Remarks by Ting Wu, Deputy Political Counselor at a UN Security Council Briefing on Iraq

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June 5, 2024

Thank you, Mr. President. And please allow me to join in my Council colleagues here in congratulating Mozambique on the completion of its successful presidency and wishing the Republic of Korea a successful presidency for the month of June. You have the United States full support.

And thank you, Acting Special Adviser Peyró Llopis, for your comprehensive briefing on UNITAD’s pursuit of accountability for Da’esh’s crimes in Iraq. We appreciate the progress you have made since assuming this post. We also welcome the participation of Iraq, here today.

There is no disputing the importance of UNITAD’s work. As other Council members have noted, we are approaching the 10-year mark since Da’esh began committing genocide and crimes against humanity against groups in areas that were once under its control – including against the Yezidis, Christians, Kurds, Shia Muslims, and other minorities, as well as some Sunni Muslims.

A decade later, these communities still seek justice. The United States stands with them. We believe accountability for these crimes will contribute to peace and security in Iraq and the region.

UNITAD provides wide-ranging support to Iraqi authorities. It builds the capacity of the Iraqi judicial system; facilitates mass grave being exhumed; collects evidence; engages victims’ families and survivors; and analyzes battlefield evidence to help identify perpetrators of atrocities and understand Da’esh’s structure and operations.

UNITAD has also contributed to justice beyond the borders of Iraq. UNITAD’s effort supports members of Da’esh, including foreign terrorist fighters who have been repatriated to face prosecution in their home states.

Perpetrators of grave international crimes should not escape justice. The Security Council must do all it can to help Iraq’s post-conflict transition once UNITAD’s mandate ends in September.

This includes ensuring the transfer of evidence and other holdings in a manner that preserves their evidentiary value. Iraq and other Member States should also continue to receive support pursuing accountability wherever victims and perpetrators are found.

We urge Member States to continue using the evidence compiled to prosecute their nationals who joined Da’esh and committed international crimes and terrorist acts.

Given the critical importance of this work, the United States has been clear that we expect an orderly and deliberate drawdown and liquidation of UNITAD’s functions.

In that spirit, and per its December 2023 letter to the Security Council, we welcome the Government of Iraq’s affirmation that it would like to share evidence with all states after UNITAD has shut down operations.

Additionally, the United States encourages UNITAD to continue working with the Government of Iraq to turn over as much evidence as possible. These efforts must be in accordance with UNITAD’s terms of reference, and in adherence with witness protection standards and the witnesses’ informed consent.

At the same time, we acknowledge that for various reasons, UNITAD will not be able to turn over all of its evidence to Iraq by September. The United States supports ensuring that all of UNITAD’s evidence, whether held by Iraq or the UN, be preserved in an active manner, with appropriate analytic capacity, so that it remains accessible to law enforcement authorities.

Colleagues, as this is the last of our periodic briefings on UNITAD, the United States urges members of this Council to work together to ensure that we continue our collective efforts to deliver justice for the crimes of Da’esh. We stand ready to work with stakeholders to explore all options.

Thank you.

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