UN Security Council Elections for 2017-2018 and the Responsibility to Protect

28 June 2016

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect welcomes the election of Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and Sweden to the United Nations Security Council for 2017-2018. The Global Centre also welcomes the “show of unity” by the Netherlands and Italy who agreed to a split-term as a means of resolving a voting impasse in the General Assembly. Following approval of the proposal by the Western European and Others Group, the split-term is pending agreement of the General Assembly. With the election of these states, 8 of the 15 Council members are also members of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in New York and Geneva.

The global displacement of civilians due to conflict, mass atrocity crimes and persecution is at its highest level since the end of the Second World War. Security Council members have a responsibility to maintain international peace and security and ensure that populations are protected from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, regardless of where these crimes are occurring.

Since 2005 the Security Council has adopted 48 resolutions that refer to R2P. It is our hope that the Security Council will meaningfully uphold their commitment to R2P by taking proximate preventive action to avert emerging crises and halt mass atrocity crimes in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and elsewhere.

To this end, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect encourages all Security Council members to:

    • Request briefings from the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, as well as relevant Special Rapporteurs on situations where populations are at risk. In line with the UN Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front action plan, UN officials must be able to bring to the Security Council’s attention any situation where civilians face the threat of mass atrocities.
    • Hold a formal Security Council meeting to discuss the Responsibility to Protect and consider adopting a resolution which reaffirms the Council’s commitment to preventing mass atrocity crimes. Security Council members should also convene “Arria-formula” meetings on country situations which are not on the Council’s formal agenda and make regular use of “Any Other Business” to raise matters of concern.
    • Adhere to the ACT Code of Conduct, endorsed by 112 governments, by committing to take timely and decisive action to protect civilians and not vote against any credible resolution aimed at preventing or halting mass atrocities.
    • Support international criminal justice mechanisms, especially the International Criminal Court, in ensuring all perpetrators of mass atrocities are held accountable.

The Global Centre has compiled profiles on each of the newly-elected Security Council members. These provide a basic overview of their engagement with R2P, their contribution to UN peacekeeping operations and their status with relevant international legal regimes, including the Genocide Convention, Rome Statute and Arms Trade Treaty.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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