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Building Democracy in Iraq

12 February 2003

For decades, the people of Iraq have lived with the very opposite to democracy. Gross violations of human rights have been targeted at specific ethnic and religious groups, and the combined effects of economic sanctions and two wars have left the population impoverished and highly dependent on the state for their basic needs.As the possibility of a transition increases, this report presents the first detailed analysis of the options for a constitutional process and the establishment of inclusive democracy in a post-totalitarian Iraq. It considers the need to entrench those features that are essential to a genuinely democratic society, including fair representation, cooperation between communities, the rule of law and respect for human rights. In particular it analyses the risk posed by inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflict and the action necessary to try and avoid it.Minority Rights Group International takes no position on the legitimacy of the use of force against Iraq. However, as the possibility of political change increases, it is essential to consider the requirements for protecting minority rights and promoting human development. Drawing on the detailed views of internationally renowned experts in conflict prevention, human rights, inter-ethnic issues and constitutional law, this report presents a set of ground rules for building inclusive democracy in Iraq, based on the self-determination of Iraq’s people.

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Yash Ghai

Mark Lattimer

Yahia Said