Officials at UN workshop agree on draft law on NGOs in Iraq

At a workshop organized by the United Nations in Iraq”s northern city of Erbil, representatives from the Kurdistan parliament, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the presidency council of Kurdistan and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have agreed on the draft of a new law to govern the work of NGOs in the region. The roundtable, which ended yesterday, was organized by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) with funding from the European Union (EU), the Government of Finland and other donors through the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Iraq Trust Fund as well as the US Department of State”s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.Participants at the roundtable also included representatives of the Iraqi Council of Ministers Secretariat, the NGOs Directorate, the outgoing Chair of Iraqi Council of Representatives” Civil Society Committee, the Iraqi State Ministry of Civil Society Affairs and international observers.The head of the Civil Society Committee of the Kurdistan Parliament, Dana Said Safi, stated that he was “very satisfied with the meeting.”According to Hoshyar Malo, a representative from ICNL/Kurdish Human Right Watch, the roundtable “was the first opportunity in several years of work on the new KRG NGO law to bring all the main stakeholders to one table. Previously, consultations have been less coordinated and taken place in smaller groups, which has not yielded the desired impact.”The multi-year process of working on the new KRG NGO law was accelerated this year and the new draft law now under consideration at the Kurdistan Parliament. Following extensive preparatory work, the three-day Roundtable Conference – which was supported by international experts – provided participants with an opportunity to discuss the provisions of this draft in detail.The main regulatory challenges in the law are the registration of NGOs, legal guarantees to preserve the independence of NGOs, and rules to prevent interference in the work of NGOs by authorities or political parties. Once passed, a progressive law containing such provisions will help ensure the development of KRG”s civil society.The Director of the NGOs Directorate of the Iraqi Council of Ministers Secretariat, Ahmed Al Attar, added that “there is also a need to synchronise the federal Iraqi NGO law and the future KRG NGO law in order to, for example, avoid double registration requirements. This synchronisation should be done in a spirit of supporting the development of a free and strong Iraqi Civil Society.”Commenting on the formula of multi-stakeholder consultations, the Advisor to the KRG Prime Minister on Youth and Civil Society Affairs, Fazl Umar, expressed hope that the workshop “will contribute to the adoption of the new KRG NGO law.”According to Dr. Safi, “there is even a possibility that the new KRG NGO law could be adopted at the end of this year, or in early 2011.” 26 September 2010At a workshop organized by the United Nations in Iraq”s northern city of Erbil, representatives from the Kurdistan parliament, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the presidency council of Kurdistan and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have agreed on recommendations on a draft law to govern the work of NGOs in the region. read more

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