19 December 2011
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1. Joint call by Civil Society to the UN Security Council –Urgent action needed to provide protection to civilians in Syria and to ensure accountability
2. Human Rights Watch –‘Shoot to Kill’ Commanders Named
1. International Crisis Group –Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Gaddafi
2. Roger Nokes, The Interdependent –Libya and the Future of the Responsibility to Protect
1. Côte D’Ivoire: AllAfrica –Laurent Gbagbo and the ICC
2. Democratic Republic of the Congo: Romeo Dallaire, Frank Chalk and Kyle Matthews, The Ottawa Citizen –Don’t Let the DRC Go Up in Flames
3. Kenya: Human Rights Watch –Prosecute Perpetrators of Post-Election Violence
4. Yemen: International Federation for Human Rights --The European Union Should Uphold Accountability for Ongoing Human Rights Violations Committed Against Civilians
1. Stanley Foundation –52nd Strategy for Peace Conference Policy Dialogue Brief: Structuring the U.S. Government to Prevent Atrocities - Considerations for the Atrocities Prevention Board
2. International Refugee Rights Initiative- “Using the Great Lakes Conference to Combat Sexual Violence: A Primer”
1. UN News Centre- Secretary-General’s Year-End Press Conference
2. Special Advisers of the UNSG on the Prevention of Genocide and RtoP on the contemporary relevance of the commitment to prevent genocide and related crimes
2 May 2012, United Nations Association of Spain –Model United Nations of Barcelona (C’MUN)
24-26 February 2012, The Stanley Foundation –United Nations Issues Conference: Preparatory Workshop for the Second Meeting of the R2P Focal Points Network
15 January 2012, University of Southern California –Call for papers: “Resisting the Path to Genocide” Second Annual Workshop
I. Syria: security forces imposed policy leading to crimes against humanity, draft SC resolution from Russia pending as Arab League reaches new deal with government
While the UN on 12 December estimated the death toll in Syria to have exceeded 5000, the Syrian government continued to crack down on protestors and the Free Syrian Army, an armed group comprised of defected Syrian soldiers, continued its retaliatory attacks on Syrian security forces. An estimated 15 people were reportedly killed across Syria on 19 December as both pro- and anti-government rallies were held across Syria. A group of defected soldiers killed at least 27 Syrian soldiers and security forces near Deraa on 15 December.
Over seventy Syrian army commanders who ordered attacks on unarmed citizen protestors were named in a 15 December report from Human Rights Watch. The report, “By All Means Necessary! Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” released findings from interviews with Syrian army defectors, who divulged their involvement in torture practices and arbitrary arrests. This evidence points to a clear policy by Syrian military and civilian leadership amounting to crimes against humanity. The report reminded that under international law, commanders are responsible for the commission of international crimes by their subordinates if the commanders knew about the violations. Consequently, Human Rights Watch reiterated their recommendation that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court, saying, “Because crimes against humanity are considered crimes of universal jurisdiction, all states are responsible for bringing to justice those who have committed them.”
Member States in the region responded to the ongoing violence with mounting political pressure on Syrian President Bashar al Assad to achieve a peaceful solution. At a 19 December Arab League meeting in Cairo, Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Maqdad and Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli signed a peace deal, agreeing to an Arab observer mission for an initial period of one month. The peace deal explicitly ruled out intervention and protected Syrian sovereignty according to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Earlier, on 9 December, Turkey issued a warning to Syria that it would not tolerate a threat to regional security. On 18 December, an Iraqi national security advisor announced that Iraq’s Foreign Minister would lead an initiative to facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition alongside the Arab League peace deal.
Meanwhile, on 12 December, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that Member States had acknowledged the responsibility of governments to protect their populations and warned that Syria faced the serious risk of civil war. Three days later, Russia called for an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis, and introduced a draft Resolution in the Council. The draft condemned the violence committed by all parties in Syria and heavily emphasized that the Resolution did not mandate a military intervention in Syria. Security Council members welcomed the draft and foresaw negotiations on the language as some Member States, including France, Germany, and the United States felt that the resolution language was too lenient on the Syrian government. The draft stopped short of including language on economic sanctions, and as the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs expressed, “it is unacceptable to put the Syrian regime’s crackdown on the same level as the Syrian people’s resistance.” For more information about the draft resolution and Member States’ reactions to the Russian initiative, see the recent ICRtoP blog post: Syria: New Report Exposes Policy of Crimes Against Humanity and Echoes OHCHR Call for UN Security Council to Refer Situation to the ICC, Russia Introduces Draft Resolution to the Security Council.
