“Don’t let ISIS get away with genocide.”
That is the appeal international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney made to the United Nations Thursday after efforts to coordinate a U.N. probe into crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq seemingly stalled.
The barrister — who has advocated for the Yazidis, a Kurdish religious community in Iraq, and represents a Yazidi woman named Nadia Murad who endured sexual enslavement before becoming a U.N, Goodwill Ambassador — previously approached the U.N. six months ago to hold members of the terror group accountable.
“Since my last address, I have supported the United Kingdom’s initiative to have the Security Council set up an investigation into ISIS’ crimes in Iraq,” Clooney said. “Over the last few months, I have met with Iraqi, EU and U.N. officials and members of the Security Council, including the Russian and US Ambassadors, to discuss this initiative. All of them expressed support for the idea of a U.N. investigation to be established by the Security Council with Iraq’s cooperation.”
But while the U.K. drafted a resolution to launch the investigation and the Iraqi government has endorsed the probe, Iraq has failed to issue a formal request urging the U.N. Security Council to act.
“The Council could, of course, act without this letter,” Clooney said. “It could establish the investigation without Iraq’s consent, acting under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. It could refer the case to the International Criminal Court. The General Assembly could establish an accountability mechanism, as it did for Syria in December. Or the secretary-general could launch an investigation. But none of this has happened yet. “
Meanwhile, Clooney said, extremists have continued their reign of terror through “killings, forced conversions, and rape.”
But equally as “shocking” as ISIS’ action is the U.N.’s inaction, Clooney said. “If we do not change course, history will judge us, and there will be no excuse for our failure to act,” she said, adding, “A lack of accountability simply leads to continuing cycles of vengeful violence. So killing ISIS on the battlefield is not enough. We must also kill the idea behind ISIS by exposing its brutality and bringing individual criminals to justice.”
“Don’t let this be another Rwanda, where you regret doing too little, too late,” she concluded. “Don’t let ISIS get away with genocide.”
Clooney was hailed on social media for her forthright call-to-action, though a number of outlets were more interested in her pregnancy. The Sun teased the story with the headline, "Oh baby! George Clooney's wife Amal Clooney shows off her blossoming baby bump in a chic yellow dress as she heads out to New York." Entertainment Tonight wrote, “Amal Clooney Stuns in Yellow While Delivering Passionate Speech at the United Nations.” And Time came under fire for tweeting, "Amal Clooney shows off baby bump at the United Nations" to promote a People story republished on their Motto site.
It isn't the first time the lawyer's advocacy has been overshadowed by her connection to her actor-husband, George, but the backlash on social media was swift, with users calling out the reductive approach, which exclusively hones in on women's marital or maternal status. Commenters also affirmed the need for a shift in the rhetoric used to describe women and the work they do, a timely message on the heels of International Women's Day.