In this issue...
UN Security Council Adopts Resolution on Conflict Prevention, Reaffirming the Responsibility to Protect
On 21 August 2014, the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on conflict prevention. As the UN organ primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council has held several meetings on conflict prevention in recent years. However, as the civil society organization Security Council Report notes, this UN body has frequently failed to “prevent the onset or escalation of conflicts, including situations that had already been on the Council’s agenda”, such as Syria, South Sudan, Libya, Mali, and Central African Republic. The United Kingdom, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for August 2014, thus convened the debate to stimulate ideas on how to enhance the Council’s role in conflict prevention.
At the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented five key actions and approaches for conflict prevention, including the Rights Up Front initiative, which “seeks to ensure that we avoid the systematic failures of the past and recognize that human rights violations are early warning signals of mass atrocities.” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay alsoprovided recommendations for conflict prevention and underscored that “when governments are unwilling or unable to protect their people, it is the responsibility of the international community, and singularly this Council, to intervene.”
In light of these ongoing challenges, and as a follow-up to its 16 April 2014 Resolution 2150calling upon states to prevent genocide and other serious crimes, the Security Council adoptedResolution 2171, voicing its commitment to “considerand use the tools of the UN system to ensure that warning signals about potential conflicts trigger early, concrete preventive action.” The resolution included two notable references to the Responsibility to Protect, reaffirming the “responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.” For only the second time in the Council’s history (the first time being Resolution 2150), the resolution also made reference to the norm in the resolution’s operative paragraphs, recalling the important role of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect and their functions to act as an early warning mechanism to prevent situations that could result in atrocity crimes. The resolution further calls upon states to “recommit to prevent and fight against genocide…”
Many Member States, including Luxembourg, Nigeria, and Rwanda, highlighted the critical role of RtoP in conflict prevention. Additionally, France and Australia, among others, declared that permanent members of the Security Council should limit their use of the veto in mass atrocity cases. Several states, including Lithuania, also stressed the significant role of the Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect in “sounding an early alarm” on conflicts.
New Blog from the ICRtoP: "Convert, Pay, or Be Killed: Iraq's Minorities under Threat"
The ISIS uprising and escalating sectarian violence in Iraq has drastically exacerbated the ongoing humanitarian crisis and violence against civilians, particularly minorities, in the country. In this regard, the ICRtoP’s latest blog examines the assistance offered to the Iraqi government, how such assistance fits into these actor’s Responsibilities to Protect, and the need to ensure that assistance is also tailored to achieve a long-term political solution to the crisis.
To read the blog, click here.
On 12 August 2014, the Secretary-General released his sixth report on RtoP on the Second Pillar of the Responsibility to Protect, or the international community's responsibility to assist states to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The report, titled "Fulfilling our Collective Responsibility: International Assistance and the Responsibility to Protect", can be found here. To read the ICRtoP summary of the report, click here.