Security Council Requests Creation of Independent Team to Help in Holding ISIL (Da’esh) Accountable for Its Actions in Iraq

SC/12998
21 September 2017
8052nd Meeting (AM)

Security Council Requests Creation of Independent Team to Help in Holding ISIL (Da’esh) Accountable for Its Actions in Iraq

Under Resolution 2379 (2017), Adopted Unanimously, Special Adviser Would Head Entity

The Security Council today asked the Secretary-General to establish an independent investigative team to support domestic efforts to hold Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) accountable for its actions in Iraq.

By the terms of resolution 2379 (2017), adopted unanimously this morning, the team would collect, preserve, and store evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group in Iraq.  The Council asked the Secretary-General to establish the team, to be headed by a Special Adviser, and to submit terms of reference acceptable to the Government of Iraq.

The Special Adviser would also promote accountability for acts that may amount to atrocity crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh, and work with survivors, in a manner consistent with relevant national laws, to ensure full recognition of their interest in realizing accountability.

Also by the text, the Council decided that the investigative team should operate with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory.  Iraqi investigative judges and other criminal experts should be appointed to work on the team alongside international experts and on an equal footing.

The Council also encouraged Member States, and regional and intergovernmental organizations, to provide appropriate legal assistance and capacity-building to the Government of Iraq to strengthen its courts and judicial system, and called on all other States to cooperate with the team, including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance.

Further by the text, the Council decided that the Secretary-General should establish, as a supplement to financing as an expense of the Organization, a trust fund to receive voluntary contributions to implement the resolution, and States should contribute monies and services to that fund.

The Special Adviser was asked to complete the first report of the team’s activities, within 90 days of the date on which it commenced its activities.  The mandate of the Special Adviser and team would be reviewed after a period of two years.

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, highlighted Da’esh’s horrific treatment of women and children, noting how they were executed in public, abducted, enslaved, raped and sold like livestock, as well as exploited as suicide bombers.  The investigative team that would be created as a result of the resolution should be equipped with the specific tools necessary to investigate those particular crimes, she said.

The United States’ representative also addressed the treatment of women by Da’esh.  She spoke of conversations she had had with Yazidi women who had been the victims of atrocities, noting how their stories would now be heard and perpetrators could be brought to face justice.  The representative of Uruguay stressed that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war must end and he also praised the resolution’s references to gender-related matters.

Several speakers noted the need to respect the sovereignty of Iraq concerning evidence gathering against Da’esh, including China’s representative, who stressed the need to gain consent from the Government of Iraq to use any evidence found by the investigative team.  The representative of Bolivia said the resolution should be implemented with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.  Workineh Gebeyehu Negewo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Council President for September, said that both the investigative team and the Special Adviser should fully respect Iraq’s sovereignty.

Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East of the United Kingdom, said that the resolution, which his country had co-sponsored, was a vital step to bring Da’esh to justice.  While the dead could never be brought back, it was hoped that any evidence found by the investigative team that would be set up by the resolution would help victims’ families find out the fates of their loved ones.

Ibrahim Abdulkarim Al-Jafari, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, applauded the United Kingdom’s efforts to draft the resolution.  Atrocities had been committed against civilians in Iraq, and women and children had been oppressed in regions under the control of Da’esh.  The resolution rejected that group and should act as a strong deterrent to anyone who would follow its example, he cautioned.

Also speaking today were high-level officials from Italy, Kazakhstan, France, Ukraine, Senegal, Japan and Egypt.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:20 a.m.

Statements

ALISTAIR BURT, Minister of State for the Middle East of the United Kingdom, said that the resolution was a vital step to bring Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to justice.  Those in the Security Council today would think of the innocents who had suffered at the hands of Da’esh.  There could never be adequate recompense for that brutality and the dead would not be brought back, but the resolution meant that the international community believed that there should be accountability for the perpetrator of those acts.  The United Kingdom would provide £1 million to the United Nations team to lead those efforts.  Bringing Da’esh to justice was only possible because Iraq’s armed forces had liberated one city after another, he said, and also because many nations, including his own, had had broken Da’esh’s grip on the country.  Evidence found by the team would help some Iraqi families find out the fates of their loved ones.  The United Kingdom would continue to work alongside the Government of Iraq to hold Da’esh to account.  The downfall of Da’esh would not by itself create lasting peace, and Iraq now needed to overcome sectarian division.

ANGELINO ALFANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said that the resolution was a vital step in holding Da’esh accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Few times in history had the world seen such deliberate and systematic acts of murder, kidnapping, sexual violence, enslavement and the destruction of cultural heritage.  He saluted the courage of the Iraqi people and the commitment of the Iraqi authorities to uphold the rule of law.  No one was asking for an eye for an eye, he said, and the vote today was in favour of a resolution to help achieve something more difficult: accountability.  Accountability resisted the temptation of revenge and retribution outside of the law.  The fear of being caught was often a more powerful deterrent than the punishment, and anyone who would join the cause of terror would be identified and there would be serious consequences.  Peace needed to be won with reconciliation, accountability in the eyes of the law and dialogue.  The resolution was an important decision in the right direction.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, underscored the extraordinary cruelty of Da’esh, particularly its treatment of women and children, who were executed in public, abducted, enslaved, raped, sold like livestock and exploited as suicide bombers.  She applauded the Council’s resolution as it marked a victory for the women who had survived and spoken up to demand justice.  Therefore, it was critical that the investigative team be equipped with the expertise and resources necessary to gather the evidence on such crimes.  Recalling that Sweden had been amongst the first countries to prosecute suspected perpetrators of alleged war crimes in Iraq as well as in Syria, she urged the Iraqi authorities to put in place national legislations so that all perpetrators of international crimes would be tried in Iraq.  All suspected war crimes must be afforded due process and investigated in an impartial and fair way.  “This is essential for the maintenance of the rule of law and crucial for the reconciliation process,” she said, adding that, because Sweden was unequivocally opposed to the death penalty, she expected the investigative team would not contribute to trials that might lead to capital punishment.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said the new investigative team marked an important milestone in holding those responsible to account.  Only the elimination of socioeconomic factors could provide hope for a better future.  A holistic and systematic approach by the international community could be the solution to the phenomenon of global terrorism.  Kazakhstan believed in human dignity, justice and freedom and would uphold all the elements of the newly adopted resolution.

NIKKI HALEY (United States) said the landmark resolution was a major first step in addressing ISIL atrocities, especially against women.  Recalling conversations she had had with Yazidi women who were victims of ISIL atrocities, she said their stories would now be heard.  The new team would help to identify victims and perpetrators, with the latter finally being brought to justice.  While the text focused on the transnational ISIL threat, she expressed broad support for all related actions in that regard.

GENNADIY MIKHAILOVICH GATILOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said success in holding those accountable would only be achieved by respecting international law.  Underlining a need to bolster cooperation among States to combat terrorist groups, he emphasized that double standards must not be used.  Commending the resolution’s decision to seek Iraq’s authorization for related activities, he said that, unfortunately, such an approach had not been used in the case of Syria.  He hoped the newly established investigative team would, in gathering evidence about ISIL, operate transparently and respect the United Nations Charter and international law.

JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, Secretary of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said that, on Tuesday in the General Assembly, President Emmanuel Macron had referred to the duty to speak up for those who were not heard, the forgotten voices.  As such, eradicating Da’esh was a main priority for France.  The unanimous adoption of the resolution would enable the United Nations to back the Iraqi authorities in collecting evidence.  The crimes committed were intolerable and could not be erased, nor could the evidence be removed by the passage of time.  France was firmly committed to respect for human rights and the refusal of the death penalty.  He called upon the investigative team to coordinate with the relevant criminal justice mechanisms.  Justice and the rule of law had turned a new page for Iraq, to ensure that everyone had a place in the Iraq of tomorrow.  The resolution was a symbol of that, as well as a tool that was useful and precious.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), voicing support for the resolution, called on the investigative team to fully cooperate with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and international and regional governmental and non-governmental organizations in collecting evidence and testimonies on ISIL’s crimes.  Because of the unprecedented numbers of foreign terrorist fighters in that group, those crimes should be considered transnational.  The Iraqi Government should share evidence collected by the team without any limits or reservations.  Those pieces of evidence should also be admissible in other States’ courts upon their request.  Therefore, the team must conduct its work with universally recognized standards.  Because it was imperative to hold accountable those responsible for committing crimes against the civilian population, the Iraqi authorities must meticulously observe due process and uphold human rights, in particular the right to a fair trial.  In that way, there could be no place for “victor’s justice”.

