Local authorities call for enhanced collaboration for Social Cohesion in Iraq

May 23, 2024

Panelists share how Local Peace Actors have played a key role in promoting return and reconciliation processes.

Photo Credit: UNDP 2024

Erbil, Iraq – As Iraq transitions to the development phase, local authorities have emphasized the importance of sustaining peace and social cohesion and increasing collaboration among the Government, local peace actors, and International Organizations to ensure a smooth transition.

The call for increased collaboration was made during the inaugural conference on "Strengthening Social Cohesion and Reintegration of Returnees: The Role of Local Peace Actors in Iraq," convened by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Advisory – Strategic Affairs Office, held on Monday, 20th May 2024.

The one-day conference provided a platform for local peace actors and leaders from the four liberated Governorates (Salah al-Din, Ninewa, Anbar and Kirkuk to discuss strategies to promote return, and reintegration of displaced people and for enhancing social cohesion in areas of return.  It focused on the pivotal role of local peace actors in driving these efforts forward.  Peace committees from the four governorates shared their success stories, challenges and lessons learned as they supported the return of displaced Iraqis from inside and outside the country. 

“When local peace committees were formed, we were able to see the real heroes who were bringing society back together again. It's important to hear the stories of these heroes today,” Dr. Saeed Jayashi, Advisor for Strategic Affairs - Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA). 

LPCs have been playing a pivotal role in accelerating community acceptance of numerous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees into their communities. Their efforts have fostered community acceptance, tolerance, and co-existence, thus encouraging more displaced Iraqis to return home.

Several LPC members in attendance shared the challenges at the start of their work, with some community members accusing them of supporting one group over others. Despite these challenges, their perseverance led to the successes that are fostering community acceptance. 

One notable success story shared by Mr. Ibrahim Khalil, the Mayor of Ramadi, Anbar Governorate, highlighted the LPCs’ support for families who suffered and lost loved ones at the hands of other families during the ISIS period. In a remarkable gesture of goodwill and social cohesion, these affected families later adopted children from the families responsible for their loss, demonstrating profound forgiveness and a commitment to rebuilding their community.

With UNDP's support, 24 Local Peace Committees have been established in the four governorates. The committees, which are led by the town mayors, are an inclusive platform comprised of local authorities, tribal leaders, women, and youth representatives. One of the Iraqi women activists in attendance emphasized the active involvement of women in LPC work, “We have even had all-female LPC teams visit specific areas to address issues directly impacting women.”

The LPCs have facilitated the return of 4,577 families through mediation sessions and peace agreements signed with communities in the areas of return. 

"Since 2017, UNDP has been actively supporting the Government of Iraq and local peace mechanisms in peacebuilding, reintegration, and social cohesion efforts. We remain committed to supporting these efforts as Iraq embarks on its development phase," Ghimar Deeb, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, stated at the conference.

Multiple Local Peace Committees established and activated recently are undergoing capacity-building programmes with UNDP support. This follows the development of a new strategy to expand the presence of LPCs to more areas in the country as part of efforts to strengthen the return and reintegration process as well as increase community engagement, and social cohesion.

“The process of return requires collaborative efforts and we hope that we shall continue to see this collaboration with all our partners,” Mr. Khalid Ibrahim, Director of Ninewa Branch - Ministry of Migration and Displacement

The conference attended by various Local Peace Actors, Government Officials, and representatives of international organisations closed with a call for increased support for social services in the areas of return including housing and employment opportunities in the areas of return. 

Through concerted collaboration and support to social cohesion efforts, Iraq can look forward to a future filled with peace, prosperity, and an all-inclusive society.


About UNDP’s Social Cohesion Programme 

UNDP’s Integrated Social Cohesion Programme supports efforts towards peaceful and more cohesive societies in Iraq. In addition to empowering Local Peace Committees, UNDP has been extending livelihood support to returnees, IDPs and vulnerable members of the communities in the areas of return through vocational training, business skills development, and small business grants. This is in addition to the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) provided to all those who experienced trauma from past conflicts. 

Through these efforts, UNDP reached 3,925 returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with direct livelihood support including vocational training as well as 5,482 returnees, IDPs, and host community members received MHPSS support in 2023 alone. A further 5,398 individuals including IDPs, returnees, and community members will be supported in 2024. 

Its work in facilitating social cohesion and reintegration of returnees from North East Syria and IDPs is made possible with the generous contributions of USAID, the European Union and the Governments of Denmark, Sweden Japan, and Germany.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Christine Cool, Team Leader, Strategic Partnerships, Advocacy, and Communications, UNDP Iraq. 

christine.cool@undp.org | Tel:  +964783 489 9817


Mohammed Al-Bahbahanee, Communications Specialist, Strategic Partnerships, Advocacy, and Communications, UNDP Iraq.  mohammed.al-bahbahanee@undp.org  | Tel: +9647704399222