Subcommittee discusses with UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide

Subcommittee on Human Rights discussed on 14th of June of prevention of genocide and mass atrocities with the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Mr Francis Deng and the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for the Budapest Center for the International Prevention of Genocide, Mr Gyorgy Tatar. [:]


The developments in the Southern Mediterranean and the Gulf area, the violent government repression of the peaceful demonstrations in particular, gave timely impetus to the discussion and the NATO operation in Libya triggered extensive debate about the evolving concept of the responsibility to protect. The members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights expressed great appreciation for the work of the UN Special Adviser and underlined that ensuring effective implementation of the responsibility to protect especially with regards the fluid and grave situation in the Gulf region.

The Special Adviser explained that while accountability and prosecution for genocide remain integral elements in the fight against mass atrocities, including genocide, he has strived to shift the focus in his work to tackling these problems at an early stage, before the break out of a larger scale persecution. In this vein, he aims to act as a mechanism of early warning to the Secretary-General, and through him to the Security Council, by bringing to their attention situations that could potentially result in genocide. Responsibility to protect is a more recent addition to the toolbox to fight mass atrocities, but nevertheless already critically vital. It was underlined that this concept must not be seen only as a military recourse, but also as a national tool for the authorities and state institutions to ensure the safety of their civilians. Mr Deng explained the three different stages of the concept of the responsibility to protect, where the use of force remains an option that comes after all others. Firstly, the primary duty to protect rests with the state to protect its population from mass atrocities. Secondly, if the state fails to do this the responsibility shifts to the international community to assist the state in this regard. Lastly, should this still fail, the option of a military intervention will be available.

Mr Tatar explained in his intervention that with the creation of the Budapest Center the Government of Hungary wished to contribute to the international promotion of human rights with distinct emphasis on the prevention of genocide, mass atrocities and prevention of these crimes.