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[size=36]UN International Day of Democracy – 15 September 2019 By UNAMI Human Rights Office[/size]
15 September 2019
Today is the UN International Day of Democracy. This year’s theme - “Inclusion and participation” – reflects the importance of promoting and bringing about an expansion of civil society participation in public affairs in Iraq.
UNAMI Human Rights Office (HRO) engages in activities across the country that promote the expansion of civil society space and the active engagement of civil society in Iraq’s public affairs.
Civil Society Engagement on Universal Periodic Review of Iraq’s human rights performance
An important example is civil society engagement during Universal Period Review of Iraq’s performance in implementing human rights recommendations made by UN members State at the UN Human Rights Council. Iraq’s progress in implementing such recommendations will be assessed in Geneva in November 2019.
On 11 September 2019, in Baghdad, UNAMI co-hosted with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation a Universal Periodic Review Pre-Session dialogue between civil society and UN Member States. Coalitions of Iraqi civil society organizations from all governorates of Iraq delivered short briefings on Iraq’s human rights performance and then engaged in discussions with UN member States.
This interactive event provided an opportunity for Iraqi civil society to engage directly with member States in advance of Iraq’s upcoming review at the 34th Universal Period Review Working Group Session in November. It also assisted member states in formulating specific and well-targeted recommendations as part of that review.
Community engagement with Iraq authorities during short film festivals across Iraq
Iraqi women engaging in discussions on local human rights at the Karbala Minorities and Human Rights film festival.
Iraqi youth and film makers celebrate after the screening of films on human rights and minorities at the 3By3 Film Festival in Baghdad.
HRO has also conducted film festivals and panel discussions across Iraq, providing a forum for participants to directly engage with Iraqi authorities. As part of its work on enhancing equality and countering discrimination, in particular in relation to ethnic and religious minorities, HRO screened locally made human rights short films on Minorities and Human Rights to over 4158 Iraqis at 36 festivals in 17 out of the 19 governorates of Iraq since March.
Social media and television coverage reached thousands more. During discussion forums following the screening of films, thousands of Iraqis drew attention to priorities for the country including ending discrimination, especially against women and minorities.
These forums provided a direct channel of communication between film makers, civil society, youth, women, human rights defenders, students, minorities, academics, tribal sheiks, religious leaders, local members of parliament, provincial councilors, police chiefs on human rights concerns in Iraq that need to be addressed.
Iraqi civil society used these discussion forums to promote change on human rights issues affecting their communities.
Basra university students after a lively debate on local human rights concerns in the Basra Film Festival.
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