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Calls for stronger response; Libya: fighting continues as risk of serious human rights violations remains; US atrocity prevention initiatives
 
ICRtoP Listserv
26 August 2011
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1. Human Rights Watch - Syria: UN Team Should Insist on Protection of Protestors
2. International Federation for Human Rights - Crimes Against Humanity in Syria: the urgent debate in the UN Human Rights Council should be echoed by further action at the Security Council
3. Don Kraus, Care2 (guest post) - Syria: Who You Gonna Call?
 
1. Philippe Bolopion, LA Times Op-ed - After Libya, the question: to protect or depose?
2. Ban Ki-moon Remarks in Denver stress responsibility to protect in Libya and Syria 
3. International Crisis Group - Libya: Ensuring a Smooth and Peaceful Transition into the Post-Qaddafi Era
4. Lloyd Axworthy – In Libya, we move toward a more humane world
5. Ethics & International Affairs, the Journal of the Carnegie Council - Special Roundtable on Libya and Humanitarian Intervention
6. Rachel Gerber, Stanley Foundation - The Trials and Tests Faced by R2P
7. Plenty of credit to go around in Gadhafi's fall
 
1.Sudan: Satellite Sentinel Project – Special Report : Evidence of Burial of Human Remains in Kadugli, South Kordofan
2. Côte d’Ivoire : Gilles Yabi, International Crisis Group - La Côte d’Ivoire peut tourner la page
 
1. Kyle Matthews, Ottawa Citizen Op-ed - Obama is upstaging Canada on the human rights front
2. Andrew C. Miller and Paul B. Stares, Council on Foreign Relations Expert Brief - How New Atrocity-Prevention Steps Can Work
 
7 September 2011, European Parliament, Brussels - Seminar: Human Security and the Responsibility to Protect
 
 
 
In recent weeks, Syrian authorities’ violent attacks on civilians have continued with excessive and lethal force against the popular protests, including in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Deraa, Idlib and Deir ez Zour, as well as in and around Damascus. Many civilians have been killed and injured, and large scale arbitrary arrests have continued.
 
On 25 August Syrian troops resumed shelling Deir ez-Zour and began firing on the town of Shuhail amid daily protests. A five day shelling campaign against the port city of Latakia by Syrian Naval vessels began on 13 August, just a day after thousands of protestors gathered in the city. In Latakia, ground forces and police were deployed, reportedly firing on and detaining civilians. Latakia is home to a large Palestinian refugee camp, from which over 5000 refugees fled to escape the wave of violence. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had no access to the camp, but was able to set up a temporary office near the camp to distribute emergency aid. Syrian authorities also continued attacking the city of Homs where the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that since the beginning of August, 700 people have been arrested.
 
Since the government crackdown on protests began in March, the UN disclosed that around 7,500 people had been displaced as of 19 August. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay reported on 22 August that over 2,200 people had been killed. Despite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s assurance that military and police operations had stopped, Human Rights Watch reported that at least forty-nine people had been killed across the country since 17 August.
 
Meanwhile, on 24 August Syrian opposition groups announced the formation of the Syrian National Council, aiming to build political infrastructure to streamline government formation upon Assad’s departure from office.
 
OHCHR report confirms crimes could amount to crimes against humanity
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released the Report of the Fact-Finding Mission in Syria on 18 August 2011. The Report found evidence of widespread and systematic attacks against the Syrian population that may amount to crimes against humanity, including murder, disappearance and torture as well as deprivation of liberty and persecution. The Report also made recommendations to the Syrian government to prevent impunity, allow the safe return of refugees, release all detainees, and allow the OHCHR and the Human Rights Council access to investigate. The Report includes the following paragraph referring to RtoP:
 
“Bearing in mind the findings of the Mission on Syria, the response thus far provided by the Government of Syria and the international community, as well as the on-going situation on the ground, the High Commissioner, reminds that States unanimously agreed at the 2005 Summit that each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from crimes against humanity and other international crimes. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. When a State is manifestly failing to protect its population from serious international crimes, the international community has the responsibility to step in by taking protective action in a collective, timely and decisive manner.”
 
Human Rights Council dispatches commission of inquiry
From 22-23 August 2011, the UN Human Rights Council held a Special Session on Syria to investigate the ongoing human rights violations, subsequently adopting a Resolution condemning the systematic violations committed by the Syrian authorities and demanding for the government to immediately halt these violations and protect the Syrian population. The Human Rights Council also decided to dispatch a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Syria. Thirty-three Member States voted in favor, nine abstained and China, Cuba, Ecuador and the Russian Federation voted against the resolution. The Resolution included the following paragraph:
 
“Expressing deep concern following the statement issued by the special advisors of the UN Secretariat General on the prevention of genocide and the responsibility to protect who considered that the scale and gravity of the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria.”
 
Urgent response needed from the international community
Human Rights Watch has called on the Security Council to impose sanctions and travel bans and the International Federation for Human Rights added that it should consider referring the crisis to the ICC, as recommended in the report of the OHCHR. Human Rights Watch has called for the League of Arab States to increase its pressure on Syria to end the violence and grant full access for the UN fact finding mission, for the European Union to freeze the assets of Syrian oil and gas companies, and for the Organization of the Islamic Conference to send a delegation to Syria and call for authorities to halt operations. Amnesty International continued to condemn the violent attacks and demanded the release of all detained protestors.
 
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have urged for Assad to halt attacks and, for the first time, the United States, UK, France, Germany and the EU have called for Assad to step down. On 18 August, the United States added to existing sanctions on 32 individuals by banning Syrian oil imports and US citizens from initiating new investments and exporting services to Syria. The EU has added fifteen individuals and five institutions to those being sanctioned, and according to an EU diplomat, is likely to adopt an embargo on imports of Syrian oil next week.   
 
