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8 September 2011
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1. International Federation for Human Rights - Relatives of activists targeted in retaliation
2. Council on Foreign Relations Interview of Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect - Will Syria Follow Libya?
3. Amnesty International – Syria’s Surge of Deaths in Detention Revealed
1. Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect issue press release on the Situation in South Kordofan
2. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Report – Sudan: Possible War Crimes in Southern Kordofan
1. Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal–Preliminary Libyan Scorecard: Acting Beyond the UN Mandate
2. David Bosco, Foreign Policy   – Humanitarian Inquisition
3. Rachel Gerber, Stanley Foundation - Beyond Libya: A World Ready to Respond to Mass Violence
4. Mahmood Mamdani, Al-Jazeera – How to Keep NATO from Your Door: Lessons from the Fall of Gaddafi
16 September 2011, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC – Sifting Fact from Fiction: The Role of Social Media in Conflict
6 October 2011, Chatham House, London – Responding to Mass Atrocity Crimes: The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ After Libya
 

 
Violence erupted in Homs on 7 September, a city that has seen large protests since the beginning of the violent government crackdown in Syria. At least 28 activists have been reportedly killed amid constant gunfire from Syrian soldiers who entered the city at dawn. Residents have reported that telephone and internet lines were cut in some areas of the city. The renewed violence came after the Syrian government announced that a visit from Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi had been called off. The visit has now been rescheduled for 10 September and will be followed up by a meeting of the Arab League on 13 September. The Arab League has repeatedly condemned the violence and asserted the Syrian people’s rights for political reform. 
 
European nations have also continued to condemn the violence. On 7 September, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused the Syrian government of committing crimes against humanity against the Syrian population. Earlier, on 2 September, the European Union adopted a ban on oil imports from Syria to increase pressure on the regime.
 
Meanwhile, abuses continue in and outside of Syrian jails. While on 5 September Syrian authorities granted the International Red Cross access to detainees, reports from Amnesty International show that those in custody between April and mid-August were subject to torture with the number of deaths exceeding 80. FIDH reported that relatives of activists have also been targeted for arrest and harassment by the Syrian government.  
 
The situation remains critical for the Syrian population. In the words of Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General of the World Organisation Against Torture, “The fact that these events come only days after the UN Human Rights Council had condemned Syria for its human rights violations following the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights shows the defiance to the human rights system. We need urgently an end to such violations. And we need international accountability for those responsible for such atrocious acts.”
 
1. Relatives of activists targeted in retaliation
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
1 September 2011
 
 The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), and the Euromediterranean Federation against enforced disappearances (FEMED) strongly condemn the Syrian authorities for intensifying arbitrary arrests and systematic acts of harassment against human rights defenders as well as pro-democracy activists and members of their families.
 
(…) “This arrest is a new illustration of the systematic campaign of repression led by the Syrian authorities against all dissenting voices and human rights defenders”, stated Kamel Jendoubi, EMHRN President. “The Syrian authorities should immediately stop the targeting of relatives of human rights defenders. Clearly this is done to intimidate them or to force them to surrender.”

“Again the authorities demonstrate the little consideration they have for the respect of basic human rights standards. This calls for a strong condemnation by the international community”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. (…)

“Targeting family member brings us back to the Middle Ages”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General. “The fact that these events come only days after the UN Human Rights Council had condemned Syria for its human rights violations following the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights shows the defiance to the human rights system. We need urgently an end to such violations. And we need international accountability for those responsible for such atrocious acts”, he added.

The EMHRN, the Observatory and the FEMED urge the Syrian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists to immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily detained and to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998) as well as international human rights instruments, which bind the Syrian authorities.
 
Read the full article.

2. Will Syria Follow Libya
Interview of Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Dr. Edward Luck
Bernard Gwertzman
Council on Foreign Relations
1 September 2011
 
(…)How important was the UN Security Council action allowing use of force to protect civilians in Libya, which tipped the military scales against Qaddafi?
 
