Work of the Office
Engaging with Partners
The flag of the United Nations
(UN Photo/John Isaac)
The Special Advisers work to alert relevant actors to the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, enhance the capacity of the United Nations to prevent these crimes, including their incitement, and engage with Member States, regional and sub-regional arrangements, and civil society to develop more effective means of response when they do occur.
The Special Advisers, alone, cannot prevent these crimes. They therefore work to strengthen the ability of other actors to do so, in particular Member States, the UN system, regional and sub-regional organizations and civil society. In addition, these same actors provide information and knowledge to the Office without which it cannot act as a mechanism of early warning. The Office’s partnerships are therefore central to its execution of the mandate.
Please follow the links below for more information on the Office’s work with:
Much of the work of UN departments, programs, agencies and independent experts is of direct relevance to the work of the Office. Collectively, they represent a vast resource for information, analysis, policy and strategy recommendations and implementation. The Office coordinates closely with relevant UN partners to maximize the impact of resources and to avoid duplication or contradiction in the UN’s action to address a given situation. In addition to ad hoc relationships, the Office engages on a regular basis with the following UN entities:
- The Secretary-General’s Policy Committee
- The Executive Committee on Peace and Security
- The Meeting of the Secretary-General Senior Management Team and senior advisers
- The Inter-Agency Framework for Coordination on Preventive Action (Framework Team), including:
- Inter-Departmental working groups on countries under Framework Team review
- The Expert Reference Group, to enhance Framework Team follow-up
- Country-specific working inter-agency groups and task forces and crisis teams
In May 2012, the Office assumed the responsibilities of co-chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Framework Team for Coordination on Preventive Action (Framework Team) for a one-year period. The Framework Team constitutes a forum that includes 22 UN departments and agencies. Its Expert Reference Group (ERG) works for the coordination of strategies and activities on conflict prevention, while incorporating the distinct perspectives provided by each Group member. Although it meets at UN headquarters, its members are closely connected to their field offices. The Framework Team supports UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams in developing integrated prevention strategies, and works to identify and deploy the technical resources required for their implementation. In May and June 2012, the Framework Team undertook consultations to identify priority situations for early engagement to promote measures for conflict and atrocity prevention, as well as measures to strengthen the effectiveness of this internal coordination mechanism.
- Department of Political Affairs (DPA)
- DPA is mandated to provide Secretariat support to the Secretary-General. Activities include political analysis; identifying political solutions to human rights and other crises confronted by the UN, including genocide; helping predict imminent crises and proposing preventive actions.
- The Department maintains worldwide desk officer coverage, with 24 hour monitoring and response and has a Policy Planning and Mediation support capacity.
- The Department provides administrative support to the work of Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and other Special Advisers and Envoys of the Secretary-General.
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- OHCHR is mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization of all rights. Activities include monitoring violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and taking action to prevent such violations; conducting investigations; reporting; awareness raising; capacity building; drawing situations of concern, including possible genocide, to the attention of the Secretary-General and the Security Council. OHCHR is also responsible for coordinating all UN human rights related activities, and strengthening and streamlining the UN system in the field of human rights.
- The Office monitors the human rights situation in countries worldwide through a desk officer system. It has both country and regional offices.
- The Office supports approximately thirty Special Rapporteurs who monitor, conduct country visits and take up cases on a wide range of human rights concerns of relevance to genocide; it supports treaty bodies that monitor long-term human rights concerns.
- Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
- DPKO is mandated to help countries torn by conflict create conditions for peace. Activities include needs assessments for peacekeeping operations and the establishment and management of such operations, including military and civilian components. DPKO’s Office of Operations manages, analyzes, monitors, and reports on all issues related to field operations.
- The Department maintains a system of country-desk officers and 24-hour monitoring and response capacity
- Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- OCHA is mandated to mobilise and coordinate humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to: alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies; advocate for the rights of people in need; promote preparedness and prevention; facilitate sustainable solutions.
- The Office maintains a headquarters desk officer system covering every country in crisis, in addition to field offices supporting UN Humanitarian Coordinators and Country Teams. It also maintains regional support offices and regional disaster response advisers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.
- The Office has a 24-hour monitoring and alert system and an emergency response capacity (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination system) to deploy staff to disaster areas within 12 to 24 hours of a natural disaster or sudden-onset emergency to gather information, assess needs, and coordinate international assistance.