A draft resolution was introduced to the UN Security Council, which reportedly calls for targeted sanctions, reflecting Syrian opposition groups’ request for stronger response short of military means, though it faces possible opposition from veto-holding members China and Russia.         
 
1. Syria: UN Team Should Insist on Protection of Protestors
Human Rights Watch
23 August 2011
 
The UN humanitarian assessment mission in Syria should demand guarantees from the government that security forces will fully respect the right to peaceful assembly in areas the UN team visits, Human Rights Watch said today.
 
Shortly after the UN mission left the area on August 21, 2011, security forces opened fire on protesters gathered near the Clock Tower Square in Homs. (…)
 
“Syria has demonstrated with gunfire and bloodshed that its promise to allow the UN to conduct a humanitarian mission without hindrance is hollow,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN needs to get cast-iron guarantees that this will not happen again.” (…)
 
Syria allowed the UN team to visit some centers of the protests and repression to assess humanitarian needs, and had promised unhindered access. Anti-government activists had expressed concern to Human Rights Watch that the authorities would only take the UN team to pro-government areas.
 
“We learned that the UN team was coming to our city,” a Homs-based activist told Human Rights Watch, “so we organized a protest to tell them to visit our neighborhoods and not those that the government picks.”
 
A UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters in New York that “a protest situation developed” in Homs during the team’s visit “and the mission was advised to leave for security reasons.” He added that, “The mission did not come under fire.”
 
One protester told Human Rights Watch, “After they left, the security forces opened fire on us.”
Another activist based in Rastan, a town near Homs that suffered heavy fighting during the past few weeks, expressed disappointment that the UN team would not be visiting that site.
 
“The UN should insist that Syrian authorities allow it unhindered and independent access to the protest areas,” Whitson said. “Otherwise the mission risks being perceived as a government-sponsored guided tour.” (…)
 
“Just last week, President al-Assad was telling the UN Secretary-General that policing operations had stopped, and now Syrian forces are firing on protesters practically under the UN’s nose,” Whitson said. “The Security Council should need no further evidence that stronger steps need to be taken to convince Syrian authorities to change their course.” (…)
 
Protests erupted in other parts of Homs following the shootings near the clock tower. Residents reached by Skype reported that protests took place in Bab Sba`, Bab Dreeb, and al-Meedan neighborhoods and that security forces redeployed armored vehicles around much of the city after having withdrawn them ahead of the UN visit. (…)
 
Read the full article.
 
2. Crimes Against Humanity in Syria: the urgent debate in the UN Human Rights Council should be echoed by further action at the Security Council
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
19 August 2011
 
On the eve of August 22, 2011, a date set by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) for a Special Session on the situation of human rights in Syria, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Damascus Center for Human rights Studies (DCHRS) call upon the Member States of the HRC to adopt an unequivocal resolution and take all appropriate measures to urge the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the gross human rights violations underway in the country. Additionally the UN Human Rights Council should further its efforts to press the Syrian authorities to fully cooperate without any further delay with independent UN bodies. This includes, but is not limited to a UN commission of inquiry in order to enable an investigation on all alleged violations of international human rights law and to identify those allegedly responsible.
 
Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad has assured UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, that military and security operations against protesters ceased a couple of days ago. Despite this, extensive and relentless repression continues to take place. The « widespread and systematic » nature of the attacks perpetrated by the Syrian authorities against the civilian population since the beginning of the uprising has amounted to crimes against humanity. This has been confirmed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the basis of the findings of her Office’s report released on August 18.
 
FIDH and DCHRS support the HRC proposal to establish a Commission of Inquiry in order to further investigate all alleged violations committed against Syrian civilians and call upon the Syrian government to fully cooperate with the Commission and to immediately take all necessary steps to guarantee their full and immediate access to Syria.
 
However, recalling the Syrian persistent failure to cooperate with the UN bodies and the gravity, the scale, and the international character of the alleged crimes committed by the Syrian Government, FIDH and DCHRS reiterate their call to the UN Security Council Member States to take urgent and appropriate actions including to consider referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, as recommended by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
Read the full article.
 
3. Syria: Who You Gonna Call?
Don Kraus (guest post)
Care2
18 August 2011
 
(…) As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality escalates, so have the rebukes from the world community. Today President Obama announced the harshest financial sanctions yet against the Assad regime. And for the first time, the president has called for Assad to leave Syria, so the country can have a democratic transition. (…)
 
Even Turkey, Syria’s neighbor and ally, alarmed at the assault on unarmed protestors resulting in over 2000 civilian deaths, has weighed in with its foreign minister saying, “This is our final word … these operations stop immediately and unconditionally.” (…)
 
This is all sounding eerily familiar. Is Syria shaping up to follow in the footsteps of Libya, Darfur, the Congo and other conflicts, where mass atrocities result in international handwringing, declarations, and half measures that allow more conflict and civilian deaths? (…)
 
The good news is that compared to the years it took for the international community to react to the killings in Darfur and the Congo, international action is now happening at light speed. (…)
 
The bad news is that there are still very few effective tools available to the international community when a national leader is determined to inflict brutality on civilians to maintain control of a nation. Blatant murder committed by a head of state obligates the U.N. Security Council to send a firm message to Assad that there will be consequences for the continued use of overwhelming force against peaceful protestors. (…)
 
My organization, Citizens for Global Solutions has called for the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria and order a halt to the purchase of its oil and gas products until all Syrians are protected. The Council should also hold the Syrian political and military leadership personally responsible for their actions, by referring the case to the International Criminal Court. (…)
 
