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RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

The UN concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was adopted, by consensus, by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit and included in the outcome document of the UN Summit during the 60th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2005.

 

From the very beginning, Slovenia has supported the development of the R2P concept, which was also made a foreign policy priority of the Republic of Slovenia in the Declaration on Foreign Policy adopted by the National Assembly in July 2015, and in the strategy of Slovenian foreign policy adopted by the Government at the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Responsibility to Protect means that all countries are obliged to protect its people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity on its territory. The international community is responsible for helping countries by means of suitable diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful measures via the UN.

 

The normative framework consists of three pillars that are intended to manage responsibility in cases of atrocities: genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The first pillar highlights the primary responsibility of the country to protect its population. The second pillar deals with the cooperation between the country and the international community. The third pillar includes the international community's measures arising from its obligation to help protect populations from atrocities by suitable diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means.

 

The paragraphs of the outcome document of the UN Summit during the 60th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2005 on the responsibility to protect are among the essential achievements of the 60th UN General Assembly session and read as follows:

 

138.

"Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability."

 

139.

"The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out."

 

In 2012, the UN Secretary-General appointed the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, who first reported to the UN Security Council in 2014 and continues his work to this day. In 2013, Jennifer Welsh was appointed special advisor to the UN SG for R2P, and was later followed by Ivan Šimonović, whose term ended in March 2018. The UN Secretary General proposed the initiative "Human Rights Up Front", which aims to strengthen the activities of the UN System at the operational level to prevent large-scale human rights violations.

 

Slovenia is one of the countries that appointed an R2P Focal Point early (this function is now carried out by Ambassador Blanka Jamnišek) and support the operation of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, led by Simon Adams.  Alongside 60 countries, which have so far appointed their R2P National Focal Points, the EU was the only international organisation so far to have appointed a Focal Point (Christian Leffler), in February 2016.

 

Slovenia is an active member of the Group of Friends of R2P (in New York and in Geneva) and has been supporting the concept since its inception, actively participating in it. As a member of the Group of Friends of R2P and via the National R2P Focal Point, Slovenia promotes discussion on responsible sovereignty, the prevention of international crimes, and the practical implementation of these principles, and underlines the importance of the preventive aspect of the concept. This theme was discussed by a panel at the 2015 Bled Strategic Forum, with the participation of Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

 

Slovenia was the first host of a regional meeting of National Focal Points for Europe and a regional conference in 2013, and later on in 2015 and 2017. On the global scale, National Focal Points have annual meetings, organised by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at various locations around the world; the meeting in 2018 was in Helsinki.

 

Slovenia is also a member of the ACT (Accountability, Coherence and Transparency) Group, which strives to increase the responsibility and transparency of work of the UN Security Council, and supports efforts to prevent UN SC members from voting against resolutions aimed at timely and decisive action in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 29 July 2015, the Group presented to the other UN Member States the draft of the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council actions against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The proposed document would facilitate the accession by all (not only permanent) UN SC members, which would give the commitment greater moral weight. Thus far, the ACT Group Code of Conduct has been supported by 117 countries, while their goal is to reach at least 129 countries, which would symbolically mean two thirds of all UN Member States.  Slovenia also supports the French-Mexican political initiative on the suspension of the veto for the UN SC members in cases of mass atrocities. Slovenia is proposing the suspension of the veto in cases of mass atrocities in discussions regarding the UN SC reform, while the highest state representatives are stressing the issue in their talks at the UN GA General Debates.

 

Since May 2016, Slovenia has been a supporter of the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, which include best practices – 18 pledges for effectively and fully implementing protection for civilians.

 

As a member of the Human Rights Council in the 2016–2018 period, Slovenia is drawing attention to the R2P concept in HRC general debates and national thematic discussions, emphasising the need for preventive action. The Human Rights Council and its mechanisms (Universal Periodic Review, Special Rapporteurs, Commissions of Inquiry and Resolutions) represent an Early Warning System, and together with treaty bodies, is already actually implementing the preventive part of the R2P concept.


Since prevention is the most important part of Slovenia's activities in its support for the R2P concept in order to raise awareness, the UN publication ‘Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes. A tool for prevention’ has been translated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It includes data on the risks, indicators and initiators of processes that may escalate into atrocities. In order to raise awareness about this topic, the publication was presented throughout Slovenia to various target groups.

 

In May 2017, as a follow-up to European regional meetings of R2P Focal Points and academic conferences in Slovenia in 2013 and 2015, Ljubljana hosted the third European R2P Focal Points Meeting, followed by an academic conference organised by the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, entitled ‘Responsibility to protect in theory and practice’ (11 and 12 May 2017). Slovenia, as the host country proposed, in collaboration with partners, a set of recommendations for R2P-related preventive actions in Europe in accordance with adopted international political and legal commitments concerning prevention within the wider context of understanding the R2P principle as it was analysed in the UN publication ‘Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes’. The recommendations were published as ‘Chair's Statement to Orient European Action on R2P and the Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes’ in order to address:

 
- strengthening the national and regional resilience of societies,
- ongoing risks or serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,
- situations of instability or conflict.

 

In May 2018, the EU (working group CONUN) adopted ‘Recommendations on promoting and operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect by the EU and EU Member States’ in order to promote the development, adoption and enforcement of the R2P principle. Currently, the EU R2P – Atrocity Prevention Toolkit is being prepared. At the EU level, concrete steps forward have thus been taken since the 2017 recommendations, also in accordance with the EU Global Strategy and the new European Consensus on Development, the Implementation Plan in the fields of security and defence, and the Comprehensive approach to External Conflicts and Crises. It has been recommended that as part of the operational development, the EU and its Member States examine the links between R2P and the internal policies of the EU and the Member States concerning potentially dangerous evolutions of events, such as attacks on minorities, hate speech and incitement to hatred and minority discrimination, as well as within policies aimed at gender equality and the empowerment of women.

 

For the first time in the past nine years, a formal open discussion was held at the UN General Assembly (25 June and 2 July 2018) with 113 countries participating countries (including Slovenia), as well as the EU and the Group of Friends of R2P.

 

 

Links to websites that regularly provide the latest information on R2P: