Since April 2012, Human Dynamics has been implementing an EU-funded project in Iraq — Support to the Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR), based in Baghdad. This 22-month project forms part of the EU’s wider support to the Iraqi Government and people.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the building of the capacity of Iraqi institutions with a view to establishing a modern Iraqi administration based on the principles of democracy, good governance and accountability.
But what does this actually mean? And how can this actually be implemented an environment such as found in Baghdad and in Iraq more generally? The answer has two parts.
First, rather than with elected politicians, we are working with the CoR staff — to build their capacity and capabilities, and strengthen institutional capacity of CoR. We work across many elements of CoR. For instance, some elements of the project involve working with CoR’s human resources structure and elements — for example, through systematic assessments of competencies and training needs, through development of a comprehensive human resources strategy covering essential aspects (e.g. recruitment, performance evaluation, career development, training management), and through conducting trainings. So far, our team has trained CoR staff on a wide range of topics, e.g. ISO/quality management, parliamentary work and research, change management techniques, processes for internal auditing, etc.
Other parts of the project involve working closely with the IT Department and the Director General for Research — with an ultimate aim to achieve excellence across all areas. In short, we are working to enable the ‘foundations’ of the Iraqi Parliament to function effectively and ensure they may operate in a manner that many in Europe would take for granted.
Second, clearly, this has been no ‘ordinary’ capacity building project. Iraq is a special place, full of surprises, with a rich heritage and diversity of culture and tradition. Without a doubt, being prepared for local customs and ways of working is a prerequisite for successful project implementation. At the same time, ensuring a good level of co-operation with the individuals and organisations involved — which has certainly been the case for our project — is an essential part of a successful project management.
From a project management perspective, security is clearly one of the major concerns that has to be addressed for this project. From the outset we have opted for a project office located in the International Zone, formerly known as ‘the Green Zone’ — the area in central Baghdad for which security now rests with the Iraqi Army. Most of our work takes place in the International Zone, where the Iraqi Parliament and several Government Ministries are located. Movement outside of the International Zone remains problematic.
The upcoming Parliamentary elections in April next year are the next landmark that we will be observing closely — not least as it is the next big marker for the Iraqi Parliament, with 142 entities certified by the Iraqi Election Commission in November registered to take part.