Briefing by Ms. Ana Peyro Llopis, Acting Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh / ISIL, at the Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security

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June 5, 2024

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

I am pleased to present today the twelfth Report of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for the Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL.

In line with Security Council resolution 2697, which extends the mandate of the Special Adviser and the Investigative Team until 17 September 2024 only, the Team has initiated its drawdown and liquidation to ensure an orderly withdrawal from Iraq by that date.

At the same time, the Team continues to deliver its mandated activities under Security Council resolution 2379.

This is being done in close coordination with the Government of Iraq and other relevant stakeholders.

Since my appointment, I have met regularly with the Chair of the National Coordinating Committee, as the designated representative of the Government of Iraq.

I have engaged with other Iraqi authorities, notably the judiciary, who have contributed significantly to our investigations and evidence collection efforts.

I have met with survivors and with local civil society organizations.

All stakeholders were eager to intensify cooperation prior to the conclusion of the mandate, particularly on the delivery of evidence, other materials and analyses as well as on capacity-building.

Based on this engagement, the Team has developed a working calendar with specific dates of planned delivery for its remaining mandated activities.

This calendar, which is currently being implemented, has been welcomed as an example of clear and transparent planning, and as a guide for the final phase of the mandate.

These activities are being conducted in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and Terms of Reference of the Team.

The importance of this agreed legal framework has been highlighted during all my meetings with the Iraqi authorities, and particularly paragraphs 27 and 28 of the Terms of Reference.

They state that the competent Iraqi authorities shall be the primary intended recipient of the evidence, other materials and analysis; and that the Team shall share this in accordance with United Nations policies and best practice; and relevant international law, including international human rights law, rules and standards.

In accordance with this legal framework, efforts have been made to return evidence back to the Iraqi authorities in a digital format that the Team has consolidated and enriched while developing its evidentiary holdings.

In March, the Team returned twenty-eight (28) terabytes of evidence to the Iraqi judiciary, which represent the majority of the forty (40) terabytes held by the Team;

Two days ago, on the 3rd of June, another tranche was also returned consisting of evidence collected from a range of other Iraqi authorities. This tranche also included online and open-source information collected by the Team;

Finally, evidence collected from Kurdistan Regional authorities is ready for delivery and will be returned to these authorities in the coming days as well.

Some of this returned evidence was generated because of the close collaboration between the Team and the Iraqi authorities, such as when excavating a mass grave together and collecting physical evidence; or acquiring data from seized ISIL digital devices, held by the Iraqi authorities, with technical support from the Team; or also through the digitization of millions of ISIL-related paper records stored in criminal courts across the country.

The Team has also been active in delivering its own materials and analyses to the Iraqi judiciary along with underlying evidence. This includes evidence originally collected and produced by the Team.

These are the products of its investigations and have allowed the Team to assess, in line with its mandate, that acts committed by Da’esh in Iraq may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

An analytical report on Diwan Bayt Al-Mal, or the Treasury Department of Da’esh, was delivered to the Iraqi judiciary in February;

A case assessment report on the Tikrit Air Academy massacre was also delivered two days ago – on the 3rd of June;

And an analytical report on sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against children against the Shi’a Turkmen has also been prepared for delivery over the next days.

Finally, additional evidence, other materials and analyses will be delivered to the Iraqi authorities by 17 September 2024.

As agreed with the Iraqi authorities, the Team has also prioritized the delivery of capacity-building activities.

This continued during the reporting period in the areas of mass grave excavations and victim identification; digitization and archiving of Da’esh-related records; digital forensics; and witness protection and support.

A further forty (40) activities are scheduled in the working calendar for the remaining weeks ahead with an emphasis on making the contribution of the Team in these areas sustainable.

For instance, training will be provided this month to a specialized team designated by the Government of Iraq on commercially available evidence management software and systems that the competent Iraqi authorities could tailor to help manage the evidence delivered by the Team.

I also wish to note that, over the past six years, in cooperation with the competent Iraqi authorities, the Team has excavated sixty-seven (67) mass graves; digitized eighteen (18) million pages of ISIL-related paper records and extracted data from a significant number of seized ISIL digital devices.

The Team has also continued to respond to requests from third State jurisdictions during the reporting period in support of their national investigations and prosecutions.

To date, a total of twenty (20) third States have requested assistance with two hundred and forty-six (246) requests received overall.

Sixty-seven (67) requests remain ongoing. These were recently reviewed by the Team and prioritized with the intention of completing as many as possible prior to the conclusion of the mandate.

