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Assessing Iraq's failure to prevent and punish genocide on its territory in the context of state responsibility

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posted on 2023-10-30, 16:38 authored by Haval Saeed

This research focuses on the international state responsibility of Iraq concerning its failure to prevent and punish the genocide committed by ISIS against the Yazidis on Iraqi territory. The significance of this study lies in the fact that the genocide perpetrated by ISIS against the Yazidis has severely affected the survival of this entire group within Iraq. Moreover, this crime is ongoing and, to date, despite widespread recognition of this genocide, there has been little accountability at either the state or individual level for this genocide.

The thesis examines the concept of genocide in general and, more specifically, the genocide against the Yazidis as a case study within the framework of state responsibility rules. The following questions are addressed: (a) Does the violence inflicted upon the Yazidi people by ISIS in 2014 constitute genocide under international law? (b) Is Iraq accountable for its failure to prevent and punish the genocide that occurred on its territory in 2014? (c) Can Iraq be held responsible before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?

This research employs a doctrinal approach to analyse the primary rules on genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention and the secondary rules on state responsibility under the ILC Articles on State Responsibility. Using the experience of the Yazidis in 2014 as a case study, the research further employs a socio-legal approach to understand the impact of this genocide, and the continued lack of accountability for it, on the Yazidis in northern Iraq. The study considers various legal mechanisms of accountability, focusing however on state responsibility, in order to strengthen the legal obligation of states to prevent genocide.

The findings of this research indicate that: (a) the atrocities committed against the Yazidis in Iraq amount to the crime of genocide; (b) Iraq bears responsibility for its failure to prevent and punish genocide on its territory; and (c) Iraq could potentially be held accountable before the ICJ in state responsibility for this failure, if another state chooses to initiate legal action against Iraq.



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