1. Joint call by Civil Society to the UN Security Council: Urgent action needed to provide protection to civilians in Syria and to ensure accountability
International Federation of Human Rights
19 December 2011
While the undersigned organizations recognize the draft resolution condemning Syria currently being discussed by the Security Council, the current text does not adequately address the severity of the situation on the ground and fails to support international accountability for crimes committed by the government of Syria. The undersigned civil society organizations from around the world call on the United Nations (UN) Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to adopt a resolution ensuring protection for victims of human rights violations in Syria and accountability for potential crimes, including crimes against humanity, committed by the Syrian authorities.
In particular, we call on the Security Council to pass a resolution that will:
Condemn and call for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians, including within the context of peaceful protests;
Demand that the Syrian authorities abide by the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions, and the efforts of the League of Arab States (LAS) to end all acts of violence, release all political prisoners, remove the military from civilian populated areas, and grant access to independent observers and international media;
Immediately refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for potential crimes against humanity, as highlighted in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented on to the Human Rights Council on 2 December, which documented widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Syrian government;
Demand the immediate cooperation of Syria with the LAS, as well as relevant humanitarian organizations, including granting them full access to its territory
Require states to suspend all military sales and assistance to Syria, as there is a clear risk that they will be used in the commission of serious human rights violations; Urge action by all relevant United Nations bodies to ensure the protection of Syrian refugees residing outside of Syria and provide for their humanitarian needs. (…)
In this context, we are deeply troubled by the continuous failure of the UN Security Council to effectively act on the matter. Since last October, when the Security Council failed to adopt a strong resolution to support efforts to ensure international accountability by the Syrian government for potential crimes against humanity as a result of a veto by Russia and China, and abstentions by South Africa, India, Brazil, and Lebanon, more than 2,500 more civilians have died in addition to thousands arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared. Unlike what is reflected in the current draft resolution, this period has also marked the failure of the Road Map initiated by LAS to end the bloodshed. The long negotiation process between LAS and the Syrian authorities ended with several obstacles imposed by the Syrian regime that make it highly unlikely that the mission of observers to Syria will take place. This is in addition to the holding of three Special Sessions at the UN Human Rights Council and the establishment of two UN independent inquiry commissions – both denied entry into Syria– which reported the likelihood of crimes against humanity being committed by the Syrian government. (…)
Read full letter and list of signatories and see the letter to the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Dr. Nabil El Araby on ensuring effective targeted sanctions from 120 Arab and International NGOs.
2. Syria: ‘Shoot to Kill’ Commanders Named
Human Rights Watch
15 December 2011
Former Syrian soldiers identified by name 74 commanders and officials responsible for attacks on unarmed protesters, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report names commanders and officials from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies who allegedly ordered, authorized, or condoned widespread killings, torture, and unlawful arrests during the 2011 anti-government protests. Human Rights Watch has urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions against the officials implicated in abuses.
The 88-page report, “‘By All Means Necessary!’: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” is based on more than 60 interviews with defectors from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies. The defectors provided detailed information about their units’ participation in attacks, abuses against Syrian citizens, and the orders they received from commanders and officials at various levels, who are named in the report.
“Defectors gave us names, ranks, and positions of those who gave the orders to shoot and kill, and each and every official named in this report, up to the very highest levels of the Syrian government, should answer for their crimes against the Syrian people,” said Anna Neistat, associate director for emergencies at Human Rights Watch, and one of the authors of the report. “The Security Council should ensure accountability by referring Syria to the International Criminal Court.”
The defectors’ statements leave no doubt that the Syrian security forces committed widespread and systematic abuses, including killings, arbitrary detention, and torture, as part of a state policy targeting the civilian population, Human Rights Watch said. These abuses constitute crimes against humanity. (...)
Arbitrary Arrests, Torture, and Execution
Information provided by the defectors corroborates Human Rights Watch’s findings of widespread arbitrary arrests and torture of detainees across Syria. The defectors described large-scale, arbitrary arrests during protests and at checkpoints, as well as “sweep” operations in residential neighborhoods across the country that have resulted in hundreds, and at times, thousands, of arrests.
Defectors told Human Rights Watch that they routinely beat and mistreated detainees and that their commanders ordered, encouraged, or condoned these abuses. Those who had worked in or had access to detention facilities told Human Rights Watch that they witnessed or participated in torture. (...)
Under international law, commanders are responsible for international crimes committed by their subordinates if the commanders knew or should have known about the violations and failed to investigate and stop them.
Human Rights Watch said that given the widespread nature of killings and other crimes committed in Syria, scores of statements from soldiers about their orders to shoot and abuse protesters, and the extensive documentation of these abuses by international and local organizations and the media, it is reasonable to conclude, at minimum, that Syria’s senior military and civilian leadership knew about them. The ongoing killings, arrests, repression, and general denials of responsibility by the Syrian government also make clear that officials have failed to take any meaningful action to address these abuses.
