Online discussion on the ending of UNITAD’s mandate

May 30, 2024

Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR) online event on the ending of UNITAD’s mandate, with Yazda, IBAHRI, HRW, and Amnesty International: Thursday 23 May

On Thursday May 23, 2024, the EU Day Against Impunity for Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes, the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR), an alliance of 34 NGOs calling for comprehensive reparations for civilian victims of atrocity crimes perpetrated during the ISIL conflict in Iraq, held an online discussion on the wind-down of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) in Iraq, featuring remarks from human rights lawyers, activists, and experts, providing recommendations following Iraq’s request to the UN Security Council to not renew UNITAD‘s mandate after September 2024.

Hosted in collaboration with Yazda, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, the event provided a critical opportunity to engage in conversations shaping justice and accountability and outline the concerns and recommendations of civil society organisations and survivor networks.

The event included presentations, panel discussions with key stakeholders, and an open Q&A session, all providing a comprehensive overview of the UNITAD wind-down in Iraq, contextualised within the landscape of the country and the situation of survivors of ISIL crimes, outlining crucial next steps. This event was held online, with speakers from London, Iraq, and beyond:

C4JR online event on the ending of UNITAD’s mandate, with Yazda, IBAHRI, HRW & Amnesty International, May 23, 2024

○ Introduction:

■ Jahaan Pittalwala, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

○ Opening remarks:

■ Baroness Helena Kennedy KC

○ Presentation of the C4JR report:

■ Hasan Jameel, C4JR

○ Speaker remarks:

■ Natia Navrouzov, Yazda

■ Shireen, Yazidi Survivors Network (YSN)

■ Dr Dindar Zebari, KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy

■ Ana Peyró Llopis, Acting Special Adviser and Head, UNITAD

■ Sarah Sanbar, Human Rights Watch

■ Dr Ewelina Ochab, IBAHRI

■ Nicolette Waldman, Amnesty International

■ Nadine Reiner, Office of Amal Clooney

○ Audience Q&A:

■ Moderated by Alannah Travers, C4JR.

In March 2024, C4JR published the comprehensive report, “Iraqi Civil Society and Survivor Networks Position on the Request of Iraq to Terminate UNITAD’s Mandate in September 2024”: https://c4jr.org/1203202428508.

After coming together to consider the implications of the premature closing of UNITAD and consulting with survivor networks, C4JR conveyed our views to the UN Secretary-General and UNITAD. Expressing concern over the potential consequences of prematurely closing UNITAD, C4JR’s report emphasised the critical importance of justice and accountability for victims and affected communities. Survivor networks, in particular, fear that the absence of UNITAD will jeopardise efforts to hold ISIL members accountable for their atrocities.

C4JR uses Iraqi law and international human rights law to support reparation claims of survivors and to encourage Iraqi authorities to meet their obligation to provide reparations.

C4JR’s report identified six key concerns raised by civil society organizations and survivor networks:

1. Raised expectations among survivors and Iraqi civil society organizations regarding UNITAD‘s establishment and its role in achieving justice.

2. Iraq’s lack of readiness to prosecute core international crimes for which UNITAD collected evidence.

3. Iraq has yet to comply with international law and UN principles, and UNITAD may not be able to hand over much of the evidence it has collected.

4. UNITAD has not completed its work, including structured investigations, building a roadmap for using collected evidence, and finalizing excavation of mass graves.

5. Preventing evidence sharing with third states will hinder the only justice avenue currently available to survivors.

6. Specific concerns about the confidentiality and sharing of evidence with Iraqi authorities.

In light of these concerns, C4JR presented the following recommendations:

1. Establish benchmarks for Iraq’s readiness to prosecute international crimes before closing UNITAD.

2. Implement clear conditions for handing over evidence to Iraqi authorities, ensuring compliance with international law and safeguarding against misuse.

3. Develop a legal framework for evidence sharing with third states or international courts.

4. Create a residual mechanism within the UN system to preserve all evidence collected by UNITAD.

5. Ensure that UNITAD‘s evidence benefits survivors beyond criminal proceedings, such as supporting reparations and truth-telling initiatives.

** The full report can be downloaded in English here: https://c4jr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/C4JR-report_ENG.pdf 

** The full report can be downloaded in Arabic here: https://c4jr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/C4JR-report_AR.pdf 

** Please find a summary document of the report in English here: https://c4jr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/C4JR-summary_ENG.pdf 

** Please find a summary document of the report in Arabic here: https://c4jr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/C4JR-summary_AR.pdf 

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