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• Statement on the 6th annual Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect delivered by Minister Igor G. Bailen, Legal Adviser, on 08 September 2014

Monday, 08 September 2014
Minister Igor G. Bailen, Legal Adviser
UN Headquarters, New York



(Official Statement for the Record)


Responsibility to Protect:

6th Annual Interactive Dialogue on the Secretary-General’s Report


08 September 2014


Mr President, Mr Secretary-General, Distinguished Guests, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the first time since the first interactive dialogue in 2009 on the Responsibility to Protect or R2P, the Philippines today participates in this dialogue.

The debate has progressed a lot since it was introduced in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document.

The Philippines upholds the rule of law, which is the basis for both the legitimacy of a state, and the civilized conduct – in good faith – of relations among nations large or small.

We join other Member States in affirming their fundamental duty to protect their own people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

We also subscribe to our shared responsibility of encouraging and lawfully assisting other states in helping them prevent these atrocious crimes.     

Our long-standing respect for the sanctity of human life and fundamental human rights and freedoms is a cornerstone of national policy enunciated in our Constitution.

Mr President, we thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive and forward-looking report, which focuses on Pillar II on assistance and capacity-building measures by national, regional and international actors. We support the major lines of the report.

Our obligation to prevent atrocity crimes – individually and in cooperation with other states – does not invite ways and means that are outside the ambit of the Charter of the United Nations. The principle of state sovereignty is sacrosanct; it is the building block of international law and, indeed, of the conduct of international relations. The report recognizes this overriding principle.

We also agree with the principle that assistance and capacity-building, in the economic, political and humanitarian spheres, should be based on a clear understanding of the nature of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. In addition to States, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector, have a lot to contribute in this regard.

At last year’s debate, some delegations remarked that the twin elements of prevention and response are most effective when the United Nations works in tandem with regional partners. We are very pleased that several colleagues from fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are also taking the floor today.

Mr President, how often have we heard it said that, in the full range of developmental issues, “no one size fits all”? That there is a need for “flexibility”?

We believe that so it is in the debate on R2P, as many States have expressed.

On the other hand, since 2009 up to the present, many States have also taken the position that R2P to be accepted as a norm should be consistently and uniformly applied.

Therein lies our conundrum. We want the consistency and the predictability that the rule of law prescribes, because we are apprehensive of the selectivity and double standards that the “no one size fits all” approach could gravely lead to. At the same time, we cannot deny that situations that may implicate R2P – and possibly involve coercive measures – need to be examined on a case-to-case basis. They must be delicately digested into their component parts.

Turning from this underlying concern, questions relating to the third pillar of R2P from the debate last year still demand definitive answers: Who should credibly and competently say that a State is manifestly failing to protect its own populations? Which institutions other than the State concerned have the authority and the wherewithal to prevent or stop these atrocities? And what should be the appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from atrocity crimes, in accordance with the UN Charter?

Mr President, the Philippines supports the continued dialogue on R2P in the General Assembly as the appropriate forum to discuss these questions. This meeting highlights the priority we give to human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly the right to life.

We should also continuously examine and strengthen our institutions, from the domestic level, to regional organizations, and multilateral institutions like the International Criminal Court. Working methods and procedure at all levels – including the use of the veto by the Security Council P5 on R2P situations – must continuously be assessed and critiqued, so as to make them more effective, efficient, credible and institutionally sustainable.

Preventive diplomacy by the UN and by regional organizations should be exhausted and enhanced. We need to more seriously discuss and interphase R2P with mediation, dialogue, negotiation, targeted sanctions and referral to the ICC, and those tools mentioned in the UN Charter.

Finally, the Philippines believes that education is key to arresting atrocity crimes and nipping them in the bud. It cannot be stressed enough that education and shared values and cultures, in all its diversity, should be promoted and ingrained at all levels of education.

We look forward to the outcome of this very fruitful and important debate.

Thank you for your kind attention.