Helping survivors of ISIS conflict in Iraq realize their right to reparations



C4JR currently consists of the following organizations:

  1. ASUDA
  2. Better World Organization
  3. Bishkoreen
  4. Civil Development Organization
  5. Emma organization
  6. Ghasin Al-Zaiton organization for Youth
  7. Hammurabi Organization for Human Rights
  8. Harikar NGO
  9. Iraqi Institution for Development
  10. Jinda organization
  11. Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights
  12. Justice Organization for Minority Rights
  13. Lotus flower
  14. Methra Organization for Yarsani Culture and Development
  15. National Center for Human Rights
  16. Nisha Organization
  17. Peace and Freedom Organization
  18. Shlomo Organization for Documentation
  19. Tajdid Iraq
  20. To Reconcile Organization
  21. Turkmen Rescue Foundation
  22. Women Leadership Institute
  23. Women’s Legal Assistance Organization
  24. Yazda
  25. Yezidi Organization for Documentation

 The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights is a non-governmental human rights organization based in Kurdistan, Iraq and Germany. Since 2005, the Jiyan Foundation has been providing support to survivors of human rights abuses in Kurdistan and Iraq. Today, the Jiyan Foundation runs a network of eleven trauma rehabilitation centers in North Iraq, including special departments for traumatized women and children, a clinic for Yazidi women who survived enslavement by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), services for juvenile detainees and female prisoners, rights and justice and a human rights education program.


The creation of a coalition of CSOs supporting the survivors of ISIS conflict in Iraq took place in 2019 and was divided into four phases: (I) establishing contacts; (II) obtaining information; (III) forging an agreement; (IV) implementing activities on behalf of the coalition.

Phase I: Establishing contacts

Contacting and organizing informative events for a range of Iraqi CSOs, potential C4JR members. These events were intended to:

Contacting and organizing informative events for a range of Iraqi CSOs, potential C4JR members. These events were intended to:

  • present the initiative to create a coalition that will advocate for a comprehensive reparation program for all victims of armed conflict with ISIS in Iraq.
  • explain the methodology used to establish a C4JR.
  • provide space for an open a discussion on different aspects of reparative justice.

What has been achieved so far?

Three information events were organized (in Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah) reaching out to more than 30 CSOs from Kurdistan region and other parts of Iraq.

Phase II: Obtaining information

Sending a survey to CSOs selected via the information events, which was specially designed to determine their views on key issues set out in the three basic C4JR documents.

  • Position paper on reparations. A document containing core common principles on reparations in Iraq that will serve as one of the blueprints to measure forthcoming state efforts to provide reparations to victims.
  • Founding charter. A document outlining C4JR´s governance structure (rights and obligations of members, decision-making process, day to day managing of a coalition, control mechanisms etc.)
  • Prospective activities of the C4JR

What has been achieved so far?

The survey has been sent, feedback from CSOs received and analyzed.

Phase III: Forging an agreement

The answers gathered through the survey have been used for designing initial drafts of the three basic C4JR documents which were further discussed, accordingly amended and fine-tuned in close collaboration with all involved CSOs.

Advanced versions of the drafts of the three basic C4JR documents were discussed and the final versions agreed in person during a working meeting attended by all participating NGOs. An official endorsement of the documents by the authorized representatives of the CSOs is expected at a founding conference when C4JR will be formally established and presented to the public.

What has been achieved so far?

The consultation process with CSOs is finalized. Working meeting has been ended successfully, common ground as regards three C4JR core documents agreed. During a founding conference held on 5th and 6th of November 2019, C4JR core documents have been endorsed by 25 CSOs and C4JR officially launched.

Phase IV – implementing activities on behalf of the coalition

In the fourth phase, campaign/advocacy work with relevant stakeholders should take place through press conferences, meetings with international actors in Iraq (diplomats, UN agencies, NGOs etc.), talks with politicians, local leaders etc. The exact nature and scope of the activities will be agreed in the respective document.


The approach of the C4JR is:


Victim’s views are placed front-and-center of all that we do.


We are committed not to differentiate between the victims. Therefore, all victims should be recognized, regardless of ethnic, religious or other backgrounds. This should not be interpreted as a claim that all individuals, groups and communities suffered the same. Quite the opposite, we recognize that members of certain groups (Yazidi, Turkmen etc.) were deliberately targeted and, in addition to individual, suffered a collective trauma as well.