The U.N.’s Human Rights Council should conduct public hearings in Geneva featuring live, televised testimony by Syrian victims who have escaped to neighboring countries to generate global pressure for more effective means to end the killings. (…)
 
Earlier this year, the French successfully sent troops to stop mass killings and to allow for a democratically elected government to take root in Cote d’Ivoire. But no nation is stepping up to the plate in Syria. This is the moment when the international community should come together to fill the gap between its need to keep the peace and its ability to do so, by establishing a standing force made of individuals recruited from around the world by the United Nations. (…)
 
The bottom line is, until the U.N. has a true capacity to answer an international 911 call, the resolution to Syria and future mass murder scenarios will be slow, messy and too little, too late for those who must endure them. (…)
 
See full post


Libyan rebels stormed Tripoli on 20 August, gaining access to Col. Gaddafi’s compound. As of 26 August, loyalist snipers were still attacking rebels as they tried to take full control of the capital and search for Gaddafi. On 25 August, rebel forces found evidence of a mass execution of political protesters by pro-Gaddafi forces. Médecins Sans Frontières stated on 25 August that Tripoli hospitals were overwhelmed with patients and that the country was experiencing shortages in medication and supplies. In a hospital in Abu Salim, the neighborhood where Gaddafi’s compound is located, medical personnel were prevented from entering the facility by loyalist snipers until 25 August. On 26 August, eighty bodies were found in the facility, in part a result of a shortage in medical personnel. Elsewhere, the rebels are preparing to advance on Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte with NATO support.
 
Meanwhile, the TNC has also started discussing the formation a unity government in Libya and the re-building of the country. The NTC began moving its base from Benghazi to the capital Tripoli and NTC leader Mahmoud Jibril declared on 24 August that there would be free legislative and executive elections in Libya in eight months. NATO has also begun to discuss the possibility of a continued role supporting a UN mission in Libya following military operations
 
Risk of severe humanitarian crisis and concerns of retribution
Amnesty International reports that both Libyan civilians and foreign migrants were in danger in Tripoli, saying that continued fighting risked causing a severe humanitarian crisis. Amnesty also reported than there was evidence that rebel forces and pro-Gaddafi forces have subjected prisoners to torture. The risk of retribution or revenge attacks is still a strong concern, as refugees and people internally displaced by the conflict need immediate assistance and protection. All individuals, including the Gaddafi family, must be treated in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law standards. Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to Mr. Jibril asking the TNC to cooperate with the ICC, protect civilians, allow international monitors into Libya and secure arms depots and prisons.
 
Increased recognition of TNC and unfreezing sanctions for humanitarian and fuel needs
The League of Arab States officially recognized the TNC as the legal representative of Libya on 25 August. The Contact Group on Libya, which includes 28 countries, the UN, European Union, NATO, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Council, Gulf Cooperation Council, and (as an observer) African Union and 28 nations, met on 25 August and concluding that the TNC is the sole representative of the Libyan people, began discussing a process to unfreeze Libyan assets.
 
On 25 August, the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee approved to unfreeze $1.5 billion to be used for critical humanitarian needs and assistance, namely up to $500 million for humanitarian needs, $500 million for fuel and other goods for strictly civilians purposes and $500 million for the Temporary Financial Mechanism established by the Contact Group to assist the Libyan people for key social services (education and health).
 
After an emergency meeting of its Peace and Security Council in Addis-Ababa on 25 August, the African Union issued a communiqué which did not explicitly recognize the TNC but encouraged the formation of an all-inclusive transition government.
 
For more details on the ongoing risk for the Libyan population, see our 23 August listserv.
 
1. After Libya, the question: to protect or depose?
Philippe Bolopion
Los Angeles Times
25 August 2011
 
Philippe Bolopion is the UN Director at Human Rights Watch.
 
NATO's military intervention in Libya was initiated under the principle of the "responsibility to protect," a concept born from the ashes of the Rwandan genocide: that the world should not stand by while mass atrocities go on within a sovereign state. (…)

After much lobbying, the principle was finally enshrined by the 2005 World Summit and successfully used to resolve dangerous crises in Kenya and Guinea. But never, until Libya, had its most controversial aspect — the use of force as a last resort — been put to the test.

In the eyes of many countries, NATO has failed that test.

In March, as Moammar Kadafi prepared to crush the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the U.N. Security Council authorized military action in Libya. But it made clear that the point of the action was to protect the Libyan people.

Many countries that opposed the Security Council's action, and even at least one that supported it, now believe the Western operation has gone far beyond merely protecting Libyans, and it is now widely seen as an action intended from the start to get rid of the Libyan ruler.

However unpopular Kadafi might be, the idea that NATO's warplanes were trying to kill him has struck a nerve among countries allergic to regime change and already suspicious of the responsibility-to-protect concept, known in diplomatic circles as R2P.

"Libya has given R2P a bad name," India's U.N. ambassador, Hardeep Singh Puri, said recently. Diplomats from South Africa, which unlike India supported U.N. Resolution 1973, have expressed similar concerns, saying they feel used and are indignant that the West ignored calls by the African Union for a cease-fire.

One could argue that when a leader is bent on committing mass atrocities against his population, the only effective way to protect civilians is to bring down the tyrant. Yet no NATO state has made this case openly; instead its members have gone to great lengths to assert their neutrality.

The Libya operation has strengthened the case of those questioning the concept that the world has a responsibility to protect citizens from their rulers, and the backlash is already contributing to tragic consequences.

