Active in addressing issues in protecting civilians in armed conflict, the United States of America today said preventing mass atrocities remains a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.
In her remarks in New York today, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice says the United States knows that its security is diminished when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flee across borders to escape brutal attacks, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.
“Regrettably, history has taught us that our pursuit of a world where states do not systematically slaughter civilians will not arrive without concerted and coordinated action.” – Ms. Rice
Ms. Rice cites that in 2012, President Obama announced at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum new actions the United States is taking to implement his landmark policy directive on atrocity prevention.
Under the President’s leadership, US government has implemented unprecedented steps to enhance its capabilities and structures for preventing heinous crimes against civilians, from strengthening its early warning and preventive diplomacy to sanctioning perpetrators and pressing for accountability.
According to Ms. Rice, the US Atrocities Prevention Board, a committee of senior officials from across the U.S. government, is overseeing the critical work and ensuring that the US is focused on emerging situations of concern.
However, Ms. Rice notes that while national action is necessary, it is not sufficient.
“International, collective action is required, and we look forward to strengthening our cooperation with the United Nations and member states to that end.” – Ms. Rice
She points out that few are more likely to be the victims of mass atrocities than civilians caught in armed conflict.
The world bears witness to the horror of mass killings, sexual violence and gross human rights abuses of innocents in conflict, she added.
Therefore, protecting civilians in armed conflict must remain a top priority of this Council and the United Nations as a whole, she highlighted.
Mass astrocities in Syria
Ms. Rice also highlights the horrific attacks by the Syrian regime on the Syrian people, including the widely reported targeting of hospitals and health centers and the use of ballistic missiles against civilian populations. T
She notes that the carnage unleashed by Asad merits universal indignation and strong action from this Council.
She points out that when the people of Libya were on the verge of being slaughtered by a brutal dictator, the Security Council acted, prevented a massacre, and saved countless lives.
It should remind the international community that for civilians in conflict, Security Council action can mean the difference between life and death.
In addition, Ms. Rice states that the United States strongly rejects impunity and supports efforts to hold accountable violators of international humanitarian and human rights law.
“Our longstanding support of international tribunals and efforts to document ongoing atrocities in such places as Syria reflect this commitment.” – Ms. Rice
Security Council Play Vital Role in Preventing Mass Astrocities
Ms. Rice also explains that the protection of civilians is a fundamental element of the Security Council’s obligation to ensure international peace and security.
She says it is clear that the world must keep its attention focused squarely on the practical steps the international community can take to enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflict and redouble efforts to ensure that the Council is not sitting on the sidelines when civilian populations are in grave danger.
President Obama’s action to Prevent Mass astrocities
President Barack Obama has directed a thorough review to strengthen the U.S. national capacity to prevent mass atrocities.
The President has establish a new Atrocities Prevention Board with the authority and the policy tools to respond quickly to early warning signs and make recommendations before options narrow and the costs of both action and inaction rise precipitously.
In addition, President Obama also expanded grounds to deny visas to serious human rights violators and war criminals and to isolate those who engage in or conspire to commit atrocities.
The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that no individual, now or in the future, sees a path to power in division and death.