The Iraqi and Kurdistan Social Forums have launched a new initiative to promote social cohesion in 4 governorates. “Councils for Social Cohesion” have been established in Sulaymaniyah, Baghdad, Amara and Ramadi, coordinated by civil society organizations belonging to the working groups (masar) of the social forums. Within these councils community leaders, local authorities and civil society will join forces in order to increase accountability of local authorities and reduce tension within communities. The councils will consist of members representing their local community, from a diverse background including women, and will assemble frequently.

Specifically the councils will hold workshops and roundtables with local authorities, conflict mediation and field visits to the city forums. Local communities will be involved in the decision-making process of the councils and civil society will play a coordinating role. The aim of the workshops and roundtables is to form a coalition between civil society, local communities and local authorities to address thematic issues and find the solutions for them.  The conflict resolution sessions will allow civil society to play a mediating role in local communities.

From 1-2 October in Baghdad, coordinators and facilitators of the four councils gathered to create a strategic plan and to take part in a training on conflict transformation methods, mediation and consensus-building. On the first day participants received a theoretical w to leadership methodologies, conflict roles and negotiation. The first day started with a theoretical approach to decision-making pyramid where activists occupy the middle position with a reference to the significance of that position and how to benefit of it to bring about social change. Later the leadership skills package was presented to the trainees including: solving problem skills, strategic skills, communication skills and relationships skills with a special emphasis on communication skills to deliver a clear and direct message to others during negotiations, mediations and conflicts. Then, the next session focused on negotiation skills, planning skills, leadership skills, team-building skills.

The second day dealt with concrete techniques of negotiation skills, active communication and negotiation agreements. The day concluded with communication methods on the who, what, how to address conflict including several exercises on the writing of agreements. The training was conducted by Mr. Saad Al-Khalidy of the Iraqi Center for Negotiation Skills and Conflict Management. A follow-up training will be organized in 2019.

The councils are expected to schedule their first assemblies in the coming period.

In Sulaymaniyah the council is managed by Un Ponte Per (UPP)

In Baghdad the council is managed by the Iraqi Social Forum

In Amara the council is managed by Misan Social Forum

In Ramadi the council is managed by Fallujah Social Forum