6 January 2012
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1. Human Rights Watch –Syria: Comply With Agreement
2. Amnesty International - Arab League should clarify human rights situation in Syria
1. Minority Rights Group –Press release: Urgent measures needed to protect all ethnic groups after recent South Sudan attacks
2. Doctors without Borders –Press release: Thousands of civilians flee for their lives
1. Robert Schütte (Genocide Alert), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung –Minding the Gap:Approaches and Challenges to Civilian Protection
2. Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect –Newsletter 2011
1. WPS Sidhu, livemint.com –2012 and the Perils of Prediction
2. Matias Spektor, New York Times –The Arab Spring, Seen from Brazil
9 January, Brookings Institution –International Responsibility After Libya
10 January, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect –R2P After Libya
19 January, Consulate General of France in New York –Conference@934: The Responsibility to Protect: a New Tool for Peacekeeping
31 January, Duke Human Rights Center –Impossible Ethics: Justice, Responsibility to Protect and Operational Practice with Anne Cubilié
1 February (Deadline) Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law and Stanford University –Call for Papers: The Self-Interest of Armed Forces in Accountability for their Members for Core International Crimes
Following weeks of negotiations, the Syrian government agreed on 19 December to allow an independent monitoring mission full freedom of movement within Syria as part of a peace initiative brokered by the League of Arab States. The initiative also included a ceasefire, the release of detainees and military withdrawal. The mission encountered initial criticism from several Syrian opposition groups and international human rights groups who disapproved of the appointment of Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi as head of the monitoring mission. General al-Dabi served as a high-level official in Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s military and has been criticized by these groups for a possible link to war crimes in Darfur.
Beginning in Homs, which saw intense violence against civilians throughout the conflict, on 27 December, monitors initially saw “nothing frightening”, according to General al-Dabi. This optimism was met with criticism in much of Syria, given that activists reported over 400 civilians killed since 21 December. Just days later on 1 January, as the mission increased to roughly 100 observers and reached Idlib, Hama and Deraa, observers reported that security forces continued to open fire against civilians. As of 5 January, Syrian activists claimed the Syrian government was deceiving observers by painting military vehicles to look like police cars and taking observers to areas loyal to the government. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on 27 December that Syrian security forces were moving detainees to more sensitive military sites where access to monitors would not be readily provided. HRW also reported that military personnel had in some cases been given police identification cards, violating the terms of the Arab League initiative for Syrian troop withdrawal. Amnesty International called on observers to accurately report on the situation in Syria in spite of these challenges. Given continued reports of violence, the Arab League called an emergency meeting to be held in Cairo on 7 January to review the mission’s progress, and consider sending additional observers. The League, admitting some mistakes during the mission, sought input from the UN and met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 4 January to discuss the mission’s progress and possible support.
Amid these developments, two primary opposition groups, the exiled Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Co-ordination Committee (NCC), a group still primarily inside Syria, signed an agreement on 31 December to unite against the government. The groups had disagreed over support for foreign intervention and whether or not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should resign. However in the agreement, the groups united in their stance against any military intervention which threatened Syrian sovereignty and called for Assad’s removal from power.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported a continuing dire humanitarian situation in the country on 29 December. Both national unrest and consequent sanctions from various countries have reportedly worsened the quality of life for civilians. The population faces fuel shortages, decreased freedom of mobility and more limited access to food.
1. Syria: Comply With Agreement
Human Rights Watch
6 January 2012
(…) The Arab League should declare that if Syria fails to take the repression-ending measures it agreed to and continues to impede the monitoring mission, the League will urge the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria and sanctions against the individuals responsible for grave violations. (…)
(…) In the agreement it signed with the Arab League on December 19 the Syrian government pledged to end violence against peaceful protests, release detained protesters, withdraw armed elements from cities and residential areas, and allow Arab and international media unhindered access to all parts of Syria. Syria also pledged in the agreement to grant Arab League monitors unhindered and independent access to all individuals they wish to interview to verify Syria’s implementation of these measures, including victims, detainees, and nongovernmental organizations. Syria guaranteed the safety of witnesses from reprisals.
