Conference on “DiverCities - Mixed Cities and Disputed Areas: Local Approaches to Federal Democracy”

Venice, 18-22 December 2007

Venice
Final Communiqué
adopted 22 December 2007
 
 
Upon the invitation of Mr Bakhtiar Amin of the International Alliance for Justice, and of No Peace Without Justice, in cooperation with the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Kurdistan National Assembly–Iraq, and with the support of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, an International Conference on Mixed Cities and Disputed Areas was convened on 18‑22 December 2007 in the historic and auspicious surroundings of the city of Venice.
 
The Conference gathered Deputy Speakers and Members of both the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Kurdistan National Assembly, representatives of their various political groupings, Governors, and representatives of Provincial and City administrations in Iraq, together with experts and scholars from diverse and disputed areas around the world. 
 
The Conference built on the solid foundations of the outcomes of previous discussions on Practical Federalism in Iraq, held in Venice on 18 – 26 July 2006, in Erbil, Kurdistan–Iraq on 10‑16 July 2007, and in Rome on 26‑27 September 2007, also convened by the International Alliance for Justice and by No Peace Without Justice. 
 
Discussions were conducted in a spirit of mutual respect, objective analysis, dialogue and friendliness, and were underpinned by a shared commitment to the best interests of Iraq as a whole, with a view to discussing and resolving complex issues by taking into account the widest variety of positions and interests.
 
Within this constructive atmosphere, participants discussed many of the problems associated with settling the political status of disputed areas, and considered how the foundations for long-term stability and prosperity might be built through the careful and committed management of local diversity.
 
As a result of the discussions, and having considered the opinions submitted and presented,
 
participants agreed
 
upon the following recommendations:
 
 
1.         The existence of Diversity -ethnic, religious, of sect, or of ideas- needs to be believed in and respected.
 
2.         The problem in Kirkuk needs to be acknowledged as a self-determination issue, as a real problem that requires a solution based on democratic principles, the respect of human rights, and loyalty to Iraq under a democratic, federal and united system.
 
3.         The problem must be analysed in its sub-components, and an Iraqi solution must be found that can satisfy all parties. 
 
4.         The solution must be based on dialogue, together with commitment to national peace, rejection violence and intimidation in all their forms, and resort to peaceful methods of conflict resolution: these principles should not be deviated from under any circumstance.
 
5.         Iraqi political forces and groups should meet their historical responsibility to achieve a genuine political agreement that guarantees rights for all components of the Iraqi people with its different religions and ethnicities. 
 
6.         The administration of Kirkuk should be jointly administered by the different ethnicities of the city; Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Chaldo-Assyrians
 
7.         Awareness should be expanded in the fields of tolerance and of federalism, focusing on the realities of the present, whilst past injustice should be remembered as lessons in order to prevent a reoccurrence of violations of the past, and promote the resolution of conflict and peaceful coexistence.
 
8.         Suitable methods must be found to strengthen friendship and relations between different ethnicities in disputed areas, fostering a spirit of tolerance and coexistence.
 
9.         Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution should be recognised as a whole, in both its paragraphs.
 
10.       Greater transparency should be emphasized in resolving Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution.
 
11.       Article 140 is the basis in dealing with the problem, and providing an appropriate political climate is the means of achieving a solution pursuant to this article.
 
12..      All detainees by whomever they are being held, who have not been found guilty of any charge should be released. All efforts should be made to involved former detainees to be advocates of love, peace and tolerance in their communities.
 
13.       The normalisation process should continue and the issues related to it should not be exploited for political purposes.
 
14.       The Property Claims Commission should be activated and provided with the necessary financial resources, judges, and establish a special Commission on Discrimination.
 
15.       Demographic changes intended to create new realities on the ground should be prevented, while proceeding with the fair treatment for previous demographic changes.
 
16.       All abuses that have taken place after 9 April 2003 throughout Iraq should be properly addressed and submitted to the appropriate legal processes.
 
17.       The situation in areas included in Article 140 should be taken into account, and no efforts should be made to change the balance of powers in these areas by arming civilians.
 
18.       The role of economic factors should be emphasized, and the living standards of the citizens of Diverse Areas should be improved by providing employment opportunities on an equal basis for all components of society.
 
19.       A special budget allocation should be established, with special consideration and priority to Diverse Areas.
 
20.       The percentage of Cheldo-Assyrian members in the Governorate Councils and the Parliament should be increased, so compensate for events occurred in the previous elections.
 
21.       Donor countries, the United Nations, and other international humanitarian organisations should contribute to the reconstruction and regeneration of the city of Kirkuk and other areas covered by article 140. 
 
22..      An Iraqi solution, achieved in compliance with the Constitution, with the technical support of UNAMI, should be politically supported and guaranteed by the international community, if so requested by the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and all relevant Iraqi parties.