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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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R2PCS Listserv
14 July 2008
Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue:

I. ICC and Darfur


II. Crisis in Zimbabwe and R2P


III. Crisis in Burma and R2P


IV. UN Secretary-General and R2P


I. ICC and Darfur

1. ICC Prosecutor Applies for Arrest Warrant of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
ICC Press Release
14 July 2008

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has presented evidence today showing that Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR committed the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Three years after the Security Council requested him to investigate in Darfur, and based on the evidence collected, the Prosecutor has concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR bears criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Prosecution evidence shows that Al Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity. Members of the three groups, historically influential in Darfur, were challenging the marginalization of the province; they engaged in a rebellion. AL BASHIR failed to defeat the armed movements, so he went after the people. is motives were largely political. His alibi was a ounterinsurgency. His intent was genocide. The Prosecutor said. ()

Al BASHIRs intent to commit genocide became clear with the well coordinated attacks on the 2.450.000 civilians who found a haven in the camps. L BASHIR organized the destitution, insecurity and harassment of the survivors. He did not need bullets. He used other weapons: rapes, hunger, and fear. As efficient, but silent. said the Prosecutor.

Today, the evidence shows that AL BASHIR, instead of assisting the people of Darfur, has mobilised the entire state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system, to subject the 2.450.000 people living in IDPs camps, most of them members of the target group, to conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction. (...)

The Pre-Trial Chamber I will now review the evidence. If the judges determine that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the named individual committed the alleged crimes, they will decide on the best manner to ensure his appearance in court. The Prosecution has requested an arrest warrant.


2. New ICC Prosecution: Opportunities and Risks for Peace in Sudan
International Crisis Group
14 June 2008

Todays application by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur creates both big opportunities and big risks for peace in Sudan. (...)
In seeking this warrant, the Prosecutor is acting within his mandate under the Rome Statute and from the UN Security Council, which in 2005 referred crimes committed in Darfur to him for investigation and prosecution. That mandate has been consistently frustrated by the Sudanese government not least in its refusal to hand over the government minister, Ahmad Harun, and Janjaweed commander, Ali Kushayb, against whom warrants were issued in April 2007 and it is important for the Prosecutor to protect the credibility of the Court by pursuing further prosecutions.
It may also prove to be the case that in initiating this process the Prosecutor will be advancing the interests of peace. That is not his official role which is rather to act, in the interests of justice, to end impunity for those believed guilty of atrocity crimes. But it may be that the increased pressure now placed on the NCP governing regime will lead it to take long overdue steps to cease all violence, implement genuine and credible measures to resolve the Darfur crisis including allowing the full and effective deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force and fully carry out its side of the bargain to implement the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The problem for international policymakers is that the Prosecutors legal strategy also poses major risks for the fragile peace and security environment in Sudan, with a real chance of greatly increasing the suffering of very large numbers of its people. Hard-liners on all sides may be reinforced, with the governing regime and other actors reacting to todays application, and any subsequent warrant, in ways that seriously undermine the fragile North-South peace process, bring an end to any chance of political negotiations in Darfur, make impossible the effective deployment of UNAMID, put at risk the humanitarian relief operations presently keeping alive over 2 million people in Darfur, and lead to inflammation of wider regional tensions. These are significant risks, particularly given that the likelihood of actually executing any warrant issued against Bashir is remote, at least in the short term.
The best way through this dilemma may be for the UN Security Council to take advantage of the likely two to three month window before the judges decision on the arrest warrant, to assess whether genuine and substantial progress is in fact being made in stopping the continuing violence for which the governing regime bears responsibility, engaging in genuine peace negotiations in Darfur, expediting UNAMID deployment and advancing the CPA. If it believes such progress is being made, and that the interests of peace justify this course being taken, the Security Council could even if the Prosecutor and the ICC wanted to proceed exercise its power under Article 16 of the Rome Statute to suspend any prosecutions, for an initial twelve months but with such suspension able to be renewed indefinitely.
Such a decision would have to be made in light of the regimes history of repeatedly flouting agreements it has entered into. But the need for any Article 16 deferral to be renewed on an annual basis would provide an incentive, hitherto lacking, for the regime to abide by commitments made under threat of ICC prosecution. (...)
Crisis Group President Gareth Evans said that the international community now faced a hard policy choice in balancing risk and opportunity: he Sudanese governing regime has until now utterly failed in its responsibility to protect its own people. The judgement call the Security Council now has to make is whether Khartoum can be most effectively pressured to stop the violence and build a new Sudan by simply letting the Court process proceed, or after assessing the regimes initial response, and continuing to monitor it thereafter by suspending that process in the larger interests of peace.

