Uncommon Union has been working to bring justice and accountability to the Yazidi community in the Middle East since 2015.
In August 2015, our co-founder joined the former prosecutor on the International Criminal Court and a financial entrepreneur traveled to Northern Iraq to support Yazda; a Yazidi-led NGO formed immediately following the Islamic State’s genocidal attack on the Yazidi community of Northern Iraq. The group met with surviving victims in refugee camps, Yazidi religious leaders, and members of the Kurdistan regional government, including the Prime Minister. During this trip, they initiated Yazda’s Genocide Documentation Project to collect evidence of human rights violations committed against the Yazidis.
In September 26th, 2015, the group supported Yazda in bringing a case against ISIS for genocide crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The report detailed atrocities ISIS fighters in northern Iraq have perpetrated since August 2014. To coincide with the submission of the report, they launched a public campaign to lobby heads of state to support the report and recognize the genocide. The ultimate aim of the campaign was to encourage the UN Security Council and state parties of the Rome Statute to refer the case to the ICC. Messaging called on political leadership to bring justice to the Yazidi community.
In November 2015, Nadia Murad with Yazda was invited to speak to the UN Security Council. This historic appearance gained Murad international recognition as a leading spokesperson of the Yazidi community and genocide survivor.
In May 2016, the team asked Amal Clooney to take on the genocide case and provide pro-bono legal services to Nadia Murad and Yazda. On June 5th, Amal Clooney officially became counsel to Nadia and Yazda to work to bring justice to the Yazidi community for genocide crimes committed by ISIS.
As a result of this advocacy, countries around the world have recognized the genocide and its survivors. In addition, in September 2017 the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2379, an unprecedented resolution to open an investigation into the war crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi people.
Though this impact of this work has been significant, it is not enough. Presently, there are over 300,000 internally displaced Yazidis in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Displaced Yazidis mostly live in squalor in IDP camps. Only 70,000 have returned. Unless the Yazidis can return to their ancient homeland and make a life for themselves, ISIS’s program of genocide will succeed. To address this situation, Nadia’s Initiative was launched as a public foundation in January 2018. Its mission is to advocate for redevelopment and reconstruction of Sinjar so the Yazidi community can one day have the option to return home.
In 2018, Nadia Murad was the co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
The New York Times: Nobel Peace Prize Winners Demand Global Action on Mass Rape
International Crisis Group: A Way Forward for Sinjar
The Washington Post: Help is on the way, at last, for religious minorities in Iraq
The New York Times: Outraged by the Attacks on Yazidis? It Is Time to Help.
The Economist: Nadia Murad’s tale of captivity with Islamic State
United Nations Iraque Website: Justice essential to help Iraqi victims of ISIL’s sexual violence rebuild lives – UN report United Nations Iraq
The New York Times: Ms. Murad’s quest poses an acute test for the promise of international justice
Global Citizen: Help us Call on the UN Human Rights Commissioner
The New York Times Live: Yazidi woman, enslaved by ISIS, shares her story of survival
Fast Company: Fast Company Names Yazda Top 10 Social Good Company
The Economist Magazine: TWO WOMEN, ONE CAUSE
Foreign Policy: Nadia Murad named Foreign Policy 2016 Global Thinker
The Independent: Amal Clooney told the UN they did nothing to help Isis sex slaves.
Glamour Magazine: Meet Nadia Murad, the Women of the Year Honoree Standing up to ISIS
The New York Times: Nadia Murad, Yazidi Woman Who Survived ISIS Captivity, Wins Human Rights Prize
Foreign Policy Magazine: Does Winning a Nobel Peace Prize Make a Difference?
Washington Post: It’s On U Travels to Greece to visit Yazidi Refugee Camps
It’s On U: Sweden Step Up.
The New York Times: ISIS Committed Genocide Against Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, U.N. Panel Says
Time Magazine: Nadia Murad: The World’s Most 100 Influential People
Facebook: Our Work Cited In The The New York Times
The New York Times: John Kerry Calls ISIS Actions Genocide
Global Citizen: Its On U partners with Global Citizen to Petition Iraq
Time Magazine: Nadia Murad tells her story to TIME Magazine.
It’s On U: Yazda Submits Report to the ICC
Al Jazeera: Luis Moreno-Ocampo talks to Richelle Carey
UK Yahoo News: Yazidis urge ICC to open probe into IS atrocities
The Globe and Mail: Targeted by Islamic State, Iraq’s Yazidis turn to ICC for justice
The Times of Israel: Yazidis seek ICC probe into IS atrocities
Your Middle East: Yazidis urge ICC to investigate IS atrocities
English Ahram: Yazidis urge ICC to open probe into ISIS atrocities
English Alarabiya: Former ICC chief prosecutor pushes for Yazidi genocide case