ISIL Ideology Expert (International Consultant) Yazidi / Shabak / Kakai / Shi’a / Sunni / Christians

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Result of Service

On 21 September 2017, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2379 (2017) in which it requested that the Secretary-General establish an Investigative Team, headed by a Special Adviser, to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL accountable by collecting, preserving and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, committed by ISIL in Iraq, to the highest possible standards, to ensure the broadest possible use before national courts, and complementing investigations being carried out by the Iraqi authorities, or investigations carried out by authorities in third countries at their request. The Terms of Reference for the operation of the Investigative Team were approved by the Security Council on 13 February 2018.

On 30 May 2018, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Karim Asad Ahmad Khan as the Special Adviser to head the Investigative Team, with effect from 13 July 2018. On 20 August 2018 the Investigative Team formally commenced its activities and on 29 October 2018 deployed its initial elements to Baghdad, Iraq. Since taking his position, the Special Adviser has taken forward the work needed to establish the Investigative Team, now designated as the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (“UNITAD”), and ensure that it is fully functioning, pursuant to OP 7 of resolution 2379 (2017). A new Special Adviser, Mr. Christian Ritscher, has taken over the Special Adviser’s duties in October 2021 and has further developed UNITAD’s objectives to ensure justice and accountability for the victims and survivors in Iraqi society.

As Iraqi society continues to recover from the aftermath of the atrocities committed by ISIL, the needs of victims and survivors for justice and accountability grows even stronger. This is most keenly felt by members of Iraq’s minority communities, who were specifically targeted by ISIL and who’s marginalization within Iraqi society means they continue to face structural barriers to achieving justice. It is in this context, and part and partial of UNITAD’s mandate to promote justice and accountability and to ensure that those most responsible for ISIL’s heinous crimes are brought to account before a court of law, whether in Iraq or elsewhere. Accountability and judicial recognition of crimes committed by ISIL will be fundamental to social cohesion and reconciliation processes in Iraq.

The consultancy sought is in line with this objective as it will help develop an in-depth understanding of ISIL’s ideology underpinning those crimes committed against different ethno-religious groups in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere throughout the world. A full comprehension of ISIL’s ideology is not only important to contextualize the crimes, but also to determine the scope of criminal liability of individual ISIL members and determine whether they had the requisite intent for genocide or persecution as a crime against humanity.


The recruited consultant will work in close cooperation with UNITAD through the Office of Field Investigations, specifically in collaboration with the head of the Erbil investigations as well as the heads of Field Investigation Units. The methodological approach to this consultancy will be one of collaboration and joint creation between the consultant and UNITAD, with the consultant taking overall responsibility for the agreed deliverables within the timeframe of the contract.

The consultancy will be conducted through the completion of the following deliverable:

– Develop an analytical product in the form of an expert report on ISIL ideology, which will include:
a) An assessment of the intent of ISIL leadership, as well as ISIL as an organization in carrying out its criminal acts against different ethno-religious groups.
b) The report will include a chronological review of documented ISIL messaging in relation to those different ethno-religious groups.
c) Whilst the focus is on the period 2014-2017, the report will include some analysis of the origin of ISIL’s messaging in relation to those different ethno-religious groups.
d) The analysis should include placement of the labels used by IS’s in respect to religious and ethnic groups, into linguistic, historical, religious, and ideological context.

Work Location

The consultancy is home-based.


Expected duration

The consultancy will include a total of 30 working days, spread over three months up to 30 September 2023.

This consultancy is potentially renewable depending on the operational needs and available funds of UNITAD.

Duties and Responsibilities

The consultancy will provide overall support to UNITAD’s ongoing efforts to determine the scope of criminal liability of individual ISIL members. An important component of determining this criminal liability is to analyse the criminal intent and purpose of ISIL as an organization and its leadership, and the message they conveyed to ISIL members. This analysis will contribute to the larger analysis of whether ISIL committed genocide and/or persecution against civilians belonging to specific ethno religious groups in Iraq.

The consultancy is expected to develop an analytical report, which will involve the following steps:

– An analysis of ISIL documents including speeches contained in videos; fatwas; religious texts; propaganda magazines etc.
– The analysis should include placement of the labels used by IS’s in respect to religious and ethnic groups, into linguistic, historical, religious, and ideological context.
– The focus will be on ISIL material which dates from the period immediately prior to, and during the existence of the ISIL Caliphate.
– Some level of analysis of historic notions from the Quran and their interpretation by ISIL, as well as the concept of takfir, will nonetheless be required for a full comprehension of ISIL’s intent in committing its widespread crimes against different ethno-religious groups in Iraq.
– The list of materials for the purposes of analysis will be provided by UNITAD, and the Consultant is encouraged to include additional material.
– If additional materials are analyzed, Consultant is expected to provide access to the materials and assist UNITAD’s team with collection and registration of such materials as evidence (if applicable)
– During the consultancy, the consultant is expected to have weekly informal meetings with UNITAD staff members to receive feedback and discuss progress of the analysis.

Qualifications/special skills


The consultant must have a postgraduate university degree (Master of Arts or equivalent) in law, political science, history or a related field.
A PhD is a desirable.


Minimum of 10 years of experience in investigating or prosecuting complex criminal cases including terrorist crimes or mass atrocity crimes is required.
The Consultant must also have experience in analyzing the notion of intent in international criminal law, Islamic Law and the interpretation thereof by ISIL or other Islamic terrorist groups including their structure and intent is required.
This experience can be on an academic or practical level and must show the Consultant’s ability to comprehend ISIL’s ideology through review of its documented messaging.
Having worked for a UN agency as an independent consultant or staff member is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this position, fluency in English is required. Fluency in Arabic is required.

“Fluency” equals a rating of ‘fluent’ in all four areas (speak, read, write, and understand) and “Knowledge of” equals a rating of ‘confident’ in two of the four areas.




Additional Information


Analysis of concepts and labels used by ISIL in respect to religious and ethnic groups, such as Nasara, Murtad, Kuffar and Rafidah in ISIL documents (propaganda magazines, fatwas, religious text …) and videos (including speeches by Al-Baghdadi). The objective of this analysis is to determine the existence of discriminatory (potentially genocidal) intent against religious and ethnic groups, such as Christians, Shi’a, Yazidis, Kakai, Shabak and Sunni perceived adversaries.


No Fee