Human Rights Council opens Special Session on the Human Rights situation in Iraq
1 September 2014
Discusses Human Rights Abuses Committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Associated Groups
The Human Rights Council today opened its twenty-second Special Session on the human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups.
The Special Session was convened at the request of Iraq and called for by 29 Member States of the Council and 29 Observer States, said Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the President of the Human Rights Council.
Flavia Pansieri, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that over one million people had fled their homes in terror from the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL). Christian, Yezidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’e, Sabaeans and Shi’a communities were being targeted through particularly brutal persecution, as ISIL ruthlessly carried out what might amount to ethnic and religious cleansing in areas under its control. The systematic and intentional attacks on civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ms. Pansieri stressed the primary responsibility of the Government for the protection of all persons on its territory. The international community must also intensify its efforts to protect all Iraqis, including by supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government in its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced persons.
Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the most reported violation by ISIL was the killing and maiming of children: 693 child casualties had been reported since the beginning of the year. There were reports – both verified and as-yet unverified – of children, especially young boys, being executed by armed opposition groups including ISIL, of schools and hospitals being destroyed and of young girls from minority groups being abducted for the purposes of sexual violence and forced marriage. Ms. Zerrougi expressed deep concern over reports of the recruitment of child soldiers, including in some cases to be used as suicide bombers. She also stressed the dire situation of the 1.2 million displaced people, of whom half were children.
Chaloka Beyani, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, said a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions was unfolding; an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis had been internally displaced to-date and over the past weeks over 250,000 members of religious groups had been forced to flee their homes. The situation in some locations such as Dohuk city, with 150,000 refugees, was now considered critical. The international community must be prepared for a rapid escalation in the humanitarian crisis as the conflict continued. Mr. Beyani said the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures joined their voices to those who stressed that atrocities by ISIL currently ongoing in Iraq appeared to amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and revealed a risk of genocide.
Speaking on behalf of the concerned country, Mohammed Shyaa Al-Sudani, Minister of Human Rights of Iraq, said an organization oozing inhumanity was targeting the very statehood of Iraq and attempting to change its demographic and cultural composition. The massacres of ISIL were an affront to humanity. ISIL was not an Iraqi phenomenon. It was transnational and threatened all countries in the world. ISIL had committed crimes that amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. Their movements must be curbed, their assets frozen and their military capacities destroyed. Today the total number of internally displaced persons was 1.4 million people: Iraq had a huge humanitarian crisis, and called on all countries of the world to take a responsible stand and offer the required support.
In the general debate many States condemned the widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by ISIL and associated armed groups in the strongest terms, with some saying the abuses may amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. The transnational character of ISIL posed a threat to the region and put regional and international peace and security at risk, said others. The humanitarian situation was widely referred to, exacerbated by the acute shortage of basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. Defeating ISIL and returning to stability began with a united Iraqi Government committed to justice for all of Iraq’s communities, as well as robust support from the international community, many speakers said. The Council was called upon to unanimously adopt a draft resolution for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate human rights violations and abuses with a view to ensuring accountability.
Speaking during this morning’s debate were Italy on behalf of the European Union, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Kuwait, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Montenegro, Peru, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Mexico, Republic of Korea Philippines Cuba Brazil, India, China, Algeria, Chile, Morocco, Pakistan, United States, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Russia, Maldives, Austria, Costa Rica, Romania Viet Nam, South Africa, France, Venezuela, Qatar, Egypt, Canada, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Holy See, Lebanon, Iran, Denmark, Thailand, Bahrain, Jordan, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, New Zealand, Iceland, Greece, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Poland, Uruguay, Spain, Malaysia, Sudan, Israel, Croatia, Armenia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Netherlands, Australia, State of Palestine, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Nigeria, Luxembourg, Oman, Ecuador and league of Arab States.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Minority Rights Group International, International Federation for Human Rights League, World Evangelical Alliance, International Confederation of Catholic Charities (Caritas Internationalis), Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, Syriac Universal Alliance, Lutheran World Federation in a joint statement, Union of Arab Jurists in a joint statement, Civicus – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Al-Hakim Foundation, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations Watch, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Al-Khoei Foundation, Indian Council of South America in a joint statement, Human Rights Watch, World Federation of Khoja Shi’a Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities, Amnesty International, Society for Threatened People and Organization for Defending Victims of Violence.
The Council will next meet this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. to take action on the proposed draft resolution before closing the Special Session. This is the twenty-second special session of the Human Rights Council. Documentation relating to the Special Session is available on the Human Rights Council webpage.
FLAVIA PANSIERI, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that with the seizing of large parts of Anbar, Ninewa, Salah-al-Din and Diyala governorates by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL), over one million people had fled their homes in terror and there was strong evidence that serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were being committed in areas under the control of ISIL and associated groups. The effect of the ongoing conflict on the children of Iraq had been catastrophic; many had become direct victims of the conflict and others had been subjected to physical and sexual abuse, while children belonging to ethnic and religious communities targeted by ISIL had endured particularly extensive violations of their rights. Christian, Yezidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’e, Sabaeans and Shi’a communities were being targeted through particularly brutal persecution, as ISIL ruthlessly carried out what might amount to ethnic and religious cleansing in areas under its control. Hundreds of thousands of civilians from these communities had fled to remote and desolate locations where unconfirmed reports indicated that scores of children, elderly people, and people with disabilities had been dying as a result of exhaustion and deprivation. At least 850,000 people had found refuge in displacement camps established by the Government of the Kurdish Region, and others in host communities, where resources were scarce. Yezidis were being targeted for extremely harsh treatment, including enslavement and physical and sexual assault. Many men who refused to convert to Islam had been executed, while women and young girls, probably including minors, had been allotted as slaves to ISIL fighters. As part of the widespread and systematic pattern of religious and ethnic persecution, ISIL had intentionally destroyed Sunni and Shia shrines, Christian monasteries and churches and other places of cultural or religious significance.
