impunity for Daesh atrocities is not an option
“The Fight Against Impunity for Atrocities : Bringing Daesh to Justice”
Remarks by François Delattre
Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
9 March 2017
Excellencies, Madame Bangura, chers collègues, chers amis,
It is a privilege to be part of this important event and I would like to start by expressing my warmest thanks to the hosts of this event dedicated to the fight against impunity for atrocities committed by Daesh.
May I add a special word of appreciation to Madame Clooney and Ambassador Murad, whose commitment is a source of inspiration to all of us, and certainly to me. Thank you for your powerful and moving words. As you said, today our moral and political responsibility is to transform your powerful call into action, and this is what today’s meeting is all about.
If you think about it, nearly three years ago, Daesh launched a major offensive in Iraq and seized Mosul. Many civilians, notably those belonging to targeted communities, were expelled from their homes and persecuted in the most horrific conditions. Make no mistake about it, it’s not over. The military coalition, of which France is the second largest military contributor, is gaining ground day after day but this tragedy is still going on as we speak, especially in the areas that remain controlled by Daesh. Crimes amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even genocide, have been committed. So impunity for these atrocities is simply not an option if we believe in the UN.
While the majority of Daech’s victims are Muslims, Daech specifically targets - with a faceless cruelty - people belonging to minorities who are particularly vulnerable because of their religious or ethnic identity. Those communities are part of the region’s history, identity and future. I am thinking in particular of the Yazidi people, but also of Christians, Turkmen, Kurds, Shabaks and others, who are also suffering.
That is why, if I may, chère Nadia, your fight is an existential fight for the Yazidi people, for sure, but also for all the other peoples under threat, and frankly, for the UN itself.
Against this backdrop, France convened the Security Council in March 2015 to send an urgent appeal on behalf of these people and communities. As a follow-up to this event, together with Jordan, we organized an international conference on victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East in September 2015. The Paris Plan for Action, presented at this meeting, should remain our common roadmap. For its part, France established a dedicated fund of 10 million euros for this purpose, which was renewed this year until 2018 for very concrete actions. This plan of action aims to respond to the humanitarian emergency, to create the political and security conditions to allow the sustainable and peaceful re-establishment of these people in the region, but also and above all to fight against the impunity for the crimes committed by Daech.
Mes chers amis, France is and will be at the forefront of this international fight. This is why we facilitate the documentation of crimes by supporting the fieldwork of many NGOs collecting evidence, and supporting their advocacy. In this respect I want to commend the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Its report on the crimes committed by Daesh against the Yazidis is devastating and describes a mass crime amounting to genocide. We also look forward to working with the international investigative mechanism recently put in place by the General Assembly resolution. In Iraq, I also want to commend the work done by UNAMI in relation to OHCHR in the identification and documentation of human rights violations.
In the same vein we are currently prosecuting the perpetrators of these crimes on a national basis, when it is within France’s jurisdiction. In France only, close to 550 judicial proceedings in connection with Syria and Iraq have been opened by the Paris anti-terrorist unit; and close to 400 individuals are currently being detained or have been indicted.
So the message here, for Amal, for Nadia and for the others, is that it is possible; we can make it. To gather all the elements of this collective tragedy, and to establish individual responsibilities, judicial cooperation is necessary and instrumental, notably for exchanging information. There are ways to further deepen cooperation and facilitate information sharing between jurisdictions, including through the European network of prosecutors. We will also continue our efforts to promote the work of the International Criminal Court and to encourage States to accept its jurisdiction and its support, while respecting the principle of complementarity.
So my friends, we must urgently find ways for justice to prevail. And to echo Amal Clooney’s call, yes, the Security Council must take its responsibilities in this regard. We simply cannot give up. We need to collectively roll-up our sleeves, work on national and international instruments of evidence-gathering and accountability that are fair, credible, effective and complementary to existing ones.
In Iraq as elsewhere, there will be no peace without justice. This is not mission impossible – ce n’est pas mission impossible. We together can and frankly must make it.