23 June 2022, New York – European Union Statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Item 134 General Debate on the Responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States thank the Secretary-General for his important and timely report “Children, Youth and the Responsibility to Protect”. We also thank him for his continued leadership in this area, also outlined in “Our common agenda”, which we very much support.
In 2005, we unanimously agreed on the international community’s responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Today our world is confronted by unprecedented levels of violence, atrocities and displacement. I will not start naming countries: the list is long and well known. We need to double down on our efforts and actions, both in terms of prevention and response.
The prevention of atrocities is never -negotiable. Preventing violent conflict is key to saving populations – many of them children and youth – and human rights defenders from the scourge of war and resulting suffering. As the Secretary General points out, “Prevention is indeed the key to guaranteeing the safety of children and youth from atrocity crimes”. Continued operationalisation of the Responsibility to Protect also means tackling the underlying causes that can provide fertile ground for atrocity mind-sets to grow.
Prioritising prevention requires holistic approaches and a renewed emphasis on strengthening the global protection of human rights. To this end, we strongly support the UNGA Children and Armed Conflict mandate. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, the CAAC report, and its annexed list of perpetrators are enhancing the protection of children, ending and preventing violations, and contributing to accountability. The collection of accurate, timely, and reliable information on grave human rights abuses perpetrated against children is clearly a key indicator for the R2P mandate.
We further underline the responsibility of the Security Council to act in situations of mass atrocities. We encourage all UN members to join the ACT Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative on the use of veto in case of mass atrocities.
In parallel, we need to work on response. We therefore encourage the UN Secretary General to include in his future R2P reports, assessments of atrocity crimes risks and the recommendations of measures in response. Collection of evidence to ensure accountability for atrocities must be strengthened. In this context, we stress the important role of the International Criminal Court as the key institution of international criminal justice, but also wish to highlight the important roles of the accountability mechanisms adopted by the UNGA and the UN HRC. Strengthening national judicial systems and policies, effective legal tools, as well as the advancement of transitional justice can contribute to the prevention of mass atrocities.
The impact of grave violations of child rights is long-lasting and negatively affects future generations. Effective, age- and gender- sensitive recovery, and community rebuilding is crucial to overcome the legacy of mass violence.
The EU uses conflict analysis tools and the EU Early Warning System to implement early action. The EU Toolkit on R2P and Atrocity Prevention offers practical guidance on atrocity prevention to EU Delegations, missions, and operations and is a concrete step towards operationalising R2P on the ground. The EU supports the strengthening of early warning and prevention mechanisms within the UN system, and stands ready to provide support in this regard, as well as in the implementation of the Youth and Women Peace and Security Agendas.
The upcoming Youth Action Plan in EU external action (to be adopted in September) will promote youth empowerment, leadership and participation at political, social and economic levels and will recognise the important contribution of young people in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
The EU and its Member States, working together with the UN and partners around the globe, will continue to support effective and operational action on R2P at the UN. We strongly support the work of the Special Advisers and the Office of Genocide Prevention and R2P, including the elaboration of Atrocity Prevention Guidelines for Practitioners. We welcome the report of the Secretary-General. We highlight the importance of the recommendations’ implementation, and would therefore welcome a more systematic follow-up.
Lastly, with the active participation and empowerment of children and youth, we can build more legitimate, peaceful and democratic societies, in which human rights, humanitarian law and the rule of law are respected and no one is left behind. This is essential for our future and for fulfilling the R2P principle.
Thank you, Mr President.
* North Macedonia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.