‘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 Milestone

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

How oysters are cleaning New York’s polluted harbor

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: UNFCCC Secretariat Launches Forest Information Hub

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

Peace in the Gulf ‘at a critical juncture’ says DiCarlo, urging continuation of Iran nuclear deal

IMF: European banks do not perform their duty to real economy

Impressions of China

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

The widely advertised hazards of the EU not that ominous; the sting is financial woes

What is behind the wide reach of  fake news about Coronavirus?

More ‘political commitment’ needed urgently for HIV prevention: UNAIDS chief

ECB reaches the boundaries of its mandate to revive the entirety of Eurozone

In visit to hurricane-ravaged Bahamas, UN chief calls for greater action to address climate change

Deadly violence at Israel-Gaza border escalates dangerously: UN chief condemns in strongest terms

Eurozone: Sovereign debt decreases for the first time since 2007

Convincing the Germans to pay also for the unification of Eurozone

Some progress made towards security in Mali, but still a long way to go, Security Council hears

At UN, Somalia’s President spotlights country’s progress, but cautions eradicating terrorism ‘will not be easy’

Strawberries and child support; a Thai partnership

EUREKA @ European Business Summit 2014: Innovation across borders – mobilising national R&D funds for transnational innovation in Europe

Why the world is not as globalized as you think

Indoor air pollution is deadly. Here’s an unconventional solution

These are the world’s best universities by subject

UNESCO experts ready to assist reconstruction of iconic Notre Dame, following devastating blaze

EU prepares itself to fight back against hostile propaganda

Health inequalities: private healthcare providers versus state healthcare providers

How to turn Africa’s manufacturing sector into a high-tech powerhouse

These 10 countries are the best at respecting children’s rights

Austrian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

‘More time’ agreed for buffer zone, to spare three million Syrian civilians in Idlib

First EU-wide protection for whistle-blowers agreed

What’s the difference between carbon negative and carbon neutral?

EU budget agreement rejected by the European Parliament

Amid strong outlook for U.S. economy, risks abound

Tobacco is harming the planet, not just our health, says new study

Iraq: UN mission urges ‘maximum restraint’ following deadly attack on foreign troops

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

Lies and reality about incomes and wealth in the EU

What’s a logarithmic graph and how does it help explain the spread of COVID-19?

War in Syria: ‘Carnage’, flouting of rights and international law, must stop: Guterres

Rights defenders jailed in Bahrain and UAE should be released unconditionally, UN urges

The Brexit factor in the US-China trade war and other conflicts

Women to save Europe’s own labour resources

End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is indeed our best bet for a secure climate future”, EU Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella cries out from Brussels

Final vote on European Solidarity Corps

COVID-19: research package welcomed, EU needs to be better equipped in future

EU adopts €55 million support package for Syrian refugees and local communities in Jordan and Lebanon to mitigate coronavirus pandemic

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

Negotiations on new EU collective redress rules to begin

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

JADE Team at the European Business Summit 2017

UN chief hails ‘very important role’ of Human Rights Council, as US withdraws, citing alleged bias

EU seems to fail its moderate migration promises postponing them for end 2015

EU Commission: Banking and energy conglomerates don’t threaten competition!

Syria: UN food relief agency ‘doing everything we can’ to reach Idlib civilians

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

Global Cooperation for Local Action: Fighting antimicrobial resistance

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