The situation of civilians who remained in areas under ISIL control, particularly in cities such as Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Tal Afar and Mosul was of deep concern; the reports indicated a near-total breakdown in rule of law and an increase in criminality and difficulty to access essential services. According to confirmed witness and survivor reports, at least 650 male inmates of Badouch Prison in Mosul had been summarily executed by ISIL on 10 July. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had received reports of executions by ISIL of religious leaders, kidnapping and execution of Government officials and other civil servants, and executions or ill-treatment of hors de combat soldiers, police officers, and prisoners of war including air force recruits and Army conscripts. There were also reports that in recent months the Iraqi Security Forces and anti-ISIL armed groups had perpetrated violations of human rights and humanitarian law that might amount to war crimes, including the execution of detainees and shooting of civilians during an attack on a mosque in Khanaqin district in which least 73 men and boys had been killed.
The Deputy High Commissioner stressed her deep and profound concern at the grave impact that the current conflict was having on civilians, including children and people from Iraq’s ancient and diverse ethnic and religious communities, and said that systematic and intentional attacks on civilians might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ms. Pansieri stressed the primary responsibility of the Government for the protection of all persons on its territory and called on all parties to the ongoing armed conflict to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law, and take all feasible precautions, in areas under their effective control, to spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, and to respect, protect and meet the basic needs of civilian populations. The international community must intensify its efforts to protect all Iraqis, including ethnic and religious communities and those who were particularly vulnerable, and together with the Government of Iraq, exert all efforts to ensure that any individuals who participated in, or supported, the commission of these crimes were held accountable in accordance with the law. Finally, Ms. Pansieri urged the international community to support the Government of the Kurdistan Region in its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in need and to ensure the protection and needs of those who have been displaced as a result of the violence and persecution.
LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the most reported violation by ISIL was the killing and maiming of children: 693 child casualties had been reported since the beginning of the year, most due to indiscriminate attacks, including the shelling of populated areas, by Government forces and by armed opposition groups including ISIL and affiliated groups, particularly in Ninewah, Anbag, Diyala, Saleheddin, Kirkuk and Baghdad governates. The United Nations had verified reports that children, especially young boys, were being executed by armed opposition groups including ISIL along with other civilians. Schools and hospitals were being destroyed or damaged. Young girls from minority groups were reportedly being abducted for the purposes of sexual violence and forced marriage. Ms. Zerrougi noted that most of the information received by the United Nations remained unverified at this stage and it was difficult to evaluate the scale of those alleged violations given the sensitivity of this information and the fear of families to report. Children were recruited by armed opposition groups including ISIL and used as informants, for manning checkpoints and in some cases as suicide bombers. Verified reports showed the use of boys as young as 13 years patrolling with ISIL alongside adults and carrying weapons sometimes bigger than themselves. There were worrying reports of the creation of an ISIL youth wing called “the Sons of Islam” or the “Sons of Paradise” to recruit and train underage combatants. Children continued to be recruited by militias from all sides of the conflict, including those supported or backed by the Government and those fighting alongside opposition groups. Ms. Zerrougi also stressed the dire situation of the 1.2 million displaced people, of whom half were children. Too many children of the Yazidi community stranded on Sinjar had died for lack of medical assistance. The international community must galvanize to address the plight of the Iraqi children: there was no time for hesitation.
CHALOKA BEYANI, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, expressed deepest concern over the current situation in Iraq, which had rapidly escalated into a human rights and humanitarian emergency, and extreme alarm at the extent and nature of human rights violations taking place. Gross and widespread human rights violations were being perpetrated in areas under the control of ISIL and associated groups, including systematic hunting of members of ethnic and religious groups; the threat to populations posed by ISIL, including Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Shi’a, Turkmen and others was clear and immediate. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq had reported that more than 2,000 women and children had been abducted and were being held in various locations. The humanitarian crisis unfolding was one of huge proportions; an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis had been internally displaced to-date and over the past weeks over 250,000 members of religious groups had been forced to flee their homes. The situation in some locations such as Dohuk city, with 150,000 refugees, was now considered critical. The international community must be prepared for a rapid escalation in the humanitarian crisis as the conflict continued, while every effort must be made to protect Iraqis and to provide safe haven. The Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures called for a rapid assessment of the capacity of Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces to respond to threats posed by the ISIL and to protect civilians as the highest priority; where this capacity was lacking, solutions must be found in coordination with the international community and in compliance with international law. The principle of the Responsibility to Protect populations at risk of atrocity crimes fell both on the Iraqi Government and the international community. Mr. Beyani recalled that the United Nations had developed indicators and warning mechanisms to warn States and the International community of gross human rights violations, impending mass atrocities or genocide, and said that, while some of the most horrific reports emerging from Iraq remain to be verified, many of the warning boxes had already been checked. The Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures joined their voices to those who stressed that atrocities by ISIL currently ongoing in Iraq appeared to amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and revealed a risk of genocide.
Statement by the Concerned Country
MOHAMMED SHYAA AL-SUDANI, Minister of Human Rights of Iraq, said an organization oozing inhumanity was targeting the very statehood of Iraq and attempting to change its demographic and cultural composition. Since the assault on 10 June 2014 against Mosul, a city with a long history of religious, ethnic and confessional diversity, Iraq had been struck by a tsunami of hate and vengeance, manifesting as genocide and crimes that amounted to crimes against humanity. ISIS used a religious cover but had a bizarre concept of religion: it declared Muslims who did not agree with it as apostate, and rejected every other religion. The terrorists of ISIS started by committing massacres in Mosul, they went on to kill 1,000 Turkmens, including 100 children. They then targeted the Christians of Mosul and Nineveh plain, resulting in over 100,000 displaced persons. They took over churches, burning historical manuscripts and destroying religious places of worship and historical sites. The terrorists committed a horrendous assault against Yazidis in Sinjar, killing, raping and burning, and selling Yazidi women. Over 250,000 Yazidis had been displaced in one of the worst crimes seen in the world. In another massacre, ISIL captured 1,700 military people, disarmed them and executed them, throwing their corpses into rivers which became mass graves. The massacres of ISIL were an affront to humanity.
Today the total number of internally displaced persons was 1.4 million people. ISIL compounded their crimes by filming them and posting them on social media, as seen in the execution of the kidnapped journalist James Foley. The terrorists tried to take over Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, but so far had been held back by international military intervention, particularly by the United States. The Minister referred to cooperation between the Iraqi army, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the United States military, especially to defend the Mosul dam, the collapse of which would have been catastrophic. A new inclusive national Government was being formed which would not only respect all human rights but also defeat the inhumanity in the country. Iraq hoped that the Human Rights Council would adopt the draft resolution unanimously, and play a significant role in supporting the Government and people of Iraq. It called for direct coordination to protect civilians and allow internally displaced persons to return to their homes, and to rebuild infrastructure to allow them a dignified life. Iraq had a huge humanitarian crisis, and called on all countries of the world to take a responsible stand and offer the required support. ISIL was not an Iraqi phenomenon. It was transnational and threatened all countries in the world. Their movements must be curbed, their assets frozen and their military capacities destroyed. The organization had committed crimes that amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity.
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed extreme concern about the situation in Iraq and strongly condemned the widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by ISIL and associated armed groups. All crimes and violations must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable through appropriate justice systems, said the European Union and urged Iraq to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The European Union hoped that the session today would result in a unified mandate to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to document human rights violations with a view to ensure accountability.
Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, strongly condemned the human rights violations committed by ISIL and denounced their systematic targeting of civilians on the basis of religious affiliation. The transnational character of ISIL posed a threat to the region and put regional and international peace and security at risk. The Non-Aligned Movement called on the international community to take all necessary measures for an immediate end to the menace and unite against this threat in all forms and manifestations. International cooperation must also be strengthened to provide humanitarian assistance and aid to all displaced Iraqis.
Kuwait said that Kuwait was very keen on supporting peace in Iraq and preserving its territorial integrity. Kuwait hoped that the international community would unite to put an end to the acts of terrorists in Iraq who endeavoured to destroy the fabric of the society. It was regrettable that this organization was associating itself with Islam, which called for peace and compassion among all. Kuwait had dispatched humanitarian assistance to Iraq.
Ireland said that recent events in Iraq were a matter of extreme concern for the security and stability of the region and to the international community. Ireland had noted with outrage the open and possibly genocidal attacks on minority communities. The new Government of Iraq, when it would be formed, should investigate and combat all human rights violations committed in the country by all actors.
United Arab Emirates said the actions of ISIL had resulted in a huge humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The United Arab Emirates condemned in the strongest terms the grave violations committed by those terrorists. It said that terrorism did not know religious or national boundaries, and the only way to end that destructive regime was for the international community to unite to assist the Government of Iraq in combating the threat.
Indonesia strongly condemned the violent extremist ideology of ISIL and its terrorist attacks. The transnational nature of ISIL warranted a common response by States, not only defeating them militarily but also ideologically, as well as to cease any kind of facilitation, including terrorist financing. Indonesia urged efforts to combat ISIL propaganda, including those aimed at recruiting foreign fighters via information technology.
Montenegro encouraged the Government of Iraq and the international community to prioritize the return of persons displaced by the violence to their homes, recognizing that a necessary precondition of safe return for many of those affected was for the Iraqi Government to build a spirit of national unity in which all elements of Iraqi society were confident that their human rights would be respected and protected. It strongly supported the Government’s current efforts to that end.
Peru encouraged the Government of Iraq to adopt urgent protection measures for the most vulnerable members of Iraqi society affected by the latest events. Peru expressed its support to the recently elected Iraqi authorities and the people of Iraq and hoped the country could find a swift and democratic solution to the irrational violence sweeping the country; barbaric acts of violence by the extremist and fanatical group ISIL had reached new extremes.
Saudi Arabia said that Saudi Arabia was among the first to recognize and combat terrorism and recently had endowed 100 million US dollars to the Centre against Terrorism in New York. The Islamic community should refuse the behaviour of ISIL which had nothing to do with Islam. Saudi Arabia welcomed the resolution of the Security Council on measures to combat the financing of terrorism and said that it had adopted a law against terrorism which criminalized fighting for terrorist groups.
United Kingdom was clear about the threat of ISIL and condemned its barbaric acts, adding that ISIL’s attempts to stoke sectarian conflict through violence and brutality were a threat to all. Religious leaders should talk about ISIL’s distortion of Islam and reject violence against others on the ground of their religion or belief. The United Kingdom underscored the urgent need for a security and political response to the crisis through the formation of a new inclusive Government that could push back ISIL advances and create stability and security for civilians.
Czech Republic shared the concern over the gravity of the human rights violations and appalling abuses of international humanitarian law in Iraq. The Czech Republic strongly condemned attacks by ISIL, in particular those against minority groups, and said those responsible must be held to account. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate human rights violations and abuses.
Mexico expressed concern about the serious human rights situation in Iraq caused by actions of ISIL and associated armed groups, and in particular acts of violence against civilians and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, which threatened the peace and security of the whole region. It was essential that the United Nations system rose to the challenge to avoid a further deterioration and assist the State to comply with its obligation to protect its citizens and ensure their rights.
