Center for Genocide Studies - International University of Erbil

Founded in 2016, the Centre for Genocide Studies is a local registered NGO based at the International University of Erbil.

Mission and Vision

The purpose of the center is to raise awareness of, and to work towards the recognition of past and present genocides committed in the region. The goal of the Center for Genocide Studies at the International University of Erbil is to engage with other similar institutions around the world in order to build curricula with this purpose. In Iraq and in the Kurdish region multiple wars have created a deeply divided and fragmented society, which struggles to come to terms with the successive waves of violence and the genocides it has faced. This fragmentation together with successive past and present genocides committed against religious and ethnic minorities has created a culture of hate and mistrust among the community which is jeopardising attempts at peaceful coexistence. In general, the presence of numerous NGOs and other international organizations based in particular in the Kurdish Region are working towards this purpose. In addition, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) since 2003 has engaged in a series of activities through the work of an ad-hoc Independent Human Rights Commission, which aims to integrate the different communities into the social and political life of the region. The result is that most of the communities, Christians, Chaldeans, Kak’ais, Turkomans among others have representatives in the government.

However, due to the difficult situation in the region, the role of the NGOs and of the other initiatives has been limited to urgent humanitarian intervention, frustrating ongoing attempts to study the causes of this cycle of violence. This in turn has hindered the building of a culture of peace among the different communities and the avoidance of future tragedies.

Through direct engagement with a variety of groups present in the region, the Center for Genocide Studies aims to fill this gap by engaging in activities aimed at encouraging the study of genocide and human rights and promoting a culture of peace among young people in particular. This knowledge will be of great benefit to those in charge of the post-conflict reconstruction phase and in the establishment of a durable peace and co-existence in the region.

  • To establish a documentation center for the collation of information on genocides and serious breaches of human rights committed in the region.
  • To liaise with international institutions in order to share knowledge and scholarly research on genocide education. This will contribute towards establishing Iraq as a leader in the study of genocide.
  • To become a center for researchers, scholars and policy makers for the establishment of a culture of peace and co-existence in the region.
  • To establish an educational center in genocide, human rights, peace building and international law to encourage the younger generation to invest in a culture of co-existence.


Past Activities

  • First international conference on genocide entitled Genocide: An International and Legal Perspective, 31 May 2016
  • The title of the conference was Memory and Peace Building: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, 16 April 2017
  • As part of its outreach program the Centre hosted an exhibition of items and belongings from different villages that had been the victim of genocide, 16-23 April 2017
  • Thanks to a grant awarded by the Shoah foundation, Dr Maria Rita Corticelli was invited as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California, August 2017
  • Digitisation project: This was completed due to a grant awarded by the International Commission of Missing Persons. The digitised material has potential uses for researchers, activists and academics working in the field, in addition to having an impact on Iraqi civil society, October 2017.


Upcoming activities

Academic Exchange

In January 2018 as part of the exchange program with the University for Peace, Costa Rica, Dr Mohammed Ihsan and Dr Maria Rita Corticelli taught a two-week course entitled ‘The Kurds between Past and Present Genocides in Iraq: Fresh Hopes or New Tragedies?’


A photographic exhibition about minorities in Iraq organised by the Centre was held at the Holocaust and Genocide Centre at Johannesburg University, South Africa in December, 2016.


In 2019 the Centre will be hosting representatives from NGOs and institutions working on genocide and human rights.