CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) recalled that his country supported General Assembly resolution 60/1, which endorsed the World Summit outcome document setting out the pillars underpinning the responsibility to protect. Only the General Assembly has the authority to advance a consensus-based definition of the right to protect and set the institutional and political dimensions of its application. Noting that discrimination and exclusion exacerbate the emergence of conflicts, he emphasized the use of peaceful dispute settlement to avoid an escalation of conflict, during which atrocity crimes can be committed. He also expressed support for the International Criminal Court as an essential element in the prevention and redress for the most serious crimes and called on all States to accede to the Rome Statute, expressing support for the code of conduct for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the France-Mexico initiative to suspend veto use in cases of mass atrocities.Rwanda’s representative pointed out that in the last two weeks, hate messages, images and videos targeting Congolese Tutsis have been posted on social media outlets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by civilians, Government officials and others, calling for their killing, extermination and intimidation. As a result, individuals believed to be Tutsis in the country are stigmatized and assaulted. “Incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility are precursors to genocide crimes,” he underscored, urging Member States to establish a sound legal procedure to prevent and criminalize hate speech and genocide ideology. CLAVER GATETE (Rwanda), associating himself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said that despite efforts to strengthen the responsibility to protect, there is a still a big gap between word and deed; mass atrocities continue to be committed. Moreover, all too often, the effectiveness of the United Nations in responding to mass atrocities is hampered by partisan political interests. In the last two weeks, hate messages, images and videos targeting Congolese Tutsis have been posted on numerous social media outlets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by civilians, professionals, Government officials, and others, calling for killing, extermination, intimidation, and other such acts. In response to those calls for violence, individuals believed to be Tutsis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are stigmatized and assaulted. He urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cease all hate speech and other inflammatory language with immediate effect. “Incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility are precursors to genocide crimes,” he said, urging Member States to establish a sound legal procedure to prevent and criminalize hate speech and genocide ideology. “The United Nations must do more and sooner to expose human rights violations and seek justice for the victims,” he said. ÖNCÜ KEÇELI (Türkiye), noting that his delegation supported the inclusion of the responsibility to protect as a standing agenda item of the General Assembly, welcomed this year’s focus on the protection of children and youth. As highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, incitement to violence and hate speech are risk factors and potential early warning indicators for atrocity crimes. Unfortunately, hate speech, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are on a disturbing rise throughout the world and require urgent action both at national and international levels. Efforts must be stepped up to ensure that the United Nations Country Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations against Children have adequate resources to fulfil their mandate. Meanwhile, child protection provisions and capacities must be included in all relevant mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Meeting the fundamental humanitarian needs of children in conflicts and emergencies, including the provision of health and education services must be another priority, he said, noting that Türkiye takes all necessary measures to alleviate the suffering of children fleeing armed conflict in its region and beyond. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, introducing the Secretary-General’s annual report on the issue (document A/76/844), recalled that since the first report in 2009, these documents have given the General Assembly a basis to consider the concept of the responsibility to protect, which was affirmed at the 2005 World Summit. Since then, Member States, the Secretariat and the Assembly have made progress in elaborating and operationalizing the responsibility to protect, and have elaborated frameworks for identifying risks, early warning models and institutional mechanisms for implementation. MICHAEL ALEXANDER GEISLER (Germany), aligning himself with the European Union, highlighting that atrocity crimes against children still occur around the globe, including Yemen, Afghanistan and Myanmar, cited the latest report on children and armed conflict, which lists a total of 21 situations of concern. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he noted that recent reports on the abduction of Ukrainian children to Russia are deeply disturbing. Russian officials themselves admitted that more than 300,000 children were “evacuated” since the beginning of the war. Many Ukrainian children and young people have been killed and maimed, schools and hospitals have been destroyed, and humanitarian access has been denied. Calling on States to do more to protect children and youth from atrocity crimes, he emphasized the importance of strengthening prevention and global protection of human rights. Calling on the Secretary-General to do everything in his power to hold Moscow accountable for the grave violations against children, he also underlined the need for effective early warning systems that include the collection of age-and gender specific data, and strengthened national and international accountability mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court and Commissions of Inquiry. The representative of Armenia said that the misinformation of his counterpart from Azerbaijan was aimed at distracting from the State policy of instituting violence against Armenians, which led to atrocity crimes in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. That conflict was preceded by planned atrocities against Armenians, ethnic cleansing and the massacre of Armenians in February 1988, the first identity-based mass crime in Europe since the Second World War. The legitimacy of the Nagorno-Karabakh people was recognized by the international community, including the European Parliament in 1988. He also recalled that the appearance of Azerbaijan on the world map in the past was manifested by barbarity, notably the massacre of Armenians in Baku in 1918. The European Union spoke in its capacity as an observer. KRISTEL LÕUK (Estonia), also speaking for Latvia and Lithuania and aligning with the statement to be made by the European Union, called for States to strengthen efforts to provide special protection to children and young people both in conflict and at peacetime. At the same time, no State has the right to use that responsibility as a pretext for invasion. The Russian Federation’s ongoing brutal aggression has been characterized by systematic violations of international law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide. It has also brought grave violations against children, including killing and maiming, attacks against schools and hospitals, sexual violence and denial of humanitarian access. The officially confirmed data shows that more than 300 Ukrainian children have been killed and nearly 600 injured in this war. Moreover, nearly two thirds of Ukraine’s children are displaced. The actual numbers are likely to be even higher. The fate of the country’s children is unknown, including hundreds of thousands of children being forcibly deported from Ukraine to the Russian Federation and who may now face illegal adoption there. