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Calling ISIS killing what it is: genocide

EU High Representative fails to call systematic mass murder in the Middle East genocide. Growing consensus on genocide among MEPs. ADF International urges Parliament to use clear words in its upcoming resolution.


STRASBOURG, FRANCE – On Wednesday, 20 January 2016 the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, spoke to the European Parliament on the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Despite an overwhelming majority of MEPs urging her to do so, she refrained from using the term “genocide”.

During the parliamentary debate on systematic mass murder by ISIS last night, forty Members of the European Parliament challenged Mogherini on the vagueness of her statement. They called for an explicit recognition of the atrocities committed by ISIS as genocide against Christians and other minorities. “We welcome that Ms. Mogherini addressed the situation of Christians in the Middle East. However, we regret that the High Representative has turned a blind eye to the growing consensus amongst parliamentarians to name the atrocities of ISIS against Christians and other minorities in the strongest term offered by international law: genocide”, said Sophia Kuby, Director of EU Advocacy for ADF International.

Broad consensus amongst parliamentarians

This could become the strongest official statement yet

The demand for this recognition came from groups across the political spectrum. Christian Democrats, Socialists, Liberals and Conservatives spoke with one voice last night. In the first week of February, Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on this issue. This could become the strongest official statement yet, provided that a majority will agree to recognize the systematic mass murder by ISIS as genocide.

Many of the intervening MEPs argued that such recognition could provide a solid foundation for concrete next steps. Calling it genocide would not only give better protection to the victims, but it would mobilize the international community to take firmer actions.

Turning a blind eye to the growing consensus

“Genocide is an internationally recognized legal term. It is necessary to call for further steps, such as action at the UN Security Council including a referral to the International Criminal Court”, Kuby added.

“The large number of clear statements in favour of a recognition of genocide shows that the debate has reached a tipping point. MEPs are not willing to accept anything less. We are confident that a majority of the Parliament will vote on a resolution which describes the crimes of ISIS as a genocide against Christians and other religious minorities.”

Clear criteria for identifying “genocide”


International law sets out clear criteria for when it is accurate to call a situation genocide. The UN Genocide Convention of 1948 states that acts need to be committed with “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. It needs to involve intentional killing of members of this group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to these members or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The number of Christians has dropped from 1.25 million to 500,000 in Syria and from 1.4 million to under 275,000 in Iraq in just a few years. “The legal criteria are fulfilled in order to recognize this as genocide. To deny this only adds to the suffering that people are already experiencing”, added Kuby.

Expert interview

An interview on the upcoming resolution on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East with Sophia Kuby can be found here

Expert brief (Q&A)

An expert brief in the form of a Q&A on the topic of genocide and the situation in the Middle East can be found here.

Previous press releases on this topic in other languages

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