Institute for International Law and Human Rights


Current Projects

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IILHR, established in 2007 to provide legislative support for Iraqi constitutional and judicial development, is well known for providing responsive, direct, and pragmatic support for local partners, as well as for offering them independent, neutral, and informed advice and assistance on the ground. IILHR has enjoyed in-depth, trusted working relationships with senior leadership in Baghdad and Erbil — in the parliament, the executive, and the judiciary — while maintaining strong connections to leading Iraqi civil society organizations. Some of IILHR’s current human rights and rule of law programming follow.

Vulnerable Groups

Energizing Reform and Empowering Vulnerable Groups in Iraq

IILHR has engaged with the Council of Representatives of Iraq — often referred to as the Parliament — since 2007 and continues today, adding value to legislative efforts by highlighting international standards and providing appropriate legal expertise to the Iraqi Parliament. IILHR has drawn on a foundation built on Iraqi jurisprudence and close relationships with Iraqi leaders and the international community. In 2019, IILHR expanded to Erbil to support the work of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament.

With a reputation as a neutral body, IILHR has developed close relationships with the legislative institutions resulting in memoranda of understanding with the Kurdistan Parliament and various key committees in Baghdad; IILHR analysis has been provided on more than 100 different pieces of legislation.

IILHR’s effort aims to capitalize on the current environment, building consensus through technical assistance and outreach to local communities disproportionately affected by violence, giving vulnerable groups a voice in the process.

This project has three main objectives:

    1. Deepen citizenship and political participation through stronger laws that implement Iraq’s constitution, respond to citizens’ needs, and promote inclusiveness and accountability. IILHR assists parliamentarians and legal drafters in Erbil and Baghdad to develop and analyze initiatives focused on empowering vulnerable groups and developing institutional reforms.
    2. Build dialogue and consensus around legislative and grassroots priorities. IILHR convenes stakeholder meetings with Iraqi jurists, international and national Iraqi experts, civil society organizations, and grassroots leaders to facilitate meaningful and evidence-based dialogue and build consensus.
    3. Strengthen research, technical, and advocacy skills to assist legal drafters, and empower local and vulnerable groups through inclusive citizens’ teams to provide community-based input to reforms in Erbil and Baghdad. IILHR seeks to enable grassroots organizations to raise policy issues more effectively with local and national officials.
Iraqi Judiciary

Supporting Better Evidence-Based Approaches for the Iraqi Judiciary

An under-resourced Iraqi Judiciary has labored for years under the weight of prosecuting thousands of cases in the aftermath of the Daesh war. Many of these cases rely on confessions, use anonymous witness accounts as evidence, and are prosecuted drawing on a broad “anti-terror” legal framework that undermines confidence in the criminal justice process. By addressing these conditions, promoting better evaluation of evidence in the Court of Cassation, and better incorporating international standards, the Federal Judiciary can build a judiciary that better respects international standards, provides better protections for the accused, and serves as an example for the nation.

The Iraqi Federal and Kurdistan governments adopted anti-terrorism laws in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Both laws are characterized by a broad definition of “terrorism.” Those who incite, plan, finance, or assist terrorists face the same penalties as the perpetrator of the terrorist act. This has resulted in tens of thousands of arrests overwhelming the system.

While minimizing the role of confessions and anonymous statements, Iraqi judges also recognize that these practices do not approximate international rule of law standards. They seek support to improve the quality and quantity of proceedings. By addressing these conditions, promoting better evaluation of evidence, and better incorporating international standards, the Federal Judiciary can build a stronger judiciary that provides protections for the accused.

This project has three main objectives:

  1. Build consensus on critical thinking about evidence used in anti-terror and other trials that shares international standards and responds to the needs of Iraqi investigative and trial judges;
  2. Develop tools that communicate these standards and policy changes with the Federal Judiciary, such as guidelines to speed trials more effectively; and
  3. Support a judiciary that better respects international standards, provides better protections for the accused, and provides better review of evidence through training of the Court of Cassation judges and other senior jurists, making the judiciary more efficient and accelerating trials.
Identity Documents

Ensuring Iraqi Citizens’ Access to Legal Identity Documents

IILHR, in partnership with Enmaa Center for Researches and Studies (ECRS), is embarking on a research and policy initiative to support the Iraqi government to enhance the ability of Iraqi citizens — particularly those affected by the recent conflict — to access legal identity and civil documents.

A significant portion of internally displaced Iraqi citizens (IDPs) remain displaced. A high percentage of Iraqi citizens affected by the conflict are missing a range of legal identity and civil documents. As of September 2021, 1,083,318 Iraqis — including IDPs and returnees — were missing at least one legal identity or civil document. Reasons vary. Many had their Iraqi documents confiscated by ISIS, others lost their documentation as they fled Iraqi and Coalition–led military operations, and some have never had records. Meanwhile, ISIS-issued documents are not recognized as valid in Iraq.

Challenges to access are well documented. However, many organizations report that policies, procedures, and practices vary across governorates — even within governorates at the district level. While new policy directives have been issued on these matters over the last few years, a comprehensive overview of these policies — and how they are applied and interpreted in different areas — is not available.

To support our analysis, the study will rely on interviews with stakeholders and will include quantitative data analysis and focus group discussions structured around key themes. Results will be assessed against a set of benchmarks drawn from multiple sources as well as consultation with Iraqi and international experts. The project covers several governorates, including Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Anbar, Salah Al-Din, Kirkuk, Diyala, Baghdad, Karbala, and Babil. The effort aims to:

  1. Outline the existing legal framework on Iraqi legal identity and civil documents, including compiling and analyzing existing laws, as well as new policies, directives, judicial decisions, and rulings issued since 2014, including the Unified ID card.
  2. Comprehensively map and compare existing procedures to access forms of legal identity and civil documents across relevant governorates including identifying various decision makers in the process. This part of the project will identify best practices, process bottlenecks, and capacity challenges.
  3. Profile a diverse range of legal identity and civil documentation–related cases across various displacement statuses, gender, age, and ethno-religious identities in each governorate, with the aim of illustrating challenges and best practices.
  4. With Iraqi authorities, initiate and follow up on sustained consultations to develop concrete, actionable policy recommendations that can be adopted and implemented, including supporting Unified ID card issuance.

For more information contact:

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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