22 November 2011
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1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect –United Nations General Assembly Vote on Syria
2. Human Rights Watch –Arab League: Ensure Effective Syria Monitoring Mission
3. Luis Peral, European Union Institute for Security Studies –R2P in Syria: How to Surmount the Inaction of the UN Security Council?
1. Tarak Barkawi, Al Jazeera –Intervention Without Responsibility
2. e-International Relations –The Responsibility to Protect: Challenges & Opportunities in Light of the Libyan Intervention
3. Gareth Evans, New York Times –The Lesson of Libya
4. Robin Collins, World Federalist Movement – Canada –Thinking About Libya, the Responsibility to Protect and Regime Change: A “Lessons Learned” Discussion Paper
1. Resolution “UEF Support to the Responsibility to Protect Principle”
1. “The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocity in Our Times”
1. International Crisis Group –Report: The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game?
2. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) –Report: Disregarding the Warnings of the UN Security Council, Yemen Continues its Murderous Repression
3. Human Rights Watch –ASEAN: Set Benchmarks for Burma on Rights
1. Martha Hall Findlay, iPolitics –Can Responsibility to Protect Survive Libya and Syria?
2. J.L. Granatstein, Ottawa Citizen –Should Canada Focus on Keeping the Peace? No
3. Amitai Etzioni, Foreign Affairs –Point of Order: Is China More Westphalian Than the West?
8 December 2011, University of Westminster –Assessing “The Responsibility to Protect” Ten Years On
On 22 September the Third Committee (human rights) of the UN General Assembly voted 122 to 13 – with 41 abstentions - in favor of a Resolution condemning the violence against civilians and calling for an immediate ceasefire. The Resolution calls on the Syrian government to comply with the Arab League’s plan for peace and cooperate with the independent commission of inquiry established by the Human Rights Council. The Resolution was drafted by Germany, the UK and France, and co-sponsored by several Arab nations including Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
ICRtoP welcomes this initiative from the General Assembly to halt ongoing mass atrocities. The Resolution, which issues strong condemnation of violence against civilians and supports regional efforts, is an important step as the international community realizes its commitment to uphold the responsibility to protect in the case of Syria.
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) issued a statement applauding the GA’s initiative, saying, “In supporting today’s resolution the UN General Assembly took an important step in upholding the Responsibility to Protect and in declaring that the international community will not be bystanders to ongoing crimes against humanity in Syria.”
Violence continues despite robust regional condemnation and Arab League efforts
Syrian security forces have continued a campaign of mass violence against civilians, ignoring first the 13 November suspension of Syria’s membership from the League of Arab States, and then the League’s 19 November deadline to halt attacks on protestors.
On 18 November, the Syrian government agreed conditionally to allow an Arab League monitoring mission to enter Syria. The Arab League’s proposed observer mission would include human rights experts and a military presence, and would observe Syria’s progress in implementing the reforms articulated in the peace plan brokered on 2 November. The Syrian government proposed amendments to the mission, claiming the mission included “unattainable” monitoring protocols. Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem stated that the mission entailed “pervasive jurisdiction that reaches the level of ... violating Syrian sovereignty.” On 21 November, the League rejected the Syrian’s government’s proposed amendments to the monitoring mission, and has remained at an impasse.
Meanwhile, State governments continue to strongly emphasize the need for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to implement reforms and stop the violence in light of the continuing crackdowns on protestors. On 22 November, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan echoed Jordan’s King Adbullah 14 November call, urging Assad’s to resign and halt the brutal crackdowns on anti-government protestors in Syria. Turkey has allowed Syrian refugees and military defectors to take refuge on its soil, and hosted Syrian opposition groups. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on the United Nations Security Council on 18 November to take immediate action in Syria, which includes the possibility of air strikes and sanctions.
1. United Nations General Assembly Vote on Syria
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
22 November 2011
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect welcomes today’s historic United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution on the crisis in Syria. Today’s resolution sends a strong message to the al-Assad regime that it cannot continue to kill its own people without fear of consequence or sanction.
In keeping with the 2005 commitment to the Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the UN General Assembly has an important role to play in averting and halting mass atrocities. Yet, rarely has the UN General Assembly sought to use its preventive powers in the midst of a crisis to
speak out on behalf of those facing a daily threat of mass atrocity crimes.
In supporting today’s resolution the UN General Assembly took an important step in upholding the Responsibility to Protect and in declaring that the international community will not be bystanders to ongoing crimes against humanity in Syria.
