Iraqi Legal Database
The Iraqi Legal Database (ILD) is the first comprehensive and electronic legal database to be created in the Arab region. The project to create the ILD was launched in 2004 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its Programme on Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR), and is being implemented in coordination with the Higher Judicial Council.
The objective behind the project is to make the entire corpus of Iraqi law available to judges, lawyers, academics, lawmakers, and all other individuals or institutions that rely on legal knowledge in a single, freely accessible source. In keeping with this objective, the ILD was published online in September 2008, and makes available to users 27,433 legal texts altogether, including 7,136 laws, 4,265 ministerial instructions, 3,268 regulations, 5,029 declarations, etc., which is to say every single Iraqi legal text that has been passed since 1917. The ILD is entirely free-of-charge and does not require users to subscribe in any way. The Iraq Country Office of the United Nations Development Programme is the source of most of the funding for the ILD.
The ILD is available only in Arabic. Iraqi law was not translated into any other language in a systematic manner, and so therefore legal researchers and other jurists that are interested in Iraqi law must carry out their research in Arabic. Non-Arabic speaking researchers who are interested in learning more about the ILD’s features may download the following powerpoint presentation which illustrates (and translates into English) the ILD’s various functions.
The project was originally designed to be implemented in three phases:
- Phase I (2004-2006): During this phase, a complete copy of Iraq’s Official Gazette, which includes every law, decree and legal text that has been passed since the establishment of the Iraqi State, was retrieved and scanned with a view to making them completely searchable in an electronic database (through a "Reference Search" and "Free search" interface). That version of the ILD was made available online by the Iraqi High Judicial Council in 2006.
- Phase II (2006-2008): During this phase, a number of improvements were made to the ILD, including but not limited to the following:
- For each law or legal text that has been modified or annulled through a subsequent text, full reference has been provided to the modifying text, and the modified text itself has been updated (which is the first time that this has been done in Iraqi law);
- All laws and regulations from the Kurdish Region were incorporated into the database. These texts were obtained from the Kurdistan Official Gazette (1992-2007). In addition, a feature allowing users to compare Kurdish legislation with Iraqi legislation was incorporated into the ILD;
- All the legal texts in the ILD were linked together through the use of hyperlinks;
- A criminal code, a criminal procedural code, and a commercial code were created. Each legal code groups together all the laws, regulations and other legal texts, as well as court decisions that relate to its particular subject and makes them available in a single source; and
- Officials from Iraq’s judicial sector have been trained in the use of the ILD to ensure that the Iraqi State benefits from the work that has already been completed.
- Phase III (2008-2010): UNDP launched Phase III in September 2008. A number of activities will be implemented in that context, firstly with a view to completing the database and incorporating all relevant sources that have not already been added, secondly with a view to ensuring that the benefits of the ILD are shared by as many practitioners and court users as possible, and thirdly with a view to ensuring the Project’s long term sustainability. More specifically:
- Completing the data gathering process: In an effort to complete the ILD and ensure that it encompasses the entirety of Iraqi positive law and all relevant source material, a final data gathering process will be implemented throughout Iraq with a view to collecting as many court decisions as possible, as many opinions as possible from the Majlis Al-Shoura, as many law review articles as possible.
- Codifying all remaining areas of law: As already mentioned, three legal codes were prepared during Phase II. During Phase III, legal codes will be created in relation to all remaining areas of law a number of key areas. The subject matter areas in which specific codes will be created include civil law (including contract law and tort law), civil procedure, administrative law, property law, etc..
- Training in the use of the ILD: In order to ensure that the ILD has the greatest impact possible on the Iraqi legal profession and the rule of law generally speaking, a series of training sessions will be organised.
- Ensuring the Project’s sustainability: Finally, a number of Iraqi officials will be trained to update the ILD on a regular basis and to ensure that, when the Project is finally transferred to the Iraqi authorities, it will be updated and maintained as future laws are promulgated and as courts issue more decisions. The Iraqi High Judicial Council has already committed to supporting the long term sustainability of the Project, and is prepared to retain full-time staff for this purpose.
- Footprint (United Nations Development Programme Iraq) (1): 4 http://www.iq.undp.org/UploadedFiles/Sections/4d44a371-9496-40d3-b54e-6effc017a277.pdf
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