Ban Ki Moon toured the Holocaust museum after a meeting with President Obama at the White House.  In remarks to the press, Ban very sharply rebuked Qaddafi, saying that the Libyan leader “lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people.”  Ban frequently invoked the “Never Again” refrain in remarks that referenced the state directed attacks against the Libyan people, alluding, of course, to what he has just seen while touring the system.

Ban also referenced attacks against civilians in Cote D’Ivoire and the situation in Darfur and the DRC.

I snapped some pics of Ban’s tour.

And his inscription in the guest book.

I was able to ask Ban a question at the tail end his remarks on why the international response to the crisis in Libya seems to be so much swifter and more coordinated than other recent mass atrocities, like Darfur?  He gave a rather substantive response, which cited specific and recent institutional changes to the UN system that has facilitated this response.

Specifically, Ban noted the creation of UN special envoy on genocide and the special adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, which are two new posts that report directly to the Secretary General. He also cited wider changes to the international system, like the Human Rights Council and Responsibility to Protect — both approved in 2005.

These developments are all relatively new, and to take Ban’s point one step further, it would seem that they have helped to lower the transaction costs to dealing with the Libya crisis.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Council provided a ready-made venue in which pretty much every country in the world could sign onto a condemnatory statement against Qaddafi. Then, later in the day the Security Council referenced that resolution and also the “responsibility to protect” in a consensus statement on the situation in Libya. Absent from the debate was the usual amount of squabbling over whether or not Libya ought to be considered an internal matter, and therefore not under the purview of the Council.

The Security Council statement, in turn, provided the momentum for the eventual resolution on Saturday, which firmly stated that the situation in Libya was a threat to international peace and security under chapter VII.

So, it would seem that according to the Secretary General, these kinds of discrete institutional changes that have taken place at the UN over the past 7 years or so have, in fact, made a difference in how the international community responds to a mass atrocity event.  The evidence seems to back up this claim. More soon.

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