Read the statement
2. Arab League: Ensure Effective Syria Monitoring Mission
Human Rights Watch
19 November 2011
The Arab League should ensure that Syria grants its monitoring mission unhindered access to conflict zones and detention facilities, and that it can operate independent of Syrian security services and other authorities, Human Rights Watch said today.
On November 18, 2011, Syrian diplomatic sources told media outlets that their government had “conditionally” accepted an Arab League mission to observe implementation of the League’s initiative to end the violence that has killed thousands since March.
“The Arab League’s effort to send monitors to Syria is commendable, but whether this mission can make a difference depends on whether the Syrian government lets it do its job,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian people don’t need another guided tour for foreign observers – what’s needed is an independent and effective monitoring presence that can finally shed light on the serious human rights violations on the ground.”
The monitors should be able to address all serious human rights violations and look at abuses by all parties, including armed groups and protesters as well as security forces, Human Rights Watch said. As part of their mandate, they should document patterns of abuse, identify individuals responsible for carrying out or ordering human rights violations, and recommend steps to end violations and address impunity.(…)
The monitors should include people with specialized expertise, including forensic experts who can examine those injured and killed in the violence or in detention, and arms experts who can analyze the types of weapons that have been used.
The Arab League should insist that Syrian authorities grant its monitors unhindered access to all parts of the country, allow them to operate independently, and guarantee the safety of witnesses and staff members, Human Rights Watch said. The Syrian government has insisted on sending “escorts” when journalists and a UN humanitarian team have been allowed to visit since the violence began, contending it was for security.
Arab League monitors need to be able to interview victims and witnesses privately, and Syrian authorities should not be able to observe these meetings, Human Rights Watch said. The monitors should immediately report to the League any obstructions they face, and the League should make clear to the Syrian government that it will be held responsible for the safety of witnesses and victims who meet with the monitors. (…)
3. R2P in Syria — How to surmount the inaction of the UN Security Council?
Luis Peral, European Union Institute for Security Studies
16 November 2011
The treatment of the gross violations of human rights – including the direct killing of civilians – in Libya and in Syria by the UN Security Council has been markedly different. Following the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the ‘Declaration of Liberation’ issued by the Libyan National Transitional Council on 23 October, the UN Security Council ended NATO’s six-month intervention in Libya, authorised by Resolution 1973 (2011).  The crimes against humanity being committed by Gaddafi’s regime before the intervention presented legal grounds, if only belatedly, for implementing the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), even if the armed intervention – allegedly aimed at protecting civilians – overlapped with a civil war situation. There are, however, no signs of the Security Council making a decision to apply R2P regarding crimes against humanity being committed by the Assad regime in Syria.
The Syrian President, Bashar Assad, recently provided new grounds for acting on Chapter VII of the UN Charter. By declaring that external intervention in Syria will provoke an “earthquake” that “will burn the whole region”, he has openly acknowledged that the situation in Syria seriously and directly affects regional – and thus international – security. The risk of fragmentation and instability that his regime has brought about does indeed warrant immediate action by the Security Council, and not only in the context of R2P (…)
The roots of the problem
The lack of consensus on how to implement R2P among the permanent members of the Security Council, but more generally between most Western democracies and the so-called emerging powers together with Russia, may thus affect future decisions of the Council concerning the identification of R2P situations. This disagreement on how to respond to crimes may in the end block any recognition of crimes. The problem is as crucial as it is extremely difficult to address. Consensus on how to operationalise the protection of populations at risk – or rather, the protection of humanitarian agents and goods alleviating their plight – was in fact built during the 1990s but has not practically been applied during the first decade of the present century due to a daunting emphasis on the ‘war against terror’ (…)
What can be done at the international and regional level, short of using force, in the absence of a Security Council decision?
