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U.S. Statement Marking the 15th Anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect
May 11, 2021

Human Rights Council Intersessional Panel Discussion to Mark the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect

May 11, 2021

U.S. Intervention as delivered by Charles Bentley

Madame Chair, we thank you and the panelists for holding today’s intersessional meeting.

The United States remains deeply committed to preventing, mitigating, and responding to atrocities.  Today we reaffirm the international community’s commitment made over fifteen years ago at the 2005 World Summit regarding the Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.  We believe that more should be done to improve our responses to early warning signals and coordinated international action before atrocities occur.

States that disregard their responsibility to protect their populations represent one of the greatest threats to human rights we face today.  Those who attempt to shield their crimes behind a veil of national sovereignty should find no comfort in the Human Rights Council.  As the preamble of the Universal Declaration – written in the aftermath of war and unspeakable horror – reads, “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind” – a statement that is sadly no less true today than it was 70 years ago when that foundational document was drafted.

The United States has strengthened its preventative capacities through the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018.  Furthermore, the White House-led Atrocity Early Warning Task Force continues to coordinate a “whole-of-government” approach to bolster the U.S. ability to forecast, prevent, and respond to atrocities.

We recognize that gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, often accompanies the perpetration of atrocities and can itself be an atrocity crime– and that women and girls are often deliberately targeted.  The United States promotes the meaningful participation of women in efforts to prevent atrocities and supports gender-sensitive programming to prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence.

When prevention fails, promoting accountability for atrocities is a priority for the United States.  Bringing perpetrators to justice can deter those who otherwise might be emboldened to follow in their footsteps and can help advance post-conflict reconciliation.

The United States will continue to work with other governments, international organizations, and civil society organizations in the Human Rights Council to prevent and respond to atrocities.

Thank you, Madame Chair.