Member Sign In
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
PDF Print E-mail
23 June 2009 News Update
RtoP Listserv
In this issue: US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice strongly endorses RtoP, ICRtoP participation in RtoP events around the world
I. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice strongly endorses RtoP
II. ICRtoP participation in RtoP events around the world
III. Upcoming UN Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
IV. Op-ed by Donald Steinberg in Schlossplatz Review
V. Sudan’s massacres – genocide or merely remnants of genocide?

I. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice strongly endorses RtoP
1. Ambassador Susan E. Rice -- UN Security Council and the Responsibility to Protect
International Peace Institute Vienna Seminar
15 June 2009
The 39th Vienna Seminar organized by the International Peace Institute, held on 14 – 16 June 2009 at the National Defence Academy and the Diplomatic Academy, discussed "The UN Security Council and the Concept of Responsibility to Protect." Notable speakers include permanent representatives of the United States, Uganda and Austria to the United Nations, IPI Director and Special Envoy to the Middle East Terje Rød-Larsen and the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Francis M. Deng, as well as many high-ranking UN officials and former heads of UN field missions. Ambassador Rice’s remarks as a featured speaker represent the first instance of US detailed support and vision for the norm.
See more information on the event here

(…) The Responsibility to Protect—or, as it has come to be known, R2P—represents an important step forward in the long historical struggle to save lives and guard the wellbeing of people endangered by conflict. It holds that states have (…) particularly vital duties to shield their own populations from the depraved and the murderous. (…) And the United States welcomes it.
(…) All 192 UN member states adopted the Responsibility to Protect at the World Summit in 2005.The next year, the Security Council reaffirmed this commitment—and the related principle of protecting civilians—in Resolution 1674, and the Council has taken R2P at least partly into account in its actions on Sudan and the DRC.
(…)Turning it into practice will take resolve. (…) So let me touch on a few key challenges that states of goodwill face in trying to save lives from those bent on mass slaughter, and then offer a few thoughts toward an agenda for common action. (…)
First, we still face confusion and misunderstanding—willful or otherwise—about what the Responsibility to Protect is and is not.
To take just one example, some defended the war in Iraq by invoking the Responsibility to Protect (…). Some still conflate R2P with an unfettered right to intervention. It is not. In fact, the Responsibility to Protect asks us to mobilize a range of responses that have nothing to do with intervention.
Some have also suggested that the Responsibility to Protect is merely a preoccupation of the West. (…). Let us remember that the African Union beat all of us to this principle. In 2000, its Constitutive Act invoked a concept of “non-indifference” in the face of grave crimes, and Article 4 of that Act authorized decisive AU action to put a halt to war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Let us also remember that the World Summit consensus on the Responsibility to Protect passed in very large part because of the determined advocacy of concerned African states. (...)
We must also resist the temptation to apply the concept too widely, even when we are moved by other instances of human suffering. (…) The power of R2P is precisely that it reminds us to act in the face of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. (…)
Second, we should not wait for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or ethnic cleansing to occur before we act. The potential for mass atrocities is greatest amid war and civil strife.(…)
Third, humanitarian requirements will often jostle with other legitimate policy concerns. (…) The urgency and complexity of the overall situation can distract us from addressing adequately any single imperative and, indeed, the reverse is also a risk.
The fourth challenge is the question of tactics. When mass atrocities erupt or loom, we must carefully weigh whether invoking the Responsibility to Protect will actually improve our chances of success. (…)
We are lucky to have the benefit of many efforts that help suggest the way ahead, including crucial work done by a wide array of NGOs and experts from around the globe, the Secretary-General’s report, and the report of the Genocide Prevention Task Force. (…)
Indeed, we must do more to prevent conflicts and reduce the risks that cause them. (…)
First are the linked questions of early warning, analysis, and decision-making. We must do more to ensure that a lack of information will never be a reason again for inaction. (…) And it should be channeled in real time to decision-makers who can do something about it.
Second, preventive diplomacy. (…) We need also greater surge capacity, closer cooperation among mediators, and better coordination between mediation and other tools of conflict management. And we need to redouble our efforts to forge the international unity it will take for mediation to succeed.
