Joint letter from the ICRtoP and the Global Centre for R2P on the Responsibility to Protect and the rule of law
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect sent the following letter jointly on 10 September 2012 to Member States in the General Assembly ahead of the high-level meeting on the rule of law, to be held during the 67th Session of the General Assembly on 24 September 2012.
We are writing on behalf of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect to encourage your government to recognize the link between the rule of law, the subject of the upcoming high-level meeting during the 67th Session of the General Assembly, and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), an international norm endorsed by Member States at the 2005 World Summit.
Three of the crimes included under the Responsibility to Protect - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - are covered by human rights and humanitarian treaty laws in the international order, including the Geneva and Genocide Conventions and the Rome Statute. These laws, established to respond to the most egregious crimes known to human kind, have been dramatically reinforced by the development of special and ad-hoc tribunals and the International Criminal Court. The Responsibility to Protect, as it was endorsed in paragraphs 138-139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, further strengthened states’ and the international community’s responsibility to prevent and, if necessary, respond, to threats of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Taken together, these treaty laws, new institutions and the affirmation of the Responsibility to Protect represent a major advance in the fundamental purposes of the UN Charter.
Strengthening the rule of law reinforces the notion of “sovereignty as responsibility”, the conceptual foundation of the Responsibility to Protect, by which a state’s legitimacy is reinforced when it provides for the fundamental rights of its populations. Accordingly, rule of law measures that can deter and stop mass atrocity crimes are numerous, and include: ensuring that domestic laws respect diversity and protect the human rights of all individuals without discrimination; promoting the peaceful resolution of disputes; providing access to legal, security and judicial services for vulnerable groups including women, children and minorities who are disproportionately affected by atrocity crimes; and enacting legislation and strengthening national and regional judicial institutions to hold perpetrators of such crimes accountable.
States can further enhance the rule of law by strengthening international mechanisms and institutions, including by supporting commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions that seek to uncover facts related to alleged crimes. Supporting international and hybrid criminal tribunals, including ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, can help ensure accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed. Throughout all of these efforts, as member states and the United Nations work to assist others with strengthening the rule of law, they are working to support the Responsibility to Protect framework.
The ICRtoP and GCR2P recognize the intrinsic relationship between the rule of law and the Responsibility to Protect, and respectively encourage your government to reflect upon this relationship in your remarks during the upcoming meeting.
See the full letter.