December 2, 2023


The University of Kurdistan Hewlêr (UKH) has recently partnered with prestigious international institutions; Middlesex University, University of Vienna, and Nagasaki University to oarganise a two-days special workshop titled “International Comparative Diaspora Workshop: Prospects for the Kurdish Diaspora”.

The workshop was carried out on November 30th and December 1st 2023 in London. UKH President Prof. Dr. Keith Sharp and Dean of Research and External Engagement Dr. Bayar Mustafa represented UKH in the workshop and were actively engaged in the insightful discussions took place.

First day of the workshop started with welcoming remarks from Prof. Stephen Syrett from Middlesex University and Mr. Safin Dizayee, the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This was followed by insightful panel discussions representatives of different communities in Europe and the Middle East, representatives from INGOs and academics. The discussions concentrated on different government policies, bridging ties between diaspora and homeland communities, and policies and programmes to promote cooperation with diaspora communities abroad.

The second day of the workshop mainly focused on diaspora experiences on which experts from UKH, University of West Scotland, CenaProf. Sharp chaired a panel on the second day of the workshop, titled “Diasporas and Development”.

Other Government officials from the KRG were also part of the workshop; Dr. Hemin Hawrami, former Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, Karwan Jamal Tahir KRG Representative to the United Kingdom and Shifa Barzani from the Kurdistan Diaspora Management Office. Osman Baydemir, Member of the Parliament of Turkey and former Mayor of Diyar Bakir was also a panellist discussing diaspora, democracy and homeland.

This workshop was organised as part the Migration and Displacement Stream of GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub. The Migration and Displacement Stream is led by Prof Eleonore Kofman and Assoc. Prof Janroj Yilmaz Keles (Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University) and Prof Brad Blitz (UCL) to conduct research on three themes: Gender and Forced Displacement, Gendered Dynamics of International Labour Migration and Return, Reintegration and Political Restructuring in Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The research in Kurdistan was carried out in 2022 in collaboration with Assoc. Prof. Muslih Irwani (Co-I) from the American University of Iraq – Baghdad and Dr. Jiyar Aghapouri from the American University of Kurdistan and Barzani Charity Foundation.

Moreover, Senior Scientist Dr Naif Bezwan from the University Vienna, Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law, has played a crucial role in developing and shaping the agenda of this workshop as well as in contributing to its organizational part. The workshop has also immensely profited from the insights drawing from his ongoing research on Exploring the Kurdish Self-Determination Conflict in the Middle East, which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Furthermore, this workshop has also made use of very stimulating insights drawn from Prof Stephen Syrett & Dr Janroj Keles’ research on the Kurdish diaspora entrepreneurship in Europe as well as Prof Abdulrahman Gulbeyaz’s sociolinguistic work and engagement with Kurdish diaspora, including the emerging Kurdish community in Japan. 

This 2- day policy-oriented International Comparative Diaspora Workshop with a focus on the Kurdish diaspora aims to develop a road map for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for promoting knowledge, innovation, and skills transfer between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and its large diaspora in Europe and the USA.

As the Kurds constitute one of the largest diasporic communities with immense social, cultural and economic capital, this workshop is conceived of as a first step towards creating a sustainable and institutional framework for the connectedness between the global Kurdish diaspora and the KRG. The latter has seen significant challenges in recent decade, while currently hosting over a million refugees and internally displaced people. We hope, the insights, experiences and best practices of different diasporic communities and countries will help empower, enable and strengthen coherence between the Kurdish Diaspora and the KRG’s development agenda as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Compact for Migration. To this end, this workshop brings together international academics, experts, practitioners, representatives of both governments and diasporic communities as well as that of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq (KRG). The aims of the workshop are:

  • to generate insights from the policies and practices of different countries and diasporas and thus facilitate knowledge transfer
  • to identify the best practices of intergovernmental agencies and various countries regarding diasporas  
  • to evaluate the ways in which selected countries have enacted diasporic policies towards their respective diasporas
  • Evaluate the ways in which selected countries have developed and implemented their diaspora policies
  • finally, and more specifically, to look at what the KRG can learn from the experiences and good practices of selected countries and diaspora communities.