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March 21, 2017

Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Needs to Think Beyond the Battlefield

Washington, D.C.—In advance of tomorrow's meeting between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and senior officials from the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Human Rights First calls on the secretary to put forward clear proposals on how to combat the group’s rise with a holistic approach that focuses on establishing post-ISIS governance in liberated areas in Iraq. Such a plan—that builds on the military advances being made in Iraq against ISIS—will deter the re-emergence of ISIS successor groups in liberated territories, including the city of Mosul and the surrounding areas. The meeting, which aims to "accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS," is the first time all 68 members have attended since 2014.

"Any discussion on how to combat ISIS that fails to address the conditions that facilitated the group's rise will ultimately prove fruitless," said Human Rights First's Neil Hicks. “Secretary Tillerson and the U.S. government should set out clear plans to advance reconciliation, reconstruction, and sustainable governance that protects the rights of all Iraqis, and urge the coalition to implement this agenda."
 
Human Rights First notes that threats to cut funding to U.S. agencies and organizations that provide essential support to refugees and others displaced by conflict undermine multilateral efforts to bring enduring stability to areas liberated from ISIS.
 
“ISIS cannot be defeated solely on the battlefield. The coalition must address the grievances that ISIS and similar groups have exploited to gain recruits by reassuring all Iraqis of their inclusion in a unified, federal Iraq,” added Hicks. “If the coalition can provide particular safeguards to vulnerable minority communities, including Christians and Yazidis, it can move closer to eradicating current terrorist threats while ensuring a future environment less ripe for violent extremism.”  

Similarly, Human Rights First urges the Trump Administration to avoid, rather than promote, counterproductive policies like the executive order immigration and refugee ban that singles out Muslim majority countries, and language that conflates Islam with terrorism. Such approaches make the essential task of building a broad coalition to defeat the global threat of ISIS more difficult. 

For more information or to speak with Hicks, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.