Speakers Disagree over Suitable Level of Intervention for Stopping Atrocity Crimes
The General Assembly today concluded its debate on the responsibility to protect civilians, its first in nine years, with delegates continuing to wrestle with the extent to which States should step in to stop — and ultimately prevent — genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Views on the concept — endorsed at the 2005 World Summit — ranged from full support to scepticism, with differences emerging over whether to even include the item on the Assembly’s agenda. The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea outright rejected the day’s discussion as no consensus has been reached.
Speaking to the concerns of many, Iran’s delegate pointed to differences in the scope of application for the concept. The responsibility to protect has been guided by politicized interests, he said, rather than human dignity and rights, bringing its legitimacy into question as a tool used in times of distress. It is seen as paving the way for selective interventionist policies and he instead advocated efforts to make an abstract concept more concrete.
The representative of the Russian Federation recalled that the responsibility to protect concept sought to strengthen international peace and security, with powerful humanitarian potential. Today, however, it is associated with illegal military interference, regime change, State destruction and economic disaster. A group of States forced a vote in the Assembly as a way to compel consideration of the issue today. Such moves are destroying the consensus reached in 2005, he said, noting that the responsibility to protect has never been a norm or a rule.
Moreover, said Venezuela’s delegate, the concept should not be viewed on the same level as the United Nations Charter, calling for a resumption of informal discussion to build the required consensus on its definition and scope through a transparent and inclusive process, reflecting the views of all Member States. Placing conditions on and downplaying the importance of sovereignty and self‑determination are not constructive. Consensus is nowhere in sight.
Others drew attention to the consequences of inaction, with Bangladesh’s delegate recalling that the atrocities that had shaken the world’s conscience during the Rohingya humanitarian crisis were long in the making.
“The apathy or complacency of the concerned international and regional actors largely allowed it to reach its current proportion,” he said, citing the inadequacy of early warning from the United Nations presence in Myanmar amid reported preparations by Myanmar security forces and local vigilantes in Rakhine State last year. Those omissions enabled Myanmar to peddle “fabricated and toxic” narratives towards the outright denial or legitimization of any wrongdoing.
Myanmar’s delegate meanwhile expressed concern about the “existential” danger of abusing the responsibility to protect, rejecting labels of events in Rakhine as atrocity crimes. Efforts, including interfaith dialogue, can indeed help prevent conflict, however national ownership must be ensured. Judgment or categorization of a situation must be made on well‑founded information. His delegation supports the removal of the issue from the Assembly’s agenda.
To that point, the representative of the United Arab Emirates supported the creation of an agreed mechanism to collect “data that was beyond dispute”, as doubts about facts and figures could lead to impunity. Another way to verify that crimes have been committed is to reinforce legal frameworks. Including the issue on the Assembly’s agenda is a way to foster better understanding, she said. Shifting dialogue out of New York into regional capitals is also imperative, and the Secretary‑General has rightly highlighted the importance of regional arrangements in preventing atrocities.
In welcoming today’s debate, Rwanda’s delegate said the responsibility to protect is crucial. In her country’s experience, “we now understand that when the State is responsible for egregious violations of human rights, it should not prevent other actors from intervening.” Global efforts are working on early warning systems, but essential factors require accountability, with national systems holding the primary responsibility to end impunity.
Representatives of Chile, Luxembourg, Armenia, Libya, Ecuador, Indonesia, Panama, Andorra, Viet Nam, Philippines, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, China, San Marino, Albania, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Fiji, Gabon, Palau and Mauritius also made statements today.
The representatives of Pakistan and India spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.
MILENKO E. SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), welcoming the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Responsibility to protect: from early warning to early action”, said it was an opportunity to show support for the responsibility to protect pillar of prevention and to take a constructive role in building resilient and cohesive societies. Underlining the important role women play, he said their participation can also be key to prevention efforts. Multilateral efforts are also crucial. “We cannot rewrite history, but we can learn from it,” he said, adding that the ethical imperative to protect people from atrocity crimes must be at the centre of efforts.
