highlighting the importance of the role of youth in the future of post-conflict Iraq and putting forward recommendations to be raised at a national conference in May.
The forum, organized by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) with the collaboration of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association, brought together about 120 participants in the age group of 18-35 from the southern governorates of Basra, Missan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna.
The aim of the forum was to give a voice to youth for its crucial role in charting the road to peaceful co-existence in a future Iraq. With these kind of fora as today’s in Basra, the young generation of Iraqis across different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds deliberated post-conflict issues, engaged on national reconciliation and voiced their opinion.
The opening session was attended by Mr. Nashaat Almansouri, head of the planning committee of the Basra Governorate Council, Sheikh Abbas Al-Fadli, head of the Tribes and Components Committee, Mr. Aqeel Salman, coordinator of international organization’s affairs in the implementation and follow-up committee on national reconciliation at the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office, Ms. Hana Edwar, head of the Al-Amal Association, and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq, Mr. György Busztin.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Busztin said reconciliation in Iraq would be incomplete if the youth, the largest segment of Iraqi society, do not play a crucial role in the process and their points of view are not included. “This means that stability itself which Iraq and the United Nations aspire for would be incomplete”, he said.
The DSRSG added: “Your conference today is an example of the keenness of the United Nations to include the voice of youth in the future of coexistence in Iraq. I am confident that your discussions today will define the main issues which will be decisive in enhancing the dialogue and reconciliation among Iraqis, and come up with practical and tangible recommendations. It will be followed by other conferences in the governorates of Salaheddin, Erbil, Najaf, Diyala, Kirkuk, Suleimaniyah and Baghdad, culminating in a general conference in Baghdad attended by representatives of you, the youth, to incorporate these recommendations in the decisions that support the process of reconciliation and coexistence”.
The general national conference in Baghdad is expected to take place at the end of May. After the opening session, the participants broke up into five 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 today’s forum, the participants debated their responses, drew a set of recommendations and chose representatives for the national youth conference in Baghdad. The recommendations today were wide ranging, related to strengthening the rule of law and State institutions, controlling arms, as well as instilling the spirit of tolerance in society through reforming school curricula.