The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the “ongoing barbaric terrorist acts” committed by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and reaffirmed its determination in defeating the extremist group.
In a statement released late yesterday evening, the 15-member Council once again stressed that ISIL “must be defeated” and the “intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out,” adding that the “continued acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL do not intimidate them, but rather stiffen their resolve.”
“There has to be a common effort amongst Governments and institutions, including those in the region most affected, to counter ISIL,” the statement continued. “No act of violence or terrorism can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, underpinned by the rule of law and respect for human rights, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community.”
The Council statement follows a series of recent atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against civilians in Iraq, including the reported abduction of 100 Sunni tribesmen from outside Tikrit on 25 February; the immolation of 45 Iraqis in the town of Baghdadi; and the “deliberate destruction of irreplaceable religious and cultural artefacts” housed in Mosul Museum.
Earlier in the week, the militants released a video showing them shattering artefacts and bas-reliefs, including large statues from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site of Hatra, in Mosul Museum, with sledgehammers, garnering condemnation from across the UN system.
ISIL extremists have reportedly engaged in so-called “cultural cleansing” across Iraq and other territories occupied by the group, including the destruction of religious heritage belonging to Muslim, Christian and Jewish sects alike. At the same time, they also participate in the illicit traffic of artefacts in order to help fund their terrorist acts.
In their statement, the Security Council similarly condemned the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, and libraries, warning that the illicit trafficking of such valuable materials was being used to support and finance groups likes ISIL and Al-Qaida.
At a press conference held yesterday in Paris, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, also voiced her “dismay” at ISIL's “destructive fury” against the cultural artefacts in Mosul Museum and observed that the “terrorists use the destruction of heritage in their strategy to destabilize and manipulate populations so that they can assure their own domination.”
Ms. Bokova has noted that such acts against cultural heritage can, in fact, constitute a war crime according to the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).