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16 July 2020

Religious Leaders Join Virtually to Welcome Interfaith Statement on Victims, Survivors of ISIL/Da’esh

More than 150 religious actors and prominent leaders today welcomed the momentous step taken by the representatives of the Christian, Kakai, Shia, Sunni and Yazidi communities in Iraq through the adoption of an Interfaith Statement on the Victims and Survivors of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in March.  This was convened as part of a virtual conference hosted jointly by the Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for the crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and Religions for Peace. 

Global faith communities welcomed the landmark statement in which the leaders of all major faiths in Iraq collectively denounced the acts of ISIL/Da’esh and underlined their full support to victims, survivors and families, while reiterating their commitment to provide all possible support to ensure that those responsible for their crimes are held accountable.  The webinar also discussed the role of religious leaders and actors from Iraq and other countries in promoting wider national and international accountability efforts for the crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh and other groups in Iraq and contributing to the prevention of atrocity crimes and the building of peaceful, inclusive and just societies.

The event brought together signatories to the statement as well as religious leaders from a wide range of other United Nations Member States in order to reflect on how the principles highlighted in the document can be converted into action.  They also examined how the moral force of religious actors can be harnessed in combating violent extremism and atrocity crimes globally. 

Participants underlined their united rejection of the violence of ISIL and emphasized the importance of all religious communities in Iraq, and globally, to strengthen their dialogue and cooperation in order to promote understanding, address the legacy of ISIL crimes and prevent atrocity crimes.  All participants also underlined the need for those responsible for ISIL crimes to be held accountable in accordance with the rule of law in order to establish a basis for reconciliation and peace.

Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and Head of UNITAD, said the Interfaith Statement represents “a powerful example of how the unity of faith leaders can be used to expose the acts of ISIL as contrary to the basic principles of humanity and devoid of any foundation in faith.  This unified rejection of their ideology must serve as an example globally of how religious leaders can play a fundamental role in preventing the spread of violent extremism”.

Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, stated:  “Iraqi society has experienced the tremendous cost of not addressing long-term grievances.  It must therefore work to build and strengthen an inclusive society where diversity is not perceived as a flaw but as an asset.  I am convinced that the Interfaith Statement on in Iraq constitutes an essential step in this direction.” 

Azza Karam, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, agreed.  “Religious leaders have an unparalleled moral voice, their combined statement and intent, can — and will — reroute the trajectory of humanity towards healing and peaceful coexistence in our world,” she said.

The webinar represents the first step in the process of implementing the Interfaith Statement on the Victims and Survivors of ISIL/Da’esh, which will be followed by an event in Baghdad to be organized later in 2020.

Media Contacts

Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide:  Jean Victor Nkolo (nkolo@un.org); UNITAD:  Georges Fakhry (georges.fakhry@un.org); Religions for Peace:  Mary Grace Donohoe (mgdonohoe@rfp.org).

For information media. Not an official record.