Middle East and North Africa

UN Adviser to investigate genocide against Christians

ISIS Image: Credit India Today

The UN has recognized ‘genocide’ against Christians in Iraq and appointed a ‘Special Adviser’ to bring terrorist groups to justice.

Persecuted Church agencies welcomed the UN Security Council Resolution passed last Thursday (21 September) to investigate crimes of genocide against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq.

Resolution 2379 includes crimes “motivated by religious or ethic grounds” and while it does not specifically name any ethnic or religious group, it is clear that an investigation into crimes by Islamic State against Christians would come under the investigation.

Barnabas Fund, a relief agency for persecuted Christians, said: “After years of calling for justice to be done to the victims of genocide in Iraq, the UN has at last heard a plea for the forgotten minorities such as Christians and Yazidis who have been erased from their homelands.

“We and other agencies have maintained that Christians have been systematically targeted by Islamists. We welcome the resolution and hope that it will bring about justice for minorities and ensure that the needs of Christians are prioritised after years of neglect.”

The UN Resolution will appoint a Special Adviser to head an investigative team to work with the Iraqi government to collect, preserve and store evidence of crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq. This could lead to the prosecution of terrorists for genocide.

On Thursday the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to set up an investigation to collect evidence of crimes against humanity and possible genocide committed by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. Crucially, the Security Council resolution (2379) includes crimes “motivated by religious or ethnic grounds.” Whilst it does not specifically name any ethnic or religious group, it has been widely recognised that Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims have been specifically targeted, with US Secretary of State John Kerry last year specifically referring to this as “genocide.”

Whilst the investigation is limited to the actions of IS in Iraq, it is nonetheless enormously significant, not least because it allows investigators to collect evidence of crimes against humanity and genocide committed against members of any religious or ethnic group.

It had been feared that Russia and China would veto any such resolution in case it led to other resolutions scrutinising their own human rights record. It is therefore a major feat of diplomacy that this resolution has been passed unanimously.

Agreement appears to have been reached on the basis that the evidence collected would be used to try those responsible under international law, but in the Iraqi national courts, rather than the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Barnabas Fund said: “This resolution has been a long time coming and no one should doubt the difficulties that have had to be overcome to reach this point. When Barnabas Fund met with the Foreign Office minister in February we presented her with a list of possible options for achieving a genocide investigation and asked if the UK government had a preferred option; the response was that the UK was trying all options.”