by Christina Bache Fidan

Report on a project supported by the GRP ID and the Hollings Center for International Dialogue

Project Activities:

With support of the GRP IP we convened a group of four specialists on human security in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Over three days we discussed the most pressing human security challenges (community, economic, environment, food, health, personal, and political) facing the region and devised strategies to overcome them. On the final day, we held a public meeting with representatives from academia, civil society, media and the private sector in Istanbul, Turkey, to present the different challenges to human security in the KRI, which was followed by an open discussion with the audience. On our last evening together, the Columbia University Global Center in Istanbul hosted Dr. Choman Hardi to read a selection of her poetry on social justice issues in the KRI. Through all of our private and public meetings we established a network of practitioners, researchers, and representatives from academia, civil society and the private sector who are all concerned with addressing and devising strategies to overcome human security challenges facing the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Overall, our activities introduced a new perspective of the KRI that was unknown to the public and policy circles in Istanbul.

Project Findings:

Human security in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is under threat from a number of concurrent forces. The advances of Da’esh, the drastic reduction in oil revenues due to reduced global oil prices, Baghdad’s refusal to disperse 17% of the Iraqi budget to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as well as the continuing burden of housing and feeding hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees from Syria are pressuring the KRI. Furthermore, the economic pressure from the presence of IDPs and refugees and the increasingly unstable political environment is creating resentment among some locals of these vulnerable groups and the legitimacy of the KRG. It is crucial to address these threats to human security as a priority, to pre-empt subsequent violent struggles over political power and resource allocation. If the KRG is unable to devise and implement a sustainable strategy to address socio-economic development, the effects of the surrounding protracted crisis on the resilience of the KRI will be worsened. The KRG needs to devise and implement a sustainable plan to address human insecurities such as widespread poverty, food insecurity, economic uncertainty, and political instability.