Rights up Front and the Protections of Civilians: Towards Ensuring the Core Responsibilities of the UN?
In the wake of the 2012 Internal Review Panel (IRP) findings on UN Action in Sri Lanka, which characterized the failed efforts of the UN as a “systemic failure”, the UN Secretary-General launched the Human Rights up Front (RUF) initiative in late 2013.
As stated by the UN Secretary-General’s office, the purpose of the initiative is “to ensure the UN system takes early and effective action, as mandated by the Charter and UN resolutions, to prevent or respond to large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.”
The means through which this is to be achieved are through a “cultural change within the UN system, so that human rights and the protection of civilians are seen as a system-wide core responsibility.” Furthermore, RUF “encourages staff to take a principled stance and to act with moral courage to prevent serious and large-scale violations, and pledges Headquarters support for those who do so.” In so doing, RUF “re-affirms the UN’s core purposes and values” by functioning as “a lens” through which the UN system as a whole will “examine and respond to threats of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and by that identify actions needed to prevent mass atrocities and armed conflict.”
Organized by the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, the seminar aims at providing an overview of this important initiative, as well as provide a broader context for understanding the initiative through an account of the UN efforts to provide protection to civilians over the past decades. Furthermore, the seminar aims at discussing Norway’s position on RUF and possible contribution to the RUF agenda. Finally, the seminar will conclude with a discussion of the RUF initiative in light of local challenges in conflict areas.
Introductions by: Baard Hjelde, Senior Adviser, Section for Human Rights and Democracy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benjamin de Carvalho, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Morten Bøås, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).
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