According to Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby, Syria has already taken some steps under the terms of the agreement, withdrawing heavy weapons from Syrian cities, and releasing about 3,500 prisoners.
But Human Rights Watch has found that Syria has yet to honor most of its commitments under its agreement with the Arab League. Attacks by security forces against peaceful protests have been reported every day since the Arab League mission began. (…)
(…) Reports indicate that since the Syrian government signed the Arab League agreement, it has arbitrarily detained activists, including Mohamed Anwar al-Dabas, the brother-in-law of Ghiyath Matar, an activist whose death in detention Human Rights Watch reported in September.
Human Rights Watch has documented what seem to be efforts by the Syrian government to deceive the Arab League monitors. Under the agreement, Syria agreed to provide the monitors full access to prisons, detention centers, police stations, and hospitals. However, authorities transferred hundreds of detainees to improvised holding centers at military sites in an apparent effort to hide them from the monitors. Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was quoted in the Independent daily of London on December 21 saying that the international monitors would not be permitted to visit certain “sensitive” military locations.
Authorities have also issued police identification cards to military officials apparently in order to give the impression that military forces have, under the agreement with the Arab League, withdrawn from civilian areas.
Syria also appears to be violating its pledge under the agreement to protect people who communicate with the monitors from reprisal. (…)
The Arab League should investigate credible reports of reprisals against Syrians who communicate with its monitors and take its own measures to protect those it interviews, including refusing to allow Syrian government agents to monitor interviews, establishing information security systems to protect the confidentiality of information provided by victims and witnesses who request it, and denouncing any reprisals publicly.
Human Rights Watch urged the Arab League to enhance its monitoring mission by deploying monitors who have expertise in human rights and in forensic investigations, and by seeking technical support for the mission from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). (…)
(…) Human Rights Watch urged the Arab League to disclose the criteria used to select monitors participating in its mission and to make the monitoring reports public in order to bolster the transparency and accountability of the mission. (…)
See full statement.
2. Arab League should clarify human rights situation in Syria
6 January 2012
A meeting of the Arab League in Cairo this Sunday should provide a key opportunity to clarify ongoing allegations about serious human rights violations in Syria, Amnesty International said today.
Ahead of the meeting, numerous Syrian human rights activists have told Amnesty International that grave human rights concerns remain despite the presence of an Arab League observer mission in the country since 26 December 2011.
These include the Syrian security forces’ apparent killings of scores of protesters and other individuals since the observers arrived – Amnesty International has the names of 134 people killed in this way since the observer mission began, but the actual figure may be considerably higher.
Many more have been arrested for their real or suspected involvement in the pro-reform movement, while the Syrian authorities have failed to release thousands of others similarly detained. (…)
The observer mission is in Syria to monitor the government’s implementation of an agreement reached with the Arab League in late November to help restore calm.
It is the first time a formal mission of observers has been allowed into Syria since the crackdown on pro-reform protesters began last March. (…)
Arab League Secretary General Nabil El Araby stated that Syrian authorities had released more than 3,500 political prisoners, but it remains unclear what evidence led to this statement.
No list of released prisoners has been made public and Syrian activists have told Amnesty International that they believe the number of such prisoners released was much lower, adding that scores or hundreds of additional political activists were arrested in the last week, including in Aleppo, Latakia and Daraya.
There are also reports that a large number of detainees may have been moved around or taken to hidden detention centres to prevent Arab League observers from seeing them.
As for the withdrawal of military equipment and personnel, all the activists who spoke with Amnesty International said that tanks were often just moved away for the duration of the observers’ visits and that pro-government snipers remain in many residential areas, where they continue to threaten protesters and others going about their daily business.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on President Bashar al-Assad’s government to bring an end to the violence, including crimes against humanity perpetrated since the fierce crackdown on Syrian pro-reform protesters began in March 2011. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations should be granted access to the country.
The organization has also called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Syria and freeze the assets of President al-Assad and others involved in ordering or perpetrating serious human rights violations. (…)
Please read full article.
