On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly held an informal interactive dialogue event centered on the responsibility to protect (R2P). The seventh iteration of the annual event, this year’s dialogue was given the title “A vital and enduring commitment: implementing the responsibility to protect”, which it shares with the recent report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (A/69/981) on the tenth anniversary of the principle of R2P and the progress that has been made since its introduction to the international community.
The event, moderated by Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, was composed of two sessions of three hours each. Introductory remarks were made by Einar Gunnarsson on behalf of the President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, Special Adviser Dieng, and by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The event’s closing statements were made by Einar Gunnarsson, again on behalf of President Kutesa, and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh.
In his remarks, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the imperative of the state to protect its own citizens, invoking the contemporary crises in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He called for action on the part of member states, explaining that:
The atrocity crimes that stain humanity’s conscience make it imperative that leaders transform R2P from a vital principle into visible practice… The challenges of atrocity crimes are enormous – and the human cost is staggering. That is not a reason to be overwhelmed – it is a cause for urgent action.
Over the course of the event, 69 UN member states, 1 regional organization, and 1 thematic organization delivered statements on behalf of over 90 countries alongside the participation of 4 bodies of civil society. 9 member countries of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention participated in the dialogue.