Human Rights Council
13 September–1 October 2021
Agenda items 2 and 3
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High
Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
Pursuant to resolution 44/14, the Human Rights Council convened on 11 May 2021 an intersessional panel discussion to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Participants pointed out the link between human rights violations and atrocity crimes, insisting on the importance of preventing violations at an early stage to avoid escalation into atrocity. In line with the 2005 World Summit Outcome, they recalled the primary responsibility of States in preventing atrocities. They mentioned the appointment of national focal points on the responsibility to protect, the adoption of national action plans for atrocity prevention, regular national risk assessments and measures to counter hate speech among possible practices to prevent atrocity crimes at the national level.
Participants also highlighted the deterrent effect of accountability measures and other guarantees of non-recurrence – from truth and reconciliation initiatives to human rights education and memorialization. They also underscored the key roles of open and vibrant civic spaces and meaningful and inclusive public and civil society participation in preventing atrocity crimes, and stressed the importance of the Human Rights Council mechanisms, as well as of national human rights institutions.