24 June 2015

Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism: ‘The Security Council has an obligation to act’ to protect civilians from ISIL

‘The Security Council has an obligation to act’, Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, said in a press release on the presentation of his latest report on the gross violations committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) and the pressing need for accountability. ‘Given the reports of genocide, all members of the Security Council may now have a specific responsibility to take action to prevent this most serious of international crimes’, Mr. Emmerson said.

He noted that, so far, the UN Security Council has only determined that ISIL represents a threat to international peace and security and it has stressed the need to bring perpetrators to justice. ‘But the Council has conspicuously failed to either authorise military action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, or to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court’, he said. ‘States are under an obligation to take measures to protect civilian populations from widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism’, Mr. Emmerson continued. ‘It is essential that any response be grounded in respect for international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and refugee law.’

He continued saying that ‘whether these dreadful crimes qualify as genocide or not, the time has come to recognize that permanent members [of the Security Council] have a responsibility to refrain from using their veto powers to block action aimed at ending atrocity crimes’. ‘This approach now has the support of many States, civil society organisation and entities of the UN’, he noted.

Mr. Emmerson described in his report how different entities have found clear evidence of persecution and summary execution of religious and ethnic minority communities on a mass scale, arbitrary execution of community leaders, journalists, intellectuals and others, mass disappearances, forced religious conversions and systematic torture. In addition, children have been subjected to summary execution, arbitrary detention and torture, and forced to take part in military training, and significant religious and cultural sites have been systematically destroyed. ‘In short, those living under the terror of ISIL are in daily fear for their lives’, Mr. Emmerson said. ‘These shocking crimes are being committed on an industrial scale and amount to an affront to the conscience of the entire international community.’

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Source: UN News Centre | Security Council has ‘obligation to act now’ to protect civilians from ISIL – UN rights expert
Source: OHCHR | News | Act now to prevent industrial scale human rights violations by ISIL – UN expert calls on the Security Council | Geneva, 22 June 2015

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