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United States : Preventing Conflict, Recurrence of Atrocity Crimes Remains Key in Responsibility to Protect Efforts, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Interactive Dialogue

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United States : Preventing Conflict, Recurrence of Atrocity Crimes Remains Key in Responsibility to Protect Efforts, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Interactive Dialogue

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliassons remarks at the informal interactive dialogue on Mobilizing collective action: The next decade of the responsibility to protect, in New York today:

I am honoured to open this interactive dialogue with Member States on the responsibility to protect (RtoP). As you know, this is a concept that has been a consistent priority of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a principle that is close to my heart.

The Secretary-General, who is now on travel, sends you his greetings as well as his appreciation for your contributions to advance the responsibility to protect. He urges you to redouble your efforts to implement it and assures you of his ongoing support.

For my part, as President of the General Assembly in 2005, I was proud to be part of the negotiations and adoption of the historic commitment by Heads of State and Government at the World Summit to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

This commitment was a signature achievement for the United Nations. Much of it was already embedded in the international human rights obligations of States. But, the collective responsibility of the international community to act in the face of atrocity crimes, as well as the imperative to protect populations by preventing such acts, strongly needed to be articulated, affirmed and placed more prominently on the international agenda. Subsequent events have underlined the need to live up to this important principle.

Since 2005, much has been accomplished. This annual General Assembly dialogue has made important contributions to the development of the principle of RtoP. We have over the years seen the initial commitment deepen into broad consensus on its core elements. We have seen concrete implementation plans to make the responsibility to protect a living reality. And we have seen an increasing focus on the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council.

We have also seen networks for atrocity prevention. A number of national and regional actors are developing prevention agendas, often with the support of the United Nations.

Still, we continue to witness unconscionable brutality against civilians around the world. We see an intolerable disrespect for international norms and standards, including the basic principles of international humanitarian law. Sadly, we have yet to fully operationalize the responsibility to protect principle, agreed with such high hopes and expectations in 2005.

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