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 [RtoP News] Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide; Cote d'Ivoire: Violence continues with heavy toll on the population; Libya: NATO seeks to protect Libyan civilians

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1 April 2011
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I. 17th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide
1. Ban ki-Moon message for commemoration of Rwandan Genocide reflects on RtoP, international justice and role of regional organizations in ensuring 'never again'
2. Rwandan Ambassador reflects on recent progress at the UN to protect populations; commends Security Council on Cote d’Ivoireand Libya
 
1. International Crisis Group – International Community must pull Cote d’Ivoire from the   abyss
2. Human Rights Watch – Ouattara should act to control troops
3. New York Times: Dan Bilfsky – Recent U.N. actions show policy shift, analysts say
4. The Guardian: Ian Birrell – Gbagbo must go: World needs to get tough with Africa’s ‘strong men’
 
1. CNN interview with Mark Malloch Brown: The month that remade multilateralism
2. Thomas Weiss –The UN has proved its worth in Libya and Ivory Coast
3. Institute for National Security Studies – The International Action in Libya: Revitalizing the Responsibility to protect
4. Foreign Policy in Focus: Robert Naiman and Ian Williams –Strategic Dialogue: Libya War
5. Gulf Times: Sheri Rosenberg –The Responsibility to Protect: Libya and beyond
6. Michael Abramowitz – Libya intervention shows shift in thinking about mass atrocities
 
 

 
 
On 7 April 2011, the United nations held its annual commemoration of the Rwanda genocide at UN Headquarters and at UN Information Centres around the world, under the theme: “Rebuilding Rwanda: Reconciliation and Education”. The activities in New York were organized by the UN Outreach Programme on the Rwanda genocide in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of theRepublic of Rwanda to the UN and included a Memorial Ceremony and a Student Conference featuring Mr. Francis Deng.
 
Powerful testimony was delivered by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan genocide survivor, along with a poignant opening from Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to the UN. Recalling recent words from President Kagame, Ambassador Gasana said “No country knows better than my own the costs of the international community failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people”. He continued that “Rwanda therefore commends the UN Security Council for its lessons learned from Rwanda and fully supports resolutions adopted to protect civilians in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, as it is known, indifference and inaction are never on the side of the victim but always on the side of the oppressor.” 
 
 
1. Message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations: Lessons from Rwanda
7 April 2011
 
Today, we honour the memory of more than 800,000 people murdered in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Our thoughts are also with the survivors, left to rebuild shattered communities and an entire nation. (…)
The United Nations is committed to preventing the recurrence of similar tragedies. The recognition of the collective failure of the international community to come to the assistance of the people of Rwanda, and to shield the victims of the wars in the Balkans, led to the endorsement by the 2005 World Summit of the responsibility to protect. Recent measures by the Security Council in response to the crisis in Libya, in particular the adoption of Resolutions 1970 and 1973, mark a significant step along this path.
 
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court and other international courts are sending a strong signal that the world will not tolerate impunity for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. My Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to protect monitor developments worldwide looking for early signs of risk. We must remain ever vigilant.
 
The 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development for the Great Lakes Region includes a protocol on the prevention and punishment of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. I encourage all the countries of the Great Lakes region to fully implement it. I also encourage them to expedite the arrest and prosecution of the remaining fugitives of the 1994 genocide, including Mr. Felicien Kabuga.
 
Preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility. Rwanda’s survivors have made us confront the ugly reality of a preventable tragedy. The only way to truly honour the memory of those who perished in Rwanda 17 years ago is to ensure such events can never occur again.
 
 
2. Statement by H.E. Ambassador Eugène-Richard GASANA Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations
UN Mission of Rwanda
7 April 2011
 
Only the most depraved of humanity would disagree with the right to remember the victims and the responsibility to protect targeted populations from future genocide. But how do we translate sincere sentiment into a fortress against the ever present threat of extermination? Remembering and learning from the past, educating in the present, and advocating for the future will gain results that have eluded us so far.
 
Therefore, armed with the lessons of the past, it is now our responsibility to shatter the great conspiracy of silence and to break down the walls of indifference and inaction — to stand against hatred and divisionism so that evil will not triumph again, despite the wisdom gained after reflecting on the systems and circumstances that lead to the loss of those whose memory we honor today.
 
