Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNITAD/Daesh Accountability


National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on UNITAD/Daesh Accountability, 4 December 2018, New York.

Thank you, Mr. President,

Let me first join others in congratulating you on resuming the presidency and ensure you of our full support during the month of December. And let me also take this opportunity to thank China for an impeccably run presidency in November. 

I would like to thank Special Advisor Khan for his informative briefing. There is no doubt you have a very challenging set of tasks ahead and you can certainly count on Sweden’s continued full support in your endeavor.

I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Nadia Murad for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end sexual violence in conflict. This is an important recognition on behalf of all the victims of Daesh, giving impetus to the efforts of holding those responsible to account.

Mr. President,

Advancing accountability for the violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the conflicts on this Council’s agenda has proven extremely difficult. The unanimous support for the decision to establish the Investigative Team to promote accountability for Daesh’s crimes is therefore particularly significant and a major achievement. We now need to stay united in actively supporting the implementation of this important mandate.

In this regard, we welcome the strategic vision and priorities set out by the Special Adviser today. In particular the victims-based approach, putting at the center the most impacted by the crimes. The many examples in reports by the Secretary-General and SRSG Patten reminds us again and again why this victims-based approach is so important.

In this context, we also underline that children with perceived or actual association with Daesh are first and foremost victims and must be treated as such. Collective support for and trust in the mechanism from those affected will be crucial. The establishment of a specialized victim and witness protection unit is therefore important.

It is now crucial to ensure that the team is adequately equipped with the expertise and resources needed. The team must be able to effectively gather evidence for the crimes Daesh has committed against women, men and children, including sexual and gender-based violence. We’re pleased that the team foresees close cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative for sexual violence in conflict and the team of experts on the rule of law and sexual violence in conflict.

Mr. President,

The operational and security environment in Iraq is very complex. We agree Mr. Khan’s conclusion that innovative logistical and operational solutions will be necessary. Strong Iraqi support and buy-in will be decisive for the success of the Team’s work. Mr. Khan’s recent meeting with Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi is a positive step in this regard. We welcome regular interaction and coordination between Mr. Khan’s team and the Steering Committee designated by the Iraqi government. As an independent and impartial institution UNITAD can also play a key role in supporting the Iraqi government in building capacity in the legal sector. The cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi government can be mutually reinforcing.

We welcome UNITAD’s intention to achieve geographical diversity, as well as gender, ethnic and religious balance, among its Iraqi members. The team’s development of trustful relations with religious and ethnic minority groups, non-governmental organizations and other national stakeholders will be central. Support by UNAMI and the wider UN system is also important.

Mr. President,

Accountability for all atrocity crimes committed in Iraq is crucial. The quest for accountability will contribute to reconciliation and long-term peace. In this regard, the rule of law and the Iraqi legal system must be strengthened – both in the long term and with respect to those legal processes against suspected Daesh members currently being pursued by Iraqi courts. We encourage Iraqi authorities to put in place national legislation that ensures that perpetrators of international crimes are tried in Iraq, in full accordance with the principles of rule of law and due process. UN support will be vital in this regard.

We remain strongly opposed to the death penalty. In accordance with UN policies and best practice, evidence gathered by the investigative team will not be used in trials that may lead to capital punishment. This issue must continue to be closely followed.

Sweden was among the first countries to prosecute suspected perpetrators of alleged war crimes in Iraq as well as in Syria. We look forward to the team’s support for universal jurisdiction, including exchange of information and potential support for the prosecution of Daesh crimes in other national jurisdictions through mutual legal assistance.

And in conclusion, Mr. President,

To promote accountability for crimes committed by Daesh is a matter of urgency. It requires political courage as well as continued, united international support. Iraq can rely on Sweden as a committed partner in this moving forward.

I thank you.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis