Socialist International Conference: Building Democracy in Iraq - Working for Peace in the Middle East

18-19 July 2003

Leaders and representatives of a dozen of the main Iraqi political parties, incorporating different sensitivities and identities forming Iraqi culture and society, participated in the Socialist International Conference 'Building Democracy in Iraq - Working for Peace in the Middle East' held in Rome on 18-19 July. Israeli and Palestinian political leaders and delegates were equally present to address current developments and prospects for moving forward the peace process in the region. The meeting, hosted by the Democrats of the Left, DS, whose delegation was headed by its General Secretary Piero Fassino and President Massimo D'Alema, and the Italian Democratic Socialists, SDI, led by Chair Enrico Boselli, was chaired by SI President António Guterres.

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council present at the Conference for their first international activity since the establishment of that body included Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; Adnan Al-Pachachi, leader of the Iraqi Independent Democrats; Naseer Al-Chadirji, leader of the National Democratic Party; Hamid Majid Mousa, Secretary General of the Iraqi Communist Party; Yonadam Y. Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement; Ibrahim Al-Jafari, leader of the Dawa Party; and Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaiday, Independent, together with representatives and delegates from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP; the Arab Socialist Movement; the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, the Iraqi National Congress; the Assyrian Democratic Party; the Turkoman National Democratic Party; and the Turkoman Brotherhood Party. A message to the Conference was also received from Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General.

The first day of debates continued the dialogue undertaken by the Socialist International mission in Baghdad in mid-June and was organised into five different panels covering some of the essential elements for building democracy in Iraq. The first concentrated on 'From dictatorship to democracy: creating the new institutions’, the second panel on 'Guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Iraqis', the third panel was 'Civil society and women’s participation in the political process', the fourth 'For a future of inclusion: empowering people in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society', then the fifth panel 'Regional and International perspectives for the new Iraq'. Conclusions of the meeting, 'A strategy for a sustainable democratic, free and united Iraq', were presented by DS President Massimo D'Alema. Panel discussions on 18 July

Discussions on the second day, centring on 'Working for Peace in the Middle East', were introduced by Piero Fassino, DS General Secretary, followed by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chair of the SI Middle East Committee (DNA, Norway) and counted with the participation of Shimon Peres, Chair of the Israel Labour Party; Yossi Sarid, Leader of Meretz, and Nabil Shaat, Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority, as well as representatives of other Socialist International member parties.

Panels structured the discussions, considering the themes 'The way forward for peace: the roadmap', the second 'Implementing peace in Israeli and Palestinian societies'; the third panel dealt with the issue of 'Civil society and communities advancing peace and cooperation', with contributions from Israeli and Palestinian Mayors and local authority leaders; and the fourth panel examined 'Promoting peace: the role of regional and international actors'. The conclusions of the day's debates concentrated on 'A strategy to promote and secure a sustainable peace among Israelis and Palestinians'. Panel discussions on 19 July.