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18 May 2010
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UN SG References RtoP in Human Security Report, ICG report on war crimes in Sri Lanka
 
1. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon discusses the role of RtoP in the future of global human security
 
1. International Crisis Group –War Crimes in Sri Lanka
1. Radhika Coomaraswamy—Responsibility to Protect: A Natural Humanitarian Response
2. Lord Chris PattenWhy British foreign policy will not change
 
1. United Nations University— The Responsibility to Protect Minorities and the Problem of the Kin-State
2. Brooking-Bern Project on Internal Displacement— Reconciling R2P with IDP Protection
3. The American Society of International Law— Responsibility to Protect Haiti
 
3-4 November 2010: Oxfam Australia –Early Warning for Protection:Technologies and practise for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes’.
 
 

 
 
1. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon discusses the role of RtoP in the future of global human security
8 April 2010
 
Summary of Report:
 
The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 143 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome (General Assembly resolution 60/1), in which the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to discuss and define the notion of humansecurity. The report provides an update on developments related to the advancement of human security since the 2005 World Summit. It takes stock of discussions on human security, its various definitions and its relationship to State sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect. The report also outlines the principles and the approach for advancing human security and its application to the current priorities of the United Nations. Key human security initiatives undertaken by Governments, regional and subregional intergovernmental organizations, as well as the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, are presented as examples of the reach of this important concept and its growing acceptance. The report concludes by identifying the core elements and the added value of human security and provides a set of recommendations as a follow-up to the above-mentioned commitment contained in the World Summit Outcome. Human security is based on a fundamental understanding that Governments retain the primary role for ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of their citizens. It is an invaluable tool for assisting Governments in identifying critical and pervasive threats to the welfare of their people and the stability of their sovereignty. It advances programmes and policies that counter and address emerging threats in a manner that is contextually relevant and prioritized. This helps Governments and the international community to better utilize their resources and to develop strategies that strengthen the protection and empowerment framework needed for the assurance of human security and the promotion of peace and stability at every level — local, national, regional and international.
 
Excerpts:
 
(…) B. Human security and the Responsibility to Protect 
 
23. As agreed in paragraph 143 of the World Summit Outcome, the purpose of human security is to enable all individuals to be free from fear and want, and to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential. The use of force is not envisaged in the application of the human security concept. The focus of human security is on fostering Government and local capacities and strengthening the resilience of both to emerging challenges in ways that are mutually reinforcing, preventive and comprehensive. 
 
24. Meanwhile, the Responsibility to Protect, as agreed upon by Member States in paragraphs 138 to 140 of the World Summit Outcome, focuses on protecting populations from specific cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleaning and crimes against humanity. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report on implementing the Responsibility to Protect (A/63/677), the international community, guided by the principles of the Charter, must do its part to prevent and limit the escalation of these cases. Such cases result in large and complex humanitarian crises that are costly in terms of human lives, loss of social capital and financial resources, and are more difficult to resolve later. (…)
 
 
 
1. War Crimes in Sri Lanka
International Crisis Group
17 May 2010
 
Executive Summary:
 
The Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repeatedly violated international humanitarian law during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. Although both sides committed atrocities throughout the many years of conflict, the scale and nature of violations particularly worsened from January 2009 to the government’s declaration of victory in May. Evidence gathered by the International Crisis Group suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.
 
This evidence also provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible. There is evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and its leaders as well, but most of them were killed and will never face justice. An international inquiry into alleged crimes is essential given the absence of political will or capacity for genuine domestic investigations, the need for an accounting to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, and the potential of other governments adopting the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency in their own internal conflicts.
Crisis Group possesses credible evidence that is sufficient to warrant an independent international investigation of the following allegations:
 
·       The intentional shelling of civilians. Starting in late January, the government and security forces encouraged hundreds of thousands of civilians to move into ever smaller government-declared No Fire Zones (NFZs) and then subjected them to repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages and other fire. This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties.
·       The intentional shelling of hospitals. The security forces shelled hospitals and makeshift medical centres – many overflowing with the wounded and sick – on multiple occasions even though they knew of their precise locations and functions. During these incidents, medical staff, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others continually informed the government and security forces of the shelling, yet they continued to strike medical facilities through May forcing civilians to abandon them.
·       The intentional shelling of humanitarian operations. Despite knowing the exact location of humanitarian operations and food distribution points, the security forces repeatedly shelled these areas, which were crowded with humanitarian workers, vehicles and supplies, and civilians. Many were killed or wounded trying to deliver or receive basic humanitarian assistance, including women, children and infants.
 
