Power to the people

How UNDP supports civil society in Iraq to fight corruption

February 27, 2023

Participants during a knowledge sharing workshop in Erbil.

Photo: UNDP Iraq

For many years, Iraq has struggled with widespread corruption, causing negative impacts on the country's economic and social development. This corruption has eroded public trust in government institutions, resulting in negative consequences for Iraqis, such as economic instability, reduced access to public services, and damage to the social fabric of the community.

Empowering civil society

To combat corruption, it is essential to engage and empower civil society organizations. UNDP recognizes the importance of grassroots action and has been working to support these organizations in their fight against corruption through its Anti-Corruption for Trust in Iraq project.

As part of the project, UNDP has provided small grants to 17 local organizations, including the al-Nahrain Foundation for Supporting Transparency and Integrity based in Baghdad. The grant allowed them to bring together Members of Parliament, journalists, civil society, and judges to improve cooperation, increase transparency, and strengthen e-governance. The foundation's head, Muhammad Rahim Al-Rubai, explains, "We have been able to monitor corruption in two government sectors and produce investigative reports. This has helped build the public's trust in the government and promote transparency in our community."

Representatives engage with each other during the session held by al-Nahrain Foundation in Baghdad.

Photo: UNDP Iraq

Small grants for big impact

The Dabin Organization for Democratic Development and Human Rights, based in Kirkuk, also received a grant to develop an anti-corruption toolkit for citizens. "The anti-corruption toolkit that we developed has been incredibly useful in guiding citizens on identifying and reporting corruption. We have received positive feedback from citizens who have used the toolkit and have seen an increase in corruption reports being made," the organization reports. They also used the grant to strengthen their internal processes on effective financial management to mitigate corruption risks in procurement, budgeting, and accounting.

Public awareness campaigns

The al-Erada Organization used their grant to organize a marathon in Diyala to raise awareness about corruption. The organization collaborated with the federal Commission of Integrity, local authorities, and citizens to plan the event, which had over 650 participants, including people with disabilities. "The marathon we organized was a huge success and helped raise awareness about the importance of fighting corruption. We received significant media coverage and had a large turnout, demonstrating our community's commitment to combating corruption," says Hossam Saheb from the al-Erada Organization.

After successfully completing the marathon, the athletes pose for a photo.

Photo: UNDP Iraq

Positive outcomes

Working closely with Iraqi civil society has created an enabling environment for citizens to hold institutions accountable, tackle corruption, and promote transparency. The success of the workshops, investigative reports produced by organizations, and society's participation in public awareness events demonstrates the positive impact of this work.

UNDP aims to continue supporting civil society organizations in Iraq to build a culture of transparency and effectively combat corruption.

About UNDP's Anti-Corruption for Trust in Iraq project:

Implemented with support from the Government of Denmark, the project aims to help Iraqi state institutions and civil society take concrete actions to enhance their current institutional anti-corruption and integrity capacities. The project also aims to prepare the grounds for reforms in response to increasing public demands, in line with country priorities and international standards. Through this project, UNDP is committed to building a culture of transparency and combating corruption effectively in Iraq.