Human Rights Watch has mobilized an emergency response to the unfolding conflict in Iraq. Human Rights Watch does not take a position on the legality of the war, in order to maximize our effectiveness in protecting noncombatants in the course of war.

Human Rights Watch has mobilized an emergency response to the unfolding conflict in Iraq. Human Rights Watch does not take a position on the legality of the war, in order to maximize our effectiveness in protecting noncombatants in the course of war. Drawing on our experience with previous conflicts, from the 1991 Gulf War to the most recent military action in Afghanistan, we will be closely monitoring the conduct of all the warring parties and bringing human rights and humanitarian concerns to the attention of the international community. Human Rights Watch has deployed researchers to Iraqi Kurdistan and neighboring countries to gather first-hand information on human rights developments and ensure that abuses are brought to light. In the opening stages of the conflict, we have:

* written to all the belligerents highlighting the most urgent risks to Iraq's civilian population;
* highlighted the protection needs of people displaced by the fighting;
- pressed for a special sitting on Iraq at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights;
* issued special bulletins on the treatment of prisoners of war, the targeting of civilian morale, the disguising of combatants as non-combatants, and the potential powder keg of Kirkuk.

Human Rights Watch bulletins have received extensive press coverage.