What's In Blue

Posted Fri 8 Mar 2019

Arria-formula meeting on “Human rights, accountability and justice: contributions to international peace and security”

On Monday (11 March), France and Peru will co-host an Arria-formula meeting on “Human rights, accountability and justice: contributions to international peace and security”. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares, and former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) Theodor Meron, will brief Council members. This will mark the first time Bachelet has briefed Council members in her current capacity.

Council discourse and practice demonstrate an understanding that international peace and security can be threatened by serious violations of human rights and undermined by impunity and immunity for such violations, and that promoting accountability is an important tool at the Council’s disposal.

For these reasons, the Council has made accountability an integral feature of its work on country-specific issues and regularly acknowledges the relevance of accountability to thematic issues other than the rule of law. It has taken concrete steps to uphold individual accountability, such as ICC referrals and the establishment of ad hoc criminal tribunals, and has imposed individual sanctions on perpetrators of human rights violations. The Council has used commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions on numerous occasions since 1993. It has also mandated peace operations to strengthen the rule of law, including national justice institutions and capacities, in post-conflict settings.

According to the concept note circulated ahead of the meeting, the main objective of the event is to further examine the indispensable contribution of the rule of law, and the protection and promotion of human rights, accountability and international justice, to the Security Council’s discharge of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In particular, the event will explore the role that the protection of human rights and the pursuit of accountability and justice for mass atrocities play in the prevention and resolution of conflict.

Bachelet is likely to speak about the work of her office in monitoring human rights violations in situations on the Council’s agenda, the need for the Council to address gross human rights violations, and the need for enhanced cooperation between the Council and her office in this regard. Bachelet may also address the efforts of other human rights bodies, such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, to fight impunity in situations of conflict and how the Council can cooperate with fact-finding missions and inquiries initiated by these bodies in order to consider matters of accountability for mass human rights violations while working to resolve conflicts. The concept note invites participants to consider possible lessons that may be drawn from the contribution of these and other UN bodies in the pursuit of justice and accountability, and how their work may contribute to that of the Council.

Serpa Soares may speak about the various steps the Council has taken in the past to address atrocities and to promote accountability, such as the establishment of the ICTY in 1993 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994; the referrals to the ICC of the situations in Darfur in 2005 and Libya in 2011; and the Council’s role in establishing the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2000, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2007, and the UN Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh in 2017. Council members may further explore whether such tools can and should be replicated in other conflicts on the Council’s agenda and what other institutional tools the Council may deploy to address accountability.

Meron is likely to address the contribution of the ICTY, which closed in December 2017, to accountability in the former Yugoslavia, as well as the IRMCT’s ongoing activities. He may discuss the completion of trials and appeals from the ICTY and ICTR, as well as efforts to locate and arrest the eight remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR and assist national jurisdictions with requests related to prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The concept note invites participants to further consider in their interventions how and to what degree the international criminal tribunals have contributed to accountability, including whether they have played a role in preventing further atrocities in other conflicts.

Council members and other UN member states are expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the Security Council and lessons learned with regard to linkages among human rights, justice and accountability. At the same time, the challenges and gaps in the work of the Security Council in addressing these issues will feature in the discussion as well.

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