‘For those facing mass rape and violence, the slow pace of global deliberations offers no relief’, Secretary-General cautions in General Assembly debate
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Informal Thematic Debate
AM & PM Meetings
Determination of International Community to Shoulder Responsibility to Protect
Tested in Tragic Events in Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Says Assembly President
The United Nations and its partners sought to ensure that the history of the twenty-first century was the first “not to be written in the blood of innocents”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the General Assembly convened an interactive thematic debate on the role of regional and subregional arrangements in implementing the responsibility to protect.
Determined to rid the world of atrocity crimes, those participating in the dialogue formed a partnership born of necessity, shaped by practical experience, and sustained by common purpose, the Secretary-General said. Every region knew the agony of mass killings and sexual violence, and those barbaric acts, wherever they occurred, were stains on humanity everywhere. The wounds, as well as the economic and social dislocations, took generations to heal, he said.
Mr. Ban said that, while the principle of the responsibility to protect had been agreed at the 2005 World Summit, its roots extended to early declarations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the pioneering work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the legal and human rights traditions of the Americas and the spirit of “non-indifference” that animated the African Union.
Efforts were under way everywhere to improve early warning, spur normative development, end impunity and assist States under stress, he said. However, there was no easy, simple, or assured path to stopping genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity or their incitement. While participants might not agree on every step in every situation, it was necessary for them to continue to listen and learn from one another.
No one had a magical formula for discouraging those determined to make war on their own people, he said. Such people were masters at splitting tactics and playing one group or organization against another, or ruled by intimidation and dividing populations, and not by uniting them for the common good.
No action was without risk of doing harm, he said, but he also stressed that the history of atrocity crimes were not one of acting too boldly, but of doing too little, too late. For those facing mass rape and violence, the slow pace of global deliberations offered no relief. People looked to them for protection, not comforting words or another five years of debate.