The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan’s remit is “to promote friendship and understanding between the people of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Great Britain and to encourage the development of democratic institutions in the Kurdistan Region as part of the democratic and federal process in the rest of Iraq.”
APPGs are made up of at least 20 members from different parties and there are hundreds covering most countries and a bewildering range of subjects from Accident Prevention to the Film Industry, Football to Policing, Whisky and Smoking and Health.
The APPG on Kurdistan meets regularly in Parliament and hears from a range of groups. We work closely with the UK High Representation of the Kurdistan Regional Government and link with the wider Kurdish Diaspora in the UK.
We keep up with developments in Iraqi Kurdistan also sent six fact-finding delegations there in the past four years
We have taken the detailed reports from our delegations to UK ministers and other groups to promote the message that Kurdistan is open to business and to boost British connections in trade, culture and other fields.
This has helped change the UK’s approach to Kurdistan. We encountered the view that the UK should focus on Baghdad and Basra and that an emphasis on Kurdistan would alienate the rest of Iraq.
The group’s reports helped overcome that erroneous assumption and persuaded the UK Government to send its first official mission to the Erbil Trade Fair – more British companies are expected at next month’s fair.
We also suggested that the Top Gear program visited Kurdistan and its popular hosts gave Kurdistan the big thumbs up on one of the most widely watched programs on the planet.
The group’s co-chairs pack a punch and are drawn from the two main parties to symbolize that we are a bipartisan body.
One is Nadhim Zahawi who is British-Kurdish and the Conservative MP for the quintessentially English seat of Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
The other is Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Meg Munn, who is also Vice-Chair of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy which is assisting both the Kurdistan Parliament and the Council of Representatives in Baghdad.
The Vice Chairs are Liberal Democrat Lord, Tim Clement-Jones who is an old friend of Kurdistan and a regular visitor and Conservative MP, Robert Halfon who is in charge of our work to win wider international recognition that the Anfal was a genocide. Other Vice-Chairs are Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe and Labour MP Fabian Hamilton.
Our Secretary is Labour MP Dave Anderson who was the President of the biggest public sector union, Unison before being elected.