In September 2015 the United Nations commemorated the tenth anniversary of the global agreement forged by all Member States on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
The tenth anniversary of R2P is an important opportunity to take stock of national, regional and international efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocity crimes and set out an ambitious vision for the decade ahead. It is also a moment to redouble collective efforts to prevent and protect civilians from these crimes, particularly given the ongoing situations in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan, among others.
A number of important commemorative events coincided with the tenth anniversary of R2P. In March, the world marked the fourth anniversary of the devastating crisis in Syria. On 17 April the international community marked the 40th anniversary of the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The Armenian genocide, which has yet to be formally recognized by the UN, was commemorated on 24 April. In July, the international community somberly commemorated the genocide of over 8,000 Bosniak young men and boys at Srebrenica. Finally, in October, the 70th anniversary of the UN was celebrated.
2015 is a crucial year that presents Member States of the UN with significant opportunities to deepen the global commitment to the Responsibility to Protect. Member States can do this by:
• Appointing a National R2P Focal Point, a senior-level government official responsible for mainstreaming the prevention of mass atrocity crimes and R2P domestically. Fifty-six countries from across the globe have already appointed a R2P Focal Point;
• Publicly affirming that the Responsibility to Protect and the prevention of mass atrocity crimes is a national priority and strengthening domestic and international capacities to prevent and halt mass atrocity crimes;
• Participating in stock-taking exercises organized by the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and R2P to provide substantive input with respect to best practices and lessons learned regarding the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes;
• Publicly supporting UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council and Security Council resolutions that reaffirm the commitment by all 193 Member States of the UN to R2P and the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes;
• Supporting and participating in a thematic Open Debate on the Prevention of Genocide at the UN Security Council and pass a resolution reaffirming the Council's commitment to R2P;
• Publicly supporting the UN Secretary-General's Human Rights Up Front Action Plan and encouraging the Secretariat to serve as a key instrument in early responses to situations where the risk of possible mass atrocity crimes are evident;
• Supporting multilateral initiatives aimed at the voluntary restraint on the use of the veto in situations of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In particular, the Global Centre encourages the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – to publicly commit to a Statement of Principles in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.