Najaf, Iraq, 18 March 2017 – The third of a series of cross-country youth forums convened in Najaf today, with the United Nations stressing the important role youth play in future reconciliation and highlighting the significance of the holy city in consolidating the spirit of coexistence and reconciliation.
A total of 115 youth in the age group of 18-35 from the Najaf, Karbala, Babel and Qadissiyah Governorates in southern Iraq participated in the “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” forum, which the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) organized in collaboration with the Iraqi Al-Amal Association.
The aim of the forum was to give a voice to youth for their crucial role in charting the road to peaceful co-existence in a future Iraq. With these kind of fora, the young generation of Iraqis across different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds has the opportunity to deliberate post-conflict issues, engage on national reconciliation and voice their opinion.
The opening session was attended by Mr. Abbas Jabr Al-Alyawi, deputy governor of Najaf Governorate, Mr. Ali al-Shumarri, member of the Najaf governorate council, representatives of the Al-Amal Association, and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political and Electoral Affairs, Mr. György Busztin, who delivered speeches.
The meeting in Najaf, in addition that it brought together the youth from the mid-Euphrates governorates, takes on added significance given the holy city’s spiritual standing in the hearts of many Muslim in Iraq and across the world, Mr. Busztin said. “This stop is significant, for Najaf is central in consolidating the spirit of coexistence and reconciliation.”
The DSRSG added that the meeting shows the keenness of the United Nations for the youth to have a say in future coexistence in Iraq and underlines the importance of their role.
“We all recognize that the issues of peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and national unity figure prominently in any solution. There must be comprehensive and frank discussions with all segments of society to address the legacy of the past and the current threat of terrorism and extremist views in order to build a stable future for Iraq. Youth are the ones to ensure coexistence remains and takes root in this country, and if we want to embark on the road to reconciliation and genuine coexistence we have to start with the youth, as we have to also start with other segments and components to ensure all points of view are heard.”
The Najaf forum is the third of the cross-country forums. The first was launched in Basra on 28 January 2017 and brought together about 120 participants from the four southern governorates of Basra, Missan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna and in Erbil on 19 February with 135 participants from Ninewa Governorate. Other conferences are to follow in the governorates of Diyala, Suleimaniyah, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salaheddin, culminating in an overarching national conference in Baghdad in May to be attended by representatives of the youth to incorporate recommendations from these forums in the decisions that support the process of reconciliation and coexistence.
As with the format for all the conferences, the participants in the Najaf forum broke up into working groups to deliberate and respond to questions about what they would like to see in a future Iraq and how they can contribute. At the end of the meeting, the participants debated their responses and adopted a set of recommendations.
(c) 2017 United Nations