The 2005 UN Outcome Document endorsing the principle of R2P entrusts the Security Council with the responsibility to act in order to protect victims of the most serious crimes in the framework of the UN Charter, but inaction by the Council may not render crimes lawful. Since the Security Council bears primary but not exclusive responsibility regarding armed responses to threats to international peace and security, its flagrant inaction necessarily entails devolution of such capacity to members of the international community. Third parties willing to protect victims of massacres perpetrated by their own governments whose plight was not acted upon by the Council are thus entitled to do so, including by using force under certain circumstances, in as much as they fully respect all relevant international principles. (…)
The legality of a ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria
This time, however, the Security Council will likely fail to adopt a decision to apply R2P even upon the Arab League having taken a more determined stance. It seems that Russia and China – in spite of its recent public condemnation of Assad – will veto a decision that paves the way for an intervention led either by NATO or by the countries that played a prominent role in the armed intervention in Libya, namely France, the UK and the US. Of course, other volunteers can approach the reluctant members of the Security Council offering guarantees of respect for the principle of proportionally in the use of force, but volunteers are scarce nowadays. On the one hand, emerging countries such as India, China or Brazil are still unable or unwilling to project force beyond their immediate neighbourhood, even less so when their most direct interests are not at stake according to the most traditional interpretation of ‘security’. On the other hand, countries that are traditionally willing to take part in international protection operations, most of them also NATO members, are undergoing drastic cuts in their defence budgets due to the economic crisis.
Neighbouring states directly suffer the consequences the most of one state violating basic international human rights principles, and are thus more willing to intervene. Under the present circumstances, Turkey appears to be the most likely, if not the only, candidate to undertake or trigger international action on behalf of the victims of mass violations of human rights in Syria. The most powerful neighbour of Syria has indeed undergone a drastic change of heart regarding its former ally, precisely when Syria’s internal situation was directly affecting its sovereignty; and the possibility of Turkey crossing the border in order to create a safe zone for refugees inside Syria has been already suggested by experts and indeed considered by the Government since last June. It is only recently that the Turkish Foreign Minister has openly acknowledged the possibility with an explicit mention to the principle of R2P. But the argument goes beyond the need of protecting populations in danger: the sovereignty of a state that is being forced to host refugees fleeing a massacre in a neighbouring state becomes clearly undermined, even by the most traditional interpretation of the word ‘security’. (…)
Read the full analysis
The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on 18 November to reinstate Libya’s membership following over 8 months of suspension. The same day, groups of armed Libyans, claiming they were instrumental in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, demonstrated in the streets of Tripoli, demanding a voice in the Libyan interim government, which was announced by Abdurrahim El Keib, National Transitional Council (NTC) prime minister on 22 November. The appointments to the cabinet, which will run the country until formal elections are held, were met with some opposition, causing negotiations over interim government positions to be re-opened.
Amid Libya’s process of political organization, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, was captured by National Transitional Council forces on 19 November in the southern Libyan town of Ubari. Libyan authorities are seeking the death penalty for Saif al-Islam’s crimes, which may amount to crimes against humanity, according to an investigation authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970.
Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) have urged Libyan authorities to send Saif al-Islam to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to ensure humane treatment while imprisoned. Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, says “After what happened after the capture of Mu’ammar and Mu’tassim al-Gaddafi, we hold the NTC responsible for preventing similar harm coming to Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, so that he can face justice for his alleged crimes in a fair trial with no death penalty.” Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, claimed “The authorities will send an important message that there’s a new era in Libya, marked by the rule of law, by treating Saif al-Islam humanely and surrendering him to the ICC. His fair prosecution at the ICC will afford Libyans a chance to see justice served in a trial that the international community stands behind.” Though ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced on 22 November that the ICC would ultimately decide where Saif al-Islam’s trial is to be held, the civil society awaits the NTC’s next steps.
Meanwhile, the day following Saif’s arrest, Moammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief Abdallah Senoussi was captured in the southern Libyan town of Sabha, Senoussi is also wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity. As of 21 November, Senoussi was being held at an undisclosed location by Libyan authorities due to threats on his life. NTC officials have not yet revealed whether Senoussi will be tried in Libya or be extradited to Europe to be tried at the ICC.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay welcomed the captures of Saif al-Islam and Abdallah Senoussi on 21 November and urged Libyan authorities to cooperate with the ICC and treat the prisoners humanely. “The arrests of Gaddafi’s son and the former Director of Military Intelligence have enormous significance for the future of justice in Libya,” Pillay said in the press release.
1. Intervention Without Responsibility
22 November 2011
Many argue that the combination of UN legitimacy, Western airpower and indigenous resistance forces is a powerful recipe for taking down dictators. Certainly such an approach avoids the pitfalls of a Western role on the ground, so evident in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2006, the UN Security Council affirmed its support for the doctrine of "responsibility to protect". This is the idea that if a member state cannot protect its own citizens from crimes against humanity, it is the responsibility of the international community to do so.
