Human Rights - After the War

A newly formed government in Iraq would be required to follow existing customs. As signatories on the ICCPR, the ICESCR and thematic mechanisms such as the CEDAW, and the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Iraq would be required to set up a system of governance in compliance with these covenants. The new Iraqi government should follow the recommendations of the UDHR, however these provisions are recommendations, and are not binding. These treaties and documents impose not only rights on the citizens of Iraq, but duties on the newly formed state as well. These duties that would be imposed on Iraq include respect for the rights of others, creation of institutionalized systems essential for the people of Iraq to realize their rights, protect individual rights and prevent violations of such rights. Iraq would also be required to provide goods and services to satisfy the rights of the people and would be required to promote these rights. Iraq would be excused from following any rule of international law in conflict with their reservations, but only to the extent they were “persistent objectors” to the customs as they were formed in international law.

Iraq is obligated to follow preemptory norms, which are accepted and recognized by the international community as a whole. These norms are basic to humanity and encompass general moral principles found in natural law. Iraq has a centralized system of governance and an Interim Constitution that recognizes many preemptory norms are already encompassed in Iraq’s Interim Constitution. The constitution recognizes that citizens are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, blood, language, sexual origin, or religion. (Art. 19) The Interim Constitution recognizes the rights of minorities (Art. 5c). The constitution of Iraq even provides that people should be innocent until proven guilty at a legal trial. (Art. 20).

These, along with many other provisions, not only recognize the civil and political rights of the citizens of Iraq, but also the economic and social rights of the Iraqi people.
The constitution prohibits activity that is against the objectives of the people. (Art. 36). This inherently recognizes that the idea of governance by the will of the people.

Democracy is much more than the right to vote. It also incorporates the right to take part in the process. For true democracy to exist in Iraq, the citizens must be empowered to choose their what is important to them, both economically and socially. They must already have freedom of speech, association, religion, thought and opinion. This right inevitably is part of the right to development. The new Iraqi government will be responsible for implementing all of these rights very quickly in order to provide a true democracy for the citizens in Iraq.

The UN charter, under Article 56 requires that all member states work in cooperation with the UN to develop a higher standard of living for its people and to improve conditions for economic and social progress. Iraqi citizens have a right to further development and to have a say in how development is pursued.

The future government in Iraq should look towards development as a way to broaden the definition of freedom in Iraq. Development should incorporate the elements laid out in Amartya Sen’s article, Development As Freedom. These include political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security. The funding to initiate programs to further education, health and other social opportunities could come from a reestablishment of the “Oil for Food Program.”

Equally important to the concept of a new Iraq will be bringing the wrongdoers of the “old Iraq” to justice, as will be discussed in the next part of this series.



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