Following the eruption of ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle groups that resulted in the displacement of 50,000 civilians, the South Sudanese state of Jonglei was declared a humanitarian disaster by the South Sudanese Council of Ministers in its 4 January emergency meeting on the situation. Media reports stated that 3,000 civilians, predominantly women and children, were killed in the recent surge of violence which, if confirmed by the UN, would constitute the deadliest clashes in South Sudan in recent months. As Doctors without Borders (MSF) noted in its 3 January press release, the thousands who have fled are at great risk as they no longer have access to humanitarian or medical aid. MSF’s facilities in Pibor were targeted in attacks as well, leaving those civilians who remained in the village without access to medical supplies. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Lise Grande, stated on 4 January that while internally displaced persons (IDPs) had begun to return to Pibor, she expressed concern for their condition.
UN officials responded on 30 December by deploying peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to Pibor. As of 5 January, UNMISS spokesperson, Kouider Zerrouk, reported that the Lou Nuer armed youth appeared to be returning to their original locations, but that the UN mission would continue to monitor the situation to insure the safety of civilians. The UN is mounting a “massive emergency support program” to assist civilians who fled as noted on 3 January by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA).
Meanwhile, over 300,000 people remain displaced or affected by fighting between the Sudanese army and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) rebels in the states of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, expressed concern on 5 January for the food situation in the affected region, stating that she received alarming reports of malnutrition in areas controlled by SPLM-North. OCHA noted on 3 January that populations remain cut off from humanitarian aid as relief agencies have restricted access in regions of South Kordofan due to increased insecurity.
1. Urgent measures needed to protect all ethnic groups after recent South Sudan attacks
Minority Rights Group
5 January 2012
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) condemns the recent attacks between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Pibor, Jonglei state, South Sudan, and calls on the government to take immediate steps to protect civilians from all ethnic groups.
In the long term, the government must also address the root causes of violence among minority communities through political representation, disarmament and equitable distribution of natural resources.
‘Competition between ethnic groups over scarce resources has escalated in South Sudan. At the same time there is a security vacuum, leading to the formation of militia groups and a breakdown of traditional structures of authority,’ says Chris Chapman, MRG’s Head of Conflict Prevention.
‘This will continue to threaten the stability of the new nation, unless the government acts quickly to ensure security, inclusive representation for all communities, and equitable access to land and natural resources,’ he added.
Last weekend’s clashes between two South Sudanese ethnic groups; the Lou Nuer and the Murle, have sparked a humanitarian crisis, with over 150 killed and the displacement of thousands. Eyewitness accounts report that many of the victims are women and children.
Although not new, attacks between the Lou Nuer and Murle and other related inter-ethnic conflicts among minority groups like the Anyuak, Jie and Kachipo now threaten the stability of the new South Sudan.
To put that assertion into perspective, the December 2011 Boma Development Initiative (BDI) and MRG briefing, Community Perspectives on the Lou Nuer and Murle conflict in South Sudan, quotes Jonglei Governor Hussein Maar Nyout, who told a governors’ forum in Juba in November that over 3,000 people had been killed in his state in 2011.
Chapman explains, ‘The attacks, which on the face of it appear to be cattle raids, have deeper underlying causes related to poverty, competition for scarce resources, the ubiquity of small arms left over from a decades-long war and marginalization of ethnic minorities. In addition, the conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle is taking on a dynamic of repeated revenge attacks, highlighting the need for the government to take urgent action to protect innocent civilians.’
According to MRG’s 2011 research, some minority groups feel that their interests are not being represented within the South Sudanese political system, and that resources have been diverted to more populous ethnic groups, rendering them poorer with more precarious access to land and natural resources than other communities. (…)
See a related report from MRG, Land, livelihoods and identities: Inter-community conflicts in East Africa.
See full press release.
2. South Sudan: Thousands of Civilians Flee for Their Lives
Doctors Without Borders
3 January 2012
(…) Renewed intercommunal violence in Jonglei State, South Sudan, has forced thousands of families to flee into the bush, where they have no access to assistance, including medical care.
Two healthcare facilities operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were targeted in attacks in Jonglei, leaving much-needed medical activities temporarily suspended in Pibor County.
