This post is also available in: Arabic
Despite the political situation in Iraq, civil society groups seem adamant on continuing their legitimate fight for sound accountability mechanisms in the country. This is especially true with the run up to the implementation of the 2008 law on decentralization that will transfer the responsibility of services delivery to the provinces, and the resulting need for citizens to hold officials accountable at the provincial level. Since access to information is the basic pillar to enable citizens and civil society to exercise this right to holding their officials accountable and with almost no information available from the government at all, being able to access information through the World Bank – even if that information is limited to WB-financed activities – is a much needed access point for civil society.
In early March 2015, BIC MENA held a two-day workshop in Sulaymaniyah titled Social Accountability: An implementation model on the World Bank’s Projects in Iraq. 17 civil society representatives from different regions of Iraq participated, including a number of civil society activists and organizations from Kurdistan Iraq. The participants came from various backgrounds and field s of focus, ranging from transparency, media, to gender and youth participation. Part of the workshop focused on how to search the World Bank’s website for information, and how to use the available, albeit limited, space for civil society to influence the Bank’s policies in Iraq as well as hold Iraqi officials and institutions to their commitments with the Bank.
The workshop tackled the issue of accountability from a rights-based approach, and the different mechanisms and tools which should be available for citizens to exercise their right in holding officials accountable. The concept was then applied to the World Bank Group as an example, making the case for why citizens have the right to hold the WBG accountable. The Bank’s own tools and mechanisms for citizen engagement were also presented. It was clear to the participants that through using those tools they can hold accountable, not only World Bank officials, but also Iraqi government officials, and private-sector entities who receive funding from World Bank institutions. To conclude the workshop, the participants were divided into small groups to develop plans on how to use the information they have gathered to the benefit of the issues they work on.
The workshop was covered by local media, and a press release on a Kurdish outlet “Kurdistan News” can be found here (Arabic).