Searching for peace in Iraq: a research project

May 22 2012: Benoite Martin, Insight on Conflict's local correspondent for Iraq discusses, 'Searching for peace in Iraq' a new study on peacebuilding in Iraq. Searching for peace in Iraq presents a comprehensive analysis of the key drivers of the conflict and an assessment of the national and international efforts which currently address the on-going conflict and violence in the country.

In March 2012, Nova-Social Innovation and the Department for Peace Operations (DPO) of Patrir, released the result of a 2-year research project   conducted in Iraq. This 196-page report, entitled Searching for Peace in Iraq, presents a comprehensive analysis of the key drivers and principle dynamics of the conflict, and an assessment of the national and international efforts which currently address the on-going conflict and violence in the country.

The cover of 'Searching for peace in Iraq'

Searching for peace in Iraq presents a comprehensive analysis of the key drivers and principle dynamics of the conflict

The study itself was undertaken by two Iraqi researchers and led by an international research director. In total, 100 interviews of members of the Iraqi Civil Society and representatives of international organizations were conducted, in addition to an extensive review of the existing literature on Iraq.

Searching for Peace in Iraq fills a large void in the field of peacebuilding in Iraq
Searching for Peace in Iraq fills a large void in the field of peacebuilding in Iraq, by providing a comprehensive analysis of challenges presented by the war in Iraq, the transition of the country to a democratic government, and the Occupation of the country. In doing so, it identifies 6 areas central to the persistence of conflict:

  • Politics and governance;
  • Security;
  • Economics;
  • Gender;
  • Generation; and
  • Society, culture and identity.

Therefore, to a peacebuilder familiar with the conflict-driven landscape of Iraq, the report’s main value is provided by its assessment of peacebuilding actors and peacebuilding initiatives, and shares a number of recommendations to improve the impact of the diverse efforts undertaken in Iraq.

However, although the research is ground-breaking in the field of conflict management and peacebuilding in Iraq, and certainly constitutes a strong reference for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of these issues, it also presents severe limitations.

When identifying the local and international organisations currently working in the field of peacebuilding in Iraq, the report has named only the most cited organisations (by at least 10 individuals out of 100 interviewed). This has led to identifying merely four national organisations as being involved in peacebuilding work in the country, a number which does not do justice to the larger number of local organisations that are successfully working in the field across Iraq.

In addition, when the various types of initiatives are detailed, the examples provided rely only on experiences shared by identified organisations, thereby ensuring that the large bulk of the work conducted by other organisations is poorly represented.

In order to overcome this limitation, Nova and Patrir organised a series of consultation workshops during March 2012. Gathering 77 participants from across the country, three sessions were organised in Iraq, whilst 18 participants, representing mainly international organizations, met at a session in Amman. The consultations aimed at engaging a larger number of peacebuilding practitioners in sharing feedback, further thoughts, and analysis, regarding the report and the field of conflict management and peacebuilding in Iraq.

Nova and Patrir have gathered the outcomes of the sessions and are currently working at issuing an updated version of the research. It is expected that the updated report will provide additional understandings towards key needs and priorities to be tackled in the field of peacebuilding, as well as provide a better illustration of the initiatives undertaken by national actors.

Nonetheless, the need remains for the creation of a sustainable structure which ensures regular coordination and networking.
Arguably, the report’s limitations are a direct result  of the severe lack of coordination and networking in existence among individuals and organisations working in the field of peacebuilding in Iraq. Whilst security concerns are often named as being an obstacle to adequate coordination among actors, in reality, it is the severe lack of funding to peacebuilding work which encourages organisations to become protective over their own activities and lessons learned.

Although initiatives such as the SILM Network, launched in 2010 by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), have attempted to address this by gathering together numbers of local peacebuilders working in the field of conflict management, it continues to be an issue. Similarly, the consultations organized by Nova and Patrir across Iraq and in Amman proved  to be ground-breaking events, which, for the first time, brought together a large number of actors in the field of peacebuilding, and encouraged the exchange of information. Nonetheless, the need remains for the creation of a sustainable structure which ensures regular coordination and networking.

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Comments

There are 3 comments Show comments

David G. Jones on May 22, 2012

I would have liked to see mention made – in general statements – of the roadblocks to peace, and what methodology (s) were being used to achieve harmonization. My research into the founding of the Chinese empire by the peaceful, not forced integration of dissident states suggests that incompatibility can be overcome without conflict. Perhaps that is a model that might be put to good use in this situation.

David G. Jones on May 22, 2012

The site did not pick up my book’s URL. It is http://tinyurl.com/bq5klsn

Stacey Sneathen on May 31, 2012

Very interesting topic, appreciate it for putting up.

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