Event Reports

Rule of Law Training Towards Reconciliation in Kirkuk

KAS and ETTC Hold Workshops in Multi-Ethnic City

After the Kurdish independence referendum in 2017, relations between the Central Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq deteriorated. As a result, the Iraqi military drove the Peshmerga, who had been controlling Kirkuk since its liberation from ISIL in 2014, out of the city. This only increased the tensions within the multi-ethnic town, resulting in a dire need of reconciliation and peace-building based on the rule of law. The Syria/Iraq Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), together with the European Technology and Training Center (ETTC), implemented two five-day training sessions on the topic in Kirkuk.

It is important for the peaceful future of Kirkuk, a city that is home to about one million Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians, to improve the organizational and managerial capacities of its political forces and public administration employees. Given the ethnic heterogeneity of the population, this requires the introduction of procedures and regulations according to mutual understanding of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups.

In this vein, KAS partnered with the ETTC to train citizens of Kirkuk on the topic – introducing them to different conflict situations, prevention strategies, human rights and the principle of the rule of law. The sessions underlined the importance of mutual acceptance, peaceful coexistence and understanding of multiple perspectives in the interpretations of past and present. Each of the six workshops had around 22 participants that enriched the training with their specific questions, such as how to move forward with a civil society-oriented policy for city development; how to organize and facilitate inter-ethnic cooperation in community issues; and how to organize an active observation process of progress or gaps in reconciliation.

The sessions’ goal was not only to train the participants, but also to enable them to amplify the message of the training, spreading what they have learned to their respective institutions and communities. The fruitful discussions that the citizens of Kirkuk engaged in during the training are a promising sign that discourse will remain in the future, creating the potential to decrease tensions.