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Report on the future of Iraqi minorities in the liberated territories

IILHR and KAS officially launch report in the European Parliament

With the recent liberation of territory by Iraqi security forces from the so-called Islamic State (IS), the question about the future of the ethno-religious minorities in Iraq is pressing. Against this background, the Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR) with the support of KAS recently published its report “Crossroads: The future of Iraq’s minorities after ISIS” after several months of field research in Baghdad, Erbil and Dohuk. The report was officially launched at a conference in the European Parliament on 6 June that was hosted by MEPs Ana Gomes and Elmar Brok.

The report gives a detailed overview of the situation of the minorities in Iraq and recommendations – general as well as specifically addressed towards different actors – are developed. Competing land claims, the proliferation of different armed militias and serious human rights abuses by parties on all sides within the retaken territories were identified as pressing problems. These problems are perceived as factors indicating further persecution and discrimination of minorities in Iraq in the future. The absence of security and safety in the retaken territories together with the presence of diverse armed groups without unified command hamper especially the return of minorities to the liberated areas. An agreement on accountability, peacebuilding and reconciliation in the aftermath of the conflict, which could form the basis for a better future specifically for minorities, has yet to be reached by the Iraqi government, the Kurdish authorities and the international community.

To prevent a lasting legacy of ethno-religious hostilities in the conflict areas and to respond to the manifold challenges confronting Iraq’s minorities, the report makes 63 specific recommendations directed at the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the international community. Amongst others they propose the development of a comprehensive plan including responsible investments in infrastructure development, demobilisation and reintegration of Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) and mediation of disputes between tribes, militias and the returning population. Furthermore, the recommendations focus on developing a national strategy to address violations of international humanitarian and criminal law and providing enhanced stabilisation assistance and emergency relief.

The event in the European Parliament formed the framework for the launch of the report. It was hosted by Ana Gomes, Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats in the European Parliament, and Elmar Brok, Member of the Group of the European People’s Party and supported by the KAS Multinational Development Policy Dialogue in Brussels. The event was attended by high ranking international and Iraqi politicians. The United Nations (UN) was represented by Adama Dieng, Secretary General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, and Lise Grande, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General at the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Karim Sinjari, Interior Minister of the KRG, several Iraqi Members of Parliament, such as Ala Talabani, as well as European diplomats also participated in the discussions. The recommendations proposed by the report were adopted into a statement of Ana Gomez and Elmar Brok and are to be substantiated as an EU Parliamentary Resolution.

Spanish Ambassador Belen Alfaro, William Spencer from IILHR, Ana Gomez, Elmar Brok and UN Special Advisor Adama Dieng
Lise Grande from UNAMI
Karim Sinjari, Minister of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government
The conference attracted a large number of attendees