"R2P", as this doctrine is known, would have been a wonderful justification for intervention and liberal imperialism if only the UN were an effective organisation.
Due to Western disinterest in supplying troops for peacekeeping operations, the application of R2P has been typically selective. The primary targets have been weak African states.
However, Libya and the current romance with airpower have breathed new life into ideas like R2P. They have reignited also the neo-conservative belief that democracy can be exported by military means.
Airpower offers the illusion that a "clean" war can be fought. Only the "bad guys" are hit by precision guided munitions. The complexities and moral ambiguities of intervention on the ground are seemingly avoided.
To be sure, contemporary airpower, especially in the hands of the experienced professionals in the USAF and the RAF, is extraordinarily precise. Whatever else one can say about Libya, very few civilian casualties were caused by Western air action.
Airpower, however, remains subject to the vicissitudes of war and the diabolical dilemmas of armed intervention. Its use - and withdrawal - may yet contribute to a protracted civil conflict in Libya.
There are other reasons to doubt Libya will be a model for the future in the way advocates of philanthropic violence hope. (…)
But in practice UNSC 1973 was tantamount to authorisation for regime change. Certainly this is how the US, the UK and France interpreted it.
Future no-fly zone resolutions will face far greater scepticism. The legitimacy of a Security Council resolution - a crucial piece of the Libya model - may well be unavailable. (…)
2. The Responsibility to Protect: Challenges & Opportunities in Light of the Libyan Intervention
With contributions from many of the world’s most respected R2P experts and practitioners, this compendium of pieces from e-IR attempts to draw attention to the major points of contention that have been highlighted by the Libyan intervention.
The international community has a contentious history when it comes to preventing and halting mass atrocities. Throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, states largely failed to act according to their responsibilities as signatories of the 1948 Genocide Convention, ‘standing by’ time after time while civilians were targeted by their leaders, despite their declarations that such crimes must “never again” be allowed to happen. It was only in 2001, under the shadow of shameful inaction during the Rwandan genocide and in light of the perceived success of the 1999 Kosovo intervention, that the international community was finally able to produce a comprehensive framework of policy tools designed to guide states towards preventing mass atrocities. The Responsibility to Protect (often referred to as R2P or RtoP) aimed to halt atrocities as they occurred, and rebuild and reconstruct societies in the wake of such crimes. It represented the policy realization of the statement “never again”. Now a growing international relations, human rights and international security norm, R2P cuts to the core of what it means to be a moral player in the international arena.
Contributors: Alex J. Bellamy, David Chandler, Gareth Evans, Rachel Gerber, Aidan Hehir, Mary Ellen O’Connell, Rodger Shanahan, Ramesh Thakur, Thomas G. Weiss, and Abiodun Williams
See the collection
3. The Lesson of Libya
The New York Times
15 November 2011
David Rieff (“R2P, R.I.P.,” Views, Nov. 7) is right to say that advocates of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine — and I have been in that trench from the beginning — should not be too triumphant about the course of events in Libya. It will indeed be harder in the future to get the U.N. Security Council to endorse the use of coercive military force to stop or prevent mass atrocities.
But Mr. Rieff’s suggestion that we should be mourning possibly mortal damage to R2P overstates the case. Counterfactuals can never be proved, of course, but all U.N. members essentially now accept that if quick and robust military action had been taken in the 1990s, when the North and the South were hopelessly divided over “humanitarian intervention,” some 8,000 lives would have been saved in Srebrenica and 800,000 in Rwanda. No one wants a return to the inaction of the past.
The lesson of Libya is that R2P advocates have to define more precisely the stringent prudential criteria that must be satisfied before the Security Council authorizes coercive military force and those that should govern the application of force.
Five criteria have been long on the table: that the harm feared is serious, that the intent to address that harm is genuine, that nothing less than military coercion is likely to succeed, that force be applied proportionally to the harm feared, and that the net balance of consequences is likely to be positive. These standards should be adopted as formal Security Council guidelines. They all clearly applied when the Council acted to prevent an imminent massacre in Benghazi, Libya, in March. But some of the criteria — especially proportionality — did much less obviously so as the intervention wore on.