“Thousands of people in Lekongole and Pibor fled in the last week and are now hiding in the bush, frightened for their lives,” said Parthesarathy Rajendran, MSF head of mission in South Sudan. “They fled in haste and have no food or water, some of them doubtless with wounds. Now they are hiding on their own, beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance.”
The village of Lekongole was razed to the ground and an MSF team that assessed the situation in Pibor on December 28 described it as a ghost town. Virtually everyone fled into the surrounding countryside. While people are hidden in the bush, they cannot be reached, meaning they cannot have wounds cleaned and dressed, be treated for diseases, or access general healthcare.
During the violence, two of MSF’s medical facilities were looted and damaged: the clinic in the village of Lekongole on December 27 and the small hospital in the town of Pibor on December 31. A third MSF clinic in the nearby village of Gumuruk has apparently not been affected. The three medical facilities are the only healthcare options for the 160,000 people in Pibor County. The nearest alternative medical facility is more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) away.
MSF condemned the targeting of neutral and impartial medical facilities. (…)
(…) These most recent attacks follow the August 2011 looting and burning of MSF medical facilities in Pieri, further north in Jonglei State. MSF subsequently treated 157 wounded people, mostly women and children. (…)
See full press release.
1. Minding the Gap: Approaches and Challenges to Civilian Protection
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
This Friedrich Ebert Stiftung publication features author Robert Schütte is Chairman of Genocide Alert, which is an ICRtoP member based in Koln, Germany.
Protection of civilians from mass atrocity crimes has emerged as a prominent field of international action. Humanitarian actors and development workers have been and remain at the forefront of protecting civilians by non-coercive means. More recently, given the international community’s failure to act and intervene in situation such as the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, the military dimension of protecting non- combatants has gained in importance. Two different operational types of robust civilian protection can be identified: On the one hand, Peacekeeping missions under a chapter VII mandate such as those in the DRC, Sudan or Côte d’Ivoire. On the other hand, Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) conducted by the armed forces of a state or regional organization such as ECOWAS in Sierra Leone, or NATO in Kosovo or Libya. Despite a surge in such coercive protection activities, there is still a notable gap in terms of conceptualizing protecting of civilians. (…)
2. Protection of Civilians Since the End of the Cold War
(…) The shock that came with the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica caused the UN to rethink its approach to sending blue helmets in the midst of conflict zones. In two landmark reports published in 1999, the UN found two lessons to be learned in the future: First, it stated that “whether or not an obligation to protect civilians is explicit in the mandate of a peacekeeping operation, (…) the United Nations must be prepared to respond to the perception and expectation of protection created by its very presence.” Second, it argued that “when the international community makes a solemn promise to safeguard and protect civilians from massacre, then it must be willing to back its promise with the necessary means.” Rwanda and Srebrenica made clear that protection of civilians (POC) will not come as a sideline to lightly-armed and under-resourced peacekeeping. A new approach was needed.
3. A Big Leap Forward: Normative and Practical Developments Since 1999
(…) When UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the finding of a new normative common ground, Canada followed suit and hosted an influential International Commission on Intervention and State Soverreignty (ICISS) which eventually introduced the notion of the responsibility to protect (RtoP) in 2001. (…)
The foundation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 constituted another major achievement for the ending of impunity for mass atrocity crimes. Also the development of the responsibility to protect and its unanimous adoption by the UN General Assembly in 2005 were important steps towards a new global common ground on mass atrocity prevention. Although the norm itself did not add anything new to existing Human Rights or International Humanitarian Law, it did have the effect of reaffirming unquestionable minimum standards of civilian protection, and codifying the responsibilities of the international community and its member states towards threatened populations.
