From 2003 to 2011, IHRLI designed and managed human rights and rule of law projects in Iraq. These programs built on partnerships with Iraqi law schools, NGOs, the Iraqi government and a variety of international institutions. IHRLI’s programs supported legal education reform, trained Iraqi NGOs to conduct high quality human rights research, gathered and analyzed narratives of human rights violations, provided capacity building and sought to improve protections of fundamental human rights. The projects were managed by IHRLI’s staff in Chicago as well as an in country staff of as many as 60 managers, trainers, assistants and others. IHRLI’s Iraq team worked throughout the country with its central administrative office located in Sulaimaniya.
- These projects included:
- Building Gender Capacity (2010 – 2011)
- Supporting Responsive Governance and through Capacity Building (2009 – 2011)
- Iraq Human Rights NGO Training Project (2008 - 2011)
- Iraq Pre-Deployment Training (2008 – 2011)
- Iraq Women’s Leadership Project (2008 – 2011)
- Iraq Legal Education Project (2008 – 2011)
- Iraq History Project (2005 – 2009)
- Raising the Bar: Legal Education Reform in Iraq Project (2003 – 2005)
- Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Iraqi Judiciary (2005 – 2007)
- Gender Justice in Iraq (2005)
- Supporting the Iraqi Constitutional Processes (2005)
- Seminars and Trainings for High-Level Iraqi Officials (2005 – 2006)
The Building Gender Capacity and Human Rights in Iraq project supported the human rights of women and sexual minorities in Iraq by increasing the capacity of civil society organizations, advocates, young lawyers, and educators to recognize and promote these vulnerable populations. For many years, Iraq’s secular orientation enabled women, subject to the authoritarian demands of the regime, to enter and excel in many professions. In the post-Saddam era, women face a series of new challenges including the rising influence of fundamentalist Islam. In addition, sexual minorities in Iraq face extreme hardships in living their everyday lives due to negative popular perceptions and the belief that sexual minorities are a threat to Iraqi life, religion, and society. This project addressed these issues through a country-wide initiative that linked capacity building, training, legal advocacy, and gender reform among those sectors of society best able to assist women and sexual minorities: emerging local human rights organizations and advocates; young lawyers, and educators.
This project supported political processes that peacefully resolve disputes while strengthening rule of law skills and developing the capacity of civil society organizations. It expanded existing activities with Iraqi law schools including curriculum development, conferences, publications, human rights trainings, improved research facilities and moot courts and other participatory learning. The project also helped to set up a research center focusing on human rights and public policy. Additionally, it expanded externship/mentoring programs for young women and strengthened the organizational capacity of human rights NGOs and women’s groups. The project also included a program linking Shari’a and reconciliation and encouraged transitional justice efforts and peace-building within select communities.
IHRLI provided training to rule of law professionals prior to their deployment as legal advisors to the Iraqi government. Over the past eight years, the U.S. and other governments have spent considerable resources on sending rule of law professionals to Iraq and other countries. However many skilled legal professionals have limited knowledge of local culture, international human rights standards, civil law (as opposed to common law) systems, local legal structures, and other important elements of the social and professional contexts where they are sent to provide expert advice. To address this issue, IHRLI provided rule of law advisors and others with training on civil law, Shari’a, human rights, international law, Iraqi society and culture and the Iraqi legal system.
The Iraq Women’s Leadership Project strengthened the capacity of young women leaders. The project brought together a select group of law and professional students with committed women leaders for sustained, participatory training and mentoring in partnership with the universities in Baghdad, Hilla and Sulaimaniya. The project incorporated experiential learning, seminars, moot courts and related activities. Participants prepared reports on their research, gain practical skills and learn firsthand about women’s rights advocacy with a focus on the special challenges faced by women in the transitional period.
In this project, IHRLI worked with the faculty, staff and students at a number of Iraqi law schools. The project provided assistance for the development of new courses, moot courts, research projects, conferences and publications. IHRLI also assisted schools with developing library resources, research facilities, language labs, books and basic infrastructure improvements. The goal of the project was to work cooperatively with partner law schools in Iraq to support the sustainable development of legal education and assist the nation in preparing new generations of skilled legal professionals. IHRLI worked with Iraqi faculty, students and others to enhance the law school’s intellectual and institutional commitment to human rights and international law. The project developed programming that will ideally be sustainable over the long term, building bridges between scholars and practitioners in Iraq and the U.S.
