Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 2, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Special Advisor, welcome to the Security Council. We’re glad to have you here today in your new role as Special Advisor and Head of UNITAD. Your previous experience in your home country prosecuting alleged members of ISIS for genocide committed against the Yazidi community in Iraq is a very meaningful asset in our shared pursuit of justice for the thousands of victims of ISIS’s horrific campaign. Thank you for your briefing today.

The United States determined in 2016 that ISIS was responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The United States stands with victims in working to ensure that those responsible are held accountable. UNITAD is critical to that effort. We will continue to work with UNITAD to ensure the evidence of ISIS’s atrocities is collected, processed, and shared in order to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for these atrocities, including foreign terrorist fighters, by national courts.

To that end, we were encouraged to hear today from you, Mr. Advisor, of UNITAD’s success in supporting Iraqi authorities to convert documentary evidence into searchable digital files. With over 2 million documents already digitized, UNITAD is providing essential services to the people of Iraq and the international community in the pursuit of justice. In addition, as we heard this morning, the investigation by UNITAD has produced evidence that on the morning of June 10, 2014, ISIS forces attacked the Badush Central Prison near Mosul, which housed approximately 3,000 prisoners, and executed several hundred predominantly Shia prisoners.

UNITAD’s investigation into this heinous crime is a critical step in the pursuit of justice for the families of the victims. UNITAD, we believe, is most effective when it works in lockstep with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. We encourage UNITAD to continue coordinating closely with the new Iraqi government to build upon the good cooperation we saw in the past, as well to continue your engagement with Iraqi law enforcement and judicial entities, as well as civil society, including survivor groups, NGOs, and religious authorities. The United States urges Iraq to adopt legislation that would provide a basis for the Iraqi government to prosecute atrocity crimes, including those committed by ISIS. Such authority is essential to finalizing an arrangement for UNITAD to share evidence with competent Iraqi authorities in accordance with its Terms of Reference.

The United States urges Member States – including Iraq – to repatriate and prosecute, as appropriate, their citizens who joined ISIS. Additionally, it is important all Member States rehabilitate and reintegrate, as appropriate, the associated family members of those who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. As the Special Advisor can attest, UNITAD has provided valuable support to Member States, including the United States, to investigate and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters.

In conclusion, Mr. President, through our strategic dialogue with Iraq, the United States has confirmed its commitment to supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity, stability, and prosperity. Holding ISIS accountable for its atrocities and promoting justice for ISIS’s victims in Iraq is an important step in service of Iraq’s national reconciliation.

Thank you very much.