Furthermore, Human Rights Watch has collected information indicating that the Syrian military and civilian leadership have been closely involved in the violent crackdown on protesters. (...)
Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC. Because crimes against humanity are considered crimes of universal jurisdiction, all states are responsible for bringing to justice those who have committed them.
Human Rights Watch also specifically called on Russia, one of the few countries that still supports the Syrian government, to end its opposition to strong Security Council action on Syria; to suspend all military sales and assistance to the Syrian government, given the real risk that weapons and technology will be used to commit serious human rights violations; and, in bilateral meetings, to condemn in the strongest terms the Syrian authorities’ systematic violations of human rights. (…)
Read the full press release
Read the report
II. Libya: NTC struggles to disarm population
In its 14 December report, International Crisis Group outlined the recent increase in violence between rebel militias from Misrata and Zintan and the interim government. With an estimated 125,000 Libyans armed and averse to a central authority, street bombings and firefights are becoming more common. Militias clashed with government forces on 11 December near the Tripoli airport, reflecting the new government’s challenges in establishing security forces and maintaining control over the rebel forces that overthrew the Gaddafi regime. These militias have been given a 20 December deadline from the interim government to turn over their weapons and depart from Tripoli. The government has threatened to ban all traffic in Tripoli except vehicles from the Ministries of the Interior and Defense should militias fail to cooperate.
Meanwhile, the NTC and rebel forces still face challenges with regard to tactics employed during the conflict and may be held accountable for the death of the late Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters, “I think the way in which Mr Gaddafi was killed creates suspicions of... war crimes.” According to the Prosecutor, the promised NTC investigation into Gaddafi’s death while in custody is in planning stages.
NATO continues to face controversy over whether or not it acted beyond its Resolution 1973 mandate as well as allegations that it indiscriminately targeted civilians areas in Libya. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while answering a question at his year-end press conference on 14 December, emphasized that NATO’s enforcement of Resolution 1973 was strictly within the mandate, while reminding that civilian casualties were unacceptable.
Please see the updated page on the crisis in Libya on the ICRtoP website.
1. Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi
International Crisis Group
14 December 2011
As a recent uptick in violence vividly illustrates, the fate of militias that ousted Qadhafi’s regime must be carefully addressed lest they jeopardise Libya’s transition.
Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the challenges stemming from the large number of local forces and militias which were decisive in ousting Qadhafi’s regime but are now becoming a significant threat to the country’s security. Having swiftly achieved broad international recognition, the National Transitional Council (NTC) quickly became the face of the rebellion. On the ground however, the picture was different. The uprising was highly decentralised with essentially autonomous, self-armed and self-trained military brigades in both east and west and an array of forces in Tripoli. Today, over 125,000 Libyans reportedly are armed and members of well over a hundred militias. These are in the process of institutionalising themselves, mimicking the organisation of a regular military and engaging in independent activities (registering persons and weapons; arresting and detaining suspects) that are becoming ever more entrenched.
“Libya was liberated in piecemeal fashion, mostly by local rebellions and ad-hoc military groupings that used both military means and negotiations to achieve their goals”, says William Lawrence, Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director. “As a result, a large number of local forces and militias grew up that could legitimately proclaim themselves national liberators”.
The problem posed by militias reflects hard truths about the political landscape from which they sprung. Defectors from within Qadhafi’s regime, who were instrumental in forming the NTC and the rebel National Army, stand accused by revolutionary fighters of belonging to the old order. Rifts between regions as well as between Islamists and secularists play into this dynamic. Weapons are in abundance and suspicion among armed fighters runs high. Above all, the NTC has inherited a country with a long tradition of local government and divided, indecisive ministries, reinforcing mistrust of central authority.
Until a more legitimate governing body is formed and until more credible national institutions are developed, notably in the areas of defence, policing and vital service delivery, Libyans are likely to be sceptical of the political process, while insisting on both retaining their weapons and preserving the current structure of irregular armed brigades. To try to force a different outcome would be to play with fire, and with poor odds.
But that does not mean doing nothing. The NTC should communicate clearly, act with transparency and consult closely with local military councils and community leaders on all issues related to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR). Together, they should agree on and enforce a common set of rules and behaviour for all armed fighters – particularly in terms of treatment of detainees -- and join their efforts to reintegrate armed rebels, notably the youngest among them, by offering alternative civilian employment. The international community should offer its own advice and technical assistance.
“A top-down disarmament and demobilisation effort by an executive lacking legitimacy would backfire”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “Qadhafi centralised power without building a central state. His successors must do the reverse”.
