Institute for International Law and Human Rights


Building Respect for Human Rights
Reinforcing the Values of Democracy
Strengthening the Capacity for Change
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The Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in Washington, DC; Brussels, Belgium; and Baghdad, Iraq. IILHR helps transitioning states develop the capacity to strengthen democratic values 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 programs with local partners that foster dialogue and create better policies to protect citizens’ rights.

As an organization focused on strengthening human rights in countries emerging from conflict, IILHR upholds the freedom and equal dignity of all human beings and is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and non-discrimination.

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William Hall “Spence” Spencer IV, IILHR Executive Director, Passes Away at 61

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing on February 1, 2024, of William “Spence” Spencer, the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for International Law and Human Rights.

Spence was a highly esteemed diplomat and human rights advocate, with more than 25 years of professional experience in post-conflict rebuilding, international law, democracy and governance, and crisis management and response. He established IILHR to support human rights and justice in Iraq, where he’d advised the government on constitutional and legislative issues since 2005.

He will be greatly missed by the many people around the world whose lives he touched. He leaves behind a legacy of unwavering dedication to humanitarianism and philanthropy that will inspire all those who continue the work he loved.

Higher Judicial Council Implements Criminal Justice Reform

In August 2023, Iraq’s High Judicial Council formally instructed all Iraqi courts to adopt new templates and checklists – jointly produced by senior judges and IILHR staff – in case file documentation, to increase reliance on evidence other than confessions and highlight other issues, such as defense counsel activities.

From January 20 to 22, 2024, IILHR, in partnership with the High Judicial Council, organized three landmark events at the Judicial Development Institute and the Judicial Training Institute to begin implementing the Council’s August directive. 

Participants included 36 sitting trial judges from across Iraq and 75 future judges and prosecutors at the Judicial Training Institute. The seminars begin the effort to embed these tools and templates into current and future Iraqi practice. 

Criminal Justice Reform
New Document: Legislative Drafting Guide for Iraqi Members of Parliament

On 11 and 12 February at the Council of Representatives in Baghdad, IILHR launched its Legislative Drafting Guide for Iraqi Members of Parliament. This guide was the result of over a year of work and includes contributions from several key actors in Iraq, including the State Council, Office of the President, members of the judiciary, senior and former Members of Parliament and academia. It has been developed as a user-friendly resource for Members of Parliament to act as a resource on the basic elements of legislative drafting.

The launch event included presentations on various aspects of legislative drafting by several experts, including the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Office of the President, members of the judiciary and the Parliamentary Legislative Department. The event was gratefully facilitated by the Parliamentary Development Institute.

Current Projects

Energizing Reform and Empowering Vulnerable Groups in Iraq

Our goal is to deepen citizenship and political participation through stronger laws that implement Iraq’s constitution and promote inclusiveness and accountability; build dialogue and consensus around legislative and grassroots priorities; and strengthen research, technical, and advocacy skills to empower local and vulnerable groups through inclusive citizens teams that provide community-based input to reforms in Erbil and Baghdad.

Supporting Better Evidence-Based Approaches for the Iraqi Judiciary

Our goal is to provide training and mentoring to the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to effectively investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate terrorism-related crimes. We also want to facilitate a more effective, responsive, and accountable criminal justice system that provides a safe and secure domestic environment, regulated by laws that are evenly applied, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international standards.

Ensuring Iraqi Citizen Access to Identity Documents

Our goal is to ensure Iraqi citizens, through a clear and transparent process, have access to necessary identity documents so that they may fully participate in civic life.

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4836 MacArthur Blvd NW
Suite 100
Washington, DC 20007
Tel. +1 202-342-0985


Avenue Louise 489
1050 Ixelles
Brussels, Belgium
Tel. +32 2 781 08 23


International Zone
Baghdad, Iraq
Tel. +964 790 128 7010