Engagement with the entire UN membership is crucial for achieving broad support for the prevention of mass atrocities and the implementation of R2P. Since its inception in 2008 the Global Centre has worked with UN member states in the UN General Assembly to help strengthen consensus on the Responsibility to Protect, promote the development of the norm, and encourage states to uphold their individual and collective responsibilities to the prevention of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
Since 2009 the UN Secretary-General has released an annual report on the Responsibility to Protect. Following its publication the General Assembly has held either a formal debate (2009, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022) or informal interactive dialogue (2010-2017) on R2P. Ahead of the meeting the Global Centre has coordinated an annual advocacy campaign aimed at bolstering participation by UN member states and suggesting talking points to be highlighted in national statements. In previous years Global Centre staff have helped organize consultations between states and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect prior to the publication of the report.
The Global Centre also played an advocacy role in supporting efforts by states to include R2P on the formal agenda of the General Assembly’s 72nd-75th sessions as well as the passage of Resolution 75/277, which formalized the inclusion of the debate on the General Assembly’s agenda going forward. The formal debate had a number of procedural benefits as compared to the previous informal interactive dialogue format. Formal debates allocate more time for member state interventions and provide an opportunity for states to have an on-the-record exchange regarding best practices on the prevention of, and response to, atrocities. This also enables the General Assembly to maintain a full record of the response of states to the Secretary-General’s annual report on R2P.
The Global Centre produces an annual summary of the General Assembly’s meeting. Links to statements delivered by individual states during the 2010-2017 informal interactive dialogues are also available on our resources page.
Every year the opening of the General Assembly in September provides the Global Centre with an opportunity to highlight developments regarding R2P and discuss strategies for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes. With member states and other civil society organizations the Global Centre co-hosts a number of events each year and our staff also deliver statements at other high-level events.
Since 2008 the Global Centre has hosted an annual Ministerial Meeting on R2P. The meeting brings together a cross-regional group of states to discuss the way forward for R2P and was an important annual event for governments who are committed to ending mass atrocity crimes. The meeting is an opportunity for United Nations member states to affirm their commitment to R2P, as well as to discuss and debate issues pertaining to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes and the protection of populations at risk.
Since 2015 the Global Centre has also co-hosted a number of other side-events during High-Level week connecting R2P to related initiatives. Such events have focused on the Security Council Code of Conduct and veto restraint in situations of mass atrocities, the role of religious leaders in the prevention of mass atrocity crimes, the protection of cultural heritage, peacekeeping and civilian protection, international justice and accountability for sexual violence in conflict, and hate speech, Women, Peace and Security, as well as on strategies for bridging the gap between NY and Geneva.
The General Assembly’s Third Committee, one of the six Main Committees, is allocated agenda items related to social, humanitarian and cultural matters, including human rights. Systematic or widespread human rights violations and abuses often serve as one of the key early warning signs of possible mass atrocity crimes. In turn, effective atrocity prevention strategies must begin with the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights, a central component of the work of the Third Committee. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect has provided member states with targeted recommendations and talking points for the various debates on country situations, as well as thematic discussions.