I think it was quite an important precedent, both in Resolution 1970, which talked about sanctions and referred Qaddafi and some of his people to the International Criminal Court, and then in Resolution 1973, which talked about all necessary measures to protect populations--both of those invoked the responsibility to protect. That resolution led to the NATO air umbrella over Libya and the direct military action on the government forces.
 
It was important that the members of the council didn't find that to be controversial. In other words, the principle was agreed upon. There were some differences on how to go about it, but it was clear that a government that seems to be virtually at war with its people, that attacks peaceful protesters with aircraft, with advanced weaponry, with military force, with mercenaries; clearly this is not part of normal governance. That, simply, is not acceptable. (…)
 
Did it help that Qaddafi himself made incendiary comments about "killing these rats" or "cockroaches" when talking about the opposition that had seized power in Benghazi?
 
Commitments were made by the heads of state at the World Summit in 2005, who said that they would not only try to prevent crimes against humanity but would also seek to prevent their incitement. That summit included important wording on "Responsibility to Protect" which has since become known as "R2P." So, when Qaddafi decided to characterize the protestors as "cockroaches"--the same term that had been used vis-à-vis the Tutsis in the Rwandan genocide [1994]--that was a very worrisome sign. (…)
 
In Syria, the government has not used that kind of incendiary language. The government of President Bashar al-Assad claims they're fighting terrorists or foreign enemies. Does that make it harder for the UN to do what it was able to do in Libya?
 
Certainly, the fact that the government in Damascus has been more careful with its rhetoric means that the case there was not as obvious. (…) Over time, it seems that there is reason to believe that crimes against humanity may well have been committed there. When the Syrian government refused to allow the UN investigators on its territory, which had been mandated by the Human Rights Council; when it tried to cut off all media [and] Internet connections, these were clear, worrying signs because one begins to ask what they are trying to hide. (…)
 
Going back to Libya for a moment, why do you think that the Russians and Chinese did not use a veto, which they have threatened to do in the case of Syria?
 
I think there are two important factors. One, as I mentioned, is that the responsibility to protect really does have a large public following around the world. These are standards that people expect governments to follow, and they expect the international community, in particular the United Nations, to respond in these kinds of situations. But the other important difference was a question of regional pressure. There was a lot of regional pressure to act in the case of Libya, and I know that even countries that are rather cautious about the responsibility to protect felt that in that particular case they couldn't go against the Arab League [or] against the African Union and try to block this kind of action. (…)
 
How do you think the situation will resolve itself in Syria?
 
(…) I think one hopes that there are internal political processes within Syria that will lead to a changing attitude, and we noticed that many countries in the region are hardening their attitude and putting more pressure on the Syrian government to act. Syria doesn't have as many friends as it did in the beginning. And we hope that will convince them to change course. (…)
 
Read the full interview.
 
3. Syria’s Surge of Deaths in Detention Revealed
Amnesty International
30 August 2011
 
Amnesty International released a report, entitled, “Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria” on 31 August 2011. The following is an abstract of the report.

At least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during five months of bloody repression of pro-reform protests, a new Amnesty International report reveals today.

Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria documents reported deaths in custody between April and mid-August in the wake of sweeping arrests.

The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria. (…)

“The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”

The victims recorded in the report were all swept up in arrests after Syrians took to the streets en masse from March this year. All male, the victims include 10 children, some as young as 13.

All the victims are believed to have been detained because they were involved, or suspected of being involved, in the pro-reform protests. (…)

Amnesty International has called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms embargo on Syria and to implement an asset freeze against President Bashar al-Assad and his senior associates.

“Taken in the context of the widespread and systematic violations taking place in Syria, we believe that these deaths in custody may include crimes against humanity,” said Neil Sammonds.

