Ceasefire Project: Protecting the human rights of vulnerable civilians in Iraq
Civilians in Iraq are subject to mass violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. With over 3 million people displaced from their homes, and the security situation preventing access to large parts of the country, there is an urgent need for better information on what is happening to civilians on the ground in order to provide redress.
The Ceasefire project is a multi-year programme supported by the European Union to implement a system of civilian-led monitoring of human rights abuses in Iraq, focusing in particular on the rights of vulnerable civilians including vulnerable women, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), stateless persons, and ethnic or religious minorities, and to assess the feasibility of extending civilian-led monitoring to other country situations.
The Ceasefire project seeks to empower human rights activists in Iraq and establish the systems to support them. The project uses cross-fertilization from established Iraqi NGOs, accessible and secure reporting formats and systems, and skills transfer to smaller NGOs and individual researchers/activists, to build in-country capacity to undertake credible monitoring of abuses and related advocacy. In order to develop the technological infrastructure to support civilian-led monitoring, a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ has been agreed with Essex University (Department of Computer Engineering) with funding through the Technology Strategy Board.
For more information on this new online reporting tool, to report a human rights violation in Iraq or to research and mine the data visit iraq.ceasefire.org
Reports produced under the project include:
- No Way Home: Iraq’s minorities on the verge of disappearance (English/Arabic)
- Civilian protection in the battle for Mosul: Critical priorities (English/Arabic)
- Humanitarian challenges in Iraq’s displacement crisis (English/Arabic)
- Iraq’s Displacement Crisis: security and protection (English/Arabic)
- From Crisis to Catastrophe: The situation of minorities in Iraq (English/Arabic)
- No Place to Turn: Violence against women in the Iraq conflict (English/Arabic)
- Civilian deaths in the anti-ISIS bombing campaigns 2014-2015 (English/Arabic)
- Between the Millstones: The state of Iraq’s minorities since the fall of Mosul (English/Arabic)
- The Lost Women of Iraq: Family-based violence during armed conflict (English/Arabic)
In 2000 Asuda opened the first women’s shelter in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Asuda means ‘providing comfort’. Since then the organisation provides protection to women who are threatened by violence, including honour killings. Its objectives include eradicating discrimination and all forms of violence against women; promoting women’s rights and influencing public opinion in favour of women’s rights; promoting awareness of the negative consequences of violence against women; and lobbying to amend relevant laws that encourage violence against women and abuse of women’s rights.
The Hammurabi Human Rights Organization is a registered Iraqi NGO which takes its name from the Code of Hammurabi, the first code of laws in history which originated in Iraq. Based in Baghdad with branches throughout Iraq it is a non-profit, non-sectarian and non-political human rights and humanitarian relief organization. Its main work consists of researching, finding and assisting with the promotion of human rights in Iraq and in direct assistance to those who have suffered as a result of human rights violations.
The project also works with the Iraqi Minorities Council (IMC), a registered umbrella body of civil society organizations representing the various minorities of Iraq.
UNHCR-Iraq, the UN Refugee Agency, is an associate partner on the programme.
Ceasefire Centre for Human Rights
The Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights is a new initiative to develop ‘civilian-led monitoring’ of violations of international humanitarian law or human rights, to pursue legal and political accountability for those responsible for such violations, and to develop the practice of civilian rights.
The Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights is registered as a charity and a company limited by guarantee under English law; charity no: 1160083, company no: 9069133. It is hosted in London by MRG and works with MRG on the Ceasefire project (below).
This evaluation reviewed our project work in Iraq to enable civilian led reporting of human rights abuses and to build the capacity of local partners to monitor, document and report on rights abuses. The report found that the project was highly relevant to the context:
“Overall findings indicate that this project was highly relevant to the context of Iraq, particularly as new conflict broke out in the initial phases of project implementation with the emergence of ISIS further putting at risk minorities, women, and displaced populations”. (page 3)
The evaluators also found that the monitoring, advocacy and capacity building strands of the project were successful:
“MRG bulletins on the human rights situation in Iraq, particularly in relation to minorities and IDPs, generated great a deal of interest in key advocacy capitals and fora including with Iraqi and Kurdish authorities. These reports benefited as well from substantial input from partners on the ground that were collecting information on human rights violations including through their own networks of monitors.” (page 3)
“With respect to capacity-building of civil society organizations and activists to monitor and report human rights violations, the project had broad sweep, training a total of 155 actors across Iraq. All participants in these activities reported very high levels of satisfaction with the knowledge and skills they gained.” (page 4)
“Positive influence in law-making in Iraq was achieved through this project thanks to the combination of MRG’s direct advocacy activities, active collaboration with national policymakers both in Erbil and Baghdad in relation to protection of minorities and enforced disappearance legislation, among others, as well as the sponsoring of microgrant recipients that have successfully influenced their provincial policymakers through their projects including anti-discrimination policies in schools.” (page 4)
The evaluators also described the project as well run and responsive to dramatic changes in the context:
“The project design too was appropriate for the objectives as a starting point to lay the basis for a human rights culture in Iraq. The project implementation was able to keep as closely as possible to its timeline even with sudden changes within the context. MRG quickly responded and adapted its project to the onslaught of ISIS and the need to change a local partner as a result. Not only this, MRG was able to strategically position itself and its research to raise awareness of the plight of minorities in this conflict as attention to Iraq grew internationally, in media and policy fora in the U.S. and Europe, particularly. In addition, partners as well as microgrant recipients reported having very positive and strong working relationships with MRG through the duration of the project.” (page 3)
Recommendations made by the evaluators concerned establishing more independent contact between partner organisations (instead of communications primarily running via MRG), encouraging partners to monitor, report and lobby across ethnic and religious lines, considering more in depth follow up training for activists (instead of a large number of those benefiting from a single training event), to arrange for partners to co-author reports as the next step in their learning process and to increasingly base staff in Iraq as security permits (see pages 5-6).
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