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have welcomed those fleeing the war, including children and youth, and have offered them access to education and health systems, as well as mental health support. Every child and young person has a right to safety and education, she said, adding: “We remain actively engaged in protecting and promoting human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities and the rights of the child in Ukraine.” MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), recalling that the responsibility to protect is outlined in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit outcome, and that its scope is restricted to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, said the primary responsibility for protection rests on the State itself. Only if national authorities manifestly fail to protect their population can the international community, through the Council, take collective action. Stressing that after 17 years there is still no consensus on the scope, application or modalities of the concept, he said it is not difficult to discern why it has been controversial. Its proponents have sought application beyond the narrow parameters agreed in 2005. Perhaps most egregious is its selective application: Targets are frequently developing countries or Islamic States. There is complete silence regarding other situations that fall within the purview of paragraphs 138 and 139. The international community has not heard from the sponsors of this concept on the need for collective action to protect the people of occupied Palestine or India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. For more than seven decades, India has denied the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people, in violation of multiple Council resolutions. He called on the proponents of the responsibility to protect to offer protection to the people of Kashmir. The General Assembly will next meet 10 a.m. on Friday, 24 June, to conclude its debate on the responsibility to protect. Pakistan’s representative, noting that the scope of the concept, outlined in the 2005 World Summit outcome, had been restricted to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, said the principle has been selectively applied and frequently targets developing countries or Islamic States. The international community has not heard from the sponsors of this concept on the need for collective action to protect the people of occupied Palestine or India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he said. ALICE WAIRIMU NDERITU, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, introduced the Secretary-General’s fourteenth annual report on this issue, “Responsibility to protect: prioritizing children and young people” (document A/76/844). Since the first report in 2009, these documents have given the General Assembly a basis to consider the concept of responsibility to protect, as called for by the Heads of State and Government when they affirmed the responsibility at the 2005 World Summit. Since then, Member States, the Secretariat and the Assembly have made progress in elaborating and operationalizing the responsibility to protect, and have elaborated frameworks for identifying risks, early warning models and institutional mechanisms for implementation. JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) said his country is a staunch supporter of the responsibility to protect principles enshrined in the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit. The principle is no less relevant today than 17 years ago, as the world is witnessing violent military takeovers as well as aggression of neighbouring countries by force. These actions are carried out under the pretext of preventing a genocide. The Russian Federation’s atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, are all too real. Accountability is the best prevention for further atrocities. While States have primary responsibility to protect, the international community can also play a vital role. The United Nations system must do better in assisting national implementation of human rights obligations. The universal periodic review and other human rights mechanisms play a critical role in prevention and early warning and therefore must be adequately funded. It is also imperative to create a safe enabling environment for civil society at national, regional and international level as they are the ones exposed to violations on the ground. Violations against children must be monitored and prevented. This is a bare minimum, he said, highlighting the role of education to create a resilient future. Responding, the representative of Pakistan said said that deflection defines India’s diplomacy. Noting that minorities in that country, from Dalits to Muslims, are publicly lynched by Hindutva zealots, he condemned the recent call for Muslim genocide and the State complicity in extrajudicial measures and human rights abuses. Jammu and Kashmir is not an integral part of India. “It never waswas, and it never will be,” he stressed, adding that India is conducting multiple forms of terrorism, including State-sponsored terrorism in neighbouring countries. Guided by a supremacist ideology that has normalized Islamophobia, the current Government has also launched a campaign of intimidation against its Muslim population, he said. Switzerland’s representative, noting his country was a member of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, also said that each country should identify mechanisms in accordance with its situation, noting that his country is working within the Global Action against Mass Atrocities to strengthen the dialogue between States and other actors to strengthen national prevention mechanisms and structures. States should join to share good practices and build an atrocity prevention community. Right of Reply YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba) said it is a mistake to speak of a principle that is not a foundation of international law. It is only a notion and its scope and evaluation mechanisms are far from being defined and agreed upon by Member States. It is out of place to speak of strengthening the responsibility to protect without an agreement on its implications. Further, the report continues to erroneously use the term “atrocity crimes”. There is a lack of consensus of the definition of these crimes. It is not the first time the term has been used for political purposes. It is easy to manipulate its use. It is not appropriate to give the mandate for the responsibility to protect to other bodies, such as the Human Rights Council. For the last 15 years, the use of the responsibility to protect has been an area of concern, especially for small developing countries, he said, questioning who decides when the responsibility to protect should be used. As well, who determines what State is not protecting its population, he said, adding that the use of this concept as a reason for intervention should be avoided. Honduras’ representative, echoing that, affirmed that children and youth were at the heart of his country’s efforts to prevent atrocities. His Government was also designing public policies to ensure socioeconomic inclusion and equality, with the full involvement of children and young people. In addition, Honduras also has included the topic of genocide and the prevention of mass atrocities in civil service training, and training for its armed forces, he said. GYULA MIKE (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said Member States should adopt measures to improve internal United Nations coordination in the area of the responsibility to protect. Hungary is fully committed to international investigative and judicial organs to bring perpetrators to justice and is working to better implement the norm at the national level. Stressing the need to protect schools, students and teachers, he said Hungary introduced in 2014 a national programme to provide tertiary education for international students. Noting that more than 5,000 foreign students study in Hungary, he said a large percentage come from conflict-affected regions. The country also runs a scholarship programme for young Christians experiencing persecution and discrimination. This year’s report is dedicated to the special situation and needs of children and youth in the context of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, she continued. The report highlights the ways, reasons and extent to which children and youth are targeted and impacted by these crimes, in both armed conflict and non-armed-conflict situations. It calls for concerted action by multiple actors. More specifically, it calls on Governments to make protecting children and youth from atrocity crimes a priority. The report underlines that in implementing these priorities, Governments need the support and engagement of multiple stakeholders, including civil society organizations and multilateral and bilateral State and institutional partners, international financial institutions and the private sector. VINÍCIUS FOX DRUMMOND CANÇADO TRINDADE (Brazil), noting that his delegation co-sponsored the 2021 resolution that put the responsibility to protect on the Assembly’s agenda, said protecting children and youth from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity requires both strict observance of international law and the promotion of socioeconomic inclusion and equality. It also requires mobilizing adequate resources to assist States in mainstreaming prevention and protection. Noting references in the Secretary-General’s report to the expression “atrocity crimes” as a synonym for the horrendous acts associated with the responsibility to protect, he warned against the temptation to proliferate imprecise concepts. The expression “atrocity crimes” is not defined in international law, nor in multilateral resolutions or decisions. Brazil is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and has endorsed the Paris Principles, the