Secretary-General’s Year-End Press Conference
Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General
14 December 2011
(…) Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you mentioned the Responsibility to Protect and you said that the implementation of this concept led to the liberation of Libya. At the same time, it led to a split among the members of the Security Council. Some of them, including BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries, believe that NATO has exceeded the mandate provided by resolution 1973 and used this resolution as a pretext for regime change and at the same time caused harm to the very same innocent lives it clamed to be protecting. In this context, Brazil has offered an interesting concept that might bring the two sides together. The Brazilian President, in the general debate, argued that better mechanisms were needed to ensure that in an intervention, unwanted damage would be kept at minimum, calling it the “responsibility when protecting.” What is your assessment of Brazil's initiative and how it could bridge the gap between different groups in the Security Council?
SG: The Responsibility to Protect has been gaining wider and wider support among Member States. Since I appointed my special adviser, Ed Luck, on this issue, there have been several occasions in which the General Assembly members have discussed this issue: how to implement the principle which had been agreed upon by the leaders in 2005 at the summit meeting. I'm encouraged that they have been gaining momentum on this principle. I know that there are some concerns expressed by certain countries. That is why this process has been -- even though it has been time-consuming, we've been very patient in getting support, so that there should be no misunderstandings on the principle of this and the application of this principle. I'm also encouraged, for the first time, that the Human Rights Council and Security Council invoked this principle of the Responsibility to Protect. As a result of all these demonstrations and democratization processes by the people, of course, there were changes of regime. But I believe that these changes of regime where done by the people, not by the intervention of any foreign forces, including the United Nations. Security Council Resolution 1973, I believe, was strictly enforced within that limit, within the mandate. This military operation done by the NATO forces was strictly within [resolution] 1973. I made it quite clear, and I have been often discussing this matter with the Secretary General of NATO, to make sure that there should be no human rights violations, there should be no casualties among civilians. I believe that this is what we have seen and there should be no misunderstanding on that. On the Brazilian concept: still, the Responsibility to Protect is the subject of discussions among Member States, so all the comments and suggestions, including the Brazilians', will be considered. (…)
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