Republic of Korea said the horrific human rights violations by ISIL posed a grave threat to the values of fundamental human rights and freedoms. It recalled that on 14 August the United Nations declared the humanitarian crisis in Iraq a Level 3 Emergency. The humanitarian situation was appalling: the untold suffering of those people who had been forcibly displaced had been exacerbated by the acute shortage of basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.
Philippines said there could never be an excuse for the massive targeted killings, forced religious conversion, abduction, slavery, sexual abuse, trafficking in persons and other human rights violations committed against Christian, Yezidi, Shabak and other religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq. They were crimes against humanity and they must stop.
Cuba said the root cause of the situation in Iraq and more widely in the Middle East, was the aggression in the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and some of its NATO allies. Those States were responsible for sowing the seeds of death and social breakdown among the Iraqi people. Cuba rejected any attempt to harness the terrible situation in Iraq in order to pillage the natural resources of the country, which would have consequences for the region and world as a whole.
Brazil strongly condemned the abuses and violations committed by ISIL and called for their immediate end. It supported the implementation of an international fact-finding mission not only to investigate and document human rights violations in Iraq but also to promote accountability. Brazil welcomed the political progress in Iraq and encouraged the new administration to work with Iraqi society to find a negotiated solution to conciliate the different perspectives of all the players involved. India said that the escalation of violence in Iraq could have deep ramifications for the security situation of the region and beyond. India was deeply committed to a stable and democratic Iraq and said that the Human Rights Council must play a serious role in denouncing the threat of terrorism. Each State must be responsible to combat terrorism and in this they must be free to adapt their national mechanism to local conditions.
China said that the international community must take measures to effectively tackle the human rights violations of the Iraqis by ISIL and associated armed groups who posed a great threat to peace and security in the Middle East. The maintenance of peace and security was a precondition for the realization of human rights for the people of Iraq and China hoped that the new Government would be soon established. China was willing to join the international community to provide moral and material support to Iraq.
Algeria followed with great concern the situation in Iraq and strongly condemned the acts of terrorism against the people, particularly those barbaric acts committed in the name of Islam. Algeria called on all to firmly stop those terrorist activities that threatened to inflame sectarian violence and to bring those responsible to justice. In the view of the complex nature of terrorism, concerned efforts by the international community were needed to put an end to terrorism and its financial flows.
Chile said that the protection of victims was the principal mandate of the Human Rights Council for which it was responsible in front of the international community. Chile condemned the abuses and violations suffered by the civilians, and in particular by children, and said that the Human Rights Council must ensure accountability for the crimes of ISIL and other armed groups. Iraq should continue to promote human rights through an inclusive and democratic process and take necessary measures to protect members of religious and ethnic minorities.
Morocco praised the Government of Iraq for the spirit of cooperation in which it was working with other States to defeat the crisis in the country. The crimes of ISIL ran counter to Islam and must not be associated with any particular religion or culture. They threatened all religions. A cohesive State in which all citizens were equal and enjoyed their human rights was the solution.
Pakistan said the rising high toll of civilian deaths with internal displacement of more than one million Iraqis was shocking. Pakistan itself, as a victim of terrorism, condemned the menace in Iraq in all its forms and manifestations. Pakistan supported the efforts of the Government of Iraq to foster religious freedom and pluralism, and strongly called for respect for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
United States said the stories that were emerging from ISIL’s bloody assault on Iraq were nightmarish. Members of ISIL had abducted, detained and committed acts of violence against Yezidi, Christian, Turkmen and Shabak men, women and children. There were heart-wrenching reports of women and girls being raped and killed. The Yezidis had been buried alive, beheaded or killed in mass executions. Defeating ISIL and returning to stability began with a united Iraqi Government committed to justice for all of Iraq’s communities, as well as robust support from the international community.
Germany said the barbaric nature of ISIL’s reign of terror broke all rules of humanity. It was obvious that ISIL strove to destroy the social fabric of the country and undo Iraq’s long and rich history of multi-cultural and multi-religious co-existence. Referring to the 1.5 million internally displaced persons, Germany urged the Council not to forget that Iraq and especially the Kurdistan regional Government had already given shelter to some 260,000 refugees from troubled Syria.
Argentina was profoundly concerned about the situation in Iraq and in particular about the plight of the civilian population and the persecution of certain minorities. The internal displacement of more than 1.5 million people had triggered a humanitarian crisis that had touched the world as a whole. The Human Rights Council had an undeniable obligation to issue a statement that would halt all violations and abuses of human rights and to call for the improvement of security that was necessary to deliver humanitarian aid.
Japan stressed that inhuman acts committed by ISIL and associated groups could not be justified nor tolerated under any circumstances. Japan continued to be deeply concerned by the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the siege of communities by ISIL and the internal displacement. In order to effectively counter ISIL and associated groups, it was crucial that the Government of Iraq transcended sectarian differences and united to overcome the ongoing crisis.
Russia said that it was important to adopt a resolution today which would condemn the terrorist activities of ISIL and associated groups, adding that Russia had supported Iraq with the delivery of weapons. The current tragedy of Iraq was proof that external interferences in statehood caused chaos and triggered terrorism. The world community was obliged to support Iraq in this combat against international terrorists. Today’s resolution should give ground to the partners who had influence in the region to correct their short-sighted policies.
Maldives condemned in the strongest possible terms the systematic violations and abuses committed by ISIL and stressed that the use of violence to achieve religious or political goals was not justifiable in any faith. ISIL’s use of religion as a pretext for inflicting terror in Iraq was both un-Islamic and inhumane and this philosophy blatantly violated the fundamental principles of peace, tolerance and unity. It was important that the Council and the world in large viewed the events in Iraq not through a religious lens but a human rights and humanitarian lens.
