Institutionalizing Peace: Working together to Prevent Violent Extremism in Iraq

March 28, 2022

Photo: Workshop participants. 2022.

Supporting Prevention of Violent Extremism is a key component of UNDP’s approach to peacebuilding in Iraq. To address the root causes of violent extremism in Iraq, supporting the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism is vital. In partnership with the National Committee on the Implementation of the Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism at the National Security Advisory, UNDP has implemented a series of workshops between 13 and 24 March to build the capacity of the governorate sub-committees across Iraq on implementing the national strategy. Strengthening capacities at the local level ensures each governorate will work to prevent violent extremism within their distinct contexts. Attendees represented the governorates of Anbar, Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Karbala, Kirkuk, Najaf, Ninewa, and Maysan.

Photo: Yass Khudair (right). 2022.

“Diyala has suffered due to terrorism since 2006. The security situation has improved but we are still affected by continuous efforts to recruit youth from Diyala to join terrorism movements. This training helped sub-committee members understand how to develop preventative measures focusing on push factors to plan interventions.”

-Yass Khudair, 45, Diyala.

Photo: Firas Nasser Hussain (right). 2022.

“I believe violent extremism is a threat affecting Iraq’s social fabric. Drivers such as sectarianism and tribalism can be turned into positive aspects of society if we learn how to properly deal with them. Through this training we discussed techniques, tools and resources needed to implement the strategy, including execution and monitoring. Next, these techniques will be adopted in line with the status of reality on the ground in Najaf.”

-Firas Nasser Hussain, 48, Najaf.

Photo: Nawras Adnan Razzouqi (left). 2022.

“Key issues affecting Iraq include corruption and pockets of extremist religious ideology. This training helped us to understand tools to diagnose causes of violent extremism and supported us to think of methods to prevent its spread, which we will take back to our governorates.”

-Nawras Adnan Razzouqi, 40, Karbala.

Photo: Nagham Ali Saleh. 2022.

“We must work to discourage racism and discrimination within our governorates and reinforce societal peace to achieve political and economic prosperity. With the proper tools we can engage with segments of society, such as religious leaders, to promote moderate discourse to reinforce coexistence.”

-Nagham Ali Saleh, 34, Kirkuk.

Photo: Nabil Jassim Mohammed (right). 2022.

“Terrorism has endangered coexistence and peace in Anbar. It has resulted in large-scale displacement and increased stigmatization against Anbar as a region where people are affiliated with ISIL. Countering this issue will eliminate danger and this training has provided a better understanding of risks, challenges, opportunities, and root causes of key problems.”

-Nabil Jassim Mohammed, 46, Anbar.

Photo: Jinan Hassan. 2022.

“Violent extremism is a daily threat to our political, economic, and social systems. Through these interactions, we have shared best practices and discussed implementation of the national strategy, focusing on the needs of our governorates.”

-Jinan Hassan, 59, Najaf.

Support to Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Iraq is part of UNDP Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.