President Bush shakes hands with troops during a surprise Labor Day visit to Iraq, Sept. 3, 2007.

Iraq: Lifting the Fog of War

In March 2003, shortly after U.S. troops marched into Iraq, HRC Faculty Director Eric Stover traveled to Iraq’s Kurdish north to investigate human rights conditions in the region. Stover and a colleague from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Hania Mufti, assessed the situation of displaced persons in Iraqi Kurdistan; investigated Kurdish treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war there; and once the coalition forces succeeded in taking Kirkuk, monitored whether U.S.-led forces were obeying the Geneva Convention’s prescription to restore and ensure public order.

Stover and Mufti reflected on their experience in the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the UC Berkeley Media Center’s story about Stover’s 2003 trip to Iraq and view a slideshow of photos on their website.

In July and August 2003, HRC and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) sent Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck and ICTJ staff member Nehal Bhuta to Iraq to conduct a qualitative study to understand how Iraqis wished to deal with their legacy of human rights violations and political violence. Their research was published in May 2004 in a joint HRC-ICTJ report, titled Iraqi Voices: Iraqi Voices: Attitudes Toward Transitional Justice and Social Reconstruction.

In March 2004, Stover returned to Iraq where he joined Hania Mufti in on-site visits to mass graves and to interview Iraqi officials and representatives of human rights organizations that possessed documents of alleged violations of human rights obtained during and after the war. Their research resulted in several publications, including the November 2004 HRW report, Iraq: State of the Evidence.

In March 2008, Eric Stover, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck joined ICTJ staff member Miranda Sissons to publish a critical look at the accountability measures introduced by the United States after it occupied Iraq in 2003.