Once proclaimed, the RtoP underwent a process of cautious elaboration and consensus-building through high-level debates and references in UN resolutions that finally lead to the UN Secretary-General's 2009 report on implementing the Responsibility to Protect. Confronted with egregious human rights violations in Libya, the Security Council decided in Resolution 1973 for the first time to mandate a military intervention under the banner of the RtoP “to take all necessary measures (...) to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. The Libya intervention marks a turning point in the international community's efforts to curb mass atrocities by assuming a responsibility to protect civilians. (…)
5. Minding the Gap: Obstacles and Shortfalls in Protecting Civilians
Despite the surge in international efforts to protect civilians over the past two decades, no consensus has emerged on how exactly protection by coercive means should be implemented. While the UN Security Council is increasingly willing to authorize robust peacekeeping operations to protect civilian populations, neither the UN nor Troop Contributing Countries have had any clear idea what exactly protection of civilians entails. POC is one of the most important objectives of peacekeeping since its inception in 1999, but the UN is still in the process of producing a coherent concept on how blue helmets should conduct and benchmark their protection activities on the ground. (…)
If the UN’s conceptual understanding of civilian protection is deemed sketchy, NATO’s approach to civilian protection in Libya can only be described as ad hoc and opaque. With its resolution 1973, UN Security Council authorized NATO “to take all necessary measures (...) to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. The resolution granted the coalition forces much flexibility insofar as all necessary means – explicitly comprising armed force, excluding only occupation forces – could be brought to bear for the purpose of protecting threatened civilians and civilian-populated areas. (…)
5. Briding the Gap: Towards a Civilian Protection Doctrine
(…) Despite hesitations to tackle the politically sensitive issue of defining protection of civilians, a POC doctrine would be a major step to streamline protection activities, pre-deployment training and evidence-based benchmarking at the UN. The doctrine would facilitate the development of adequate civilian protection training modules and allow for more specific instructions on how UN peacekeepers are expected to protect civilians prior to their deployment. Once on the ground, conduct and performance of blue helmets would be more consistent, reliable and adequate. Furthermore, a comprehensive concept of protection would make it possible to develop evidence-based and comparable benchmarking criteria to measure mission performance and facilitate the transfer of best practices across operations. (…)
The development and incorporation of a MARO doctrine should be understood as capacity building for civilian protection by coercive means. It would provide political decision-makers with more options in dealing with situations of mass atrocities. While the US armed forces have begun to ponder over the matter, NATO, EU and AU countries should follow suit. If the international community is serious about civilian protection and its responsibility to protect, a more systematic approach to the prevention and curbing of mass atrocities is inevitable.
Read the full report
2. Newsletter 2011
Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, based at the University of Queensland, Australia, is the only regional centre of its kind specifically dedicated to advancing the Responsibility to Protect (or R2P) principle through research and policy dialogue. We conduct outreach activities, including seminars and workshops with various government, civil society and academic stakeholders to build local and regional constituencies seeking to dispel skepticism of and deepen commitment to R2P through country programs and Track II dialogue. The Centre also undertakes policy-relevant researchto deepen understanding of the preconditions and causes of mass atrocities, the prevention of mass atrocities in the Southeast Asian context, and mainstreaming R2P in peacekeeping operations. Based on this research, the Centre conducts outreach and training with government and civil society representatives to develop context-sensitive mass atrocities prevention ‘toolkits’, which include exercises for strengthening skills for mass atrocities risk assessment and crisis preparedness.
In 2011, the Centre has carried out a number of workshops throughout the region and in Africa. New and ongoing research has produced numerous outputs – including the Centre’s new ‘R2P Ideas in Brief’ policy series. Our advocacy and research work continues to expand and we look forward to a productive 2012!
1. 2012 and the perils of prediction
Livemint.com – The Wall Street Journal
25 December 2011
WPS Sidhu is a senior fellow at the Center on International Cooperation, New York University.
If there were any doubts about physicist Niels Bohr’s astute observation that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”, then the dramatic events of 2011 should lay them to rest. The revolutions sweeping the Arab world, the triple disaster that ravaged Japan, the financial and economic meltdown in Europe, Pakistan’s dangerous journey to the brink of self-destruction once again and the populist movements from New York to New Delhi in the world’s leading democracies were not foretold and together produced unimagined shock and awe. What was not surprising, however, was the inability of key powers and global governance structures to effectively address these challenges.
