Cultural Salon on “Iraqi Youth: The Future is For Us”

Baghdad, 30 April 2011

On 30 April 2011, a cultural salon was organised in collaboration with UNDP-Iraq to create an opportunity for discussion and consultation among the youth and the Government, Parliament, Security Agencies, Private Sector, Civil Society, UN and its Agencies and the International community.
This initiative aimed at fostering the understanding of Iraqi youth specific requirements on different aspects, particularly in education, health, sports, arts, culture, in order to achieve their aspirations and share their visions of the future. The initiative came in the course of the International Year of Youth announced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in the World Youth Day from August 2010 to August 2011.
The meeting which received a significant attention from the media was attended by more than 500 students, coming from almost every central and suburban areas of Baghdad. Participants to the conference also included a large number of policy-makers (ministers, members of the Council of Representatives, members of the Higher Judicial Council, a representative of the Baghdad Operations Command, representatives of local authorities), civil society organisations and members of the private sector, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps in Iraq, United Nations agencies and the European Union.

The Conference offered an invaluable opportunity for youth and students groups to freely express their opinions and ideas and to interact directly with representatives of relevant institutions and organisations. It also succeeded in opening new doors of dialogue between youth and the decision-makers, including:
- H.E the President of the Republic invited a group of youth attending the meeting to present their ideas, perceptions and the problems they face to facilitate and receive the recommendations of the Conference issued by youth directly.
- Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and Minister of Education, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the heads of the committee of Youth and Sports, the Committee of Labor and Social Affairs and the committee of economic and human rights, women, family and child rights in the Iraqi parliament invited to the establish youth events to communicate and interact with the demands of representatives of youth in parliament.
- Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command invited to find mechanisms to coordinate with the youth to ensure the protection of youth events, including places of gatherings, demonstrations in which they participate through forming youth operations room to coordinate with the Baghdad Operations Command. He also promised to transfer all the demands of the youth to the general commander of the armed forces, the Prime
- The private sector interacted with the concerns and aspirations of the youth from the Iraqi National Business Council through Mr. Ibrahim al-Baghdadi, the chairman of the board of directors, who expressed his readiness to provide job opportunities for university graduates with different specialties through the Council, in coordination with fellow businessmen and investors.
Based on the discussions and feedbacks of the participants, the conference concluded with the adoption of a set of specific recommendations, calling upon all national institutions, in cooperation with civil society, the Higher Judicial Council, the private sector and cultural, media and sports institutions, to develop a national comprehensive strategy focusing on youth development, directing the plans, legislation and resources of the state to care for the young people, and making it a central issue in the Iraqi development plans. Participants also stressed the necessity to open channels for the real participation of civil society and youth organisations in the preparatory stages of these strategic plans.