UN and EU launch $18 million anti-graft project with Kurdistan and Iraq
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations along with the European Union on Monday launched a sweeping initiative to assist the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in their fight against malignant corruption that has long hindered economic progress.
The project, titled “Support to justice initiatives curbing corruption and promoting commercial dispute resolution," is meant to support judiciary, legislative, and administrative efforts in the battle against corruption, a statement from the UN Development Program said.
The initiative also includes support for a “more active role” from Iraq’s civil society, which is often vocal about the country’s crippled political and economic situation due to widespread corruption.
The UNDP initiative is in cooperation with the European Union’s delegation to Iraq.
The Iraqi parliament as well as its Kurdish counterpart, along with various legal institutions and the courts, will be included in the project in order to increase their institutional capacity, promote transparency and accountability, and boost Iraq’s commitment to its international obligations.
The project also aims to strengthen the development of commercial courts and arbitration, which the country still lacks.
“The fight against corruption requires a joint and united effort, from the Iraqi government, state institutions, and an ever vigilant and watchful Iraqi society,” said Martin Huth, the head of the EU delegation in Iraq.
Authorities from the autonomous Kurdistan Region attended the announcement ceremony, including the head of the region’s integrity commission.
Iraq has witnessed a significant wave of protests since October 2019 over the maladministration and stagnant economy, which has deprived thousands of university graduates from obtaining jobs. The outsized foreign hegemony in the country has been an underlying grievance, sparking sporadic protests across Iraq, which found itself a battlefield for US-Iran tensions.
Following the October protests, hundreds of civil activists and protest organizers have faced assassination and attempted abductions by rogue militia groups, which the central government regularly vows to rein in. A number of Iraqi activists facing death threats fled to the Kurdistan Region, seeking shelter from militants that the state proved to be unable to control.
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly