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HRC46: The Group of Friends of R2P highlights the importance of prevention in protecting human rights 

Group of Friends on R2P Geneva
Statement on Item 2 - Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

26 February 2021 

Madame President, 

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). A list of co-sponsors is available on the Extranet. 

We thank the High Commissioner Madame Bachelet for her reporting on ongoing serious human rights violations and abuses over the past year, and on the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations around the world. The unprecedented global health crisis has demonstrated the urgent need for a universal commitment to protect the most vulnerable and marginalized and to address structural inequalities and discrimination, which continue to accelerate the pandemic's impact. 

In many atrocity situations we are currently witnessing around the world, these were preceded by systematic human rights violations and abuses, which are often further facilitated in a world now subject to increasing levels of disinformation, hate speech, and incitement to violence made more prevalent by the impacts of the pandemic. It is therefore essential to address serious violations and abuses at an early stage and prevent situations from escalating. The work of the High Commissioner and her office is essential in this regard, and UN member states can utilize the updates and information produced by OHCHR to identify warning signs of situations at risk, and engage with the concerned country, as well as the wider international community, on effective strategies to protect populations from atrocities. We also recognize the important work being undertaken by the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect.

The adoption of resolution ‘The contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations’ during the 45th session of the HRC reinforces the prevention role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office. 

The Geneva-based human rights mechanisms – including Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Treaty Bodies – can all also contribute to strengthening atrocity prevention and response. Furthermore, HRC-mandated investigative mechanisms may not only be vital for accountability for past atrocities, but may also have a deterrent effect on the future commission of atrocity crimes. Through the work of these mechanisms, governments can furthermore identify gaps and challenges in their domestic atrocity prevention efforts and develop strategies to strengthen national resilience. 

In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the resolution on the “Fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the World Summit Outcome of 2005” at the 44th session of the HRC and encourage all States to participate in the inter-sessional panel discussion to exchange best practices on strengthening national policies and strategies to implement R2P. 

Madame President, 

Over the past year, little has changed for populations around the world affected by, or at risk of, atrocities. They look to the HRC to recognize their suffering, prevent further escalation, and act upon the information produced by its mechanisms and procedures. We must become better at utilizing the vast information that is at our hand to respond to early warning signs and prevent atrocities before they occur. 

Thank you. 

Co-Sponsor List 

1. Netherlands / Co-chair

2. Côte d’Ivoire 
3. Ghana
4. Liberia
5. Mali 
6. Morocco
7. Mozambique
8. Nigeria
9. Rwanda
10. Senegal
11. Sierra Leone
12. South Sudan
13. Tanzania

14. Bangladesh
15. Japan
16. Qatar
17. Marshall Islands
18. Republic of Korea

Latin America
19. Argentina
20. Chile
21. Costa Rica
22. Guatemala
23. Peru
24. Mexico
25. Panama
26. Uruguay

27. Belgium
28. Bosnia-Herzegovina
29. Croatia
30. Czech Republic
31. Denmark
32. European Union
33. Finland
34. France
35. Germany
36. Hungary
37. Ireland
38. Italy
39. Liechtenstein
40. Luxembourg
41. Norway
42. Romania
43. Slovakia
44. Slovenia
45. Spain
46. Sweden
47. Switzerland
48. United Kingdom

49. Australia
50. New Zealand

North America
51. Canada
52. United States