Iraqi Parliamentarians and NGOs from Eastern Europe exchange experience and explore models of diversity protection and anti-discrimination legislations in the region

From 13-17 June 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with Sofia Platform organized a study tour and workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a group of 11 Parliamentarians and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to explore models of diversity protection and anti-discrimination legislations in Eastern Europe, specifically in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia. The study tour and workshop were part of the broader UNDP support for institutional reform and good governance in Iraq in line with government priorities and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on building Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and SDG 10 on Reduced Inequalities.

The group included seven members of the Human Rights, Legal, Endowment and Civil Society Organizations Committees of the Council of Representatives (CoR).

Member of the Human Rights Committee, Mrs. Ashwaq Al-Jaf, said: “We explored new processes for diversity protection and anti-discrimination laws with context and culture very close to Iraq’s. It was useful to learn how Eastern European countries have dealt with the challenges emerging during legislation, implementation and enforcement of such laws. Knowing this will contribute to the development of respective Iraqi laws, and will speed up the process of legislating the Law of Diversity Protection and Anti-Discrimination.”

Participants enjoyed the opportunity of visiting the Bulgarian National Assembly, Commission against Discrimination, as well as local organizations active in the field of diversity protection and anti-discrimination and related awareness raising campaigns.

Member of the Legal Committee, Mr. Hassan Turan, stressed: “There is a crucial need to adopt the Law of Diversity Protection and Anti-Discrimination to protect all Iraqi citizens and contribute to an inclusive government that protects the rights of its citizens and holds perpetrators to account. The study tour and visits to the Bulgarian institutions widened our vision as related to the current draft law in Iraq under which internal displacement and migration can be limited.”

UNDP organized this learning activity under its Strengthening Participatory and Accountable Governance (SPAG) Project and in cooperation with Sofia Platform. SPAG Acting Project Manager, Mr. Zeyad Al-Obaidi, said: “During this study tour, participants worked together with experts from the Balkans and UNDP to revise the current draft Law of Diversity Protection and Anti-Discrimination based on lessons learned from international experiences. One of the main outcomes is a comprehensive recommendations report with proposed alternate articles that can guide the Human Rights Committee when revisiting the draft law.”