Security Council Briefing: UNITAD

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 4 December 2018

Mr. President,

Let me congratulate you and your team on assuming the Presidency for the month of December, you can count on the support of our delegation. And I’d like to thank the Chinese delegation for its professional steering of the work of the Council during the month of November.

I would also like to add my voice to the delegation of the United Kingdom in offering our condolences for the passing of the American president George H.W. Bush.

Then, I would like to thank Special Adviser Khan for his very informative briefing. And we welcome your first briefing to this Council.

Please allow me to focus on three aspects today:

  • Supporting the work of UNITAD;
  • Protecting and supporting survivors and victims; and
  • Accountability.


Mr. Khan, we welcome the commencement of the work by you and your team. We have looked forward to this discussion and support the priorities as you formulated them in your first report.

My government feels strongly about the need for accountability for atrocity crimes committed by ISIS. Crimes that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. We recognize that your investigations are starting in 2019 and that the task that lies ahead of you and the Iraqi government is a vast one.

Its continued support and cooperation is of course paramount.

Especially in a challenging security context. We expect that UNITAD will establish an effective working relationship with UNAMI as well, characterized by complementarity.

The Council adopted Resolution 2379 unanimously. That is worth noting. Let me reiterate that you also have the Kingdom of Netherlands’ continued and full support to end impunity for atrocity crimes committed by ISIS. This is why my government announced to contribute financially to support UNITAD. We call on others who have not done so yet, to do the same.

2. Protecting and supporting survivors and victims

Mr. President, secondly, I want to speak about protecting and supporting survivors and victims. A week from today, Nadia Murad will receive her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. A recognition of her activism, which shed light on some of the most terrible crimes imaginable. And she gave a voice to survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, the Yazidi community and other Iraqi victims.

Mr. Khan, you write that survivors and victims should be at the center of the work of the Investigative Team. We could not agree more and are happy to see our pledge be used for specialized psychological support and assistance to witnesses and victims.

As UNITAD becomes fully operational in 2019, its ability to build relationships with affected communities and especially women will be crucial. Inclusive communication with and towards communities is an important aspect.

We count on UNITAD:

  • To secure, collect and preserve evidence in line with international standards;
  • To protect witnesses brave enough to speak up and ensure the broadest use of the evidence collected;
  • To give information to families who are missing loved ones;
  • And finally, to help demonstrate the extent of ISIS’ atrocities and its vile ideology so that it does not make new victims.

3. Accountability

Mr. President, I have spoken about the need for accountability for individuals and communities alike. The work of UNITAD and the Iraqi government is crucial to document and lay bare the despicable ISIS ideology and practice. To give it its rightful place in history going forward. And help further reduce its appeal across the world. After all, ISIS’ actions in Iraq led to the gravest kind of crimes.

In this light, we look forward to Iraq’s implementation of the international crimes into national legislation. This would be a significant and positive development.

In order to achieve justice and eventually reconciliation, it is our understanding that evidence gathered by UNITAD should only be used in prosecutions that comply with the highest international legal standards and that no capital punishment will be applied. 


Mr. President, in closing, I want to wish Special Adviser Khan and his team the best of luck with the valuable and substantial tasks that lie ahead of them.

We thank you.