Take the transformation in the Arab world. While there was recognition of the inevitability of these movements and even broad sympathy for the protesters, there was no consensus among the key powers on how best to manage this transition. Should the international community, traditionally represented by the UN Security Council (UNSC), seek to engage the regimes diplomatically to transfer power (as in the decolonization process of yore)? Or should force be used for regime change (as was the case in Kosovo and Iraq)? Or should the approach be one of the use of robust crisis diplomacy and the threat of use of force? Or should UNSC simply let events take their course without any attempt to engage? With the exception of Libya, UNSC chose not intervene and events particularly in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen are unfolding on their own with inevitably some, but not excessive, violence.
This hands-off approach was reminiscent of the response to similar transitions two decades ago in eastern Europe. In that case the non-interference by UNSC was primarily in deference to the rapidly unravelling but still formidable Soviet Union. (…)
In contrast, the vicious violence and brutal massacres during the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s were among the key drivers behind the principal of the responsibility to protect. It also informed Nato’s military intervention in Libya, which was authorized by the frailest of agreements among UNSC members. However, as the military campaign against Libya (and a recent The article on civilian casualties caused by Nato bombing) revealed, force alone remains a blunt and unreliable instrument. Even when it eventually succeeds, as in Libya, the outcome is far from evident.
Consequently, democratic India, Brazil and South Africa (the Ibsa group), all of who are presently on UNSC and are also permanent membership aspirants, are reluctant to support only a “use of force” option. Although all of them have employed force both in their immediate neighbourhoods and also in carrying out their UN peacekeeping mandates, they recognize that use of force alone, even when it is exercised to protect civilians, is a risky proposition. This is why Ibsa is now putting forward the concept of “responsibility when protecting”.
While, clearly, masterly inactivity is not an option to deal with unexpected security challenges, the inability to develop alternative approaches of robust crisis diplomacy will inevitably render UNSC helpless and unable to act. Here Ibsa has a crucial role to play in proving its leadership and ability.
Although Ibsa members have justifiably called for the reform of UNSC (with their inclusion as permanent members) and its working methods, this is a luxury that unexpected events will not allow. Finally, at the risk of challenging the Bohr axiom, Syria—along with Iran—and Pakistan are likely to be the cases that will test UNSC skills in 2012.
Read the full op-ed.
2. The Arab Spring, Seen from Brazil
The New York Times
23 December 2011
Matias Spektor is a historian and a regular commentator in the Brazilian press.
(…) Rousseff’s position on Syria has come under heavy criticism. Democratic countries like Brazil “shouldn’t sit by and watch as Syria implodes,” Human Rights Watch has declared. “Their efforts at private dialogue have achieved nothing, and hundreds more Syrians have died in the meantime.”
When Brazil abstained this spring from voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution that helped rid Libya of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, its position elicited a similar rebuff. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., chided Brazil, along with India and South Africa, for taking a stance “that one might not have anticipated, given that each of them came out of strong and proud democratic traditions.” (…)
(…) At bottom, she is resisting the pull from Paris, London and Washington to coerce governments that have fallen in their disrepute. And she is denouncing the dangers inherent in the rising tide of humanitarian interventionism.
In her view, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, the first one ever to invoke the “responsibility to protect,” only authorized a no-flight zone over Libya, and that was too easily used to justify a NATO-led bombing operation against Colonel Qaddafi. As her foreign minister put it in November, Brazil fears that in the future humanitarian arguments “might be misused for purposes other than protecting civilians, such as regime change.” (…)
(…) All along, Rousseff has been arguing that foreign interventions designed to protect civilians must be tightly regulated: “The Security Council must ensure the accountability of those to whom authority is granted to resort to force.” Last month, she circulated a concept paper for discussion at the U.N. Security Council entitled “Responsibility While Protecting.” It argues that without limits on what the powerful may do, the emerging ideology of humanitarian intervention could easily turn into a tool for foreign manipulation. (…)
(…)The Arab Spring has not been particularly pro-American or pro-European, and discontent with foreign interventions in the Muslim world may end up fueling resentment against the West. It would be a shame if the cause of human rights were thus tainted by the colors of imperial reassertion.
To prevent this, Rousseff should more clearly state her very sensible position. She must warn her colleagues in the North and the South, the East and the West that even if U.N.-sponsored interventions on behalf of freedom are here to stay, unless new rules of conduct are put into place to tame those who take action, the “responsibility to protect” may come to endanger us all.
