Background 

In late August 2015, a small team including Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Kerry Propper, Taylor Krauss and Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown traveled to Northern Iraq with Murad Ismael 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, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Interior, and the Office of Genocide Documentation. During this trip, they initiated Yazda’s Genocide Documentation Project to collect evidence of human rights violations committed against the Yazidis.

On September 26th, 2015, the group supported Yazda to bring a case against ISIS for genocide crimes to the International Criminal Court 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. At this time, the group partnered with Global Citizen, Ryot News and Women In The World to reach a global audience of over a million millennials. Messaging called on political leadership to bring justice to the Yazidi community. 

As a result of this effort, on November 2015, Nadia Murad with Yazda was invited to speak to the UN Security Council. This historic appearance gained Nadia 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 Deash.

Evidence gathered through Yazda's documentation project has supported the international legal case against perpetrators, be they individual ISIS fighters or ISIS as a whole. In September of 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. 

Today, the team continues meeting with heads of state to ask for their financial and political support. On January 1st, 2018, Nadia Murad and the team launched Nadia's Initiative, a public foundation, dedicated to helping survivors of war crimes re-build their lives and communities.

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The Watchers of the Sky Initiative develops and supports genocide prevention programs, education and advocacy campaigns. Through collaborative partnerships, the Initiative seeks to create an understanding of how individuals, communities and institutions can impact change and become the voice for the forgotten faces of injustice.