FABIEN STEPHAN YVO RAUM (Luxembourg), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, encouraged the Secretary‑General to identify a new adviser on the issue. Current events demonstrate how impotent efforts have been to date. Since adoption of the 2005 World Summit outcome document, even more civilians have been killed, atrocities have been carried out and immense human suffering has occurred. Supporting the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct and the French and Mexican initiative on refraining from using Security Council veto power in cases of atrocities, he said the protection of human rights is essential to prevent such crimes and to build strong early warning systems. The Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect and the high‑level group examining the issue are helping to improve efforts, he said, calling for the universalization of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said having a forthright and candid conversation on these issues must include constructive ways of dealing with differences among States. Noting the importance of detecting hate speech, war‑mongering, xenophobia and racism, he said Armenia has taken several steps, contributing to efforts focused on early prevention, coordinated meetings with other countries on a range of related issues and proposing a related Security Council resolution. He also pointed out that more action is needed, noting that 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said his delegation has previously spoken against including the issue at hand in the General Assembly’s agenda. The only agreed upon outcome document came from the World Summit in 2005 and States have yet to agree on any further issues. Instead of continuing an interactive dialogue, a group of States has forced a vote in the General Assembly to force consideration of the issue today. The initiators of that vote are destroying the consensus reached in 2005, he said, noting that the responsibility to protect has never been a norm or a rule. Moreover, no practical results from previously proposed steps have been reported and results of some efforts under the responsibility to protect rubric have been disastrous. Such outcomes of the practical use of provisions include the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) action on Libya to change the leadership, after which the responsibility to protect civilians has been forgotten and consequences include Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) attacks. In 2018, three States took action on Syria and the responsibility to protect has also been forgotten. In many cases, discussions on the responsibility to protect are useless unless they include an examination of cases where mistakes have been made.
INASS A. T. ELMARMURI (Libya), recalling the outcome from the 2005 World Summit, said practices in recent years have gone beyond what citizens desire. She advocated enhancing early warning platforms to help Governments decide on ways to respond to crises. Ending various crises, especially terrorism, cannot be achieved without robust deterrents to interference in internal affairs. She advocated strengthening the role of the Security Council and accountability mechanisms, especially in addressing discrimination based on religion. The responsibility to protect must be accompanied by early warning, based on respect for sovereignty and without any interference or double standards.
HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) said responsibility to protect, while a concept based on humanitarian action, must not undermine State sovereignty. Ecuador supported resolution 60/1, endorsing the World Summit outcome document. Its pillars identify with the primary role of States protecting their populations from mass atrocity crimes. While the outcome’s three pillars are all important, the first two should be prioritized, on the understanding that the use of force can only be carried out as a last resort and with Security Council authorization. Stressing that only the Assembly has the legal authority to define the responsibility to protect, she said a new format for debate must allow for discussing the concept constructively, seeking to protect civilians impartially wherever atrocity crimes were committed. She highlighted the International Criminal Court’s role in defending the rule of law and as an essential part of conflict prevention, and called on all States to accede to the Rome Statute.
INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia) said civilians are entitled to protection against mass atrocity crimes. The delicate issue of the responsibility to protect deserves discussion until a balance is reached between maintaining peace and security and respecting State sovereignty. The concept must be viewed in a broad context and she expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s reference to early warning. Capacity‑building is essential to bolster legal frameworks and early warning mechanisms. Regional organizations must play a more active role in implementing the responsibility to protect, she said, noting that in 2012 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted its own human rights declaration, and established the Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. Further, the Security Council must avoid use of the veto when addressing mass atrocity crimes.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said the world must not allow the past horrors of genocide to be repeated. Failure on that account is due to the Security Council’s failure to act when action is needed, rather than an absence of a normative framework. The Council’s inaction is caused by a lack of political will that brought about the genocide in Rwanda and other similar catastrophes. There are differences in the scope of application of the responsibility to protect, he said, advocating efforts to make an abstract concept more concrete. In practice, the responsibility to protect has been guided by politicized interests, rather than human dignity and rights, which in turn bring its legitimacy into question as a tool to be used in times of distress. It is seen as tool which paves the way for selective interventionist policies. The normative framework regulating prevention of atrocity is in place, he said, stressing that reliance on international law strengthens the rule of law and builds on the bulwark underpinning the global legal order. Governments are far from reaching a consensual understanding of the responsibility to protect, he said, noting that States have the primary responsibility for preventing mass atrocity crimes. The concept should be seen as a way to help failed States to protect their population, notably through empowerment and reduction of inequality, he said, underscoring the primacy of international legal principles.
JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said his delegation does not support today’s discussion, especially as no consensus has been reached on the responsibility to protect. Indeed, the responsibility to protect from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is the sovereign right of a State. Yet, some Governments have created chaos in developing countries in the Middle East and Africa through collective military invasion on the pretext of protecting civilians. Hunger, poverty, inequality and interference in State internal affairs must be resolved first in order to protect people from mass atrocity crimes.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) said that since the adoption of the 2005 outcome document and the ongoing debate on the issues, there is no consensus on how to transform this concept into practice. The international community can provide assistance to Governments to help them in that regard and efforts, including interfaith dialogue, can indeed help to prevent conflict. However, national ownership must be ensured with respect for the responsibility to protect. Judgment or categorization of a situation must be made on well‑founded information, he said, expressing concern about the misuse of the responsibility to protect of some States and rejecting the recent conclusion that the situation in his country constitutes an atrocity. The Government of Myanmar does not condone any human rights abuses and has recently announced a decision to form an inquiry on the situation in Rakhine State. His delegation also rejects the conclusion that atrocity crimes have taken place in Myanmar. Such posturing is unconstructive, he said, emphasizing that the manipulation of the responsibility to protect and the application of double standards in that regard has led to disastrous results. Further, his delegation supports the removal of the issue from the General Assembly’s agenda.
URUJENI BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda), welcoming the current debate, said the responsibility to protect is crucial. In her country’s experience, she said, “we now understand that when the State is responsible for egregious violations of human rights, it should not prevent other actors from intervening. This is the essence of the responsibility to protect pillars.” Encouraging Member States to join the Genocide Convention, she encouraged them to take action to prevent atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Underlining the importance of the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review process, she said Rwanda is working to implement the proposed actions before the next review period. Global efforts are currently working on early warning systems, but essential factors require accountability, with national systems holding the primary responsibility to end impunity. In addition, peacekeeping can be a catalytic tool to stabilize countries, she said, pointing at the Kigali Principles as a guide. Aligning the peace and security pillars with development efforts must include women at all levels, which would, among other things, eliminate risks of widespread sexual violence.
MELITÓN ALEJANDRO ARROCHA RUÍZ (Panama), welcoming the inclusion of the item on the Assembly’s agenda and the Secretary‑General’s focus on the responsibility to protect, underlined the importance of early warning systems. More important than ever before is the current debate on the need to preserve and strengthen multilateralism in the fields of human rights, development and crises involving migration and refugees. Building credibility and trust with States’ populations depends on this. Ensuring international peace and security, timely action in the Security Council is key. For its part, Panama acceded to the French‑Mexican Council initiative and takes action at national and global levels. To support national capacity, empowering women and youth becomes more relevant in efforts to prevent and resolve conflict. Equally important is shifting the current paradigm to end hatred and racism and move towards protecting populations at risk.
ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra) said States have the responsibility to protect, with multilateralism contributing to such efforts, from early warning to early action. A strategy must involve institutions to build a culture of prevention. While the General Assembly President has warned delegates that prevention does not make good headlines, she said the current meeting comes at an opportune time on the seventieth anniversary of the Genocide Convention. Prevention is key to the United Nations to bring about a peaceful world, where health and education sectors must be protected even in times of war. Quality education is also a responsibility of States in their commitments to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, underscored States’ primary responsibility to protect their populations, cautioning against using that concept to contravene State sovereignty. The magnitude and atrocities involved in the Rohingya humanitarian crisis has shaken the world’s conscience — but it has been long in the making. “The apathy or complacency of the concerned international and regional actors largely allowed it to reach its current proportion,” he said, underscoring the sheer inadequacy of early warning messages from the United Nations presence in Myanmar, even when preparations were reportedly under way for atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces and local vigilantes in Rakhine State last year. Such omissions have enabled Myanmar’s civilian and military authorities to peddle “fabricated and toxic” narratives against the Rohingya towards the outright denial or legitimization of any wrongdoing. He expressed hope that recent possibilities for the United Nations’ engagement in Rakhine will be used to prevent further violence, and create conditions conducive for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of those forcibly displaced in Bangladesh home or to their places of choice in Rakhine.