In Syria, where security forces have killed more than 2,000 protesters and arbitrarily arrested and tortured thousands, including children, people are clearly in need of protection. If the Security Council were to take its responsibility to protect seriously, it would have long ago used the many nonmilitary tools at its disposal to put pressure on Bashar Assad's regime. It could have passed a resolution demanding an end to the violence, the creation of a commission of inquiry, an arms embargo or an array of sanctions targeting the leadership of the government or the oil sector.

There are many reasons for this disturbing failure to act: the opposition of veto-wielding Russia and China, the silence of the Arab League, the presence in the Security Council of Lebanon, which is a virtual hostage of Syria. But a crucial factor against action has been that key votes in the council — India, South Africa and Brazil — are missing. Behind closed doors, their diplomats have explained that they are reluctant to go down the Libya road again. Of course, nothing in a draft resolution initially offered by the Europeans even hinted at military action or regime change. But for India, South Africa and Brazil, it's payback time. The Syrian people are paying the price for what some countries see as NATO's overreaching in Libya.

So here we are, once again, with the Security Council standing virtually idle while mass atrocities are being committed, the very situation the responsibility-to-protect concept was designed to avoid. (…)

Countries that waged war in Libya under the banner of the responsibility to protect have a duty to explain themselves and accept a sober and critical look at their actions. They should not be seen as brandishing responsibility-to-protect when it's politically expedient and ignoring it when it's not. They should address the complaints of countries that genuinely supported action to protect civilians but felt alienated by the way military operations were conducted. It's the only way to ensure that Libya's legacy brings us closer to a world that does not tolerate mass atrocities ever again.

See full article.
 
2. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Remarks to Denver’s Korbel School Annual Dinner
UN news
24 August 2011
 
(…) In 2005, world leaders agreed to step up global efforts against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, or their incitement. We call it the responsibility to protect.
 
Over the past year, the responsibility to protect has become an operational reality. Both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have invoked the principle in recent months.
When the leader of Côte d'Ivoire refused to leave after he lost the presidential election, the United Nations stood firm for democracy. The justly elected leader was finally inaugurated in May.
In Sudan, we acted decisively to keep the peace – first in Darfur, where we deployed peacekeepers early in my first term, and more recently in helping North and South Sudan to amicably separate. In the new capital of Juba, last month, I was proud to witness the new country of South Sudan peacefully mark its first day of independence. (…)
 
We do not yet know how the international effort in Libya will end. Certainly, we recognize the potential dangers and enormous challenges ahead. But we do know -- and we have all seen – that the people of Libya have shown tremendous courage and determination to seek a free and democratic future.
 
Our responsibility, as an international community, is to help them realize those aspirations.
That is why, for the past several months, the United Nations has been working intensively to ensure that we can do our part for post-conflict assistance. We stand ready to provide assistance in all key areas, including economic recovery, elections, human rights, transitional justice and the drafting of a new constitution.
 
For my part, I have been in touch over the past few days with the leader of the National Transitional Council. He assured me that extreme care would be taken to protect people and maintain law and order. I have also talked to other main actors, including the League of Arab States, the African Union and the European Union.
 
The goal is clear: no further bloodshed; no retribution; and an orderly transition – one responds to the Libyan people's long-held hopes for freedom and opportunity.
 
The same yearnings are on display throughout Syria.
 
I have repeatedly urged President Assad to end the excessive and lethal use of force by his security forces against the Syrian people, and to engage in meaningful reforms. Yet while he pledged to do so, he has not upheld that commitment. The violent repression against civilians, including mass arrests, continues. At my urging, a United Nations team is on the ground as we speak with the aim of better appreciating the needs of the population most affected by the violence. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has filed a deeply disturbing report on the widespread and systematic violations of human rights since March, and has recommended that the Security Council refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
 
The international community must respond to the legitimate aspirations of the people for change. We must do our part to protect people threatened with extreme violence for exercising basic rights. (…)
 
 
3. Libya: Ensuring a Smooth and Peaceful Transition into the Post-Qaddafi Era
International Crisis Group
23 Aug 2011
 
As Libyans prepare for the Qaddafi regime’s imminent demise, the country faces a pivotal moment of historic proportions. Steps taken in the next few days and weeks will decisively shape the post-Qaddafi order. The new, still nascent, Libyan leadership, faces a dual, difficult legacy which it will need to overcome: four decades of an autocratic regime that failed to build genuine state institutions and six months of a civil war that, together with inevitable human and material losses, exposed old divisions and fissures while prompting new ones. The challenge for that leadership, as well as for international actors who enabled its drive into Tripoli, is threefold: to establish a broadly inclusive and representative transitional governing body; address immediate security risks; and find an appropriate balance between, on the one hand, the search for accountability and justice and, on the other, the imperative of avoiding arbitrary score-settling and revenge. (…)
 
Further complicating this task are the inevitable difficulties in establishing the national legitimacy of Libya’s new leaders. The Transitional National Council (TNC), created in rebel-held Benghazi in March 2011, could stake a clear claim to representing Libyans in areas free of regime control, and it has done a remarkable job in constituting basic institutions to manage civic life in those areas and attract international support. Yet the TNC never could claim to represent all Libyans, even if it broadly reflected their aspirations, for the simple reason that most Libyans, especially in the capital Tripoli, were not in a position to freely voice their opinions or participate openly in the TNC, whose membership was therefore weighted, by default, toward those in liberated zones. The TNC will now have to reflect in its membership all of Libya in its full diversity, and merge its administrative operations with those of the remaining, functioning public sector institutions.
(…)There will be, too, tensions between secular and Islamist forces. None of this suggests that it will be impossible to create a unified government, or a single military force under civilian control, merely that much hard work will need to be done very quickly to reduce the real risk of the country slipping into chaos.
 