We recognize the broader cultural factors which led to gender-based discrimination, which also need to be addressed.


We want to involve and give equal voice to all affected communities and individuals.


Long-lasting change can only be achieved by focusing on the community level. This is a bottom-up approach, designed to empower communities to advocate and influence change themselves. This in turn allows for local policies to be tailored to the needs of each individual community, rather than being nationally uniform.


We want to anticipate problems in the early stages before disagreements lead to unrest.


Seeking to empower rather than paternalize victims and their communities.


The armed conflict that spread across Iraq with the advent of ISIS at the beginning of 2014 accelerated an already existing spiral of violence to an unprecedented level. As a result, at least 30,000 civilians were killed, 55,000 injured and more than 3 million were displaced.

Currently, the main focus has been, and rightly so, on bringing ISIS atrocities to justice. However, many victims have suffered from crimes committed by individuals which will never be brought to justice either because the perpetrators are dead or unknown. It is also the case that criminal trials are generally ill-suited for awarding reparations to victims of armed conflict. Although convicting wrongdoers may be seen as a form of satisfaction, criminal justice can, at best, only facilitate awarding material compensation.

Hence, considering the scale of atrocities and the fact that individual perpetrators are often lacking resources, the prospects of victims obtaining compensation via criminal proceedings are extremely limited. It is unacceptable that a state can discharge its obligation to provide reparations only by paying relatively small sums to survivors or families of victims. Much wider engagement is necessary, designed and agreed upon in close contact with victims themselves. In addition to material compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition should be squarely addressed.

As a coalition, we hope to focus attention on the civilian victims of armed conflict and their right to reparations. In order for their voices to be heard, a coordinated response is required: a coalition of CSOs working with and championing the cause of Iraq’s diverse communities. Considering the current media spotlight, now more than ever is the time to act.

Key facts- legacy of ISIS conflict

  • 5,625,000 displaced (IOM May 2019)
  • $45.7bn in damage. (WSJ 2018)
  • 29,000 civilians killed, 54,000 wounded (UNI September 2017)
  • At least 7600 women and girls abducted (including Yazidi, Shi’i Turkmen and Christian)
  • Extensive contamination with improvised mines and other explosive devices (Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor 2018)
  • Groups targeted: Yazidis, Christians, Shabaks, Turkmen, Shi’a , Kaka’i, Sabean Mandaeans etc.

The C4JR aims to establish a comprehensive state-funded reparation program for all civilian victims of gross human rights violations perpetrated during the ISIS armed conflict in Iraq. We also want to ensure that reparative measures reach their intended beneficiaries by monitoring the implementation of existing and forthcoming legislation.

Thus, our immediate goals are:

  • Unify Iraqi civil society´s position with regard to reparations
  • Enter into dialogue with relevant stakeholders In Iraq on reparations
  • Provide a framework for debate on reparations based on human rights law
  • Facilitate the involvement of survivors in all stages of the reparations debate
  • Clarify the importance of reparations to general public

The Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR) is an alliance of Iraqi civil society organizations (CSOs), representing Iraq’s linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity, supporting reparation claims of survivors and other victims of crimes perpetrated during the conflict with the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS conflict in Iraq). C4JR draws on international human rights and national law to advance the right to reparations of all civilian victims of ISIS armed conflict in Iraq.

Our core beliefs:

  • Full respect for international human rights law.
  • A belief in the inherent dignity of humankind.
  • Commitment to gender equality.
  • Every victim of a gross human rights violation has an enforceable right to reparations.
  • A strong civil society is a major precondition for the success of transitional justice processes.
  • CSOs in post-conflict states are able to rise above sectarian, religious, ethnic, class, ideological and other divisions, and use international law to the benefit of victims.
  • Peaceful coexistence and mutual respect are fundamentals which should govern relations among communities and groups.
  • Repairing the harm done to victims of gross human rights violations should be of utmost priority not only for states where the violation took place but also for the international community and people worldwide.
  • Any programs aimed at rectifying gross human rights violations should be communicated, discussed and approved by the victims themselves in a timely manner.