As H.E. President Paul Kagame said, “No country knows better than my own the costs of the international community failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people”. Rwanda therefore commends the UN Security Council for its lessons learned from Rwanda and fully supports resolutions adopted to protect civilians in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, as it is known, indifference and inaction are never on the side of the victim but always on the side of the oppressor. 
 
On Libya, President Kagame clearly stated that: “Given the overriding mandate of Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect Libyan civilians from state-sponsored attacks, Rwanda can only stand in support of it. Our responsibility to protect is unquestionable — this is the right thing to do, and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction”. 
 
(…) I thank the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon for his tireless efforts for genocide prevention, including by appointing a Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide and a Special Adviser for the Responsibility to Protect. He has boldly advocated giving real meaning to the responsibility to protect concept by taking steps to make it operational.
 
In closing, let me also remind you of “The Legacy of Holocaust Survivors and the Pledge of Acceptance of the Second Generation,” that was written in Yiddish by Elie Wiesel:
 
“We remember — and we pledge — and this must not be a matter of rhetoric but must be a commitment to action — that never again will we be indifferent to incitement and hate; that never again will we be silent in the face of evil; that never again will we indulge racism and anti-semitism; that never again will we ignore the plight of the vulnerable; that never again will we be indifferent in the face of mass atrocity and impunity”.
 
 
 
Atrocities committed against civilians and further attacks on UNOCI
Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara seized the city of Duékoué last week which, on March 29, became the location of the worst atrocities reported since the start of electoral violence. On 1 April, a group of UN human rights experts warned about gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, sexual violence, and extrajudicial killings that may “be tantamount to international crimes, of which the International Criminal Court may take action.” An immediate resolution to the crisis is needed to protect civilians and prevent continued large-scale massacres and abuses of human rights. 
 
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that at least 800 civilians were killed and tens of thousands fled the brutal attack in which most victims appeared to have been Gbagbo supporters. The ICRC condemned the attack on civilians, which it stated were “particularly shocking in its size and brutality”, and reminded all parties of their obligation to protect the population of the territory under their control. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) received reports that both sides committed human rights violations and on 1 April the spokesperson stated that reports suggest that Ouattara’s loyalists “had engaged in looting and extortion, as well as serious human rights violations such as abductions, arbitrary arrests and ill treatment of civilians.” Mr. Ouattara denied responsibility for the attacks, and told Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 2 April that he launched an investigation into the crimes and would welcome an international inquiry.
 
UNOCI peacekeepers were also targeted and on 2 April four UNOCI peacekeepers were wounded after they came under fire by forces loyal to Gbagbo. The UN issued a statement condemning the attacks and warned that those responsible would be punished.
 
Regional Responses to increasing horrors
The African Union (AU) issued a press release on April 1 that reiterated the AU’s urgent call for Gbagbo to relinquish power and reaffirmed the AU’s commitment to the promotion of reconciliation, democracy and peace. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued a much stronger press release on 5 April that expressed “its horror at the reported massacre”. ECOWAS stated that it would “actively support any action to bring the perpetrators to justice at the appropriate time.” Furthermore, the statement denounced the use of civilians as human shields, and reiterated “that those who incite unarmed civilians to risk their lives needlessly will be held accountable for their action.”
 
Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response issued a statement on 4 April that expressed her alarm at the degree of violence and her concern about the spill-over impact of the conflict on regional states. She appealed to Gbagbo and Ouattara to “allow the help of humanitarian workers” to prevent the country from “slipping further into a civil war,” and reaffirmed the commitment of the European Commission to mobilize emergency aid to assist with the humanitarian response. The EU issued additional sanctions including a ban on the provision of loans to the Gbagbo as well as a restriction on the purchase of bonds and securities from Gbagbo.
 
Secretary-General authorizes UNOCI to take “all necessary steps” to protect civilians
In an effort to protect civilians in Abidjan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed UNOCI to take “the necessary measures to prevent the use of heavy weapons against the civilian population, with the support of the French forces”, in accordance with UN Resolution 1962. A military operation began as of 5pm local time on 4 April, and UN peacekeepers and French forces have sincefired on Gbagbo’s troops and heavy weapons stockpiles to prevent them from using heavy weapons on civilians.  
 
The office of the prosecutor of the ICC has been analyzing information on last week’s massacre and will request to open a formal investigation. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said states to help him speed up the process by referring the situation to the ICC.
 
