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IILHR Speaks at Geneva United Nations Forum on Minority Issues

IILHR at Geneva UN ForumOn November 26 and 27, IILHR Iraq Director Najim Al Khaphaji participated at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Forum on Minority Issues with the support of Minority Rights Group International. The Forum took place in Geneva, Switzerland and brought together representatives from international organizations, NGOs, and countries around the world to formalize recommendations on legal and institutional mechanisms to prevent violence against religious minorities and promote and protect minority identities. In his remarks, Mr. Al Khaphaji focused on Iraq’s incremental advances in implementing its constitutional guarantees and obligations under international human rights instruments. He also emphasized the importance of continued international support for Iraq’s new High Commission for Human Rights, which can provide critical and historic protections for Iraq’s citizens in general and Iraq’s minorities in particular. Mr. Al Khaphaji stressed that, though the work of protecting Iraq’s minorities is filled with both progress and setbacks, "our experience can provide important insights into the global effort to safeguard minority rights."


IILHR Speaks at European Parliament Conference on Federalism in the Middle East

Spence at European ParliamentOn October 2, IILHR Executive Director William 'Spence' Spencer participated in the conference Exploring Federalism in the Middle East, hosted by Mr. Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament, in coordination with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The conference featured two panels of speakers to highlight the role that federalist principles can play in securing a peaceful Middle East and focused on the specific experiences in Iraq and Iran. The event took place at the European Parliament in Brussels and was moderated by Mr. Kelam and UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin. In his remarks, Mr. Spencer highlighted the positive role that federalism can play to bridge differences and protect minorities in Iraq's transition and outlined several practical examples from Iraq’s recent history. Mr. Spencer stressed that, while Federalism can be a powerful tool, it is not sufficient by itself to build a viable and sustainable democracy and promote reconciliation. Other tools, such as a strong legal framework rooted in a culture of respect for human rights and rule of law, are also necessary to ensure a peaceful, democratic Iraq. The day-long conference was attended by members of the European Parliament, staff, representatives of other EU institutions, and international NGOs.


IILHR Releases Study on Iraq’s Minorities and Vulnerable Groups at European Parliament


European ParliamentOn Tuesday October 1, 2013, The Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR), in partnership with No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), and with the support of MEP Ana Gomes, organized the formal launch of the book "Iraq’s Minorities and Other Vulnerable Groups: Legal Framework, Documentation, and Human Rights". Representatives from European Union institutions, the Embassy of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government Mission to the EU, Iraqi minorities associations and international NGOs attended.

William Spence Spencer, IILHR Executive Director, noted that "as attention to events in the Middle East has shifted to other nations, it is wonderful to see so many — from so many diverse organizations — come to the Parliament to highlight their support. The members of these groups are Iraqi citizens and should be able to enjoy the same rights as their brothers and sisters."

The book develops a comprehensive report examining the de jure and de facto situation of Iraq’s minority components and other vulnerable populations to support the assessment of asylum claims within countries to which Iraqi refugees apply for protection, and to complement other resources on Iraq’s vulnerable populations. It offers an analysis of key human rights, documentation, and legal challenges common to many minority components in today’s Iraq, including minority women, and suggests targeted recommendations to the central government, the Kurdish Regional Government, and the international community.


IILHR Reports on the Documentation, Human Rights, and Legal Situation of Iraq’s Minorities and Vulnerable Groups

The Institute for International Law and Human Rights has developed a comprehensive report examining the de jure and de facto situation of Iraq’s minority components and other vulnerable populations to support the assessment of asylum claims within countries to which Iraqi refugees apply for protection, and to complement other resources on Iraq’s vulnerable populations.

Iraq’s Minorities and Other Vulnerable Groups: Legal Framework, Documentation, and Human Rights provides an overview of key human rights, documentation, and legal challenges common to many minority components in today’s Iraq, including minority women, and suggests targeted recommendations to the central government, the Kurdish Regional Government, and the international community. It then provides information on how Iraqi identity documents are processed and the requirements for issuance of documents including birth certificates, passports, and national identity cards, drawing from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry’s Consular Handbook and other sources. The book then offers an analysis of Iraq’s legal framework as it relates to citizenship, personal status, criminalized behavior, voluntary return to Iraq, and issues specific to particular components.

