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Statement by Ambassador Keith Harper at Human Rights Council Special Session on Iraq / ISIL
September 1, 2014

Statement by the United States of AmericaAmbassador Keith Harper sits at conference table.

As Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council Special Session, Geneva

September 1, 2014

Thank you Mr. President.

The United States is pleased to be part of the overwhelming support for calling the Special Session today. We wholeheartedly cosponsor the draft resolution before us.

The United States is shocked and appalled by the massive violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses being committed in Iraq. We are particularly troubled by those being committed with increasing frequency by ISIL and associated armed groups. Abuses include extrajudicial killings, enslavement, the deliberate targeting of civilians, sexual assault, and the targeted persecution of persons based on their religion. These are heinous acts and it is critically important that the Council respond.

The stories that have emerged from ISIL’s bloody assault on Iraq are the ones of nightmares. Christians and others have been driven from their homes with the threat of “convert or die.” Even conversion has not guaranteed safety as many have nevertheless been brutally killed.

Members of ISIL have abducted, detained and committed acts of violence against Yezidi, Christian, Turkomen, and Shabak men, women, and children. Hundreds of women and girls have been abducted. There are heart-wrenching reports of women and girls being raped and killed. The Yezidis have been buried alive, beheaded, or killed in mass executions. UN reports also indicate that hundreds of Yezidi and Christians may have been forced into sexual slavery.

In the wake of the most recent outbreaks of sectarian violence, we welcome the efforts of Iraq’s leaders to form an inclusive government. We urge the Iraqi government to take an even-handed approach to the investigation of all human rights violations and abuses, including allegations against government actors as well as terrorist groups. We also encourage Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to establish a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational government capable of addressing the concerns of all Iraqi citizens. Defeating ISIL and bringing about a return to stability begins with a united Iraqi government committed to justice for all of Iraq’s communities.

The challenges facing the new Iraqi government are vast and will require robust support from the international community . We believe it is essential that Iraq fosters a national process that will provide justice for victims.  Make no mistake, Iraq’s future political success, domestically and within the international community, will depend on preserving its unity and maintaining its vibrant diversity. We are encouraged by Prime Minister al-Maliki’s decision to support Prime Minister-designate al-Abadi. The peaceful and historic transition of power demonstrates that Iraq is making progress toward developing the kind of fully inclusive government it will need to unify all Iraqis.

The United States looks forward to the prompt deployment of the High Commissioner’s mission, which will play a critical role in ensuring that those responsible for serious violations of international law will be held accountable.

Thank you.