Iraq Reconstruction Summit, convened by Equity International,
Inc., took place on February 9-10, 2004 in Washington,
D.C. Leading figures in the Iraq reconstruction
effort, whose views are captured here, participated
in an active exchange of views and experiences with
many other leading decision-makers. They provided the latest reconstruction information,
crucial to facilitating successful participation in
the biggest rebuilding program since the Marshall Plan.
In addition, the conference provided invaluable
networking opportunities with other top executives,
forming partnerships to bid on reconstruction contracts.
ORGANIZATION OF THIS
Part I lays
the foundation for understanding the participants’ visions
for the reconstruction and construction of Iraq—and
Part II provides
their overview of the current situation in Iraq and
the pressures facing members of the reconstruction community.
Part III describes
the strategies, standards and practices, and expectations
of successful members of the reconstruction community.
IV discusses the role that culture and the
rich Iraq history play in the reconstruction and construction
V discusses the legacy that the members of
the reconstruction community should strive to build
VI discusses the role and value of reconstruction
the participants’ visions for the reconstruction and
construction of Iraq. Though
summit participants had widely varying points of view
regarding the rebuilding of Iraq, a number of themes,
summarized in their own words below, were consistent
throughout their presentations and the follow-on interviews.
The primary theme was a desire for Iraq to return
to its historic role as a leading member of the world
was a recognition, however, that the 20th century, especially
under the Saddam regime, had not been kind to the Iraqi
people, and that they will need substantial help from
the world community to develop the economic growth,
culture of liberal democracy, and civil society necessary
for them to achieve their individual and social potentials.
Also consistent was the view that the Iraqis
were ultimately responsible for rebuilding their own
society—to determine their own destiny.
This will require developing individual Iraqi
capacities, fully engaging Iraqi individuals and firms
in the rebuilding process, developing Iraqi youth to
give them a sense of hope for the future, and respecting
the culture, history, and environment of Iraq.
A number of participants stressed the role of
other countries in the region, especially Jordan.
Fundamental to achieving a stable Iraq is developing
the standards, procedures, and expectations of good
public governance and the essential market-oriented
legal framework and reliable dispute resolution processes
that allow businesses to compete fairly on the quality,
prices, and delivery of their goods and services.
Business and civil society must be part of the
solutions to community problems. Other essential elements
of their visions of a free, stable Iraq were technological
improvement, corporate mentoring, education at all levels,
and active nongovernmental organizations.
Finally, they offer a number of specific performance
measures by which success in pursuing and achieving
their vision could be monitored, tracked, and reported.
of the current situation in Iraq and the pressures facing
members of the reconstruction community.
In the view of some of the participants, the
reconstruction and construction of Iraq is a moral imperative—an
international effort—which regional and transnational
companies should embrace.
The Iraqi situation itself represents a complicated
political, economic, and socio-cultural situation, which
nonetheless offers great potential to the Iraqis and
regional and transnational companies as well.
Complicating the situation dramatically is the
transition of sovereignty to the Iraqi people on 1 July
Iraq has a basic market-oriented legal framework,
and it is an open question whether the legal framework
that currently prevails will continue following the
transfer of governance to the Iraqis on 1 July 2004.
The economic situation is characterized by great
opportunity, and an urgent need for Iraqi jobs.
A critical need is to expand the reconstruction
community to enable Iraqi companies to participate as
fully as possible in rebuilding Iraq.
This requires a more accessible procurement process
and the development of Iraqi management systems and
capacities so that Iraqi companies can fully participate
in the reconstruction effort.
A particular concern is developing opportunity
for Iraqi youth.
Businesses need to be aware of the culture of
Iraq, including its history, cultural artifacts, social
systems, and environment.
There is an important, developing role for the
nongovernmental organization. A fundamental requirement is to develop the
essential trust and social capital that allows a country
to be stable, free market, and an attractive place for
Security is a fundamental concern, but security
differs widely from location to location.
Some areas are relatively secure and offer many
Major hurdles include expanding the accessibility
of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Iraqis; the
potential for waste, fraud, and abuse; and the uncertainty
of the transition ahead.
and practices of successful members of the reconstruction
participants argued that the reconstruction community
needs to embrace a strategy of rebuilding Iraq from
below the ground up.
This means being attendant to the culture, and
history of the Iraqi people and the environment.
It also means building their capacity to reenter
the global community and long-term relationships.
Security remains a concern, but to be successful,
a business must actually go to Iraq. Companies need to be prepared, patient, prudent,
and present. An
essential element of any strategy is to know the Iraq
culture, listen to Iraqis, and have an Iraqi partner
Though much of the attention in the reconstruction
community is on Coalition Provisional Authority contracts
and the prime contractors, a number of the participants
urge firms to consider a shift to private enterprise
to meet Iraqi needs. They also suggest developing a consortium of
firms to bid on contracts and perform work.
Finally, developing the nongovernmental sector
is an important consideration. Firms need to be aware of Jordanian involvement.
And, participants relay a number of success stories.
IV: The role
that culture and the rich Iraq history play in the reconstruction
and construction efforts.
Strategies for members of the reconstruction
community require a cultural element. Participants point out that the intellectual
and cultural considerations of Iraqi life have not received
the attention of physical infrastructure.
These cannot be ignored for the long-term health
of the Iraqi people—and world civilization.
An immediate concern is cultural preservation:
that irreplaceable artifacts of Iraqi history and, indeed,
world civilization not be disturbed, damaged, or removed
lest their historical significance be lost.
Participants noted a few necessary cultural projects
underway for the reconstruction community to consider
and learn from.
V: The legacy
that the members of the reconstruction community should
strive to leave in Iraq. Participants
recommend that members of the reconstruction community
ask themselves this question, what should be our legacy
in Iraq? In answer, they provide a number of answers.
Some answers we have discussed earlier: (1) fostering
a culture of democracy, (2) developing the capacity
of individual Iraqis and companies, and (3) protecting
and preserving Iraqi culture and historical artifacts.
Other answers offered by participants, which
are described in this part, include: (1) fostering an
entrepreneurial spirit and (2) fostering a sense of
corporate service to the community.
VI: The role
and value of reconstruction conferences.
Iraq reconstruction conferences offer opportunities
for networking and knowledge-sharing.
They are particularly valuable for the Coalition
Provisional Authority and Program Management Office
to pass on information about contracting opportunities
and procedures—and receive feedback.
Most conferences are held in the United States
or in the region, such as Kuwait and Jordan. Few Iraqis are able to participate, and many
Iraqis, as a result, are unaware of the efforts being
made to rebuild Iraq.
Iraqi-Americans are able to serve as a bridge
between Iraqis and the reconstruction community.
Participants recommend that reconstruction conferences
be held in Iraq, notwithstanding security concerns.
It is also important, in their view, that reconstruction
conference proceedings be widely publicized in Iraq,
so that Iraqi people know what efforts are being made
on their behalf.
and Next Steps