An analysis of the human rights in Iraq

On the 21st of March 2023, Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) co-sponsored a side event with hosted by the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), concerning Human Rights in Iraq. 

The 20th of March 2023, marked 20 years since the USA and UK started the military invasion of Iraq based on fraudulent claims and exaggeration. 

Ever since the invasion, the human rights of the Iraqi people have deteriorated catastrophically. During the invasion, US forced regularly staged indiscriminate attacks on populated areas of Iraq, causing widespread and needless civilian casualties; airstrikes; the promotion of violent sectarianism; the dismantling of the infrastructure in Iraq and the promotion of torture and impunity. 

The cost of the invasion of Iraq has been profound, those who caused this must be held accountable and victims must receive justice

The side event heard the perspectives of three speakers; Mr. Curtis Doebbler; Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi; Dr. Martin Browne. 

In introducing the event, the moderator, Ms. Bethany Morley/ GICJ, Msc Gender and International Relations, welcomed an impressive number of interested persons to the side event. She outlined how the invasion was a defining moment for the international community and has often been referred to as the bookend at which the consensus of resolving disputes consensually and legitimately through UN mechanisms came to an abrupt and violent end.

First, Mr. Curtis Doebbler, research Professor of Law at the University of Makeni, Proprietor of The Law Office of Dr Curtis FJ Doebbler, and Main Representative of International-Lawyers.Org to United Nations Headquarters in New York, presented an analysis of critical factual elements of the situation in 2003, outlining what we know about both the violations of international law and political and media distortions that led to the decision to invade on false pretences. Finally Mr. Doebbler reflected on the lessons learned from the invasion. He called the invasion of Iraq, one of the saddest chapters of international justice as prior to 2003, Iraq was a well-developed country but the consequences of the ensuring conflicts undermined stability and destroyed significant infrastructure of the country.

Second, the floor was given to Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi who joined via video call, Dr. Al-Azzawi is associate professor in environmental engineering who has established and assisted in the establishment of multiple research & academic institutions in Iraq.  Dr. Al-Azzawi spoke of the environmental degradation resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the multitude of critical environmental, social, and infrastructural challenges the country is currently facing. Dr. Souad outlined how since the invasion there has been serious degradation of natural resources, destruction of essential infrastructure, and the erosion of social support systems which have affected the lives and status of the country's population, particularly women and children.

Last, Dr. Martin Browne, PhD in international human rights law and policing and representative of the International Organisation for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, discussed the human rights issues prevalent in Iraq since 2003. Dr. Browne underlined that the illegality of the invasion had consequential impacts in propagating further violations of rights of those living under an occupation viewed to be illegitimate. He noted the link to further violations such as enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and violent suppressions of protestors exercising their freedom of assembly. In concluding, he noted how little victims of these violations trust the state institutions and how they wish to obtain justice and accountability but in many cases are often afraid of speaking out publicly. 

The side event covered a broad range of themes, the impact of the invasion 20 years on could not possibly address all relevant and pressing issues within the short period of this event. GICJ will shortly be publishing a full report analysing the lasting impacts of the invasion. 

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 Previous side-events by GICJ on Iraq

Information meeting on the UPR process in Iraq and Iran

Enforced Disappearances, Extrajudicial Killings and other War Crimes in Iraq

"The Case of Iraq: The Human Rights Council and the Mass Human Rights Violations"

"Invasion and Occupation of Iraq"

"Civilians in Armed Conflict: Destruction of Mosul"

Exporting Terrorism and Sectarian Discrimination

GICJ Newsletter