The Role of the Human Rights Council in Supporting the Practical Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 20th Session
June 19, 2012
(as prepared for delivery)
The United States thanks the panel for its remarks as well as the core group of sponsors – Australia, Hungary, Nigeria, Thailand, and Uruguay – for hosting this important discussion.
We welcome this opportunity to discuss and advance our common commitment to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
Seven years ago, all member states of the United Nations came together to endorse and accept a shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. While aspects of this principle would need to be elaborated further, we embraced a principle of protection anchored in three pillars: the essential responsibility of States to protect their own citizens, our shared responsibility to take appropriate steps to assist States in exercising that solemn duty, and our preparedness to take timely and decisive action where national authorities manifestly failed to do so. The consensus agreement in 2005 reflected recognition of our common humanity and a new clarity in our collective conscience that certain actions could not be allowed to stand.
The United States was then and is now a strong supporter of the concept of Responsibility to Protect, and we are committed to working with international partners at the Human Rights Council to focus on pillar two, prevention and capacity building, in order to develop more effective strategies to protect populations from atrocities.
Last August, President Obama affirmed that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.” He directed a government-wide review of U.S. ability to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and mandated creation of a new Atrocity Prevention Board to coordinate our internal efforts, with priority on prevention and other activities under pillar two. This initiative emphasizes the need to mobilize a full and diverse range of tools to prevent atrocities. It also puts a premium on enhanced cooperation with international partners, including the United Nations, and underscores the importance of international collaboration to develop more effective strategies for prevention and preparedness, so that planning and diplomacy become tools to prevent atrocities, not just to respond to them.
There are no easy solutions when we confront the gravest of threats to innocents. We welcome the opportunity for ongoing dialogue and continued work together with the core group of sponsors for this event and other international partners to fulfill the Responsibility to Protect that we embraced in 2005.