- The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA)
- OLA is mandated to provide a unified central legal service for the Secretariat and the principal and other organs of the United Nations, contribute to the progressive development and codification of international public and trade law, register and publish treaties and perform the depositary functions of the Secretary-General.
- In addition to the office of the Legal Counsel, OLA includes a codification division, a treaty section, a division for ocean affairs and the law of the sea, an international trade law division, and a general legal division.
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- UNICEF is mandated to contribute to the protection of children and their rights and conducts a wide range of activities related, for example, to child education, child health care, maternal health care, and protecting children from particular risks such as violence.
- UNICEF maintains a worldwide country desk officer system at headquarters, in addition to regional and country offices examining a range of issues relating to children and their parents and relevant to the prevention of genocide.
- UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programs (EMOPS) coordinates headquarters support (staffing, funding, donor relations, inter-agency issues or technical guidance) to country and regional offices dealing with emergencies. UNICEF’s Operations Centre (OPSCEN) is a 24-hour information gathering and dissemination hub within EMOPS. Monitors humanitarian crises, political events and security-related incidents world-wide; regular reporting and analysis.
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- UNDP is mandated to lead the United Nations’ support for development across the world. Activities include: good governance and rule of law; action to address the structural causes of violent conflict; promoting the establishment of credible institutions and processes that can peacefully manage disputes - “sustainable national infrastructures for peace;” supporting participatory dialogue processes, which promote consensus building.
- UNDP maintains a country desk officer system in headquarters, regional offices and hundreds of country and local offices.
- UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery helps countries prevent and recover from armed conflicts and natural disasters through monitoring, analysis, advocacy, and capacity building. It applies development tools and methodologies, knowledge networking, strategic planning and programming, and policy and standard setting.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNHCR is frequently mandated to lead UN action in support of internally displaced persons in specific countries.
- UNHCR provides vital protection to victims of genocide.
- UNHCR maintains worldwide desk officer coverage, in addition to hundreds of country and local offices.
- UNHCR conducts constant monitoring and has a 24-hour emergency response capacity.
- United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women)
- UN Women is mandated to support inter-governmental bodies in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms and to help Member States implement these standards by providing suitable technical and financial support to countries that request it and by forging effective partnerships with civil society. UN Women is also mandated to hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
- UN Women maintains a country desk office system in headquarters, regional offices and hundred of country and local offices.
- UN Women does not have a formal early warning system and alerts are communicated from the field to the head quarters through daily, weekly and monthly reports.
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- WFP is mandated to provide food assistance to meet emergency needs and support social and economic development. WFP works to put hunger at the centre of the international agenda, promoting policies, strategies and operations that directly benefit the poor and hungry.
- WFP maintains a country desk office system in Headquarters, regional offices and country and local offices.
- WFP has an Early Warning Office which allows the organization to stand on a permanent state of alert, ready to mobilize food assistance for delivery to natural and man-made disaster areas.
In addition to the devastating loss of life, the humanitarian, financial, security and political costs of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (RtoP crimes) are enormous. These are shouldered not only by the State in which these crimes occur, but also by their neighbours. While all of humanity must unite to prevent, halt and punish genocide and related crimes, these crimes can be particularly effectively addressed by groups of states that share the consequences of mass atrocities in their region.
Elsewhere, the risk of occurrence of RtoP crimes is, by its very nature, a sensitive issue, and one that States can shy away from discussing when they feel they have been singled out. Regional and sub-regional organizations can therefore provide opportunities to engage States on the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in a pro-active, non-threatening manner. Effective global-regional cooperation is therefore fundamental to realizing the promise embodied in the responsibility to protect. Special Advisers Francis Deng and Edward Luck have prioritized the strengthening of collaboration with regional and sub-regional organizations and their Member States in order to spread awareness of the root causes of genocide and other mass atrocities and to strengthen preventive action, including early warning and response mechanisms.
In this vein, the Office is working with a number of regional and sub-regional organizations, including the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), International Committee on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Looking forward, the Office is working also to establish links with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the League of Arab States and will continue to expand its partnerships.