How much longer will peace be delayed?
As Ouattara loyalists have launched an offensive encircling the Gbagbo amid possible negotiations for a ceasefire, mass killings and extreme violence targeting civilians must immediately stop. International Crisis Group, in its 3 April release stated: “the situation in Cote d’Ivoire is as urgent as any facing the international community right now. The unthinkable is unfolding before our eyes, and in a region where the world has invested so much in peace and security in recent years. Action must be bold, effective and immediate.”
 

1. International community must pull Cote d’Ivoire from the abyss
International Crisis Group
3 April 2011
 
(…) Mass killings and extreme violence are unfolding in Abidjan. Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war between forces supporting president elect Alassane Ouattara and those loyal to Laurent Gbagbo has deteriorated into major urban warfare in the commercial capital. In other parts of the country, particularly in the western city of Duékoué, where large-scale massacres have already occurred, the death toll could reach thousands within days. Gbagbo has now called for full military mobilisation to protect his palace and other key installations as a last-stand effort.
 
The situation demands an immediate ceasefire by both parties to avoid further massive civilian casualties, and Gbagbo’s acceptance of Ouattara as president. (…)
 
(…) In addition, the following steps should be taken: 
·   The UN mission (ONUCI) must deploy all its available formed police units (FPUs) within Abidjan, as well as military troops, and reinforce its presence in the west of the country, particularly in and around Duékoué, Guiglo, Blolequin, Toulepleu and Daloa. Troop contributing countries should also accelerate deployment of soldiers up to their maximum mandated capacity of 11,000 (as opposed to 9,000 on the ground now). 
·   The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union should mobilise all international partners, including the EU and the US, to bolster ONUCI’s efforts. 
·   Ouattara, the Forces républicaines and its commanders, including Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and their regional sponsors, should take all measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. They should understand that international support for Ouattara’s election victory, and his legitimacy, will quickly evaporate if their military campaign becomes responsible for mass atrocity crimes. 

See full article.
 
2. Cote d’Ivoire: Ouattara should act to control troops
Human Rights Watch
2 April 2011
 
(…) Alassane Ouattara should take concrete measures to ensure that troops under his command fighting in Côte d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan, do not commit reprisals or other abuses against civilians or supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, Human Rights Watch said today. Ouattara should publicly pledge to hold accountable all members of his forces implicated in serious violations of international law, Human Rights Watch said. (…)
 
(…) Human Rights Watch called on Ouattara and commanders of the Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire to:
·   Publicly order all members of their forces, regardless of rank, to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. Commanders should be aware that they can be held criminally responsible for failing to prevent or punish criminal acts by their subordinates; 
·   Take all necessary measures to ensure the humane treatment of anyone in custody, including captured combatants from Gbagbo's forces, and allow access by international and domestic monitors; and 
·   Investigate cases of extrajudicial executions and other serious abuses and hold perpetrators accountable after fair proceedings in accordance with international standards. (…) 

See full article.
 
3. Recent U.N. Actions Show Policy Shift, Analysts Say
New York Times
Dan Bilfsky
6 April 2011
 
The unusual military strikes by the United Nations against military bases of the Ivory Coast’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, represent a seminal moment in which an organization generally disinclined to intervene forcefully in the affairs of member states is showing a new willingness to take bold action to save lives, diplomats and analysts said.
 
After weeks of the United Nations’ equivocating, Alain Le Roy, head of the organization’s peacekeeping operations, on Monday night framed the decision to intervene both as a moral choice and military and legal imperative: Mr. Gbagbo should be stopped from using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns against civilians and international peacekeepers. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said intervention was necessary to protect lives, even as he sought to emphasize that the United Nations was not a party to the conflict. (...)
 
(...)They said Libya had at least temporarily eclipsed some of the divisive debates of the past about whether humanitarian intervention could be viewed as a guise for imperialism. In stressing the United Nations’ supporting role, Mr. Ban chose his words carefully for fear of feeding into a claim by Mr. Gbagbo, that Alassane Ouattara, the man who beat him in elections last year and is battling to assume the presidency, is a tool of the French. (...)
 
(...)Yet Mr. Birnback said that the Ivory Coast action showed the extent to which the United Nations’ legal and moral commitment to protect civilians now held sway over key permanent Security Council members, including France, Britain and the United States. Diplomats noted that even Russia and China, which in the past have avoided interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations, were persuaded to support the resolution on the Ivory Coast and also did not veto military action in Libya.
 
