I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). A list of co-sponsors is available on the Extranet.
We thank the High Commissioner Madame Bachelet for her reporting on ongoing serious human rights violations and abuses over the past year, and on the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations around the world. The unprecedented global health crisis has demonstrated the urgent need for a universal commitment to protect the most vulnerable and marginalized and to address structural inequalities and discrimination, which continue to accelerate the pandemic’s impact.
In many atrocity situations we are currently witnessing around the world, these were preceded by systematic human rights violations and abuses, which are often further facilitated in a world now subject to increasing levels of disinformation, hate speech, and incitement to violence made more prevalent by the impacts of the pandemic. It is therefore essential to address serious violations and abuses at an early stage and prevent situations from escalating. The work of the High Commissioner and her office is essential in this regard, and UN member states can utilize the updates and information produced by OHCHR to identify warning signs of situations at risk, and engage with the concerned country, as well as the wider international community, on effective strategies to protect populations from atrocities. We also recognize the important work being undertaken by the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect.
The adoption of resolution ‘The contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations’ during the 45th session of the HRC reinforces the prevention role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office.
The Geneva-based human rights mechanisms – including Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Treaty Bodies – can all also contribute to strengthening atrocity prevention and response. Furthermore, HRC-mandated investigative mechanisms may not only be vital for accountability for past atrocities, but may also have a deterrent effect on the future commission of atrocity crimes. Through the work of these mechanisms, governments can furthermore identify gaps and challenges in their domestic atrocity prevention efforts and develop strategies to strengthen national resilience.
In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the 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” at the 44th session of the HRC and encourage all States to participate in the inter-sessional panel discussion to exchange best practices on strengthening national policies and strategies to implement R2P.
Over the past year, little has changed for populations around the world affected by, or at risk of, atrocities. They look to the HRC to recognize their suffering, prevent further escalation, and act upon the information produced by its mechanisms and procedures. We must become better at utilizing the vast information that is at our hand to respond to early warning signs and prevent atrocities before they occur.
1. Netherlands / Co-chair
2. Côte d’Ivoire
10. Sierra Leone
11. South Sudan
16. Marshall Islands
17. Republic of Korea
20. Costa Rica
29. Czech Republic
31. European Union
47. United Kingdom
49. New Zealand
51. United States