Democracy & Governance
Elections Support Project
- Amount: $35.6 million
- Start/End Dates: October 2011 – September 2014
- Implementing Partner: International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
- Iraqi Counterparts: Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), Civil Society Organizations
- Areas of Operation: All provinces
The Elections Support Project is the USAID/Iraq Mission’s most recent contribution to the USG’s long running support of free, fair, and credible elections in Iraq. The Elections Support Project provides technical assistance, mentoring, and training to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). With representative offices in each province, referred to as Governorate Electoral Offices, the IHEC announces and implements regulations, rules, and procedures related to referenda and elections. The IHEC is also responsible for ensuring that Iraqis, including citizens outside the country, can participate in decision-making processes through their elected representatives.
The USAID Elections Support Project provides capacity building assistance to the IHEC in three key areas: 1.Strategic and long-term planning including monitoring and evaluation, 2. Internal management systems/processes and crisis management, and 3. Managing external affairs with key electoral stakeholders. The program also includes a competitive small grants component focused on civil society organizations involved in voter education and voter information.With assistance from previous USAID elections programming, the IHEC successfully administered eight major electoral events since 2004, including the Council of Representatives election in 2010. Upcoming electoral events include Iraqi Kurdish Region (IKR) provincial council elections, national elections in 2013 and potential district and sub-district elections. IHEC, with USAID assistance, has already established timelines and operational plans for the IKR elections planned for September 2012, including a voter registration update expected in May. IHEC is also preparing for a voter registration update for Iraq-wide provincial elections in October 2012 with USAID’s guidance, support and assistance. USAID/Iraq’s Elections Support Project collaborates closely with the United Nations Mission to Iraq’s Electoral Assistance Team and other donors in the sector.
Iraq Access to Justice Program
- Amount: $43.7 million
- StartDates: October 2010 - September 2013
- Implementing Partner: DPK Consulting
- Iraqi Counterparts: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing legal services and support to vulnerable and disadvantaged Iraqis; professional legal associations, law schools, and other civil society organizations (CSOs); and Iraqi Ministries that deliver services to vulnerable populations or support civil society
- Areas of Operation: All provinces
The Needs of Disadvantaged Populations
Iraq’s vulnerable and disadvantaged populations include widows, orphans, internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, and individuals who lack access to state protections and services due to a lack of formal identity papers. This program strengthens these groups’ access to justice and services while also supporting the modernization of government and civil society as Iraq’s financial and security environments improve. “Access to justice” describes an end state in which individuals can access rights and entitlements equitably through individual action or with the assistance of civil society or the government.
The Program’s Objectives
USAID’s Iraq Access to Justice Program supports the growth of local and national institutions which provide information, assistance, and advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations, through three interconnected components:
- improve vulnerable and disadvantaged Iraqis’ knowledge of their rights/responsibilities, and the remedies under the law;
- increase the competency and availability of legal professionals and civil society partners to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged people; and
- generate opportunities for CSO and government engagement to improve policies, laws, and procedures affecting vulnerable populations.
Component activities will also assist in shaping training programs and grants for communications initiatives, law school and community based-clinics, and advocacy efforts.
The Approach of the Program
During its second year, the Access to Justice Program completed five awareness-raising campaigns implemented by grantees throughout the country. Presently, grantees are beginning eight new campaigns in Baghdad and the Kurdish region. The program provided grant awards to 44 Iraqi CSOs to increase awareness and to provide legal assistance to the vulnerable populations. A total of 1,715 legal cases have been supported, assisting various vulnerable populations, including 791 cases that are still in process, and 47 successfully completed cases. With support of the program Iraqi law schools participated in the second national and international Jessup Moot Court Competition (held in Washington D.C.), through which the program has additionally assisted Iraqi law schools with implementation of clinical legal education. The program will also continue to provide training to partner CSOs and the government to improve their capacity in areas related to helping disadvantaged populations.
Broadening Participation Through CiVil Society (BPCS)
Broadening Participation through Civil Society(BPCS) is a three-year project aimed at strengthening Iraqi organizations by leveraging their deep connection to communities, and by expanding their reach (e.g., through coalition-building) and increasing their technical knowledge, in order help them become more effective advocates.
The project’s approach is designed to yield two mutually reinforcing outcomes: (1) improved citizen understanding of civil society’s role, and (2) increased civil society participation in public decision-making in support of good governance. Led by Mercy Corps, the BPCS partners will deepen citizens’ social and political engagementand foster an increasingly professional, interactive and interconnected Iraqi civil society that offers greater opportunities for citizens to contribute to and benefit from the country’s development.
These outcomes will be achieved through five interrelated activities:
1. Democratic engagement of citizens increased: BPCS will engage and mobilize diverse and marginalized groups to broaden democratic participation at community, sub-national and national levels.
2. Institutional capacity of CSOs/NGOs increased: BPCS will target 175 high-potential organizations at all capacity and scale levels through effective constituent-focused service delivery and policy impact.
3.Impact of civil society on public policy increased: BPCS will facilitate opportunities for civil society to directly influence decision-making that affects the whole society.
4. Enabling environment for CSOs improved: BPCS will strengthen mechanisms of collaboration with the general public, government actors and the private sector to strengthen their collective voice in Iraqi democracy.
5. Special projects – Civilian war victims assisted: BPCS will build on over nine years of collective experience assisting Iraqi civilians, their families and communities who have suffered losses as a result of war.
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