Austria was appalled by and condemned the barbarous acts committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. There was a humanitarian catastrophe in Northern Iraq with over one million displaced persons, including tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities who were victims of the so-called Islamic State that aimed at their total annihilation. There must be no impunity for the crimes committed.
Costa Rica expressed its dismay about the humanitarian disaster in Iraq – the international community must heed the appeal of the Government of Iraq for support. The crimes committed should not be ignored or tolerated, nor go unpunished. Now was the hour for the international community to address the serious situation. The atrocities committed could well constitute crimes against humanity and genocide and the world could not allow that to happen in the twenty-first century.
Romania said it condemned in the strongest terms the acts of terrorism and deprivation of human rights committed by ISIL and associated groups. Such acts of extreme violence against Iraqi people, and the terrible sufferance caused to people from minorities groups such as Christians, Yezidis and Turkmens, were deplorable. Romania expressed solidarity with the Iraqi authorities in their efforts to combat the terrorist groups, protect civilians and end the appalling humanitarian crisis.
Viet Nam said the escalating violence in Iraq had caused unacceptable and inhumane atrocities to innocent civilians, seriously violating their human rights. Viet Nam strongly held that only when peace and stability was restored, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq respected, and principles of international law and the United Nations Charter upheld, may human rights be respected and protected. It believed the action being considered by the Human Rights Council would contribute to those endeavours.
South Africa fully shared concern about the grave situation currently confronting Iraq and said that the continuing armed conflict must be halted. The United Nations system had to ensure that the ongoing massive loss of lives and the destruction of key infrastructure should cease. South Africa could not endorse a resolution that had not been negotiated inclusively and transparently and appealed to the President of the Council to defer this matter until more time was given to all delegations to negotiate the text with a view of reaching consensus.
France said that ISIL was a monster guilty of perpetrating with impunity the barbaric crimes which France condemned in the strongest terms. Given the gravity of the situation, the Human Rights Council and the international community must act and those responsible for crimes must be brought to justice. Robust assistance to the Iraqi Government must be provided at all levels and humanitarian aid and humanitarian coordination must be increased and improved.
Venezuela expressed its categorical rejection of the terrorist acts perpetuated by ISIL and associated groups and in particular acts aimed at the extermination of particular ethnic groups. It was surprising that no link had been made between this crisis and the United States-led invasion in 2003 which had given rise to the anarchic situation of today. Venezuela rejected the attempts by some to continue the policy of intervention in Iraq under the guise of human rights.
Qatar condemned all human rights violations in Iraq, crimes of war and crimes against humanity and all ideas and acts perpetrated by armed groups and militias which ran counter to the principles of the tolerant religion of Islam. The continued violence in Iraq threatened peace and security in the region and renewed efforts must be made to mend sectarian divisions and restart the political process which would respond to the aspirations of the people of Iraq and safeguard the rights of minorities in the country.
Egypt said the armed group operating in Iraq was attempting to threaten the very structure of the country, in a way that not only threatened Iraq but the entire region. The acts of the so-called ISIL group had led to thousands of deaths and massive displacement. Egypt was making every effort to contact the concerned bodies; countering ISIL had to be through a political solution in a framework acceptable to all Iraqis. Egypt called for a Government that represented all parts of Iraqi society in order to counter the grave threat to the country.
Canada said the scale of human rights and humanitarian law violations taking place today in Iraq and neighbouring Syria was appalling. They must come to an immediate end and their perpetrators should be held accountable. Canada was alarmed by the sectarian overtones influencing the conflict and the atrocities committed against all religious and ethnic communities in the country by the so-called ISIL. Canada also commended the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Peshmerga for stepping forward in recent months to defend ethnic and religious minorities in the wake of the initial ISIL assault.
Syria called on the Council to unambiguously condemn the crimes perpetrated by the ISIL organization in Iraq and Syria and their associates in the Nusra Front. The harrowing crimes and massacres committed, even against United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan, were unacceptable and must be dealt with comprehensively. Certain States should be called on to stop arming and funding terrorist groups, stop terrorists flowing into Syria and Iraq, and stop their media propaganda.
Turkey said as a neighbouring country with historic, cultural and religious ties, it closely followed the situation in Iraq with the utmost concern. It provided continuous support, including humanitarian assistance without pause, and had set up three camps in Northern Iraq for internally displaced persons. The targeting of the non-Muslim minorities last month brought this issue to the international agenda. Keeping in mind the circumstances in which ISIL came into being, a just, inclusive, unifying and even-handed message had to be sent from this Alliance of Civilizations room.
Bulgaria strongly condemned the widespread violence by ISIL and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities which had caused a great number of casualties and more than one million internally displaced persons. The international community had the overall responsibility for coping with the difficult humanitarian situation in Iraq. Time was of the essence, also taking into account the possible spill over effect of the conflict across the region.
Holy See said the tragic failure to uphold basic rights was evident in the self-proclaimed destructive entity, the so-called “Islamic State” group ISIS. People were decapitated as they stood for their belief, women were violated without mercy and sold like slaves in the market, children were forced into combat, and prisoners were slaughtered against all juridical provisions. The Holy See called on all regional and international actors to explicitly condemn the brutal, barbaric and uncivilized behaviour of the criminal groups fighting in Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq.
Lebanon said three years ago it was subject to the same attacks happening in Iraq today, where serious violations equating to genocide and crimes against humanity were being seen. The Government of Lebanon on 25 July 2014 filed with the International Criminal Court a letter calling for a trial of members of those terrorist organizations, particularly of those bearing passports of States which were party to the Rome Statute. It called upon the Council and States to assist that endeavour by submitting any information they had on those individuals.
