Preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility. Everyone has a role to play: Governments, the media, civil society organizations, religious groups, and each and every one of us. Let us build a global partnership against genocide. Let us protect populations from genocide when their own Government cannot or will not.
— Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations


On 16 June 2016 a United Nations human rights inquiry reported that “Genocide has occurred and is ongoing” against the Yazidi community in Iraq. “Thousands of women and girls, some as young as nine years old, have been sold in slave markets. The Islamic State (ISIS) and its fighters hold them both in sexual slavery and in slavery,” the report says, “with Yazidi women and girls being constantly sold, gifted and willed between fighters.”

The surviving Yazidi community has requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) begin work in identifying the individuals responsible for the genocide. But until now the International Criminal Court could not intervene because the Genocide was committed in Iraq, which is not a state party to the Rome Statute. 

A total of 147 states, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, China, Russia, UK and France) are signatories of  the Genocide Convention and have committed to prevent and to punish acts of genocide (art 1).


There are three alternative ways to trigger the Court intervention:

1. Request to open a case based on the nationality of some ISIS perpetrators, pursuant to Article 12 (2) (b) of the Rome Statute. In April 2015, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor determined that there was not enough information to start a preliminary examination of crimes committed by ISIS, including nationals of states parties as perpetrators. In September 2015, two Yazidis NGOs, Yazda and the Free Yezidi Foundation, with the support of Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq provided additional information about more than 5500 ISIS members from ICC’s states parties (including 2000 Jordanians, 1500 Tunisians and 2000 Europeans). They requested that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor reexamine the matter and open a preliminary examination on this basis.
2.  Iraq’s acceptance of the ICC jurisdiction limited to the region of Sinjar and only since August 2014, which would cover only the crimes committed against the Yazidi population. Iraq is not a member of the Rome Statute and, considering the current geopolitical situation, is not willing to become a state party. However, with international support the option of a limited acceptance could be achievable. It will be very important to clarify the distinction between joining the Rome Statute as a state party and the limited consequences of an acceptance of jurisdiction limited to a specific territory and time.
3.  A UN Security Council referral with similar limitations (only the region of Sinjar and only since August 2014). It should be mentioned that UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) limited the referral of Darfur to the ICC by excluding the rest of the Sudan. In the past Russia and China vetoed an attempt to refer the entire Syria situation, but Russia may agree on a limited option.

Join us in supporting brave Yazidis like Nadia Murad in asking the states parties of the Rome Statute, the Iraqi government and the UN Security Council to refer the Yazidi case to the ICC.


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