In this context, Libya’s rulers will need to urgently turn their attention to the following areas:
Political legitimacy: Libya’s new leaders, led by the TNC, should convene, at the earliest opportunity, an inaugural council meeting in Tripoli, inviting representatives from all parts of the country and all strands of society and the opposition – various rebel groups, as well as local underground resistance groups in Tripoli and elsewhere – to participate. Indeed, the TNC should strive to be fully inclusive, embracing qualified former-regime elements who were not direct perpetrators of human rights abuses, lest their exclusion create the conditions for a future insurgency of the kind that blighted post-2003 Iraq. The TNC should strive to be transparent in its actions and, along with local leaders and rebel groups, should communicate its decisions clearly, explaining its motivation for each step in a situation where people can be expected to harbour an innate distrust of authority. Particularly important to Libyans is transparency in contracts and provision of services. The expanded council should continue to make clear it is a strictly provisional body charged with managing day-to-day affairs. Its focus should be on providing law and order and ensuring proper delivery and functioning of essential services until elections can be held.
 
Security, law and order: How the new leaders deal with law and order will be essential in determining popular perceptions of their qualifications to run the country in the interim period. In the critical first days, the erstwhile rebel groups should fill the security vacuum left by the surrender or disappearance of the former regime’s security forces. They should stop distributing arms to the population and instead begin collecting and securing them. They should integrate whatever viable elements of the former regime’s security forces can be retained into a new structure led by commanders appointed and supervised by the interim ruling council. (…)There is also a risk that Libyans of Saharan or sub-Saharan African origin could be victimised by retributive or retaliatory actions. In this respect, every effort should be made to protect groups such as the Mashashia, the Twergha and other native Libyans from the country’s centre and south.
 
Transitional justice and reconciliation: (…) One of the interim ruling council’s immediate tasks should be to urge fighters under its command and the population at large to foreswear any reprisal against former-regime elements, including members of the Qadhafi family, who should be treated in accordance with principles of international law. Those suspected of crimes should be detained and brought to justice before proper judicial institutions. The council also should establish a special commission, comprising independent Libyan figures of impeccable qualifications and reputation, charged with processing persons accused of crimes with a view to integrating most back into society while handing the worst offenders, including Qadhafi’s inner circle, over to the courts (and those indicted by the International Criminal Court to the ICC in The Hague).
 
Members of the international community should match their military campaign with a new and commensurate political, diplomatic and reconstruction/development-focused effort. In this context, the UN should be given a central role in the transition process. In providing assistance to Libya, however, international actors they should steer clear of any overbearing tendency to dictate terms for international aid, instead working jointly through the UN to deliver assistance requested by the interim ruling council and eventually its elected successors. In the short term, there is the risk of a humanitarian crisis, and – in addition to the lifting of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council -- significant international work should go into helping provide sustenance and shelter to those in need.
 
As the struggle to bring an end to the Qadhafi regime comes to a close, the effort to build a new Libya whose government is representative, which meets the basic aspirations of its people and avoids the settling of past scores begins. Amid today’s understandable euphoria, the magnitude of tomorrow’s challenge ought not be underestimated.
 
Read full article.
 
4. In Libya, we move towards a more humane world
Lloyd Axworthy
The Globe and Mail
23 August 2011
 
Six months of courage and determination by the Libyans, abetted by a UN resolution offering protection against a murderous government, followed by NATO airplanes – and another despot is on his way out. While there will continue to be unfolding and unexpected twists in the Libyan story, the main plot is clear: Moammar Gadhafi and his regime have been overturned by a combination of powerful, popular democratic forces within Libya and a willingness by certain members of the international community to respond to the UN call for intervention to protect the brave civilians on the ground.
 
This heralds a further significant step in bolstering the emerging norm of how international justice trumps sovereignty. It further establishes the principle of international protection of civilians at risk, an idea first promoted by Canada during its Security Council tenure of 1999-2000, which resulted in the protocol of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), emerging from a Canadian-sponsored international commission after the Kosovo conflict, which ultimately gained approval at the UN Leaders Summit in 2005.
 
While these developments in Libya can be seen as decisive alterations to the international framework of law and accountability, it’s no time to be complacent. Indeed the application of R2P has just begun. Essential to the principle is the third crucial element of assisting in efforts to rebuild Libya on democratic, stable foundations – a difficult exercise. As we’ve learned from Afghanistan, you may be able to temporarily provide political security and stability, but building institutions is a more complicated and challenging enterprise, especially in places where they haven’t existed.
 
Further, national treasuries in Europe and the United States are sorely depleted and the dominant theology of deficit-balancing does not lead to generous outpourings of aid. At UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s urging, a meeting of interested parties, including the African Union (AU) and the Arab League, will be held this week in order to determine the path ahead for Libya. The UN is the obvious choice to co-ordinate this response, but there is a need for further action. It is clear that actors other than the U.S. and Europe will have to take on many of the development and diplomatic tasks required for a transition from authoritarian ways to a more open and fair society. There is a limited amount of time available to meet what are likely to be high expectations. Libyans do have access to oil resources, but rebuilding needs skills and capacity in a variety of economic, social and governance tasks.
 
Equally there is the appetite for justice. As I have stated before, Col. Gadhafi must be brought to the International Criminal Court, as have other tyrants such as Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor. There must be a due process to examine his crimes and bring closure to the excesses of his rule. Every effort should be made to ensure he is not captured and killed, though the temptation will be strong. In a similar vein, reconciliation should take precedence over retribution or retaliation. Peace will be brought about by establishing good faith in the rule of law, despite the emotional demands brought about by months of conflict.
 
