Iraqi Centre for Negotiation Skills and Conflict Management (IQCM)
Dialogue is the key to conflict resolution and social cohesion
The road to a peaceful Iraq is fraught with challenges and citizens struggle to survive against a backdrop of political dysfunction, infighting and extremism. Hundreds of thousands have fled the most violent areas and are seeking safety elsewhere. Yet, the country's precarious development has left large communities of internally-displaced families without basic services, water, shelter, and proper hygiene facilities. Thus, many are struggling to build peaceful relationships and make lives in their new communities.
Since 2003, Mercy Corps have been engaged in Iraq to help Iraqis with the rebuilding of their country. In 2010, they established the Iraqi Centre for Negotiation Skills and Conflict Management (IQCM) to reduce violence across Iraq and promote good governance, social cohesion and reconciliation through developing interest-based negotiation skills of local leaders and community members. The Center supports a nationwide network of over 1000 members including women and men, Sunni and Shia, Arabs and Kurds, Christian, tribal elders, religious leaders, government officials, politicians, and civil society representatives from every region of Iraq.
Through dialogue sessions, the IQCM ensures that people talk about their concerns, fears and interests to build empathy and understanding of each others’ fears and concerns. Among the many conflicts that such sessions helped to solve, there is one between the Arab Sunni families and Yazidi families in the Ashti Camp in the Sulaimaniyah province. The relationship between these two families, indeed, has always been shaped by high levels of threats and tension for many years. Dialogue has allowed these communities not only to coexist peacefully but also has ensured that 250 Yazidi students were able to go back to school and 350 new students were registered in the literacy centers that were initially boycotted due Sunni control over these institutions.
IQCM members from 2005 up to now documented 1500 disputes that were solved peacefully through using the absorbed skills. The network’s diversity, their ability to solve problems and their willingness to put aside differences to build a better future, are powerful examples of the type of leadership that is poised for success in Iraq.