The consequences of the security forces’ shelling were made substantially worse by the government’s obstruction of food and medical treatment for the civilian population, including by knowingly claiming the civilian population was less than one third its actual size and denying adequate supplies.  (…) There is also strong evidence that the LTTE engaged in:
 
·       The intentional shooting of civilians. The LTTE fired on and killed or wounded many civilians in the conflict zone who were attempting to flee the shelling and cross into government-controlled areas.
·       The intentional infliction of suffering on civilians. The LTTE refused to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone, despite grave danger from shelling and lack of humanitarian supplies, even when the civilians were injured and dying. The LTTE also forcibly recruited many civilians to fight or serve as labourers and beat some family members who protested the recruitment.
 
(…) Among the other allegations that should be investigated are the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the execution by the security forces of those who had laid down their arms and were trying to surrender.
 
Much of the international community turned a blind eye to the violations when they were happening. Some issued statements calling for restraint but took no action as the government continually denied any wrongdoing. Many countries had declared the LTTE terrorists and welcomed their defeat. They encouraged the government’s tough response while failing to press for political reforms to address Tamil grievances or for any improvement in human rights. The eventual destruction of the LTTE militarily came at the cost of immense civilian suffering and an acute challenge to the laws of war. It also undermined the credibility of the United Nations and further entrenched a bitterness among Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere which may make a durable peace elusive. Now a number of other countries are considering “the Sri Lankan option” – unrestrained military action, refusal to negotiate, disregard for humanitarian issues – as a way to deal with insurgencies and other violent groups.
 
To recover from this damage, there must be a concerted effort to investigate alleged war crimes by both sides and prosecute those responsible. Sri Lanka is not a member state of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the UN Security Council is not likely to refer these crimes to the ICC in the short term. While some of the LTTE may go on trial in Sri Lanka, it is virtually impossible that any domestic investigation into the government or security forces would be impartial given the entrenched culture of impunity. A UN-mandated international inquiry should be the priority, and those countries that have jurisdiction over alleged crimes – including countries such as the U.S. where dual nationals or residents may be suspected – should vigorously pursue investigations. (…)
 
2. Responsibility to Protect: A Natural Humanitarian Response
The Island Online
UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy
26 April 2010
 
The following excerpts are from an op-ed addressed to Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights in Sri Lanka. The Op-ed responds to sharp criticism of Radhika Coomaraswamy’s interactions with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Sri Lanka and to discussions held at the time on whether crimes committed against civilians by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE from January-May 2009 reached the threshold of an RtoP situation.
 
(…) Responsibility to protect is rooted in the most basic of human impulses- the desire to protect the weak and the vulnerable and those who are at the receiving end of brutality. To say this is "western" is sometimes to imply that third world people do not have or value this basic impulse. Surely that cannot be true. Buddhism perhaps more than any other religion values the need to be compassionate to the weak. And it is not only western countries that have marched in to save others. We must remember that it was Tanzania that marched into Uganda to save its people from Idi Amin; that it was Vietnam that marched into Cambodia to save its people from Pol Pot and India into Bangladesh. In recent times, the terrible failure in Rwanda and the unilateral action in terms of Iraq is what prompted Secretary General Kofi Annan to try and develop a rational coherent doctrine that would guide international action, not leaving it to the whims and fancies of individual states.
 
