Beginning in September 2007, the World Federalist Movement Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) embarked on a new initiative: to build a global civil society network for the Responsibility to Protect. The initiative, supported by Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Oxfam International and Refugees International, aims to establish a global network with representation from both Northern and Southern NGOs. The R2PCS Project is organizing a series of consultative roundtables with NGOs worldwide, to 1) increase understanding of R2P and how it applies to conflicts in the region, 2) explore how to strengthen regional and international mechanisms to support R2P, and 3) forge partnerships with NGOs who are interested in joining in a core group in building an NGO network.
30-31 July: lobal Consultative Roundtables on the Responsibility to Protect: West African Perspectives; Accra, Ghana.
The West African Roundtable took place in partnership with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).
The conference began with welcome remarks from the organizers, followed by a keynote address by Mrs. Sintiki Ugbe, Director of Gender, Youth, Sport, CSO, Employment, Drug Control at ECOWAS. Mrs. Ugbe gave an overview of ECOWAS background, and mentioned that West African heads of states and governments adopted a Conflict Prevention Framework (or ECPF) in January 2008 to ensure peace, security, stability and development in the sub-region. This framework outlines that ECOWAS has the power to act to protect human security in three distinct ways, namely, the Responsibility to Prevent, to React and to Rebuild, echoing the 2005 ICISS report. The framework also stipulates the role of civil society in safeguarding peace, security and the protection of civilians, and she assured that ECOWAS would work closely with civil society, for instance through the Directorate of Gender Youth and Civil Society, to hold states accountable to their commitments. Mrs. Margaret Kutsoati, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the Government of Ghana, ensured that the Responsibility to Protect is a topic that the Government takes very seriously. She noted that of the three pillars of the R2P, Ghana must place emphasis on the Responsibility to Prevent. She explained that preventing conflict in Ghana will involve working collectively to improve good governance, safeguard human rights and respect for the rule of law.
The first session offered an overview of the R2P norm and how to understand its applicability to West Africa. After Mrs. Sapna Chhatpar from WFM-IGP provided an introduction to the norm, Mrs. Nicole Deller of the Global Centre for R2P highlighted the many challenges remaining in implementing R2P, most specifically on getting the message right, holding governments accountable to what they agreed to in 2005, and clarifying how R2P will be applied and in which situations. Dr. Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre recalled the lack of political will and capacity within the African Union, especially when it comes to applying coercive measures. This will be a challenge to the proper implementation of normative commitments of Member-States in the Constitutive Act of the AU and the zulwini Consensus, seen as Africas endorsement of the R2P principles. Dr. Aning also commented on R2Ps applicability in Kenya post-election and in the ICC prosecutors demand for arrest warrant of Sudans president.
The second session gave an overview of the prospects for implementing R2P in West Africa at the sub-regional and national levels. Thelma Ekiyor gave an analysis of ECOWAS mandate for conflict prevention, drawn from regional and international bodies such as the AU, NEPAD and the UN, highlighting the global nature of prevention. The Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), on which Ms. Ekiyor focused most of her presentation, calls specifically for civil society to serve as partners in ensuring effective implementation and monitoring of the ECPF at the regional, national and community level. Major-General Carl Coleman presented the aims and challenges in building a Regional Standby Force to respond quickly to evolving conflicts and bringing peace and stability to every African sub-region. As Africa is still far away from mounting a successful peace support operation with its own resources, effective collaboration with the UN and the donor community in the planning, development of concepts and procedures is crucial. Mr. P.K Opoku-Mensah presented the national infrastructure for peacebuilding established by the government of Ghana, known as the ational Architecture for Peace. It brings civil society groups, community organizations, professional bodies and faith-based organizations together with government agencies, into a national framework for anticipating and responding to situations of potentially violent conflict.
The third session presented civil society initiatives in West Africa related to the full-spectrum of prevention, reaction and rebuilding. Leymah Gbowee of WIPSEN-AFRICA, spoke of the need to clarify R2P with a gendered approach for a more meaningful inclusion of women in building peace. Mr. Murtala Touray from WANEP spoke of WANEP's role as an implementing partner of the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN) and its link to the Responsibility to Prevent. Mr. Voke Ighorodje from CDD questioned how corruption could lead to widespread and systematic crimes against humanity and therefore be relevant to R2P. Dr. I. S Zabadi from WANSED spoke about the role of WANSED as a regional think-tank in exchanging information, promoting research and advocacy in the area of democratic governance and security sector reform.
Day 2: How to Advance Civil Society Work on R2P
Day 2 began with a continuation of discussions on civil society initiatives in the sub-region related to R2P. Omar Ngongo of WACSOF provided an overview of joint ECOWAS and civil society initiatives on humanitarian assistance and identified the lapses in humanitarian assistance to communities affected by war-torn countries. Professor Ken Attafuah from the Justice and Human Rights Institute presented the context of the institutional legal frameworks for protecting human rights in West Africa and the challenges facing national justice systems and National Human Rights Institutions.
More details on these presentations will be made available shortly.
Strategies to Overcome Challenges
Activities to push R2P Activities
(A more detailed account of all recommendations will be provided shortly in a full report.)