• Elisa von Joeden-Forgey and Irene Massimino

Welcome to the Iraq Project



The Iraq Project for Genocide Prevention grew out of an initial trip to Iraq in 2016. A small Iraqi NGO invited us, along with our fellow genocide scholar and International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) executive board member, Kjell Anderson, to witness evidence of the genocides perpetrated by ISIS against religious and national minorities. Not knowing what to expect, but believing that our profession demanded that we show up when needed, we set out for Iraq from Philadelphia, Argentina and the Netherlands. Traveling mostly through the secured and unsecured war zone, we were deeply moved by what we saw and heard. Visiting IDP camps, the destroyed city of Sinjar, abandoned Christian towns, the sites of mass graves, and religious institutions, as well as meeting with religious leaders and leaders from NGOs and government offices, we were able to gain a fuller picture of the extent of the violence and suffering in the country. We also quickly became aware of the remarkable efforts being made by Iraqis of all walks of life to withstand genocide and build a future of peace and security for all of Iraq's peoples. There was a palpable sense of exhaustion and desperation -- especially among displaced groups whose members had survived genocide and other mass atrocities -- as well as a well-developed local language about the crime of genocide and a deep commitment to its prevention.

When we returned to our respective countries, we were unable to forget either the horror or the beauty of what we had witnessed. We wrote about what we had seen, spoke about it, testified before official bodies, and contributed to efforts to have the various genocides recognized in national and international contexts. But it did not feel like enough. We could not forget the remarkable generosity of everyone we had met, nor could we overlook the rich resources that existed in Iraq to build a future free from war and genocide.

It is from the deep connection that we felt with the country and its people that we decided upon developing a long-term genocide prevention strategy that would share expert knowledge in genocide prevention and remediation with as many Iraqis from as many different sectors of society as possible. We are calling this the Iraq Project. We have developed a 3-point plan involving short, intensive "train the trainer" workshops, a longer training of leaders in the Genocide Prevention Certificate Program, and strategic partnerships with local NGOs that address issues not well covered by the activities of international bodies.

This website will keep you abreast of our activities inside and outside of Iraq and will offer many ways for you to be involved in our work.


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