After the shock of the rapid fall of cities and governorates in ISIS hands in 2014 and the welcoming of ISIS by locals, the Iraqi government analyzed the causes of the disaster and realized that one of those causes was the lack of trust between the community and state institutions (especially security institutions). One of the main outcomes of that analysis was to the National Security Strategy (NSS), which centralizes the concept of human security and promotes inclusivity and equality. Security Sector being essential for contributing to the overall NSS has revealed the immediate need for the government of Iraq to focus on crafting a reform plan.
It was at the request of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in early 2015 that UNDP had provided technical advice and strategic guidance, leading to the development and endorsement of the Iraqi government’s NSS. In the same year, ONSA and UNDP developed the Support to Security Sector Reform - Phase II programme of work in 2015 to address the short, medium and long-term priorities needed to enhance the efficiency, and effectiveness of Iraq’s security sector, and to engage with civil society. The programme has been focusing on the following institutional reforms:
- Defense and federal security
- Critical national infrastructure
- Democratic oversight and accountability
- National security architecture
- Criminal justice systems and civilian policing
- Law enforcement systems
Because any reform to the security sector and promotion of rule of law requires a strong partnership between the government and the civil society, it was expected that UNDP gives the priority to enhancing that partnership through the implementation of activities that build the partnership and trust between the community and security forces at the local level. Therefore, in March 2017, UNDP started looking for Iraqi civil society organizations, which demonstrate previous/current experience in conducting similar activities in the target province including promoting human rights and anti-corruption, in order to partner with them to implement activities that promote partnerships between public and local police in the governorates of Baghdad, Salah Al Din, Karbala, and Anbar. Mercy Hands was one of the selected civil society organizations to implement such activities in Karbala.
In July 2017, Mercy Hands signed a partnership agreement with UNDP for the implementation of a project designed by Mercy Hands titled “Partnership for the Rule of Law in Karbala”. Mercy Hands’ strategy to achieve the goal of the project is to gather representatives of the civil society and security forces and engage them in workshops to learn and discuss principles of rule of law then work with them to plan for police community partnership initiatives.
The project was launched in the beginning of August, and during that month three workshops were conducted during which the participants learned about the concepts of good governance, law enforcement, communication, state and monitoring institutions, citizenship and police, monitoring role of the community, and how to design projects that promote partnership between police and the community in Karbala.
In the next phase of the project, Mercy Hands will implement the police community partnership initiatives.