The emerging consensus to take action to prevent violence against civilians should be viewed against the backdrop of a resolution adopted in 2005 to help the United Nations intervene to stop genocide. The resolution held nations responsible for shielding citizens from atrocities and established the right of international forces to step in if nations did not fulfill this “responsibility to protect.”
 
The resolution was supposed to overcome debates within the organization between those who argue that the international community has the right to intervene to prevent atrocities and those who say the concept of state sovereignty, recognized in the United Nations Charter, is sacrosanct.
 
“There is a new trend in the Security Council in which the responsibility to protect principle is gaining a new hold,” said Stéphane Crouzat, spokesman for the French mission to the United Nations. Invoking past conflicts in Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia, he added: “There is a desire to intervene before war crimes or ethnic cleansing can take place.”
 
See full article
 
4. Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo must go – And so should other African leaders who overstay
The Guardian
Ian Birrell
5 April 2011
 
(…) Almost all the blame for the chaos can be laid at Gbagbo's feet. The former academic rejected efforts to resolve the tensions while he and his supporters stoked up ethnic and religious divisions with inflammatory language against Ouattara – a northern Muslim – and his supporters and unleashed a campaign of terror. Gbagbo deserves to answer for this in the international criminal court.
 
Now, with fighting on the streets of the commercial capital, Abidjan, and defections of key allies, an end to this crisis may be in sight. We must hope so, as medicines run out and families dare not leave their homes to buy food. But Ouattara has questions to answer. He has done little to reassure southerners that he would govern in their interests – and the discovery that perhaps 1,000 people were slaughtered last week in a district of Duékoué under the control of his supporters will only increase fears.
 
It will be hard to rebuild trust given recent events, especially just eight years after the civil war. But there are clear lessons to learn. Although the international community displayed rare unanimity against Gbagbo, demanding he respect the election result, diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis were hesitant. The African Union prevaricated, while the rest of the world fleetingly focused on the curiosity of the besieged winner holed up in a plush hotel, then turned away as the Arab spring erupted. It took until last week for the UN Security Council to finally adopt a tough stance against Gbagbo and his cronies.
 
What a contrast with Libya, where the UN Security Council rapidly passed one of its strongest resolutions in years, invoking its "responsibility to protect" to authorise military action. Sadly, despite the presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers, there seems to have been no shared sense of responsibility to protect the people of Ivory Coast. (…)
 
There are 19 elections due in Africa over the next 18 months, including a critical poll this week in Nigeria. There needs to be a far tougher line against despots who refuse to be dislodged. The African Union must show leadership while the west should stop showering them in aid and selling them weapons. Just as in the countries north of the Sahara, new generations need leaders who represent them, not repress them. (…)
 
 
 
Since March 28th, NATO has fully taken command of “Operation Unified Protector”, mandated to ensure the protection of civilians as per Resolution 1970 and 1973 of the UN Security Council. As fighting between Quaddafi’s forces and the rebels continued in Misrata and around Brega, General Mark van Uhm, a senior NATO staff officer, said in a press conference on 5 April that Qadaffi’s forces were positioned in highly populated areas and were using civilians as human shields, making it difficult to distinguish between civilians and military. This week NATO also recalled at a press conference, that the efforts by the Coalition and NATO, having already destroyed 30% of Qadaffi’s military capacity, would attack any force threatening civilians in full compliance with Resolution 1973, and would maintain a close and transparent dialogue with international and regional organizations.  
 
On 1 April the Transitional National Council (TNC) offered conditions for a ceasefire, demanding that Qadaffi withdraw forces and allow “peaceful protests”. The proposal was rejected, and Qadaffi’s son Seif al-Islam, supported by his brother Saadi offered to oversee a transition to a constitutional democracy that would include their father’s removal from power. This was then rejected by the TNC. Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini also dismissed the offer, stating that the proposals were not credible, and formally recognized the TNC a legitimate authority. Italy is now the third state, in addition to France and Qatar to have formally recognized the TNC as a legitimate authority.
 
Meanwhile, Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that ICC investigation into Libya has found evidence that the killing of civilians was a pre-determined plan to quash the protests.
 
Humanitarian Situation
OCHA increased calls for access to populations in North-West Libya to deliver much needed humanitarian aid, and expressed concern over the increasing number of land mines being placed by Qadaffi forces. Human Rights Watch described the urgent need for emergency mine risk education, safeguarding weapons depots under rebel control, mine clearance, and the marking and disposal of explosive ordnance, as rebel weapon strongholds remain unguarded and landmines endanger civilians.
 
