04 Oct 2013
The Responsibility to Protect: Opening of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly held its 68th Opening Session between 24 September and 2 October 2013. The theme of the General Debate, as chosen by the new President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe of the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda, was the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals Framework. During their opening statements, twenty-three countries directly referenced the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The vast majority of these statements were strong, positive reflections on the need to uphold and advance R2P. Two countries, Costa Rica and Denmark, mentioned the R2P National Focal Points initiative. With respect to country-specific situations, an overwhelming number of states, 154 in total, mentioned the situation in Syria. Strong calls were also made for the need for accountability for the use of chemical weapons and other atrocity crimes in Syria. There were calls for action to address the situations in the Central African Republic, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. References to the situation in Mali were overwhelmingly positive, with many states congratulating the country for its recent elections. Among thematic references, many states called for the need for accountability for mass atrocity crimes, including through the International Criminal Court. Sixty-three states called for the reform of the United Nation Security Council, with nine others expressing the need for restraint on the use of the veto by the Council's five permanent members in situations of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The Arms Trade Treaty was also a prominent theme with many states welcoming its adoption and urging further ratification.

The attached document contains all of the relevant quotes from the 2013 Opening Session.