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Statement by Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, on Global Citizen initiative on Yazidis in Iraq, New York, 12 September 2017

​As the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, I warmly welcome Global Citizen’s important engagement on human rights issues.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has long been deeply concerned about the plight of the Yazidis, as well as other minorities in Iraq. I visited the Yazidis in Sinjar and their temple in Lalish in 2009, and am very aware of the impact the unspeakable crimes of the Islamic State (ISIL) have had on the Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq. For this reason, and with a view to supporting reconciliation efforts, OHCHR has been consistently calling for justice and accountability for all crimes committed against Iraqis from different ethnic and religious backgrounds by ISIL and other groups.

To date, not a single ISIL perpetrator has been convicted for crimes against humanity, including the execution, enslavement and human trafficking of young Yazidi girls. OHCHR firmly stands with Yazda and Global Citizen, and stresses the need to comprehensively document the atrocities committed by all parties to the conflict. We will continue to monitor and report on human rights abuses taking place in Iraq, and engage on measures needed to provide justice, in keeping with international standards. This is a critical first step to ensure that persecuted minorities like the Yazidi people will be able to return safely to their homeland. The work of UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, Nadia Murad, and the global Yazidi organization Yazda, deserves our deep respect and unstinting support.

OHCHR has received thousands of emails and calls from global citizens around the world in a collective plea to hold ISIL perpetrators accountable for the systematic crimes committed against the Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, which may well amount to genocide.

I am honoured to be invited to attend the Global Citizen Festival on 23 September 2017, to underline the importance we in OHCHR attach to achieving justice and accountability for the Yazidi and all other victims of crimes committed in Iraq.