“We must strive to ensure respect for International Humanitarian Law by all parties to the conflict in Iraq, in an attempt to prevent or end violations. Otherwise, violence will worsen and feed the cycle of revenge and further killing.”
As an introduction to this joint session that took place on 3 November in Erbil, Mr. Hervé Delphin, Head of European Union Humanitarian Aid programmes in the Middle-East, summarized one of the main challenges faced by warring parties in Iraq.
Mr. Pascal Bongard, Geneva Call’s Director of Policy, presented the organization’s new advocacy programme and officially launched the Fighter not Killer campaign in Iraq. This campaign aims to raise awareness on humanitarian norms among armed non-state actors, civil society organisations and the population in general through video clips, radio announcements and a mobile telephone application.
The session also featured Ms. Lise Grande, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. Ms. Grande expressed her concern about an array of violations of IHL committed by all the belligerent parties in Iraq, including attacks on civilians or forced displacement.
Mr. Jabbar Yawer, General Secretary of Ministry of Peshmerga, and Mr. Youssef Al Kilaby, spokesperson on security issues for the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Shaabi), took to the platform next. They publicly declared their support for the international rules protecting civilians and detailed the efforts that their organizations have already made to implement them.
Through its presence at this forum, Geneva Call was able to promote its work at the national level and advocate the need to engage with all parties to the conflict on the protection of civilians.
Iraq currently faces a complex and unstable situation. It was encouraging that this conference managed to bring together some of the main actors in the conflict and made them talk about the protection of civilians despite their specificities and divergences.
This second edition of the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) forum in Erbil gathered senior national and international decision-makers, academics and opinion-makers to debate critical issues facing Iraq.
This programme was developed with the support of the European Union, in partnership with the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.