Aari Najmuldeen Mohammed Jabari, a social activist who has fled war zones and eluded assassins in his work to create a more peaceful Iraq, was honored with a Chancellor’s Medal for International Peace and Reconciliation at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Thursday.
Jabari was nominated for this honor by members of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley presented the medal to Jabari at the school’s graduate convocation ceremony on Thursday, May 30. The Baghdad native has spent 15 years working with nongovernmental organizations to lay the groundwork for a safer, more vibrant civil society in Iraq.
“Young men like Aari are Iraq’s future,” Motley says. “He has proven to be dedicated, disciplined, and tenacious. He is among the first of a generation of young leaders who can help Iraqis envision peace in the country they love, and then work to make it happen.”
Jabari’s work as a peace advocate has frequently put him and his family in danger. While working to expand women’s rights in his hometown of Baghdad, Jabari received a letter urging him to halt his efforts, accompanied by a bullet. Terrorists planted a bomb in his office. And a car carrying Jabari and four others was stopped at a security checkpoint between Baghdad and Kirkuk, where one passenger was shot to death.
Last fall, Jabari worked closely with UMass Boston’s Padraig O’Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. At O’Malley’s Forum for Cities in Transition, Jabari coordinated the Forum’s third annual conference, in Kirkuk. Fluent in multiple languages, Jabari was able to mediate disputes between Kirkuk’s many ethnic groups. He fostered a coalition that allowed the city to create a safe environment for the conference, which drew 60 delegates from four continents. Jabari is also founder and president of the INSAN Iraqi Society for Relief and Development.
Dean Ira A. Jackson hosted a small dinner in Jabari’s honor at the UMass Boston Club. At the event, he noted, “Tonight we celebrate two things: Aari’s leadership and the work of our Forum for Cities in Transition. With a fierce determination to rebuild his country and ensure that it has a democratic future anchored to human rights, he is among the first of a generation of young leaders who can put Iraq’s sectarian divides−which unfortunately are still rampant−behind them and work successfully with the still dysfunctional polity. We also honor the Forum, a unique organization engaged in pioneering conflict reconciliation work using unconventional tools. In the last four years, our Moakley Chair Padraig O’Malley has created a network of divided cities across the world which work together to promote reconciliation among their once warring communities.”