Delivered by: Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, Adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Check against delivery.
Thank you, Mr. President,
I also thank the Special Adviser, Mr. Christian Ritscher, for his comprehensive briefing, and I welcome the participation of the representative of the Republic of Iraq in this meeting.
The UAE values the progress made by UNITAD during the past six months in collecting evidence on crimes committed by the terrorist organization Da’esh in Iraq. Some of these crimes may constitute crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide, including investigations into Da’esh’s use of chemical and biological weapons, sexual violence against women and girls, and the destruction of cultural heritage sites. We commend the team for their efforts in exhuming remains from mass graves.
UNITAD investigations hold significant importance. However, it is even more important to ensure that UNITAD is able to hand over the evidence it has developed or acquired to Iraq, so that it can be utilized to carry out trials of Da’esh members and to achieve justice. That is why the Council must remain seized of this matter, especially upon the issuance of the Secretary-General’s anticipated report by 15 January, which will outline the possible ways by which UNITAD can deliver all collected and processed evidence to the Iraqi government, including the comprehensive details of any evidence shared with third countries. Resolution 2379 designates the Iraqi Government as the primary recipient of this evidence. The Secretary-General’s proposals in this regard must be both practical and applicable, with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.
In addition, successfully holding Da’esh accountable and the subsequent transfer of evidence to Iraq for use in national trials constitute important factors of deterrence for terrorists around the world. This approach serves our collective efforts to prevent the resurgence of this group or the emergence of other or even more extremist entities.
In this context, we support the efforts of the Iraqi government to hold Da’esh criminals accountable wherever they are, and we commend what has been achieved so far in this regard. Many survivors and the victims’ families are still waiting for justice to be achieved. This includes hundreds of people who have been wondering about the fate of their loved ones for years.
With the growing indications that a large number of Da’esh members have fled to other countries, there is a need to continue sharing evidence with third countries. This is essential for securing accountability against Da’esh members, regardless of their location. We welcome the agreement reached between the Iraqi government and UNITAD regarding mechanisms for sharing evidence with third countries, and we also welcome the completion of the first joint case file between Iraqi investigative judges and the UNITAD team to support the trial of a Da’esh member in a third country, in a way that strengthens international criminal justice and contributes to transferring expertise to the Iraqi authorities.
We urge the team to continue in transferring knowledge to Iraqi judges and experts, especially in the field of digital forensics, throughout the remainder of its mandate. We welcome the opening of seven digital forensic laboratories so far in Iraq, and we commend the team’s efforts in digitizing millions of documents and evidence. This digital transformation will enhance their accessibility for the Iraqi judicial authorities.
In the next ten months, it will be important to complete the procedures for the responsible termination and closure of the team’s operations. This process should be guided by a road map, to be developed by the team in coordination with the Iraqi government by the fifteenth of March.
In addition, the team has made strenuous efforts to collect statements from witnesses about a number of crimes. It is crucial to clarify the mechanisms through which these statements can ultimately be delivered to the Iraqi authorities to ensure their optimum utilization, while safeguarding the protection of witnesses.
We urge that the Council be regularly updated on the progress made in implementing all provisions of resolution 2697 throughout the remaining period, with special emphasis on the briefing scheduled for June next year. Furthermore, we reaffirm our support for Iraq’s sovereignty, security, stability, and territorial integrity.
I thank you, Mr. President.