Stressing that Myanmar’s national investigation efforts have failed to gain credence, and that the Human Rights Council fact‑finding mission has been repeatedly denied access, he said the International Criminal Court’s latest overture to engage with Myanmar on the question of its possible jurisdiction on the matter is shrouded in uncertainty. “The atrocities against the Rohingya, committed in the name of counter‑terrorism operations and resulting in the exodus of more than 700,000 people clearly amounted to a State’s abdication of its responsibility to protect civilians on its territory,” he stressed. The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide visited Bangladesh last week to discuss the possible role of religious leaders in addressing any fallout from the crisis. Along with national efforts, Bangladesh will continue to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law, he said, recalling that his country sought international support for recognizing the genocide committed during its 1971 war of liberation.
DINH NHO HUNG (Viet Nam) condemned mass atrocity crimes, stressing that States have the primary responsibility for protecting their populations and that early warning measures should be established in line with national standards. The international system would be sustainable if based on the needs of the countries concerned, in accordance with both the United Nations Charter and international law. Stressing that discussion of the responsibility to protect should be premised on the need to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, he said differences must be resolved based on international law. The causes of conflict must be addressed, he said, expressing support for hunger eradication, climate change adaption, gender equality promotion and ensuring the rise of vulnerable groups, eliminating all forms of discrimination. Inclusion of the responsibility to protect on the Assembly’s agenda should involve the widest convergence of views on that topic. Viet Nam will engage in dialogue to reach common ground based on international law and the United Nations Charter.
TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said that prevention is at the core of the responsibility to protect, and in this connection, there is a need to strengthen national institutions for good governance, particularly regarding the fight against organized crime and terrorism. Security forces should be professionalized, while there is also a need to instil values opposed to extremism, criminality and terrorism, while promoting tolerance and welcoming pluralism. The full implementation of the 2030 Agenda is integral to prevention. Early warning mechanisms should be strengthened to ensure they lead to early action, he said, expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s call to strengthen the role of women in the prevention of atrocity crimes.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), aligning himself with the European Union, fully endorsed the common pledge to promote and support the principle of the responsibility to protect through the strengthening of existing capacities, the promotion of accountability and greater collaboration with civil society. Urging all States to support the inclusion of the “responsibility to protect” as a standing item on the General Assembly’s agenda, he called on the Security Council to further expand its early warning tools and reinforce the peaceful settlement of disputes. “We have an obligation to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity on the basis of international human rights standards,” he emphasized, calling attention to the pivotal role of the Human Rights Council in this regard.
HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that the erosion of international humanitarian law further increases human suffering, with women and children paying the highest price of conflict. Stressing that Member States need to address the mismatch between promises and action, he said that the primary responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes rests with States. Early identification and tracking of potential atrocity crimes are crucial, as are the promotion of mutual tolerance and peaceful coexistence. It is critical that actions taken in exercise of the responsibility to protect are undertaken in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and should never be used to pursue political objectives or intervene in the internal affairs of States.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), thanking the representatives of Australia and Ghana for ensuring this agenda item was added, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s latest report and related strategy for giving prevention a priority. Priority must also focus on respecting international human rights law and the rights of refugees. Efforts to achieve sustainable peace must ensure the inclusion of women at all levels. However, much remains to be done. At a time of joint efforts with multi‑stakeholders such as civil society, academia and Governments, Honduras has taken several steps, including updating legislation and actively participating in forums focusing on preventing genocide and mass atrocities. Committed to the Rome Statute, Honduras is continuously working with national and regional bodies to protect its population.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea), aligning himself with the Pacific Islands Forum, said that the Secretary‑General’s report’s messages are crystal clear and put all Member States on notice to do more to protect innocent people from atrocity crimes, especially women and children. All States must work both individually and collectively to prevent devastating atrocity crimes, he said, stressing that civil society groups as well as faith‑based and religious groups should also support national and international efforts in this regard. As a country still recovering from a post‑conflict situation, Papua New Guinea is fully aware of the serious negative impact of atrocity crimes on those directly affected.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the principle that Governments have the primary responsibility for protecting their populations is consistent with sovereignty principles, which the international community must respect. As the 2005 outcome document says, the application of the responsibility to protect refers to atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and States must not misinterpret these provisions. Preventive diplomacy is key, he said, emphasizing the need to recognize the role of regional and subregional organizations in this regard. Countries affected by situations must try to identify the problem and solutions. For its part, the international community should prioritize dialogue and the use of force should be used only when other means are fully exhausted and it must be authorized by the Security Council.
