A recent initiative by France and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to promote reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in Kurdistan and Iraq through community radio programs.
During a ceremony hosted by the Iraqi Communications and Media Committee, Bruno Aubert, Ambassador of France to Iraq, and Louise Haxthausen, UNESCO Director and Representative to Iraq, unveiled the project.
The initiative, called “Voices of Peace: Promoting Peaceful Coexistence in the Liberated Areas of Iraq through Community media,” is meant to encourage coexistence across Iraq and the Kurdistan Region through radio programs.
“Investing in balanced, conflict-sensitive media reporting is investing in sustainable peace,” Haxthausen said.
“When and where media work on this basis, they become one of the most powerful tools to strengthen social ties, celebrate diversity, and promote ideals of solidarity, tolerance, and inclusiveness,” the UNESCO Iraq Director added.
The project will support community radios in developing innovative and creative reporting on communities’ engagement in favor of coexistence, social cohesion, and inclusion, according to a press release.
The media initiative will focus on “culturally diverse regions of Iraq which host different ethnic and religious segments of society,” the press release noted, adding these areas include Nineveh, Kirkuk, and the three governorates of Kurdistan (Erbil, Dohuk, and Sulaimani).
“Media and social networks have an important role to play in bringing Iraqis together, beyond their differences with a view to dialogue and sharing,” France Ambassador Aubert stressed.
Ties between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have deteriorated since the historic independence vote on Sep. 25.
The Iraqi government responded by imposing collective punitive measures against the Region, including the use of military force in Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
Officials in Kurdistan have repeatedly called for the start of dialogue with Baghdad to resolve their differences, but the central government insists on the annulment of the referendum results before negotiations can begin.