“The response from the Security Council has been utterly inadequate so far, but it is not too late for them to take firm and legally binding action.” (…)
 
Read the full article and the report

In a 7 September press release, Francis Deng and Edward Luck of the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide expressed grave concern about the ongoing violence by the Sudanese Armed Forces against civilians, calling for an immediate end to the attacks. Deng and Luck called upon the Sudanese government to launch an investigation into the alleged crimes, and, if unable to do this, to allow an international investigative entity to enter the country. The Special Advisers requested immediate access to Southern Kordofan for humanitarian organizations.
 
On 30 August, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called upon the UN Security Council to condemn recent attacks in South Kordofan. Researchers from both groups reported continuing attacks upon civilian population by way of air strikes carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces. According to reports from both human rights groups, the types of munitions used and the "indiscriminate manner in which they were delivered violated international humanitarian law." No military targets were reported in or around the areas attacked. A reported 26 civilians were killed, in addition to more than 45 others injured since mid-June. Aid groups have estimated that more than 150,000 people have been displaced and that the Sudanese government restrictions are preventing aid and other assistance from being delivered.   
 
1. UN Secretary- General's Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect on the Situation in South Kordofan State, Sudan
United Nations Press Release
7 September 2011
 
Francis Deng, Special Adviser of the Secretary- General on the Prevention of Genocide, and Edward Luck, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, are gravely concerned at reports of continued attacks on civilian populations in Southern Kordofan, Sudan, and have called for their immediate cessation. 
 
According to independent sources, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have continued aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan, particularly in the Nuba mountains region, resulting in further killing and displacement of the civilian population. Latest reports indicate that the violence has spilled over into neighbouring Blue Nile state resulting in tens of thousands of civilians fleeing to neighbouring states and across the border into Ethiopia.
 
“We remind the Government of Sudan of its responsibility to protect its populations – irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliation – from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” said the Special Advisers. “Heads of State and Government made a commitment to this principle in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document and in subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.” 
 
The preliminary report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued on 15 August, found that attacks against civilians as a result of the fighting between the SAF and Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement – North (SPLM – North) may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Special Advisers urge the Government of Sudan to investigate the alleged crimes and to hold accountable all those responsible, including for their incitement. “If the Government is unable to do so, it should allow a prompt international investigation into the ongoing attacks against the civilian population in Southern Kordofan,” said Special Advisers Deng and Luck. 
 
The Special Advisers, affirming the recent statement of the United Nations Secretary- General, called on both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM – North to grant immediate and unhindered access of humanitarian agencies to the whole state of Southern Kordofan in order to provide urgently needed assistance to the population. 
 
See full release.
 
2. Sudan: Possible War Crimes in Southern Kordofan
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
30 August 2011
 
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released a report on Sudan, ”Southern Kordofan Civilians Tell of Air Strike Horror”. The following is the abstract of the report.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have collected evidence indicating that the Sudanese Armed Forces may have committed war crimes in Southern Kordofan, the organizations said today. 
 
In a rare trip to the Nuba Mountains region of Southern Kordofan, researchers from the two human rights groups found that an indiscriminate bombing campaign carried out by Sudan since early-June is killing and maiming men, women and children. (…)
 
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented 13 separate bombing incidents in Kauda, Delami and Kurchi towns alone, in which at least 26 civilians were killed and more than 45 others injured since mid-June.
 
Antonov aircraft dropped bombs over farmlands and villages on a near-daily basis while researchers were on the ground from August 14-21. (…) 
 
In all the attacks investigated by researchers, there were seemingly no legitimate military targets near to where the bombs struck, according to victims and witnesses.
 
The type of munitions used - unguided munitions dropped from high altitude - and the indiscriminate manner in which they were delivered, violated international humanitarian law.
 
Since early June, more than 150,000 people have been forced to flee due to the conflict.  Tens of thousands are in opposition-held areas, where the Sudanese authorities have effectively blockaded humanitarian assistance and the flow of desperately needed goods and basic services.
 
Displaced communities forced out of their homes by the repeated bombing live in harsh conditions in caves, on mountaintops, under trees, and in the bush far from towns.
 
