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

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 5, 2022


Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Special Advisor Ritscher, for your briefing. We are encouraged by the progress UNITAD has made as it works to deliver accountability for the heinous crimes committed by ISIS.

As my Albanian colleagues noted as well, ISIS remains a critical threat in Iraq and globally – we have seen the terrorist group continue to use violence in Syria and Iraq and seek to refill its ranks by trying to break out captive ISIS fighters from detention centers and prisons.

We continue to credit UNITAD’s patient work of gathering, digitizing, analyzing, and cataloging evidence of ISIS’s crimes. This effort is laying a foundation for future prosecutions based on comprehensive evidence, including battlefield evidence. The increasing capability to develop case files against individual perpetrators is a demonstration that groundwork is paying off.

We welcome UNITAD’s report of strong cooperation between UNITAD and Iraqi courts and other national authorities requesting information from it for investigations and prosecutions. We encourage the new Iraqi government to continue and expand on the relationship established by its predecessors and we commend the Special Advisor for having met with the new Iraqi leadership.

The United States also welcomes the memorandum of understanding between UNITAD and the Government of Iraq that would enable information sharing to support UN sanctions nominations. We look forward to the Council of Ministers approving the memorandum.

We note that UNITAD’s work can assist in the completion of transparent prosecutions against ISIS members that will meet minimum fair trial guarantees and legal protections. We encourage the Government of Iraq to adopt legislation on international crimes, notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Madam President, the continued presence of thousands of ISIS foreign fighters in detention centers and their associated family members in displacement camps in Syria and Iraq must be addressed. These facilities are targets for attack by ISIS and for additional radicalization to violence, underscoring the urgency for all states to repatriate and prosecute those who have committed crimes, as appropriate. We commend Iraq and other nations for repatriating their nationals from these camps and we urge the Iraqi government to restart such repatriations.

The United States welcomes UNITAD’s commitment to supporting domestic legal proceedings by states that have repatriated individuals who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS and engage in terrorist activity. We urge all states whose nationals committed crimes as foreign fighters and are detained to engage UNITAD to take advantage of the valuable assistance UNITAD can provide in investigating and prosecuting these individuals.

Madam President, UNITAD has clearly established itself as an effective investigative body. We are proud to assist UNITAD when possible. We look forward to subsequent reports of UNITAD’s continued progress in helping deliver accountability for ISIS’s depraved crimes and a measure of justice for the victims.

Thank you, Madam President.