What we do
When a country is emerging from decades of war, foreign intervention, instability, and sectarian violence, the challenges to developing a functioning democracy are immense. The ongoing fragile security situation in Iraq is just one of the many barriers to political participation, but NIMD has been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm and determination of the young students and alumni of its Democracy School.
Given that young people in Iraq have been at the forefront of efforts to push for reform, in 2021 NIMD decided to focus its work in Iraq on empowering the next generation of leaders through our Democracy School, with the aim of equipping them with the skills to build on the emerging democratic apparatus.
A pilot project in early 2021 saw 25 aspiring politicians – most of them under the age of 35 – gather in Baghdad for six workshops on democratic knowledge and skills. The young men and women from all over Iraq worked with local and overseas trainers to develop their understanding of the political system in Iraq and practical leadership and organization skills.
The feedback from students, alumni and trainers was overwhelmingly positive, leading to the expansion of the pilot in 2023. Following the same core programme, an intake of 50 new students will follow the six modules of over a six-month period, again ensuring an equal mix of men and women. Our Iraqi Democracy School is notable for the young age of their participants, with students as young as 18 working on developing their political ambition.
Building a cross-party network and developing new connections is one of the greatest benefits of the Democracy School, and a renewed focus will be on organizing alumni events for all the Iraqi graduates where they can consolidate and grow those relationships.
NIMD also facilitates networking events, when students and alumni are able to meet diplomats and other political figures from Iraq and overseas in an informal setting to encourage dialogue across party lines.