Iran said the problem of extremism, use of sectarian divisions and atrocities of the Takfiri extremists were not only a threat for all countries in the region but a danger to the whole world. Iran welcomed the election of the new Prime Minister of Iraq and expressed its full support to the new Government. As a responsible neighbouring country Iran stood by the Iraqi Government and people and was doing its utmost to provide all necessary humanitarian supplies to affected areas.
Denmark said the crimes in Iraq by ISIL and other armed groups shocked the conscience of mankind and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. It recalled the warning of the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect that there may be a risk of genocide. The Iraqi Government and the international community must ensure accountability for all atrocities committed in Iraq, and Denmark would assist in that crucial endeavour.
Thailand shared the concern about the ongoing violence and the escalation of human rights violations caused by ISIL in Iraq and said that the activity of terrorist groups posed a serious threat to international peace and security. Thailand was also deeply concerned about the living conditions of civilians in areas under the control of ISIL and stressed the need to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need. All measures to protect the lives of all people regardless of their religious affiliation must be undertaken by all sides.
Bahrain expressed support for the current political process and reiterated its commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. Bahrain welcomed resolution 2170 which imposed sanctions on ISIL and associated terrorist groups and condemned acts against mankind perpetuated by terrorist groups that threatened peace and stability in the region.
Jordan condemned all crimes and human rights violations committed by ISIL and said that it was important to support the Government of Iraq to combat terrorist elements. A political process that would bring together all members of Iraqi society was more important than ever. It was the responsibility of the Council to put an end to the human rights violations in Iraq, with respect for its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation said that all must face up to the terrorism and religious and sectarian extremism and rejected any individual or organization that attempted to put the label of Islam on their terrorist acts. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned terrorist practices and welcomed the call to establish a global strategy to eliminate threats posed by ISIL and to reflect on root causes that gave rise to this terrorist group.
New Zealand said the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant deserved the strongest condemnation. As the High Commissioner observed, all parties to the conflict in Iraq had the responsibility not to target civilians, and New Zealand urged all those involved in the conflict to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law. It supported the democratic process in Iraq and welcomed recent progress made, hoping a new inclusive Government could be formed.
Iceland said systematic targeting of innocent civilians based on their religious or ethnic affiliation was the very definition of crimes against humanity. Impunity for such gross violations was unthinkable. The atrocities witnessed today in Iraq were a direct consequence of the instability in the wider region; by failing to address it the void had been filled by extremist armed groups like IS. Urgent action was needed to prevent further suffering and bring about a durable peace.
Greece strongly condemned the attacks perpetrated by ISIL, expressing deep concern about the systematic persecution of Christians and other religious communities by ISIL. It underlined the importance of promoting a genuine and inclusive dialogue of reconciliation in Iraq, and looked forward to the formation of a genuinely inclusive Government in Iraq, expressing full support to the efforts currently undertaken by designated Prime Minister Abadi.
Belgium was shocked by the direct, deliberate targeting of civilians and disregard for the principle of distinction or proportionality in the context of military operations. As the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief said, freedom of religion and belief was being denied in the most gross and systematic way by members of the so-called Islamic State. It drew attention to the recent decision adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under its early warning and urgent action procedure.
Norway said that the massive and grave human rights abuses caused by the terrorist movement ISIL over the last year as reported by victims and the international organizations must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Norway was deeply worried about ISIL and affiliated groups’ brutal attacks on Iraqi and other citizens, demanded the immediate halt of the atrocities and called for the protection of the civilian population.
Switzerland condemned the brutal acts committed by ISIL and those associated with them, including killings, kidnapping, slavery, rape and persecution of individuals based on religion or faith. Switzerland stressed the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and to protect civilians, including by granting rapid access to all humanitarian actors and giving civilians a possibility to flee conflict areas. Combating impunity was a priority and Switzerland supported the urgent dispatch of a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law.
Sri Lanka deplored in the strongest terms the terrorist acts committed by ISIL and associated groups and emphasized the need for particular steps to protect civilians, property and places of worship. There was a need for the whole world to take action against terrorist acts committed by non-State actors. ISIL was not taking transnational forms and was posing a threat to the wider region; there should be no space allowed for terrorist groups to raise finances and logistical support of any form.
Poland said that it was the primary responsibility of the Government of Iraq to stop the unspeakable crimes committed by ISIL and associated groups, and to guarantee all civilians, especially members of the religious minorities, safety and security. Poland also stressed the need to ensure that all perpetrators of atrocities were held accountable and called on Iraq to take immediate action against ISIL with the support of the international community aimed at stopping the acts of terror.
Uruguay condemned the grave human rights violations in Iraq, including those against women and children. The crimes in many cases may well constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Terrorist attacks by ISIL had led to many casualties and mass displacement of the population, as well as other innocent victims such as the journalist James Foley. Attention must be paid to the risk of instability and wider tensions to the region from ISIL.
Spain said ISIL represented an unprecedented global threat. The formation of a strong, broad and inclusive Government of national unity which was respectful of freedom of religion and belief, and protection of all minorities, was an immediate goal for Iraq and would pave the way to stabilization. Spain had made an initial humanitarian contribution of €500,000, channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Malaysia expressed deep concern that the so-called ‘Islamic State’ entity had used Islam to justify their reign of terror, which betrayed all Muslims and damaged and maligned the religion of Islam. Like all other religions, Islam did not preach violence: the ideology of that group had nothing to do with Islam. The real divide was not between Muslims and non-Muslims or between the developing and developed worlds but between the moderates and the extremists. The voices of moderation must drown out the destructive and divisive voices of extremism and terrorism.
