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 a global network. Appointment of a national 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.
The first meeting of national R2P Focal Points was held in May 2011. The meeting served the purpose for setting up a network of national R2P Focal Points for the prevention of mass atrocities. Thirty-one countries, representing all regions of the world, participated in this meeting. The meeting provided the participants with an opportunity to highlight conceptual questions and challenges. Participants 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.
Thirty-six countries representing all regions of the world participated in the meeting. At the second meeting, appointed R2P Focal Points who have defined their roles within their respective national context shared their experiences. Particularly noteworthy were the interventions made by Denmark, Australia and Costa Rica, who have over the course of the year reflected upon how the national R2P Focal Point can implement strategies within their national context to prevent mass atrocities. 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 of R2P Focal Points 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 for the Responsibility to Protect and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.
More than thirty-five countries and three regional organizations attended this meeting, where representatives from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Liberia announced their intention to appoint a R2P Focal Point in the near future. This was the first meeting of the Global Network to be held in Africa and the location was instrumental in allowing for the diversity represented at a senior level at the meeting. The agenda of the meeting aimed at encouraging genuine discussion of substantive issues while limiting the number of formal speeches and presentations.
In addition to annual meetings of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points, the Global Centre for R2P also hopes to co-host with governmental partners regional meetings of the network of R2P Focal Points. The aim of the regional meetings will be to address R2P implementation with regards to pillars 1 and 2 from a regional perspective and discuss ways of regional implementation of R2P.
The first such regional meeting took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 10 April 2013. The government of Slovenia with the Global Centre for R2P co-hosted this first European regional meeting. Thirty-one countries from across Europe participated in the meeting. Austria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Hungary announced the appointment of national R2P Focal Points at the meeting. The discussion centered on how countries from Europe can implement R2P nationally and internationally and the role of R2P Focal Points in facilitating the operationalization of R2P. The meeting was also attended by the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng and representatives from European Union, International Criminal Court and OSCE.
Since September 2010, 37 countries, representing the global north and south, have appointed a national R2P Focal Point:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, United Kingdom and United States.