22:19, September 11 35 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-11 22:19:10
UK must take lead to protect the people of Idlib

As imminent catastrophe is feared in Idlib, Syria – where 3 million people are fearing for their lives – Monday’s report by the foreign affairs select committee on Britain’s approach to the Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention is timely. The incidence of mass atrocities is rising. The horrors we are witnessing in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen Sudan, and elsewhere are a devastating testament to the cost of an inconsistent response to mass atrocity situations and their early warning signs.

As organisations working towards a world where these terrible crimes no longer occur, we welcome this crucial report and urge the government to implement its core recommendation to set out a cross-Whitehall atrocity prevention strategy. Genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity diminish us all. In addition to appalling human costs, mass atrocities carry enormous economic consequences, and perpetuate international instability, ultimately affecting the UK’s own security and prosperity. And yet the UK’s approach to preventing mass atrocities is too often reactive and narrow, and its commitment to the early, holistic prevention that we know works is disjointed.

A cross-government strategy would place prevention and protection at the heart of decision making, and encourage joined-up policies across the Foreign Office and departments for trade, defence and international development. To be effective, such a strategy will need resources, and both ministerial and cabinet backing and oversight. The responsibility to protect people from atrocities is a shared one that stretches from individuals and local communities to states and global institutions. This responsibility does not fall upon British shoulders alone, but the UK can and should be leading by example.

Dr James Smith Founder and CEO, Aegis Trust

Anna Roberts Executive drector, Burma Campaign UK

Dr Cristina Stefan Co-director, European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Eric Murangwa Eugene Founder and CEO, Ishami Foundation

Catherine Anderson CEO, Jo Cox Foundation

Dylan Mathews CEO, Peace Direct

Dr Kate Ferguson Director of research and policy, Protection Approaches

Dr Waqar Azmi Chair of Remembering Srebrenica

Richard Gowing Director, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice

Heba Ajami Syria Solidarity UK

Natalie Samarasinghe Executive director, UNA-UK

Maddy Crowther Co-executive director, Waging Peace

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