On April 1st, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision that would enable EUFOR military operation, if requested by OCHA as part of Resolution 1970 and 1973, “to contribute to the safe movement and evacuation of displaced persons”, and “to support humanitarian agencies”. Meanwhile, 13,000 people remain stranded in camps and at transit points along the Libyan border and in neighboring countries.   
 
A Willingness to Protect
Several articles this week note that while the willingness from Member States to take timely action to protect civilians in Libya was welcome, questions remain about how the unfolding engagement in Libya will affect long-term support for RtoP, especially if the intervention leads to an intractable situation with additional civilian deaths. Several commentators raise questions about how RtoP can be applied in a consistent manner to other contexts where mass atrocities are imminent or occurring. In this light, is worth reiterating that 1) all states have a continuing responsibility to protect their populations from these crimes and 2) the RtoP toolbox contains a range of measures (diplomatic, economic, political), with use of force only as a last resort.
 

1. The month that remade multilateralism
CNN: Global Public Space
7 April 2011
Interview by Amar C. Bakshi
 
Mark Malloch Brown, who has served as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and a deputy UK Foreign Minister, and who recently published the book The Unfinished Global Revolution, says the United Nations has made great gains over the past few weeks, but must ensure that the fragile coalition supporting international intervention does not unravel.
 
Libya followed by Ivory Coast – what does this mean for the United Nations?
 
Mark Malloch Brown: It has been a good few weeks for multilateralism in the United Nations - two Security Council Resolutions, both of which have deployed this relatively new doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. In the case of Libya explicitly; in the case of Côte d'Ivoire by implication, because in both resolutions was a mandate to do - by whatever means it took - the necessary things to protect the lives of civilians against their abusive governments.
 
And this is pretty major because you know if there’s been one stumbling block to a more assertive UN in the area of politics and peacekeeping it’s been this doctrine of national sovereignty in the charter and an absolute kind of wind-break for many years on action inside countries without that country’s own expressed permission.
 
(…) I have to say that already in the UN you can see the backlash with a number of ambassadors denying that this really was theResponsibility to Protect mission - that it was a limited no-fly zone approved by the Arab League in the case of Libya, and that Western powers and their allies have abused and expanded it in ways which undermine its integrity.
 
I think there’s a warning there and I believe it’s really important that the West declare victory if you like, say the no-fly zones work, keep it in place to make sure civilian lives remain protected, but return the next stage of this to a political-diplomatic approach, which reunites the international community around removing Gadhafi as a threat to international peace and securing the transition to a government that Libyans choose for themselves, but drawing an absolute line that there will not be further overt external military involvement inside Libya itself….
 
I think at this stage we’ve got to make it clear that the humanitarian situation has been stabilized; it must be kept that way. But it’s time now for diplomacy, sanctions - a real effort to peel away Gadhafi supporters to engage what’s left in the regime in a discussion about how they leave, on what terms.  not risk dividing the international community by pushing our luck and pushing Resolution 1973 beyond its natural boundaries.
 
How would you respond to that criticism that this is just going to allow violence to fester?
 
Well I think that by continuing military operations that actually risks an even longer stalemate. (…) a series of really tough political steps at the Security Council all collectively agree on:
·   seating the transitional government as a recognized government of Libya;
·   giving it access to the oil revenue and the frozen assets outside the country;
·   proceeding with the war crimes case against Gadhafi and those around him;
·   and reaching out to the clans that support him and promising them that their interests and their safety will be secure if there is    
    a change of leadership in Tripoli. 

These tactics can get us to the solution we all want I think more quickly than the military approach but more critically it keeps the international community together. And that’s key because we cannot look at Libya in isolation. We have a whole series of challenges through the North Africa and Middle East region from Syria to Bahrain to Yemen and perhaps others, and we cannot allow the international community to get divided…. We need everybody to be on the same page of pressing for peaceful, evolutionary change towards democracy in a way that protects life, promotes choice, but doesn’t lead to violence.
 
 
2. The UN has proved its worth in Libya and Ivory Coast
The Independent
Thomas Weiss
 6 April 2011
 
Thomas Weiss is a presidential professor of political science at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and the director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International studies and is the author of 'What's Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix It
 
The United Nations has demonstrated its utility in Libya and belatedly in the Ivory Coast.
The late American diplomat Richard Holbrooke quipped that blaming the UN for lousy performances was like blaming the hapless NY Knicks basketball team on their arena MadisonSquareGarden. Governments sometimes make quick use of the UN arena and demonstrate the political will to protect human beings, and sometimes they do not.
 