Sudan said it condemned all of the acts of violence and destruction committed by ISIS in Iraq. The violations were being carried out in epic proportions, and were unacceptable. Sudan called upon the international community to support the Government of Iraq in re-establishing calm and security so that all people could live in peace and security.
Israel said that, as a country living under the constant threat of terror, it welcomed the session. Israel reminded that not long ago there was another special session that also involved a country facing terrorist aggression, only it was not Iraq and ISIL, it was Israel and Hamas; however, the double standard the Council exercised when it came to issues regarding Israel was stronger than any comparison. Israel wished that the Council was less politicized and acted to successfully protect the rights of all victims, Israelis included.
Croatia was deeply concerned about reports of explicit targeting of women and children and the reported acts of sexual violence. All groups must be aware that acts of sexual violence represented grave human rights violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Croatia stressed the importance of preserving Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity and commended the efforts of international actors providing support to thousands of people at immediate risk of death by violence, hunger and thirst.
Armenia followed with great concern the events in Iraq where ISIL had undertaken a massacre of minority populations, including Armenians, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Armenia called upon all relevant bodies and mechanisms of the United Nations to act without delay and stressed the crucial role of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
Bangladesh was deeply concerned over the current crisis in Iraq caused by the large-scale attack by ISIL and strongly condemned the gross violations and the attacks on civilians. Bangladesh maintained a zero tolerance policy against terrorism and said that no terrorist act could be justified in any circumstances. Countries that were victims of terrorism should be supported in their national efforts in line with international human rights and humanitarian laws.
Hungary thanked Iraq for initiating the Special Session, for drafting the resolution and for being open to suggestions to improve the text which Hungary fully supported. The list of violations by the so-called Islamic State was beyond appalling. It was particularly worrying that the on-going religious cleansing threatened the mere existence of the Christian community in Iraq. The crisis could not be solved by military means only; a Government must be formed which was acceptable to all components of the Iraqi society.
Netherlands said reports received indicated that ISIL and related armed groups were responsible for grave international crimes appearing to amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The barbaric atrocities by ISIL against women and girls should especially be highlighted. It stressed the importance of accountability and called on all parties in the conflict to respect international law.
Australia said ISIL’s global aspirations represented a danger to international security beyond its brutal and ongoing attacks in Iraq and Syria. The persecution of minorities including Iraqi Christians was unacceptable. Such barbaric actions required a comprehensive investigation to be brought fully to the attention of the international community. The Council was urged to ensure that unconscionable crimes were documented in order that justice may be sought on behalf of all the many victims.
State of Palestine said the terrible crimes committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant included murders on the basis of ethnicity and religious affiliation. They may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and should be investigated by the United Nations, as they threatened not only Iraq but the region as a whole. It was only through international law that Iraq would find the stability to meet the terrorist challenge.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that the barbaric acts committed by armed groups and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities had created a major humanitarian crisis which called for urgent concerted action. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta urged Governments and the international humanitarian community to provide increased funding and respond speedily to the appeals launched by United Nations agencies. The collective responsibility of all States parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions was underlined.
Nigeria stated that the extreme violence perpetrated by ISIL in Iraq undermined the obligations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and had to be addressed squarely and decisively. Humanity had a serious responsibility to stop those bestial activities of ISIL and its collaborators. The international community had to act now to stop the mass atrocities. All collaborators of ISIL and financiers of terrorism had to be stopped, brought to justice and held accountable.
Luxembourg said that all those responsible for violence had to be confronted and brought to justice. The fate of children was particularly worrying, as heard from the Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict. The grave abuses of children and the use of child soldiers ought to be brought to an end as soon as possible. The situation of children should be paid particular attention to in the future reports of the Commission of Inquiry.
Oman underscored the importance of this Special Session given the flagrant violations of human rights committed in Iraq by ISIL. Their criminal behaviour had nothing to do with Islam and Oman condemned all terrorist acts committed in Iraq regardless of who committed them. Oman reiterated its support to the people and the Government of Iraq and hoped for the best future for them.
Ecuador expressed its solidarity with the people and Government of Iraq and said that the activities of ISIL could lead to the division of Iraq if not checked. Their actions, which constituted grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity, must not go unpunished and great efforts must be made to fight them. Ecuador also reiterated its solidarity with the people and Government of Syria that also suffered from the terrorism by ISIL.
League of Arab States said that the systematic terrorist acts by ISIL must not be overlooked and those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice. The League of Arab States called on all relevant actors in the region and globally to intensify efforts to assist Iraq to emerge from the current crisis and ensure safety for all religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq.
Minority Rights Group International said the international community must play its part in ensuring that Iraq was not emptied of some of the world’s most ancient minorities. Since 2004 the Minority Rights Group had consistently ranked Iraq among the six countries where minorities were most under threat. The Iraqi authorities had so far failed to take measures to protect minorities.
International Federation for Human Rights League (FIDH) said as well as condemning the gross violations the Council should also remind the Iraqi Government of its obligations to uphold human rights and international humanitarian law when confronting terrorist groups. The conditions were more than met for the situation in Iraq to be immediately referred to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council but it seemed that political considerations in New York were given precedence over the suffering of civilians.
World Evangelical Alliance, representing 600 million Christians worldwide, called on the international community to intervene in light of the ever-increasing violent attacks on targeted minorities by the so-called ‘Islamic State’. For centuries Christians had lived in the Middle East as second-class-citizens with a defined legal status, without equal rights. The same was true for other minorities. Now was the time when people of all faiths and convictions must stand together against such inhumane and violent oppression.