Third, peacekeeping. (…) We must make sure that peacekeepers have the help they need to prevent a fragile peace from breaking down, and we must invest in more effective and efficient peacekeeping that can protect civilians.(…)
Sometimes, an unfolding atrocity is so large or so fast that it can be quelled only by (…) operating outside the UN chain of command. (…) Only a handful of countries have this capacity at the ready, and even fewer can or will guarantee a response when called upon. Such governments, and regional organizations including NATO and the European Union, must take a hard look at their will and capacity.(…)
Fourth, we must put the bite back in sanctions. (…) he Security Council often finds it difficult to overcome member states’ reluctance to wield and fully implement sanctions on behalf of the victims of mass atrocities. (…) Sanctions can be an effective, if not always a flexible, targeted instrument, and we must seek to strengthen them.
(…) We still have much more to do to foster firm foundations for peace in societies that are trying to leave years of conflict behind them. (…). We need more flexible development funds that arrive sooner; early investments in the core capacities of a struggling state; international support for national efforts to reinforce the rule of law, demobilize ex-combatants and reform state security services. We need lasting support for victims (…) and an insistence that we not assume the job is done until the peace is secure.(…)
To conclude, the Responsibility to Protect is a duty that I feel deeply. I believe we must be voices for action in the face of genocide and mass atrocities, even if we are lonely ones.
(…)We must prepare for the likelihood that we will again face the worst impulses of human nature run riot.(...) And we must be ready.(…)
We all know the greatest obstacle to swift action in the face of sudden atrocity is, ultimately, political will. The hard truth is that stopping mass atrocities requires more than just the wisdom to see a way to save innocents from knives and the guns. It requires above all the courage and compassion to act. Together, let us all help one other to have and to act upon the courage of our convictions.
II. ICRtoP participation in RtoP Events around the world
1. EC Conference holds panel on RtoP and how to make the concept operational in the EU
Making the Difference: Strengthening capacities to respond to crises and security threats
Conference organized by the European Commission
Brussels, Belgium
3 – 4 June 2009
Sapna Chhatpar from the ICRtoP Secretariat participated in a panel entitled “Responsibility to Protect-Making the Concept Operational”, as part of the biannual conference sponsored by the European Commission called “Making the Difference: Strengthening capacities to respond to crises and security threats
Mr. Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive of International Crisis Group chaired the panel. The other five panelists include Ms Corlett Letlojane, Director, Human Rights Institute of South Africa; Mr Andrew Rathmell, Deputy Director, Directorate for Strategy and Policy Planning, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Prof Gary Bass, Princeton University; and Ms Kirstin De Peyron, Acting Head of Unit for UN affairs, Directorate General for External Relations, European Commission.
The six panelists covered a range of topics, including overall context and history of the norm, main challenges in operationalizing the norm, perspectives and recommendations from civil society, an introduction to the work of the European Commission on operationalizing RtoP, and perspectives from an EU Member State.
2. Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum (AMANI Forum) issues communiqué endorsing RtoP The Great AMANI Forum 2009 General Assembly
Nairobi, Kenya
15 – 17 June 2009
“Interrogating the Lessons Learned from Internal Displacement in the Great Lakes Region: Are We Achieving Sustainable Peace?”
The AMANI Forum 2009, hosted by the Kenyan Chapter in Nairobi on 16-17 June 2009, focused on policy trends towards the resolution of internal displacement and their contribution towards sustainable peace in the Great Lakes region. For the first time, the AMANI Forum issued a communiqué at the end of the even endorsing RtoP, including that:
“2. States have a collective responsibility to protect people from gross human rights violations, and where a state is shown to have committed or acquiesced in the commission of human rights violations, the international community ought to intervene;”
“6. Parliamentarians have a vital role to play to understand and popularize the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and to hold governments accountable;”
The forum included a panel on the Responsibility to Protect, panelists included Dismas Nkunda, co-director International Refugees Rights Initiative (ICRtoP Steering Committee Member) and close colleague Yitiha Simbeye, legal expert at the Open University of Tanzania. The AMANI Forum represents an important opportunity to spread information on the norm with parliamentarians and push for its implementation at the national level.
3. Conference on R2P Constituency building in the Philippines
Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Mandaluyong City
25 – 26 June 2009
The Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect will be holding a workshop on R2P Constituency Building in the Philippines. Multiple sessions will be held to discuss the norm and how to implement it, with the participation of civil society groups, ASEAN representatives and government officials from Australia and the Philippines. Gus Miclat from the Initiative for International Dialogue (IID) (ICRtoP Steering Committee Member) from in the Philippines will be participating in the conference. See the agenda and speaker list here.   
Click here for the report on the event.
III. Upcoming UN Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
1. HRW -- UN Security Council: Protect Civilians in Armed Conflict
Human Rights Watch
22 June 2009
The United Nations Security Council should make sure that its existing commitments to protect civilians during armed conflict are actually carried out, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to council member states.
On June 26, 2009, the Security Council will hold a debate to discuss its work on civilian protection, in which all UN members can participate. The Security Council has made numerous commitments to protect civilians in armed conflict, especially women and children, but often has failed to follow through and engage effectively, or sometimes at all, Human Rights Watch said. As a result, its efforts to end civilian suffering during armed conflict have been grossly inadequate. (…)
In its letter, Human Rights Watch identified the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Chad, and Sri Lanka as examples of nations in which the Security Council has failed to take meaningful action to address and prevent civilian suffering during armed conflict. Persistent problems needing attention in those countries include: sexual violence, lack of justice and accountability for abuses, continuing violence toward internally displaced people and refugees, and violations of international humanitarian law.
(…) The council should: ensure that the reporting requirements contained in Security Council Resolution 1820 on sexual violence and armed conflict (2008) are honored by UN field missions; require that human rights reporting by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN agencies is made public; and regularly invite the High Commissioner for Human Rights to brief the council with information from the ground.(…)
Full text of HRW Letter: Click here
2. Ban pushes for greater protection of civilians affected by armed conflict
UN News
7 June 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for more robust measures to protect civilians caught in the middle of armed conflict, noting the “appalling levels of human suffering” endured due to the failure of combatants to fully respect international law.
“Civilians still account for the vast majority of casualties and continue to be targeted and subjected to indiscriminate attacks and other violations by parties to conflict,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Mr. Ban said that “for all the reports, resolutions and actions of the last decade, the situation that confronts civilians in current conflicts is depressingly similar to that which prevailed in 1999,” when the Security Council took on the concern as a thematic issue.
The changing nature of combatants over the last 10 years, with a growing number of non-State armed factions in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia, has seriously endangered civilians as these groups “flagrantly violate international law” in a bid to overcome their military inferiority, said Mr. Ban. (…)
 “Common to old and new ones alike are persistent and sometimes appalling levels of human suffering owing to the fundamental failure of parties to conflict to fully respect and ensure respect for their obligations to protect civilians,” wrote Mr. Ban.
The failure of warring parties to respect “their legal obligations to protect civilians and spare them from the effects of hostilities” is a defining feature of most conflicts, leading to the death and injury of hundreds of civilians every week and forcing thousands more to flee their home to escape the violence, the report said.
The Secretary-General called for determined efforts to meet five critical challenges facing the protection of civilians in armed conflict: enhancing compliance to international law; enhancing compliance by non-State armed groups; enhancing protection through more effective and better resourced UN peacekeeping and other relevant missions; enhancing humanitarian access; and enhancing accountability for violations.
IV. Op-ed by Donald Steinberg in Schlossplatz Review
1. Stopping Mass Atrocities: Responsibility to Protect in Action
Schlossplatz Review
Donald Steinberg
June 2009
Donald Steinberg serves as Deputy President for Policy at International Crisis Group. He previously served as special assistant for African affairs to President Clinton and as U.S. Ambassador to Angola. He is a member of the board of the Women's Refugee Commission.
As each new conflict appears in the in-boxes of policymakers, the first question is whether this particular crisis warrants international engagement. The answer is a measure of "political will," (…)
But there is one set of issues where engagement is - at least in principle - pre-ordained. Under the concept of "responsibility to protect," unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly following the World Summit in 2005, world leaders pledged to take national and collective action to prevent and stop genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Responsibility to protect commits national leaders to safeguard their population from mass atrocities, and if they are unable or unwilling to do so, it commits the international community to assume the burden.
The year 2008 saw increased application of this concept to conflict prevention and resolution. Not only were structures for early warning, preventative diplomacy and early response adopted within the United Nations, governments and regional organizations, but the concept was increasingly used as a lens for viewing emerging crises. Its application - or in some cases, misapplication - in Kenya, Burma, Georgia, and Zimbabwe provided fascinating, although not entirely consistent, lessons.
