United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
Ambassador Kelly Craft, Permanent Representative
June 15, 2020
Thank you so much, and thank you for all of your updates today. We hope the entire UNITAD team can fully return to its work in Baghdad as quickly and as safely as possible.
To begin today, I want to commend the incredible progress UNITAD has made in just two years. In that time, it has fully staffed up a team of one hundred on the ground in Iraq, with significant female and Iraqi representation, thanks to Karim’s leadership. UNITAD has also acted swiftly to launch field-based work in Iraq – work that includes the sobering task of assisting Iraqi authorities with exhuming the numerous mass grave sites containing the remains of the innocent victims of ISIS’s terror. In light of the recent challenges imposed on all of us due to COVID-19, UNITAD’s focus on evidence-collection analysis ensures that valuable time is not lost in the pursuit of justice for the victims of ISIS.
UNITAD’s close partnership with Iraq’s political, judicial, religious, and societal leaders is critical for the mandate’s continued success in coordination with UNAMI and the UN country team. The United States stands firmly in support of Iraq’s new leaders, including Prime Minister al-Kadhimi, to help realize their bold agenda and deliver a life of dignity, security, and prosperity for all Iraqis. With the support of the Iraqi government, UNITAD is moving quickly in providing a record of, and accountability for, ISIS’s crimes, as well as – we hope – a measure of healing for Iraq.
The United States’ commitment to UNITAD is unwavering. Not only did we contribute $2 million nationally in support of UNITAD’s first exhumations of mass grave sites in the Yezidi Sinjar region, but we provided an additional $1 million to UNITAD’s work with Iraqi religious minority communities, including Christians and Shabaks. We are examining additional contributions and we call on other Council members to do their part in support of UNITAD’s increasing workload, whether it is through financial contributions, seconding national expertise, specialized equipment, or technology platforms.
The world watched in horror when ISIS targeted innocent Iraqis, singling out those from diverse ethnic and religious communities. UNITAD’s facilitation of a rare interfaith joint statement condemning ISIS by many of Iraq’s key religious leaders, as well as the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, is a landmark achievement. It plainly illustrates the goodwill UNITAD has built up in just two years of operations in Iraq. The United States continues to stand proudly with UNITAD and the Iraqi people in pursuit of justice against ISIS’s atrocities.
In closing, I have just one question for Karim: can you please provide an update on your impression of Iraq’s new leaders and their support of UNITAD’s mandate?
Thank you so much.