Read the article
4. Thinking About Libya, the Responsibility to Protect and Regime Change: A “Lessons Learned” Discussion Paper
World Federalist Movement- Canada
When the United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions to stop Moammar Gaddafi from continuing to harm his civilian population in the spring of 2011, it was acting on a real need and in accordance with the 2005 UN policy on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
However, the application of the R2P norm was not letter-perfect. In a WFM- Canada discussion paper, Robin Collins explores many of the questions and ambiguities surrounding the Libya conflict and concludes by stressing the importance of effective implementation of September’s UN Security Council resolution 2009, setting out a framework for post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction in Libya.
1. Resolution “UEF Support to the Responsibility to Protect Principle”
Union of European Federalists
13 November 2011
Adopted by the UEF Federal Committee on 13 November, the following Resolution affirms the principle of Responsibility to Protect and calls on the European Union to more effectively implement RtoP’s preventive elements.
Bearing in mind that in October 2005 the United Nations’ member states unanimously endorsed the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle in the World Summit Outcome Document affirming that each state had ‘the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’ and should any state be found to be ‘manifestly failing to protect their populations’ from these four crimes, the world’s governments committed themselves ‘to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter;
Noting that the UN Charter grants the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) veto power in areas related to Security Council decision-making, Charter amendments, and the appointment of the Secretary-General;
Acknowledging the success in the application of the principle of RtoP in Libya under which the NATO-led intervention managed to contain a potential carnage by the forces of Muammar al Gaddafi;
Recognising the controversy triggered by the interpretation of the UN mandate by the NATO-led coalition to link protection of civilians to regime change which raised concern by civil society organisations and bodies such as the African Union which expressed “concern at the dangerous precedence being set by one-sided interpretations of resolutions 1970 and 1973, in an attempt to provide a legal authority for military and other actions on the ground that are clearly outside the scope of these resolutions”;
Bearing in mind that the RtoP principle is about protecting civilians from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing with a range of measures, not just military intervention and also emphasises that, the international community should encourage and help states to exercise this responsibility and prevention is a key element of the concept;
Bearing in mind the financial costs that running such operations have on shrinking national budgets –of the countries participating in coalitions to implement UNSC resolutions- which might hijack potential necessary interventions in the future;
UEF considers that
- The RtoP is the right framework to operate within the UN;
- Financial implications of activities in the framework of the third pillar of RtoP should increasingly fall on new resources to be raised and pooled by the UN system and not solely be shouldered by those countries volunteering to intervene,
UEF calls the EU to make all efforts to build up its own capacities for more effectively applying the preventive elements of RtoP further pursue and expand the application of the RtoP to the cases of mass atrocities and enhance the EEAS activities in that regard.
Read the resolution
1. “The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocity in Our Times”
Edited: Jared Genser, Irwin Cotler; Preface: Desmond Tutu and Vaclav Havel
Oxford University Press
In The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Time, Jared Genser and Irwin Cotler provide a comprehensive overview on how this contemporary principle of international law has developed and analyze how best to apply it to current and future humanitarian crises. The "responsibility to protect" is a doctrine unanimously adopted by the UN World Summit in 2005, which says that all states have an obligation to protect their own citizens from mass atrocities, which includes genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Its adoption and application has generated a passionate debate in law schools, professional organizations, media and within the U.N. system.
To present a full picture of where the doctrine now stands and where it could go in the future, editors Jared Genser and Irwin Cotler have assembled a global team of authors with diverse backgrounds and differing viewpoints, including Edward Luck, the UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect. Genser and Cotler balance the pro-RtoP chapters with more skeptical arguments from agency staff and scholars with long experience in addressing mass atrocities. Framed by a Preface from Desmond Tutu and Vaclav Havel and a Conclusion from Gareth Evans, these in-depth and authoritative analyses move beyond theory to demonstrate how RtoP has worked on the ground and should work if applied to other crises. The global focus of this book, as well as its detailed application of the principle in case studies make it uniquely useful to staff at international organizations and NGOs considering use of the principle in a given circumstance, to scholars providing advice to governments, and to students seeking guidance on this still-expanding subject.
Find out more.
1. The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game?
International Crisis Group
17 November 2011
Insufficient political will has thwarted regional efforts to stop the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but vigorous diplomacy led by the African Union (AU), an immediate military push and complementary civilian initiatives could end the misery of thousands.
