Iraq: Flawed Security Council resolution on IS threatens to entrench dangerous culture of impunity

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution passed today aimed at holding the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) accountable for war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq falls short of what is needed to stamp out a dangerous culture of impunity and could fuel further abuses, said Amnesty International.

The unanimously adopted resolution, tabled by the United Kingdom, establishes an "Investigative Team" of experts to support the Iraqi government in collecting, preserving and analyzing evidence of serious crimes. However, the resolution crucially fails to include any provisions to ensure accountability for crimes committed by Iraqi forces and others responsible for grave violations of international law, including war crimes, during the conflict.

This flawed resolution sends a dangerous message to all the other parties to the conflict who have also committed serious violations and crimes that they are above justice
Sherine Tadros, Head of the UN Office in New York for Amnesty International

“Initiatives that can help ensure justice for victims of atrocities by IS members in Iraq are of course welcome news. But, this flawed resolution sends a dangerous message to all the other parties to the conflict who have also committed serious violations and crimes that they are above justice,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of the UN Office in New York for Amnesty International.

“All victims of crimes under international law in Iraq deserve justice. This resolution will deny that right to many victims and threatens to entrench a dangerous culture of ‘victor’s justice’, which will only serve to fuel further abuses. We therefore strongly urge the UNSC to treat this resolution as a first step on the road to justice and accountability for the victims of crimes and violations carried out by all parties to the conflict in Iraq.” 

The “Investigative Team”, to be headed by a UN special advisor, will gather and preserve evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by IS members in Iraq.

Amnesty International has documented a range of serious violations of international humanitarian law carried out by IS as well as Iraqi government forces, paramilitary militias, and coalition forces in Iraq. Most recently, the report, At any cost: The civilian catastrophe in West Mosul, detailed violations that had a devastating impact on civilians during the re-taking of Mosul from IS control by Iraqi and coalition forces.

“As the defeat of IS as a group that controls territory in Iraq draws nearer, it’s more important than ever that the Iraqi population feel they are entering a new era of justice and accountability for all people in Iraq,” said Sherine Tadros .

“These principles must apply equally to all perpetrators of crimes and violations. Failure to ensure justice for all victims will likely only result in further cycles of marginalization, abuses and violence.”