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2021-2022 UN Security Council Elections and the Responsibility to Protect

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Today and yesterday, 17-18 June 2020, the UN General Assembly elected India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway to the UN Security Council for the period of 2021-2022. With their election, 7 of the 15 members of the Council in 2021 will be “Friends of the Responsibility to Protect” – having appointed an R2P Focal Point and/or joined the Group of Friends of R2P in New York and Geneva.

Despite its role as the UN body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, all too often the Security Council has been unable to take timely action on mass atrocity situations due to deep political divisions inside the Council over human rights, conflict prevention and national sovereignty. In recent years this has had a debilitating effect on the Council’s capacity to respond to atrocities in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. It is therefore more important than ever for Council members to work in creative ways to ensure that the international community is able to take timely, practical action to prevent atrocities and protect vulnerable populations.

Since 2005 the Security Council has adopted 84 resolutions and 21 Presidential Statements that refer to the Responsibility to Protect, including with regard to situations in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and eight other country situations, as well as a number of thematic issue areas. As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect, it is our hope that the Security Council will consistently uphold their commitment to taking decisive action to avert emerging crises and halt atrocities wherever they are threatened.

To this end, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect encourages all Security Council members to:

  • Request briefings from the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant Special Rapporteurs, Human Right Council-mandated investigative mechanisms and civil society representatives, on situations where populations are at risk of mass atrocities.

  • Raise awareness and mobilize timely responses to crises, including through convening “Arria formula meetings” or raising country situations that are not on the Council’s formal agenda under “Any Other Business,” and coordinating Security Council visiting missions to countries where mass atrocity risks are evident.

  • Reaffirm the Security Council’s commitment to preventing mass atrocities by establishing a Security Council Working Group on the Prevention of Genocide and other Mass Atrocity Crimes.

  • Adhere to the ACT Code of Conduct by which Council members commit to take timely and decisive action to protect civilians and not vote against any credible resolution aimed at preventing mass atrocities.

  • Support the International Criminal Court and other international justice mechanisms and ensure all perpetrators of mass atrocities are held to account, regardless of position or affiliation.

  • Ratify or accede to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The Global Centre has compiled basic profiles on each of the newly-elected Security Council members (available in the PDF below). These provide an overview of their engagement with R2P, including whether they have appointed an R2P Focal Point, their respective contributions to UN peacekeeping operations, and their status with relevant international legal regimes, including the Genocide Convention and Arms Trade Treaty.