DAMIANO BELEFFI (San Marino), welcoming the current discussion, said the matter should be a standard General Assembly agenda item. Prevention and accountability play a vital role in stopping atrocity crimes. As such, prevention is a meaningful approach that requires tools such as dialogue and meditation, with the International Criminal Court remaining a crucial element in implementing the responsibility to protect. San Marino supports the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct. With the Human Rights Council and other key stakeholders, concrete action can indeed stop atrocities. Today, as millions are being displaced by atrocities and conflict, it is a collective duty to continue working towards prevention and resolution efforts.
INGRIT PRIZRENI (Albania), aligning herself with the European Union, said promoting the responsibility to protect has been a long‑time national priority. Welcoming the current debate on the issue, she said Member States have an opportunity to recommit to the 2005 World Summit outcome document. Highlighting that ensuring accountability for mass atrocity crimes is a sure way to prevent such actions in the future, she said States are primarily responsible for prosecuting perpetrators. Sexual and gender‑based violence must also be addressed, as these issues may constitute crimes against humanity. “It is never too late to hold the perpetrators accountable, doing justice for the victims, thus preventing further abuses,” she said.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) said the responsibility to protect concept continues to trigger divergent views, partly because of the lack of a definition and scope. Views include seeing the concept running counter to sovereignty principles, while actions have included the destabilization or overthrowing of Governments. Prevention of serious crimes is essential, but preventing them must centre on promoting dialogue instead of advocating for military intervention. The concept should not be viewed on the same level as the United Nations Charter, he said, calling for a resumption of informal discussion to build the required consensus on its definition and scope through a transparent and inclusive process, reflecting the views of all Member States. Placing conditions on and downplaying the importance of sovereignty and self‑determination are not constructive. Proposed actions must be based on elements of consensus, which are nowhere in sight right now. Efforts must now work towards reaching a consensus.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) said the responsibility to protect remains the exclusive preserve of States. This is referred to in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the World Summit outcome document, but any grey area on the issue could be manipulated. Any action included in the responsibility to protect must respect the principles of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States. Any threat to take unilateral action runs counter to the principles of international law. Regime change policies applied in a “humanitarian” manner and the militarization of regions are worrisome. If there is a desire to prevent mass atrocities, the root causes must also be addressed, including development‑related issues, sanctions and poverty. Until consensus on the concept is reached, the item should not be on the Assembly’s permanent agenda.