Despite denials, there are rumours that South Africa – a prominent member of the AU as well as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council – remains in negotiations with Col. Gadhafi regarding his passage out of Libya. That should be a priority diplomatic path to follow, as long as it is clear that this is just a way station en route to The Hague and the ICC, or a joint tribunal in Libya itself. As a signatory of the Rome Statute and an example of democratic transition, South Africa is in a good position to take the lead with the support of like-minded countries like Canada.
We are seriously engaged in a resetting of the international order toward a more humane, just world. It calls for immediate and appropriate action as called for in R2P. Then, the next serious step is to find the means to end the tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s bloodshed in Syria.
 
Read the full article.
 
5. Special Roundtable on Libya and Humanitarian Intervention Published by Ethics & International Affairs, the Journal of the Carnegie Council
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
23 August 2011
 
Coinciding with the recent dramatic events in Tripoli and Libya as a whole, Ethics & International Affairs has published a special roundtable on the ethics and meaning of the NATO campaign in Libya, and its implications for future interventions.
 
The symposium, which is available online free of charge for a limited time, features contributions by Jennifer Welsh (Oxford), Simon Chesterman (New York University), Alex J. Bellamy (Queensland), James Pattison (Manchester), and Thomas G. Weiss (City University of New York).
 
Contributors to the roundtable ask: What does Libya mean for the "Responsibility to Protect" (RtoP) doctrine? RtoP claims that governments have basic duties toward their own populations, the breach of which may trigger humanitarian intervention. Contributors also analyze how Libya will affect future potential interventions.
 
Additionally, contributors examine the overall ethics and meaning of the Libya intervention, taking into account the war's human and financial costs, the use of global governance mechanisms—particularly the UN Security Council's role in legitimizing the military campaign—and the legality of the NATO campaign according to international law.  
 
Read the full articles from the Symposium.
 
6. The Trials and Tests Faced by R2P
Rachel Gerber
The Stanley Foundation
August 2011
 
(…) In a snapshot of the current debate surrounding the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and global efforts to prevent large-scale violence against civilians, Libya and Syria would dominate a frame of amorphous figures with blurred edges, each shifting haphazardly in unknown directions. (…)
 
As NATO’s mandate in Libya enters its sixth month and the Syrian government clings to power with increasing violence, some claim R2P has failed to deliver its promise to ensure protection for civilians whose governments have turned against them. While it would be foolish to claim that unfolding events and global action (or inaction) will have no influence on the long-term development of the Responsibility to Protect principle, pointing to today’s snapshot as evidence of failure ignores its broader context. When taken at a wider angle, the current picture reveals many positive trends. (…)
 
UN member nations questioned whether and what kind of action the Security Council should take to counter such threats, but never the basic right of the council to do so. “It’s not your business” is no longer a viable argument to give the international community when it comes to internal violence targeted at civilians—a recent and striking shift in the history of global politics for which R2P deserves its share of credit.
 
Far from a checklist that mandates uniform action, R2P is a dynamic policy framework that is meant to twist, bend, and adapt as best it can to the complex realities of the world it hopes to improve. (…)
 
Moving forward, novel approaches and compelling moral sentiments must eventually meet the messy realities of the world.
 
Many have classified the campaign in Libya as a mistake because the conflict has proven more protracted and complex than initially anticipated. Struggle is equated with error. Though, as decades of peacekeeping experience have taught us, civilian protection is rarely a simple endeavor.
 
We learn by doing and, until very recently, inaction has been the global response to mass violence. As R2P is applied, mistakes will be made, as must adjustments. Translating a sense of obligation into effective policies requires experimentation and adaptive learning.
 
Global leaders must take care that this inevitable process of trial and error does not automatically become trial by fire for the broader commitments made in adopting the Responsibility to Protect.
 
A recent debate on the Responsibility to Protect within the UN General Assembly suggests that governments understand this problem, and remain committed to preserving R2P, even when its application in cases like Libya raises more questions than it provides answers.
 
As global events unfold, R2P is facing the tests and trials that both its supporters and skeptics always knew it would. But the real world is where we all must come of age. In the end, we are stronger for it. (…)
 
See full article.
 
7. Plenty of credit to go around in Gadhafi's fall
Paul Heinbecker
The Montreal Gazette
23 August
 
Paul Heinbecker is the former ambassador of Canada to the UN and now works with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Laurier University in Waterloo.
 
(…) The deposition of Gadhafi is a vindication for the international community, for the UN, for NATO, for the International Criminal Court and for American foreign policy. Gadhafi's threat of "rivers of blood" and vows of retribution were too much for the UN Security Council to ignore, even if some of its members would have liked to do so. Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany at least stood aside and let the Council authorize member states to impose a "no-fly" zone and to protect civilians, even if only from the air. It was the least they could have done, but it was enough.
 
Despite the chorus of disapproval from critics on the left, who wanted more diplomacy, as if third-person notes and an escalating Thesaurus of condemnations would have persuaded Gadhafi to stop, and from critics on the right who wanted "boots on the ground," whatever the political and strategic cost, the end of Gadhafi is a vindication for NATO. But for NATO's efforts, Gadhafi would still be imposing his insane rule on Libya. (…)
 
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is also vindicated in its indictment of Gadhafi, which, like its indictment of Milosevic a decade earlier, did not prolong the fighting as some feared. If the ICC can try Gadhafi for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the cause of international justice will be advanced further and the immunity of tyrants diminished.
 
Gadhafi's defeat also vindicates Obama's foreign policy of making the multilateral system work. Obama induced a divided Arab League to ask for help, so that the U.S. could not be accused of initiating yet another war with a Muslim country, secured UN Security Council authorization to act and, after initially employing its "unique assets," let NATO carry the fight. History will applaud this skill and judgment.
 