II. Crisis in Zimbabwe and R2P

1. The Zimbabwean way tars all of Africa
Jeffrey Simpson
Globe and Mail
July 3, 2008

Sadly, maybe Robert Mugabe is correct: Only God can remove him as head of Zimbabwe's thugocracy.
No one else including the citizens of that beleaguered country, Zimbabwe's neighbours, the African Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations will do it. Nor will U.S. President George W. Bush be assembling any time soon a oalition of the willing to replace the Zimbabwean thug. (...)
South Africa, the country with potentially the most influence on Zimbabwe, has become part of the problem, its President preferring a dialogue that goes nowhere. Nelson Mandela's moral leadership has disappeared from today's South African government, which turns a blind eye to AIDS at home and Mr. Mugabe next door. The African National Congress that once urged the world to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime of South Africa will not countenance the same treatment for Zimbabwe. (...)
What Canada could do in theory is try to give effect to the doctrine we were among the first to articulate and make part of the UN code. The responsibility to protect principle suggests the world community can/must intervene in the internal affairs of states when human lives, rights and property are being willfully endangered by the existing government. If a government cannot protect its own people, let alone violates them, then the world community must act. It is a doctrine of immaculate theoretical rectitude, the application of which is occasionally possible but usually impossible.
By any standard, responsibility to protect fits Zimbabwe. But no country, least of all Canada, will mobilize, let alone contribute to, the vast efforts required to apply the doctrine. A bunch of predominately white countries such as Canada and maybe Britain would be manifestly unwelcome in Africa. The UN can pass resolutions, but no member of the Security Council will apply the responsibility to protect. And no more feckless group exists in the world than the African Union, as we have seen in its ineffectual response to the massacres in Darfur (...)
III. Crisis in Burma and R2P

1. U.S. should carefully weigh costs of forcible intervention
James Holmes
The Online Athens
6 July 2008

The aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which felled as many as 100,000 Burmese, has set off a lively discussion of the international community's "responsibility to protect" citizens whose governments neglect their well-being. Burma's left-wing military junta has balked at accepting disaster relief from international donors. The likely result: needless deaths among the populace.
Should the U.S. military kick in the door, compelling the Burmese regime (or other failed regimes) to accept humanitarian aid? Both sides in the debate over the responsibility to protect, aka R2P, make some sound points. In this election year, it's worth examining the debate over R2P, which promises to shape U.S. foreign policy in the next administration and beyond. (...)
R2P advocates appeal to moral and legal precepts, citing venerable precedents in international law. Notes Pope Benedict, the "principle of 'responsibility to protect' was considered by the ancient jus gentium as the foundation of every action taken by those in government with regard to the governed."
This is heady stuff. Roughly speaking, jus gentium, or the "law of nations," holds that certain legal principles are common to all societies at all times. If R2P indeed is part of a body of universal law, as the pontiff contends, then abusive or incompetent governments could forfeit their immunity from interference in their domestic affairs.
This immunity is codified in the United Nations charter - but the charter also gives the U.N. Security Council the discretion to override national sovereignty when international peace and security are at stake.
So Pope Benedict is on solid, if arguably legal, ground. Now, the contrary case. R2P skeptics - such as myself - may concede or even embrace the legal and moral case for forcible humanitarian intervention while accentuating its perils. The pope may have the logic of intervention right, but he says little about its political and operational grammar.
Which is where Carl von Clausewitz comes in. The Prussian theorist left us a simple formula for gauging the costs and benefits of military action. For him, war was a rational political act, so the value assigned the political objective "must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration."
Governments should forego campaigns in which the effort required will outstrip the value of the object.
Apply this to Burma. () This would saddle the United States with another nation-building operation, beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. As Gen. Colin Powell quipped before the invasion of Iraq: You break it, you bought it. Not only Iraq and Afghanistan but also the crises of the 1990s - Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo - show that constructing humane, sovereign states from failed ones is a painstaking, time-consuming endeavor in which success is far from certain.
Despite its praiseworthy impulse to comfort the afflicted, the United States must look before it leaps, carefully estimating the costs of a protracted engagement in the Indian Ocean region.
A final observation: However worthwhile, this need not be a U.S.-led enterprise. Just because the U.S. military can do everything around the world doesn't mean it must. If R2P is a universal imperative, American leaders should press rising great powers such as India and China to exercise the responsibility to protect in their own regions. (...)
So, U.S. diplomats reasonably might deliver a message to their counterparts in New Delhi or Beijing - that leadership carries responsibility. Being No. 1 in the Indian Ocean or East Asia means rendering disaster relief and performing other constabulary work. That's true not just in apolitical contingencies like the 2004 tsunami off Aceh, but also in politically freighted ones like Burma. (...)
2. The Burmese Cyclone, Nonviolent Action, and the Responsibility to Empower
Patrick Meier
Peacework Magazine
June 2008

Repressive regimes continue to play the sovereignty card regardless of international condemnation, and the military regime in Burma is no exception. Prior to the cyclone disaster, the regime maintained an effective information blockade on the country, limiting access and communication while forcefully cracking down on the pro-democracy resistance movement.
The military regime's decision to block humanitarian aid following the cyclone disaster should really come as no surprise. The international community clearly remains at the mercy of regimes that scoff at the Responsibility to protect.