They lack sufficient food, medicine, sanitation, and shelter from heavy rains. Many displaced families told researchers they were eating berries and leaves and that their children were suffering from diarrhoea and malaria.
 
“The Sudanese authorities should immediately cease all indiscriminate bombing in Southern Kordofan and allow access for emergency assistance as well as human rights monitors,” said Erwin van der Borght.
 
“The United Nations Security Council should condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing human rights violations in the Nuba Mountains, and mandate an independent inquiry to investigate abuses committed by parties to the conflict in Southern Kordofan since 5 June,” he added.
 
Read the full report, Southern Kordofan Civilians Tell of Air Strike Horror.  
 
 
Anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya are in control of most towns and cities except for Bani Walid, Jufra, Sabha, and Colonel Gaddafi’s hometown, Sirte. Negotiations for surrender by loyalists in Bani Walid were underway as of 6 September, but should they fail, rebels may launch an advance to overrun the pro-Gaddafi forces and enter the city.
 
Meanwhile, the Libyan population is suffering a severe humanitarian crisis. On 6 September, the World Food Programme and UNICEF delivered supplies of water to Libya, but the nation is suffering from shortages in food, fuel and medical supplies. Humanitarian organizations and some governments have created aid packages for the population. Human Rights Watch reported on 4 September that NTC forces have been arbitrarily arresting foreign migrants taken for mercenaries. NTC detention facilities are filled over capacity and do not yet have the judicial facilities to support trials. Amnesty International reported that detainees may be subject to severe abuse. 
 
Nonetheless, the NTC is moving forward with plans to create a panel of community leaders forreconciliation, for an elected Council to draft a new constitution and for elections to be held in twenty months. Human Rights Watch has called for the Contact Group countries to help secure resources and urge the NTC to secure arms depots and prisons, train police, build judicial institutions, and protect all individuals, particularly those vulnerable to revenge attacks.   
 
The NTC met with international Heads of State and ministers from sixty nations and institutions at the conference of the “Friends of Libya” in Paris on 1-2 September. The meeting addressed political, economic and financial reconstruction, where the group pledged to release more assets. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy stated, “Reconciliation and transition must be a Libyan-led process. (…) As we subscribed to the "responsibility to protect", we should similarly subscribe to the "responsibility to assist" Libya in building itself.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke at the conference, saying, “the most immediate challenge is humanitarian.”
 
NTC leaders also met with Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for Post-Conflict Planning for Libya Ian Martin at the start of September, and requested UN post-conflict support in elections, transitional justice, and reconciliation. On 26 August, Ban Ki moon met with representatives from the African Union, European Union, Arab League, and Organization of the Islamic Conference, and urged the regional bodies to help deliver immediate emergency aid to the Libyan population and provide a democratic transition to a new government. 
 
1. Preliminary Libyan Scorecard: Acting Beyond the UN Mandate
Richard Falk
Foreign Policy Journal
8 September 2011
 
Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
 
(…) And let us not be too quick to praise this Libyan model? It is certainly premature to conclude that it has been a success before acquiring a better sense of whether the winners can avoid a new cycle of strife and bloodshed and stick together in a Libya without the benefit of Qaddafi as the common enemy. Or if they do, that they can embark upon a development path that benefits the Libyan people and not primarily the oil companies and foreign construction firms. Any credible assessment of the Libyan intervention must at least wait and see if the new leaders can able avoid the authoritarian temptation to secure their power and privilege within the inflamed political atmosphere of the country. (…)
 
The Security Council debate on authorization indicated some deep concerns on the part of important members at the time, including China, Russia, Brazil, India, and Germany, that formed the background of SC Resolution 1973, which set forth the guidelines for the intervention. This extensive resolution articulated the mission being authorized as that of protecting threatened Libyan civilians against violent atrocities that were allegedly being massively threatened by the Qaddafi government, with special reference at the time to an alleged imminent massacre of civilians trapped in the then besieged city of Benghazi. The debate emphasized the application of the recently endorsed norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that sought to allay fears about interventions by the West in the non-West by refraining from relying on the distrusted language of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and substituting a way of describing the undertaking as less of a challenge directed at the territorial supremacy of sovereign states and more in the nature of a protective undertaking reflecting human solidarity. The R2P norm relies on a rationale of protecting vulnerable peoples from rulers that violated basic human rights in a severe and systematic fashion.
 