Vancouver Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration. It also co-sponsored Security Council resolution 2601 (2021) on the protection of education, he added. The representative of Armenia, taking the floor for the second time, said in Armenia there is public discourse and a vibrant society that can exercise its freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and a free media. This may sound surprising for an authoritative regime with one ruling family. In one of several points, he wanted to assure the Azerbaijan delegate that public discourse is very useful for constructing a peaceful and fair society. FELIX DIMBARE TUGHUYENDERE (Namibia) recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document recognizing that each State had the responsibility to protect its populations from atrocity crimes. This, together with the subsequent establishment of the Office on Genocide Prevention and the responsibility to protect, filled a critical gap in the Organization’s prevention and protection architecture. However, there is still much to be done to operationalize the principle and ensure its consistent application. Discrepancies in the interpretation of the doctrine continue to hamper discussions, specifically within the context of the third pillar of the responsibility to protect principle. While underscoring respect for the principles of international law, he said that there is no pretext for the use of force against States. Therefore, safeguards must be put in place to protect against surreptitious interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. He also noted that children and young people continue to be targeted by and caught up in atrocity crimes. The plight of children in situations of armed conflict remains a serious concern. Equally concerning is the growing number of attacks on the right to education, including attacks on children in schools. He also reiterated the call for a reformed Security Council that is reflective of the realities of the twenty-first century, and that is therefore able to effectively implement its mandate of maintaining international peace and security, including through the prevention of atrocities and regulating the collective use of force. JONATHAN SAMUEL HOLLIS (United Kingdom) stressed the importance of the responsibility to protect and prevent mass atrocities, as the world is facing alarming levels of violence, atrocities and displacement, with children and youth disproportionately affected. Young people are powerful agents of peace and security, and their voices must be heard and harnessed to inform atrocity prevention efforts. States can no longer accept hesitation or inaction, he said. Pointing to violations against children in Ukraine, Myanmar, Syria, and Ethiopia, he emphasized that those responsible for such atrocities must be held accountable whether through domestic prosecutions, the International Criminal Court or otherwise. Noting his country’s continued commitment to atrocity prevention and response, he highlighted that his Government has launched the Call to Action to Ensure the Rights and Wellbeing of Children Born of Sexual Violence in Conflict last November. It is also building international action on conflict related sexual violence in a way that supports survivors and strengthens existing structures. Member States’ commitment to uphold the responsibility to protect its populations, in particular children and youth, from crimes of atrocity, must be centred in prevention in order to make the principle a living reality, speakers stressed, as the General Assembly today held its first annual debate on the topic. This year’s report was dedicated to the special situation of children and youth in the context of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, she noted. It also highlighted the ways, reasons and extent to which children and youths are targeted and impacted by those crimes, in both armed conflict and non-armed-conflict situation. She urged Governments to make protecting children and youth from atrocity crimes a priority and accelerate its implementation with real and measurable outcomes. She reiterated that Member States’ commitment to protect their populations from atrocity crimes is the keystone for making the responsibility to protect a living reality, not only for children and youth, but also for all cross-sections of the population. In considering the report’s recommendations, she said priority should be given to how implementation can be advanced, in concrete and accountable terms, to yield real, measurable outcomes for both children and youth and broader population groups. JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela) said the Government is committed to the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. States retain the central role of maintaining the security and safety of their populations at all times. The Charter is binding on all States. It calls for the non-intervention in the internal affairs of another State. Prevention involves respecting all norms of international rule and the Charter. The international community must make use of all tools to resolve disputes, including political dialogue and negotiations. At the beginning, the responsibility to protect principle had altruistic intentions. But with the passing of time, its harmful consequences have become evident. Some States use it to justify interventions. Further, there is a lack of agreement on its scope, he said, adding: who decides if a State has protected its population and why is there no cooperation to fight poverty and inequality? There should be an end to illegal coercive measures. Some States are promoting the illegal implementation of unilateral sanctions and have given carte blanche to Israel to continue with its apartheid policy. The lack of responses shows the double standard used by racist and supremist empires and their allies. The main responsibility is to end the deliberate use of the economy as a weapon of mass destruction against many countries. The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said the personal attack by Armenia’s representative against the leadership of a country shows disrespect and irresponsibility. Instead of wasting time and energy on lecturing, Armenia must realize it is misinterpreting international law. The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea concurred, emphasizing that the responsibility to protect is nothing but an instrument used to intervene in the internal affairs of other sovereign States, citing long-standing challenges in the Middle East and Africa as the result of such actions. Genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are not attributable to a State’s inadequate ability to protect its people, but to flagrant infringement of State sovereignty, he stressed. MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein), associating herself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said that despite increasing references to the principle across a range of resolutions and debates, the gap between Member States’ expressed commitment to protect civilian populations and their collective action has widened. When States are unable or unwilling to live up to the responsibility to protect, far too often it remains an elusive concept rather than the basis for action. The situations in Myanmar, Syria and Yemen are daily reminders that such failures come at a high cost for civilians in urgent need of protection, she said, adding that accountability for atrocity crimes is key; to that end, the International Criminal Court has a crucial role. She called on all Member States to support and implement the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Paris and Vancouver Principles, and the Safe Schools Declaration. GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, recalled that 80 million people were killed during the Second World War. This led to the creation of the United Nations with the promise of sparing future generations from the scourge the war. However, this pledge has been compromised by crises that have given rise to mass displacement of populations, with children paying the highest price. He called on the Assembly to prevent the tragedies that unfolded in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s, notably by empowering young people. On 30 March 2011, the Security Council, through resolution 1975 (2011), authorized an operation that allowed for peace to be restored in his country. The use of force authorized by the United Nations is justified, he said, which allows for implementing the principle of responsibility to protect. The United Nations can also strengthen the capacities of regional organizations, he added. Many delegations, on the other hand, questioned the concept of the responsibility to protect, stressing that there has been no consensus on its definition, scope and application since the 2005 World Summit. Mr. LIM (Indonesia), noting that his country had joined the consensus in the 2005 World Summit document, added his agreement with the report’s stance that Governments