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Statement by Edward C. Luck
Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Senior Vice President and Director of Studies of the International Peace Institute (IPI)

1 December 2008
Arria Formula Meeting on the Responsibility to Protect
Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa
United Nations Security Council


Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to be with you today to present my views on how the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) could assist the urgent work of preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa. At the outset, it should be underscored that RtoP is a universal concept, equally applicable to all regions and all 192 Member States. With a single voice, the heads of state and government assembled at the 2005 World Summit pledged to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement. The General Assembly subsequently adopted the Summits Outcome Document, with its detailed provisions on RtoP, again unanimously (A/RES/60/1). As you will recall, the Security Council reaffirmed the responsibility to protect in resolution 1674 (2006) without placing limits of time or geography on its application.
Nevertheless, there are special and enduring ties between RtoP and Africa. The concept emerged, quite literally, from the soil and soul of Africa. More than any other event, it was the horrific genocide in Rwanda of 1994 that finally convinced the worlds peoples and governments that everything possible must be done to prevent the reoccurrence of such large-scale atrocity crimes. Africa was the first to recognize the need for collective measures to accomplish this common goal. In 2000, five years before the World Summit, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, in Article 4(h), declared he right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect to grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. So it is most apt to be addressing today how to strengthen the UNs contribution to the emerging national-regional-global partnership for preventing RtoP crimes and violations in Africa.
The first half of my statement will highlight the main strands of the Secretary-Generals strategy for implementing RtoP, with the remainder devoted to responding to the four issues posed in the insightful concept paper prepared by the South African delegation for this meeting. The Secretary-General, you will recall, is preparing a report on his approach to implementing RtoP for submission to the General Assembly early in the New Year. This session will no doubt make a constructive contribution towards the Assemblys consideration of the Secretary-Generals strategy.
As the Secretary-General stressed in his 15 July speech in Berlin, RtoP is not another name for humanitarian intervention. Based instead on the notion of sovereignty as responsibility developed by Francis Deng and his colleagues in the mid-1990s, RtoP takes an affirmative and respectful view of sovereignty. It seeks to help States succeed, not just to react when they fail. For reasons of both morality and pragmatism, it privileges prevention over the false choice between doing nothing or mounting an after-the-fact military expedition. Rather than posing such a binary choice, RtoP embraces the whole panoply of policy tools offered by Chapters VI, VII, and VIII of the Charter. As the Secretary-General has emphasized, what is needed is an early and flexible response tailored to the particular circumstances of each situation.
Based on a careful reading of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the Outcome Document, the Secretary-General has suggested that RtoP rests on three pillars. The first what he calls the bedrock of RtoP is state responsibility. From the dawn of the nation-state era, it has been the intrinsic and inherent responsibility of the sovereign to offer protection to its people. In return, they offer their loyalty. What higher purpose could sovereignty serve?
The second, more innovative, pillar is the responsibility of the international community to assist, help, and support the State in meeting these responsibilities through a range of targeted development, capacity building, humanitarian, human rights, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. The United Nations, working with its regional, sub-regional, and civil society partners, is well placed to offer and/or facilitate such targeted assistance to the State.
The third, response, pillar would be invoked when a State s manifestly failing to meet its protection responsibilities, according to paragraph 139. Any of the range of consent-based or coercive means laid out in the Charter could conceivably be employed by the UNs principal organs, as appropriate to the circumstances and as agreed under the Charters rules and procedures. The Charter offers plenty of tools to advance RtoP principles, if the Member States show sufficient will and imagination to use them in a timely and calibrated manner.
Today we will focus on the preventive dimensions of RtoP, as expressed in the first two pillars. Yet it should be underlined that the three pillars should be of equal length and strength. If its supporting pillars are of unequal length, an edifice would be unstable, leaning dangerously in one direction or another. Should one of them be substantially weaker than the others, then the structure could well implode. Efforts to promote prevention, moreover, would be more persuasive if there is a credible multilateral response capacity to complement them. In that sense, the three pillars are mutually reinforcing and the agreed strategy presented in the Outcome Document depends on all three. The trick is to get the balance right. Preventive and assistance measures are much preferred, but collective measures under Chapter VII cannot be ruled out in extreme cases.
The first issue raised in the concept paper relates to he threshold for preventive intervention. Neither the Outcome Document nor the Secretary-General, it should be noted, uses the term ntervention. Paragraph 139 speaks, instead, of elping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and ssisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out. Clearly the emphasis is on supporting the State, not undermining it. Capacity-building, in this context, embodies a longer-term effort at structural prevention, i.e., helping the State and society to develop those institutions, laws, procedures, and practices that would make the incitement and commission of such massive crimes against a portion of its population less likely. The Peacebuilding Commission, for instance, might take such considerations into account in its post-conflict rebuilding efforts, as might development agencies and programmes. Assisting States under stress, on the other hand, would entail the kinds of Chapter VI and VIII measures that have long been associated with the operational prevention efforts of the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations. Here, the goal is to mainstream RtoP considerations and to bolster ongoing preventive and mediation work, not to be relabel or redirect it. In my view, the Member States have chronically under-invested in these critical capabilities.
Second, the concept paper calls for a broader understanding that RtoP is not onfined to military intervention. Both the Secretary-General and the Outcome Document underscored that RtoP is a much broader and more nuanced concept than humanitarian intervention, as I noted at the outset. This message, however, bears repeating, particularly in capitals and in inter-governmental bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Security Council, that will carry much of the burden of translating RtoP words into deeds. Though such bodies have readily acknowledged the advantages of prevention and early action, my sense is that they are still prone to slow, reactive modes of decision-making, narrowing their options and failing their protection mandates in the process.
The third issue in the concept paper seeing RtoP as a moral imperative rather than as a threat to smaller nations is one of our prime concerns. In that regard, it should be underlined that sovereignty worries are not restricted to the global south or to militarily weak States. While these countries may have understandable concerns about their territorial sovereignty, some militarily potent ones are just as sensitive about their decision-making sovereignty, i.e., about making sure that no automaticity of response be required in RtoP situations. However, by strictly adhering to Charter principles and provisions, the Outcome Document and the Secretary-Generals strategy have taken into account both sets of concerns. The best way to discourage powerful States from abusing RtoP for unilateral purposes, I believe, is to work with the Secretary-General in developing clear definitions, procedures, and strategies for implementing RtoP in a collective and legal manner. There will be no excuse for unilateral adventures if there is a clear and credible multilateral alternative.
Finally, the concept paper thoughtfully calls for greater clarity regarding the nter-face between the sovereign state and the international community in such situations. We could not agree more. In RtoP, as in so many other areas of public policy, international institutions help to make sovereignty work for States and people alike. In the twenty-first century, policymakers almost everywhere increasingly recognize that collaboration is the best way to sustain and deepen sovereignty. For all the public pressures to advance RtoP principles, in the end it was sovereign states that produced Article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act and paragraphs 138 and 139 of the Outcome Document. It will take even closer collaboration among States, international bodies, and civil society to begin to realize the promise of RtoP. The convening of this Arria formula meeting could be an important step in that direction. For this, I am most grateful to the organizers of this session.
Thank you, as well, for your attention, and Id be glad to respond to any questions or concerns the members of this distinguished Working Group may have.

Statement by Edward C. Luck
Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Senior Vice President and Director of Studies of the International Peace Institute (IPI)

1 December 2008
Arria Formula Meeting on the Responsibility to Protect
Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa
United Nations Security Council


Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to be with you today to present my views on how the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) could assist the urgent work of preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa. At the outset, it should be underscored that RtoP is a universal concept, equally applicable to all regions and all 192 Member States. With a single voice, the heads of state and government assembled at the 2005 World Summit pledged to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement. The General Assembly subsequently adopted the Summits Outcome Document, with its detailed provisions on RtoP, again unanimously (A/RES/60/1). As you will recall, the Security Council reaffirmed the responsibility to protect in resolution 1674 (2006) without placing limits of time or geography on its application.
Nevertheless, there are special and enduring ties between RtoP and Africa. The concept emerged, quite literally, from the soil and soul of Africa. More than any other event, it was the horrific genocide in Rwanda of 1994 that finally convinced the worlds peoples and governments that everything possible must be done to prevent the reoccurrence of such large-scale atrocity crimes. Africa was the first to recognize the need for collective measures to accomplish this common goal. In 2000, five years before the World Summit, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, in Article 4(h), declared he right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect to grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. So it is most apt to be addressing today how to strengthen the UNs contribution to the emerging national-regional-global partnership for preventing RtoP crimes and violations in Africa.
The first half of my statement will highlight the main strands of the Secretary-Generals strategy for implementing RtoP, with the remainder devoted to responding to the four issues posed in the insightful concept paper prepared by the South African delegation for this meeting. The Secretary-General, you will recall, is preparing a report on his approach to implementing RtoP for submission to the General Assembly early in the New Year. This session will no doubt make a constructive contribution towards the Assemblys consideration of the Secretary-Generals strategy.
As the Secretary-General stressed in his 15 July speech in Berlin, RtoP is not another name for humanitarian intervention. Based instead on the notion of sovereignty as responsibility developed by Francis Deng and his colleagues in the mid-1990s, RtoP takes an affirmative and respectful view of sovereignty. It seeks to help States succeed, not just to react when they fail. For reasons of both morality and pragmatism, it privileges prevention over the false choice between doing nothing or mounting an after-the-fact military expedition. Rather than posing such a binary choice, RtoP embraces the whole panoply of policy tools offered by Chapters VI, VII, and VIII of the Charter. As the Secretary-General has emphasized, what is needed is an early and flexible response tailored to the particular circumstances of each situation.
Based on a careful reading of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the Outcome Document, the Secretary-General has suggested that RtoP rests on three pillars. The first what he calls the bedrock of RtoP is state responsibility. From the dawn of the nation-state era, it has been the intrinsic and inherent responsibility of the sovereign to offer protection to its people. In return, they offer their loyalty. What higher purpose could sovereignty serve?
The second, more innovative, pillar is the responsibility of the international community to assist, help, and support the State in meeting these responsibilities through a range of targeted development, capacity building, humanitarian, human rights, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. The United Nations, working with its regional, sub-regional, and civil society partners, is well placed to offer and/or facilitate such targeted assistance to the State.
The third, response, pillar would be invoked when a State s manifestly failing to meet its protection responsibilities, according to paragraph 139. Any of the range of consent-based or coercive means laid out in the Charter could conceivably be employed by the UNs principal organs, as appropriate to the circumstances and as agreed under the Charters rules and procedures. The Charter offers plenty of tools to advance RtoP principles, if the Member States show sufficient will and imagination to use them in a timely and calibrated manner.
