‘All atrocity crimes are preventable’ and can never be justified – UN chief

UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Secretary-General António Guterres (left) addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Atrocity crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing – are not “inevitable”, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Monday, stressing that the international community must do more to end violence against innocent people.

Speaking at a General Assembly debate on the ‘responsibility to protect’ on Monday, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted that upholding the obligation, when it is most needed, is critical.

“At this time of extreme challenges, we must not abandon the responsibility to protect or leave it in a state of suspended animation, finely articulated in words but breached time and again in practice,” he said.

“Lofty principles mean little if they cannot be applied when they matter most.”

The responsibility to protect, widely known as R2P, refers to the obligation of States toward their populations and toward all populations at risk of genocide and other mass war crimes.

After years of discussion in the wake of the atrocities committed Bosnia and Rwanda during the1990s, UN Member States committed to the principle by including R2P in the outcome document of the 2005 high-level UN World Summit in New York.

Today, Mr. Guterres reminded Member States of their duty to protect their own people and proposed steps they could take to strengthen their capacities, including conducting national risk assessments and designing policies to address any vulnerabilities.

In addition, increasing the participation of civil society would help enhance early warning and ensure the effectiveness of national human rights institutions and ombudspersons, he added.

“Our over-arching challenge is to uphold the principle while preventing its mis-use,” said Mr. Guterres: “That means acting promptly, preventively, diplomatically, before situations escalate and spiral out of control.”

The Secretary-General also urged all Member States to “ratify and domesticate” instruments of international law relating to the prohibition and prevention of the atrocity crimes.

Of the 193 UN Member States, 45 are yet to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted in 1948 and entered into force in early 1951. The Convention defines genocide in legal terms and underlines the need to hold those responsible for the reprehensible act to justice.

Prevention at the core of the responsibility to protect – General Assembly President

Also addressing the meeting, General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák recalled that in the years since the 2005 World Summit and the adoption by the Assembly of a resolution on the issue in 2009, today’s gathering was the body’s first formal meeting on the principle.

“So, I think it is a good time to remind ourselves of the weight on our shoulders,” he said.

The Assembly President also stressed that prevention lies the core of the responsibility to protect.

“[It means] to do everything we can to avoid reaching the point where humanity is lost,” he said, noting that while prevention may be “hard work; but it is worth it.”

He also highlighted the link between the responsibility to protect and the UN Charter.

“We have all committed, through the Charter’s first line, to save future generations from the scourge of war. And the responsibility to protect is based on this very objective,” he said.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

3 ways the coronavirus is affecting animals around the world

As Dubai switches on its first 5G, what is all the fuss about?

EU Blue Card: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for highly skilled migrant workers

Central banking in times of complexity

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

Single Market Scoreboard 2020: Member States need to do more to ensure the good functioning of the EU Single Market*

All at sea during COVID-19 lockdown? Try these sailor survival tips

Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

One-in-five suffers mental health condition in conflict zones, new UN figures reveal

Atomic agency cites concerns over Iran testing sites, offers COVID-19 assistance

Stable growth momentum in the OECD area

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

Soccer is back with strict COVID-19 rules. Here’s what you need to know

Why diversity needs your star power, as well as sponsors

How do we design an inclusive energy transition?

5 ways Coca-Cola is cleaning up its plastic footprint in Africa

Bolivia: UN underlines support for ‘credible, transparent and inclusive’ election

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Closing the gap in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

Cambodia: Giving back to UN peacekeeping

These 5 charts reveal the gender and diversity gaps start-ups must bridge

With Caribbean island life under threat, UN chief pushes to face ‘headwinds together’

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

MEPs adopt revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country

Sudan military committed to ‘ensuring stability’ and ‘peaceful transition’ says senior diplomat, as UN rights chief appeals for protesters’ rights to be upheld

Electronic cigarette – is it really a safer alternative to smoking?

Here’s how private investors can turn plastic into gold

Croatian Presidency priorities discussed in the European Parliament

Removing sweets from supermarket checkouts could help fight obesity

JADE Romania Celebrates the 4th Anniversary

A neo-liberal toll free Paradise for the super rich and tax hell for wage earners

Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations

New seat projections for the next European Parliament

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

Discussions kick off among MEPs and national MPs on economic governance

To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

How can newspapers survive? By measuring their social impact

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Few countries are pricing carbon high enough to meet climate targets

EU boosts sustainable cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon

The hidden downsides of autonomous vehicles – and how to avoid them

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

These are America’s most dangerous jobs

European Union: More taxes out of less income

The battle for the 2016 EU Budget to shake the Union; Commission and Parliament vs. Germany

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

To be fair or to be sustainable? That is the (retirement) question

How to end overfishing in the global South

Almost there: Equal healthcare for LGBTQI+

If you want to make progress on all the major global challenges, start with water

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

Could play be a game-changer for the world’s forests?

EU budget 2022: Speeding up Europe’s recovery and progressing towards a green, digital and resilient future

3 things to know about India’s space programme

8th Euronest Assembly: the future of relations with Eastern partners

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

How drones can unlock greener infrastructure inspection

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s