But once underway, the NATO operation unilaterally expanded the mission as authorized, and almost immediately acted to help the rebels win the war and to make non-negotiable the dismantling of the Qaddafi regime without any special attention to the protection of Libyan civilians. (…)
 
With regard to Libya, the culprits are not just the states that participated in this runaway operation, but also the members of the Security Council and the Secretary General of the United Nations that abstained from supporting Resolution 1973, who seemed to have a special duty to make sure that the limits of authorization were being respected throughout the undertaking. (…) This allocation of responsibility seems more important when it is realized that the actions of the Security Council are not subject to judicial review. (…)
 
Against this background, the abstaining states were also derelict at the outset by allowing a resolution of the Security Council involving the use of force to go forward considered that it contained such ambiguous and vague language as to raise a red flag as to the proposed authorization. Although Security Council Resolution 1973 did seem reasonably to anticipate mainly the establishment of a No Fly Zone and ancillary steps to make sure it would be effective, the proposed language of the resolution should have signaled the possibility that action beyond what was being mandated was contemplated by the NATO countries and would likely be undertaken. The notorious phrase ‘all necessary measures’ was present in the resolution, which was justified at the time as providing the enforcers with a desirable margin of flexibility in making sure that the No Fly Zone would render the protection promised. (…)
 
There is a further related issue internal to best practices within the United Nations itself. The Security Council acts in the area of peace and security on behalf of the entire international community and with representational authority for the whole membership of the Organization. The 177 countries not members of the Security Council should have confidence that this body will respect Charter guidelines and that there will be a close correspondence between what was authorized and what was done, especially when force is authorized and sovereign rights are encroached upon. This correspondence was not present in the Libyan intervention, and it seems to have barely noticed in any official way, although acknowledged and even lamented in the corridors and delegates lounge of UN Headquarters in New York City.
 
This interpretative issue is not just a playground for international law specialists interested in jousting about technical matters of little real world relevance. Here the life and death of the peoples inhabiting the planet are directly at stake, as well as their political independence and the territorial integrity of their country. If the governments will not act to uphold agreed and fundamental limits on state violence, especially directed at vulnerable countries and peoples, then as citizens of the world, ‘we the peoples of the United Nations,’ as proclaimed by the Preamble to the Charter need to raise our voices. We have the residual responsibility to act on behalf of international law and morality when the UN falters or when states act beyond the law.
 
Read the full article.
 
2. Humanitarian Inquisition
David Bosco
Foreign Policy, Op-ed
1 September 2011
 
The defeat of Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime has produced a vigorous debate about the lessons of the intervention. Plenty of the commentary has focused on what the rebel victory means for U.S. President Barack Obama's political future and his foreign-policy doctrine of "leading from behind," as well as the NATO alliance. But beyond the Beltway, in capitals all over the globe, the Libya experience is also an important test for the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, which has moved in and out of fashion during the past two decades. For those think that the international community should stop the depredations of violent regimes -- by force if necessary -- Libya is a milestone. But the intervention also poses some difficult questions.  
 
1. Is a slow victory better than a quick defeat?
 
Western-led intervention in Libya was designed to avert the defeat and feared massacre of regime opponents in the rebel capital of Benghazi. (…) Instead, intervention produced a grinding six-month conflict that still hasn't fully ended. By most accounts, the conflict has taken at least 20,000 lives. (…) If the sole criterion is whether lives were saved, the operation may have failed. It's at least possible that a quick victory by Qaddafi -- which appeared likely in February -- would have resulted in fewer deaths than the prolonged conflict.
 
