The focus of this thesis is peacebuilding in Iraqi Kurdistan, from the viewpoint of civil society actors. Currently, there is little research based upon empirical investigation, on the effects of past conflicts upon society in Iraqi Kurdistan. This study provides answers to questions such as, what are the main objectives of civil society actors in Iraqi Kurdistan, and what obstacles do they face in their work? Is it the past experiences of violence and atrocities from the former regime? Or is it economic and social structures that war has institutionalised, through which people meet obstacles in their daily lives? Maybe these structures were always existent in peoples’ lives, but the war exacerbated the structures? Has this resulted in incentives for activism and windows of opportunity for change? And how do these issues relate to peacebuilding?
The study is based upon primary and secondary sources, and can be described as an explorative case study. The field research was carried out during November 2005 in the northern part of Iraq, with the development organization Norwegian People’s Aid in the city of Sulaymaniya. In addition there were visits and interviews with local non-governmental organizations, and shorter fieldtrips to other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan during the stay.
From a conflict resolution perspective, the issues of human needs are required to be addressed within a peacebuilding strategy. I find this argument useful for establishing insight to the context of peacebuilding in Iraqi Kurdistan. As such, the secondary sources of the study draw upon basic human needs theory within the field of conflict resolution (Burton, 1990; Azar, 1990). Moreover, academic literature from the disciplines of social anthropology, political science and sociology are applied to the case study. This to explain the currents structures in society, that are institutionalised by the legacy of conflicts in Iraqi Kurdistan, and to illuminate issues of importance for civil society and peacebuilding.