Security Council Extends Mandate of Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL, Unanimously Adopting 2697 (2023)
The Security Council voted today to extend for one year the mandate of the United Nations team tasked with investigating crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), as well as the Special Adviser leading it.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2697 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2697(2023)), the 15-member organ — taking note of a 5 September request from the Government of Iraq — decided to renew until 17 September 2024 only the mandate of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD).
Reaffirming the terms of resolution 2379 (2017) — by which the Team was first established — Member States took note of the request from the Government of Iraq for the Investigative Team to promote national accountability in Iraq for members of ISIL/Da’esh and those who provided assistance and financing to this terrorist organization by providing the evidence it has to Baghdad within the next year.
By other terms, the Council recalled the importance of promoting throughout the world, accountability for acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed by ISIL/Da’esh. Further to the text, the Council requested the Special Adviser to continue to submit and present reports on the Team’s activities every 180 days and to develop, by 15 March 2024, in consultation with the Government of Iraq, a road map for the completion of the Team’s mandate.
After the adoption, Barbara Woodward (United Kingdom), stressed that the Council was clear in its response to horrific acts committed by Da’esh: perpetrators would be held to account and justice delivered to victims, which is why the United Kingdom and Iraq were at the helm of establishing UNITAD through resolution 2379 (2017). UNITAD has supported the excavation of mass graves and facilitated the return of remains to the families of victims, working with Iraqi authorities on evidence collection. It has further allowed survivors — including those of sexual- and gender-based violence — to provide testimony safely, “used in the prosecution of Da’esh members around world”, she recalled. The resolution puts the Council on course “to consider options for UNITAD’s future”, she stated.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis (United States) said that “the fight against Da’esh will not be complete until perpetrators of atrocities are held accountable”. United States support has helped UNITAD and the Government of Iraq lay the foundation for future prosecutions, including advanced forensics and battlefield evidence. He noted that 18 Member States requested UNITAD share evidence to support prosecutions of over 300 alleged Da’esh members and affiliates, which had led to successful convictions in Sweden and Portugal, and the first conviction of a Da’esh member in Germany. Urging Iraq and the UN to protect this essential cooperation, he stressed: “It is clear that UNITAD’s work is not done,” while adding that the resolution should not be understood to predetermine any future action regarding any mandate renewal.
Maria Zabolotskaya (Russian Federation), recalling that her country supported UNITAD’s establishment, underscored that Iraq’s authorities are the main recipients of the evidence collected. Outlining that the Investigative Team has not supported Iraq’s national law enforcement and judicial efforts to bring Da’esh members and their sponsors to justice, she pointed out that the evidence has been collected from non-specified organizations, not revealed even to the Council. “The Council, essentially, does not know what the results of UNITAD’s activities are and what it was able to accomplish,” she stressed, urging the Investigative Team to hand over evidence to Iraq’s authorities; provide information about the evidence transferred to third countries; and refrain from transferring materials without the Government’s consent.
Dai Bing (China), underscoring the importance of respecting host country’s ownership and leadership, said the Council should respond to Iraq’s requests and concerns. He expressed hope that UNITAD will maintain close communication with Baghdad and properly transfer evidence, while encouraging the Investigative Team to “cover the last mile” to achieve the “historic mission” of supporting Iraq’s domestic accountability mechanisms.
Mohamed Issa Abushahab (United Arab Emirates) cited UNITAD as a model for partnership between the UN and other countries in various legal matters. UNITAD will gradually conclude its mandate, and the Council should be kept abreast of all progress. He further called for next year’s Secretary-General’s report on the matter to contain realistic proposals for the handover of all evidence to Baghdad, welcoming efforts by Iraq to hold Da’esh members to account and bring justice to victims and their families. He stressed his delegation’s rejection of any attempts to link terrorist organizations to any religion, especially Islam, or any ethnicity.