capacity to engage with international mechanisms and UN bodies, utilising the legal framework as a tool to advance their objectives and deliver a consequent increase in protection of basic human rights in Iraq.
Evidence of empowerment was demonstrated by the fact that representatives of civil society delivered a number of recommendations to the Committee and Geneva International Centre for Justice looks forward to working on taking these recommendations forward. We look forward to seeing these organisations continue to flourish and contribute to their future training needs.
Many thanks to sponsors Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) and Auswaertiges Amt (Federal Foreign Office) for supporting this project.
Training in Mosul, 13-14 November 2022:
Training in Mosul, 15-17 November 2022
Geneva4Justice, GICJ, Iraq, Peace, enforceddisappearance, UN, CED, HumanRights
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