AMIRBEK ZHEMENEY (Kazakhstan) said it is a moral imperative to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and thus, his country joined the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct on Security Council action against those crimes. He expressed support for the responsibility to protect concept, stressing that contradictory perceptions exist between the right to sovereignty and territorial integrity, versus the use of force. He advocated reflecting on the concerns of all States, defining accurate criteria and creating impartial, balanced and objective decision‑making mechanisms. Governments bear the primary responsibility to protect their citizens and any use of force should be as a last resort, authorized by the Security Council. He underscored the need for enhanced global cooperation in building a world where human rights are protected, which in turn requires addressing the causes of conflict.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said a better understanding of the responsibility to protect can be reached, and to that end, expressed support for including it as a standalone item on the Assembly’s agenda. The world must not forget the actions and inactions that had led to the world’s atrocities. While current political contexts of crises differ from those in the past, States are still failing to protect their people. Questions centre on how to uphold the responsibility to protect when non‑State actors shape conflicts or when conflicts endure for decades. In assuming this responsibility, other questions focus on the right tools to protect civilians, especially when international bodies struggle to reach consensus. Indeed, the Security Council’s paralysis has prolonged violent conflict and she expressed support for limited veto use in mass atrocities and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct. While States bear the primary responsibility to protect, the concept of sovereignty also carries a duty to address the causes of conflict and to seek assistance. It is only as a last resort that intervention is warranted, she said, stressing that accountability is vital for preventing the recurrence of mass atrocity crimes. As doubts about facts and figures can lead to impunity, one way to verify such crimes is to create an agreed mechanism to collect data “that was beyond dispute”. Another way is to reinforce legal frameworks. Civilians could play a role in early warning in bringing issues to international attention. It is important to address the causes of conflict before intervention is needed, notably by supporting women’s role. Shifting dialogue out of New York into regional capitals is also imperative, and to this end, the Secretary‑General has rightly highlighted the importance of regional arrangements in preventing atrocities. Committing to a robust human rights regime is also required.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), associating himself with the Pacific Islands Forum, supported inclusion of the responsibility to protect as a recurring item on the Assembly’s agenda. “We have an obligation to our communities that look to this body to provide protection from crimes against humanity and genocide,” he said. Stressing the importance of national, regional and global institutions in this regard, he recognized the need for the Human Rights Council to “become better at its work”. Fiji reaffirmed its commitment to the responsibility to protect in the 1970s in deploying peacekeepers throughout the world, he said, advocating strengthened peacekeeping as part of the United Nations strategy to protect against mass atrocity crimes. Accountability must also be enhanced and he welcomed the Special Adviser’s appointment in this context.
ANNETTE ANDRÉE ONANGA (Gabon) said conflicts today are characterized by grave violations of international humanitarian law. States are responsible for protecting civilians from mass atrocity crimes, a duty which requires the protection of refugee camps, she said, underscoring Gabon’s commitment to the fight against impunity so that those responsible could answer for their actions before national or international legal bodies. Commending the Special Adviser’s efforts, she said Gabon considers dialogue and seeking national consensus vital for managing society’s differences, a commitment that is at the heart of its foreign policy. The United Nations should allocate the necessary resources to its peacekeepers, and better equip contingents both before and during deployments to protect civilians, particularly women and girls.
NGEDIKES OLAI ULUDONG (Palau) said that as a small, young country with a population of 20,000, its Constitution protects people’s rights and fully embraces the right to a peaceful existence and protection. Preventative action is critical and saves lives, while dialogue and action prevents the loss of life and generates healing following trauma. There is a significant place for expanding opportunities for civil society to contribute to national, regional and international efforts. However, sometimes preventive action is not enough. That is why Palau included women in peace missions in 2005 and 2008. Collective efforts are the only way to fight against atrocity crimes, she said, adding that Palau will work towards such common goals.
MAHAMMED NAGUIB SOOMAUROO (Mauritius) said this debate is long overdue and represents a good opportunity to collectively reflect on the principle of the responsibility to protect, identify gaps and strengthen the mechanisms of making the concept more effective. “Time is short and human rights and humanitarian situations in many of the world’s hotspots are worsening, while insecurity keeps on growing,” he said. “Too often in the past we have said ‘never again’, yet grave allegations of mass atrocities in various parts of the world, if not addressed in a timely and effective manner, may quickly spiral into catastrophes.” Welcoming the focus on prevention, he said all Member States must take decisive action to protect people when the signs present themselves. A preventive mechanism must sharpen States’ early warning capabilities. As a party to the Rome Statute, Mauritius has criminalized genocide and other atrocities of war. The international community must identify the root causes of conflicts. For weak and vulnerable States, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies can be achieved only through technical assistance, capacity‑building, international partnerships and support.
Right of Reply
The representative of Pakistan, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, said Kashmir never was part of India. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has identified many violations. Repeating groundless accusations does not make them fact. A farce can only go so far.
The representative of India said his delegation made a statement during the General Assembly debate on the issue on
25 June and did not wish to engage on this matter.
The representative of Pakistan said no obfuscation by India could counter the violations taking place in Kashmir.