Human Security Law in Iraq: Reforming Rules, Practices, and Urban Spaces


This article addresses a few moments in the evolution of human security law in Iraq, focusing in particular on the Coalition Provisional Authority, the new Iraqi Constitution, Iraqi High Tribunal (successor to the Iraqi Special Tribunal), and the International Criminal Court. It synthesizes the results of some existing research on ongoing impunity for certain crimes against political candidates, journalists, anti-corruption activists, and ethnic and religious minorities, a situation which may have tainted Iraq’s transition to a more democratic republic, while aggravating other conflicts, such as those in Syria. In theory, the institutions of human and national security can help reconcile peoples whose tenuous unity had been shattered in wartime. The sometimes competing priorities and policies of Iraqi politicians, civil society groups, and judges resulted in swift justice for Iraqi officials responsible for mass killings involving Shi’a Arab, Kurdish, and other victims, but a lack of justice for other segments of the population. The emphasis of some claims of injury over others may have "reenchanted" some sectors of Iraqi society with the state and its institutions, while alienating others and contributing to ruptures in the social fabric. The Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraqi leaders, and international community ensured that the high-profile proceedings against former regime officials would not be accompanied or followed by others that some Iraqis might perceive as being as pressing as those of the Iraqi High Tribunal, relating to the impact of sanctions and aerial bombardment, the legality of Iraq's occupation, torture, etc.

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Hannibal Travis
Florida International University


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