Citizenship, human rights and what should happen in tomorrow’s Iraq

Dr Mohanad Yousuf

New Iraq Center Advisor


If we want to present a reasonable and acceptable perception of how to form a democratic state in which the rule of law is in the form of governing institutions, we have to communicate as it leads to democratic consensus among citizens in their rights. Citizens’ rights only emerge if they are actually involved in political reconstruction. Such communication is a dialogue-related interaction regarded as an essential intermediary of understanding; aiming at citizens’ consensus for a good and new life.

Human dialogue in the same society gives him freedom, prevents him from being closed and isolated and gives him the feeling to open up to the other. It is also a way of collective reflection and intellectual criticism and destroys the deadlock; consequently, leads to a kind of mutual trust and convergence of views.

Means of seduction, control, social orientation and prejudices have become a threat to the future of our weak and fearful Iraqi people. This has been increased due to the transformation of our society to Bedouin thoughts regarding the vision of the world and life; we have succeeded in finding excuses for all our mistakes, and even blaming others, or those who preceded us in the path we have followed. Most Iraqis today blame Saddam Hussein and his entry into Kuwait in the early 1990s, a generation ago, as a reason for what we have reached today. Most of us blame Saddam for his policies that led to Iraq today’s condition; however, some of us blame Abd al-Karim Qasim and his bloody coup d’état. Many of us blame the Islamists, the Baathists or their predecessors of nationalists. Indeed, most of us blame the US, Israel, Iran, Zionism and its fight against us, and the colonial companies for the poverty and destitution we are suffering today.

In respectable societies, we have not read or heard blaming of their predecessors for their situation today as much as their organization and future vision. None of French people has blamed Napoleon Bonaparte   and his killing of more than five millions French because of his military adventures. None of the German people has blamed Hitler for invading the Soviet Union after controlling the whole Europe and as a result losing the World War II and almost completely destroying Germany. None of the Japanese people has blamed Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan, when he attacked Pearl Harbor; half of Asia was under Japan’s rule and Japan was destroyed by that decision. No one blamed Mao, Castro, Stalin, Tito or others for what they did to their people.

Why do we blame history? I have found people of culture and knowledge are relating our bad conditions to Saqifah Bani Sa’idah. We have seen Husayn and Yazīd presented in the former prime minister’s thoughts. Al-Rashid, Al-Mansour and Al-Kadhim are existed in our life today. Good ones and bad ones shall have history before them while having a dialogue with each other. Why do we give historical factors a role and a space in determining the course of our society today? Only because we are poor, afraid, stupid and fools, unemployed and lazy, imitators who have no creativity, or all of that.

Today, the living man is the focus of attention, which is the first and last target and the ultimate goal of every country and respectable society. Therefore, firstly, we must learn what citizenship is in the state. Otherwise, there will be no real and effective citizenship for individuals under the modern Iraqi state and as a civil society.

A citizen is someone who belongs to the state, not by the place of birth, but by the citizen relationship with his counterparts, the citizen’s relationship to authority, and the organization of this relationship. Therefore, the conditions of social interaction based on dialogue with others, respect and appreciate their opinions and organizing dialogue and discussion among citizens and between citizens and authority is the only way to reach consensus and understanding as a citizenship.

The citizen is not only the city or village resident, but he is the citizen who complies with the conditions necessary to contribute to the management of public affairs within the framework of the  city, village or neighborhood where he lives. A citizen has to undertake these functions in the country to which he belongs.

Based only on the citizen work in the society, his rights as a human shall be recognized and he shall be recognized as a citizen because human rights precedes the emergence of society, including freedom that must be enjoyed by the individual in order to live in a way that suits him without any pressures.

The citizen who works is no longer the individual who enjoys political freedom, participates in the political affairs of the state, but becomes an important element in the enactment of laws, and the authority holder must approve these laws. This means that the actual sovereignty has been transferred to the citizen. This refers to the evolvement of the citizen concept from a mere member of society and a mere participant in the administration of his affairs to a ruler, because he is the legislator.

The Geneva Declaration of Human Rights dropped down the old idea of societies and brought about a new system based on recognition of the individual’s being and his natural and civil rights. The nation consists of these equal individuals, who have the same rights and the same duties. These are the requirements of de facto democracy that recognizes the other and gives him the right to political participation, that is, the right to debate, express, accept and reject. The modern state was born as a state of administration and taxation, as a regional and sovereign state, and was able to crystallize within the framework of the national state.

In order to form a democratic and social state, it has to be a national constitutional state with basic characteristics that guarantee and recognize the rights of citizens of all kinds, social, natural and political.

In order to achieve this national constitutional state, it is necessary to separate the state and the nation, because the integration of citizens is no longer based on a single culture, a single nationality, a single history or a dominant doctrine, or even on a common language. On the contrary, today, constitutional citizenship requires collaboration of working citizens based on abstract legal principles such as justice, democracy, and human rights. Thus, the idea of labor-based democracy, interaction and social integration has become an alternative to national and sectarian affiliation.

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