The Responsibility to protect (or R2P, as endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 1674, affirming the responsibility of all to prevent or stop genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity) is a noble principle: sovereignty is contingent upon the state's ability to protect its citizens. Burma's military regime has shown absolutely no interest in doing so, but quite the opposite -- even in the case of a "natural" disaster. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has advocated that the principle of R2P justifies overruling the Burmese military junta's right to territorial sovereignty.

Originally, Gareth Evans, Director of the International Crisis Group, strongly disagreed, arguing that Kouchner's approach would create a precedent to intervene in post-disaster environments, which would potentially undermine the general consensus that currently exists in the developing world vis--vis R2P. Many other humanitarians have also voiced their opposition to engaging in non-authorized intervention. They (mistakenly) assumed such intervention requires the use of force. The result? An international community yet again bowing down to the wishes of a repressive regime; a terribly inadequate in-country humanitarian response to save lives; and an increasingly high death toll. It is high time that alternative approaches to humanitarian intervention be considered that depend less on potentially resistant governments -- approaches such as people-centered tactics and nonviolent action. In other words, what nonviolent options exist for civilian protection and non-consensual humanitarian intervention? (...)

It is not acceptable to let regimes like Burma's military junta dictate the rules of humanitarian intervention. With each day that cargo planes were forced to remain grounded, thousands of additional lives were lost. When a coercive regime like Burma's fails to uphold its responsibility to protect, the obligation becomes squarely ours, which means that we, the humanitarian community, also failed in Burma. Diplomatic pressure, lobbying, and advocacy are certainly important and necessary actions. However, this top-down pressure needs to be complemented with nonviolent, tactical, proactive, and bottom-up response measures that draw on existing networks, local capacities, and available technologies. (...)

Post-cyclone, global nonprofit organizations are struggling to help Burmese meet their needs. The American Friends Service Committee ( is assisting the monastic school network, providing medical supplies, food, fuel, shelter materials, and water purification equipment. Donations are needed.


IV. UN Secretary-General and R2P

United Nations DPI
1 July 2008

The following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons remarks at a breakfast meeting with the Japan Institute for international Affairs, in Tokyo today, 1 July: (...)

I strongly believe that, given the global nature and scope of the challenges we face, this is the time for multilateralism, the time for collective action, the time for countries to work with and through the United Nations as never before. And this need for acting together requires even stronger leadership by countries like Japan.

Japan has long been a leader in the area of human security. You are increasingly focusing on the relationship between human security and the responsibility to protect -- the obligation accepted by all States to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity. Adopted unanimously by the 2005 World Summit, the responsibility to protect affirms that States have the primary obligation to protect their populations from those committing or inciting these crimes.

Three years on, the responsibility to protect remains more honoured in the breach than in observance. The struggle against inequality, intolerance and injustice continues. Too often, national leaders seek to hide abuses of fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms behind the false cloak of sovereignty. As we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must give life to those rights, which bind together our common humanity. That means we must spare no effort in taking the responsibility to protect from word to deed.

The principle is strictly focused on genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It is a coherent, sound and politically sustainable policy. It may be limited, but it is extremely powerful -- if we can prevent these atrocities, we will have taken a momentous step forward.

There are many ways to do this. Helping countries to build capacity, ensuring early warning, taking decisive action in response to threats and collaborating with regional and other groupings are all part of the responsibility to protect.

Prevention is the key. The aim is to help States to avert genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

There will be cases when prevention is not enough. There may be times when the only way to protect hundreds of thousands of people at risk is through enforcement measures. This is in exact accord with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

So the responsibility to protect builds on our founding principles, reinforcing the legal obligation of Member States not to use force except in conformity with the Charter. We look to Japans leadership in developing ways to translate into practice. (...)

The UN provides this illuminating perspective. And with the support of all countries -- especially established leaders like Japan -- we can realize the ideals of our Charter for the sake of all the worlds peoples.


Thanks to Greg Cohen for compiling this listserv


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