On Tuesday 6 December the Global Centre joined the Permanent Missions of Canada and Switzerland in Geneva in hosting an event entitled “Bridging the Gap Between NY and Geneva: Peacekeeping and Robust Human Rights Protection.” During this event panelists discussed ways to amplify the findings of human rights components with the UN Security Council (UNSC) and Human Rights Council to ensure their warnings regarding potential atrocity risks are consistently reviewed by decision makers.
Peacekeeping Operations are an important UN tool in the maintenance of international peace and security. As many missions currently operate in environments where populations are at risk of mass atrocity crimes, the work of peacekeepers often serve as a physical manifestation of the international community’s determination to uphold its Responsibility to Protect populations at risk of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Recognizing that protecting human rights is essential to fulfilling these aims, the UNSC has included robust human rights mandates within various peacekeeping missions. These mission components often operate as a joint endeavor between the peacekeeping mission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and assist in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocating for the prevention of violations, building human rights capacities and institutions within host countries, and mainstreaming human rights within the work of their respective missions.
In recent years the human rights components of the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), Mali and elsewhere have published critical reports via OHCHR documenting human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. Due to their position as a joint Department of Peace Operations–OHCHR mechanism that is mandated by the UNSC, but publishes reports via OHCHR, human rights components of peacekeeping missions may be a useful tool in bridging the gap between New York and Geneva.