Launch of the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council Action against Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes
23 Oct 2015 – Making the Security Council fit for the next 70 years.
Organized by the PM of Liechtenstein to the UN. 104 states have signed the Code of Conduct.
H.E. Dr. Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein
H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International
Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes
October 23, 2015 in Statements
Address by Mr Mogens Lykketoft, , President of the 70th session of the General Assembly, at Launch of Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes
Her Excellency Ms Aurelia Frick, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, distinguished ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address this meeting today, taking place as it does as our Organization celebrates the 70th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter. A Charter which captures so simply and effectively the ideals of peace, human rights, justice, and social progress that we continue to strive for.
The United Nations was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Nevertheless, we have seen that on several occasions, we collectively have failed to prevent or act in the face of mass atrocities. And the UN Security Council – holding the primary responsibility for international peace and security – in particular has failed in this regard.
It is my pleasure therefore to be present today as the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes is launched here at the UN. An initiative which seeks to ensure that past atrocities are not repeated on our watch; an initiative targeted at making the Security Council fit for the next 70 years.
This initiative has caught my attention especially because of its unique appeal to all UN Member States emphasizing our shared responsibility to prevent mass atrocities. Indeed, all states have a role to play in improving the Security Council’s response to atrocity crimes and share ownership of this important issue.
I believe this voluntary political commitment, which contains a pledge to support timely and decisive Security Council action in situations involving atrocity crimes, as well as a pledge not to vote against credible draft Security Council resolutions aimed at preventing or ending these crimes – is an important step in gathering political momentum and commitment to the idea of voluntary restraint of the use of the veto in situations involving mass atrocity crimes.
I would like to congratulate the members of the cross-regional Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group and in particular Liechtenstein for spearheading this initiative. I am also pleased to see that 92 Member States so far have given their commitment to the Code of Conduct and I am sure that many more will follow suit in the months ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have provided us with an excellent example of how member states can work together to improve the overall functioning and effectiveness of the UN’s systems and organs. In this anniversary year, I encourage you all to continue to work together, to find common cause and to bridge differences so that we can move ever closer to the vision at the heart of the UN Charter.
Explanatory Note on a Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes
1 September 2015
UN Member States are increasingly expressing support for the idea that permanent members of the Security Council should voluntarily agree to refrain from using their veto in situations involving mass atrocity crimes. This initiative is actively being pursued by France, which is seeking the support of other permanent members.
Members of the ACT (Accountability, Coherence, Transparency) Group have consistently advocated for such a Code of Conduct to be concluded. With a view to supporting this effort, and bearing in mind that the 70th anniversary of the United Nations would provide an ideal platform for the launch of such a Code of Conduct, the ACT Group herewith submits the final text of the Code of Conduct, as set out in the annex. The Code of Conduct has been elaborated informally by the ACT subgroup on the veto and has been further adjusted following extensive informal consultations with Member States and other interested stakeholder.
[ACT reports that as of 23 October 2015, 104 states have signed the Code]
It is currently supported by 25 Members of ACT (Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay) as well as Belize, the Netherlands, Spain and Ukraine.
Member States are herewith invited to formally support it, i.e. to agree to be included in the list of States that expressed their commitment to the Code of Conduct.
The main features of the draft Code of Conduct are the following:
:: The crimes in question are referred to as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – all well defined in international law.
:: The Code is not only for permanent members of the Security Council, but for any member of the Council, as well as for any other State that may, at some point, become a member of the Council. Security Council action in response to these crimes requires the support of all Council members, not just permanent members. This Code of Conduct is thus not just about the veto, but represents a broader pledge to support timely and decisive Security Council action in such situations.
:: The Code contains a general and positive pledge to support Security Council action against certain crimes (OP1) – both to prevent or end these crimes.
:: The general pledge in OP1 is complemented by a more specific pledge not to vote against credible draft SC resolutions that are aimed at preventing or ending genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (OP2) – no distinction is made here between permanent and non-permanent members.
:: There is no procedural trigger for the code to apply. Instead, the Code would be triggered by any situation involving these crimes – in other words, the facts on the ground would be the trigger and lead to Security Council action.
:: The application of the Code of Conduct is subject to the assessment of a particular situation by a State that has expressed its commitment to the Code of Conduct. However, the Secretary-General would serve as an important authority to bring such situations to the attention of the Council, and her or his assessment of the situation would carry great weight.