Speech at the International Conference on Prevention of Genocides, Bryssel, 1.4.2014

Statement by the Minister for Foreign
Affairs of Finland, Mr. Erkki Tuomioja

Mr President,

me start by expressing our sincere thanks to
the Government
of  Belgium
for convening
this very important conference.

We cannot, and must not, forget what happened in
Rwanda twenty years ago. Yet, it seems the international community has not
learned enough.  Our capacity to halt
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes remains all too weak.  We are witnessing this in today’s Syria,
where mass civilian deaths have become a hallmark of the conflict, as Valerie
Amos just recently stated. Also the situation in the Central African Republic
is of grave concern. 

The Responsibility to Protect – or R2P – is a vital
instrument in preventing genocides. It is of utmost importance to promote the consolidation
and effective implementation of the R2P concept, adopted by the UN general
Assembly in 2005. Finland has recently systematically aimed at advancing the
concept . It
is one of the priority
areas in our recently launched new UN strategy. We have also included R2P in
several other Finnish policy documents, for example the Human Rights Strategy
and the
Government’s Security and Defence Policy Report.

It is crucial to keep all elements of the R2P on the
agenda. Still, I believe more emphasis needs to be put on preventive measures. An
important example of these is mediation.
One of the objectives of mediation is to prevent potential conflict situations
from escalating into violence and further into R2P crimes. I am convinced that
mediation still is an under-utilized tool of preventing or solving conflicts,
and of stopping atrocities related to conflicts.Finland
works actively to strengthen the normative and institutional basis of mediation.
The UN Group of Friends of Mediation, convened by Finland and Turkey in
2010,  now with 46 members, remains
instrumental in mobilizing support for mediation.

Another example of the preventive angle of the R2P is the international
to states in fulfilling their primary responsibility. Later in
April, Finland will organize [together with the Special Adviser of the
Secretary General of the United Nations on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms.
Jennifer Welsh] a consultative meeting to evaluate ways for international support,
including through development cooperation, to assist in the implementation of
the Responsibility to Protect.

Finally, let me emphasize
the still too often neglected role of women
in negotiations and peace processes. Finland focuses on the implementation of
the Security Council resolution 1325 and related resolutions which aim at promotion
of women’s full participation and empowerment as well as protection of women’s
human rights and freedom from sexual and gender based violence in conflicts. Sexual
violence, used as tactics of war, is a matter for international peace and

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have tools and we have
the normative basis. What we need now is political will to prevent any genocide
from happening again.

Thank you.