Let’s make 2012 the “Year of Prevention”
An excerpt of remarks by the UN secretary-general at “R2P: The Next Decade,” a conference held in January by the Stanley Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of NY, and the MacArthur Foundation
In 2011 history took a turn for the better. The Responsibility to Protect came of age; the principle was tested as never before. The results were uneven but, at the end of the day, tens of thousands of lives were saved.
We gave hope to people long oppressed. In Libya, Côte d'Ivoire, South Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, by our words and actions, we demonstrated that human protection is a defining purpose of the United Nations in the 21st century. We also learned important lessons.
For one, we have learned that this organization cannot stand on the sidelines when challenged to take preventive action. Where there is a “clear and present danger,” we may need to define the field...cautiously but proactively.
We have also learned delivering on the Responsibility to Protect requires partnership and common purpose. We get the best results when global and regional institutions push in the same direction.
Today, I ask you to join me in making 2012 the “Year of Prevention.”
This is going to be one of my five generational opportunities of the United Nations for the coming five years. The 2005 World Summit called for assisting states “under stress before crises and conflicts break out.” Prevention does not mean looking the other way in times of crisis, vainly hoping that things will get better. We have done that too often. Nor can it be just a brief pause while Chapter VII “enforcement measures” are being prepared.
Prevention means proactive, decisive, and early action to stop violence before it begins.
The R2P: The Next Decade post-conference policy memo.
More about the Stanley Foundation's Preventing Genocide work.
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This Now Showing event-in-a-box toolkit Before the Killing Begins: The Politics of Mass Violence considers how early preventive strategies by governments and the international community should build much-needed capacities within countries, and make it harder for leaders to resort to violence. It aims to encourage discussion of how future efforts might better protect populations under threat, giving new resolve to the promise of never again. Sign Up.
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