Investigations into ISIL Crimes Affecting Children: UNITAD-NGO Dialogue Forum Convenes its Second Thematic Roundtable

25 February 2021, Baghdad

As part of its ongoing effort to further strengthen its engagement with the NGO community, UNITAD organized today a thematic roundtable discussion addressing the topic of “Investigations into ISIL Crimes Affecting Children”.

The virtual roundtable, which was held as part of the recently-established UNITAD–NGO Forum, brought together representatives of more than 50 national and international NGOs, who joined members of the Investigative Team to consider the ways in which UNITAD can strengthen its work with NGOs to enhance its investigations into ISIL crimes affecting children. The discussion explored challenges and potential avenues to further mutual partnerships.

Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team, Karim A.A. Khan, underlined that investigating ISIL crimes against or affecting children has been a priority for UNITAD’s work since its establishment in 2018.

“ISIL crimes had a disproportionate impact on children. UNITAD,  Iraq  and the wider international community must ensure that children are enabled to give their accounts and add their voices to the process of accountability with full regard to the welfare of the child and each child’s individual right to justice,” said the Special Adviser. 

During the plenary discussion, UNITAD’s Gender Based Crimes and Crimes against Children Unit and the heads of Field Investigative Units responded to pressing issues raised by the NGO partners, and encouraged input on two questions: How could UNITAD better work with the NGOs on investigations concerning children? And what can be done to ensure the participation of children in accountability processes in a manner sensitive to their specific needs and experiences?

The UNITAD-NGO Dialogue Forum and its thematic roundtables are part of UNITAD’s engagement activities to strengthen partnerships with all relevant actors in Iraq, in order to support the delivery of justice for survivors of ISIL crimes.

Following the event, UNITAD will continue to work with participants on a set of observations and recommendations based on points raised during the discussion and subsequent written input.  This will include good practices and possible enhancements to working modalities to ensure crimes against children are addressed effectively as part of accountability processes. UNITAD will then seek to incorporate these outcomes into the work of all of its relevant units, as well as the Special Adviser’s biannual report to the Security Council.

In October 2020, the first thematic roundtable discussion discussed “Empowering Community Members and Victims of ISIL”.  In follow-up to that meeting, UNITAD has worked with NGOs in order to strengthen engagement in supporting witnesses and survivors to come forward with their accounts. UNITAD also worked with NGO partners in considering how trainings, and relevant legal frameworks can be harnessed in this regard.