UNDP Iraq and swisspeace launch training on community dialogue and conflict analysis
Mediation and dialogue as a cornerstone of peacebuilding
March 20, 2023
The rich cultural and historical legacy of Iraq is a result of its cultural and ethnic diversity. However, ongoing conflicts and tensions among various communities in Iraq have had a destabilizing effect, potentially hindering community peace.
Mediation and dialogue skills are important to build sustainable peace by offering solutions and discussing the root causes of the conflict.
UNDP, in collaboration with swisspeace, organized a three-day mediation and dialogue skills training for a group of local NGO representatives, academics and peace advocates.
The training aimed to discuss dialogue design concepts and methodology and to enhance the participants' understanding of conflict sensitivity. Additionally, discussion took place on how a network or community of Iraqi mediators and peace practitioners can sustain themselves.
The first day of training focused on conflict sensitivity and how it is taken into consideration by professionals working in organizations for conflict resolution. Participants presented real conflict scenarios, discussing certain developments and how to facilitate the dialogue process.
Zeravan Ameen Abdullah, an academic at the University of Duhok, says, " I believe that dialogue can shed light on the root causes of conflicts and lead to finding permanent solutions instead of relying on temporary ones. Each conflict has a unique situation that requires innovative solutions and systematic approaches in mediation and dialogue design. Practical integration with real situations is essential in finding common ground."
On the second day, the training covered conflict analysis tools, as well as how to prepare for the dialogue process.
Zena Jassam, project coordinator and trainer at Iraqi Al Amal Association, explains, “Iraqi society has a long history of constant conflicts that often escalate, leaving us in a temporary negative state, hindering positive peace and progress. The conflicts in Iraq are different from those in other societies due to cultural, social, religious, and national contexts."
On the third day, the attendees discussed how to sustain a network of Iraqi mediators to resolve conflicts.
“We need mediation in Iraq. Numerous consecutive wars and economic crises have led to a proliferation of conflicts in society, and incessant struggles without respite,” says Methaq Fadhil Sharhan, an expert in diplomatic negotiation and regional disputes. “The role of the mediator is particularly challenging: sometimes the problem is simple, while at other times it branches out into a larger issue. The nature of the conflict varies according to the region and the cultural and social context. Therefore, having a network of neutral mediators to resolve conflicts through dialogue is essential for building peace and social cohesion.”
This training is part of UNDP’s Social Cohesion Programme, which works on promoting stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.