An important step that governments can take to improve intra-governmental and inter-governmental efforts to prevent and halt mass atrocities is the appointment of a national R2P Focal Point. This senior level official is responsible for the promotion of R2P at the national level and will support international cooperation by participating in the Global Network of R2P Focal Points. Appointment of an R2P Focal Point is a step that can be implemented by governments with differing levels of capacity in mass atrocity prevention to demonstrate their commitment to R2P.
The R2P Focal Points initiative was launched in September 2010 by the governments of Denmark and Ghana in collaboration with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the annual Ministerial Meeting on the Responsibility to Protect held during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Since then the governments of Australia and Costa Rica have also joined the facilitating group.
Since September 2010, 60 countries, representing every region of the world, have appointed a national R2P Focal Point:
Albania, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico (to be announced during the 8th Annual Meeting of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points), Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, United Kingdom and United States.
The European Union has also appointed an R2P Focal Point.
The first meeting of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points was held in May 2011 in New York. The meeting served the purpose for setting up a network of national R2P Focal Points for the prevention of mass atrocities. More than 30 countries, representing all regions of the world, participated in the meeting. The meeting provided the participants with an opportunity to highlight conceptual questions and challenges. Participants also recognized that for the initiative to move forward, greater clarity was required regarding the role and responsibilities of national R2P Focal Points.
In order to address some of the challenges identified by participants at the first meeting the Global Centre, in collaboration with the Stanley Foundation, convened R2P Focal Points, UN mission Ambassadors and experts, UN officials and mass atrocity specialists for a preparatory workshop in February 2012.
Reflecting on the objectives and orientation of R2P Focal Points participants outlined the following elements:
• Mass atrocity risk is dynamic and universal. Developing national capacities to prevent and halt atrocities involves a process of continuous self-reflection relevant to all states.
• The specific profile of the R2P Focal Point should be determined by national context and capacities.
• The R2P Focal Point should possess deep insight into the workings of their national system and a skill for operating within the nuances of their institutional context. They should be positioned with the authority to convene policymakers across relevant institutions.
• The network will serve as a support system for states committed to R2P objectives. The core objective of a R2P Focal Points network is to help create a "community of commitment" that increases the states' capacity to implement R2P's three-pillar framework. The community is conceived as a network not a coalition and therefore members remain free to determine their position and approach to specific situations and policy applications.
• The network will promote education and awareness of R2P principles through support provided to member governments and engagement with those outside the network, including civil society.
The Global Centre, with input from the governments of Australia, Denmark, Costa Rica and Ghana, drafted a set of recommendations that governments can choose to take into consideration while appointing a national R2P Focal Point. These recommendations are in no way prescriptive and should not be read as a check-list. Rather, they are intended to inspire states to consider some of the possibilities that could be achieved by appointing a national R2P Focal Point. To access the recommendations, please use the following link: National R2P Focal Points Recommendations
The second meeting of the network of national R2P Focal Points was held on 29 September 2012 in New York. More than 35 countries representing all regions of the world participated in the meeting. At the second meeting, R2P Focal Points who already had defined roles within their respective national context shared their experiences, particularly the R2P Focal Points of Denmark, Australia and Costa Rica. Participants also discussed the role of regional organizations and other national and global capacities needed to make the global network effective.
The third meeting of the Global Network was held on 11 and 12 June 2013 in Accra, Ghana and was co-hosted by the governments of Denmark and Ghana along with the Global Centre and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre. More than 35 countries and three regional organizations attended this meeting. This was the first meeting of the Global Network to be held in Africa and the location was instrumental in allowing for the diversity of African states represented at a senior level at the meeting.
The fourth meeting of the Global Network was held on 12 and 13 June 2014 in Gaborone, Botswana and was co-hosted by the governments of Botswana and the Netherlands along with the Global Centre. More than 31 countries and the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect attended the meeting. The focus of the Gaborone meeting was capacity building and R2P, including the impact of security sector reform, rule of law and understanding the legacy of mass atrocities in communities affected by mass atrocity crimes.
The fifth meeting of the Global Network was held on 23 and 24 June 2015 in Madrid, Spain and was co-hosted by the governments of Spain and Chile along with the Global Centre and the Stanley Foundation. More than 50 countries and the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect attended the meeting. The focus of the Madrid meeting was on the 10 year anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect, responding to new challenges, and threats to vulnerable communities.
The sixth meeting of the Global Network was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 20 to 22 June 2016 and was co-hosted by the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste along with the Global Centre. The meeting brought together more than 50 countries along with a variety of high-level speakers to inform discussions. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the UN Refugee Agency Volker Türk delivered video messages to the Global Network. R2P Focal Points discussed concrete ways for R2P Focal Points to enhance the implementation of R2P, including strengthening national mechanisms for prevention and engaging with their missions in New York and Geneva to ensure mass atrocity prevention remains a UN priority under the next Secretary-General.
The seventh meeting of the Global Network was held on 24 and 25 April in Doha, Qatar and was hosted by the government of Qatar along with the Global Centre. This was the first meeting of the Global Network to take place in the Middle East region. Informed by expert presentations, participants discussed the crisis in Syria, challenges and opportunities for accountability for mass atrocity crimes, the global rise in hate speech and xenophobia, and the refugee crisis, as well as their collective impact upon efforts to prevent and halt genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The meeting concluded with the R2P Focal Point from Finland announcing that her country will be hosting the eighth annual meeting of the Global Network in Helsinki during 2018.
In addition to annual meetings of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points, the Global Centre has co-hosted regional meetings of R2P Focal Points with governmental partners. The first such regional meeting was co-hosted by the government of Slovenia and took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 10 April 2013. Thirty-two countries from across Europe participated in the meeting. The discussion centered on how countries in Europe can implement R2P nationally and internationally and the role of R2P Focal Points in facilitating the operationalization of R2P. Additional regional meetings were held in Ljubljana in April 2015 and May 2017.