India has called on the international community to develop norms to protect people against the scourges of genocide and other crimes against humanity even when confronted by the standing concepts of national sovereignty.
While the principle of state sovereignty has been the basis of international relations for the last three centuries, global developments have shown that adherence to it has not been able to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, Indian diplomat Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu told the General Assembly on Wednesday during a dialogue on Right to Protect (R2P).
The World Summit in 2005 laid out the principle of R2P that requires nations to act to prevent these four crimes, but ways to address the gap between that principle and the concept of sovereignty have to be developed “in a manner that will not undermine international order,” said Bayyapu, a first secretary in India’s UN Mission.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres himself pointed out that for many countries the “main concern is that the (R2P) principle will be used to impose international approaches on national problems, in ways that may harm national sovereignty”.
He told the General Assemby that an open discussion could help overcome these concerns and develop an agenda for prevention of the crimes.
Guterres reminded the General Assembly that “this year’s dialogue takes place against a backdrop of brutality in many parts of the world.”
“All of us are well aware of the grim human reality that lies behind the words, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide,” he added.
Bayyapu said that several issues have to be be resolved in order to be able to implement R2P and outlined them.
“Further discussions are required within the international community on issues like which instruments should be used; what are the thresholds that will trigger preventive measures and who would identify them; who should be empowered to implement R2P, as the four crimes mentioned in the World Summit outcome document may or may not impact global peace and security in every circumstance,” he said.
Bayyapu also noted that the report of Guterres on R2P stressed that prevention was the key to R2P and that policies for capacity building to ensure this must be nationally-owned – or developed indigenously – rather than imposed from outside.
The R2P principle adopted at the 2005 World Summit makes it the primary responsibility of each country to protect its people from the four evils of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
When government fails to protect it people or commits those crimes, R2P requires the international community to step in with peaceful means and, if it that fails, use force.
A mjor issue hobbling R2P in practice is that only the Security Council can authorise the use of force and vetoes by the five permanent members can prevent it.
Several countries, including permanent member France, have proposed a reform banning the use of veto in situations involving the crimes covered by R2P.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])