31 December 2017 – Amman, Jordan/Erbil, Iraq: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq and Generations For Peace have launched a new partnership to support transformational leadership training for youth leaders from six cities in Iraq. The partnership is UNFPA’s first-ever support to Generations For Peace. This collaboration aims at  training youth leaders in transformational leadership, to prepare them to lead trust-building activities in their own communities to overcome conflict and foster social cohesion and resilience as part of Iraq’s recovery and development effort.

The first training, for thirty youth leaders from Anbar, Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Ninawa, Salah Eddin and Waset selected by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Iraq runs from 26 to 31 December 2017 in Amman, Jordan. A second training, for 75 youth leaders, will take place from 10 to 14 January 2018 in Baghdad. The trainings which are based on Generations For Peace’s ten years’ experience on youth-led peace building and conflict transformation in the region and around the world, include  topics such as peace-building theory; community needs assessments and conflict analysis; participatory programme design, monitoring and evaluation to show impact. The exercises also focus on advocacy and peace-building narratives; child protection, human rights, and gender equality; as well as practice in the facilitation of innovative Sport For Peace approaches for youth engagement and development of life skills and social cohesion.

Dr. Mohanned Arabiat, President of Generations For Peace, explained the importance of the programme: “This is an important new partnership for Generations For Peace and we are very grateful for UNFPA’s support. Iraq has been suffering for decades and there exists a deficit of trust between groups, and between citizens and the state. Work is urgently needed at the grass roots level to engage youth, to rebuild trust and social cohesion, and to strengthen community capacities to address needs and resolve differences without resorting to violence. Our experience across the region and beyond shows that supporting youth-led activities helps to reduce violence, strengthen resilience and support positive peace-building efforts to rebuild the social fabric of communities. This is an important piece of the puzzle, and it is needed in parallel with efforts to rebuild physical infrastructure and strengthen state institutions to provide effective service delivery.”

On the partnership, Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, Representative of UNFPA in Iraq ,said:: “Young people make up a quarter of the world’s population and more than 600 million young people currently live in conflict-affected states, such as Iraq. Youth are amongst the most affected by violence, and bear enormous and long-lasting human, social and economic costs of violence. UNFPA strongly believes in advocating for their rights and empowering youth to make informed decisions, so they can realise their full potential and contribute to economic and social transformation. Empowering young people is one of the smartest investments a country can make and this is why we are committed to partnering with Generations For Peace in Iraq. As leaders of the next generation, youth in Iraq can help strengthen the social fabric and create a sustainable future.”

Iraq has enjoyed only brief periods of order and respite from high levels of violence since the 2003. There are more than 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Iraq and instability has hindered efforts to rebuild an economy shattered by decades of conflict and sanctions.