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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 a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, who first reported to the UN Security Council in 2014. The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, was appointed in 2013, but resigned in March 2016 and, consequently, UN Under-Secretary-General Ivan Šimonović was appointed. The UN Secretary General proposed the "Human Rights Up Front" initiative, which is intended to strengthen the UN System at the operational level for preventive action in cases of large-scale human rights violations.

 

Slovenia was one of the countries to appoint a Focal Point early (currently carried out by Ambassador Blanka Jamnišek) and support the operation of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, led by Simon Adams. Alongside the 55 countries which have so far appointed their R2P National Focal Points, the EU is the only international organisation to have done so, appointing 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 formation and participating in it. Within the Group of Friends of R2P and via the National R2P Focal Point, Slovenia promotes discussion on responsible sovereignty, the prevention of crimes against international law, and the practical implementation of R2P principles and underlines the importance of the preventive aspect of the concept. This topic was discussed at 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. It continued this practice in 2015 and in 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.

 

Slovenia is 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 on 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. So far, the ACT Group Code of Conduct has been supported by 112 countries, while the goal is 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 UN SC members in cases of mass atrocities. Slovenia is highlighting the suspension of the veto in cases of mass atrocities in discussions regarding the UN SC reform, while the highest state representatives have been stressing the issue at the UN GA General Debates.

 

Since May 2016, Slovenia has been a supporter of the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, which was adopted on 29 May 2016 and includes best practices – 18 pledges for the effective and thorough implementation of the protection of civilians.

 

As a member of the Human Rights Council in the 2016–2018 period, Slovenia draws 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) constitute 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, a UN publication "Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes: a Tool for Prevention" was translated by the Foreign Ministry's translation service, dealing with risks, indicators and triggering factors of events that may escalate into atrocities. Several public events have been organized for awarness raising purposes.

 

On 10 May 2017 Slovenia organized the Third European Repsonsibility to Protect Focal Points Meeting in Ljubljana, which was followed by an academic "Responsibility to Protect in Therory and Practice Conference" organized by the Law Faculty of the University of Ljubljana on 11-12 May 2017. The host nation  in cooperation with partners prepared a proposal of recommendations  on R2P preventive action on the basis of international political and legal committments, which are in line with implementing of R2P  in a wider sense as described in the  UN publication "Framework of Analysis  for Atrocity Crimes". The recommendations wtih the title: "Chair's Statement to Orient European Action on R2P and the Prevention of Mass Atrocitiy Crimes " address:


- Strengthening national and regional resilience of societies,
- Ongoing risks or serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,
- Situations of instability or conflict.

 

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