International NGOs in Iraq: Actors or Witnesses in the Evolution of the Iraqi NGO Sector?

Génot, G.
Date published
01 Dec 2010
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace, Development & humanitarian aid, Protection, human rights & security, Remote Programming and Management, Working in conflict setting, NGOs


Two main elements underlie the INGOs' evolving position towards the Iraqi NGO sector: changes in Iraq's security conditions and in the level of funding available for humanitarian aid. The worsening security environment for INGOs caused many of them to establish partnerships with Iraqi NGOs in late 2003-2004, during a period in which billions of dollars of funding was pouring into Iraq. Improvements in the security situation and the donors‘ phase-out are now pushing INGOs to reconsider their cooperation with LNGOs, which may result in a more equal, balanced relationship. What is the influence of the Iraqi security situation on INGOs strategies? Does it force INGOs to cooperate with LNGOs? How the decreasing of donors‘ funding is encouraging LNGOs and INGOs to reconsider their collaboration today? Therefore, the first part of this study concentrates on elements of the past which are shaping present and future relations between INGOs and Iraqi NGOs. In the first years of their presence in Iraq, INGOs strategies were often shaped and constrained by the formidable Iraqi security challenges. In leaving Iraq, INGOs involuntary contributed to the emergence of the Iraqi NGO sector. In establishing partnerships with LNGOs, they deliberately fostered the strengthening of this sector in order to better pursue their goals in Iraq. How was Iraq's insecure environment a decisive factor in shaping the INGOs position towards supporting a booming Iraqi NGO sector? The second part of this study examines what is currently happening for INGOs and Iraqi NGOs, in a transitional phase for Iraq from emergency relief to recovery and development work. In the past months, INGOs have carefully considered adopting new operational approaches in Iraq, which could meet the needs and demands of Iraqi NGOs for more capacity-building and defined positioning towards the state and the beneficiary communities. What will be INGOs choices as they are now in a position to decide if they want to actively support and influence an emerging Iraqi civil society? Are they now reflecting on ways to leave sustainable results behind once they depart Iraq?