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.
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