IILHR, NPWJ, UNPO: European Parliament Plays Host to Landmark Visit of Deputies from Iraq’s Minority Communities

5 Oct, 2011 | Press Releases

Travelling from Baghdad, representatives of Iraq’s ethnic and religious communities will be meeting with the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq on Wednesday, 5 October 2011 in the first meeting of its kind since the occupation of Iraq in 2003.

The 14-strong delegation, representing the Christian, Mandaean-Sabean, Shabak, Yezidi communities will meet with European institutions as well as the Belgian Senate, and Flemish Parliament. The meeting has been made possible through the efforts of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, European Parliament Delegation for relations with Iraq, Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR) and U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), with the support of No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).

Coming after the formation in July 2010 of the Minorities Caucus in the Iraqi Council of Representatives and hearings in the European Parliament in both the Delegation for Relations with Iraq and the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the visit will be a key step as the Caucus moves to develop a concrete plan of potential legislative action that stands to include reform of Iraq’s personal status laws, local administration legislation, an anti-discrimination law, and reform of Iraq’s educational curriculum. It will also see the European launch of the IILHR’s‘Minorities and the Law in Iraq’report which provides one of the first analyses of both Iraqi law and minorities, and how the role of minorities could be strengthened.

Director of the IILHR, William Spencer, noted that the visit “came after long negotiation but at an important point in Iraq’s history…the future of minorities in Iraq may depend on the level of cooperation we will see in the coming days.” The visit was however only “the latest step in a long series of initiatives pursued by NPWJ and others to support reconciliation and accountability in Iraq today,” Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary General of NPWJ stressed. Reflecting on two decades of working with Iraqi minorities, Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary, noted that “now the onus must be to pool European experience and support deputies in Iraq…time is running to save age-old communities.”

Download the press release in pdf