Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 8, 2022
Thank you, Mr. Special Advisor for your briefing and for your own leadership of UNITAD as it carries out its challenging but critical mandate.
The United States welcomes the news that UNITAD, as we’ve heard from the Special Advisor, is beginning to uncover how ISIS leaders used the group’s ill-gotten funds to finance its crimes and, in particular, to carry out the genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas that it controlled and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing against those same groups, as well as against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities. The United States also welcomes that UNITAD is reconstructing the chain of command down to the local level, in order to establish individual responsibility by perpetrators involved in specific crimes.
We also note that evidence uncovered by UNITAD, including direct communications between senior leaders, reveals the methods ISIS used to develop chemical weapons. ISIS was intentional and thorough, conducting experiments on humans to optimize lethality. Then, they incentivized the deployment of those deadly weapons by providing specific financial rewards for ISIS forces who deployed these weapons.
The United States joins others in commending the remarkable work of UNITAD’s dedicated team in collecting, preserving, archiving, and analyzing the evidence of crimes by ISIS members. We are pleased to hear about UNITAD’s successes in developing innovative data harvesting and storage solutions to the challenges posed by the millions of pages of documents and vast digital content that you’re working with.
We also welcome the reports of strong cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Ministry, and the Courts, as well as provincial authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government, particularly as UNITAD transitions to developing case files documenting crimes committed by specific individuals for use in prosecutions.
We also welcome news of growing collaboration by UNITAD with law enforcement authorities from outside Iraq as those states seek to prosecute their nationals who committed crimes as foreign fighters. We welcome UNITAD’s support for the Swedish Prosecutorial Authority during the trial of a Swedish national for war crimes committed during her time with ISIS, as we heard from the Special Advisor.
In the context of UNITAD’s increasing ability to support prosecutions, the United States urges Member States to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and prosecute, as appropriate, their nationals who are foreign terrorist fighters or ISIS-associated family members in Iraq and Syria. UNITAD’s work is core to reconciliation in Iraq. Transparent prosecutions that meet minimum fair trial guarantees and legal protections will ensure accountability. The identification and return of remains to family members can provide dignified closure and community healing.
In conclusion, Mr. President, ISIS, though diminished, remains intent on achieving its abhorrent goals. Through UNITAD’s expert support of Iraqi efforts to hold ISIS members accountable, combined with the counterterrorism operations of Iraqi forces and the Defeat ISIS Coalition, it will be increasingly clear to ISIS members and recruits that there is no future for ISIS. Thank you, Mr. President.