Responsibility to protect strengthens sovereignty, says UN chief
On Monday, Secretary-General António Guterres spoke to the General Assembly debate on the responsibility to protect, often referred to as R2P.
He said the discussion is critical as atrocity crimes are being committed around the world at a scale and ferocity not seen in years, with little regard for international human rights and humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General reminded States of their duty to protect their own people, and added that the international community cannot abandon the R2P principle or leave it in a state of suspended animation.
“Let us remember that the primary responsibility for protecting people rests with States. As the World Summit Outcome document says, and I quote, “Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations. ... This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement. ... We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it”.
Territorial integrity at risk in Middle Eastern and North African countries, Security Council hears
The Secretary-General also spoke to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, warning that the territorial integrity of countries like Syria, Yemen and Libya is under threat.
Millions of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. The impacts of this instability have spread to neighbours and beyond.
The UN chief outlined the situation.
“Today in a region once home to one of history’s greatest flowerings of culture and coexistence, we see many fault lines at work, old and new, crossing each other and generating enormous volatility. These include the Israeli-Palestinian wound, resurgent cold war-like rivalries, the Sunni-Shia divide, ethnic schisms and other political confrontations.”
The Secretary-General said that economic and social opportunities are clearly insufficient.
He noted that as such difficulties rise, trust in institutions declines, and societies fracture along ethnic or religious lines.
At times, he added, foreign interference has exacerbated this disunity, with destabilizing effects. And the risk of further downward spirals is sky high.
Finding new homes for refugees — a major challenge: UN report
More on people fleeing danger, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) released a report showing a widening gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and places available for them.
The UN agency’s annual Projected Global Resettlement Needs report projects that in 2019, some 1.4 million refugees will need to be transferred from the country where they have claimed asylum to a safe “third country.
With the number of available resettlement places dropping to just 75,000, the report warns that access to a “key, durable solution” for those in need of international protection is extremely limited.
The UN is appealing to all countries to open their doors to more refugees from a range of countries and to maintain this policy on a sustained basis.
In 2019, the UN refugee agency is preparing to focus on three major crises, namely countries hosting large numbers of refugees; central Mediterranean migration; and resettlement out of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt linked to the Syria conflict.