Russia, China, Algeria, United States backtracking on agreement against genocide warns Oxfam

Published: 13 December 2005

Members of the United Nations Security Council are backtracking on the landmark agreement reached by world leaders at the UN World Summit in September on their collective responsibility to protect civilians from genocide international agency Oxfam has learned today.

Members of the United Nations Security Council are backtracking on the landmark agreement reached by world leaders at the UN World Summit in September on their collective responsibility to protect civilians from genocide international agency Oxfam has learned today.


At September’s World Summit in New York, United States President George Bush, UK Prime Minister Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin joined world leaders from over 180 other nations in signing an historic measure on their collective responsibility to protect citizens from genocide, crimes against humanity and other similar atrocities where the government of the people fails to do so. Putting this commitment into practice would prevent another Rwanda. It was heralded as a major success of a summit that was otherwise seen to achieve little.

Yet Oxfam warned that Russia, China, Algeria, Brazil and the United States have all sought to weaken or remove the reference to their responsibility to protect civilians from inclusion in a Security Council resolution which is being debated in the Council today.

“Just three months ago we reached a turning point as world leaders declared they were willing to take collective action to protect people against genocide and prevent another Rwanda,” said Nicola Reindorp, head of Oxfam’s New York office. “Yet less than 90 days since the agreement was signed, China, Russia, and Algeria seem to want to pretend the agreement was not made.  The US is also trying to water down their responsibility to act to stop such crimes.”

The Security Council is currently preparing to pass a resolution that commits the Council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict. This is the first such resolution for five years and the current draft proposes language that refers to the World Summit Outcome and the Security Council’s role in fulfilling the commitments made on the responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet key Council members have raised objections even to this reference, arguing that the entire provision requires further discussion in the UN’s General Assembly.

“Security Council members must recognize the Summit’s historic commitment to protect civilians from genocide,” said Oxfam’s Reindorp. “Backtracking on the World Summit’s commitment on the responsibility to protect sends a message that the Security Council is not serious about stopping genocide and similar atrocities.’’

Notes to Editors

·    The current resolution under discussion in the Security Council will commit the Council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict. The Council last passed a resolution on this thematic issue five years ago – resolution 1296 of 19 April 2000.

·    The current resolution aims to address developments that have taken place in the last five years, including action to stop forced displacement, gender-based violence, and to improve security in camps for refugees and internally displaced people. The Security Council’s first resolution on the protection of civilians in armed conflict was resolution 1265 of 17 September 1999.

·    The current language under negotiation in the Security Council resolution which relates to the World Summit Outcome document is contained in the operational paragraph 6 of the first draft of the resolution dated 21 November 2005:
[OP 6.         Recalls the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, and underlines the importance of its provisions [regarding the responsibility] to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, including in this regard the [responsibilities] [efforts] of individual Member States as well as the international community acting through the United Nations, including the Security Council [, and to take appropriate action to protect populations from such crimes];

·    The 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, which was adopted by the General Assembly on 24 October, states that:
Paragraph 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 to 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 are manifestly failing 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.

http://www.un.org/summit2005/documents.html

Contact Information

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Caroline Green on +1 202 321 7858 in Washington DC