Kawa Hassan on Nadia Murad As Model of Ethical Leader in Iraq

Commentary | October 12, 2016

EWI's Kawa Hassan participates in the Global Peace Leadership Conference in Belfast as part of the panel on "Ethical Leadership in Action" on September 13. The conference is organized by the Global Peace Foundation. Hassan starts around the 2:00 mark.

In this session I will talk about an ethical Yezidi Kurdish leader called Nadia Murad. But let me first say a few words about what does ethical leadership mean? 

In my view it means being authentic, close to the people on the ground and above all not co-opted by established authorities who may use an ethical leader for their own narrow partisan interests rather than for the public good. 

As I said, Nadya is a Yezdi Kurdish activist from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. She is a survivor of the ISIS genocide on Yezidi Kurds in August 2014. Nadia lost her mother, brothers and many more family members during the genocide. In total, Nadya lost 18 family members.

Nadia has been nominated for the 2016 Václav Havel Prize. 

What makes Nadia unique is that, unlike some other Yezidi activists, she has not been co-opted by established Kurdish and Iraqi parties and authorities. Despite her international status and moral authority, she has remained herself and an integral part of her community. She hasn’t forgotten her root, and hasn’t become contaminated by the worst virus that is plaguing the Kurdish and Iraqi political parties and personalities, namely endemic corruption and becoming a mouthpiece and an apologist for a corrupt and authoritarian status quo. 

There are many more Nadias in the Kurdistan region and Iraq. To make a difference, it is our responsibility as peace building organizations to partner with these courageous and non-coopted community leaders, and not those who are apologists for a corrupt status quo.