Grounded in the existing normative framework governing its activities, the guiding principles UNITAD set out below will be used to ensure clarity of vision and consistency of decision-making as the Investigative Team develops operational capacity and carries out its activities.
Principle 1: Operating with impartiality and independence
UNITAD was established by the Security Council as an independent, impartial accountability mechanism. Its ability to operate in accordance with that imperative will be crucial in ensuring the credibility of its investigative activities. UNITAD will ensure that its work, while benefiting from collaboration and cooperation with the Government of Iraq and other entities, is conducted in line with this principle. In addition, the Investigative Team will remain vigilant in ensuring that its actions are aligned with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and United Nations policies and best practice.
Principle 2: Fostering collective support in Iraq
For UNITAD, effective cooperation and communication with all relevant national stakeholders in Iraq will be crucial to the implementation of the Team’s activities. Engendering support and conducting outreach across Iraqi society will be central to building trust and thereby also gaining access to an important pool of putative witnesses. Fostering a collective understanding of the mandate of the Team will also enhance its ability to support broader reconciliation efforts within Iraq. UNITAD has also sought to prioritize the development of relationships with the Government of Iraq, religious minority groups, non-governmental organizations and other key national stakeholders.
Principle 3: Adhering to international standards and best practices
UNITAD will conduct its work to the highest possible standards to ensure the broadest possible use of evidence collected before national courts. It will develop standing operating procedures that reflect such standards, while ensuring that they are adapted to the Iraqi context. If it is known that particular pieces of evidence will serve to support ongoing proceedings of third States, the Team will also endeavor to ensure that such evidence is collected, preserved and stored with due regard to the procedural and evidential rules of that State. The Team will further seek to ensure that it avails itself of innovative technological tools and analytical techniques in conducting its work. UNITAD has already taken initial steps with respect to the development of the standing operating procedures, as well as the physical and technological infrastructure required for the receipt, collection, storage and preservation of information received. The budget UNITAD submits to the General Assembly will allow it to conduct its work in accordance with international standards.
Principle 4: Focusing on those who bear the greatest responsibility
UNITAD will focus its initial investigative efforts on those most responsible for the atrocities committed by ISIL/Da’esh, including through the ordering of such acts. This will necessitate an emphasis on senior ISIL/Da’esh leadership, as well as regional or mid-level commanders. The Investigative Team has already begun to establish working relationships with relevant national Governments, international and regional organizations and United Nations entities with a view to obtaining key existing documentary and testimonial evidence, on the basis of which investigative priorities can be developed in line with this principle.