16 September 2014
UN officials: ‘responsibility to protect’ more urgent than ever
Today’s crises, from the horrors in Iraq and Syria to the persistent violence in South Sudan and Ukraine, demand urgent and collective action to stem atrocity crimes and protect civilians, UN officials said during the meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the ‘responsibility to protect’ adopted nearly 10 years ago by world leaders.
‘The adoption of the responsibility to protect at the 2005 World Summit embodied a collective determination to counter atrocity crimes with resolve. Today, this commitment is being severely tested’, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. ‘Our collective responsibility to protect demands far more from us at this deeply troubling time for all humankind’, he stated.
Mr. Ban said the world faces a series of conflicts that feature acts that ‘shock the global conscience’ – from the horrors unfolding in Iraq and Syria, to persistent violence against civilians in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, Nigeria, Pakistan, Gaza and elsewhere. ‘These crises illustrate the human costs of failure: the failure to confront the rise of extremist ideology that propagates hate and manipulates inter-communal differences for political gain; the failure of States to protect their own populations; and the failure of the international community to react to early warning signs or to respond adequately once atrocity crimes are taking place,’ he stated. ‘Turning a blind eye to these acts is no longer tenable. Our responsibility to prevent and protect is collective and urgent.’
‘We are approaching the end of the first decade of the responsibility to protect. The principle has made unprecedented progress,’ Mr. Ban added. ‘We must now build on these foundations by crafting an ambitious vision for the next 10 years and by acting decisively on our responsibilities.’
Vice-President of the Assembly Isabelle Picco recalled that member states in 2005 affirmed that the international community has a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. ‘Nearly 10 years on, we are still reckoning with its implications and where and how to act on and implement this decision,’ she stated. ‘Our job is to make what we discuss here in this room relevant for them; to give true life and meaning to our reports, discussions and theories,’ she said.