The installation of Mr Ouatarra and the surrender of Mr Gbagbo followed a half-year of dawdling as the disaster unfolded. Three times in March, the UN Security Council menaced the loser of the 2010 elections and repeated its authorisation to "use all necessary means to carry out its mandate to protect civilians". But UN soldiers did little until this week.
 
Gbagbo's intransigence and the unwillingness to apply significant armed force by UN peacekeepers facilitated the slow-moving train wreck. Was it necessary to enable war crimes and crimes against humanity, some one million refugees, and a ravaged economy?
 
Let's be clear: military force is not a panacea, and its use is not a cause for celebration. At the same time, the deployment of military force for human protection was largely absent from the international agenda until the action against Libya last month. Mustering the cross-cultural political will is never going to be easy, but Libya may be pivotal for the evolving norm of theresponsibility to protect, agreed at the 2005 World Summit. (...)
 
(...)As the situations in Tripoli and elsewhere across the wider Middle East unfold, acute dilemmas for humanitarians and policymakers will remain. If the Libyan intervention goes well, it will put teeth in the fledgling responsibility to protect doctrine; and if the Libyan intervention goes badly, it will redouble international opposition and make future decisions more difficult. But for the moment, spoilers are on the defensive. (...)

See full article
 
3. Strategic Dialogue: Libya War
Robert Naiman and Ian Williams
Foreign Policy in Focus
5 April 2011
 
In the second part of our strategic dialogue on the Libya War, Robert Naiman and Ian Williams respond to their initial essays. You can read the original essays here: Naiman’s anti-intervention essay Surprise War for Regime Change in Libya is the Wrong Path and Ian Williams’ pro-intervention essay Armchair Anti-Imperialists and Libya.
 
Ian Williams
(…) The default American position is usually isolationist, and the Good Samaritan is not a popular parable in American political discourse. It was not the White House that started the operation. The Libyan plea went to the Security Council of the United Nations – with the support of much of the Libyan diplomatic corps, one might point out.  The UN resolution does not call for a no-fly zone.  It called directly for military intervention to protect civilians – and to assuage those justifiably wary of US involvement in the region afterIraq, or indeed Susan Rice’s veto of the resolution against Israeli settlements, it precluded occupying forces.
 
(…) It is indeed entirely possible that the respite awarded the rebels will result in regime change. And why is that a bad thing? This regime responded to peaceful demonstrations demanding popular power by gunning down its own people. This regime accepted the validity of the UN resolution and immediately declared a ceasefire, just before launching indiscriminate air and artillery attacks on its own cities.
 
If Hugo Chavez’s negotiations had delayed the attacks on Gaddafi’s tanks, Benghazi and its citizenry would today be a smoldering pile.  The International Criminal Court referral was intended to send a message to Gaddafi that there would be consequences, that he had no impunity. He ignored that message.  Is there a way to protect civilians that leaves intact a dictatorial regime that has pledged bloody vengeance against its own citizenry?
 
(…) When people cry for help you do what you can. And yes, what happened in Bahrain is shameful, even though the regime has yet to use airpower and artillery against its own city. So rather than opposing intervention in Libya, it would be much more constructive to call on the United States to cut off relations with Bahrain, or indeed Saudi Arabia, until the repression stops. But opposition is always easy, while calling for action involves taking responsibility for the results.
 
Robert Naiman
(…)  Williams suggests that "Libyans" support the current Western military intervention. Indeed, some Libyans do support it. Other Libyans do not. Clearly, many Libyans in Benghazi support the current Western military intervention. Just as clearly, many Libyans inTripoli and Sirte don't support the current Western military intervention. If we care about the opinions of "Libyans," it's not obvious why the opinions of these Libyans in Tripoli and Sirte should count for zero.
 
(…) Williams appears to be unconcerned by, and indeed to welcome, the morphing of the military intervention from "protecting civilians" to "regime change." But indifference to or support of this transformation would make a mockery of any kind of accountability for Western military operations.
 
