9 June 2009

Re-issued as received

"The UN Security Council and the Concept of Responsibility to Protect"

39th Vienna Seminar of the International Peace Institute

Vienna, 9 June 2009 - For the 39th time, the International Peace Institute (IPI), in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sport, is organizing the Vienna Seminar on Questions of Peacekeeping and Peacemaking to be held between 14 and 16 June 2009. The three-day seminar will take place at its traditional locations, the National Defence Academy and the Diplomatic Academy.

At the event the Federal Minister Michael Spindelegger will explain Austria's position in the UN Security Council. Some thirty lecturers and discussion leaders will discuss the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) concept. Among them are the permanent representatives of the United States, Uganda and Austria to the United Nations, IPI Director and Special Envoy to the Middle East Terje Rød-Larsen and the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Francis M. Deng, as well as many high-ranking UN officials and former peace mission commanders. A part of the seminar will be devoted to practical case studies as to the implementation of protective tasks in peace missions.

This year's seminar deals with the subject "The UN Security Council and the Responsibility to Protect". The event aims to generate an intense exchange of opinions among political decision-makers and experts as to the concept of Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and the role of the Security Council. The seminar is particularly relevant in view of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's latest RtoP report and Austria's membership of the Security Council. The General Assembly is also expected to discuss this subject in July.

The core component of RtoP is the conviction that every country has to ensure that its population is protected against grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In this endeavour the international community has to support individual states in exercising their responsibility to protect as well as, if necessary, to build protective capacities. In the event that a government is unable or unwilling to provide sufficient protection to its population against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the responsibility to protect passes to the international community. Depending on the situation, it may take diplomatic, humanitarian or even military steps. Thus, the Security Council is accorded a key role in safeguarding the concept of Responsibility to Protect.

The protection of the civilian population, in particular women and children in armed conflicts, is a priority issue for Austria in its position as a member of the Security Council. Protective tasks are becoming increasingly important in international peace operations. By choosing this particular topic for the IPI Seminar, Austria seeks to provide an incentive to the further debate about the possibilities and framework conditions for the application of Responsibility to Protect.

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