Geopolitics of Kirkuk; Contestation or Compromise, From ‎Perspective of "Good Governance Theory" (2003-2017) ‎

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant ProfessorofPolitical Geography, Payam-e Noor University, Sanandaj, Iran‎


Recently the terms "governance and good governance" are being increasingly used in humanities and social sciences literatures. Poor governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all internal crises. Major critical geopoliticians and political scientists have increasingly focus on the conditions that reforms that insure "good governance" are undertaken and settle geopolitical disputations. This article tries to explain, as simply as possible, how the theory of "good governance" can settle the one of the long standing geopolitical dispute between ethnic groups in Kirkuk and local and federal government in Iraq.
With a descriptive-analytic method and in the scenario planning method framework, this study is intended to find how the theory and approach of "good governance" its 8 major characteristics includes participatory, consensus oriented, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, responsiveness, rule of law, efficiency and effectiveness can make compromise and settle religious and ethnical contestations in Kirkuk.
The findings of this study are discussed under the following themes:
1. Participation
Participation of all ethnic and religious groups in Kirkuk is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. Participation need to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.   
2. Transparency
Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media. In the case of Kirkuk transparency means that decisions and their enforcement are done by all groups and information is freely available for them. 
3. Rule of law
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.
4. Responsiveness
Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all members of societies within a reasonable timeframe.
5. Consensus oriented
There are several actors and as many viewpoints in a given Kirkuk. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in Kirkuk to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable stability and how to achieve the goals of such security. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of all ethnic groups in Kirkuk.
6. Equity and inclusiveness
A society’s wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members and groups feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their wellbeing.
7. Effectiveness and efficiency
Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
8. Accountability
Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to who varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Governance means the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance. Since governance is the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented, an analysis of governance focuses on the formal and informal actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made and the formal and informal structures that have been set in place to arrive at and implement the decision. Government is one of the actors engaged in governance. Other actors involved in governance vary depending on the level of government that is under discussion.
In the case of Kirkuk the situation is much more complex. In Kirkuk good governance means all ethnic groups must play a role in decision making or in influencing the decision-making process. All actors other than government and the military are grouped together as part of the "civil society." Similarly, formal government structures are one means by which decisions are arrived at and implemented. At the national level (Iraq), informal decision-making structures, or informal advisors may exist. In Kirkuk, organized groups such as the "ethnic parties" may influence decision-making. In some areas of Kirkuk locally powerful families may make or influence decision-making.
From the above discussion it would be clear that good governance is an ideal which is difficult to achieve in its totality. Very few countries and societies have come close to achieving good governance in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable stability in Kirkuk, actions must be taken to work towards this ideal with the aim of making it a reality.


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