Unity within Security Council vital to prevent mass atrocities: UN chief

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UNITED NATIONS, April 19 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed the importance of unity in the 15-member body to effectively address human rights violations as well as to prevent mass atrocities.
“Article 24 of the UN Charter is clear: the primary responsibility for
the maintenance of international peace and security rests with this Council in order to ensure prompt and effective action”, Guterres told the Security Council, while speaking on the theme of Human Rights and the Prevention of Armed Conflict.
The session was convened by the US Ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley, who is the president of 15-member council for the month of April. The move was obviously intended to show that the Trump administration cares about human rights around the world.
“In case after case, human rights violations and abuses are not merely
the incidental byproduct of conflict,” Haley said at the session.”They are the trigger for conflict”. She referred to countries that the United States has consistently criticized for their rights abuses, including Cuba, North Korea and Syria.
Rights groups reacted with criticism. The Trump administration, they
pointed out, has been sued at home for its visa ban targeting some predominantly Muslim countries, and pointed to its support to some authoritarian leaders around the world.
In his remarks, the UN chief said, “We must collectively draw strength
from the letter and spirit of the Charter to better prevent armed conflict and sustain peace through development by ensuring effective protection of all human rights civil, political, economic, social and cultural.”
Noting that peace, security, sustainable development and human rights
are mutually reinforcing, the UN chief underscored that peace must be `relentlessly pursued’ along the gamut of prevention, conflict resolution and peace-keeping to peace-building and long-term development.
He further stressed that close cooperation between the office of UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and all relevant UN bodies, including the Security Council, is vital given that human rights concerns are fundamental to maintaining peace and security as well as essential to informing Security Council deliberations and decision-making.
Guterres also underscored the importance of unity within the Security
Council and called on its members to “spare no effort to put an end to the intolerable suffering of the Syrian people”. “The failure to do so is a tragedy that shames us all,” he stressed.
Speaking on initiatives already taken by the Security Council, such as
incorporating a human rights component in the mandate of UN peace missions, the UN chief noted that the systematic monitoring and reporting of human rights violations not only gave a voice to victims but also helped the fight against impunity.
That work also contributed to the protection of civilians under threat,
helped build capacities and, in some circumstances, preserved democratic space.
“However, despite all these efforts, millions of people still need to
be protected from crises and far more time and resources continue to be spent responding to crises rather than preventing them,” the Secretary-General said, while underscoring that preventative efforts needed to be prioritized and root causes of conflict had to be addressed.
“That is the lesson of so many conflicts”.
He also stressed that ensuring improved and less politicized action on
human rights is also vital for progressing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Concluding his briefing, the UN chief informed the Security Council that
he has set in motion various reforms of the Secretariat which will enable it to play its role better and in keeping with the mandates and trust the UN Member States have place in it.
“The resolutions on sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development are cause for hope,” he said, noting: “Progress on human rights aspects would further complement these advances.”