Iraq: Nineveh Province
Nineveh Paths to Social Cohesion, Coexistence and Peace (NPSC) is a major, UNDP-funded project run by the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and Un Ponte Per (UPP). NPSC commenced in October 2015 and finished in March 2016.
NPSC aimed to provide rigorous support for and strengthening of capacity and ownership of local civil society organisations, provincial council and affected communities in Zumar, Sinuni, Wana and Rabi’a in Nineveh Province to effectively develop and implement customized approaches to local / community-based reconciliation and peacebuilding using dialogue, mediation and restorative justice practices customized for local context, culture and ownership.
NPSC is implemented in three separate phases, described in greater detail below.
A reference group including all main local and international organisations addressing inter-ethnic and inter-community relations, minority rights, IDPs, return and reconciliation between communities was created at the start of the project to identify high quality participants from local communities, CSOs, Provincial Council and IDPs.
An initial basic training on Dialogue, Mediation & Reconciliation spreaded and developed basic skills with key stakeholders/participants; enabled participants to identify key issues and needs; engaged participants in exploring and identifying approaches to dialogue, mediation and reconciliation that could be appropriate for Zumar, Sinuni, Wana, Rabi’a; and developed participatory input to the creation of the project’s base-line and monitoring and evaluation framework.
In November, a far more advanced, in-depth 5-day training was held on Community-Based Dialogue, Mediation and Reconciliation in Nineveh. The training went deeper into practical methodologies and approaches for community-based DMR, identified local cultural traditions and practices, shared case studies and global lessons learned and identified, and facilitated joint planning and participatory design of local processes.
Local implementing partners received first draft Guidance Notes on (1) Community Dialogue and Mediation; (2) Community-Based Healing & Reconciliation; and (3) Designing and Implementing Community-Based Dialogue, Mediation and Reconciliation together with a template to help them develop their own community processes. This was followed by a three week consulting period with their organizations and communities, during which they received support from the Project Coordinator and Director on the design and development of their programs.
Participants submitted summaries of their proposals by the third week of November. Following this, each partner sent key implementing staff to a 4-day advanced training in effective planning & design for community-based mediation & reconciliation processes where they went through practical design and planning processes applied to their specific projects, which was conducted jointly with all implementing partners.
The final component of Phase 2 was a meeting with the reference group to present the projects being developed and identify how other local and international organizations’ efforts could support or complement the work being done by local CSOs and implementing partners.
The third phase was the main period for implementation of DMR processes by local implementing partners, building from the initiatives developed in the earlier phases. Micro-grants became available to fund these initiatives, which focused on: community-based mediation and dialogue processes; community-based reconciliation and restorative justice processes; engaging with local militias to strengthen social cohesion; strengthening the role of youth in DMR; strengthening the role of women in DMR; strengthening the role of religious leaders in DMR; community-level capacity building for DMR; and promoting a culture of reconciliation and social cohesion. All funding was conditional on the quality of the proposals.
In the third phase, additional customized support was also available to enhance the capabilities of local mediators and peacebuilders. This support included targeted programming for women peacebuilders, youth activists and religious leaders. Throughout the project, every training and capacity building event included at least 50% women and 50% youth.
A customized handbook & toolkit was also created to support skills gained in training and participants’ capacities to implement local DMR processes – drawing upon exact needs in their contexts, traditional and cultural approaches, and best-practice tools & experiences gained in community-based dialogue, mediation and restorative justice internationally. These materials were distributed to participants and made freely available on-line in English and Arabic, and launched at the end of project conference.
A final conference was held as a multi-stakeholder process bringing together key representatives from the Provincial Council, other state/government authorities in Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, local and national CSOs, international organisations, and UN agencies. The final conference includeed: presentation of the results of the project; presentation of local processes implemented; workshops on key themes chosen by participants and participating organisations related to social cohesion, reconciliation and stabilization in Nineveh; recommendations for next steps, key priorities and how to best support and strengthen inter- and intra-community peacebuilding, reconciliation, healing and peace consolidation. This was further complemented by a publication, Nineveh Paths to Social Cohesion, Coexistence and Peace.