The Conference on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Iraq’s Diverse Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Communities
On 26-28 March 2014, AIM in partnership with UNAMI and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq held a three day conference in Baghdad on the “Promotion of the Rights of Iraq’s Diverse Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Communities”.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, the Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General (DSRSG) noted that “all too commonly non-majority communities suffer from multiple forms of discrimination and marginalization that detrimentally affect their full and equal participation in the political, economic, and social life of the country. Without the full respect of the rights of your communities, democracy in Iraq will not thrive.”
The opening session was attended by representatives from different diplomatic missions in Baghdad, religious leaders from different communities as well as more than sixty participants representing all of Iraq’s diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic communities.
Over the course of three days participants worked to identify key issues affecting their communities and to affirm their belief in Iraq as an inclusive, vibrant and prosperous democracy built on the rule of law and respect for human rights, in which all Iraq's people, irrespective of race, religion, sect, linguistic, cultural or other differences, can fully and equally participate. The sessions were facilitated by members of the Network of Iraqi Facilitators.
The conference successfully concluded with the adoption of a Declaration of Principles on the rights and fundamental freedoms of Iraq’s minority communities and a roadmap for legal, institutional and policy reforms aimed at ensuring protection of rights of these communities and enhancing respect for their full and equal participation in the political, economic, social and cultural life of Iraq. The roadmap and the declaration of principles will serve as the key platform for advocacy with the incoming government following the general elections to be held on April 30th 2014. Additionally, the conference appointed a 10 member committee from among the participants to devise a plan of action based on the roadmap.
"This conference has been a landmark event where representatives of all Iraq's diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural communities discussed together the challenges they face and adopted a commonly agreed framework for addressing those problems”, said the Director of UNAMI's Human Rights Office and Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq, Francesco Motta. “I heartily congratulate the delegates to the conference who proved that irrespective of differences in religion, language, culture, ethnicity or race, it is possible to forge a national identity based on shared values that embraces diversity and that includes all of Iraq's people" said the Director of UNAMI's Human Rights Office and Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq, Francesco Motta.
The Chairperson of AIM, Mr. Ghassan Salim, was pleased to note that “the outcome of this conference, highlighting the common position of Iraq's diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural communities, is a clear indication that violations of the rights of our communities must be addressed, but equally”. Mr. Salim underlined the importance of the implementation of policies that prevent such violations from occurring in the first place. “The road map adopted by the participants is a first step on the path to ensuring that Iraq remains a pluralistic, democratic and inclusive State where the rights of all its people and diverse communities are protected and respected", he said.
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