On 23 September 2010, following the Office’s training seminar for government officials and representatives of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala, the Office participated in the founding meeting of the ICGLR’s Regional Committee for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and all forms of Discrimination. The Committee is the world’s first sub-regional body created specifically to prevent and punish mass atrocity crimes, a significant step in fighting impunity in an African region. The ICGLR Protocol draws from the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Rome Statute of the ICC. The establishment of the Committee provides a practical opportunity for the region to build a legal framework for the prevention and punishment of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Office participated in the second and third meetings of the ICGLR Regional Committee in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on 25-26 May 2011 and in Zanzibar, Tanzania, on 10-11 December 2011. At the Brazzaville meeting, the Committee Members agreed to take legal and/or administrative steps to establish national committees for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities and report to the Summit by end 2011 on their action. In Zanzibar, at the third meeting of the Committee, members discussed developments of concern in the eleven Member States, reviewed the status of each national committee, set priorities for 2012 and discussed ongoing collaboration with the Office to establish regional and national coordination and early-warning mechanisms.
On 8 February 2012, the Office participated in the fourth meeting of the Regional Committee. Committee members discussed situations in the eleven Member States relevant to its work and reviewed the status of each national committee. The Office’s participation focused on its ongoing cooperation with the ICGLR, specifically the provision of technical assistance to establish early warning strategies and mechanisms for the prevention of genocide and related crimes at national and regional levels.
The Office also provided capacity-building seminars for the ICGLR Regional Committee and to the Tanzania National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and all forms of Discrimination to develop a framework for early warning for the prevention of genocide and related crimes in February 2012. The seminars included modules on establishing a framework for prevention, on strategies and methodologies for developing an effective early warning system for risk factors of genocide and related atrocities and on how to develop a regional or national action plan for early warning and early response.
On 21-23 August, the Office conducted a capacity building seminar with the newly-formed Kenya National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and all forms of Discrimination. Aimed at assisting the committee to establish its early warning and coordination mechanism for preventing and responding to genocide and related atrocity crimes, the seminar examined the ICGLR Protocol for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination, the causes and dynamics of genocide, as well as strategies and methodologies to build an effective early warning system for atrocity crimes. In the course of the workshop, the nascent National Committee developed a draft national action plan for early warning and early response.
On 15-16 October 2012, the Office organised a capacity building seminar and provided technical assistance to the Uganda National Committee of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and all forms of Discrimination in Kampala, Uganda. The training focused on the ICGLR Protocol for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination, causes and dynamics of genocide and related crimes, as well as establishing early warning and coordination mechanisms for preventing and responding to genocide and related atrocity crimes. Committee members also examined how to develop a national action plan for early warning and early response.
On 18-19 October 2012, the Office hosted the fourth meeting of the ICGLR’s Regional Committee. A keynote speech, delivered on behalf of Special Adviser Adama Dieng, commended the leadership of the region for establishing the first legal and political framework for the prevention of atrocity crimes and urged the Committee to find ways to stop the occurrence of atrocity crimes in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and to actively take steps to prevent genocide and other related crimes and violations. The remarks also reiterated the importance of fighting impunity and upholding the rule of law for prevention.
Committee members reviewed the draft terms of reference for the Committee and the status of the action plans for the Regional Committee. The Office supported the Committee in drafting the rules of procedure, which were adopted by the Committee at the conclusion of the meeting, along with its workplan for the coming year, as highlighted in the final Communiqué of the meeting.
On 17-20 December 2012, the Office supported the Tanzania National Committee in organizing an inter-faith workshop in Dar-es-Salaam on the prevention and mitigation of religious conflict in Tanzania. Entitled “Maintaining Sustainable Peace and Social Cohesion in Tanzania: Role of Religious Leaders”, the workshop brought together 70 participants from Zanzibar, Pemba and Mainland Tanzania to discuss and dialogue on religious factors that have been a source of tensions in the country. The workshop created a platform for religious leaders to work closely with the Tanzania National Committee to manage ethno-religious conflicts in Tanzania as part of national efforts to prevent genocide and other atrocities. Keynote remarks were delivered on behalf of Mr. Dieng to the workshop.
2012: Economic Community of West African States
During an outreach mission to West Africa, Special Adviser Adama Dieng met with the Vice President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 14 December 2012. Expressing concern about country situations at risk of genocide or other atrocity crimes in the region, Mr. Dieng discussed the work and the mandate of the Office, and how the Office could collaborate with ECOWAS to support national and regional efforts to prevent genocide and related crimes in West Africa.
