Special Adviser Khan to UN Security Council: Momentum in investigations maintained through innovation, partnership with Iraq

Baghdad, 10 December 2020 – Special Adviser Karim A. A. Khan QC today presented his fifth report to the United Nations Security Council on the activities of the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh / Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

SA Khan noted that despite the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID, UNITAD had been able to continue progress in investigations through the introduction of innovations in all aspects of work and the strengthening of partnerships with Iraqi authorities, survivor groups and religious authorities.  Building on this progress, SA Khan confirmed that the first thematic case briefs developed by the Team were anticipated for completion in the first half of 2021.

Noting that during the reporting period the Team had also increased its lines of investigation into crimes committed against Christian, Kaka’i, Shabak, Shia Turkmen and Sunni communities in Iraq, SA Khan stated that “this diversification of our investigative work represents the realization of a promise I made to this Council at the outset of our work: That we will ensure there is no hierarchy of victim in our approach to the implementation of our mandate.  All communities in Iraq suffered at the hands of ISIL and all must be engaged in efforts to hold them to account.”

A trauma-informed approach to investigative activities had been placed at the heart of the work of the Team during the reporting period.  SA Khan noted that this had included the provision of psycho-social support to survivors and relatives during mass grave excavations recently conducted in Sinjar, the completion of assessments by UNITAD psychologists before all interviews conducted by the Team and the provision of support to Iraqi authorities in the establishment of a witness protection and support Unit.

The Team had also continued to harness innovative technological solutions in the delivery of its mandate, including the commencement of an initiative with Microsoft Cooperation in the development of an advanced evidence analysis platform.  This initiative will allow the Team to leverage tools including facial detection and recognition; and automatic detection and labelling of videos with graphic content.

SA Khan noted that the Team now looks forward to 2021 with optimism and with a clear framework for action following the re-development of its investigative strategy. “The unique partnership underpinning this mandate, that of independent investigations and close collaboration with national authorities, of international standards adapted to domestic contexts, is working.  This innovative model for criminal accountability, developed by this Council three years ago, now provides an opportunity to instigate a paradigm shift in the investigation and prosecution of Da’esh crimes.”

The full report of Special Adviser Khan to the Security Council can be accessed here.


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