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Ban Ki-moon's Remarks at Stanley Foundation Conference on “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect”

15 January 2009
(…) The outcome document also focused on another crucial element – early warning. The assembled leaders called on the international community to “support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.”
The Annex to my report outlines how we might begin to go about this. After all, the UN system does not lack information. The problem is assembling the relevant information in one place and assessing it from a responsibility to protect perspective.  In addition, the Office of the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide already does this through the lens of one of the four atrocity crimes.
It would thus make sense to have a joint office on genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect, whose functions would include early warning and assessment and which would have direct access to me.
Moreover, an inter-agency mechanism will consider policy options to be presented to me and, through me, to relevant intergovernmental bodies in emergency situations.
My two Special Advisers have been consulting widely with relevant departments and agencies on how to go about this. Professor Luck will report on their conclusions and recommendations to the Policy Committee at the end of March.
Before closing, let me mention two issues that are before us in 2010.
The first relates to collaboration between Member States and the Secretariat.
In the conceptual development of the responsibility to protect, our ongoing conversation has proven remarkably productive. We have listened to and learned from you. As we move towards creating the joint office of the Special Advisers, however, we will also need some modest financial and human resources. We hope to have as constructive a dialogue with the Fifth Committee as we have had with the Plenary.
The second issue relates to the very credibility of the United Nations.
As you know, there are many critics who doubt that the world body can be a reliable protector of populations from atrocity crimes. And indeed, they have lots of history and several recent debacles with which to make their case.
Still, I remain convinced that the only way to endow the responsibility to protect with legal authority, moral weight and the promise of effective action is to keep it under the provisions of the UN Charter. This was made explicit in the Summit Outcome document.
Civil society – including some of you in this room – can keep pressing capitals and international institutions to act.
The Secretariat can help make prevention work, undertake Chapter VI measures, and ring the alarm bells when timely and decisive action is needed. But in the toughest and most visible cases, when prevention fails and peaceful means are inadequate, it will be up to the Member States to prove their mettle as well as the value of the world body. (…)
Full Speech here.

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