Human Rights and Societies in Transition: Causes, Consequences, Responses

By Shale Horowitz; Albrecht Schnabel | Go to book overview

9
Sources and consequences of
human rights violations in Iraq

Jenab Tutunji

The fall of the Ba'thist regime that had ruled Iraq since 1968 unleashed unpredictable social forces. Saddam Hussein, who rose from strongman to undisputed leader in 1979, and who ushered in an era of unprecedented human rights abuses in Iraq, was swept from power in April 2003 by the invading armies of the United States and the United Kingdom. Security Council resolution 1483 bestowed international legal standing on the occupation authority that was to govern Iraq and manage its oil resources until the formation of a new Iraqi government, which, at the time of writing, was not expected to happen for approximately another two years. One of the stated objectives of Washington and London was to transform the politics of Iraq and to institute a democratic regime that would be a model for the region as a whole. The future is uncertain, yet the best approach to predicting the future of human rights in Iraq is to revisit the past and identify the causes of the violation of those very rights.

In this chapter I attempt to identify structural and situational factors that have contributed to human rights violations in Iraq during the Ba'thist regime, which governed Iraq from 1968 to 2003. I focus on the role of institutions, while permitting recourse to cultural and other explanations to supplement the causal analysis. This enables light to be shed on important causal factors that are intangible but which, nevertheless, contributed to human rights violations.

The state of Iraq came into being after World War I, at which time it

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