IHRLI influences a new generation of Iraqi lawyers
By Keith Ecker
When Kurda Daloye talks about Iraq, there is a passion in her voice. As the International Human Rights Law Institute’s (IHRLI) chief of party in Iraq, it is her job to oversee the organization’s multipronged approach to promoting human rights throughout the country. The initiative is broad to say the least. It touches on myriad areas from women’s rights, to procuring resources, to instilling in law students and faculty the critical thinking skills needed to address important legal, political and human rights issues.
But Daloye’s motivation to succeed goes far beyond her obligations as one of the program’s leaders. For her, the successes of IHRLI’s reform efforts are one of the most significant factors affecting the future stability of her home country.
“Iraq has been through so much as a nation in the past 40 years,” Daloye says. “By focusing on legal education reform, we can help Iraq’s law schools create better lawyers who are more outspoken about human rights. That, in turn, will promote a rule of law, democracy, peace and the protection of human rights.”
Founded at DePaul College of Law in 1990, IHRLI promotes human rights on an international level by providing educational resources, establishing community outreach programs, and implementing human rights and rule of law projects.
IHRLI’s work in Iraq began soon after the U.S. invasion in 2003. The wartime conflict decimated the nation’s infrastructure, literally toppling the three major law schools located in Basra, Baghdad and Kurdistan. IHRLI President Emeritus M. Cherif Bassiouni led the organization’s on-the-ground efforts to rebuild the fallen schools.
“The legal reform program you see today is the icing on the cake,” Bassiouni says. “Back then, we had to dig holes in the ground to store fuel containers to run generators that could power the computers and lights in the libraries that we had to physically rebuild.”
These reconstruction efforts led to the reopening of nearly a dozen law schools across Iraq. With physical structures in place to house legal education programs, IHRLI set forth on its current operation: working with Iraqis to help rebuild their legal curriculum from the ground up.