Ban Ki-Moon on “The Responsibility to Protect: Timely and Decisive Response”

Ban-kiIn light of the DAG-3QD Symposium, the Secretary General of the UN [h/t: Fred Abrahams]:

This year, we focus on timely and decisive response – on what we, as a community of conscience sworn to uphold the UN Charter, should do when a State manifestly fails to protect its people.

This is the ultimate test of the responsibility to protect.

We all agree that sovereignty must not be a shield behind which States commit grave crimes against their people. But achieving prevention and protection can be difficult.

In recent years, we have shown how good offices, preventive diplomacy, mediation, commissions of inquiry and other peaceful means can help pull countries back from the brink of mass violence.

My earlier reports, as well as my own five-year action agenda, place a strong emphasis on early warning, early action, a preventive approach to human rights and efforts to strengthen the rule of law.

However, when non-coercive measures fail or are considered inadequate, enforcement under Chapter VII of the Charter will need to be considered by the appropriate intergovernmental bodies. This includes carefully crafted sanctions and, in extreme circumstances, the use of force.

There are understandable concerns related to selectivity – why political organs have invoked the concept in some instances and not in others.

There have been disagreements on the oversight of implementation measures, differences over the interpretation of Security Council resolutions, and dismay at the loss of innocent lives in operations undertaken to protect populations.

The concept of “responsibility while protecting” introduced by the Government of Brazil is thus a welcome initiative.