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Iraq Programs

Access to Justice and Human Rights

Human Rights and the Constitution

The ABA helped the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights convene a workshop for 35 Iraqi government officials and civil society leaders to discuss human rights protections in the constitution, identify priority issues pertaining to its implementation, and strategize about follow-up legislative initiatives.

The ABA supported the formation of a "Human Rights Working Group" formed by the Ministry of Human Rights. Discussions at the workshop resulted in a set of recommendations and a plan for further steps to be taken and issues to be addressed by the Working Group. Since January 2006, the Working Group has met one to two times per month, and has undertaken numerous outreach initiatives through its Media and NGO subcommittees. In addition, the Working Group finalized recommendations on the Constitution.

In addition, the ABA trained a group of government officials and civil society activists on public legal education techniques. Follow-on activities included a series of public outreach roundtables around the country. In July 2006, a roundtable in Najaf discussed the Personal Status Code and Article 41 of the Constitution. A roundtable in Baghdad in September 2006 provided human rights education to Iraqi youth, and one in Erbil in November 2006 educated the public on the role of national human rights institutions such as a human rights commission.

Judicial Integrity Project

The ABA’s Judicial Integrity Project supported judicial development through strategic planning with judicial leaders, upgrading of court administration, and the development of a professional association for judges.  

In the area of court administration, the ABA conducted a pilot court project in three Khadimiya courts. The project saw implementation of an automated tracking and information systems in these courts. The need for the system was identified through an in-depth needs assessment report on Iraq’s court administration and case management in early 2006.  

The ABA published a Judicial Reform Index (JRI) for Iraq, a tool developed by the ABA to assess judicial reform in emerging democracies.  Based upon informational interviews conducted with relevant local actors, a cross-section of factors related to the judiciary are used to assesses the judicial system.  The ABA also published a supplement to the JRI that focused on Kurdistan.

The ABA organized a workshop and study tour in Slovenia for 7 Iraqi judges and prosecutors, the founders of the Iraqi Judges Association (IJA). The main objective of the event was to assist the IJA in determining its short-term objectives and to enhance its existing workplan to meet those objectives. The follow up to this event, a Strategic Planning session, was held in Manama, Bahrain in November. The session saw 11 Iraqi judges, some board members of the Iraqi Judges Association (IJA), others up and coming IJA members, gather together to outline a strategic long and short term plan for the organization.

Judicial Education

With support from the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the ABA organized a comparative study program in France for representatives of the judiciary and judicial training institute in December, 2005. The program focused on comparative approaches to judicial education, addressing initial and continuing training, modernization of the training curriculum, and judicial careers.  The Director of the Romanian judicial training institute also participated in the program and provided some insight into the establishment of a new judicial training institute. Based on this program, the Iraqi delegation developed a list of priority needs for their institute, and reaffirmed their interest in continued cooperation with other judicial training institutes.

Legal Profession Programs

Pledge for Iraq

As part of the U.S. Department of State's Ahd al-Iraq (Pledge for Iraq) project, the ABA conducted two major trainings for women judges, trainee judges and prosecutors to develop their skills and increase the professionalism of women judges in Iraq. The first of these trainings took place in Istanbul, Turkey in July 2006, and covered a number of topics including judicial independence, international human rights law, challenges to women in the legal profession, public trust in the courts and media outreach to the public, and comparative investigative procedure.

The second training took place in October 2006 in Amman, Jordan. Participants included 30 Iraqi judges, prosecutors, judicial assistants, law professors, and faculty and students of the Judicial Training Institute. The workshop provided the legal professionals with training in several substantive areas, including constitutional supremacy and the role of the judiciary in enforcing constitutional protections.

Women and the law

The ABA organized a workshop for a delegation of Iraqi women in Washington, D.C.  Participants included the two women members of the Iraqi Governing Council, members of the Baghdad City Advisory Council, as well as attorneys, law professors, doctors, economists, and representatives of human rights and women’s associations from all parts of Iraq.  The program addressed issues of women and the law, in addition to panels and presentations on topics such as women and the legal profession and a comparative discussion of family law in Muslim countries. The CPA sponsored the workshop with the assistance of the USAID-Office of Transition Initiatives.

The ABA also conducted a series of workshops related to the constitution and women's rights. The first of these programs took place in Bahrain, with participants including the Minister of Justice and governing council members. Two programs were later held in Jordan. The workshop series counted over 130 participants, including Iraqi lawyers, judges, civic leaders, and other professionals.

Assessment of the Status of Women in Iraq

The ABA completed a comprehensive assessment of the status of women in Iraq. The assessment identified specific provisions of Iraqi law that fall short of international standards, as well as practices that perpetuate and promote discrimination towards women. The Assessment drew upon existing Iraqi laws and the experiences of a broad cross-section of Iraqi women from various backgrounds to present a complete picture of women's status in present-day Iraq. The assessment has been distributed inside and outside of Iraq to government, NGO, and civil society groups to serve as an advocacy tool for women's human rights. The ABA recently conducted an update to the assessment, available on the publications page of this website.

Constitutional Development

Assessment of Iraqi Procurement Law

In response to a request by the Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the ABA worked with the ABA’s Section on Public Contract Law to develop an expert assessment of Iraqi procurement laws.  The report concluded that while the laws addressed a number of very important procurement issues, there was room for continued development and amendments.  It offered recommendations for how to make the laws more specific and comprehensive. 

Support to the Constitutional Development Process

The ABA organized a roundtable discussion on comparative models of constitutional process, including examples from South Africa, East Timor, Albania, and Afghanistan for key officials from most of the major political parties in Iraq. Other activities included a workshop for members of Iraqi civil society, government, and the private sector to initiate the development of mechanisms to facilitate participation by private sector and civil society actors in the constitutional process.