Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a concerted international effort to develop a mechanism for applying the principle of the global responsibility to protect to ensure that this century becomes the first one whose history is not “written in the blood of innocents.”
“We need to sharpen our tools for prevention and for protection,” Mr. Ban told the General Assembly’s Interactive Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect. “We need a fuller understanding of what motivates the perpetrators and planners of mass violence. We need to explore how to apply the principle more consistently across cases,” he said.
Agreed at a summit of world leaders in 2005 and sometimes known as ‘R2P’, the principle holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met.
The Secretary-General said that he was confident that a positive difference in terms of saving lives and giving hope to the vulnerable and the displaced is being made as the concept of the responsibility to protect takes root. “In crisis after crisis, our chances of success have multiplied when we have worked together,” he stressed.
He praised the contributions of the regional and sub-regional organisations, as well as civil society to his responsibility to protect implementation strategy, which is based on three key pillars – State responsibility, international assistance, and timely and decisive response.
Mr. Ban pointed out that his Special Advisers on the Responsibility to Protect and on the Prevention of Genocide have benefited from information and insights generated by regional and sub-regional arrangements, as well as from local and international civil society.
“No action is without risk of doing harm, so we must try to avoid unintended consequences, whatever our good intentions. But the history of atrocity crimes is not one of acting too boldly, but of doing too little, too late,” said the Secretary-General.
“Every day, we work together on conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. We share abiding commitments to human rights and the rule of law. The results have been impressive. Now we can do the same for atrocity prevention,” he added.
The President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, told the informal meeting that there is a need to promote cooperation by strengthening regional capacities for prevention and action, and identifying effective policies to implement the responsibility to protect.
He said the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide will be instrumental in helping make the responsibility to protect a reality and called for greater support for the office.
“If we wish the UN to fulfil its obligations towards humanity, if we want the UN to remain at the centre of global governance for the prevention and protection of the most flagrant violations of international law and humanitarian law, day after day, we must affirm our responsibility to protect,” said Mr. Deiss.