Keynote address by Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb of Finland
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
28 August 2009
(…) I would like to make three points related to the R2P concept:
1. We must honor the 2005 World Summit committments;
2. We need to ensure that R2P is promoted internationally;
3. We should now operationalize the R2P concept
(…) 8. The United Nations Secretary-Generals’s recent report "Implementing the responsibility to protect" provides a very clear framework on how to translate R2P into practice.
9. We warmly welcome the report of Mr. Ban and his Special Adviser, Professor Luck and fully support their approach which emphasizes the responsibility of States themselves; the importance of early prevention and helping States built their own capacity.
10. Implementing the Responsibility to Protect is not an uncomplicated matter as the recent United Nations General Assembly debate indicated. Whilst the majority of the Member States voiced their support to the concept, the operationalization of the Responsibility to Protect is a lengthy process, and the debate has only started.
11. The European Union has, and must continue to have, an active role in the promotion of the responsibility to protect. Common European values; such as democracy, peace, security, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are all closely interlinked with the responsibility to protect. The EU fully supports the UN Secretary General’s efforts to implement the responsibility to protect and remains determined to make the concept operational.
12. Nevertheless, we need more dialogue, trust, positive thinking and informed analysis of R2P to overcome certain apprehensions related to the concept. The focus must be on saving lives through timely and decisive actions taken at national, regional and international level. (…)
15. It is important that in the implementation of the R2P particular attention is given to preventing situations from escalating, through early warning and capacity building.
16. I strongly advocate that the international community should assist States in building capacities to exercise this responsibility and live up to their obligations also in times of instability and conflict.
17. The strengthening of the rule of law is of particular importance in preventing the perpetration of most serious human rights crimes and to stabilizing post-conflict societies.
18. Also the protection of human rights defenders is an elementary part of the early warning systems. Promotion of national human rights systems and rule of law tradition are crucial in this regard. We must nurture national protection systems and their independence, including through international assistance.
19. The UN human rights system is well placed to sound the alarm. The challenge is to bring all available information together in a focused way, so as to better understand complex situations, and thus be in a position to suggest appropriate action.
20. Finland also recognizes the important role of local and international civil society organizations which can advocate for protection of human rights as well as deliver services for those in need.
21. We support the Secretary-General’s suggestion for a joint office of the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Advisor for Responsibility to Protect, which would further strengthen the early warning capacity of the UΝ.
22. The prevention of the extermination of peoples is precisely what Responsibility to Protect aims to do. This year, the consideration of Responsibility to Protect is particularly timely, as we commemorate the Rwandan genocide 15 years ago.
23. An illustrative example of how Responsibility to Protect has worked in practice was the political unrest and violence Kenya experienced in early 2008. In Kenya's case, the Responsibility to Protect worked the way we would like to see it work. It provided pressure on political leaders and reminded them about the international community's readiness to use appropriate means to protect civilians from mass atrocities.
24. The fight against impunity is another important element in preventing mass atrocities. The establishment of international criminal jurisdictions has been instrumental to ensuring that there is no impunity for the most serious international crimes. The International Criminal Court will have a long-term impact on outlawing policies that deliberately promote and generate mass violence.
25. (…) This forum should also illustrate the Nordic commitment to take this initiative further during the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (…)