The notion of acquiescing to a brutal crackdown on humanitarian grounds may seem perverse. But humanitarians make that kind of calculation all the time, though not always explicitly. The scale of human suffering in North Korea, for instance, dwarfs that in Libya. Yet no serious observer calls for intervention there, because of the expected cost. In Libya, Western policymakers argued that the balance tilted in favor of action. But particularly if a humanitarian intervention will be limited to air support for local resistance, the expected toll of prolonged fighting must be factored into the calculus.
 
Unless, that is, the humanitarian calculus is not the most important one. Intervention can support all sorts of other values and goals, including self-determination and self-government. (…)
 
2. Is Security Council approval necessary? (…)
 
Advocates of an international "responsibility to protect" (R2P) were thrilled that the powerful Security Council appeared to be endorsing the doctrine. Their joy may have been premature. The council soon divided into different camps on the conduct of the campaign, with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) in particular roundly criticizing what they saw as NATO's abuses of its authority.
 
Instead of cementing R2P into council practice, the Libya experience may have made future Security Council backing for humanitarian intervention less likely, at least in the medium term. Russia and China have been extremely reluctant to impose sanctions on Syria, in part because they don't want to start down the road taken in Libya. And that means that the international community will likely be forced to grapple again with how R2P meshes with existing international law, which requires Security Council approval for uses of force other than self-defense.
 
3. Can you defend civilians without taking sides?
 
As the BRIC countries and other critics have pointed out repeatedly, NATO's Libya action almost immediately became a regime-change operation, albeit a limited and halting one. (…)
 
The divergence between the mission's legal mandate and its methods drove some observers to distraction. But the duplicity was inevitable. Outsiders always struggle to police conflicts neutrally, and that difficult task becomes all but impossible from the air. Siding with the rebels was the only intervention strategy that made operational sense. The problem was not the strategy, but the inability of those intervening to honestly explain what they were doing. Because the Security Council never would have endorsed intervention on behalf of the rebels, intervening governments felt compelled to cast the entire operation in terms of neutral civilian protection.
 
This dynamic introduces a significant legitimacy problem for R2P. (…)
 
Read the full article.

3. Beyond Libya: A World Ready to Respond to Mass Violence
Rachel Gerber
Stanley Foundation
September 2011
 
Five months after the first NATO airstrikes opened Operation Unified Protector, the Gaddafi regime has collapsed.

The battle began with the Colonel’s declared intent to “cleanse” Libya of its protesting “vermin.” And with every rebel advance or retreat, observers remain poised to call the Libyan campaign either a victory or defeat for international efforts to protect civilians from governments that turn against them.
 
The decision to authorize force to counter Gaddafi’s explicit threats was steeped in the rationale of a political principle known as the Responsibility to Protect, or R2P. Its final outcome will undoubtedly impact the way global leaders view their self-professed responsibility to protect civilian populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
 
But Libya is far from the only data point tracking the progress of global policies to prevent and respond to mass violence.
 
R2P has motivated direct international engagement in crises as diverse as Kenya, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Ivory Coast and South Sudan. Key global and regional leaders have recently ratcheted up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, calling for him to step down.
 
Maligned as “interventionist” by some, heralded as a positive step forward in atrocity prevention by others, R2P is proving to be transformative.
 
The United Nations, a product of the experience of two world wars, was created to prevent violent conflict between nations, not within them. For much of its existence and within very recent memory, insistence that the UN could not intervene in any matter that was “essentially within the jurisdiction of any state” kept state-generated violence against civilians off the agenda of the UN Security Council.
 
Such arguments, however, have been merely marginal to debates over threats to civilians in Libya and Syria. UN member states have 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 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.
 
Read the full article.

