On 25 September 2014 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Frans Timmermans, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Ms. Hanna Tetteh, in association with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, co-hosted a ministerial breakfast meeting on: The Responsibility to Protect and Human Rights.
Ministers representing eight governments contributed to the discussion while twenty other governments from across the globe attended as observers. The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Jan Eliasson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, and the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Dr. Jennifer Welsh, also participated in the meeting.
The principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has come a long way since 2005. The commitment to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing has now become an operational reality. The advocacy of ministers from all regions of the world has been vital in shifting the debate on R2P from a question of principle to meaningful application.
The aim of this year’s R2P Ministerial Roundtable was to discuss how R2P and human rights are practically linked. Participants addressed how early warning signs, including violations of human rights, can be transformed into early action to protect populations. At the national level, participants discussed how national human rights infrastructures can help protect against occurrence of mass atrocity crimes. System-wide approaches to human rights violations and mass atrocity prevention was noted as key to developing an appropriate international response. Notably, the “Rights up Front Action Plan” was highlighted as an important step towards embedding human rights protection, mass atrocity prevention and R2P into the core operations of the UN.
The co-hosts and the governments who attended remain committed to broadening discussions on the Responsibility to Protect and enhancing strategies to prevent mass atrocity crimes.