The Iraq History Project (IHP) gathered and analyzed first person narratives of severe human rights violations committed under the government of the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein (1968 – 2003) and by a variety of groups after the U.S.-led invasion (2003 – 2008). While some data on past and recent human rights violations in Iraq is available, the suffering of the Iraqi people has been inadequately documented making it difficult to understand the severity and impact of political violence over the past four decades. The IHP addresses this issue by collecting over 8,900 testimonies representing over 55,000 pages of personal narratives. The material documents the individual experience of torture, massacres, assassinations, rape, kidnapping, disappearances and other violations. The IHP is one of the largest independent human rights data collection projects in the world and provides important insight into both past and current violations in Iraq. The project provides Iraqis with an opportunity to talk about their experiences of political violence, analyzes patterns of violence to provide a better understanding of the systematic nature of political violence, and presents policy suggestions regarding transitional justice in Iraq and mechanism of improving human rights protections.
- Iraq History Project Testimonies (English)
- Iraq History Project Testimonies (Arabic)
- Iraq History Project Testimonies (Kurdish)
- Newspaper article featuring IHP (Kurdish)
- Newspaper article featuring IHP (Arabic)
IHRLI began working in Iraq with a Legal Education Reform Project linking DePaul University College of Law with a number of Iraq law schools with a special focus on the Universities of Baghdad, Basra, and Sulaimaniya. In this project, IHRLI provided substantial infrastructural assistance along with support for faculty training and educational innovation. IHRLI organized a series of conferences held in different parts of Iraq to encourage interaction between law faculty, government officials, members of the judiciary, and local leaders. IHRLI organized study tours to Egypt and Italy for forty Iraqi professors from eleven major universities and worked with law faculty to expand existing curricula and develop courses on human rights, international criminal law and international commercial law. IHRLI also assisted Iraqi law students in traveling to Washington, DC to participate in the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
IHRLI assisted ISISC with a series of high-level meetings in Jordan, Italy, Iraq and Egypt to develop a plan for comprehensive judicial reform in Iraq. Participants in the meetings included the Chair of the Higher Judicial Council, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Judicial Affairs of Kurdistan as well as representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, the State Shoura Council and the Ministry of Human Rights. The meetings ran from 2006 through 2007 and led to the creation of a comprehensive plan for reforming Iraqi criminal justice procedures and the country’s judiciary. The project also supported the adoption by the Supreme Judicial Council of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and assisted in the creation of the National Commission for Criminal Justice.
This project linked a seminar in Amman, Jordan in November 2005 with the publication of a book promoting gender justice in Iraq. The seminar involved seventeen women leaders from Iraq and ten from throughout the Arab world including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and Syria. Participants included current and former ministers, parliamentarians, academics, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The group drafted a series of essays published as Gender Justice and Women’s Rights in Iraq in Arabic, Kurdish, and English.
IHRLI assisted the process of drafting the new Iraqi Constitution by creating an advisory group to assist in the drafting, provided technical legal aid, and preparing a series of five books in Arabic (with three edited volumes in Kurdish). The book series was designed to benefit newly elected officials, their advisors and assistants, representatives of civil society, and local leaders. The publications include: Iraqi Constitutional Studies – Basic Principles for the New Iraqi Constitution – A collection of articles on key constitutional issues by Iraqi legal professionals and academics; A Compilation of Iraqi Constitutions and Comparative Study of International Human Rights Standards – A collection of all the Iraqi constitutions from 1925 to the present including a comparative review and an analysis of these documents in relation to international human rights standards; A Compilation of Arab Constitutions and Comparative Study of International Human Rights Standards – A collection of all Arab world constitutions including a comparative study on due process protections and an analysis of these constitutions in relation to international human rights standards; A Compilation of Legislation and Regulations of Select Arab Legal Systems – A compilation of selected of Arab laws and regulations relating to legislative organization and procedure.; and, Public Freedoms and Democracy – A collection of essays on the rights and freedoms necessary for democracy. IHRLI printed approximately 2,500 copies of each book and aided in their wide distribution to key political actors, government ministries, United Nations staff, Iraqi law schools, judges, professionals, political parties, and others.
IHRLI assisted ISISC in designing and organizing a series of three intensive ten to fourteen day seminars on post-conflict justice, federalism and domestic security in Iraq. Each event involved approximately forty high-level Iraqis including government officials, representatives of key political parties, members of the constitutional drafting committee, judges, police and security officials, civil society leaders and clerics. Seminars linked lectures by international experts with open discussions among diverse groups of Iraqis and concluded with the preparation of working documents and guidelines related to each theme. In addition, in 2005, ISISC and IHRLI hosted a week-long training seminar for approximately seventy members of the Iraqi Special Tribunal (now the Iraq High Criminal Court) involved in prosecuting Saddam Hussein and high level members of the Ba’athist regime. The seminar provided the Tribunal’s judges, investigative judges, and others with support and training on the use of forensic and scientific evidence. IHRLI and ISISC also presented an Arabic language analysis of internal problems with Tribunal’s statute along with various training materials.