Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 27th Regular Session

Panel discussion on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights
Joint Statement

Delivered by HE Mr John Quinn, Permanent Representative of Australia
18 September 2014

This statement is delivered on behalf of a group of countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.

We welcome this timely panel discussion. The panel focuses on one of the core elements of the mandate of the Human Rights Council. Axiomatically, prevention is better than a cure. If preventive approaches could have been strengthened, including through support for institution building, providing technical assistance, sharing best practices and responding to early warning signs, much of the Human Rights Council’s work - such as several of our urgent debates and special sessions - might not have been needed. This work, which covers all aspects of the human rights spectrum - civil, political, cultural, economic, and social - is key, and contributes to implementing the preventive aspects of Pillars 1 and 2 of the responsibility to protect.

The Secretary General has said on numerous occasions the responsibility to protect is closely intertwined with a responsibility to prevent. He has also highlighted that these responsibilities are both collective and urgent.

Through timely dialogue and mutual cooperation within the HRC framework, national and regional actors can be encouraged and supported to meet their own responsibilities to identify and address risk factors in order to prevent more effectively human rights violations and abuses, and better protect and promote human rights on the ground. We believe that prevention ultimately strengthens state sovereignty. In addition, Geneva-based mechanisms, in conjunction with member states, regional offices and UN teams, can mutually reinforce their respective work to promote accountability for past human rights abuses and violations as a means to deter future perpetrators of these acts.

In this context, we would like to reaffirm our support for the important work of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect. We would like to urge closer cooperation between them and the HRC and OHCHR, particularly special procedure mandate holders, in order to enable us to address more timely and effectively - and prevent - human rights violations and abuses which have the potential to result in mass atrocities including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.