Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

Using Art to Build Peace and Stand Up to Violence

From 28-29 June, the Arts of Peace Team from the Iraqi Social Forum’s nonviolence masar (path) organized a workshop entitled “Tools for building peace and combating violent extremism.” 26 trainees were introduced to various strategies which use art to stand up to violence. Participants volunteered in a few different campaigns and acquired crucial practical experience.

The first axis of the workshop offered a definition of art and the ways it can be used as a means of enacting social change. Trainees were introduced to artists who were ahead of their time, and who, because of that, were often thought to be crazy, especially by those in power. But the excellence and innovation of their ideas has meaning, and offers new ways to see the world, and the workshop allowed participants to discover how and why.

Hussein Amir, one of the workshop’s trainers, described the event: “The atmosphere of the workshop was an atmosphere of dialogue and discussion. We gave the participants free space to express their ideas and experiences.” The workshop included exercises which encouraged ways to envision and bring about peace at both a national and international level.

The second axis of the workshop concentrated on the practical applications of the ideas initially explored, more specifically, trainees explored how to use ​​art to find peace in society, to cultivate social cohesion, solidarity and to advocate for positive change. Participants began to understand how art works to address social issues, how it can apply pressure on people to solve problems through artistic activities forms of art.

The final axis developed the skills needed to create and implement successful art campaigns. Participants learned effective tools for different campaign activities, including the Problem Analysis Matrix and Smart Target technology as well as SWAT analysis. They were divided into groups each of which chose a campaign of its own, designed its activities and predicted its outcomes.

The workshop included a series of exercises to break the ice and convey the basic idea of ​​using art as a tool to cultivate nonviolence in the country. Yunis Ali, one of the workshop participants, said “My interest in art is extensive. I found what I was seeking in this workshop through training and real life examples of how art can affect our reality and can create a new day.”

The Arts of Peace team was established in June 2018. The team is working on developing technical tools which can be incorporated into campaigns for peace. The workshop was held in cooperation with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative and the Italian organization Un Ponte Per…, within the space of Iraqi Social Forum and International Migration and Development Center, with further the support of the Dos organization.

Fatima Al Wardi

Peace Arts Team