The Deputy Consul-General Cor Stouten and Deputy Ambassador to Iraq Jan van Weijen from the Kingdom of The Netherlands visited MERI on April, 7th to discuss gender equality, minority rights and the overall post-ISIS situation of the country. “Our [Foreign] Minister cares very much about gender equality and minority rights. Every time they visit, we get the question; what are we doing on this front”, according to the duo.
Currently, the Dutch are involved in opening a women’s shelter in Erbil intended for women fleeing domestic violence but many other challenges still remain. In the words of the Deputy Ambassador: “The post-DAESH situation can equally lead to renewed prosperity and progress, or disaster. It is up to us all to shape policy.” In response, Professor Dlawer Ala’Aldeen informed the Dutch officials on MERI’s ongoing efforts in the areas of women and minority rights. In particular, the latest research project in partnership with the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). This research focuses on perceptions of reconciliation among displaced minority groups in Northern Iraq. Its aim is to lead to more informed efforts of conflict resolution and reconciliation.
The importance of such research was underlined by the Dutch’ visit to MERI when they concluded: “The military situation in Iraq is currently way ahead of the political one.” Agreeing with their assessment, MERI’s final message to the Dutch officials was the need for an increased awareness among coalition partners that a focus on political issues is necessary, rather than the current one-dimensional approach to the region where the fight against ISIS seems to be the only thing that matters.