The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is an advocacy initiative that aims to facilitate the process of building concrete links between international civil society organization and the Iraqi civil society through projects promoting human rights and social justice. It supports efforts to overcome sectarian divisions, corruption and violence.
The ICSSI aims to facilitate discussion of the on-going challenges faced by Iraqi civil society, to build a free and democratic Iraq, and also to strengthen alliances, to improve cooperation, to support international awareness, and to develop projects.
The initiative grew out of a 2009 conference in Italy which brought together 38 Iraqi representatives spanning human rights and cultural associations, women’s groups, youth and student groups, NGOs, labour unions and media outlets. The conference also comprised 20 representatives from international NGOs and social movements.
The third conference of the ICSSI took place in Erbil in October 2011 and brought to the forefront issues of peace and human rights. About 250 activists participated in the conference, including 150 local Iraqis and 100 internationals (from Turkey, Jordan, Italy, Spain, USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Australia, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and France).
The conference was an attempt to build a platform where international parties could stand in solidarity with the Iraqi population, and could receive a direct window into the perspective of Iraqi civil society.
Discussions within the conference focused on the current situation in Iraq, the role of civil society and social movements in shaping a better Iraq, one with social justice and democracy. The conference focused on determining the challenges facing Iraqi civil society groups and their responses to these, and new projects to continue responding to existing problems, as well as to engage the Iraqi population and the international civil society to work together in response to these issues.
The conference also addressed the idea of creating an Iraqi Social Forum, to serve as a platform for building solidarity campaigns and cooperation projects with international partners.