When failed elections in Kenya in December 2007 were followed by vicious inter-ethnic riots in January, international actors asked if we were seeing the first stages of Rwanda-style genocide, and took pre-emptive action. (…) Then-African Union (AU) chairperson John Kufuor, Desmond Tutu, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and others soon descended on Nairobi. (…) team adopted a sophisticated approach to stop the escalating violence and create a framework and a national dialogue to address the underlying roots of the conflict (…). A power-sharing government was established and disaster averted. Those suggesting that responsibility to protect is a tool of the West should note that the intervention was designed and negotiated by Ghanaians, South Africans, Mozambicans and Tanzanians.(…)
Subsequently, in Myanmar, the military junta's first reaction in May 2008 to the worst natural disaster in the country's recorded history - Cyclone Nargis - was to keep out desperately needed foreign aid. It failed to launch a substantial relief operation and selectively blocked international access to the worst affected areas. (…) Quickly, many asked if these actions constituted a crime against humanity, justifying coercive international action. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the father of "humanitarian intervention," argued that if deaths resulted from the junta's refusal to allow aid, this could invoke intervention. While his proposal for a UN Security Council resolution was rejected by China, Russia, and others, the debate gave clarity to international outrage.(…)
A third case occurred involving responsibility to protect occurred when Russian troops crossed into South Ossetia and then Georgia proper in August 2008 and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin invoked the concept, arguing that the actions were designed to prevent genocide against South Ossetians. Almost in unison, the international community rejected this assertion as a diplomatic shell game. (…)In sum, the broad rejection of Russia's claims helped set the strict parameters for the concept's application.
Finally, as Zimbabwe descended into humanitarian, economic, and political crisis during 2008, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other African figures called for forceful international action in responsibility-to-protect terms. (…) But Zimbabwe displays disturbing limits on the use of responsibility to protect, especially in the absence of common support from regional actors. (…) Further, they admitted that coercive military action can do little to stop cholera, feed starving populations, return displaced persons, and rebuild hospitals, especially if faced with local armed resistance. (…)
While these four cases might be judged simplistically as three steps forward, one step back, the more important message is that fundamental steps are still required to translate responsibility to protect into effective action against mass atrocities. Advocates must seek global consensus, resist backsliding, and enshrine its principles in relevant international, regional and national institutions. They must view the concept neither too narrowly as only about military intervention, nor too widely as about all human security issues. They must build capacity in international institutions, regional organizations, governments, and civil society: civilian and military, preventive and reactive. And they must generate stronger political will to address new threats of mass atrocities. The agenda is daunting, but the stakes are too high to let it pass.
V. Sudan’s massacres no longer characterized as genocide
1. Sudan's 'Coordinated' Genocide in Darfur Is Over, U.S. Envoy Says
Washington Post Staff Writer
18 June 2009
President Obama's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, said Wednesday that the Sudanese government is no longer engaging in a "coordinated" campaign of mass murder in Darfur, marking a shift in the U.S. characterization of the violence there as an "ongoing genocide."
"What we see is the remnants of genocide," Gration told reporters at a briefing in Washington. "The level of violence that we're seeing right now is primarily between rebel groups, the Sudanese government and . . . some violence between Chad and Sudan."
Gration's remarks come as the Obama administration is finishing a review of its Sudan policy. The comments appeared to expose an emerging rift between Gration and Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who accused the Sudanese leadership of genocide as recently as two days ago.(…)
Speaking at the State Department, Gration announced plans to host an international conference in Washington on Tuesday to bolster a fragile peace deal between the government of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and leaders of the oil-rich southern region.(…)
Bashir's peace envoy, Gazi Salah Eddin, and Malik Agar, a representative of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement, were expected to arrive in Washington on Wednesday at the head of large delegations. They will be joined next week by officials from more than 32 countries and organizations, including the U.N. Security Council's five veto-wielding powers, and the foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Kenya.
Gration said the administration needs to resolve a series of thorny political problems before a 2011 referendum determining whether the South remains a part of Sudan or secedes. Those include wealth-sharing agreements over the region's vast oil reserves. "We need to get into the sprint mode," he said.
Advocates criticized Gration's assessment of the human rights situation. "It is incumbent that the special envoy sing from the same song sheet" as the rest of the administration, said John Norris, the executive director of Enough, a human rights advocacy group.(…)
On Tuesday, a U.N. human rights investigator, Sima Samar, accused Sudanese forces of continuing to carry out land and air attacks against civilians in Darfur, in violation of the world body's resolutions. She cited reports that Sudan's security forces have arrested and tortured human rights activist and aid workers.
Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, said the U.S. invitation signaled a major improvement in relations between the two countries. He expressed hope that the conference would reinvigorate peace efforts in Sudan and lead to new development aid. "This is about raising money," Abdalhaleem said. He said donors had pledged "more than $4 billion but the amount received is . . . almost none."
Thanks to Lan Shiow Tsai for compiling this website

Browse Documents by Region:

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
c/o World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
708 Third Avenue, Suite 1715, New York, NY 10017