Read the full media release and summary and recommendations and read the report
2. Libya and the Future of the Responsibility to Protect
8 December 2011
When UN historians look back at 2011, they may well remember it as the year of R2P—diplomatic parlance for the “Responsibility to Protect.” All states, the decade-old doctrine argues, are obligated to protect their citizens. Should they fail—whether out of inability or by design—the international community must step in. 2011 certainly wasn’t the first time civilians were endangered by their own government, but it was the first time that the world responded with such military heft, intervening with the sole justification of protecting civilians. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon put it, “What is happening in Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere is a historic precedent, a watershed in the emerging doctrine of the responsibility to protect.”
The largest and highest profile intervention came in Libya. In February of this year, popular protests broke out against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi—who reacted with a brutal crackdown on demonstrators. In a response to continued attacks on civilians, including air strikes, the UN Security Council voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Responsibility for imposing the no-fly zone was given to NATO with logistical support from some Arab states. Immediately after the resolution passed, French jets began bombing. Assistance from Britain and the United States soon followed.
Almost as soon as the intervention in Libya began, analysts wondered out loud whether R2P would become the new status quo. The UN Security Council resolution mandating the operation won broad support, including a nod from the Arab League, to move forward. Even traditional opponents of intervention, such as Russia and China, chose to let the resolution go through. But since the resolution eventually, but not intentionally, led to the ousting of the detested leader, the international community may see a diplomatic freeze for the new doctrine. Many countries that had supported the limited resolution felt burned by its broader than intended outcome.
To understand the context of R2P in the Libya intervention, it’s worth a look back in history at how the doctrine first emerged. After 20th Century genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo rocked the global system, global leaders began to recognize the inadequacies of existing protections for civilians; they sought to establish a means of preventing and halting some of the worst human rights violations from ever happening again. The Responsibility to Protect consequently emerged from a report written by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), a Canadian government-led initiative established in 2000.
For the first time, R2P argued that sovereignty was as much a responsibility as a right for all global states. Back when the UN was created toward the end of the Second World War, the organization’s founders envisioned a system that would reduce the likelihood of conflict between states. One of the central tenets of the UN Charter was then the absolute power of the state within its own territory and was a principle reason that many nations eventually ratified the agreement. (…)
The first qualification on that sovereignty came in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which gave more rights and protections to individuals than the initial UN Charter. The Declaration has been seen by many as the true starting point for the human rights movement. By clearly defining universal rights, the Declaration gave clear goals for future advocates to fight for.
The Responsibility to Protect was the next logical evolution. As the world struggles on to prevent and respond to mass atrocities, the doctrine offered a mechanism to enforce the rights enshrined in the Human Rights Declaration. R2P, says Century Foundation Fellow Jeffrey Laurenti, provides an "accepted pathway to respond in circumstances where the Genocide Convention had demanded a response." The pathway dictates that states themselves should first work to prevent these crimes, that other states should assist if the state in question cannot protect its people, and lastly, that international actors should intervene to halt the acts as a last resort. (…)
Read the full article
III. Other RtoP Situations
1. Cote d'Ivoire: Laurent Gbagbo and the ICC
19 December 2011
Former president of Cote d'Ivoire, Mr Laurent Gbagbo, earlier this month appeared at the International Criminal Court to answer to charges of crimes against humanity. He is the first ex- head of state to be arraigned before the ICC since it was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute.
He faces a four count charge of crimes against humanity. Not a few people, especially in Africa, who have become weary of the various crimes committed by African leaders, would say 'serves him right', because he failed to recognise the signs that his time was up.
Gbagbo is not the only African at ICC headquarters in The Hague. A number of Africans are also facing charges there. Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is on trial for war crimes, is also in the Hague, but under the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone. Other Africans facing charges at The Hague include warlords of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean Pierre Bemba and Thomas Lubango.
The largest group of Africans facing charges at The Hague is the so-called Ocampo Six, mostly prominent Kenyan politicians and officials indicted for being the most responsible for the post election violence in Kenya in 2007. (…)
The intervention of the UN and France led to Gbagbo's capture; he was placed under house arrest in the northern town of Korhogo from where he was then extradited to The Hague. Not surprisingly Gbagbo and his supporters cried foul, saying that his extradition was illegal.
There is no denying that the role of the ICC in Africa is a controversial one. Africans have long accused the court and its chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo of singling out Africans for persecution. (Ocampo's ended his ICC tenure last week.)
Omar el Bashir, president of Sudan was the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC, which issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the conflict- ridden region of Darfur in western Sudan. The AU kicked against the ICC's position calling for a suspension of the warrant of arrest and asking African states not to comply with the order as it would jeopardise the search for peace in Darfur.