International Confederation of Catholic Charities (Caritas Internationalis) asked how members of the same human family could inflict such atrocities on their own people in the name of religion. Caritas was deeply concerned that the most recent surge of violence might result in a weakening of Christian-Muslim dialogue worldwide. The international community was urged to take immediate action to protect vulnerable populations, especially minority groups.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development stated that the process of indoctrination was a sectarian process affecting vulnerable young persons, who were an easy prey to propaganda. States had to be creative to protect young people from radicalization via the Internet. The Human Rights Council and the international community were also asked to continue the struggle to protect youth against radicalization.
International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights said that the terrorists had mastered all techniques of manipulation and tried to take some false legitimacy as they suppressed local populations on a daily basis. The terrorists had already won their first international victory by achieving international recognition.
Syriac Universal Alliance asked the Human Rights Council to urge the United Nations Security Council to adopt an unambiguous resolution that would ensure urgent humanitarian aid to those in need in Iraq, re-conquest of North Iraq so that the displaced could safely return to their homes, protection and security by a United Nations stabilization mission similar to that in Mali, and the recognition of the shameless atrocities committed by the militant Islamists.
Lutheran World Federation said in a joint statement that the reports of gross human rights violations which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity must be taken seriously, investigated and those responsible held to account. The international community should immediately reach people in need of humanitarian assistance, take humanitarian and diplomatic measures to protect civilians, and strictly abide by international law in dealings concerning the crisis in Iraq.
Union of Arab Jurists said in a joint statement that the appearance of ISIL had woken up the countries that previously shed crocodile tears and supported and financed terrorists to vandalize Syria and Iraq. Resolution 2170 of the United Nations Security Council must be implemented without distinction and all those implicated in acts of terror and crime must be brought before justice.
Civicus – World Alliance for Citizen Participation said the emergency of ISIL in Iraq could not be separated from the lack of accountable and transparent governance in the country, including the Government’s brutal crackdown on protests urging an end to systemic marginalization of the minority Sunni community. CIVICUS urged the Human Rights Council to utilize this occasion to ensure that the underlying tensions and root causes of the conflict were addressed.
Islamic Human Rights Commission said the root causes of the training and rise of the ‘Islamic State’ must be laid at the door of the United States and its allies’ foreign policy in the region, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, as well as the support, training and funding given to opposition groups in Syria including ISIL, ISIS or IS. The United States and its allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, could not have been ignorant of the type of ideas held and acts condoned by the groups they were supporting.
Al-Hakim Foundation said the security situation in the region had been neglected, allowing the terrorists time to gather their forces and commit such terrible violations. The international community should take full measure of the impact of those terrorist groups on international peace and security, and support Iraq in combating not only terrorism but support for it.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights had the impression that Iraq had been abandoned by the international community ever since the terrorist attack on the United Nations offices in Baghdad. Those primarily responsible for the current crimes had to be held accountable for their acts; what was happening in Iraq was a crime against humanity. The Security Council should swiftly examine the possibility of deploying a peacekeeping mission in order to secure demilitarization of the country.
United Nations Watch presented Maryam Wahida, a Christian woman born and raised in Iraq, who said that she wanted the world to know about the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Islamic State against her relatives, Christians and Yazidis. Why had the United Nations waited so long to convene this meeting? The international community had to do more to help the victims, such as by creating a safe region for displaced persons within Iraq, and to facilitate asylum and migration.
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches said that their delegation had just returned from the region, where it had spoken to many displaced people. When asked by the delegation about the future, a young girl told the delegation that ISIL had destroyed her future. Exposure and accountability of ISIL, and their moral and financial support, were necessary.
Al-Khoei Foundation joined others in condemning the threat coming from ISIL, and in particular the systematic attacks against the Shi’a regions. Urgent reactions were needed now, given the dimensions of the threat, and immediate investigation into massacres and other crimes must be undertaken.
Indian Council of South America said in a joint statement that there was no viable solution to the crisis without addressing the root of the problem which was the illegal invasion by the United States of Iraq in 2003. Years of occupation along with a deliberate divide and conquer policy had paved an environment ripe for extreme forms of human rights violations to be committed.
Human Rights Watch deplored the extraordinary savageness of ISIL and said it had documented many of the atrocities committed in the several past months. Human Rights Watch also deplored the savagery of the Government forces and Government-backed militia and regretted that those would not be included in the language of the resolution. There was no public recognition or investigation into those crimes. The Council should dispatch a mission to conduct investigation into crimes committed by all sides in Iraq.
World Federation of Khoja Shi’a Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities said it was working to provide emergency relief in Iraq, including conducting rapid needs assessments that highlighted the needs in the south of Iraq which hosted some 200,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced persons who risked being displaced a second time. What may amount to ethnic and religious cleansing by ISIL must be confronted by the international community.
Amnesty International said all parties to the conflict in Iraq had committed gross abuses and violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. The Council must not only condemn abuses by the Islamic State but also condemn those who facilitated the commission of such crimes by aiding and abetting the Islamic State. The Council must further demand that Iraqi authorities rescind discriminatory policies and practices to prevent recurring violations and abuses.
Society for Threatened People spoke on behalf of thousands of victims in Iraq, including 500,000 Yazidi victims who had suffered an organized genocide targeted at them. They were displaced, ignored and left homeless and hopeless. The international community had to rescue the Yazidis’ existence as human beings. An asylum procedure for the displaced Yazidis must be instigated. The Society called for establishment of an autonomous zone in the Sinjar district and a safe zone area in Nineveh Plain under the protection of an international peacekeeping force
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that what was happening in the region today was a continuation of what had been taking place there for more than a decade. Disregard for human rights abuses was accentuated by those States which had double standards and the sending of wrong messages, the results of which were visible today.
For use of the information media; not an official record