Finally, the report provides detailed information on the situation of 16 Iraqi components and vulnerable groups, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex persons. Details on ethno-religious minorities and other populations include historical background, approximate demographics, security situation, human rights challenges, humanitarian situation, diaspora and returnees, and the situation of women and children.

Click below for the English and Arabic versions of the full report.

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IILHR Releases Human Rights Commission Toolkit at Iraqi Parliament


From the Iraqi Council of Representatives website, posted 14 September 2012

Iraqi Parliament"On Sunday, October 14, 2012, the Council of Representatives Human Rights Committee, chaired by Member of Parliament Dr. Salim Al-Jbouri, held a ceremony to distribute a new book to support the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights titled Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights: Bylaws, Regulations, and Legal Framework, prepared by the Institute for International Law and Human Rights.

The ceremony was attended by Ms. Ibtihal Zaidi, Minister of State for Women's Affairs, Ms. Liqa'a Al-Wardi, Chair of Parliament’s Displacement and Migration Committee, Ms. Intissar Al- Jubouri, Chair of the Family Women and Children Committee, and other members of the Council of Representatives, in addition to members of the High Commission for Human Rights and members of the Committee of Experts and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps operating in Iraq.

Dr. Salim welcomed all attendees and expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Institute for International Law and Human Rights for their generous initiative. He noted the Institute’s partnership and support, and praised their work to disseminate information about the work of human rights commissions in different countries of the world."


IILHR Develops Comprehensive Toolkit to Support Iraq’s New High Commission for Human Rights

The Institute for International Law and Human Rights has developed a wide-ranging resource tool and reference guide that can provided needed support to fully establish the new Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights: Bylaws, Regulations, and Legal Framework starts with international standards and the Commission’s enabling legislation as a framework, and then considers over 30 country examples to support the process of developing an infrastructure, rules of procedure, complaints handling regulations, financial and procurement regulations, staffing regulations, codes of conduct, and a host of other issues.

The toolkit is organized by topic and each section considers the current legal framework as well as country examples relating to how each task may be accomplished. It also includes recommendations tailored to the new Commission and the Iraqi context for stakeholders to consider.

The toolkit also addresses the importance of collaboration with civil society and potential mechanisms for coordination with government, parliament, donors, and other groups. Where appropriate, IILHR provides sample regulations and procedures for each issue as a starting point for development and consideration.

Though there is extensive research on national human rights institutions, much of it is theoretical and specific comparative examples are seriously lacking. IILHR developed this book over the last two years to fill that research gap and provide tangible examples for consideration that can be used not only by the Iraqi Commission, but also by other national human rights institutions worldwide.

Click here for the English and Arabic versions of the Executive Summary.

Click below for the English and Arabic versions of the full report.

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        عربي
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PRESS RELEASE: European 
Parliament
 Plays
 Host 
to
 Landmark
 Visit 
of Deputies
 from
 Iraq’s 
Minority 
Communities

Brussels, 4 October 2011 — Travelling from Baghdad, representatives of Iraq’s ethnic and religious communities will be meeting with the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq on Wednesday, 5 October 2011 in the first meeting of its kind since the occupation of Iraq in 2003. Read full press release.


Minorities and the Law in Iraq

IILHR has also produced Minorities and the Law in Iraq, which offers a groundbreaking analysis of the body of Iraqi law as it affects Iraq’s minorities, as well as recommendations to bring Iraqi law into compliance with international standards and Iraq’s Constitution. To download Minorities and the Law in Iraq in Arabic or English, click below:

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Women and the Law in Iraq

IILHR also released a comprehensive overview of Iraq’s legal framework as it pertains to gender and the laws' compliance with international standards. To download Women and the Law in Iraq, click below.

