UN vote was on procedure, not against R2P

Windhoek-Namibia's opposition to the vote on 'The Responsibility to Protect' (R2P) was on having the item placed on the formal agenda, without first going through the exhaustive informal dialogue sessions that would have allowed all member states to fully agree on what the definitional and political aspects of the issue are.

Thus Namibia's vote last Friday at the UN was not against the essence of the [R2P] concept as such, [but] was a procedural vote not to include the item on the agenda of the 72nd General Assembly Session, said the Minister of International Relations, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, yesterday.

The debate centres on the responsibility to protect citizens and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and it is the first time in 12 years that the item has been put on the agenda of the General Assembly.

Namibia's position is that the item should not have been placed on the agenda of the General Assembly while it has not been resolved in the General Committee.

Namibia, like 20 other countries that voted against putting it on the agenda � 17 abstained � feels that if rushed through the General Assembly without proper debate on the finer points, the R2P would be used by more powerful states to apply intervention [in other countries] by circumventing the UN Security Council, which has the mandate, as per the UN Charter, to maintain international peace and security.

Furthermore, to date, there is no legal instrument in place to back R2P. The United Nations relies on the Human Rights Council and other international mechanisms to deal with issues of gross human rights abuses, war crimes and genocide, she said.

Nevertheless, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the item is now set for discussion during the 72nd Session and a substantive resolution might be introduced.

Namibia will express her views and position on this issue during that debate, and will then decide on how to vote, depending on the content of the resolution, she said.

Namibia remains committed to defend human rights and to end human suffering, but through globally supported and internationally recognised multilateral bodies and institutions. We support the premise of the Responsibility to Protect, but through the UN Security Council, she noted.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia