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

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 7, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Advisor Ritscher, for your briefing. And I thank you and your team for your valuable work.

As Iraq continues its transition from conflict to stability and prosperity, accountability for ISIS’s heinous crimes remains an important element of reconciliation and rebuilding. UNITAD is a key element of achieving accountability, and the United States continues to strongly support its work.

We welcome the reports of continued development of case files and the expanding circle of incidents and crimes UNITAD is investigating, including ISIS’s documented use of chemical weapons. We continue to be impressed by the rigor and technological ingenuity UNITAD has brought to bear on the collection, digitization, analysis, and cataloguing of evidence.

We welcome reports of growing cooperation between UNITAD and the Government of Iraq, noting ongoing consultations at the senior political level as well as engagement with judges, notably sharing findings on ISIS’ financial networks and crimes.

UNITAD’s training programs on evidence management and forensics will pay dividends in the future, in the Iraqi judiciary’s handling of newly collected evidence as well as in utilizing evidence managed by UNITAD. We acknowledge the Government of Iraq’s desire for UNITAD to turn over the evidence it has collected for use by the Iraqi judicial system and UNITAD’s attempt to develop a creative solution to try and make this possible.

We encourage the Government of Iraq to adopt legislation on international crimes – notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity – and to take steps necessary to ensure transparent prosecutions against ISIS members that respect minimum fair trial guarantees and legal protections.

While the number of attacks has decreased and ISIS’ capability has been significantly degraded through the efforts of Iraq and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, ISIS remains a critical threat in Iraq and globally. One mechanism to reduce this threat is to further support the Government of Iraq in repatriating Iraqi ISIS members from detention centers in northeast Syria to face justice before Iraqi courts. UNITAD will play an important role in this process.

UNITAD can similarly help other countries prosecute the thousands of ISIS foreign fighters in detention centers in Iraq and Syria. These detention centers are inherently unstable and pose considerable risks to security. It is imperative that all states repatriate and prosecute their nationals who have committed crimes, as appropriate.

UNITAD continues be a solid example of how the UN can support transition from conflict to peace and security. The United States will continue to support UNITAD and encourage UNITAD and the Government of Iraq to take the needed steps to expand their opportunities to collaborate. In this way, they can accelerate progress toward delivering justice for the many victims of ISIS.

I thank you.