The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, explains why Uganda’s half-hearted three-year offensive has failed to eliminate Joseph Kony’s guerrilla band and why there is now a new window of opportunity. Since peace talks with the erstwhile northern Ugandan insurgency collapsed and a first assault on Kony’s camps was botched in late 2008, the Ugandan army has been trying to catch scattered groups of fighters along the borders of DR Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. In that period, the LRA, now only a small but deadly criminal and terror band, has killed some 2,400 civilians, abducted some 3,400 and caused 440,000 to flee homes.
“The reasons for the military failure are at root political; Ugandan President Museveni scaled down the anti-LRA mission to pursue other ventures that would win him greater political capital at home and abroad”, says Ned Dalby, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Analyst. “Since the LRA no longer poses a threat to northern Uganda, few opposition politicians or community leaders there demand Museveni finish it off”.
Uganda’s efforts to pursue combatants in DRC have been dogged by the host army’s refusal to cooperate and grant access to LRA-affected areas. Uganda invaded DRC in the late 1990s, plundered its natural resources and earned President Joseph Kabila’s lasting mistrust. CAR President François Bozizé, equally suspicious, has insisted the Ugandans leave diamond mining areas in his country.
At the request of some members, the AU stepped forward and said it would authorise a counter-LRA mission. It plans to appoint a special envoy to smooth relations between Kinshasa and Kampala and create new military structures to improve coordination between the armies. However, planning has foundered due to political constraints and the African body’s limited capacity.
The Ugandan army, with its record of abuse and failure to protect civilians is an imperfect vehicle, distrusted in the area. Kampala’s commitment now that the LRA no longer directly endangers its interests is reason for scepticism it has the will to see the job through. But a military operation combined with civilian efforts to entice surrenders remains the most feasible solution, and the Ugandans are the only troops at hand for this. The U.S. is strengthening its political and military engagement, including by sending several score advisers to help them in the field on a short-term basis. Kony is believed to be in the CAR. Before he crosses back into DRC and while U.S. support is strong, the Ugandan army should make an urgent military push, prioritising civilian protection, humanitarian access, better coordination and strict accountability.
To ensure dividends, the AU must live up to its responsibilities as guarantor of continental security and oversee a multi-dimensional regional initiative, continuing after Kony’s death or capture. It should appoint quickly a special envoy to rally the political commitment of Uganda and the three affected states and introduce a common operational and legal framework for the military operation, keyed to civilian protection, thus giving continent-wide legitimacy. Uganda and the U.S. should fold their efforts into the initiative.
“The LRA issue illustrates the desperate need for African and international actors to fulfil their responsibility to protect”, says Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director. “Ensuring complementarity between the political and military actions of all stakeholders is key to their success and to ending a 24-year-long history of violence”.
2. Disregarding the Warnings of the UN Security Council, Yemen Continues its Murderous Repression
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
16 November 2011
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member and partner organisations in Yemen - the Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC), Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF), and the Yemeni Human Rights Network (YHRN) - alert the international community to Yemen’s continued repression of protest movements and murder of civilians, despite the strong warnings of the UN Security Council.
On 11 November 2011, 16 people, including women and children, were killed in an artillery shelling launched by the Yemeni army on both Freedom Square - the epicentre of the anti-government protest movement - in the southern city of Taiz, and on a number of residential neighbourhoods. Yemeni officials justified these violent attacks by claiming that armed opposition fighters were entrenched in several buildings. Two people were also allegedly killed the next day in another shelling attack by government forces.
These recent events follow a series of government shellings on Taiz, attacks which have occurred after the 21 October 2011 adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution that demanded the Yemeni authorities to “end attacks against civilians and civilian targets by security forces”. The Resolution, backed by all 15 council members, strongly condemned the deadly government attacks on the demonstrators since the protests began in February of this year.
Further, these events have arisen while a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) political agreement on the transfer of power in Yemen is under consideration. This agreement provides for the immunity of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his relatives from the crimes they committed in order to repress protest movements. “The immunity provision unfortunately translates into a fertile ground for the continuation of systematic and grave human rights violations in Yemen by governmental forces”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.
“The killings illustrate, needless to say, the Yemeni authorities’ shameful disregard for the fate of their people, but also their defiance of the UN’s resolution”, she added.
FIDH, HRITC, SAF, and YHRN call on the international community to upgrade its condemnation of the Yemeni authorities and deploy immediate measures to prevent further crimes. Specifically, FIDH , HRITC, SAF, and YHRN call on the international community :
- to mandate an international and independent commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations committed in Yemen and to hold those responsible accountable;
- to adopt sanctions, such as travel bans and the freezing of assets, that can be targeted at those individuals responsible for the crackdown against the anti-government protestors which began 9 months ago, in particular against those who hold high-level positions in the government, Yemeni army, and security forces.