Yes, Mr. Wijesinha, I am a strong proponent of this natural human impulse which has resulted in doctrines such as the responsibility to protect- though I completely agree with those who state that the how is also very important- how do we structure this doctrine so that it will be applied in fair and equitable manner. In discussing this issue we must also try and see what is best for the international system. Even in Sri Lanka, we do not know what the future holds- what if we are invaded and terrible massacres take place? What if Prabhakaran won the war and we had a fascist state in the North? We must not be so narrowly focused on our present interests that we do not see the bigger picture and the need for appropriate international measures.(…)
 
The attempt by many in Sri Lanka to day to depict human rights and the international struggle against war crimes as a western campaign does not do justice to so many in developing societies that have fought for freedom and justice. As I said the campaign against apartheid, the terrible disappearances in Latin America during military regimes, the campaign against torture were not only waged by western countries- these are collective struggles which we should not seek to diminish even if we are doing our job in defending the interests of the country. And what is sadder, all the commentaries on responsibility to protect and human rights, do not say a word about the victim.
 

 

As Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and now as Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict I have met so many victims of terrible violations and heinous crimes in every conflict zone in the world. These intellectual arguments on the responsibility to protect and sovereignty just ring hollow when you actually meet innocent victims. They are a reminder that sovereign nation states are not the only entitles that matter; there are victims. If we care about the world, we must create the conditions so that heinous violations do not occur and if they do occur that there is redress. We cannot become a nation of callous people and turn out back on human rights. Even in the rhetoric we use to defend national interest, do we need to be so insensitive to the suffering of people?

 
The other argument that is used and has some validity is the argument that there are double standards in the world and until everyone is equal we cannot support doctrines like the responsibility to protect. (…)
 
The solution to double standards and to protect national interest in terms of humanitarian military intervention is to ensure that structures will exist to prevent abuse. At the moment any such "military" action requires the vote of the Security Council. Only situations where everyone agrees, including China and Russia- would be eligible for such military intervention. One must agree that a situation where all five members would agree that there is a need for such intervention would be a particularly heinous situation. All members of the Council and the General Assembly, however, do believe in the first two pillars of R2P including the need for robust diplomacy. (…)
 
Responsibility to protect is now being discussed and its contours are at present being imagined and constructed. It is important that we be part of the debate. I have deliberately avoided any reference to Sri Lanka because I feel that our attitude to our own conflict colours what we feel about the doctrine. Now that the war is over, let us restore some sobriety and balance to our dealings with the outside world on issues such as these and let our diplomats be true to our values and have the freedom to work toward what is right not only for a future Sri Lanka but also for the world.
 
 
3. Why British foreign policy will not change
Financial Times
Lord Chris Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University 
3 May 2010

Lord Chris Patten discusses the foreign policy of the European Community with respect to multilateralism and the RtoP.

(...) What should the main role of [Europe's] foreign policy? Most problems we face require global co-operation, from the drug trade (that threatens to wreck Mexico) to terrorism (incubated in the world's failed states). This sort of co-operations is usually multi-lateralism and is institutionalised through the UN and its associated bodies. 
Without resiling from the job of trying to reform the UN, its is not unfair to note that it is better at normative diplomacy than at launching action on the ground. It overwhelmingly endorsed the principle of Responsibility to protect (to prevent atrocities) in 2005 but has been paralysed when political and diplomatic intervention has been required, for example to protect Tamil civilians in the Sri Lankan government campaign to wipe out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Moises Naim, Foreign Policy editor-in-cheif, has argued that most problems today require mini-lateralist not multi-lateralist solutions; smaller groups of countries come together to solve them rather than trying to mobilise all 192 UN members. This is true of the Group of 20 leading nations (which we should aim to link institutionally with the Bretton Woods institutions). It is likely to be true of nuclear proliferation and Iran. It is also true of terrorism and the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mini-lateralism will be required in Sudan, Congo and elsewhere. The aim of our foreign policy should be to place ourselves near the heart of this mini-lateralist process, invariably with like-minded European partners. Whether we can do that will depend heavily on the success of our economic policy. 