Satisfaction is what Canadians can take from this conflict because Canadian diplomacy and Canadian arms were both instrumental in bringing about the outcome. Following the Rwanda genocide and the Srebrenica slaughter in the 1990s, Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, determined to find a way of reconciling the imperatives of national sovereignty and the protection of human rights, launched the diplomatic process that culminated in the new norm of international relations, the Responsibility to Protect. Ultimately accepted personally by 150 heads of state meeting at the UN in New York in 2005, this norm holds that when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its people from grievous harm or is itself the perpetrator, as in Gadhafi's case, "the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect." In authorizing intervention in Libya, the Security Council acted for the first time in conformity with this norm. (…)
 
If the aspirations of the Libyan people are to be achieved and the country is not to fall back into civil conflict, the international community, including Canada, will need to stay engaged, less as guarantors of security, although that might be necessary for a little while, but in the long, trying process of state-building. Canada - government, civil society and industry - can help with drafting a constitution, "standing up" a Libyan administration and military, advising on the creation of an inclusive, pluralistic parliamentary system, supporting human rights, and generating economic growth so that young Libyans at last have a future. This process will take decades not just years, and should become a priority of Canada's aid program. In the end, there is no guarantee that this all will work. But, in the same circumstances, who would not choose optimism over the despair of rule by a psychopath and his murderous sons? (…)
 
Read full article.
 
 
1. Special Report : Evidence of Burial of Human Remains in Kadugli, South Kordofan
Satellite Sentinel Project
24 August 2011
 
The Satellite Sentinel Project’s (SSP) identification on 14 July 2011 of a cluster of white bundles in Kadugli as consistent with human remains wrapped in white plastic tarps or body bags was controversial at the time. Although publicly questioned by a US government official, it has now been established by SSP through the collection of additional imagery and eyewitness reports.  
 
This report presents more visual evidence and new information by eyewitnesses who spoke directly to SSP of the collection and burial of human remains wrapped in tarps and/or body bags by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS). The bundles were buried at an additional two new apparent mass graves in and around Kadugli.
 
To date, SSP has identified a total of eight mass graves in and around Kadugli, as well as evidence of corpses wrapped in what appear to be body bags and/or tarps at four sites. Also, SSP’s imagery of apparent mass graves has been reviewed by Stefan Schmitt, International Forensic Program Director for Physicians for Human Rights, who has concluded that the images “provide enough credible evidence to suggest the presence of mass graves.” (…)
 
Statements and press releases by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the SRCS, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have also confirmed that mass body recovery and disposal operations have been occurring in Kadugli. A 1 July report released by IFRC verifies that the SRCS, reportedly acting on instructions from the Government of South Kordofan, has been actively collecting dead bodies in Kadugli town, and had at least 415 body bags and 2,000 plastic tarps recently transferred to it from the IFRC prior to the fighting in June. By the end of June, the SRCS was publicly saying it needed more body bags.
 
This, paired with a 7 July statement by the ICRC stating that it “provided Sudanese Red Crescent emergency action teams with technical advice on the management of dead bodies, and with the body bags they needed to recover the dead,” corroborates SSP’s assertion that the white or light-colored objects are consistent with body bags. Eyewitnesses have described to SSP seeing a yellow front-end loader with a backhoe digging mass graves in and around Kadugli at sites in which an SRCS Land Cruiser and SRCS workers were also present.
 
It is now two months since reports of the systematic killing of civilians in Kadugli by Government of Sudan-aligned forces first emerged. The debate continues about what further steps the US and the international community should take in response to the gross violations of human rights that have been reported. What should no longer be debated, however, is that these alleged crimes, including mass killing and subsequent mass burial of the dead, have happened and continue to occur.
 
Read full report.
 
2. La Côte d’Ivoire peut tourner la page
Gilles Yabi
International Crisis Group
16 August 2011
 
(…) Après la violente crise postélectorale et la bataille d’Abidjan, ceux qui pensaient que la guerre pouvait être joyeuse ont peut-être enfin compris. Peut-être. La Côte d’Ivoire peut tourner la page, redevenir la locomotive économique de la région et un pays où le niveau d’insécurité au quotidien est «acceptable».
 
Elle le peut si le président Alassane Ouattara ne compte pas exclusivement sur une gouvernance politique et économique aux antipodes de celle de son prédécesseur pour réunifier la Côte d’Ivoire et permettre la réconciliation progressive de ses communautés. Et si les acteurs régionaux et internationaux n’adoptent pas l’attitude qui a mené si souvent aux pires désillusions: «Ça va aller… même si on fait le service minimum». (…)
 
Grâce à l’appui diplomatique de la communauté africaine et des grandes puissances, et à la mobilisation armée de l’ex-rébellion des Forces nouvelles, le président élu a pu accéder officiellement au pouvoir au mois de mai. Il doit mener de front les chantiers de la recomposition des forces armées, de la réconciliation nationale, de la justice, de la normalisation politique et institutionnelle et de la relance économique. Les décisions qui seront prises dans ces domaines dans les prochains mois seront décisives pour les perspectives d’une stabilisation durable du pays. La période critique ne se refermera sans doute que bien après les élections législatives —prévues au plus tôt à la fin de cette année. (…)
 
Ouattara a également appelé au retour de tous les exilés civils et militaires et offert la garantie de leur sécurité. Il faut maintenant que le gouvernement mette en place un espace de dialogue entre tous les partis politiques afin de discuter des conditions techniques d’organisation des élections législatives et du calendrier des opérations électorales. (…)
 
