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Call for the protection of populations from genocide and the implementation of the responsibility to protect within the UN system

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on 9 December 1948, was the first international human rights treaty to define the responsibility of states to prevent and punish genocide, a crime that shocked the conscience of the world at that time. One day later, on 10 December, UN Member States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of these two achievements, brought about by the intergovernmental cooperation of the international community within the UN and the awareness that the world needs to be organised differently to prevent the tragedies of World War II from happening again. Both documents raised hopes for a better post-war world order. Unfortunately, they have not yet been sufficiently implemented for all people. The principles of the Genocide Convention are inextricably linked to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the implementation of which is key to fulfilling our shared commitment to prevent mass atrocities and uphold the promise of "never again".

At a time when the world is confronted with some 55 armed conflicts that seriously threaten and target populations with acts leading to mass atrocities (genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity), it is vital to renew awareness-raising efforts and remind states that they must take appropriate measures to protect their populations from these processes.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Convention, members of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points, including Slovenia, have drafted a public letter addressed to all UN Member States that have a responsibility to protect their populations. The "New Agenda for Peace" offers hope. Together with the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, it provides the basis for a comprehensive framework and encourages the UN system, Member States, regional organisations and civil society to work together for a world where populations are not at risk of genocide. The date of 9 December should reminder us that we must do all we can to protect our populations and build a world free of genocide and mass atrocities.

Slovenia is a staunch supporter of accountability for international crimes and the fight against impunity. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the main pillar of the international criminal justice system. Under its founding instrument, the Rome Statute, it is responsible for the prosecution of the most serious international crimes, including genocide. The recognition of Slovenia's active role in the fight against impunity is also demonstrated by two successful candidacies at the 22nd Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, which is currently taking place in New York. Slovenia has been re-elected to the Bureau of the Assembly, and Beti Hohler, nominated by Slovenia, has been elected a judge of the International Criminal Court.

On 1 January 2024, Slovenia will begin its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Among other tasks, it will work to ensure that the UN Security Council does more to prevent and respond early and appropriately to processes that lead to conflict or its escalation and to atrocities. As a member of the UN Security Council, Slovenia will draw attention to gross and systematic human rights violations and abuses that could lead to the outbreak of armed conflict and will advocate the strengthening and timely adoption of preventive diplomacy measures. It will also support the work of international courts, tribunals and other mechanisms to ensure accountability for international crimes, seeing this as an important element in preventing the tragedies of the past from recurring.

Framework of Action - A Resource for States