Signatories to the Rome Statute, including some 30 African states, are obliged to arrest Bashir if he sets foot on their soil, obligation largely ignored by African states.
Since the AU is opposed to ICC's intrusion into Africa, it is imperative for it to develop its own legal mechanism for bringing African leaders who commit atrocities against their own people to justice. This is easier said than done. After all the UN doctrine of responsibility to protect known as R2P obliges every government to protect its citizens; if not, the international community has the responsibility to intervene in exceptional circumstances.
However, countries that have the capacity and are willing to intervene are often Western powers, which have their own agenda. Some see the ICC as an instrument of Western imperialism and domination .The fact that the US, the foremost champion of democracy and the rule of law is not a signatory to the Rome Statute is a telling underpinning of this point.
Impunity reigns supreme in Africa, especially among leaders who feel it is their birthright to stay in power indefinitely, using all tactics, including brutal ones, against their opponents and their own people. Gbagbo's fate is a salutary lesson to other African leaders bent on staying in power longer than the law permits.
In the final analysis, particularly in the Gbagbo case, it is important that the ICC be seen to be even-handed in its approach in prosecuting those responsible, if it is to help in the reconciliation process in Cote d'Ivoire.
See full editorial.
See 16 December media release from the International Crisis Group recommending next steps for Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and the international community.
2. Don’t Let the DRC Go Up in Flames
Romeo Dallaire, Frank Chalk and Kyle Matthews
13 December 2011
(…) On Nov. 28, 18 million Congolese turned out to cast their ballots in the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential and legislative elections, standing in line patiently for hours in the pouring rain, hoping for the best despite flawed voters' lists, late deliveries of ballots, and attempts at intimidation. (…)
In a perfect world, the Congolese would find their reward. But the DRC is far from a perfect world. It is a complex and a multi-layered country. What began on Dec. 2 as a trickle of stories reporting widespread voting irregularities observed by election monitors of the European Union and the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa has turned into a flood.
The two leading candidates are the sitting president, Joseph Kabila, and Étienne Tshisekedi, nearly 79 years old, who casts himself as a zealous reformer. Citing unacceptable certification of impossibly high rates of voter turnout in multiple locations where nearly all votes went to incumbent Kabila, the Carter Center has delivered the coup de grace to claims of a clean Kabila victory, concluding that the provisional election results announced by the DRC's Independent National Commission (CENI) "lack credibility" and lending credence to opposition charges that Pastor Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, the election commission chair, is biased by his blood relationship to the Kabila family. (…)
The Archbishop of Kinshasa, informed by reports from election monitors, declared on Monday that the Election Commission's report conformed neither to truth nor justice.
So where do we go from here? An outbreak of mass violence in the streets of Kinshasa and other large cities in the DRC led by a suddenly unified opposition is a definite possibility. Worrisome signs are everywhere.
According to informed sources in Kinshasa, soldiers belonging to the violence-prone and trigger happy Republican Guards surround the house of Tshisekedi. More than 3,000 persons, many of them politicians, have fled Kinshasa for Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Congo, and more are fleeing every day. (…)
We recommend the following actions:
1) The election results must not be recognized by other governments, which should pay heed to the excellent advice of British MP Eric Joyce, who chairs the United Kingdom's All Party African Great Lakes group. Joyce was one of the first to allege that President Kabila had stolen the election. (…)
2) Verifying the presidential election result by checking against the minutes from each individual polling station signed by the official election monitors, is crucial. A high-profile panel of senior African leaders - supported by the African Union and the United Nations - should supervise the recount process and, once the winner is determined, mediate disputes arising from the election results.
3) Ottawa and Canadian diplomats in Central Africa, joined by the United States government, should pressure the government of Democratic Republic of Congo to protect the lives of all presidential candidates and remind them that the International Criminal Court is already prosecuting politicians from Kenya and Ivory Coast who allegedly promoted or failed to stop political violence. Pre-emptive roundups of political activists in Kinshasa and other cities must stop.
4) Whichever candidate comes out the winner following a peaceful and transparent ballot-counting process and mediation, the defeated candidate should be assisted to exit gracefully. Winners and losers need to act on the wise words in Accra, Ghana last July of President Barack Obama: "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions." (…)
Read the full editorial.
Please read the call to action from the International Federation for Human Rights: “Tensions in the DRC: MONUSCO Must Act Before Having to React”
3. Kenya: Prosecute Perpetrators of Post-Election Violence
Human Rights Watch
9 December 2011
Four years after the 2007-2008 post-election violence, the Kenyan police and judicial system have failed to adequately investigate and prosecute crimes and to ensure justice for victims, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While the International Criminal Court (ICC) has taken on a handful of key cases, Kenya should establish a special judicial mechanism in its justice system to bring broader accountability, Human Rights Watch said. It should also provide compensation for victims, starting with the 21 or more victims of police shootings who have won civil suits against the Attorney General, but to whom the government has failed to pay court-ordered compensation.
The 95-page report, “‘Turning Pebbles’: Evading Accountability for Post-Election Violence in Kenya,” examines the police and judicial response to the violence following the 2007 elections, which pitted ruling party supporters and the police against opposition-linked armed groups and civilians. Human Rights Watch found that of the 1,133 or more killings committed during the violence, only two have resulted in murder convictions. Victims of rape, assault, arson, and other crimes similarly await justice. Police officers, who killed at least 405 people during the violence, injured over 500 more, and raped dozens of women and girls, enjoy absolute impunity. (…)
Human Rights Watch identified the principal weaknesses in the criminal justice system that have contributed to the paltry number of convictions. Police officers have been unwilling to investigate and prosecute their colleagues, the general quality of investigations has been poor, and some police prosecutors have proven incompetent, Human Rights Watch said. Political influence and corruption subvert the judicial process; and Kenya lacks an operative witness protection system. (…)
The call for a special tribunal within Kenya – first issued by the Waki Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence in October 2008 – remains relevant and urgent, Human Rights Watch said. That is especially true given concerns about the independence and competence of the Kenyan justice system, the evidence Human Rights Watch has documented, and the fact that the ICC is likely to only take on a small number of cases. (…)
Kenya should move forward on establishing a special judicial mechanism locally while continuing to cooperate with the ICC, Human Rights Watch said. A special mechanism would bridge existing gaps if it is insulated from political interference and equipped with the necessary expertise through a mix of national and international professionals. Kenya should also undertake efforts to improve police investigations and to recruit and retain highly qualified civilian prosecutors.
The government should immediately release full funding for the Witness Protection Agency, which was launched earlier in 2011 but has not yet protected a single witness. It should pay out compensation to victims who have already won civil cases against the government for police shootings during the post-election violence. The government should settle other civil suits that remain in progress, and establish a comprehensive reparations policy for victims of human rights violations. (…)
See the press release and full report
4. The European Union Should Uphold Accountability for Ongoing Human Rights Violations Committed Against Civilians
International Federation for Human Rights
5 December 2011
On the occasion of a series of high level meetings which FIDH organised with EU officials across the institutions, Tawakkol Karman, President of Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ezzedine El Asbahi, President of the Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC), urged the European Union (EU) to take a firm stand for the people of Yemen in their struggle for justice, accountability, human rights and democracy.
Yemen : The European Union should uphold accountability for ongoing human rights violations committed against civilians
10 days after the signature of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative on Power Transfer in Yemen and while deadly attacks on demonstrators and human rights violations continue on the ground, the Yemeni delegation accompanied by FIDH strongly denounce the immunity clause of the GCC agreement and urged the EU to :
1. support the setting up of a comprehensive, independent and impartial international investigation into alleged human rights abuses and violations
2. freeze the assets Abdullah Saleh’s as well as that of his entourage
The guarantees of impunity given to Ali Abdallah Saleh to leave power are unacceptable”, said Tawakkol Karman to Catherine Ashton and to the 27 Political and Security ambassadors, quoting the UNSC resolution 2014 : “All those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable.”
Both highlighted the fact that the GCC initiative has not been accepted by the people of Yemen and the demonstrators, who have heavily suffered from the repression since the beginning of the protest movement and are still targeted by the regime. “People in the streets do not accept the initiative as it stands, especially when they see that dozens of people were killed in Taiz and other cities after the 23rd of Novembre”, warned Ezzedine El Asbahi.
The need for setting up of a comprehensive, independent and impartial international investigation into alleged human rights abuses and violations has been voiced by the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 14th and by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The president of the European parliament, Jerzy Buzek, also backed up this recommendation after meeting with FIDH’s delegation: “neither transition nor reconciliation can be achieved without justice.The crimes and massive human rights violations of the recent months, which are still going on today, require a proper, independent investigation.
Read the article
IV. ICRtoP Member Publications
1. 52nd Strategy for Peace Conference Policy Dialogue Brief: Structuring the U.S. Government to Prevent Atrocities - Considerations for the Atrocities Prevention Board
The Stanley Foundation
In August 2011, the Obama administration mandated the creation of a standing interagency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to mass atrocity prevention and response.
As part of its 52nd annual Strategy for Peace Conference, the Stanley Foundation convened some 30 US government officials and mass atrocity specialists recently to discuss the prospects and challenges confronting the ongoing interagency review that will inform the design and approach of this freshly mandated structure.
