Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


19th Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 10 General Debate – 21 March 2012

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Hungary, Nigeria, Thailand, Uruguay and Australia.

Australia, Hungary, Nigeria, Thailand and Uruguay remain convinced that the Human Rights Council has a crucial and well-focused role in supporting the practical implementation of the human rights dimension of the responsibility to protect, as outlined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

We recall the High Commissioner’s statement of 23 July 2009, committing her Office to support the ability of States to fulfil their responsibility to protect through long-term measures, such as institution-building and technical cooperation. We also recall the Secretary-General’s reports on the responsibility to protect, including his report of 12 January 2009, where he noted that the Human Rights Council could play an important role in implementing the World Summit R2P commitment.

Our delegations would like to explore further the potential role of the Human Rights Council – in accordance with its mandate – by focusing on the first two pillars of the responsibility to protect: namely, the protection responsibilities of the state; and international assistance and capacity building. These two pillars are an important part of the R2P concept as a whole. The first two pillars have a strong preventative role: they seek to encourage national and international efforts to address social tensions and manage grievances, so as to prevent the outbreak of conflict, grave human rights violations and mass atrocities.

In his 2009 report, the Secretary-General called on States to “assist the Human Rights Council in sharpening its focus as a forum for considering ways to encourage States to meet their obligations relating to the responsibility to protect.” To help facilitate such discussions in a collaborative and transparent way, our delegations propose to convene a high-level side event in the margins of the 20th session of the Human Rights Council, in June 2012.

Our proposed side event will seek to focus on how the Council can, inter alia: contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations; help States, upon their request and with their consent, to build capacity to prevent serious human rights violations and to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; and assist, upon their request and with their consent, States that are under stress, before the outbreak of crises and conflicts. We will also seek to highlight best practices and current initiatives – national, regional and international – advancing the prevention and protection goals relating to the responsibility to protect.

We encourage all delegations to consider participating in this high-level side event, with a view to fostering good cross-regional discussion and understanding on these important issues.