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Human Rights Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq

1 September 2014

Requests the Mission to Investigate Alleged Violations and Abuses Committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Associated Terrorist Groups

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its Special Session on the human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups, after adopting a resolution in which it requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated terrorist groups, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability.

In the resolution, adopted without a vote, the Council condemned in the strongest possible terms systematic violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups, taking place since 10 June 2014 in several provinces of Iraq, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in particular all violence against persons based on their religious or ethnic affiliation as well as violence against women and children.

Those responsible for such violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights law must be held to account, stressed the Council, and called on the Government of Iraq to ensure that all perpetrators were brought to justice, and also called upon the international community to assist the Iraqi authorities to ensure the protection of, and assistance to, those fleeing the areas affected by terrorism.

The Council further requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated terrorist groups, and to provide a report on its findings to the Human Rights Council during its twenty-eighth session, and also requested the High Commissioner to provide an oral update during the twenty-seventh session of the Council.

France introduced the resolution. Iraq took the floor as the concerned country. India, China and South Africa spoke in explanations of the vote before the vote. Mexico spoke in a general comment.

This was the twenty-second Special Session of the Human Rights Council. A summary of the general debate can be found here. Documentation relating to the Special Session, including the resolution, is available on the Human Rights Council webpage. The twenty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 8 to 26 September 2014.

Action on Resolution

In a resolution (A/HRC/S-22/L.1) on the human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns in the strongest possible terms systematic violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups, taking place since 10 June 2014 in several provinces of Iraq, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and strongly condemns in particular all violence against persons based on their religious or ethnic affiliation as well as violence against women and children. The Council stresses the need for those responsible for such violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights law to be held to account, calls on the Government of Iraq to ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice and expresses its support to the Iraqi authorities in establishing a new and inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame. The Council further urges all parties not to lend any legitimacy to terrorist acts and calls upon the international community to assist the Iraqi authorities to ensure protection of, and assistance to, those fleeing the areas affected by terrorism, in particular members of groups in vulnerable situation. The Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated terrorist groups, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability, and to provide a report on its findings to the Human Rights Council at an interactive dialogue during its twenty-eighth session, and also requests the High Commissioner to provide an oral update during the twenty-seventh session of the Council on the implementation of the present resolution.

France, speaking also on behalf of Iraq and 11 other initial co-sponsors, introducing the draft resolution L.1, said that massive violations in Iraq had triggered a huge displacement, especially of religious minorities. The international community had to prove that it was mobilized to assist Iraq. The draft resolution condemned systematic violations of human rights, and stressed that all perpetrators of crimes ought to be brought to justice, whatever the circumstances. It also called for the Government of Iraq to open the process of national reconciliation. The protection of human rights for all Iraqi citizens had to be guaranteed. France called on the Human Rights Council to adopt this complex and ambitious text by consensus.

Mexico, in a general comment, regretted that the convening of some consultations on the draft resolution had been somewhat selective. The authors had also failed to incorporate comments by Mexico and some others. Nonetheless, having made those points and bearing in mind the seriousness of the situation, Mexico would support the draft resolution.

Iraq, speaking as the concerned country, said that it had already explained its position concerning the human rights violations committed by ISIL and reiterated its thanks to all States present here who had raised their voice in condemning the violations in Iraq. This draft resolution demonstrated how much remained to be done; thanks to the consultations, tangible results had been achieved. This draft resolution called for the protection of principles of human rights and firmly condemned the abuses committed by ISIL, in particular against civilians, which were a threat to the region and the world. ISIL must be stopped and all acts of terrorism must be denounced, while the international community needed to assist internally displaced persons and help them return home. Iraq would defend and protect human rights and was convinced that the consensus around this draft resolution would strengthen the resolve.

India, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it had serious concerns about the operative paragraph 10 of the draft resolution, which requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a mission to investigate human rights violations and abuses. India was concerned about the increasing investigative role of the Office which went beyond its capacity building mandate. In the interest of the fight against terrorism, India would not block this draft resolution.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern about operative paragraph 10 which authorized the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send a mission to investigate cases of violations in Iraq but did not provide terms of reference or a duration of the mandate. The Office’s main function was to help countries promote and protect human rights, not to carry out investigations. However, considering the urgency of the situation in Iraq and to demonstrate its support to the people of Iraq, China said it would not object to the adoption of the draft resolution.

South Africa said there was no military solution to any armed conflict. The relevant organs and bodies within the United Nations must be allowed to carry out their mandate. South Africa was concerned that the resolution had lost balance and did not take into account the historical context and all factors attributable to the situation in Iraq. Even more, the language in the resolution was inconsistent with the provisions of international humanitarian law. It was not clear to South Africa which authority would act to enforce accountability. Operative paragraphs 3 and 8 presented challenges, especially in view that the relevant stakeholders, partners and appropriate mechanisms remained undefined. The resolution was pre-emptive, duplicative, contradictory and very ambivalent. Its essence was very questionable. South Africa could not support the resolution in its present form and without further negotiation, and disassociated itself from any consensus.
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