Iraq: Consultative meeting to enhance peaceful coexistence

Within the framework of addressing the growing threat of ethnic and sectarian tensions in the region, UN-ESCWA held a consultative meeting to discuss a project entitled "Enhancing the Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq through Informal and Non-Formal Education" in Beirut on 19-20 April 2007. The meeting brought together representatives of the Iraqi Ministries of Education, Human Rights, Youth and Sports, as well as representatives of a number of Iraqi non-governmental organizations and other United Nations entities.

The meeting aimed to receive input, comments and suggestions from the participants on the project that was formulated by UN-ESCWA, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Office of Human Rights at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants stressed the importance of the project and the dire need for such an initiative in Iraq. They affirmed that this is a pioneering project that could lay the groundwork for wider movement within Iraq that would in turn contribute to strengthening peaceful coexistence. The deliberations of the meeting also resulted in upholding the project's purpose, objectives, activities, and target beneficiaries, namely youth between 12 and 18 years old. Participants suggested a number of amendments, ideas and additional activities that would contribute to developing the project in concordance with Iraqi society and its needs, as well as reinforcing it so that it becomes more systematic in dealing with ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq.