National and international officials and experts meet to set the third Iraq national human development on course focusing on youth in Iraq

20 Nov 2011

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A team of Iraqi and international officials and experts concluded a two day consultation in Istanbul to finalize the preparations for producing Iraq’s 2012 National Human Development Report. The Report, the third so far, will have a thematic focus on Youth, a topic which is highly relevant in the context of current events in the Arab Region and the many challenges that are confronting Iraq youth.

Iraq is one of the most youthful countries in the world—nearly half of its population of 30 million is less than 19 years old. Unemployment among Iraqi youth is 30%, double the national average. Unemployment in the in the Middle East is 10%.

“The Government of Iraq welcomes the preparations to produce this report as it will provide tools to empower youth and respond to their needs" said Dr. Yousuf Ali Al-Shukri the Iraqi Minister of Planning. “Youth in Iraq carry burdens of neglect, and marginalization due to decades of conflict and wars. They deserve to be able to shape their own bright future and live a happy and prosperous life" he added.

Iraq has previously prepared two National Human Development Reports. The first was prepared in 1995 highlighting the impact of the international sanctions on the Iraqi population. The second, published in 2008, focused on Human Security in Iraq and aimed to assess the development situation in the country following the regime change in 2003. It supported the reconstruction and development process and made a key reference to the National Development Plan for 2010-2014.

“I praise the Government of Iraq for their ownership in preparing to produce such an important Report and the leadership they have already shown in working with UNDP and other partners to produce a high quality report with new human development statistics on youth" said Peter Batchelor, Country Director of UNDP Iraq. “UNDP and sister UN agencies like UNFPA and UNICEF stand ready to support the process to ensure we produce a high quality report that meets international standards" Batchelor added.

UNDP Iraq is the lead Agency that supports the preparation of the NHDR. This report will ultimately help Iraqi planners and policy makers in leading the development process in the country. The analysis and the data that the report will provide, will also help other national development actors such as the civil society, the media, and indeed the Iraqi public at large to engage effectively in the national development process. The report is equally important to the International Development Community and will help it to design better interventions and position it well for establishing better partnerships with Iraq”.

The NHDR will be prepared by a team of independent national experts, and aims to support the government policy making and development planning. The 2008 NHDR was well received by the Iraqi Government and was specifically endorsed by the Prime Minister. On this exercise, Mr. Al-Shukri said: “The previous Iraq NHDRs were reports that tried to align more with the Global Human Development Report that has been published annually since 1990. The national decision on the new NHDR is to focus on youth empowerment. This emanates from our conviction of the importance of this segment of the Iraqi society with all burdens it carries from the decades of neglect, marginalization, and dissipation of potential that resulted from the engagement of youth in crises and wars. Of equal importance is the legitimate aspirations of youth towards a happy and bright future where they are in their effective position in the Iraqi society, which is known for its strong family ties. Our interest in youth also arises from the potential role that youth can have in shaping their future".

The Iraqi delegation was led by the Minister of Planning, Dr. Yousuf Ali Al-Shukri, and included high level representatives from various ministries in Baghdad and Erbil, academia and civil society. International participants included the New-York based Human Development Report Office, the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, the UNDP Regional Centre in Cairo, and representatives from UNDP Country Offices in the region (Egypt, Morocco and Turkey), ESCWA, and participants from UNFPA, UNICEF and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Iraq.

“The Government of Iraq is strongly committed to supporting UNDP in publishing this Report. The drafting process will contribute to a further strengthening of the relationship between the Government and the United Nations, and between the Government and Iraqi youth” said Mr. Al-Shukri in his closing remarks.