should ensure the protection of children. International cooperation is necessary. The concept of responsibility to protect that was agreed upon is solid enough to withstand any assault. The international community needs to find a way to implement it. Indonesia has made the protection of children and youth an endemic part its national policies, including a 2014 law on child protection. Strategic partnerships between national authorities and the international community are another important tool for carrying out the concept. Children have a right to protection. Indonesia remains committed to the concepts outlined in the World Summit document, he said. JUN LIANG MARK SEAH (Singapore) said the Secretary-General’s report is timely and substantive with the unfortunate greater frequency and scale of mass atrocity crimes. Singapore has been a member of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect since it was established. While it is each State’s responsibility to protect its people, it is also important that the international community help to take collective action to protect people. It is a core principle that each country must protect its population from atrocity crimes. He said Singapore is committed to building a harmonious society. The international community must work with the United Nations and civil society towards building institutions. Prevention is better than a cure. Small States look to the Council to deliver on its international responsibility. Unfortunately, the veto has been used too frequently, he said, highlighting the ACT Code of Conduct and the French-Mexico initiative. He called on the Council’s permanent members to refrain from using the veto in situations of crimes of atrocity. LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) said General Assembly resolution A/RES/63/308 is of vital importance since it made the responsibility to protect a matter to be continuously considered, thus consolidating its place in the work of the Assembly. The holding of annual debates on the topic has enormous value and shows the interest of Member States in creating awareness and improving individually and collectively their capacity to prevent international crimes and grave human rights violations on a massive scale. The ultimate purpose of the principle is to protect future generations from the scourge of war, he said, noting the need to implement progressive changes at the national, regional and international areas. Seventy-four years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the responsibility to protect should be acknowledged as the exceptional way to defend populations from mass atrocities and should be strengthened, particularly in light of new areas of tension. On a national platform, the responsibility to protect plays a central role in the protection of human rights. The principle is in accordance with its Constitution, which imposes an obligation on the State to protect people and families, he said. MATEUSZ SAKOWICZ (Poland) reaffirmed his country’s long-standing commitment to the promotion and full implementation of the responsibility to protect principle. His delegation had sponsored the first stand-alone General Assembly resolution on the responsibility to protect in 2009. Last year’s resolution confirmed wide international support for the principle and was an important step to operationalize it. Regrettably, the international community is observing how the Russian Federation misuses and distorts the responsibility to protect principle by unfounded claims of genocide against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. It is trying to legitimize its unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against that country. The Russian Federation itself remains obliged to respect the principle in the territories of Ukraine it is currently occupying. The Secretary-General’s report on the responsibility to protect raises the urgent issue of protection of children and youth from atrocity crimes. It should help the international community shape a forward-looking strategy to implement this principle. The toll of every war on children and the youth is immense and has multiple implications. The protection of children’s rights should be the cornerstone of the international community’s conflict prevention agenda. Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico (also speaking for France), Costa Rica (for the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect), Estonia (also speaking for Latvia and Lithuania), Luxembourg (also speaking for Belgium and Netherlands), Canada, Syria, Nicaragua, Romania, Croatia, Albania, Namibia, Slovenia, Cuba, Australia, Liechtenstein, Poland, Denmark, Guatemala, Georgia, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, Armenia, Hungary, United Kingdom, Singapore, Türkiye, Germany, Côte d’Ivoire, Greece, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Slovakia, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, San Marino, Ecuador and Indonesia. VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta), aligning herself with the European Union, highlighted the number of atrocity crimes which could be directed specifically against children and youths, including the war crime of enlisting children under the age of 15 to actively participate in hostilities; crime of genocide for transferring children from one group to another; and the war crime of intentionally attacking schools and other buildings dedicated to education. Noting that the most effective way to protect children and youth from such atrocity crimes is by strengthening prevention and early warning mechanisms, she stressed the need for a whole-of-society approach. It must involve civil society organizations, including those led by youths, who have a crucial role to play in building cohesive, tolerant, and resilient societies. Accountability must also be prioritized and, in this context, the International Criminal Court is a key mechanism for advancing international justice. Voicing support for the initiative on the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities, she reiterated her country’s support for the United Nations Children and Armed Conflict mandate, which plays a fundamental part in enhancing the protection of children and addressing violations. Malta is committed to the protection of children’s rights in both peacetime and in armed conflict, she stressed. JONGIN BAE (Republic of Korea) noted that children and youth continue to be targeted by and caught up in atrocity crimes despite the steady mainstreaming of the norm of responsibility to protect over the past 17 years. Hate speech, identity-based marginalization, exclusion, and the propagation of intolerance often precede atrocity crimes, he said, underlining the importance of ensuring accountability and ending impunity for atrocity crimes. Accountability is a duty, not a choice, he stressed. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent the recurrence of such grave crimes. Noting that States’ responsibility to respond — the third pillar of the norm — should be spearheaded by the Security Council, he pointed out that the Council has frequently fallen short of fulfilling its expected role of taking timely and effective action against atrocity crimes. The fact that the General Assembly resolution on the veto initiative was unanimously adopted clearly demonstrates Member States’ support for voluntary restraint on the use of the veto power, as well as communicates their hope for a more accountable and transparent Council. In this regard, he called for members of the Council to more actively support the ACT Group’s Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative. AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said atrocity crimes continue “because the political and economic pillars of a peaceful and prosperous world are shaking”. Democracy is in retreat, leading to curtailing freedoms and liberty. Meanwhile, a rise in nationalism is leading to xenophobic attacks and crimes against foreigners and those that are different; multilateralism is challenged every day; and conflicts continue to rage and proliferate. The Security Council, tasked with safeguarding peace and security, is in gridlock. “Despite the gloomy picture, this is not the time to get discouraged,” she said, instead urging States to “double down” on the responsibility to protect. In the 2005 World Summit outcome document, world leaders entrusted the international community to encourage and help States to exercise that responsibility, and supported the United Nations in establishing an early warning system. Recognizing the sacred nature of State sovereignty, she said sovereignty and responsibility are mutually reinforcing and urged collective action on a case-by-case basis. “In discharging the responsibility to protect it is very important that there is no abuse of the concept or any change of the mandate, or the objectives as we go along,” she stressed, also citing the key role to be played by regional organizations in such initiatives. Introduction of Report FABIÁN