Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq

During its occupation of Nineveh between 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State (IS) particularly targeted ethnic and religious communities. Its aim was to erase all traces of the long-standing pluralism and coexistence in one of the most diverse regions of Iraq. IS deliberately destroyed sites of cultural, spiritual and religious significance to these communities and devastated their farming-based livelihoods. The unprecedented level of damage caused means that it will take several more years and considerable resources before Nineveh and its communities can recover from the traumatic experience of the IS occupation.

In this study, Amal Bourhrous, Shivan Fazil and Dylan O’Driscoll stress the need for a holistic approach to post-conflict reconstruction in the Nineveh Plains. By listening to those most directly affected, they offer a new perspective that looks beyond the rebuilding of the physical environment and the re-establishment of economic structures. They conclude that post-conflict reconstruction must pay adequate attention to restoring the ability of communities to engage in the very cultural and religious practices and traditions that IS tried to destroy. These practices can then be used as tools to mend social and intercommunity relations in the Nineveh Plains.

The authors’ fresh analysis and concrete recommendations will be of interest to policymakers in Iraq, actors engaged in post-conflict reconstruction in Nineveh and elsewhere, humanitarian and development aid providers, as well as local actors who are part of reconstruction efforts on the ground. Their relevance also extends beyond the Nineveh Plains to post-conflict settings around the world. 

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Culture, Reconstruction

Report, Research