Tout doit être fait pour éviter la fixation durable des déplacés dans des camps humanitaires et permettre leur retour dans leurs habitations et dans leurs plantations, qui courent le risque d’être investies par d’autres paysans, faisant le lit de futurs conflits fonciers violents. (…)
 
La Communauté économique des Etats d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Cédéao), plutôt inaudible ces trois derniers mois, doit apporter sa contribution à la consolidation de la fragile paix ivoirienne en s’attaquant en priorité à la menace régionale que constituent la prolifération des armes de guerre et la circulation des mercenaires et miliciens aux frontières de la Côte d’Ivoire. (…)
 
Voir le communiqué de presse en entier
 

1. Obama is upstaging Canada on the human rights front
Kyle Matthews
Ottawa Citizen
15 August 2011
 
Kyle Matthews is lead researcher for the Will to Intervene Project at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University

(…) With all eyes focused on Washington's debt ceiling crisis and the game of political brinkmanship between the Republicans and Democrats, President Barack Obama recently made history by announcing important strategic steps to make "never again" a reality. The White House announced it will make the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes a foreign policy priority through the establishment of a new Atrocities Prevention Board. (…)

The new Atrocities Prevention Board will bring together senior officials from the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, and myriad other agencies to coordinate a whole of government approach to engage "early, proactively, and decisively" to prevent and interdict mass atrocity crimes. (…)
 
It may all sound very bureaucratic, but this move is crucial to the advancement of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), an emerging international norm that can trace its roots to Canadian leadership. R2P is a political concept that asserts national governments must exercise their sovereignty in a responsible manner, meaning they must do everything possible to protect their citizens from the most horrific human rights abuses. If a particular government is unwilling or unable to comply with this basic rule, then the international community must take quick action and fill the protection void. (…)
 
President Obama's decision to create the new Atrocities Prevention Board is worthy of the attention of Canadians because no other government in the world has gone this far in making a political commitment to R2P, thereby rendering it more likely that the 1948 Genocide Convention will be enforced. (…)
 
In 2011 alone we have witnessed mass atrocity crimes in Libya, Syria, Ivory Coast, Darfur and South Sudan. Despite having played a leadership role in the historic formulation of R2P, and taking part in the current NATO mission to protect civilians from the wrath of the predatory government in Libya, Canada is lagging behind its allies in institutionalizing genocide prevention as a foreign policy priority. As a signatory of the Genocide Convention and having endorsed R2P in 2005 at the UN Global Outcome Summit, the government of Canada should consider modernizing domestic institutions and build new capacities so that it can continue to contribute to international peace and security in an era of failing and failed states. (…)
 
The Will to Intervene Project, an initiative spearheaded by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, issued an in-depth study in 2009 that laid out in meticulous detail what measures Canada and the U.S. could implement to improve their capacities to prevent and swiftly interdict mass atrocity crimes. The U.S. government has now acted on three of the recommendations advanced in that study, while the Canadian government has yet to implement a single one. President Obama's directive states plainly that the prevention of mass atrocities is a concern of national security interest, and this is true for Canada too. (…)
 
See full article
 
2. How New Atrocity-Prevention Steps Can Work
Andrew C. Miller and Paul B. Stares
Council on Foreign Relations
15 August 2011
 
The following is an analysis of the steps to prevent mass atrocities taken by US President Barack Obama including a Presidential Study Directive to take inventory of existing tools to prevent and halt crimes and the establishment of a new Atrocities Prevention Board.
 
As the Presidential Study Directive (PSD-10) authorizing the new initiatives more or less acknowledges, the U.S. response to the threat of mass atrocities and genocide often has been too little, too late, and too improvised. (…)
 
Predicting the outbreak of atrocities with a high degree of confidence is no doubt a difficult task, but scholars have in recent years improved our understanding of telltale risk factors, such as leadership instability and ethnic polarization, which can help with early warning. Helping analysts within the intelligence community or diplomats in the field to raise "red flags" when they detect dangerous signals is another important component.
 
But without a high-level body of policymakers to receive such early warning information, it is effectively worthless. The new Atrocities Prevention Board, augmented by the recently created National Security Staff directorate for atrocities and war crimes, could serve as that body--one potentially empowered to push for proactive responses. (…)
 
But greater awareness of atrocity-prevention steps does not guarantee a process that will have lasting effect. Tough questions remain:
 
First, will the new atrocity-prevention structures and processes become "mainstreamed" within the national security apparatus? Recent history demonstrates that the established bureaucracy can marginalize or eliminate good faith efforts to change the status quo. (…)
 
Second, will the elevated priority given to atrocity prevention continue with subsequent administrations? (…)
 
Third, and most importantly, will the American people support what some will doubtless see as altruistic efforts with little bearing on U.S. interests? (…)
 
See full brief.
 
1. Seminar: Human Security and the Responsibility to Protect
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium
7 September 2011, 3:30 – 6:30 PM
 
Véronique de Keyser (S&D) will welcome participants followed by a panel entitled Human Security: A People Centered Approach. This panel will be chaired by Richard Howitt (S&D), and speakers will include Yukio Takasu (Ambassador, UN Special Advisor on Human Security), Mary Kaldor (Professor of Global Governance, London School of Economics) and Lotte Leicht (EU Advocacy Director and Director of Human Rights Watch in Brussels).
 
The second panel, entitled Responsibility to Protect: Time to Implement, will be chaired by Ana Gomes (S&D) and will feature Edward Luck (UN Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect), Eric David (Professor of International Law, Free University Brussels), Lama Atassi (President, France Syrie Democratie) and Maciej Popowski (Deputy Secretary-General, European External Action Service).
 
Participants are asked to register before 2 September to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Find more information.

 

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