WU HAITAO (China) said that the Government of Iraq had made good progress in advancing institutional reforms and fostering economic development.  The Government should bring ISIL/Da’esh to justice in accordance with its domestic law.  The resolution specified the principle of respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and jurisprudence.  Consent by the Government of Iraq must be sought to use evidence.  He said he hoped the resolution would help build the capacity of Iraq’s Government in seeking accountability for the terrorist organization.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said he had voted in favour of the resolution because the Iraqi-led fight against Da’esh deserved both the backing of the Security Council and the entire membership of the Organization.  He recognized the courage of the battle waged by Iraq’s security forces and people as they continued to eradicate Da’esh from the country.  Da’esh was not only a regional threat, but also a global threat, as had been seen recently in Barcelona, Afghanistan, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France.  The resolution should be implemented with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq, and Da’esh’s violations of human rights should be investigated, tried and punished.  He hoped that the evidence collected would contribute to justice for the Iraqi people.  It should also make it possible to bring the perpetrators of illicit trafficking and the destruction of cultural heritage to justice.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said that the new investigative team would allow the United Nations to lend the necessary assistance to the Iraqi authorities towards shedding light on the truth and bringing perpetrators to justice.  The text also opened the door to international cooperation and manifested the world’s solidarity with Iraq.  With the international community’s support, Iraq would continue to undertake efforts to eradicate the ISIL ideology.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said collecting and preserving evidence was essential to ensure justice was served.  Japan would continue to stand with the people of Iraq in fighting violent extremism.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said it was a duty of States to end impunity and perpetrators must be punished to bring justice to the victims.  The international community should heartily support the Government of Iraq’s request for funding to bring ISIL to justice.  Crimes against humanity should be investigated elsewhere as well, including in Syria.  Highlighting that using sexual violence as a weapon of war must be stamped out, he commended the resolution’s references to gender- and youth-related concerns.

OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said crimes committed by ISIL were unprecedented and accountability must be ensured.  That should extend beyond the direct perpetrators of those crimes to include those providing finances, safe havens and other forms of support.  The resolution contained provisions on establishing the team, which should help in investigations, he said, noting that Egypt had continuously insisted that Iraq should approve of all elements of the resolution.  Reconciliation efforts could prevent the re-emergence of ISIL or any other terrorist groups, he said, noting that as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Egypt supported a range of such activities.

WORKINEH GEBEYEHU NEGEWO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, saying the adoption was an appropriate response to Iraq’s request.  Da’esh continued to pose a threat to global security, with kidnappings, suicide bombings and massacres, and Ethiopia supported the text in its call to hold perpetrators accountable.  But, the text would also work towards crushing terrorist activities, he said, adding that the investigative team and Special Adviser must operate in full respect of Iraq’s sovereignty.  To move forward, Iraq would need appropriate technical support for capacity-building, he said, pointing at the text’s justified call for such funding.

IBRAHIM ABDULKARIM AL-JAFARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, said the historic high-level meeting in 2016 on human rights violations by Da’esh between the United Kingdom and Iraq had sought to establish an international mechanism to bring that group to justice.  He applauded the efforts of the United Kingdom to draft a resolution that would respond to Iraq’s concerns.  Iraq had had a bitter experience with atrocities committed against civilians, as well as the oppression of women and children in regions under Da’esh control.  The international community should bear in mind the experience of Iraq to ensure it would never be repeated again anywhere in the world.  The resolution was an expression of the rejection of Da’esh and its aggressive behaviour, and should act as a deterrent for others who would follow the example of that group.  He appealed to the international community for assistance, particularly to support reintegration efforts for the victims of Da’esh.  The victory in Iraq was for all Iraqis, and was unprecedented in that it united all factions and demonstrated the will of the international community in standing together to fight a common enemy.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2379 (2017) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolutions 1265 (1999), 1325 (2000), 1368 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 1894 (2009), 2106 (2013), 2150 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2242 (2015), 2249 (2015), 2253 (2015), 2322 (2016), 2331 (2016), 2341 (2017), 2347 (2017), 2354 (2017), 2367 (2017), 2368 (2017), 2370 (2017) and its relevant presidential statements,

Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of Iraq, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh) constitutes a global threat to international peace and security through its terrorist acts, its violent extremist ideology, its continued gross, systematic and widespread attacks directed against civilians, its violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of human rights, particularly those committed against women and children, and including those motivated by religious or ethnic grounds, and its recruitment and training of foreign terrorist fighters whose threat affects all regions and Member States,

Condemning the commission of acts by ISIL (Da’esh) involving murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking, suicide bombings, enslavement, sale into or otherwise forced marriage, trafficking in persons, rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, recruitment and use of children, attacks on critical infrastructure, as well as its destruction of cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, and trafficking of cultural property,

Further recognising that the commission of such acts which may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, is part of the ideology and strategic objectives of ISIL (Da’esh), and used by ISIL (Da’esh) as a tactic of terrorism, and that holding ISIL (Da’esh) members accountable, particularly those who bear the greatest responsibility, including in terms of leadership, which can include regional or mid-level commanders, and the ordering and commission of crimes, will further expose this, and could assist in countering terrorism and violent extremism which can be conducive to terrorism, including by stemming financing and the continued flow of international recruits to the terrorist group ISIL (Da’esh),

