The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Iraq to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Iraq's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The United States seeks to assist Iraq to develop just, representative, and accountable government institutions that secure the country's inhabitants and their national infrastructure, deliver essential services, and govern in an equitable, nonsectarian manner. Toward this goal, the United States uses a variety of diplomatic tools and assistance programs in support of: political and economic reform; political party development; respect for the rule of law and human rights; increased government capacity at the national, provincial, and local levels; and an engaged civil society and citizenry, including workers, women, minorities, and youth.
The United States, working with international and local organizations, provides assistance to further develop transparent and credible elections, accountable and responsive government institutions, active civil society, and independent media. The United States supports efforts to advance reconciliation at both the national and local levels. The United States coordinates with other donor governments, NGOs, and the UN to support the passage and enactment of key laws that contribute to national reconciliation, credible elections, good governance, and an independent media.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
On the national level, the United States pursues actions in support of political and economic reform, reconciliation, good governance, institutional capacity building, and political party development. The United States provides support for transparent and credible elections, including capacity building of the election commission in coordination with the UN, voter education, and training for political parties, journalists, and domestic monitoring organizations. The United States also funds programs to strengthen cross-sectarian linkages among leaders of civic and political institutions, support mediation and dialogue, promote tolerance, and strengthen civil society's capacity to engage effectively in the democratic process and play a key role in reducing violence. These programs, which bring together leaders from different groups, specifically target mixed neighborhoods that have had a history of sectarian violence. At the grassroots level, U.S. programs help community groups identify, articulate, and prioritize their collective needs, and then identify their own resources to meet those needs. The United States, along with international organizations and NGOs, focuses on moving political parties from sectarian-based to issues-based platforms through training in a range of topics including party development, coalition building, campaign management, platform development, and media consulting.
U.S.-funded programs train government officials across a range of ranks and agencies to promote accountability and management within government institutions. The United States supports local government capacity-building projects in major cities and 15 governorates with expansion into the other three planned for later this year. At the national level, the United States builds the capacity of the country's key service ministries and central executive offices in core areas of public administration. These include fiscal management, project management, human resources management, information technology, leadership and communication, and strategic planning. U.S.-funded advisors assist the ministries to prepare and implement their capacity development plans, improve their basic management systems and processes, and upgrade the skill levels of a critical mass of their management-level employees and leaders. The United States is the leading international donor in civil service reform, promoting principles of equal opportunity, merit-based evaluation, and transparent grading.
The United States supports efforts to develop the country's judicial, detention and correction, and policing capabilities. The United States funds programs to professionalize civilian security forces, including the police, and instill a culture of transparency and accountability. The United States also provides technical expertise to enhance the capacity of the judiciary and improve the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, and the Higher Judicial Council. The United States funds measures to improve the government's ability to protect judges and their families from violence or intimidation. The United States is assisting the Ministry of Justice to achieve and maintain corrections conditions at international standards by establishing the staff, expertise, and facilities to hold prisoners securely and humanely.
The United States works with government institutions to fight corruption and hone the skills of individuals working in and with the ministries. Such efforts focus on training officials, increasing transparency, and improving core public sector functions, including effective public budgeting, financial management, and procurement. U.S.-funded programs provide support for the enforcement of constitutional provisions and development of new legislation to ensure that all citizens -– including women and minorities -– are able to make maximum use of the protection and rights outlined in the constitution. The United States focuses significant resources on supporting anticorruption efforts through training and support to the Commission of Integrity and to the inspectors general and their staffs. The U.S. effort includes maintaining close ties with the Board of Supreme Audit and promoting the government's compliance with its obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which it ratified in March 2008. The government's new anti-corruption strategy, issued in March 2010, is focused on achieving compliance with UNCAC. The United States also provides support to the Commission for the Resolution of Real Property Disputes, which has issued more than 75,000 decisions since it was established in 2006.
The United States promotes human rights and rule of law through education and training programs that reach all levels of society. Along with international partners, the United States works with the government to harmonize domestic laws and policies with international human rights standards. U.S.-funded programs help build management capacity in the country's human rights institutions, including the Ministry of Human Rights and the Independent High Commission for Human Rights. The United States: supports systems to prevent and address human rights violations through early warning, monitoring, investigating, and reporting; conducts advocacy training for NGOs and civil society organizations that are working to protect the rights of women, children, and religious and ethnic minorities; and provides funding to NGOs to foster treatment and reintegration of victims of torture, spur collection and documentation of human rights abuses committed by the former regime, and enhance awareness of human rights standards throughout society. U.S. programs also provide human rights training to government officials and incorporate a strong human rights and rule of law component in the training of police forces. Additionally, with U.S. support, the country's Ministries of Interior and Defense have continued to implement measures designed to prevent and correct human rights violations, including the investigation, indictment, and dismissal of officers implicated in human rights abuses.
The United States consistently promotes freedoms of the press and association in the country and uses diplomatic and programmatic means to support the rights of women and minorities, including religious minorities. The United States funds development programs to promote independent media and enhance media professionalism. Activities include training journalists, monitoring public broadcasters, and supporting improvements to the legal, regulatory, and policy environments in which the media operates. U.S. programs provide technical assistance to the government and civil society organizations on drafting legislation to ensure media freedom. The United States supports the growth of civil society in a variety of ways, including Provincial Reconstruction Team outreach. U.S. programs assist civil society organizations and individuals with advocacy, management, and media training. The United States also supports their participation in the political process and sharpen their skills in conflict resolution. The United States facilitates broad participation in public dialogues, promotes responsive and accountable local government, and provides resources and training to strengthen the institutional capacity of grassroots organizations. The United States funds programs to combat violence against women, assist victims of trafficking, support political empowerment, help women in need of legal and other support, and provide women with capacity-building training and education to foster the skills and practices of democratic public life. One U.S.-funded program provides leadership training to women who are, or aspire to be, government and community leaders. The United States holds workshops for female political leaders and sponsors numerous meetings across the country related to women's rights.
The United States also works to advance economic empowerment of women through training in financial skills and managing a small business. Finally, the United States continues to target assistance to the country's NGOs and civil society organizations for humanitarian, training, and community development projects that benefit all Iraqis, including religious minority communities.