The dialogue, chaired by Ambassador David Scheffer, considered immediate and future needs of an Atrocities Prevention Board, as well as ways in which concurrent implementation of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) might reinforce the Atrocities Prevention Board’s broader interagency process. Joining external expertise with perspectives that spanned the US government interagency structure, participants strove to isolate shifts that would most effectively promote US government efforts to prevent mass atrocity crimes.
This policy dialogue brief offers an overview of the conclusions and recommendations of roundtable participants. (…)
• Tailor APB structure and activities to proactively mainstream atrocity-focused policy approaches across government agencies and root atrocity prevention as an instinctive element of day-to-day operations. (…)
• Actively promote expansion of the multilateral architecture for atrocity prevention—not only to build external capacities, multiply impact, and maximize multilateral resources, but also to generate external sources of momentum that can sustain internal focus, energy, and engagement on these issues beyond the current administration.
• Embed APB processes within this multilateral architecture. Focus should be on forging links at the macro level of norms, political momentum, and overarching policy, as well as at the level of operational doctrine and field-based engagement.
• As part of the effort outlined above, channel existing momentum from the APB process into direct support to other governmentsthat seek to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to internal and external mass atrocity risks, such as those which have identified national-level “focal points” to implement the Responsibility to Protect principle. Partnerships with governments of the Global South might merit particular focus. (…)
• Undertake concerted outreach beyond the US government and partner with the expert and NGO communities to generate media and public interest in atrocity prevention as a national security priority. (…)
Read the policy dialogue brief and the resulting policy memos
2. Using the Great Lakes Conference to Combat Sexual Violence: A Primer
International Refugee Rights Initiative
16 December 2011
The International Refugee Rights Initiative today launched a primer “Using the Great Lakes Conference to Combat Sexual Violence: A Primer.” The launch coincides with the closure of the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala on the theme “United to Prevent, End Impunity and Provide Support to the Victims of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region.”
The primer offers an overview of the content of various ICGLR instruments related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). It also gives a description of the institutional architecture which may be engaged in order to give effect to the commitments articulated in the instruments. An annex reproduces portions of the key ICGLR texts which are most relevant to SGBV. The primer is intended to serve as a resource for civil society organisations and others who may wish to engage with the ICGLR as part of their efforts to address SGBV in the region.
Read the report
V. UN RtoP-Related Statements
1. Secretary-General’s Year-End Press Conference
Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General
14 December 2011
(…) Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you mentioned the Responsibility to Protect and you said that the implementation of this concept led to the liberation of Libya. At the same time, it led to a split among the members of the Security Council. Some of them, including BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries, believe that NATO has exceeded the mandate provided by resolution 1973 and used this resolution as a pretext for regime change and at the same time caused harm to the very same innocent lives it clamed to be protecting. In this context, Brazil has offered an interesting concept that might bring the two sides together. The Brazilian President, in the general debate, argued that better mechanisms were needed to ensure that in an intervention, unwanted damage would be kept at minimum, calling it the “responsibility when protecting.” What is your assessment of Brazil's initiative and how it could bridge the gap between different groups in the Security Council?
SG: The Responsibility to Protect has been gaining wider and wider support among Member States. Since I appointed my special adviser, Ed Luck, on this issue, there have been several occasions in which the General Assembly members have discussed this issue: how to implement the principle which had been agreed upon by the leaders in 2005 at the summit meeting. I'm encouraged that they have been gaining momentum on this principle. I know that there are some concerns expressed by certain countries. That is why this process has been -- even though it has been time-consuming, we've been very patient in getting support, so that there should be no misunderstandings on the principle of this and the application of this principle. I'm also encouraged, for the first time, that the Human Rights Council and Security Council invoked this principle of the Responsibility to Protect. As a result of all these demonstrations and democratization processes by the people, of course, there were changes of regime. But I believe that these changes of regime where done by the people, not by the intervention of any foreign forces, including the United Nations. Security Council Resolution 1973, I believe, was strictly enforced within that limit, within the mandate. This military operation done by the NATO forces was strictly within [resolution] 1973. I made it quite clear, and I have been often discussing this matter with the Secretary General of NATO, to make sure that there should be no human rights violations, there should be no casualties among civilians. I believe that this is what we have seen and there should be no misunderstanding on that. On the Brazilian concept: still, the Responsibility to Protect is the subject of discussions among Member States, so all the comments and suggestions, including the Brazilians', will be considered. (…)
See the full remarks
2. Special Advisers of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, on the contemporary relevance of the commitment to prevent genocide and related crimes
Office of the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide
9 December 2011
The Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect remind states of the contemporary relevance of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
“Many of the conflicts that have erupted over this past year stem from long-standing grievances and inequalities between national, ethnical, racial, or religious groups, the groups protected by the Genocide Convention” stressed Mr. Deng. “Addressing these inequalities through early and sustained engagement to prevent inter-group tensions from escalating is essential to save lives and build tolerant and equitable societies, in which human rights are respected and all citizens can participate on an equal footing.
