Advocacy is a vital component of our peace-building campaigns. By building awareness of critical needs EPIC strives to protect programs that promote peace, help vulnerable and displaced Iraqis, improve education, and create positive opportunities for the country’s 20 million children and young people.
Our current project, Campaign for a Better Future in Iraq, will petition the new Congress and incoming administration to inform them of the current realities in Iraq and reaffirm the importance of the U.S. commitment to Iraq. We will remind the Congress and President that peace in Iraq requires a clear, long-term U.S. commitment to supporting Iraq’s constitutional parliamentary system, including Iraqi efforts to institutionalize appropriate checks and balances and ensure free and fair elections. We will seek out both American and Iraqi thoughts on what the future of the U.S. Iraq policy should be. Through this petition we will build awareness about Iraq’s needs for a better future.
Iraq Peace and Development Working Group
Through collaboration we are working to research variety of issues facing Iraq. EPIC co-chairs with NETWORK the Iraq Peace and Development Working Group (IPDWG) , a community of more than 50 NGOs advocating changes in U.S. policy to reduce suffering and conflict in Iraq. Initiated by EPIC in December 2006, the group gathers regularly to share information and coordinate strategy. These gatherings are an effort to gain support in Washington for peace-building through emergency relief and development in Iraq. With so many different kinds of groups and mandates, IPDWG covers a lot of ground. There are groups working to: 1) help Iraq’s war refugees and internally displaced persons, especially those who are most vulnerable; (2) better protect Iraqi civilians and assist families harmed by U.S. military operations; (3) increase U.S. support for peacebuilding through development; and (4) promote responsible global engagement to continue supporting Iraq’s ongoing progress to lasting peace. Since EPIC is one of the only Iraq-specific organizations in Washington, we’re finding ways to add value to the efforts of many of our fellow IPDWG members.
Civil Society Petition
In 2010, Barack Obama requested $57 million to support local Iraqi civil society organizations. In 2011, he requested only $32.5 million. With over 1,200 signatures on our petition, EPIC and our members demanded Congress fund local community-based organizations in Iraq. While so many gains have been made in empowering local activists and human rights defenders, EPIC and our members petitioned to ensure those gains were not lost. Congress passed legislation enacting $85.5 million for Iraqi civil society groups.
In 2010, convened policy forum on “The Future of Iraqi Civil Society” with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Corbin, Ellen Laipson President and CEO of the Stimson Center, Manal Omar of the United States Institute for Peace, and other leading experts. This forum, co-organized with the Reserve Officers Association, discussed the need for a robust and independent civil society to secure a strong future in Iraq.
Iraq Action Days was a joint initiative by 24 national organizations working to help Iraqi families who are struggling amid violence, drought, poverty and instability. In April 2008, hundreds of concerned citizens joined us in Washington, DC for a National Iraq Forum with United Nations representatives, government officials, human rights advocates, aid workers, and leading experts from Iraq and the region.
Faces of Iraq tells the stories of the Iraqi people who are coping with unimaginable hardships brought on by years of war and political oppression. This traveling photo exhibit shows the work of nine photographers in 40 prints. The images capture the struggles and triumphs of Iraqi families caught up in extraordinary circumstances. The Faces of Iraq exhibit is a unique and powerful way to connect the American public to the people and experiences of Iraq.