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Iraq: Lifting the Fog of War

In March 2003, shortly after U.S. troops marched into Iraq, HRC Faculty Director Eric Stover traveled to Iraq’s Kurdish north to investigate human rights conditions in the region. Stover and a colleague from Human Rights Watch, Hania Mufti, assessed the situation of displaced persons in Iraqi Kurdistan; investigated Kurdish treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war there; and once the coalition forces succeeded in taking Kirkuk, monitored whether U.S.-led forces were obeying the Geneva Convention's prescription to restore and ensure public order. 

In July and August 2003, HRC and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) sent Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck (formerly of Tulane University and now on the HRC staff) and ICTJ staff member Nehal Bhuta to Iraq to conduct a qualitative study to understand how Iraqis wished to deal with their legacy of human rights violations and political violence. Their research was published in a joint HRC-ICTJ report, Iraqi Voices:  Attitudes Toward Transitional Justice and Social Reconstruction

In March 2004, Stover returned to Iraq where he joined Hania Mufti in on-site visits to mass graves and to interview Iraqi officials and representatives of human rights organizations that possessed documents of alleged violations of human rights obtained during and after the war.  Their research resulted in several publications, including "Exhumation of Mass Graves in Iraq:  Consideration for Forensic Investigators, Humanitarian Needs, and the Demands of Justice" (JAMA, 2003) and "Bremer’s 'Gordian Knot':  Transitional Justice and the US Occupation of Iraq" (Human Rights Quarterly, 2005).

In March 2008, Eric Stover, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck joined ICTJ staff member Miranda Sissons to publish "Justice on Hold:  Accountability and Social Reconstruction in Iraq" (International Review of the Red Cross, 2008). The article takes a critical look at the accountability measures introduced by the United States after it occupied Iraq in 2003.