Eyes on the Ground: Realizing the potential of civilian-led monitoring in armed conflict

(27/07/2017). This report is about harnessing developments already in motion internationally to produce better information about human rights and IHL violations in situations affected by conflict. Its main contention is that local civil society actors can be enabled, with the help of modern technology, to become central actors in the processes of monitoring, documentation and reporting. Empowering local activists has not only practical value, in that these activists often have the closest access to victims of violations, but normative value as well, because it makes monitoring more inclusive, participatory, and meaningful to local populations. The basis of this report is the experience of the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights and Minority Rights Group International in implementing a system of civilian-led monitoring in Iraq between 2014 and 2017, which is presented as a case study to illustrate one possible application of the approach put forward throughout the report. 

How the Islamic State Rose, Fell and Could Rise Again in the Maghreb

(24/07/2017). Report Nº 178 / Middle East & North Africa. Despite its ongoing demise in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State (ISIS) could prove resurgent in the Maghreb if past lessons and lingering threats remain unheeded. Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia should go beyond security and military measures to address persistent local grievances and tensions that ISIS has proven adept in exploiting.

Iraq: at any cost: the civilian catastrophe in west Mosul, Iraq

The battle for west Mosul has caused a civilian catastrophe. Civilians have been ruthlessly exploited by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), which has systematically moved them into zones of conflict, used them as human shields and prevented them from escaping to safety. They have also been subjected to relentless and unlawful attacks by Iraqi government forces and members of the US-led coalition. Residents of west Mosul count themselves lucky if they escape with their lives.

Iraq. Displacement from Mosul and Tal-Afar

On 4 May, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched an offensive from the northwest of the area held by Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, along the boundaries of the neighbourhoods of Musharifah, Khanisah and al Haramat. With hundreds of thousands of civilians still believed to be trapped in west Mosul, this new front has triggered displacement from that area. Since the beginning of the operation to recapture Mosul from IS on 17 October 2016, over 806,200 people have been displaced from Mosul as of 4 June.

Crossroads: The future of Iraq’s minorities after ISIS

Minority communities in Iraq fear their ancestral lands will be stolen by government-backed forces as ISIS is pushed back, a new report finds. Territories ‘liberated’ from ISIS months ago remain occupied by Shi’a militias, Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraq Security Forces while Yezidis, Christians, Shabak and Turkmen have yet to return, a coalition of international NGOs reports.


Iraq: Turning a blind eye: The arming of the Popular Mobilization Units

Index number: MDE 14/5386/2017. Proliferation of arms and ammunition to militias across Iraq has had devastating impacts on civilians, dragging the country into a spiral of insecurity and instability. In the context of the conflict against IS, militias operating under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have extrajudicially executed, tortured and abducted thousands of men and boys. The PMU continue to use a wide range of arms and ammunition to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law with impunity. Far stricter controls on the transfer of arms are needed to avoid further serious violations of human rights.