Final report, Velletri, March 30th 2009

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1. Trade unionists, activists for human rights and for women’s rights, members of Youth and students unions, members of Ngos, representatives of minorities, women and men, citizens of Iraq and from the international community, including America, Europe and Asia, gathered in Velletri from 25 to 30 March 2009. This was to discuss the challenges that the Iraqi civil society is faced with in continuing to build a free and democratic Iraq, to strengthen alliances and improve cooperation.

2. We have first of all recognised that in Iraq there exists a vibrant Civil Society which is active and committed to the deep problems that still affect Iraq after six years of occupation: a grave humanitarian situation, illiteracy, lack of liberties, violation of human rights, violation of workers right, political sectarianism.

3. The Iraqi civil society is composed of thousands of organisations, networks, and volunteers who are committed to confronting all these problems daily with proposals, projects, campaigns, lobbying, demonstrations, rallies, and cultural initiatives. Iraqi civil society deserves to have a place on the international stage as an important actor in improving the Iraqi situation and receiving concrete support from the international civil society.

4. Civil Society Organisations’ (CSOs) activities are affected by many factors: violence, political problems, political sectarianisation of the society, and weakness of organisational experience. Freedom of association, of gathering, of establishing trade unions, and of the media are still not guaranteed in Iraq. We are concerned about this because these freedoms are the core of democracy.

5. During these days all major challenges for a sovereign and democratic Iraq have been deeply discussed by Iraqi and between international and Iraqi participants. Discussion has been concrete and differences have enriched the debate. On this basis Iraqi CSOs will continue their work improving cooperation and developing initiatives.

6. Out of the discussions the international participants gained a deeper knowledge of the Iraqi situation that will enable NGOs and activists of Europe, Asia and America to develop more effective solidarity actions to reinforce global support for the work of Iraqis. Another major outcome was the building of reciprocal knowledge and trust, and the establishment of contacts for future joint actions.

On this basis the participants have proposed a list of joint actions to be developed in the future and will expand these networks and build new alliances

by inviting more Iraqi and international organisations to participate in the process of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative.

1. Support in international awareness raising campaigns on issues identified by Iraqis as

  • – International petition for freedom of association and on NGO Law
  • – Campaigns on workers’ rights and the abolition of law 150 that limits the

    workers’ right to establish trade unions

  • – Campaigns on improving women’s position in the society and the abolition

    of Article 41 of the Constitution in order to eliminate all the legislative

    obstacles to gender equality

  • – Constitution of the Human Rights Defenders union
  • – Promoting the role of youth in decision making processes

    2. Cooperation in capacity building of Iraqi CSOs

  • – Trainings on specific issues identified by Iraqis
  • – Support for activating direct contacts with donors and understanding how to

    approach them

    3. Develop projects and networks for Peace building , non-violence and internal reconciliation processes and other key concerns identified by Iraqis

    4. In order to strengthen communications:

  • – To develop an Internal Social Website for the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity

    Initiative, in English and Arabic.

  • – To establish workgroup e-mail lists (on privatization, peace building, etc)

    5. Develop networking and continue the process for the organisation of an Iraq Social Forum

    Velletri, March 30th 2009