ODDONE (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility of Protect, said no society is immune from mass atrocities. Prevention and fight against all forms of discrimination have been a pillar of his country’s policies. In 2014, Argentina, together with Costa Rica, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland and the United Republic of Tanzania, along with civil institutions, created the Global Action against Mass Atrocity Crimes. Chaired by Argentina, the group has been able to advance the construction of national architectures and is open to those wishing to join. Prevention is a never-ending task, he said. Drawing attention to the work of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, he highlighted the importance of cooperation between civil society and States in prevention of genocides and mass atrocities. SHILPA KADAMBARI PULLELA (Australia) noted that the responsibility to protect norm remains a critical element of collective commitment to international peace and security, human rights and development, particularly as the world witnesses the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. To suggest that the norm is solely about military intervention, or that it is inconsistent with the United Nations Charter, wilfully misrepresents it, she said, pointing to its power to galvanize States to meet their primary responsibility to protect people, including through an array of preventative, peaceful and non-coercive actions that are in line with international law. She encouraged the Secretary-General to focus his reports on implementation of the norm, and the Security Council to take action to prevent and halt the commission of mass atrocities. She also welcomed the recent General Assembly initiative aimed at holding the five permanent Council members accountable for their use of the veto. MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) highlighted efforts to deny the Armenian genocide, including attempts to reinterpret international law and claim that the killings do not fit the definition of genocide because the events predate their legal concept. This is contrary not only to historical evidence, but the report of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1985, which confirmed that the systematic massacres of Armenians in 1915 — without question — meet the criteria for the United Nations definition of genocide. He went on to cite the resolution on the prevention of genocide presented by Armenia at the Human Rights Council and unanimously adopted in March, which recognizes that early warning signs may include an increase in serious acts of violence against women and children. Since culture constitutes an intrinsic part of identity, an attack on cultural heritage is consequently an attack on a particular people and their right to exist. He therefore voiced support for the involvement of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in protecting cultural heritage, particularly in conflict settings, and both rehabilitating and restoring monuments of cultural, religious and historic value. RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, agreed with the report’s emphasis on protecting youth and children. The rise of digital technologies has altered the environment in which atrocities happen and increased the vulnerability of young people. The early warning system must be updated. The Council must be able to take action and he supported the ACT Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative on veto use in mass atrocities cases. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and he emphasized that the International Criminal Court is an independent body that can step in to prosecute atrocity crimes when national authorities cannot. Youth are crucial to preventing atrocity crimes, as they can provide early warning through their social settings and social media activities. Their inclusion is imperative, he stressed. The representative of India, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Pakistan’s delegate has made it a habit to use United Nations forums to spread falsehoods. “We expect nothing new from this delegation”, she said, adding that it harbours a deep sense of insecurity and orchestrated hatred for India and its secular credentials. Rejecting the futile and unsubstantiated allegations against her country, she said the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the territories under illegal occupation of Pakistan, are and will always remain an integral part of India. Pakistan is an epicentre of terrorism and the biggest destabilizing force in the world, she said. He said that Azerbaijan’s authorities have followed the policies of their predecessors, including in the destruction of cemeteries in 1998 and 2005. They rejected requests by the European Parliament to assign a fact-finding mission to investigate such crimes, flouted the Geneva Conventions, notably related to return of prisoners of war, and impeded humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh. It has initiated illegal judicial processes against prisoners of war, in violation of international law, and refuses to provide information on the whereabouts of victims of enforced disappearance. Moreover, leaders have dehumanized Armenia for at least three decades, he said, contesting Azerbaijan’s portrayal of International Court of Justice orders. Armenia initiated proceedings in the Court and submitted a request for provisional measures against Azerbaijan, which the Court found had a legal basis. The Court then called on Azerbaijan to prevent the promotion of racial hatred. He urged Azerbaijan to fully comply with those orders, adding that Armenia has handed over all minefield maps to Azerbaijan and rejecting claims of inaccuracy of those maps. RODRIGO A. CARAZO ZELEDON (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said it encourages the Secretary-General’s two Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect to use their leadership roles to advance atrocity prevention and highlight risks in ongoing crises around the world. The Group welcomes the Office’s statements on specific situations, thematic briefings and country analyses at various meetings, as well as the support the Office provides to Member States and regional organizations. The Group urges the Special Advisers to strengthen these efforts and to share their analyses with the wider United Nations membership and regularly provide the necessary early warning assessments and recommendations on how to prevent atrocities, including to the Security Council, Assembly and the Human Rights Council. As they confront the challenge of a divided Security Council not always able to take timely and decisive action in the face of atrocities, Member States have placed increased attention on the roles the Assembly and the Human Rights Council can play in preventing and responding to atrocity crimes. Human Rights Council-mandated mechanisms, such as the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, have used the United Nations Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes to identify significant structural risk factors and potential triggers of atrocities. This has helped develop strategies to prevent recurrence or further escalation. The Group calls on all Council members to respond to and address the risk or commission of mass atrocities and it notes the initiatives such as the ACT Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative on the use of veto in case of mass atrocities. The Group also welcomes Member States’ support for the recent Assembly resolution aimed at holding the five permanent Council members accountable for their use of the veto. The Group also recognizes the important role that national and international civil society can play in supporting the advancement and implementation of the responsibility to protect. ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), associating himself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said the responsibility to protect does not only concern the use of military force, unlike what some people continue to claim, stressing that it is not a tool to interfere in State sovereignty. On the contrary, the responsibility to protect consists in strengthening the responsible sovereignty of States. Above all it is a question of prevention using all tools available for the full respect of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. In that regard, future United Nations reports with respect to the responsibility to protect should focus on country situations and provide risk assessments and recommendations. Stressing the need to put the concept to good use, he said that it is not purely a theoretical concept, but a moral call to action. Noting the paralysing effects of use of the veto in the Council, he said citizens in Myanmar, Syria and Ukraine can be seen putting up responsibility to protect signs, stressing that Member States have no excuse to not respond. He said the Assembly’s role in preventing and responding to atrocity crimes must be explored, calling for a more fulsome debate on the subject. STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Responsibility to Protect, noted that the commitment to the norm of responsibility to protect is a commitment to prevent and mitigate the risk of the most heinous crimes. However, early warning mechanisms as well as structural policies and comprehensive strategies are needed, highlighting the disproportional impacts of violence and conflicts on children and young people. He further emphasized that the main responsibility in preventing and halting mass atrocities lie with the Security Council and must not be hindered by the use of the veto. He went on to note that hate cultivates the fertile ground for mass atrocities and crimes. Thus, education is the most powerful tool against hate. Underlining the importance of youth engagement, including the Office of the Envoy on Youth, as well as civil society, he noted that his country has been collaborating with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on a multi-country initiative aimed at increasing the capacities of Governments and youth-led civil society organizations towards effective national youth policies on conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace. MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark) aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, recalled that in 2005, all Member States agreed on the international community’s responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. All Member States promised that “never again” should these crimes go unpunished. The Russian Federation’s invasion against Ukraine has once again reminded the world of the importance of a swift and solidary response to international atrocities. The situation in Ukraine clearly demonstrates the central role of the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity. Calling on the international community to assist in vulnerable situations and to protect children from atrocity crimes, he welcomed the recommendation of the report on cooperation between States, organizations and institutions collecting data on specific risks. He also urged the Secretary-General and the Office to strengthen their efforts to provide Member States and the United Nations organs with timely and continuous advice on specific situations. The adoption of the veto initiative is a welcome step to enhance the transparency and accountability of the Council when a veto is cast, he said, encouraging all Member States to join the ACT Code of Conduct and the French-Mexican initiative on the use of veto in case of mass atrocities. JAMIE HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua) said the responsibility to protect is an idea which has no consensus in the United Nations and causes concern for many countries, particularly small developing States. The world has born witness to invasion, aggression and occupation, he said, pointing out that the results of those practices in the name of the responsibility to protect have sown chaos, death, destruction, hunger and extreme poverty. Interventionism and violations of sovereignty have completely dismantled States and led to great suffering for their populations. The concept of the responsibility to protect, which some attempt to impose as practice, has been manipulated and used by concealed interventionists who attempt to justify their interference and use of force to destabilize and change legitimate Governments democratically elected by their citizens, he said. Iran’s representative called for in-depth legal and humanitarian discussions to overcome any divergences to advance the concept and its application. Moreover, she pointed to certain States and lobbies which were portraying humanitarian situations through the media while manipulating the realities on the ground. A number of countries have raised their concerns and questions time and again regarding the responsibility to protect, she said, calling on the United Nations to address all Member States’ positions and treat them equally. OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, stressed that efforts and actions must be doubled down, both in terms of prevention and response. Preventing violent conflict is key to saving populations — many of them children and youth — and human rights defenders from war and its resulting suffering. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, as well as the Children and Armed Conflict report and its annexed list of perpetrators, are enhancing the protection of children, ending and preventing violations, and contributing to accountability. He also underlined the responsibility of the Security Council to act in situations of mass atrocities, urging Member States to join the ACT Code of Conduct and the France-Mexico initiative on the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities. As well, he highlighted the International Criminal Court, the key institution of international criminal justice, along with the accountability mechanisms adopted by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. He reported that the bloc uses conflict analysis tools and its early warning system to implement early action; its toolkit offers practical guidance on atrocity prevention to European Union delegations, missions and operations. “Lastly, with the active participation and empowerment of children and youth, we can build more legitimate, peaceful and democratic societies, in which human rights, humanitarian law and the rule of law are respected and no one is left behind,” he said, adding that this was essential for fulfilling the responsibility to protect principle. TOFIG F. MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said hate propaganda — coupled with policies aimed at sowing dissension on religious and racial grounds — fuel identity-based intolerance, destabilize societies and increase the risk of atrocity crimes. The topic is of particular importance for Azerbaijan and its wider region, as in the late 1980s all Azerbaijanis — more than 200,000 people — were expelled from their historical homeland in Armenia. Hundreds were brutally killed, property was seized and Azerbaijani historical and cultural heritage was deliberately eradicated throughout the country. Those actions were followed by a full-scale war unleashed by Armenia against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, which included multiple war crimes, massive ethnic cleansing and cultural erasure of the occupied areas. The tactic of targeting civilians was then used again by Armenian forces in the fall of 2020, when direct and indiscriminate missile attacks struck Azerbaijani cities and districts. Noting that most of the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity — as Armenia fails to prosecute and punish them — he said Azerbaijan is determined to advance post-conflict peacebuilding, reconciliation, peaceful coexistence and development, as well as to ensure justice and its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of Benelux and aligning with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect and the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said the responsibility to protect is an integral part of a just international order that is founded on the rule of law. Atrocity crimes continue to increase and affect children and young people. In Ukraine, hundreds of young people have died. In Afghanistan, children and young people are the victims of sexual violence. It is essential to put children and young people at the centre of efforts of protection and to create tolerant societies. He requested that the Secretary-General produce a more focused report with specific follow-up that will let the international community better use the responsibility to protect principle. Civil society can also support countries. The responsibility to protect civilians is incumbent upon Member States, he said. It is necessary to create peace and security and protect human rights. SAŠA JUREČKO (Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said that children and youth have demonstrated incredible leadership in global crises, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. They have inspired change and have been at the forefront of action to build more peaceful future societies. “It is our responsibility to support them and ensure that they become an integral part and our partners in the efforts to building back better,” he said. However, they remain the most vulnerable in armed and global conflicts. Stressing the key role of ensuring accountability, he emphasized the importance of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism established by Security Council resolution 1612 (2005). Assisting victims and alleviating the pain of children affected by armed conflict has always been among Slovenia’s priorities, including through psychological and physical assistance and social rehabilitation training programmes. Prevention remains the key in protecting populations from situations that may lead to mass atrocity crimes, he said, urging effective international legal cooperation