The Office is working with the Organization of American States on options to strengthen the regional framework for the prevention of atrocity crimes. On 5-7 March 2012, the Office took part in a session of the Inter-American Juridical Committee of the Organization of American States, held in Mexico City. The Office presented its mandate and work to the Committee and discussed options for measures that could be taken to strengthen the framework for prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
The Office is in process of establishing an operational partnership with the European Union External Action Service, with a particular focus on information collection and analysis, and training. The partnership would include the establishment of specific arrangements that will allow for cooperation in the collection of early warning information and for the development of mass atrocity prevention training modules for European Union External Action Service officials at Headquarters and in the field.
On 25 April 2012, the Office participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Task Force for the Improvement of the European Union’s Capacities to Prevent Mass Atrocities and the Foundation for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting brought together leading experts in conflict and mass atrocities prevention and representatives of European Union (EU) institutions, Member States and NGOs to take stock of the EU’s current capabilities and practices in atrocity prevention and to discuss options for improving the warning-response linkage.
2012: Intergovernmental Authority on Development
On 21-22 June 2012, Special Adviser Deng participated in a meeting of regional conflict experts convened by the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the meeting drew together officials of IGAD Member States and representatives of civil society, as well as regional experts on conflict early warning and prevention, to develop a new strategic approach to identifying and preventing threats of violent conflict in the IGAD region. Participants focused on identifying the way in which different dynamics combine to produce and threaten violent conflict; the standards for data collection, analysis and dissemination; and how to build effective networks of people and institutions that can prevent or moderate violence. Among key risk factors, they identified economic change and volatility, migration, state capabilities, food security, natural resource competition, climatic volatility and environmental degradation, and demographic change.
The Office continues to work closely with the Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) High Commissioner on National Minorities, including on sharing of information and cooperation on assessment of country situations in the OSCE area.
In November 2009, Francis Deng addressed the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the AU Panel of the Wise. The two institutions expressed their support for the mandate and work of the Special Adviser and the Panel of the Wise called for the incorporation of the Office’s Analysis Framework into the African Union’s early warning mechanism.
On 2-3 April 2012, Special Adviser Deng took part in the meetings of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on the Sudan and South Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Panel has been facilitating negotiations between the two countries on a range of outstanding issues including security and the situation of Abyei. Mr. Deng also held consultations with senior officials of the African Union, the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), among others, on matters relevant to his mandate.
- International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.
- Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
- Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.
- International Center for Transitional Justice
The International Center for Transitional Justice works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse. ICTJ seeks holistic solutions to promote accountability and create just and peaceful societies.
- Minority Rights Group International
Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organisation working to secure rights for ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous people around the world.
- Global Center for the R2P
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect was created to catalyze action to move the 2005 World Summit agreement on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity from principle into practice.
- International Coalition on RtoP
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) works to: strengthen normative consensus for RtoP at the international, regional, sub-regional and national levels; push for governments, regional and sub-regional organizations and the UN to strengthen capacities to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; further the understanding of RtoP among governments, NGOs, and the public; help build and fortify a like-minded group of governments in support of RtoP; mobilize NGOs to push for action to save lives in RtoP country-specific situations.
The World Federalist Movement is a global movement dedicated to the realization of global justice, peace and sustainable prosperity through the development of democratic international institutions and the global application of international law. The Institute for Global Policy is a research and policy institute dedicated to the promotion of human security, international justice, the prevention of armed conflict and the protection of civilians.
- ICC Coalition
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is the largest partnership in the world advancing the cause of international justice. Including more than 2,500 civil society organizations from 150 countries, the Coalition is leading the global fight to end genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity through a commitment to the core values of human rights and justice.
- Genocide Watch
Genocide Watch exists to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder. They seek to raise awareness and influence public policy concerning potential and actual genocide. Their purpose is to build an international movement to prevent and stop genocide.
- Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation works to prevent genocide by building a worldwide community of policymakers with the tools and the commitment to respond to conflict before it turns into genocide.
- Global Action to Prevent War
Global Action to Prevent War is a programme for government and grassroots efforts to stop war, genocide and other forms of deadly conflict. It aims to bring together many of the specific arms control and conflict resolution initiatives nationally and internationally in order to develop cooperation between the different efforts and to address possible gaps.
Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
The Centre’s mission is to advance the Responsibility to Protect principle within the Asia-Pacific Region and worldwide, and support the building of capacity to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.