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UN Security Council Adopts Resolution on Conflict Prevention, Reaffirming the Responsibility to Protect

22 agosto 2014 No Comment


Via ICRtoP 93292-004-F6B14946

Versión en castellano disponible aquí.

On 21 August 2014, the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on conflict prevention. As the UN organ primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council has held several meetings on conflict prevention in recent years. However, as the civil society organization Security Council Report notes, this UN body has frequently failed to “prevent the onset or escalation of conflicts, including situations that had already been on the Council’s agenda”, such as Syria, South Sudan, Libya, Mali, and Central African Republic. The United Kingdom, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for August 2014, thus convened the debate to stimulate ideas on how to enhance the Council’s role in conflict prevention.

At the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented five key actions and approaches for conflict prevention, including the Rights Up Front initiative, which “seeks to ensure that we avoid the systematic failures of the past and recognize that human rights violations are early warning signals of mass atrocities.” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also providedrecommendations for conflict prevention and underscored that “when governments are unwilling or unable to protect their people, it is the responsibility of the international community, and singularly this Council, to intervene.”

In light of these ongoing challenges, and as a follow-up to its 16 April 2014 Resolution 2150 calling upon states to prevent genocide and other serious crimes, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2171voicing its commitment to “considerand use the tools of the UN system to ensure that warning signals about potential conflicts trigger early, concrete preventive action.” The resolution included two notable references to the Responsibility to Protect, reaffirming the “responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.” For only the second time in the Council’s history (the first time being Resolution 2150), the resolution also made reference to the norm in the resolution’s operative paragraphs, recalling the important role of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect and their functions to act as an early warning mechanism to prevent situations that could result in atrocity crimes. The resolution further calls upon states to “recommit to prevent and fight against genocide…”

Many Member States, including Luxembourg, Nigeria, and Rwanda, highlighted the critical role of RtoP in conflict prevention. Additionally, France and Australia, among others, declared that permanent members of the Security Council should limit their use of the veto in mass atrocity cases. Several states, including Lithuania, also stressed the significant role of the Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect in “sounding an early alarm” on conflicts.

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