4. How to Keep NATO from Your Door- Lessons from the Fall of Gaddafi
Mahmood Mamdani
Al Jazeera
30 August 2011
 
(…) The conditions making for external intervention in Africa are growing, not diminishing. The continent is today the site of a growing contention between dominant global powers and new challengers. The Chinese role on the continent has grown dramatically. Whether in Sudan and Zimbabwe, or in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria, that role is primarily economic, focused on two main activities: building infrastructure and extracting raw materials. For its part, the Indian state is content to support Indian mega corporations it has yet to develop a coherent state strategy. But the Indian focus too is mainly economic.
 
The contrast with Western powers, particularly the US and France, could not be sharper. The cutting edge of Western intervention is military. France's search for opportunities for military intervention, at first in Tunisia, then Cote d'Ivoire, and then Libya, has been above board and the subject of much discussion. Of greater significant is the growth of Africom, the institutional arm of US military intervention on the African continent.
 
This is the backdrop against which African strongmen and their respective oppositions today make their choices. Unlike in the Cold War, Africa's strongmen are weary of choosing sides in the new contention for Africa. Exemplified by President Museveni of Uganda, they seek to gain from multiple partnerships, welcoming the Chinese and the Indians on the economic plane, while at the same time seeking a strategic military presence with the US as it wages its War on Terror on the African continent. 
 
In contrast, African oppositions tend to look mainly to the West for support, both financial and military. It is no secret that in just about every African country, the opposition is drooling at the prospect of Western intervention in the aftermath of the fall of Gaddafi. (…)
 
The Security Council identifies states guilty of committing "crimes against humanity" and sanctions intervention as part of a "responsibility to protect" civilians. Third parties, other states armed to the teeth, are then free to carry out the intervention without accountability to anyone, including the Security Council. The ICC, in lockstep with the Security Council, targets the leaders of the state in question for criminal investigation and prosecution.
 
Africans have been complicit in this, even if unintentionally. Sometimes, it is as if we had been a few steps behind in a game of chess. An African Secretary General tabled the proposal that has come to be called R2P, Responsibility to protect. Without the vote of Nigeria and South Africa, the resolution authorising intervention in Libya would not have passed in the Security Council.
 
Read the full article.
  
1. Sifting Fact from Fiction: the Role of Social Media in Conflict
United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and George Washington University
USIP or available live via webcast
16 September 2011, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
 
From the war in Libya to the elections in Nigeria, speculation abounds about the power of new media for social change – spawning a cottage industry of “expert” analysis of the data from social networks, which then influences government policy and public perceptions. 
 
This Blogs & Bullets meeting will bring together the companies and experts who sift through the data with activists that create it and policy-makers who use it. We will look at the cutting-edge of research technologies and predictive analytics in an effort to expand our ability to harness these new platforms for conflict management and peacebuilding. 
 
Featured speakers include, among others, Alec Ross from the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of State, Clay Shirky from New York University, Hillary Mason from Bit.Ly, Jillian York from Electronic Frontier Foundation, Marc Lynch from the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, Oscar Morales from One Million Voices Against the FARC, Sheldon Himelfarb from the United States Institute of Peace, and Sultan al-Qassemi, a UAE-based Columnist and Social Media Commentator.

Please contact Anand Varghese at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or 202-429-7179 with any questions about this event. This public event will be held at USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20037 from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm. Webcast live: www.usip.org/webcast.
 
Read more information or RSVP.

2. Responding to Mass Atrocity Crimes: The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ After Libya
Chatham House, London
6 October 2011, 6:00 – 7:00 pm
 
Gareth Evans, former Co-Chair, International Commissions on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01) and Former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and one of the key architects of ‘responsibility to protect’ (RtoP), will explore whether the World Summit endorsement of this concept in 2005 has helped the advance towards ending genocide and other major crimes against humanity.  The speaker will examine whether the new norm has been implemented effectively in practice, or whether it remains simply inspirational and aspirational.  He will explore whether this year’s Security Council-endorsed military intervention in Libya constitutes a dramatic new benchmark for its application in extreme cases, or whether it represents the high-water mark from which the tide will now recede.
 
Find more information or register.
 

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