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.

Selene Greco opening Speech During ICSSI Conference in Sulaymaniyah

Being with you for me it’s a joy despite all the efforts organizing this conference required, as these efforts are compensated by the preciousness of your presence for the future of our common visions. And, for this, I want to underline the importance of being here, of being active listeners and active voices today. 

Today, when we are all active spectators of the many mistakes and weaknesses of the present global system and humanity. 

Today, when we find ourselves in a period of exceptional transition from modernity to a new era that we can imagine, but we still can’t see. 

Today, living in an unequal and chaotic world, we are still witnessing the explosion of a new war, in Ukraine: new pain inflicted by the madness of power-for-power policies to innocent civilians; and we are aware that it is “just” an additional war to the ongoing effects of too many ones still occurring around the world, as Iraq and the Kurdistan Region well experienced and are still experiencing today.

Today, to this chaos we feel as spectators, but we are spectators with the strong willingness to get active for a future of peace: the future of politics looking to real human and people’s needs, and of a humanity capable of facing and transforming conflicts by nonviolent means. 

We meet today and have on our shoulders the experience of covid-19, which showed all around the world the weaknesses of our social systems, which are different but all structured under the domain of neoliberal policies and, in many cases, infiltrated by corruption. 

The period started by covid-19 crisis has also been, for many organizations, characterized by a renewed effort for internal analysis. It has been such for the ICSSI, which – as you will learn in the fifth day of the conference – started to reflect again on its structural values and practices, considering the recent changes occurred in the context of Iraqi civil society, especially after the October 2019 uprisings, and re-assessing the coherence between its mission and its actual activity. 

You see, I think our capacity to cooperate between each other, in personal life as in the collective one, depends at first on how we work inside ourselves.

And I think also that our work is all about transforming challenges in opportunities. In this sense you can see that Covid-19 has also engendered a stronger awareness in some of us about our societies’ weaknesses, and, as it never happened before, about the significance of social relations for our lives as human beings and collectivities. We met online, now look around: you can strongly feel the difference of being together, looking into each other’s eyes. 

We are the carriers of a desired change of the social redemption Iraq and the world deserves. In this sense, ICSSI mission is to create links of solidarity between Iraqi and international civil society: as we are share a common vision. And, in this regard, I want to underline that in no case, international’s action can be allowed to be conceived as role of “assistance”: Iraqi civil society has the capacity to develop its strengths and is the real owner of its struggle. As Internationals, with our visions and resources, we are just a support to this struggle because we see our responsibilities as part of the international community towards the current Iraqi situation, and we recognize the importance of acting together in front of our common challenges. 

It may be more difficult, but we can be stronger if we are able to share our knowledge and strategies, opening opportunities to each other; if we are able to work together dividing the efforts and enhancing each other’s activity for common results. 

We are carriers of a common desired change, and sometimes in our minds we can clearly see how our society could look in a future of global justice: but is our responsibility to find strategies and methods to bring this change into the complexity of present reality. 

So, I conclude inviting you all to take the chance of this conference to share your perspectives and learning from each other, creating understanding about Iraqi civil society strategies and needs, sharing expertise and opportunities on how this future can be brought, considering the value of ICSSI as one of our collective means to pursue this end.  

Thank you. 

Selene Greco, acted as ICSSI  international coordinator in the years 2020 and 2021, leading the process of internal review through a participatory approach. Selene and the former national coordinator, Ali al-Karkhi, together with the ICSSI team, organized the 2022 ICSSI Conference Starting over from solidarity in Sulaymaniyah.