Today we will focus on the preventive dimensions of RtoP, as expressed in the first two pillars. Yet it should be underlined that the three pillars should be of equal length and strength. If its supporting pillars are of unequal length, an edifice would be unstable, leaning dangerously in one direction or another. Should one of them be substantially weaker than the others, then the structure could well implode. Efforts to promote prevention, moreover, would be more persuasive if there is a credible multilateral response capacity to complement them. In that sense, the three pillars are mutually reinforcing and the agreed strategy presented in the Outcome Document depends on all three. The trick is to get the balance right. Preventive and assistance measures are much preferred, but collective measures under Chapter VII cannot be ruled out in extreme cases.
The first issue raised in the concept paper relates to he threshold for preventive intervention. Neither the Outcome Document nor the Secretary-General, it should be noted, uses the term ntervention. Paragraph 139 speaks, instead, of elping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and ssisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out. Clearly the emphasis is on supporting the State, not undermining it. Capacity-building, in this context, embodies a longer-term effort at structural prevention, i.e., helping the State and society to develop those institutions, laws, procedures, and practices that would make the incitement and commission of such massive crimes against a portion of its population less likely. The Peacebuilding Commission, for instance, might take such considerations into account in its post-conflict rebuilding efforts, as might development agencies and programmes. Assisting States under stress, on the other hand, would entail the kinds of Chapter VI and VIII measures that have long been associated with the operational prevention efforts of the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations. Here, the goal is to mainstream RtoP considerations and to bolster ongoing preventive and mediation work, not to be relabel or redirect it. In my view, the Member States have chronically under-invested in these critical capabilities.
Second, the concept paper calls for a broader understanding that RtoP is not onfined to military intervention. Both the Secretary-General and the Outcome Document underscored that RtoP is a much broader and more nuanced concept than humanitarian intervention, as I noted at the outset. This message, however, bears repeating, particularly in capitals and in inter-governmental bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Security Council, that will carry much of the burden of translating RtoP words into deeds. Though such bodies have readily acknowledged the advantages of prevention and early action, my sense is that they are still prone to slow, reactive modes of decision-making, narrowing their options and failing their protection mandates in the process.
The third issue in the concept paper seeing RtoP as a moral imperative rather than as a threat to smaller nations is one of our prime concerns. In that regard, it should be underlined that sovereignty worries are not restricted to the global south or to militarily weak States. While these countries may have understandable concerns about their territorial sovereignty, some militarily potent ones are just as sensitive about their decision-making sovereignty, i.e., about making sure that no automaticity of response be required in RtoP situations. However, by strictly adhering to Charter principles and provisions, the Outcome Document and the Secretary-Generals strategy have taken into account both sets of concerns. The best way to discourage powerful States from abusing RtoP for unilateral purposes, I believe, is to work with the Secretary-General in developing clear definitions, procedures, and strategies for implementing RtoP in a collective and legal manner. There will be no excuse for unilateral adventures if there is a clear and credible multilateral alternative.
Finally, the concept paper thoughtfully calls for greater clarity regarding the nter-face between the sovereign state and the international community in such situations. We could not agree more. In RtoP, as in so many other areas of public policy, international institutions help to make sovereignty work for States and people alike. In the twenty-first century, policymakers almost everywhere increasingly recognize that collaboration is the best way to sustain and deepen sovereignty. For all the public pressures to advance RtoP principles, in the end it was sovereign states that produced Article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act and paragraphs 138 and 139 of the Outcome Document. It will take even closer collaboration among States, international bodies, and civil society to begin to realize the promise of RtoP. The convening of this Arria formula meeting could be an important step in that direction. For this, I am most grateful to the organizers of this session.
Thank you, as well, for your attention, and Id be glad to respond to any questions or concerns the members of this distinguished Working Group may have.
 

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