Citizen Journalism: Peacebuilding through Media in Iraq

February 3, 2022


Along with widespread use of social media comes the prominence of citizen journalism; and capacitating young journalists to use media tools ethically is key to spreading narratives of peace in Iraq. UNDP Iraq’s citizen journalism project launched in 2020 for 120 students of media colleges and bloggers active in advocating for peacebuilding and promoting social cohesion from the governorates of Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala, Kirkuk, Najaf, Ninewa, Salah al-Din, and the governorates of the KRI.


Phase two of the citizen journalism project is currently taking off with local partner CDO (Civil Development Organization) and support from the Government of Germany, and it includes additional capacity building of the selected cohort, as well as training of 105 new members, and a short film competition. This phase focuses on combating Hate Speech and Preventing Violent Extremism on social media and using citizen journalism tools to promote social cohesion, including the creation and promotion of 500 new media products by the trained citizen journalists on the Tanoua platform. Additionally, round tables will be organized for media outlets, professors of media educational institutions, and activists to discuss the media realm’s status, gaps, and opportunities, and its impact on social cohesion and reconciliation in Iraq.

In January, two three-day workshops were held for participants from Diyala, Dohuk, Erbil, Kirkuk, Mosul, Salah al-Din, and Sulaymaniyah, focusing on journalism ethics, and combating hate speech and violent extremism on social media. Additional trainings will follow in February for the remaining governorates.

Photo: Layla (left).

“In Shangal (Ninewa) there are many different ethnicities and religions. I want to write about coexistence between Yazidis and Muslims also draw more attention to the region. By sharing and publishing news on peaceful coexistence, these stories will be reflected in other regions accordingly.”

-Layla, 25, Ninewa, studied peace studies and human rights

Photo: Khalid (left).

“I would like to know more about the principles of delivering news professionally and preventing hate messages on social media. I want to write about vulnerable people, coexistence in IDP camps and ISIS -affected areas. Now media focuses on politics and economics and neglects social cohesion.”

-Khalid, 30, Duhok, studied fine arts and theatre.

Photo: Aven (left).

“I would like to write about the laws related to journalism protection and how they are applied.”

-Aven, 32, Kirkuk, studied law.

Photo: Bakir (right).

“Media is a key method to make change in society. Media and especially social media is the most effective way to spread news. Sharing topics which help peacebuilding will affect society.”

-Bakir, 29, Erbil, studied media.

UNDP Iraq has launched in 2020 a dedicated five-year Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.