From Totalitarianism to Democracy: Reconciliation and Accountability in Iraq - Creating a Space for Consultation

Erbil, 7-9 May 2009

“No Peace Without Justice” and the "International Alliance for Justice", led by Bakhtiar Amin, in cooperation with “Tolerancy International” are organizing an International Conference on “From Totalitarianism to Democracy: Reconciliation and Accountability in Iraq - Creating a Space for Consultation” in Erbil from 6 to 9 May 2009.
The conference is the culmination of a long programme of reconciliation and accountability related advocacy and research undertaken by the organisers, both in Iraq and abroad. This programme has already achieved considerable results, creating in the process a broad and inclusive participant base for the Conference. The organisers are particularly grateful to the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Kurdistan Parliament in Iraq, both of which have reserved the Conference dates in their respective parliamentary agendas so as to facilitate the full participation of their Members.
Although Iraq continues to suffer from a range of problems, it is clear that its progress towards a more stable and democratic future must include a process of accountability and reconciliation. Such a process offers crucial acknowledgement and justice to the many victims of atrocities, and plays a central role in identifying and managing the socio-economic, political, and cultural challenges of a transition from totalitarianism to democracy. The organizers also believe however that successful accountability and reconciliation can only come with careful planning and coordination.
The Conference is organised in an effort to provide a venue for high-level consultations and political discussions that will include policy makers, civil society, and opinion leaders from across the full range of Iraq’s population. Space will be provided for an articulation of what expectations and objectives the Iraqi people have of the accountability and reconciliation process, as well as discussions of the many policy decisions that must be made when establishing such a process. Tools and expertise from abroad will support these discussions, with a focus on assisting Iraqi policy makers in their difficult determination of how the lessons of transitional periods elsewhere can be adapted to the specific context of a democratic and federal Iraq.
The objective of the Conference is not to advocate any particular model or solution, but instead to identify and address the many different facets of reconciliation and accountability processes, including the variety of mechanisms and objectives that have characterized the experiences of other countries. Discussions will be organised thematically, offering the basis for a systematic comparison of the various forms each component might take, and emphasising the importance of carefully tailoring and integrating each component to form a coherent and comprehensive model suited to Iraqi objectives and challenges. The organisers hope the conference will thereby provide a firm foundation for an Iraqi-led accountability and reconciliation process, consistent and considerate of the objectives and expectations of all Iraqi citizens.