Read full oped
 
1. The Responsibility to Protect Minorities and the Problem of the Kin-State
United Nations University
Nicholas Turner and Nanako Otsuki
April 2010
 
Overview:
 
Genocide and ethnic cleansing have all too clearly demonstrated the dangers of failing to protect minority groups. A “kin-state” with strong ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic links to a minority population abroad, may be well-placed to assist in its protection. But unilateral interference by kin-states can raise tensions with host-states, endangering international peace and security.
 
If a state neglects its primary Responsibility to Protect minorities under its jurisdiction, the subsidiary responsibility lies with the international community as a whole, not the kin-state in particular. Kin-state interest in minorities abroad must be pursued through constructive engagement, rather than unilateral interference. At the same time, international and regional organizations must build domestic state capacity while strengthening the tools and political will to deliver timely collective responses when states fail in their responsibility. Bilateral and multilateral mechanisms alike can counter nationalist rhetoric and policies by emphasizing that a diverse, well integrated society is in the interest of both majorities and minorities.
 
Excerpts:
 
(…) Under international law, the protection of minority rights is clearly the responsibility of the state in which they reside. States may have an interest in “kin” living abroad, but no legal right of interference. But if the host-state fails to protect a minority group or groups, what role, if any, can the kin-state play? It is in this context that we turn to the R2P norm, which is particularly relevant to the protection of vulnerable communities, and can therefore provide some guidance on the possibilities and limits for states to play a legal and legitimate role in the protection of their kin minorities abroad. (…)
 
Affirmed by the UN General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit, the R2P norm emerged to reconcile the seemingly intractable tensions between state sovereignty and the need for robust
action to halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. R2P firmly places primary responsibility for protection of peoplefrom these atrocity crimes with the
state. If the state is unwilling or unable to fulfil this responsibility, it falls to the international community to take appropriate action to protect threatened populations—with the
possibility of coercive measures including intervention. R2P can be seen as the culmination
of an evolution towards sovereignty as responsibility, away from the historical conception of sovereignty as a function of power or control over territory. Whereas in the past states could
invoke the shield of sovereignty to commit atrocities with impunity, sovereignty no longer implies a licence to kill. Unfortunately in practice there remain large gaps in the implementation
of and compliance with R2P; its only widely recognized success being Kofi Annan’s mediation in Kenya to end the post-election violence of December 2007–January 2008. At the same time, the doctrine is also vulnerable to misuse, as by Russia in the 2008 conflict with Georgia over South
Ossetia. R2P understandably attracts most attention related to its provision for intervention to halt atrocity crimes. However the R2P norm is more than a mere substitute for humanitarian intervention, rather, it entails a threefold responsibility to prevent, react, and rebuild. Here the emphasis is on the responsibility to prevent such significant abuses occurring in the first place, so intervention is not required—a priority reaffirmed in the 2009 report of the UN Secretary-General on implementing R2P. (…)
 
Effectively mobilizing international efforts requires accurate risk assessment and early warning for minority-related conflicts. Recognizing the need to strengthen and improve the coordination of these mechanisms within the UN system, in his 2009 report on R2P the Secretary-General proposed establishing a joint office on genocide prevention and R2P, bolstering the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. However, these initiatives will need to overcome political resistance from member states desperate to avoid such scrutiny. The Secretary-General’s report also rightly emphasizes the need to ensure the two-way exchange of information and analysis with regional organizations, bringing local knowledge and perspectives to UN decision making. Inputs from other institutions should also be incorporated, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which acknowledged the link between discrimination and ethnic conflict by setting up an early warning mechanism for cases in which international peace and security may be at risk. Although it issued urgent warnings in the contexts of Yugoslavia and Darfur, these concerns were not acted upon until violence erupted. This underlines the need to ensure that effective early warning mechanisms are complemented with a strong capacity to implement timely, collective responses when necessary, if we are to avoid the risk of further such atrocities in future. (…)
 
 
2. Responsibility to Protect Haiti
American Society of International Law, Insight
Linda A. Malone
10 March 2010
 
Introduction:
 