English        عربي

The Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR) helps states in transition to democracy develop the capacity to strengthen the rule of law and build respect for human rights. With a staff of diplomats, parliamentarians, human rights activists, and attorneys, IILHR has a strong track record of implementing successful programs that help local partners build support for human rights and the rule of law. Members of IILHR’s staff have participated in legal, legislative, and civil society capacity-building programs in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.

IILHR believes that domestic implementation of international legal and human rights standards can help states transitioning from conflict to democratic rule to manage and resolve differences. IILHR deploys legal and human rights experts to provide hands-on, on-the-ground advice to legislators, opinion leaders, and civil society. Working with its local partners – both in and out of government – IILHR draws on best practices and lessons learned from around the world to suggest approaches grounded in international law and universal human rights principles. IILHR attorneys and experts present options in a careful, consultative manner that builds its partners’ capacities and leaves final action in their hands.

IILHR is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity registered in Washington, DC and Brussels, Belgium.

Our Programs

IILHR’s Iraq program works with leaders in both the Iraqi government and civil society to strengthen approaches to human rights and rule of law issues by: (1) developing draft legislation and Constitutional amendments; (2) working to enact them; (3) helping local partners in and out of government develop the capacity to advocate on specific issues, as well as assess, develop, and draft legislation; and (4) building consensus on priorities, tactics, and strategies.  By providing hands-on, focused assistance, combined with sound international research and expertise, IILHR helps Iraqis develop a sustained capacity to draft legislation that fosters respect for human rights and the rule of law.

IILHR deploys both short- and long-term missions, and is known for its rapid, flexible, and responsive approach.  IILHR plans to implement similar human rights-based programs in other states emerging from conflict, and to develop a worldwide network of experts capable of providing assistance to their government and civil society leaders.

Our Partners

IILHR draws upon an extensive network of international legal specialists, and enjoys close relationships with international human rights and activists from around the world. The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute, and Baghdad University’s College of Law advise IILHR on a wide variety of human rights and legal matters, including drafting legal memoranda and legislative commentary. These partnerships provide a tremendous reservoir of expertise and dramatically expand IILHR’s ability to deliver consultative assistance quickly and effectively.  

Our Leadership

IILHR Executive Director William “Spence” Spencer (wspencer_at_lawandhumanrights.org) has more than 22 years of professional experience in international diplomacy, human rights, democracy and governance, international law, and crisis response, both in and out of government. He is intimately familiar with building democratic institutions in post-conflict states having worked in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 1996 Spencer, serving as Senior Political Advisor at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, helped to configure Bosnia’s first post-war elections and oversaw implementation of human rights components of the Dayton Agreement. As a career foreign service officer, Spencer worked closely on human rights monitoring and protection and the rule of law in Kosovo, Chechnya, Macedonia, and Albania. He also coordinated policy and resource support for human rights initiatives in the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.

IILHR Washington Director Charles J. Brown has spent the past 20 years promoting human rights and democratic governance around the world. From 2004 to 2007, Brown served as President and CEO of Citizens for Global Solutions. From 2001 to 2004, he served as Deputy Executive Director at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). From 1998 to 2001, he was Chief of Staff to Assistant Secretary Harold Koh in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the U.S. Department of State. From 1988 to 1998, Brown served in a variety of roles at Freedom House, including Director of Program Development. He is co-author of The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba and co-editor of Judges and Journalists in Transitional Democracies.

IILHR Brussels Director Nicola Giovannini also serves as President of Droit au Droit (Right to Law), an international non-governmental organization committed to the promotion of human rights and rule of law in judicial and penal procedures. From 2005 to 2009, he served as European Public Affairs & Media Coordinator for No Peace Without Justice. From 1999 to 2004, he served as Senior Political Advisor to the Lista Bonino, a European Parliament bloc. From 1993 to 1999, he served as Advocacy Advisor to several international NGOs committed to the promotion of human rights and international justice. He is the author as well as translator of numerous books and articles on political and legal theory, as well as co-editor of The Use of Solitary Confinement in European Prisons.