UN launches new tool to help to stop atrocity crimes ‘before tensions escalate’

11 December 2014 – With much more needing to be done to prevent crises and protect populations at risk of genocide, the Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes offered a route to reaching that vitally important goal, the Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said today at the tool’s official launch.
“Atrocity crimes rarely happen suddenly – they often evolve and develop over time,” Mr. Eliasson said. “Therefore, well before tensions escalate to violence, there are many opportunities to take action. We must all be aware of those moments and act as early as possible.”
The Framework was developed by the UN Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect. It is an analysis and risk assessment tool that uses a set of risk factors and related indicators to identify and prevent atrocity crimes.
Mr. Eliasson said it could promote a systematic approach to assessing the risks of atrocity crimes as well as opportunities for preventive action.
“2014 has been a troubled and turbulent year. We have witnessed large-scale violence and widespread suffering – in Iraq, Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan and many other places,” said the Deputy-Secretary-General. “There has been important cooperation among States to provide assistance to populations affected by these crises.”
Stressing the importance of learning from past experiences, including failures, and underscoring the collective responsibility to prevent atrocity crimes that is rooted in international law, Mr. Eliasson underlined the importance of seeking ways to improve the UN’s ability to situations that could give rise to atrocity crimes.
That desire had informed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s launch of the Human Rights Up Front initiative and the Framework has already been used under that initiative. It contributed to a more coordinated approach to assessing information on human rights situations, and to taking action in specific cases like South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“By this initiative we are placing human rights, the protection of civilians and the prevention of atrocity crimes, at the heart of our work,” Mr. Eliasson said. “But let us remember – words, commitments and obligations are hollow, unless translated into concrete and effective action.”