Islamabad: Pakistan said at the United Nations that the international community should not selectively priorities human suffering to suit political convenience or to serve narrow interests, says a press release received here today from New York. Speaking in the UN General Assembly in the debate on ‘Responsibility to Protect’’, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, said that it was not the lack of legal means but of political will by the international community that resulted in egregious crimes against humanity.
Arguing that there could not be any moral ambivalence on this issue, Ambassador Lodhi said that declarations on human rights would remain unfulfilled without bringing an end to the systematic and gross violations of fundamental human rights, particularly in occupied territories. “If we are to stem this tide”, Ambassador Lodhi stressed, “we need to summon our collective resolve and act in a consistent and uniform manner to all transgressions”. “Else, ‘purity of motive’ notwithstanding, the ensuing actions will continue to lack the legal and moral legitimacy to gain wider acceptability”, she added.
Stating Pakistan’s principled position on this issue, Ambassador Lodhi said that at its core, the ‘responsibility to protect’, was not a license to intervene in external situations, but, was instead, a universal principle of ‘non-indifference’, in keeping with historical context and cultural norms of respective settings. “It is predicated on the express recognition that the responsibility for the protection of civilians lies first, and foremost, with member states”, she added.
She argued that ‘responsibility to protect’ was in essence a political expression of what was already obligated on states, as their sovereign responsibility towards their citizens.
Calling for prioritizing a prevention-centric focus as the cornerstone of any protection-oriented approach, Ambassador Lodhi said that it cost far more to pick up the pieces after a crisis that it does to prevent one. She underscored that as the UN approached its landmark seventy-fifth anniversary, the best measure of our commitment to the vulnerable would be to recommit ourselves to the abiding values of the UN Charter, based on the inherent dignity and worth of individual, and the provision of the fundamental human rights including the right of peoples to self-determination.
She also called for a renewed focus on international cooperation to achieve the UN Charter’s vision of life of dignity for all, and stressed the need to operationalise the ‘right to development’ – encompassing the right to food, shelter, fair terms to trade, debt relief and adequate access to finance and technology. “After all,”, she said, “in a world beset by socio-economic inequalities, many situations leading to turmoil and conflict are the result of under-development and poverty”.
Focusing on the role played by hate speech to incite violence, the Pakistani envoy said Islamophobia has become the most prevalent contemporary expression of this vile narrative. “We know only too well from our neighbourhood how the abiding lure of communal politics has become the most assured pathway to political power,” she told the General Assembly. She concluded by saying that the idea of responsibility to protect was set against the over-arching principle of state sovereignty. “It cannot become a basis to contravene the principles of non-interference and non-intervention or question the national sovereignty or territorial integrity of states”, she added.