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Geneva and the Human Rights Council

In 2015 the Global Centre opened a second office in Geneva, launching its efforts at advancing the institutionalization of R2P within the UN in Geneva, particularly at the Human Rights Council. In doing so, the Global Centre seeks to encourage and advance the consistent implementation and operationalization of R2P across the entire UN system. 

This includes:

  • Bridging the gap in understanding and engagement on R2P between New York and Geneva, including information-sharing on R2P-related issues between UN bodies and UN membership in New York and Geneva;
  • Deepening engagement on R2P among Geneva missions to build broad-based support for R2P in Geneva;
  • Building better linkages between the work of the Human Rights Council and its special procedures and the implementation of R2P, particularly with regards to early warning of mass atrocities.

The Human Rights Council can and should play an essential role in implementing R2P through its procedures and mechanisms, including through the Universal Periodic Review, which serves to assess the human rights situations in all countries. The Human Rights Council’s work, including through its special procedures mechanisms, has been critical in highlighting the need for effective and early action aimed at halting and preventing the commission of mass atrocity crimes. At the same time, there is a need to address the critical gap between New York and Geneva in comprehensive understanding and institutionalization of R2P. As the UN Secretary-General said in his 2015 report on R2P:

“International human rights bodies provide another important form of encouragement and can help to reduce the political sensitivities that often preclude early prevention. The Human Rights Council, special procedures mandate-holders and commissions of inquiry have all referenced the Responsibility to Protect in recent years. However, there are opportunities to more systematically include atrocity crime risk factors and national efforts to address them in the universal periodic review process, in human rights reporting and in the proceedings of the human rights treaty bodies. Expanding this form of encouragement will also better connect deliberations in New York and Geneva, thereby ensuring a more comprehensive and consistent approach across various United Nations bodies.”

Mainstreaming R2P within the Human Rights Council will require commitment and engagement on behalf of a dedicated group of member states, in particular a Geneva-based Group of Friends (GoF) on the Responsibility to Protect. The GoF-Geneva, co-chaired by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Rwanda, was officially launched on 20 November 2015, with 35 member-states attending the inaugural meeting. 


R2P at the HRC

On 17 July 2020 the HRC adopted a resolution on the “Fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the World Summit Outcome of 2005.” The resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favor, 1 against and 14 abstentions. In keeping with the resolution, on 11 May 2021 the HRC held an intersessional panel on R2P. The Global Centre engaged with the HRC on planning the panel and Ms. Savita Pawnday served as moderator of the panel discussion. A full summary of the panel discussion is available here


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Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5203
New York, NY 10016-4309, USA

Phone: +1 212-817-1929 |
R2P Resources & Statements