Remarks delivered at UN General Assembly Ministerial Side Event on “The Fight Against Impunity: Bringing Da’esh to Justice”

19 September 2016

Remarks delivered by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect on 19 September 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York. The Ministerial side event was co-hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Iraq and the United Kingdom.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. As we have heard, wherever Da’esh is present, it poses an existential threat to all who refuse to subscribe to its extremist interpretation of Islam.

Wherever Da’esh exports terrorism, it also exports war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Commission of Inquiry has also concluded that Da’esh’s crimes amounted to genocide against the Yazidis and other minority communities in Iraq.

Da’esh can be defeated. But defeating Da’esh doesn’t require just a counter-terrorism campaign to arrest its operatives, or a military campaign to regain territory it has seized.

To truly defeat Da’esh we need to deliver justice for its victims and hold its leaders and acolytes accountable for the atrocities they incite, direct and commit.

In order to defeat Da’esh and counter violent extremism wherever it manifests itself, it is necessary to show that the international community will not allow the perpetrators of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes to escape punishment, nor expect the survivors of such crimes to relinquish their expectations for justice.

In 2005, under the baleful shadow of genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica, the governments in this room made a solemn commitment to uphold their responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from mass atrocity crimes. A campaign to bring justice for the victims of Da’esh is wholly in keeping with that historic and principled commitment.

I would like to thank the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Iraq and the UK for convening today’s important event and for the panelists and Ministers for their interventions.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity to translate our sorrow and horror regarding D’aesh’s atrocities into a focused global campaign for justice for Da’esh’s victims. This includes the practical suggestion that the UN Security Council, with the support of the government of Iraq, should establish an international investigative commission for atrocities committed by Da’esh.

I would also like to draw your attention to the joint statement we have released with Amnesty International and Yazda.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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