at the global level. He went on to note that human rights education can help empower children and societies as an important preventive measure contributing to sustainable peace. He also noted that increases in global food insecurity are a trend that threatens to exacerbate armed conflicts as well as regional and global instability. MARIA-IULIANA NICULAE (Romania), aligning herself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms play an essential role in providing early warning of the risk factors that can lead to mass atrocity crimes. As a candidate country to the Human Rights Council for the mandate 2023-2025, if elected, Romania will support the work of the special procedures and treaty bodies, as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), when it comes to the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. She also condemned the reported war crimes, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, adding her support for accountability efforts. To that end, Romania has joined other States parties to the Rome Statute in a referral to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate those crimes that have occurred on the territory of Ukraine. Further, noting her country’s support of the International Criminal Court in preventing and sanctioning the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, she also said that Romania is one of the States which have accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as compulsory. Romania put forward an initiative on promoting the broader recognition of the world court’s jurisdiction, she said, inviting all States to do join in that declaration. The representative of Azerbaijan refuted comments by her counterpart from Armenia, which she said illustrate the deep divisions in that country and are consonant with those people demanding the resignation of their Government. She recalled that in the early 1990s, Armenia unleashed war against Azerbaijan. By the 1994 ceasefire, Azerbaijan’s territory was occupied by Armenia. She cited a Security Council resolution condemning that use of force and demanding that Armenia withdraw from occupied territories. Hostilities resumed in 2020, stemming from Armenia’s impunity over 30 years and obstruction of the peace process. VASILIKI ROMPOTI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said Greece spares no effort, both at a national and international levels, to assist countries in need of help protecting their citizens from atrocity crimes. Noting the decisive role of the Security Council in that regard, she said that — given that atrocity crimes are triggered and exacerbated by factors ranging from war, political instability, forced displacement, irregular migration and hate speech, to pandemics, gender discrimination, famine, extreme poverty and severe energy shortages — “our response should be firm and holistic”. Prevention remains key, and in cases where such crimes do occur, “justice and accountability should be the only alternative”. She also drew attention to the particular needs of children and youth, voicing support for international mechanisms aiming at their protection. RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), associating herself with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, voiced support for a multilateral approach in implementing the principle with the United Nations playing the main coordination role. As the responsibility to protect is primarily a responsibility of the State, it is critical to build the capacities of national institutions and mechanisms to identify and tackle “atrocity risk” and provide support to Member States in their prevention measures. Moreover, accountability mechanisms that provide redress to victims at the national and local levels must be supported. She reminded the General Assembly of its responsibility to the Rohingya minorities who fled Myanmar in the face of unprecedented atrocities and took shelter in her country. It was regrettable that no progress has been achieved to create a conducive environment in Myanmar for the Rohingyas’ return nor to ensure accountability for the crimes committed against them. Stressing that the situation has gone from bad to worse, she called on the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, to ensure the protection of civilians. DAMIANO BELEFFI (San Marino), reaffirming commitment to the principle of responsibility to protect, highlighted the unprecedented levels of violence, mass atrocities and displacement around the world. Expressing concern about ongoing crises in Ukraine, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Venezuela, Yemen and elsewhere, he spotlighted his country’s support for the work of the Special Advisers on the prevention of genocide and on responsibility to protect. Encouraging them to promptly share their accurate analysis of developing crises, he stressed the importance of early warnings on atrocity prevention. While underscoring State’s primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within their jurisdiction, he also expressed support for mechanisms such as commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions that collect evidence of atrocities and play a fundamental role in holding perpetrators accountable. KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity falls entirely under the sovereignty of each State. However, despite the absence of intergovernmental agreement on that concept, some Western countries apply it selectively for political reasons. Describing the concept as a variant of the “humanitarian intervention” idea — which was rejected by the international community in the past — he said the responsibility to protect is nothing but an instrument used to intervene in the internal affairs of other sovereign States. “We are deeply concerned that some Western countries unilaterally pursue political, economic and military interventions for targeting and undermining the social system of other sovereign States under the pretext of the [responsibility to protect],” he said, citing long-standing challenges in the Middle East and Africa as the result of such actions. Consequently, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are not attributable to a State’s inadequate ability to protect its people, but to flagrant infringement of State sovereignty, he stressed, describing the latter principle as “sacred and inviolable”. GVARAM KHANDAMISHVILI (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country welcomes further institutionalizing the responsibility to protect within the United Nations system. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he called on the Russian Federation to comply with the provisional measures of the International Court of Justice of 16 March, which binds that country to “immediately suspend the military operations commenced on 24 February 2022”. Georgia is committed to further strengthening its national human rights machinery. However, the Russian Federation’s occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions prevents his country from sharing the human rights protection framework with its compatriots on the other side of the occupation line, where people live under dire human rights and humanitarian conditions. Despite repeated calls from the international community, both of those regions remain closed to international human rights bodies. Moreover, the prohibition of education in the native language in the territories of Georgia occupied by the Russian Federation deprives up to 5,000 children each year the right to receive education in their native language, creating acute risks with the potential to grow into atrocity crimes. RAMSÉS RADHAMÉS LAGOS VALLE (Honduras) said the responsibility to protect is a priority, wi th children and young people at the heart of his country’s efforts to prevent atrocities. Honduras is designing public policies to ensure socioeconomic inclusion and equality with the full involvement of children and young people. Likewise, it is establishing a public policy aimed at preventing and reducing the migration of unaccompanied migrant children, as well as providing protection for returnees. Honduras also has included the topic of genocide and the prevention of mass atrocities in civil service training and training for its armed forces. Honduras participates in the Latin American Network for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, aimed at developing policies at the regional level that tackle discrimination, with a special focus on the prevention of atrocities, he said. Statements ELIE ALTARSHA (Syria) said the responsibility to protect is an illegal rule and not underpinned by any established procedure under international law. It is a non-established concept. The responsibility to protect is only an idea and its scope and evaluation have yet to be defined. Further, it is a term that has no legitimacy or legality. The concept of responsibility to protect has been refused by the international community. The sovereignty and integrity of States is a fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter. Yet interference in the activities of other States is an ongoing action on the part of some Western States, whether economically or through military actions. The United Nations cannot tolerate plans that interfere in the rights of other States under the pretext of the responsibility to protect, he stressed. ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran) pointed out that there is no consensus concerning the scope, definition and elements of the concept of the responsibility to protect since the 2005 World Summit. In-depth legal as well as humanitarian discussions are required to overcome any divergences to advance the concept and its application. She also highlighted political orchestrations that misuse the concept to achieve narrow political agendas. Certain States and lobbies portray humanitarian situations through media outlets, while manipulating the realities on the ground. This manifests in an exaggeration of particular situations while downgrading or censoring certain critical conditions, such as the cases concerning Afghanistan, Palestine and Yemen. The destructive role of these medias provokes insurgencies and dissatisfaction among those within the targeted countries, specifically by fueling incitement to violence, identity-based hate speech and racial discrimination, among others, as well as drawing attention to religious differences. Ultimately, these actions culminate into a provocation for the commission of violence and terrorism, as witnessed in many countries in the Middle East. Since at least 2005, a number of countries have raised their concerns and questions time and again regarding the responsibility to protect, specifically regarding its scope and application as well as its occasional arbitrary interpretations. The United Nations should address all Member States’ positions and treat them equally. Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of India, Pakistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan. ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico), speaking also on behalf of France, said prevention must remain the utmost priority of the United Nations system and entails addressing the root causes of armed conflict through promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights. As use of the veto cannot be aimed at paralysing the Security Council, the France-Mexico initiative launched in 2015 aims to voluntarily and collectively suspend the use of the veto in the Council in the event of mass atrocities. It is now supported by 106 States, she said, calling on all countries, which have not yet done so, particularly other permanent members of the Council, to join the initiative. France and Mexico are planning on organizing a Security Council Arria-formula meeting during the General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session to address ways in which the 15-member organ can take swift and effective action to prevent and put an end to situations of mass atrocities when crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on a large scale are committed. She called on all States that have not yet done so to ratify the optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. She also called for the universal endorsement of the Paris Principles and commitments, as well as the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles. ANDREA BARBARA BAUMANN-BRESOLIN (Switzerland) said that, as a member of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, his country reaffirmed its full support for the principle and for the joint statement. He also urged all Member States to commit to the ACT Code of Conduct regarding Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He also underlined full support for the United Nations Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect as well as its Special Advisers. The prevention of atrocities must be anchored at the national level. Each country should identify mechanisms in accordance with its situation. Switzerland is working within the Global Action against Mass Atrocities to strengthen the dialogue between States and other actors so as to strengthen national prevention mechanisms and structures. States should join so as to share good practices and build an atrocity prevention community. In addition, promoting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all peace processes and the protection of women’s rights is essential. This is especially so as women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, including in cases of genocide. Such violence can constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. The representative of Bangladesh stressed it was critical to build the capacities of national institutions and mechanisms and tackle “atrocity risk”, as well as provide support to Member States in their prevention measures. Also needed were accountability mechanisms that provide redress to victims at the national and local levels. She also reminded the Assembly of its responsibility to the Rohingya minorities who fled Myanmar and took shelter in her country, adding that no progress has been achieved to facilitate their return nor ensure accountability for the crimes committed against them. Azerbaijan did not unleash aggression against anyone, she said, rejecting charges that it breached the customs or laws of war, or engaged in anti-Armenian hatred. All residents are entitled to enjoyment of their rights on a non-discriminatory basis. Further, several United Nations bodies, among others, have expressed serious concern over the intolerant spirit prevailing in Armenia which has not retracted its statement on the refusal to investigate hate crimes committed by its officials. On charges related to events in a certain area in February 1982, she said an investigation established that it was a well-prepared provocation by Armenian extremist forces. To hold Armenia accountable, Azerbaijan instituted legal proceedings in the International Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights. She added that mine problems persist, noting that since 2020, more than 220 Azerbaijanis have been killed by mine explosions, for which Armenia failed to share requisite information. Claims that Azerbaijan is holding people in captivity are false, as it has returned all detainees to Armenia. She pressed Armenia to redress the harm caused to Azerbaijan and to implement the trilateral statement in its entirety. ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) said that the need to fulfil the collective responsibility to protect populations at risk is more urgent than ever. He pointed to the connection between the increased number of civilians experiencing forced displacement — 100 million worldwide — and the failure to prevent or stop mass atrocity crimes in many countries, with children and youth, particularly women and girls, being among the most at risk. It is the responsibility of States to prevent such acts, he said, also voicing his country’s strong support for a survivor-centred and gender-inclusive approach to atrocity prevention. In situations of mass atrocity, grave human rights violations, risk of experiencing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing, it is the obligation of the United Nations, the Security Council and of the international community to prevent and respond, he said. States have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within their jurisdiction. Malta’s representative cited the number of atrocity crimes which could be directed specifically against children and youths, including the war crime of enlisting children under the age of 15 to actively participate in hostilities and the crime of genocide for transferring children from one group to another, among others. The most effective way to protect children and youth from atrocity crimes is by strengthening prevention and early warning mechanisms, with a whole-of-society approach that involves civil society organizations, including those led by youths. IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), aligning with the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect and the statement to be delivered by the European Union, recalled positive developments in 2022, including a resolution that put responsibility to protect permanently on the General Assembly’s annual agenda. Success in exercising the responsibility to protect should be measured by success in protecting populations from atrocity crimes in real life, he said. States need to challenge the legality, as well as the political and moral justification of the use of veto in situations of serious atrocity crimes threats, he added, encouraging the Secretary-General to ensure that his future reports include assessments of atrocity risks in country-specific situations, as well as recommendations for responses. In the ensuing debate, speakers, denouncing the atrocities experienced by children and youths around the world, also emphasized the need for prevention and early warning systems, but underscored the principle must be anchored at the national level.