You could sell public opinion on one thing, obtain a UN Security Council resolution, and then do something else entirely. This would mean that "Responsibility to Protect" would become "unlimited license to do anything." One might think those who support the principle of "Responsibility to Protect" would see this as a threat to the invocation of this principle in the future. I was more sympathetic to "Responsibility to Protect" before I saw how it was used in this case; if the conclusion of the current military operation is military regime change rather than a negotiated solution, I will hold that against future invocations of "Responsibility to Protect." (…)
 
This means we must insist that Security Council resolutions not give carte blanche in theory or practice and that sharp distinctions be maintained between "protecting civilians" and other measures undertaken and considered, such as supporting rebel military advances with air strikes, attacking military forces not engaged in attacking civilians or poised to do so, arming rebels, and military regime change. 
 
 
4. The International Action in Libya: Revitalizing the Responsibility to protect
Institute for National Security Studies
Benedetta Berti Gallia Lindenstrauss  
5 April 2011
 
The success in passing Resolution 1973 in the UN Security Council (UNSC) on March 17, 2011 calling for the use of all necessary means short of occupation to protect the civilian population in Libya can be seen as a regeneration of the evolving norm of the “Responsibility to protect” (R2P). While this norm has been thoroughly debated over the last decade, Libya is the first instance where the norm has been backed by a UNSC Chapter VII resolution and used as grounds for intervention in an ongoing crisis. (...)
How do the current UNSC-authorized, NATO-led operations in Libya relate to the parameters of legitimate intervention under the emerging R2P norm?
 
The basic requirement to trigger intervention under R2P is a given state’s lack of ability or willingness to meet its duty to protect its civilian population, a requirement certainly met in the Libyan case, where the state regime is also the main perpetrator of the crimes against the civilian population.
 
Qaddafi’s use of force in Libya since the beginning of the protests far exceeded the level employed by his regional counterparts. Amidst reports of widespread brutality against the civilian population, the dictator further strengthened the perception of an impending humanitarian catastrophe by promising to “crush the cockroaches” who had dared to rise up against his regime. At the same time, the public resignations of Libyan ambassadors and the demands of the Libyan ambassador to the UN to stop the ongoing “genocide” also supported the notion that the regime had lost its domestic legitimacy, and that the level of violence in Libyawas significant enough to prompt a reaction by the international community. (...)
 
(...)The other three main requirements of R2P intervention (proportionality, intention, chances of success) are harder to assess, but there is reason to believe that they too are met by the current operations. 
Although the process of assessing intention and proportionality in international law is open to dispute, the mandate of the military operations in Libya is specific in terms of the objectives of the mission (protecting civilians and enforcing sanctions), while explicitly “excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory,” thus seemingly meeting those criteria. In addition, the regional support for the mission (voiced by the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Gulf Cooperation Council), and the calls from Libya’s rebel leaders to actively intervene heighten the legitimacy of the military operations. However, in the longer term, whether the mission and the rules of engagement will remain within these parameters is ultimately contingent upon the military reality on the ground, thus making it impossible to predetermine whether the intervention will stay within the “proportionality” requirement.
 
The most problematic criterion to assess in looking at the R2P standards is perhaps the reasonable prospects for success. While news reports refer that NATO’s own assessment is for a 90-day operation followed by a Bosnia-styled multinational peacekeeping force, the feasibility of such a plan is far from certain. Specifically, it is yet unclear how the mission will manage to attain its goals (protecting the civilian population) without having to expand its mandate (regime change) and becoming entangled in a civil war scenario.
 
Despite the uncertainties of success of the current military operations, the UN-authorized intervention is clearly reflective of theR2P standards, and it has had the impact of revitalizing this emerging norm and putting it back on the map. 
 
See full article
 
5. The Responsibility to Protect: Libya and beyond
Sheri P Rosenberg
Gulf Times
4 April 2011
 
Professor Sheri P Rosenberg is a UNAOC Global Expert and the director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Programme atCardozoLawSchool. Global Experts (www.theglobalexperts.org) is a project of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations.

(…) Measures to address Gaddafi’s mass killing of civilians began with economic sanctions and travel bans - only when these measures failed to stop Gaddafi’s “no mercy” policy did the exceptional last resort of Security Council military action become a reality.  The wisdom of using these measures in Libya remains open to debate from those acting in good faith.  But, it is unquestionably positive that the world powers have reacted to protect innocent lives, as the reality and threat of massacres in Libyawas apparent to all. 

The near universal discussion of the RtoP doctrine in the context of Libya has, however, had the unfortunate consequence of associating the concept solely with military intervention — intervention that is likely to be exercised rarely and only by Western nations against states outside the sphere of influence of a major world power. 

