The Catholic University of America

The Institute for Policy Research and Human Rights

The Institute for Policy Research, as part of a Genocide Working Group, was instrumental in convincing the U.S. State Department to make a formal declaration of genocide against ISIS in Iraq in 2016. The religiously inspired killings of Christians, Yezidi and Shia Muslims - and the world's slow response to what had begun in 2014 when ISIS overran the country - brought together a group of experts in law, human rights, genocide studies and religious freedom.  Their goal was to help these religious minorities and to convince the State Department that a genocide was taking place.

The group included Professor Robert A. Destro of the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, and representatives from the Knights of Columbus; In Defense of Christians; Genocide Watch; and the Center for Relgious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, all of whom were moved by the plight of these Christians and other religious communities.

The group's deep ties to the Christians in northern Iraq sprang from a project called the Iraqi Kurdistan Christianity Project ( that began in 2011 to introduce the Eastern Christians of the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq to their brothers and sisters in the west, and to tell the story of their persecution by Al Qaeda.

"What began as a group of volunteers grew into a 'Genocide Working Group' that worked closely with Congress to make real, continuing  progress on the genocide issue."                                         Robert Destro, Dir., IPR

Representative Jeff Fortenberry, (R) of Nebraska and Anna Eshoo (D) of California, were instrumental in working with the Genocide Working Group (left) to get a genocide resolution passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. 

The group worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill with Rep.Jeff Fortenberry,(R) of Nebraska and Rep. Anna Eschoo (D) of California, to get a genocide resolution introduced in the House in September of 2015. The first draft of the resolution was written by Professor Robert Destro. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) of Louisiana and Sen.Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia introduced a similar measure in the Senate.  

Meanwhile, resistance at the State Department to the use of the "G" word was fierce. A fact-finding mission to Iraq, funded by the Knights of Columbus, had brought back evidence of 1600 incidents that showed ISIS' intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the minority religious communities in the region. ISIS was killing people, forcing religious conversions, and trying to destroy and erase every sign of Christianity in communities that had lived in Iraq for nearly 2000 years.

On March 14, 2016, the House resolution passed unanimously, 393 to 0.  The political pressure on the administration was mounting.  Three days later, convinced by the evidence in the formal report delivered to him, Secretary of State John Kerry made a formal declaration that a genocide was occurring.