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  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: This year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. But celebrations recognizing this historical landmark will occur at a time when the entire post-1945 structure of human rights, humanitarianism and multilateral diplomacy are under threat. Not since the UN was first formed have so many people been displaced by persecution, conflict and war. Not since the peak of the Cold War has the UN Security Council appeared so bitterly divided and incapable of decisive action. And as a new decade begins, there are renewed threats to international peace and security, and fresh assaults on human dignity.
  • Topic: Genocide, Human Rights, Social Movement, Refugees, Syrian War, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: China, Yemen, United Nations, Syria, Chile, Myanmar, Global Focus, Xinjiang
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: 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.
  • Topic: United Nations, Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Kenya, India, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Global Focus
  • Author: Jahaan Pittalwala
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Since April 2019 Syrian government and Russian forces have carried out a brutal offensive in northwest Syria, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 civilians. As the bombings intensified in mid 2019, international outrage grew as airstrikes regularly hit health facilities, schools, displacement centers and other civilian objects, including those on a “deconfliction” list established by the UN to help facilitate their protection. Any joint action by the UN Security Council (UNSC) in response to these attacks was actively blocked by China and Russia, the latter of which was directly involved in the military offensive. Amidst frustration that perpetrators were being systematically shielded from accountability, and faced with few other diplomatic options, ten members of the UNSC issued a démarche to the UN Secretary-General requesting an investigation into attacks on civilian objects.
  • Topic: International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Since the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was unanimously adopted at the 2005 UN World Summit, the international community has looked to the UN Security Council in New York to respond when a government has been unwilling or unable to protect its population from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or ethnic cleansing. Paragraphs 138-139 of the World Summit Outcome Document recognize the Security Council’s unique role with regard to upholding the international community’s responsibility to protect as the body primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the Human Rights Council (HRC) and other Geneva-based mechanisms are also essential for preventing atrocity crimes. Since systematic or widespread human rights violations serve as early warning signs of possible atrocities, Geneva-based mechanisms are often the first to raise the alarm regarding situations where violations and abuses threaten to deepen or deteriorate. Such mechanisms play an important role in enabling the international community to assist states in preventing mass atrocities (R2P’s Pillar II) and respond in a timely and decisive manner to atrocity risks (Pillar III).
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Today, 7 June 2019, the United Nations General Assembly elected Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Viet Nam to the UN Security Council for the period of 2020-2021. With their election, 6 of the 15 members of the Council in 2020 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.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Human Rights, Sovereignty, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, Estonia, United Nations, Tunisia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: In this occasional paper from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Dr. Simon Adams tests the resilience of the international community’s commitment to defending human rights and upholding its Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The paper highlights the failure to respond to patterns of discrimination that eventually led to a genocide in Myanmar (Burma) during 2017. But it also draws attention to other recent situations, such as in the Gambia, when the international community seized the moment to respond in a timely and decisive manner to an emerging threat of devastating conflict. In doing so, Adams emphasizes that even when bodies such as the UN Security Council appear paralyzed and inert, a mobilized international community can still act to prevent atrocities, protect vulnerable populations, and hold the perpetrators accountable.
  • Topic: Genocide, Human Rights, International Law, Ethnic Cleansing, International Community, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Jared Genser
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: When it was adopted by the United Nations (UN) system in 2005, the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was meant to provide an implementation mechanism for the international community to respond to governments that were perpetrating the mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. As R2P is now in its second decade of existence, it is important to evaluate past implementation of R2P by the UN Security Council — the UN body charged with taking collective action when all other preventive efforts have failed and atrocity crimes are being committed or are imminent. This briefing paper is a summary of a more detailed law review article recently published in the University of Chicago Journal of International Law.
  • Topic: Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing, International Community, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Crimes Against Humanity
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Today, 8 June 2018, the United Nations General Assembly elected Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa to the UN Security Council for 2019-2020. With their election, 9 of the 15 members of the Council in 2019 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. The global displacement of civilians due to conflict, mass atrocities and persecution is at its highest level since the end of the Second World War. As the UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council must ensure that populations in every country are protected from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • Topic: UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, South Africa, Germany, Belgium, United Nations, Dominican Republic