Read the letter
3. ASEAN: Set Benchmarks for Burma on Rights
Human Rights Watch
16 November 2011
(…) The Burmese government should provide proper accounting of all prisoners throughout the country, Human Rights Watch said. Given the lack of transparency in Burma’s justice and penal system, the government’s practice of moving prisoners to remote locations, and its refusal to allow access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other independent organizations, families of all prisoners face terrible hardships. The onus is on the Burmese government to account for each prisoner, not prisoners’ families, opposition parties such as the National League for Democracy, or outside organizations.
“ASEAN should tell the Burmese government to stop using political prisoners as bargaining chips to deflect international pressure,” said Pearson. “ASEAN members need to ensure that all of Burma’s prisoners are fully accounted for, and those held for political reasons are immediately released.”
ASEAN should call on the Burmese government to repeal all laws that repress nonviolent political activity, Human Rights Watch said. The new parliament has tabled bills on forming trade unions, permitting peaceful assembly, and amending the political party registration laws, which may open the way for participation by the National League for Democracy. ASEAN should monitor recent reforms to Burma’s laws to ensure that their implementation upholds basic rights.
ASEAN should press the Burmese government to end grave rights abuses in ethnic areas and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said. Serious abuses amounting to war crimes in Kachin, Shan, and Karen States have escalated in 2011. Since June, over 30,000 civilians have been displaced in Kachin State, fleeing Burmese army abuses such as unlawful forced labor, extrajudicial killings, and attacks on civilians, with several thousand seeking refuge in China.
Ongoing abuses in conflict areas show the culture of impunity that remains pervasive within the ranks of the Burmese military. Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for ASEAN to support the formation of a United Nations-led commission of inquiry into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and urged ASEAN to press for Burma’s cooperation with such an inquiry.
“ASEAN leaders should make it clear that an ASEAN summit in Burma is dependent on the government addressing ongoing rights violations and holding the perpetrators accountable,” said Pearson. “This means creating an international commission of inquiry as a necessary step towards bringing justice to victims of war crimes in Burma.”
1. Can Responsibility to Protect Survive Libya and Syria?
Martha Hall Findlay
18 November 2011
(…) Thanks in large part to Canadian efforts, R2P was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2005 and endorsed by the Security Council a year later. Importantly, though, international support for R2P was (and is) qualified by worry that it could be abused for political purposes. This is why events in Libya and elsewhere may put R2P in danger.
In the Security Council vote, UNSCR 1973 was passed with 10 in favour and 5 abstentions. Although the commentary by those in support focused on the “measures to protect civilians under threat of attack”, it was clear almost immediately that international action in Libya was no longer about protecting innocent, unarmed civilians peacefully protesting. Rightly or wrongly, this was regime change, and supporting an armed insurgency to achieve it. That’s not R2P.
The commentary by the abstaining members of the UN Security Council suggests significant worry about the potential abuse of military force for just this kind of political purpose and this is why R2P is now at risk because of Libya. Those already hesitant to support R2P will point to Libya and say it was only used to overthrow Gadhafi.
Why is R2P also at risk because of Syria? Because of the lack of action by the UN in what appear to be very similar circumstances. Similar crackdowns by the Syrian government against protesters in Syria have not elicited anywhere close to the same level of international condemnation or action. Indeed, there have been far more examples of peaceful, unarmed civilians being killed by government forces in Syria than in Libya, arguably making a stronger case for R2P. Yet R2P was not invoked and not even contemplated.
Why? Is R2P just another nice-sounding concept that will be used only when politically expedient to do so? Those who supported UNSCR 1973 seemed keen to overthrow Gadhafi, but apparently not Bashar al-Assad.
Because of Libya and Syria, it may be that much harder to rally international support the next time R2P is truly needed. (…)
2. Should Canada Focus on Keeping the Peace? No
The Ottawa Citizen
12 November 2011
The resolution poses the question very starkly: Peacekeeping or war-fighting for the Canadian Forces? But the reality for both Professor Michael Byers and me in this debate is probably somewhere in the middle.
Certainly I want the Canadian Forces to be able to fight a war if necessary and to be able to do all varieties of peace operations — and everything in between the two.