“The 1948 Convention was an early embodiment of the commitment to protect vulnerable populations worldwide from mass atrocities. Today, as the cornerstone of the concept of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, this commitment is more accepted and more relevant than ever,” stated Mr. Luck. In the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, Member States made a clear and unequivocal commitment to protect all populations by preventing genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement.
“We call on Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations, civil society and the United Nations system to work together to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes as a matter of the highest priority,” urged the Special Advisers. “Doing so will demonstrate our common humanity, our fundamental values, and our collective and individual determination not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
See the statement
VI. RtoP Events and Calls for Papers
1. Model United Nations of Barcelona (C’MUN)
United Nations Association of Spain
Barcelona, Spain, 2-5 May 2012
UNA-Spain became a member of ICRtoP in December 2011. Among its many projects related to RtoP and civilian protection, UNA-Spain facilitates the Model United Nations of Barcelona (C’MUN). Information about the 2012 C’MUN is below. Along with other issues on the UN agenda, the C’MUN 2012 will focus on the application of RtoP during the ‘Arab Spring’.
By being invoked in the recent intervention in Libya, the concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has acquired a new dimension. It seems that no one denies that there is a R2P and the debate now focuses on how to apply it. But at the same time, there are several very topical cases on the table that also require an urgent response and that put in doubt, given the demonstrated inaction, if the idea of R2P really is the criterion to be followed within the United Nations.
See the C’MUN website and facebook for more information about the 2012 conference.
2. United Nations Issues Conference: Preparatory Workshop for the Second Meeting of the R2P Focal Points Networt
The Stanley Foundation
New York, NY, 24-26 February 2012
At the Stanley Foundation’s 43rd United Nations Issues Conference, the Stanley Foundation and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect will convene a “Preparatory Workshop for the Second Meeting of the R2P Focal Points Network.”
In September 2010, the governments of Denmark and Ghana and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect launched an initiative to build a global network of national Focal Points focused on internal implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The first formal meeting of these Focal Points was held in May 2011, co-hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, Denmark, and Ghana in association with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
The second meeting of R2P Focal Points will be held in July or September 2012. This preparatory workshop, co-convened by the Stanley Foundation and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, will consider the key questions and challenges immediately faced by individual R2P Focal Points and their developing global network.
The conference will bring together government representatives, UN officials, and thematic experts to compare recent efforts, experience, and shared challenges in establishing a national Focal Point and outlining its mandate. The dialogue will also forward guidance on how to build a global network of Focal Points that can effectively link decision makers and mobilize capacities for atrocity prevention at the national, regional, and international levels.
3. Call for Papers: “Resisting the Path to Genocide” Second Annual Workshop
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA, September 6-8, 2012
Deadline for papers: 15 January
The interdisciplinary research cluster “Resisting the Path to Genocide” at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, addresses the fundamental question of what enables people to oppose or resist racist ideologies, state discrimination practices, or the active participation in mass atrocities in three steps, focusing consecutively on societies, groups, and individuals (for more details, visit college.usc.edu/2020-resistance). For the second of three international workshops, which will take place at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on September 6-8th, 2012, we now seek applications from scholars of any discipline for papers about the general question of what enables groups of people to resist genocide or other forms of mass violence?
We invite papers which address the following research questions: How do oppositional groups form? Which social, cultural and political conditions support the development of group opposition and resistance? What kind of groups, whether informal networks, private organizations or public institutions, are most likely to resist discrimination and violence in genocidal societies? How do we classify groups of resisters? What oppositional strategies have proven to be most effective at the group level? Do group activities have an impact, and can they help stop the violent radicalization of a genocidal society?
We appreciate case studies (ranging from colonial genocides of the 19th century to more contemporary examples as Guatemala and Rwanda) as well as comparative work on groups within one genocidal state, on one kind of resisting group in various societies, and also on group resistance in countries that did not turn genocidal, such as South Africa.
Since the aim of the cluster is to enhance our understanding how to resist genocidal processes, we also seek contributions that will discuss group opposition and resistance in a theoretical way, drawing on resources from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology, etc. The University of Southern California provides unique research resources: the Shoah Foundation Institute Archive with more than 52,000 interviews on the Holocaust as well as on other genocides, The Lion Feuchtwanger collection and a new Holocaust and Genocide studies collection.