To associate RtoP exclusively with military intervention is a grave mistake that will undermine the power and reach of this moral principle, and go some way to allow both the illegitimate and legitimate fears from many states of foreign invasion to come to the surface ever more strongly. 
Casting aside debates over the prudence of military intervention in Libya, the RtoP doctrine makes clear that successfully protecting populations from mass atrocities requires a continuum of actions by states: The continuum includes preventing mass atrocity, to reacting to the threat or occurrence of mass atrocity, and, if military action is necessary, to rebuilding – encompassing “a genuine commitment to helping to build a durable peace…”    

Viewing RtoP through the narrow lens of Libya obscures its primary commitment to “militaryless” prevention of mass atrocities.  As with any successful act of prevention, success in averting civilian deaths leads to a lack of media coverage and further associates RtoP exclusively with military intervention. 

We can never know the exact role played by words or actions taken in the name of RtoP, but fears over potential atrocities in South Sudan this year were actively averted by a variety of international and national actions. 

The prevention of a return to serious violence in Guinea in 2010, following the massacres of 2009, was also a successful invocation of RtoP without military interventions, as was Kenya after the 2008 elections where swift international diplomacy averted mass atrocity.  

These are instances where the RtoP doctrine is most effective, where states act to prevent mass atrocity without ever needing to get to the last resort of military action - which can only be fraught with moral, legal and political conundrums.

The nature of the news cycle and our appetite for major conflict may explain the greater attention given to violence over its prevention. The success of the moral principles embodied in the universal pledge to respect RtoP will depend on ensuring that images of peaceful prevention, and not just military action, are conjured up when we all focus on the responsibility to protect.

Resort to military intervention will and should remain the exception not the rule. We wholeheartedly welcome the growing recognition that there is a global interest — indeed responsibility — in preventing tyrants from committing mass atrocities. But let us not lose sight of the forest for the trees, and take the long view in Libya and beyond. — Global Experts/UNAOC 
 
6. Libya intervention shows shift in thinking about mass atrocities
The Washington Post
Michael Abramowitz
1 April 2011
 
Michael Abramowitz directs the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which co-convened the USGenocide Prevention Task Force.
 
(…) Whether or not one agrees with the decision to use military force in Libya, the action by President Obama and other world leaders over the past two weeks — and the president’s explanation Monday night — reveal a substantial shift in thinking over the past two decades about preventing mass atrocities. (…)
 
(…)The decision to act in Libya followed reflection in the international community about the failures to prevent genocide in the 1990s. Over the past 20 years, new policies and mechanisms by civil society and governments that strengthen our collective capacity to prevent and respond to genocide include the creation of an office of genocide prevention at the United Nations; a new International Criminal Court in The Hague to try perpetrators of the most heinous human rights abuses; the adoption of a doctrine of “Responsibility to protect” at the United Nations (invoked in Libya); and steps by individual governments to strengthen their ability to detect and react to potential genocide.  (…)
 
(…) Libya is not the only place in the world where mass atrocities are possible. The all-too-many places where civilians are threatened with state-sponsored violence include Sudan, Burma and Ivory Coast, where hundreds of people were murdered in the aftermath of last fall’s elections and a civil war reignited. Each is a unique case, and a cookie-cutter approach will not work.
 
The larger point is that prevention of mass atrocities is beginning to factor much more heavily into the decisions of world leaders, as we saw in 2008 in post-election Kenya and last fall in Sudan, where the United States and other countries launched an intensive diplomatic campaign to avert widespread violence associated with the January referendum on southern independence. What’s needed is a wider range of more effective tools to prevent and respond to emerging cases, so that even if the situation does not require consideration of military intervention, it still receives the attention of the international community.
 
Ultimately, there is no one reliable response to heading off mass atrocities. Military action is a last resort. In Libya, it may have forestalled the massacre of thousands. But it is not the only tool available. This situation challenges us to further improve our abilities to identify potential cases and try to prevent them before force is considered. (…)
 
See full article.
 
·   Nicholas Kristof—Is it Better to Save No One?; New York Times, 2 April 2011
·   Irfan Husein—A Chess Game in the Libyan Desert; Dawn.com, 6 April 2011
·   Taylor Owen and Anouk Dey --R2P: More than a slogan: Toronto Star; 5 April 2011
  
Thanks to Eliana Horn and Megan Schmidt for compiling this listserv
 

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