UNITAD, Iraq, and India Co-Host Special Event at UNHQ: ISIL's Use of Chemical Weapons: Global Threat

Baghdad, 13 June 2022– The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL, jointly with The Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations, and The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations co-hosted a special event titled “ISIL's Use of Chemical Weapons: Global Threat.”

Held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Special Event brought together participants from the diplomatic community, civil society and different UN offices.

“I want to stress that my Team has assembled sufficient relevant information to think that the threat of chemical weapons’ development and use, by non-state actors such as ISIL, continues.” Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD Christian Ritscher indicated in his opening remarks. He also said that UNITAD’s investigative work in this regard is: “ground-breaking and setting the sediments for unprecedented judicial avenues, for prosecuting crimes linked to chemical weapons developed by non-state actors.” Reassuring that: “UNITAD will spare no effort in working towards this goal, precisely when atrocity crimes such as the development and use of chemical weapons are at stake.”

In his remarks, Ambassador R. Ravindra, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations said: “Holding ISIL accountable, particularly for crimes against minority communities, is crucial for fostering reconciliation and lasting peace in Iraq. India provided initial financial support to UNITAD’s key investigations, and has bolstered this objective.”

On his part, Mr. Sarhad Fatah, Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations indicated: One of the main and important milestones mentioned in the tenth UNITAD Team Report is the completion of the initial case assessment report on the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by the terrorist organization ISIS in Iraq, which is supposed to expand the issue and prosecute the elements of the organization who used these weapons and worked to develop their capabilities.”

Special Adviser Christian Ritscher renewed his gratitude to the Government of Iraq, especially the Iraqi judiciary, for their support and partnership that facilitates this line of investigation. He also stated that: “In 2021, UNITAD initiated a major investigation into this line of enquiry, thanks to the financial support of India and later on, the one from France.” Further, he thanked the Permanent Missions of India and Iraq for co-hosting this event.

H.E. Mr. Ali Noaman Jabbar, Judge of the Taza Investigation Court at Kirkuk governorate recounted, through a recorded video message, the chain of events that took place on 8 March 2016, when ISIL shelled Taza Khurmato with nearly 40 locally made rockets, loaded with chemicals at civilians affecting hundreds of people with mustard gas. He also described the aftermath of the attack, the investigations opened by the Iraqi judiciary, and his court’s close cooperation with UNITAD on this line of inquiry.

During the Special Event, presentations were provided by the lead of the investigative unit responsible for investigating ISIL development and use of chemical weapons, and technical experts, including Mr. Talgat Toleubayev, Regional Coordinator at CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance Programme (UNICRI). Expert presentations who provided valuable insights about the investigation findings and the issues pertaining to non-state actors as ISIL’s deployment of chemical weapons.

Special Adviser Ritscher had indicated in his briefing to the United Nations Security Council a day earlier, that he prioritized this line of inquiry and that the Team has produced case-assessment report on ISIL’s use of chemical weapons, as the team continues to advance its investigations into this crucial line of inquiry.