On 28 February 2016, Geneva Call and the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) organized a meeting with high-level Kurdish political leaders and Peshmerga commanders on compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Peshmerga forces are fighting on a daily basis, and although they have strict internal regulations on humanitarian norms, commanders recognized that some individuals may commit violations. Participants all agreed on the need to increase respect of IHL by identifying gaps in compliance and enhancing the mechanisms for ensuring accountability within the Peshmerga ranks, but also within the Kurdistan Regional Government’s internal security forces (Asayish).
“It is important to respect IHL, not only for the protection of civilians but also because this is how a country and region will be able to build its future—based on peace, respect and democracy”, added Elisabeth Decrey Warner during the session.
This workshop was also attended by representatives of the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, military advisers from the international coalition and diplomats.
This was the first in a series of meetings between Geneva Call, MERI, different political parties and members of the Peshmerga forces. The next meetings will aim to support political parties and armed groups in the establishment of proper IHL enforcement mechanisms and the definition of plans to raise awareness of IHL among key members.
In parallel, Geneva Call will keep engaging with other Iraqi armed groups on IHL, including Kurdish and Shia armed non-State actors.