Welcoming the considerable efforts of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIL (Da’esh), and its letter to the Secretary-General and Security Council dated 9 August 2017 calling for the assistance of the international community to ensure that members of ISIL (Da’esh) are held accountable for their crimes in Iraq, including where those may amount to crimes against humanity (S/2017/710),

“1.   Reiterates its condemnation of all violations of international humanitarian law, violations and abuses of international human rights law, and acts of terrorism, and expresses its determination that, having united to defeat the terrorist group ISIL (Da’esh), those responsible in this group for such acts, including those that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, must be held accountable;

“2.   Requests the Secretary-General to establish an Investigative Team, headed by a Special Adviser, to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (Da’esh) accountable by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group ISIL (Da’esh) in Iraq, to the highest possible standards, which should be addressed by the Terms of Reference referred to in paragraph 4, to ensure the broadest possible use before national courts, and complementing investigations being carried out by the Iraqi authorities, or investigations carried out by authorities in third countries at their request;

“3.   Underlines that the Special Adviser, while avoiding duplication of effort with other relevant United Nations bodies, will also promote throughout the world, accountability for acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed by ISIL (Da’esh), and work with survivors, in a manner consistent with relevant national laws, to ensure their interests in achieving accountability for ISIL (Da’esh) are fully recognised;

“4.   Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council, for its approval, within 60 days, Terms of Reference acceptable to the Government of Iraq in order to ensure the Team can fulfil its mandate, and consistent with this resolution, in particular paragraph 6, regarding the operation of the Investigative Team in Iraq;

“5.   Underscores that the Investigative Team shall operate with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its jurisdiction over crimes committed in its territory, and that the Team’s Terms of Reference shall specify that Iraqi investigative judges, and other criminal experts, including experienced members of the prosecution services, will be appointed to the Team to work on an equal footing alongside international experts, and further underscores that evidence of crimes collected and stored by the Team in Iraq should be for eventual use in fair and independent criminal proceedings, consistent with applicable international law, conducted by competent national-level courts, with the relevant Iraqi authorities as the primary intended recipient as specified in the Terms of Reference, and with any other uses to be determined in agreement with the Government of Iraq on a case by case basis;

“6.   Emphasizes that the Team should be impartial, independent, and credible and should act consistent with the Terms of Reference which set out the framework in which the Team will operate, the Charter of the United Nations and United Nations best practice, and relevant international law including international human rights law;

“7.   Requests that, after the Security Council has approved the Terms of Reference that are acceptable to the Government of Iraq, the Secretary-General undertake without delay the steps, measures, and arrangements necessary for the speedy establishment and full functioning of the Team, in accordance with the Terms of Reference, and notify it when the Team begins its work;

“8.   Underlines that the Team should ensure its Iraqi members benefit from international expertise on the Team, and make every effort to share knowledge and technical assistance with Iraq;

“9.   Encourages Member States, and regional and intergovernmental organisations, to provide appropriate legal assistance and capacity building to the Government of Iraq in order to strengthen its courts and judicial system;

“10.  Calls on all other States to cooperate with the Team including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance, where necessary and appropriate, and in particular to provide it with any relevant information as appropriate they may possess pertaining to its mandate under this resolution;

“11.  Underlines that another Member State in whose territory ISIL (Da’esh) has committed acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, may request the Team to collect evidence of such acts, but only with the approval of the Security Council which may request the Secretary-General to submit separate Terms of Reference with regards to the operation of the Team in that State;

“12.  Requests the Team to cooperate, as appropriate, and consistent with its investigative functions in paragraph 2, with the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established pursuant to resolution 1526 (2004) and 2368 (2017) and with any other relevant monitoring bodies, and to work with other United Nations bodies within their respective mandates;

“13.  Requests the Secretary-General to establish, as a supplement to financing as an expense of the Organisation, a trust fund to receive voluntary contributions to implement this resolution;

“14.  Calls on States, and regional and intergovernmental organisations, to contribute funds, equipment and services to the Team including the offer of expert personnel in support of the implementation of this resolution;

“15.  Requests the Special Adviser to complete the first report of the Team’s activities, within 90 days of the date on which it commences its activities, as notified by the Secretary-General, and to complete subsequent reports every 180 days thereafter, and requests the Special Adviser to present these reports to the Security Council;

“16.  Decides to review the mandate of the Special Adviser and Team after a period of two years, with any further extension to be decided at the request of the Government of Iraq, or any other government that has requested the Team to collect evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, committed by ISIL (Da’esh) in its territory;

“17.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

For information media. Not an official record.