Civil Society

Meeting of religious leaders in Amman, Jordan.
Photo OGPRtoP

Preventing the commission of atrocity crimes is the legal responsibility of States. Meeting this responsibility, however, requires partnering with civil society. National and international civil society organizations (CSOs) are particularly well placed to advocate and galvanize support for the implementation of the responsibility to protect principle. Thus, they can be instrumental in turning commitments into action on the ground. For that, they have a range of tools at their disposal to prevent or respond to crimes and violations relating to the responsibility to protect principle

CSOs can work with governments to deepen the understanding and awareness of the responsibility to protect principle and to build capacity locally, regionally in internationally to protect populations under threat. In particular, CSOs can support the development of long-term national or local atrocity prevention strategies and architectures. The public commitment of States to the responsibility to protect also provides CSOs with a strong basis to hold national governments and the international community to account when they are manifestly failing to protect populations against atrocity crimes.

In addition, national CSOs can play an important grassroots early warning role, particularly as new technologies allow live information to be provided. Such information has been used to prompt States and international organizations to act. In other instances, CSOs have helped local communities organise themselves to use non-violent strategies to prevent violence or to protect themselves from violence in cases where States and the international community are unwilling or unable to protect. CSOs have also targeted awareness raising campaigns to specific actors, such as media, religious leaders and local leadership, about their role in minimizing atrocity risks To check some of the Office’s partners working on these issues click here.

National and international private companies and businesses can also play a crucial role in implementing the responsibility to protect principle. There are both moral as well as concrete economic incentives to do so and in this way, assume a greater social responsibility that goes beyond merely seeking profit.

Rather than enabling atrocities due to business linkages that provide the means and opportunity to States that fail to protect their populations, and may commit atrocity crimes, private companies should reject trade with such States. They may also help strengthen local economies and build resilience in society by bringing funds, provide jobs and create wealth, which can have a positive and stabilizing impact on societies at risk. Through creating economic opportunity, businesses contribute to structural socio-economic prevention. They should also uphold non-discrimination policies in all their activities and ensure that the workforce represents all social groups, in this contributing to diminish social disparities.