In January, the Central Criminal Court in Lisbon, Portugal, convicted an Iraqi Da’esh member for committing war crimes in Mosul, largely based on evidence provided by the Team in close cooperation with the Iraqi judiciary. This included thirteen (13) survivors and witnesses who testified by video conference from Iraq and copies of a case pending before a court of Mosul.

This is just one of the many examples where Iraqi judicial counterparts have supported the Team in responding to requests from third State jurisdictions.

It speaks to the crucial role Iraq will play in ensuring the global accountability of Da’esh after the conclusion of the mandate.

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

From an administrative perspective, the drawdown and liquidation of the Team includes the closure of its offices, and the proper management of its human resources and assets. This is ongoing.

The preparation of the records and archives of the Team, which include evidentiary and non-evidentiary records, has begun as part of the drawdown and liquidation as well for the purpose of ensuring their transfer to the United Nations Secretariat by 17 September 2024. This is being done in line with the Terms of Reference and guided by the report of the Secretary-General of 15 January 2024.

The importance of maintaining, preserving, and managing these archives has been at the center of my discussions with the Chair of the National Coordinating Committee.

As further developed in my report, it has been acknowledged in these discussions that the competent Iraqi authorities would retain custody and preserve, store, and manage the original evidence in Iraq, which will have been delivered by the Team in line with the Terms of Reference. This will be for use in domestic criminal proceedings and achieving accountability at the national level.

It has also been acknowledged during these discussions that a copy of this original evidence would be kept by the United Nations Secretariat as part of its records and archives together with other evidence originally collected by the Team and other materials and analyses it has produced.

The United Nations records and archives would be preserved and stored in a manner that would ensure that they remain protected and accessible, in accordance with United Nations policies on classification and access.

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

The twelfth report is the last mandated report of the Team to this Council, and this is the last foreseen oral briefing, based on Security Council resolution 2697.

Given this, I wish to refer to the impact of the Team and the overall legacy that will be left behind.

This legacy, and the importance of preserving it, was acknowledged in almost every meeting I had over the last few weeks, including with the Iraqi authorities.

In this regard, it is important to recall that this year marks the tenth anniversary since Da’esh declared itself a caliphate. Ten years later, the calls for accountability to hold those responsible for the international crimes they committed in Iraq remain.

As mandated by this Council, the Team has contributed towards addressing these calls by factually and legally assessing that the acts committed by ISIL in Iraq between 2014 and 2017 may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The evidence collected and processed by the Team, and the other materials and analyses it has produced, are also a useful asset.

This is the result of our work over the last six years, from taking witness testimonies; supporting mass grave excavations and victim identifications; digitizing ISIL-related records; acquiring data from seized Da’esh digital devices; and using open-source intelligence techniques to locate and forensically capture ISIL content online.

All this is now consolidated into one, centralized digital archive, organized in a manner that makes it easily searchable.

More importantly, the chain of custody associated with this evidence has been done to an international standard to maximize its possible use in judicial proceedings.

These products will remain beyond the closure of the Team, and Member States, including Iraq, could consider them in the future to hold ISIL perpetrators accountable for the international crimes they committed in Iraq.

A significant factor behind this legacy has been the personnel working with the Team. They are professionals from all over the world and from different fields of expertise, but with the shared commitment of promoting accountability.

This includes Iraqi personnel who have been indispensable in the implementation of the mandated activities. The Team has sought to develop their skillset, so that it can be utilized by Iraq going forward.

The same mindset of transferring and sustaining capacity has guided the technical advice, trainings and equipment delivered by the Team to the Iraqi authorities and local civil society organizations over the course of the mandate. This has positioned them to take the next step in areas relevant to their work and Da’esh accountability.

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

In closing, let me recall that the request from the Government of Iraq in 2017, and the establishment of the Team by this Council in response, paved the way for six years of work that has permitted the Team to legally assess that the acts committed by ISIL in Iraq may amount to international crimes.

Six years working closely with the Iraqi authorities and other stakeholders to implement this mandate.

Six years working with survivors, victim families and impacted communities, including Christian, Kaka’i, Shabak, Shi’a, Sunni, Turkmen and Yazidi.

I wish to use my last words to acknowledge the extent of their support, and the contribution individuals from these communities have made by coming forward to give their account and share their horrific stories and painful memories.

They are, in many ways, inseparable from the legacy of the Team, and represent the reason why accountability for the international crimes committed by Da’esh in Iraq must continue.

This is critical, not just to hold those who committed these crimes to account, but also, as this Council underlined in 2017, to ensure that the interests of the survivors in achieving this accountability are fully recognized.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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