THE IOG PERSPECTIVE: Good governance and long-term stability in Iraq

2 minute read

By: Steve Tierney, Executive Director, Modernizing Governance

The world continues to watch to see how things will play out in the Middle East after the US killing of Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian downing of Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 that killed 176 people, including 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada.

These incidents are having significant impact on neighbouring Iraq, where the IOG has been supporting the building of good fiscal and civic governance for most of the past decade. One may remember that Iraq has also been facing demonstrations in Baghdad and most southern provinces, which began in October 2019 and have continued through this January. The demonstrators are young and non-sectarian; many are women. They view the government as corrupt and are seeking a fundamental change to the political system in Iraq. In particular, the government has failed to deliver basic services to its citizens and to create employment opportunities for the young.

In short, the population is demanding more responsive citizen-focused service delivery and good governance.

Citizen-focused service delivery builds on the concept of subsidiarity, the notion that the most effective service delivery is delivered by the most local civic unit.

In this context, “good governance” refers to the ongoing and productive engagement of Iraqi civil society in ensuring effective service delivery and transparent decision-making.

Both are dependent on effective processes that ensure accountability for decisions made and services delivered.

The IOG’s team in Baghdad and Erbil, supported by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), has been working closely with civil society, provincial governments and the federal government in Iraq, to establish practical governance arrangements that include fiscal measures and effective processes for engaging civil society in supporting transparent decision-making and efficient service delivery.

Over the last few years, the IOG has earned the respect of Iraq federal and provincial governments, as well as civil society groups themselves, as it has worked to bring these groups together using the principles of good governance. All of this has been to give citizens a voice in making decisions and improving service delivery.

The current unrest is troubling and makes work on the ground difficult. And while the future is uncertain, it is clear that to develop into a fully functioning state that is responsive to the needs of its citizens, significant capacity-building work remains to be done. IOG intends to be there to help in this work.

About the author

Steve Tierney

Steve Tierney

Executive Director - Modernizing Governance

Steve Tierney is Executive Director – Modernizing Governance at the Institute on Governance. He has spent over 20 years in leadership positions for the federal government of Canada. His last position was Assistant Deputy Minister, Markets and Industry Services Branch at Agriculture Canada, a position he held between 2009 and 2012. A major focus of his work at Agriculture Canada was establishing new governance arrangements with other departments to more efficiently and effectively resolve agriculture trade issues with other national governments.

Previous to this, he was Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources at Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada where he led the design and implementation of a number of changes to human resources management, including in the area of staffing, executive performance, and tracking and reporting systems that were recognized as best practices and are now being used in a number of departments.

He also has taken the role of Director General of the Aboriginal Policy and Program Branch at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and spent 20 years for the Department of Finance, working on issues in the energy policy, federal-provincial-territorial relations and tax policy areas. He led the design and implementation of a number of innovative policy and program changes, including working with First Nations and provinces to establish the first First Nation Sales Tax arrangements, working with industry stakeholders and US officials to put in place the processes needed for the federal government to begin raising tobacco taxes in the late 1990s, and working with provinces and territories and other federal departments to reform provincial personal income taxation.

Mr. Tierney has successfully found and implemented innovative solutions to longstanding issues in a broad spectrum of policy and program areas. He has found that success is almost always tied to the strength and appropriateness of the governance model chosen.

Steve has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Economics from York University and a Masters of Economics from the University of British Columbia.