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Islamic State

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL4829, tabled on 11 January 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to meet the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide to discuss the situation of Christians and Yazidis in Syria and Iraq.

Answered on

22 January 2016

The British Government has received a number of recent representations on these issues from Parliament and members of the public and is responding in writing.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed by Daesh against all civilians, including Christians, Mandeans, Yazidis, and other minorities, as well as the majority Muslim population who continue to bear the brunt of Daesh’s brutality. The UK has led efforts within the UN to tackle and condemn Daesh and on the protection of civilians more widely. For example, we co-sponsored the UN Human Rights Council Resolution mandating the UN to investigate and report on Daesh abuses.

It is a long-standing Government policy that any judgements on whether genocide has occurred are a matter for the international judicial system rather than governments or other non-judicial bodies.

Ultimately, the only way to protect Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the region from Daesh is by defeating this terrible organisation, which in turn requires, amongst other things, ending the conflict in Syria. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), set out the UK’s comprehensive strategy for defeating Daesh and finding a political settlement to the Syria conflict in his response to the Foreign Affairs Committee on 26 November 2015.

The joint Office of the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect (the Office) are engaged with these issues and publish much of their activity online, including statements in relation to the situation of Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. Our officials maintain regular contact with officials from the Office to discuss issues related to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. The Government provides funding for the Office, including for their work with religious leaders and faith based organisations in the Middle East and North Africa region, aimed at the prevention of incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.