Support Local Peace Structures in Iraq to Identify and Address Local Drivers of Conflict
With the “local turn” taken by the peacebuilding field, and the increased use of “peacebuilding from below” approaches, local peace structures, and Local Peace Committees (LPCs) in particular, have been gaining a lot of attention and Iraq is no exception. In the post-ISIS period, many local peace structures, including LPCs, have been established across the country; they follow various models but sometimes overlap in terms of composition or mandate. Given the role these peace structures play in local peacebuilding processes in Iraq, PPO has been providing technical support to existing local peace structures in different areas of the country.
Among the various Local Peace Committees existing in the province of Nineveh in Northern Iraq, some were established in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Committee for Dialogue of Societal Peace, a government institution formerly called Coexistence and Communal Peace Committee. Unlike most LPCs in Iraq which are community based and have no formal relationship or affiliation with any official institution, these Committees are formal: they are established at the local level but received their mandate from a national institution. They are comprised of a diversity of influential individuals of certain districts and have the mission to identify and address local issues standing in the way of peace. Commissioned by GIZ, PPO consultants and experts provided support to the Committees in Nineveh Plain, Sinjar, Tal Afar and East and West Mosul areas from September 2019 to May 2020 to strengthen their institutional capacity Also, PPO consultants provided technical support to the committees to design and implement peace initiatives to address existing or potential conflicts in their areas. Since December 2020, and until December 2022, PPO, in partnership with IBF International Consulting and with the support of GIZ, will continue to work with these LPCs as well as other local peace structures existing in Nineveh. This support will consist of capacity-building and technical assistance in the design and implementation of peace initiatives, but will also focus on fostering integration between the work of the different local peace structures existing in the same districts, as well as with governmental and non-governmental actors with a peacebuilding mandate.
PPO has also engaged with LPCs in Southwest Kirkuk, a region populated by Sunni Arabs, which was one of ISIS strongholds in Iraq and one of the last regions to be liberated from the terrorist group by Iraqi and Coalition forces in 2017. LPCs were established following the signature of a pact committing community leaders to peaceful coexistence principles and mechanisms supporting the rule of law and stability post liberation. PPO, in partnership with Chemonics International, has implemented a project from October 2019 to October 2020 aiming to enable the LPCs existing in the six sub-districts of Southwest Kirkuk, to identify local drivers of conflict through a participatory conflict analysis system, as well as to design and implement peace initiatives to address the identified drivers of conflict. From July 2021, PPO, with the support of IOM, will resume its engagement with two of the LPCs of South West Kirkuk, those of Hawija and Zab sub-district. PPO will seek to strengthen the capacity of these local peace structures and individual peace champions to provide trauma-informed mediation that enables sustainable reintegration and reconciliation. The project will intend to nurture a coordinated system of local actors that can offer both individualized conflict management support, as well as community-level strategies to address widespread feelings of trauma, victimhood, and marginalization, as well as particular stigmatization of families with a perceived affiliation with ISIS.