ISIS is committing genocide, declares Council of Europe

The Council of Europe passed a resolution on Wednesday saying ISIS is committing genocide, just a week before the EU is scheduled to vote on a similar resolution.

Thousands of Iraqi minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, camp in an open field after fleeing from ISIS forces that have taken over their land and started waging a campaign of genocide on non-Muslim residents.Reuters

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution entitled "Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq" almost unanimously – 117 votes for with just 1 against – stating ISIS has "perpetrated acts of genocide and other serious crimes punishable under international law".

The parliament advised states to "act on the presumption that Da'esh commits genocide".

Genocide is considered the "crime of crimes" in international law. The UN Genocide Convention of 1948 defined it as actions taken with "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".

"The Council of Europe has responded to clear and compelling evidence that Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East are victims of genocide," said Laurence Wilkinson, Legal Counsel for ADF International.

"Hopefully more institutions will follow this example to ensure swift and strong action is taken by the international community to save lives in the region."

Naming genocide adds significance as it will further pressure the UN Security Council to issue a genocide resolution of its own. It will also encourage states to engage with the issue, as "under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, countries are obliged to take positive action to prevent crimes of genocide", according to Pieter Omtzigt, a member of the Council. 

The resolution holds particular significance due to the close partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Union, which is scheduled to vote on a resolution concerning the situation of religious minorities in the Middle East under ISIS on February 4.

"Although the path is difficult, the aim must be to achieve a world-wide condemnation of the atrocities of ISIS at the ICC, just as happened with Srebrenica and Rwanda, so Christians in the Middle East can live free from the fear of persecution and death," said Sophia Kuby, Director of EU Advocacy for ADF International.