The real question is what kind of CF we need to cover the spectrum of conflict. Can a peacekeeping-only force, lightly equipped and trained only for peace missions, ever be sufficient? I think not, certainly not for tough peace enforcement or R2P (Responsibility to Protect) operations.
A peacekeeping-trained force can only do peacekeeping. But a Canadian Forces trained for war, a force much the same as we have now, can cover the spectrum of conflict. It can fight a war, as in Afghanistan, or an R2P operation, as in Libya. It can do peace operations of the traditional types whenever and wherever called upon. A well-trained soldier, in other words, can fight or act as an observer, serve as a buffer between warring parties, or as a peace enforcer. The peacekeeping-only soldier can only act as an observer or as a buffer. To me, this is decisive when, as they always will be, the CF’s numbers and budgets are limited.But having said this, Canada still must exercise judgment on where it sends its men and women in uniform. (…)
For peace operations and for R2P missions, however, United Nations approval ordinarily should be a prerequisite.
The key for Canada, however, is that saying yes to the UN is not and should never be automatic. Judgment must always be exercised and questions must be asked before Canada commits to every UN deployment and indeed to all other deployments as well. (…)
3. Point of Order: Is China More Westphalian Than the West?
Several leading Western progressives have sought to legitimize armed humanitarian intervention, under the rubric of “the responsibility to protect.” Others have gone even further, seeking to legitimize interference in the internal affairs of other countries if they develop nuclear arms, invoking “the duty to prevent.” Both concepts explicitly make sovereignty conditional on states’ conducting themselves in line with new norms that directly conflict with the Westphalian one. The issue, in other words, is not simply whether China will buy into the existing rule-based order but whether it can be persuaded to support the major changes in the rules that the West is seeking.
The past two decades have seen numerous humanitarian crises. The international community intervened with the use of force in some but not others. Many liberals were particularly troubled when the international community did not act to stop mass killings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan, and their concerns led to calls for limitations on sovereignty in order to facilitate such action in the future. The Evans-Sahnoun Commission, an international study group on humanitarian intervention that released its report in 2001, and a 2004 UN secretary-general’s high-level panel formulated and promoted the idea that when states do not conduct their internal affairs in ways that meet internationally recognized standards, other states have a right to intervene. This idea has since been referred to in shorthand as “the responsibility to protect.” (…)
Progressive interventionist voices have weakened somewhat recently, not least because, as The Economist noted, “the Bush years . . . damaged the intellectual case for intervention.” Still, Hillary Clinton promised during her presidential campaign to “operationalize” the responsibility-to- protect doctrine and “adopt a policy that recognizes the prevention of mass atrocities as an important national security interest of the United States, not just a humanitarian goal.” And the Obama administration invoked the responsibility to protect in its case for intervention in Libya (although it has been at pains to point out that such intervention will not be a regular occurrence). Before the United States and other Western powers seek to determine whether China can be moved to support changes in the traditional liberal order, therefore, they need to sort out what their own position is.
If the Westphalian nonintervention norm is to be changed, the question arises as to who should decide when violations of national responsibilities have reached the level that justifies an armed intervention and on what criteria the decision will be made. The UN Security Council is often cited as the appropriate forum for such rulings. Thus, when NATO intervened in Kosovo without UN authorization, this action was referred to as legitimate by some but also as illegal. The 2003 invasion of Iraq faced much condemnation because it was not fully authorized by the UN. In contrast, interventions in East Timor and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the rollback of Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait were considered legal because of UN approval.
Read the article
1. Assessing “The Responsibility to Protect” Ten Years On
Security and International Relations Programme
University of Westminster
8 December 2011
The Security and International Relations Programme at the University of Westminster is hosting a roundtable on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to mark the ten-year anniversary of the publication of the seminal report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). The ICISS report has become a key document on humanitarian intervention and the international protection of human rights, and R2P has since achieved a remarkable ubiquity in international political discourse. NATO’s intervention in Libya in March 2011 – widely heralded as “R2P in practice” and the dawn of a new era” – reinvigorated this debate, while ongoing events in the Middle East and Africa have ensured the currency of the topic. This roundtable brings together prominent academic specialists in this field to assess the evolution of R2P and its likely future efficacy.
· Professor Meryvn Frost, Kings College London
· Professor Jennifer Welsh, Somerville College, University of Oxford
· Dr James Pattison, University of Manchester
· Dr Aidan Hehir, University of Westminster
Find more information at the Security and International Relations Programme blog.