On January 12, 2010, a massiveearthquake struck Haiti, essentiallydestroying the Haitian governmentinfrastructure. According to remarks byRene Magloire, former Minister ofJustice and Special Advisor to thePresident and Ministry of Justice, thepresidential palace, the ministry ofjustice building, and the legislativepalace were destroyed. Police stationsand prisons were damaged, allowing thousands of detainees and prisonersto escape. More than 200 thousand died, more than 300 thousand wereinjured, more than 450 thousand became refugees, more than 400 thousandhomes were destroyed, more than 120 thousand homes damaged, and morethan a million people were left without shelter.For five years Magloire andother justice officials had been working on re-establishing the Haitian judicialsystem and the rule of law.
 
Earthquakes, tsunamis, and climate disruption have focused internationalattention on environmental disasters, natural and anthropogenic, and theability of the global community to respond adequately and immediately. ThisInsight surveys the structures for consensual relief efforts by states and theUnited Nations, accepted international norms for humanitarian intervention inenvironmental disasters, and how these norms might be modified byinternational recognition of the Responsibility to Protect. (…)
 
 
3. Reconciling R2P with IDP Protection
Brooking-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
Roberta Cohen
25 March 2010
 
Introduction:

The concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) developed in large measure from efforts to design an international system to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs). 

The explosion of civil wars emanating from and following the Cold War brought into view millions of persons inside their own countries who were uprooted from their homes and in need of international protection and assistance. Many has little or not access to food, medicine or shelter and were vulnerable to assault, sexual violence, and all manner of human rights abuse. 

When first counted in 1982, 1.2 million IDPs could be found in 11 countries; by 1995, the number has surged to [more than] 20 million. 

The international system, however, set up after the Second World War, focused almost exclusively on refugees - persons who fled across borders to escape persecution. The 1951 Refugee Convention and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided international protection to people who were outside their countries of origin and deprived of the protection of their own governments. As UNICEF's Executive Director observed, 'The world has established a minimum safety net for refguees,' but 'This is not yet the case with respect to internally displaced populations.' (...)

Concepts of human security, sovereignty as responsibility and the Responsibility to Protect developed in large measure in response to the need of IDPs and other affected civilians for protection from the gross violations of human rights perpetrated in civil wars and internal strife. 

This articles examines the origins of R2P from the perspective of IDP protection and identifies the problems that arise in applying the concept to displaced persons. It then offers suggestions for reconciling R2P with IDPs so that the concept may benefit displaced persons, as was intended. (...)
 
 
 
1. Early Warning for Protection
Oxfam Australia
Bangkok, Jakarta or Manila
3-4 November 2010
 
Oxfam Australia is hosting a 2 day, Asia-Pacific Conference on the 3rd and 4th November 2010, entitled ‘Early Warning for Protection: Technologies and practise for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes’. This conference will explore how private, public and civil-society institutions can harness early warning technologies and mechanisms to contribute to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes.  
 
The Early Warning for Protection conference will explore a number of issues.
 
What is the role of new technologies in conflict early warning and how do they interact with more traditional monitoring systems?
How can we harness, coordinate, and utilise the sometimes overwhelming amount of information available?  
What systems and mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure effective early-warning is given?
How does the humanitarian sector work effectively with communities at risk once early-warning has been sounded?
How can a change in attitude and behaviour at a policy level be brought about in a way that forestalls a descent to violence?
 
The conference will bring together both technology and early-warning specialists, and members of the international humanitarian community concerned with the protection of vulnerable populations and the prevention of mass atrocity crimes.  These will include specialists from the UN and regional organisations, non-government organisations, scholars, government representatives and affected communities.

The conference falls within the context of the international community’s Responsibility to Protect, which is the new international norm developed to protect vulnerable populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
 
Please put this event in your calendars for the 3rd and 4th November 2010, as registrations will open shortly. This conference will be held in either Bangkok, Jakarta or Manila, with the venue to be advised. Only 150 places will be available. To register an expression of interest, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it      
 
For the latest information on the event, please visit http://www.oxfam.org.au/act/events/early-warning-for-protection
 

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