Read the full op-ed.
1. International Responsibility After Libya
9 January 2012, 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Saul/Zilkha Rooms, Brookings Institution; 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
The question of international responsibility for protecting civilians at risk has long been a topic of heated debate within the global community. From the protection of civilians in peacekeeping mandates to the principle of “responsibility to protect,” the international community has grappled with the question of its role in protecting people when their governments are unable or unwilling to do so. The NATO-led operation to prevent Muammar Qaddafi’s forces from inflicting mass atrocities on Libyan civilians was the first United Nations-authorized military intervention which explicitly invoked the “responsibility to protect” principle as grounds for action.
On January 9, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement will host a discussion on what the Libyan intervention means for future international efforts to protect civilians. Panelists include Edward Luck, the United Nations special advisor on the responsibility to protect; Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Richard Williamson; Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer; and Irwin Cotler, a Canadian member of Parliament and expert on human rights law. Genser and Cotler are co-editors of The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press, 2011). Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion.
See event information.
2. R2P After Libya
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
10 January 2012, 4:00 – 5:45 PM
Skylight Room, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
The NATO-led operation to prevent Muammar Qaddafi’s forces from inflicting mass atrocities on Libyan civilians was the first United Nations-authorized military intervention which explicitly invoked the “responsibility to protect” principle as grounds for action. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and Human Rights Foundation will host a discussion on what the Libyan intervention means for future international efforts to protect civilians, particularly in light of the ongoing challenges in Syria and beyond. Panelists Genser and Cotler are co-editors of the new book The Responsibility to Protect: The Promis of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press 2011). After the program, panelists will take audience questions.
Jared Genser, Managing Director of Perseus Strategies and a human rights lawyer, Javier El-Hage, General Counsel of Human Rights Foundation, and Dr. Edward Luck, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect (invited), will participant on the panel. The event will be chaired by Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
3. Conferences@934: The Responsibility to Protect: a New Tool for Peacekeeping
Consulate General of France in New York
19 January 2012, 6:30 PM
Consulate General of France, 934 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10021
As a follow-up to the “right to intervene”, the concept of the “responsibility to protect”, or R2P, was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. When a State is unable or unwilling to protect its own people from the most serious crimes (genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity), it becomes the International Community’s subsidiary responsibility to guarantee that protection, through the authorization of a military intervention based on a decision by the Security Council. The resolutions of the United Nations Security Council in regards to the situation in Libya thus state “that the Libyan authorities have the responsibility to protect the Lybian people.” Is the responsibility to protect a new tool in peace keeping? What means of collective action can it justify? How should the line between the responsibility to protect and respecting the countries’ sovereignty be defined?
Hervé Ladsous, Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations, and Michael Doyle, Professor of U.S. Foreign and Security Policy at Columbia University, will participate on this panel.
4. Impossible Ethics: Justice, Responsibility to Protect and Operational Practice with Anne Cubilié
Duke Human Rights Center, co-sponsored by the Franklin Humanities Institute
31 January 2012, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
FHI Garage, C105, Bay 4, 1st Floor Smith Warehouse, 114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC
Human rights scholar Anne Cubilié will discuss her experiences in disaster zones and humanitarian interventions, focusing on the issue of testimony and issues of ethics and witnessing. What are our ethical obligations as witnesses to these events? How do different groups, among them women, experience abuses and then relate those stories to outsiders? In her work for the United Nations – ranging from the collection of survivor testimony in Afghanistan to policy guidance for emergency response to major reports and funding documents – she has maintained an insistence on remembering the individual within the broadest international discourses. A light reception will follow.
For the past decade, Cubilié has worked in humanitarian and development policy at United Nations headquarters while maintaining a consistent interest in bridging the gap between academic research and the political and policy considerations of international aid. Her book, Women Witness Terror: Testimony and the Cultural Politics of Human Rights, reads testimony by women survivors of war and human rights abuse through critical frameworks of ethics, trauma and witnessing. Prior to joining the United Nations, Cubilié was an assistant professor of transnational feminist cultural studies at Georgetown University. She has spent a year working for the UN in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has also lived off and on in Cairo, most recently participating in a joint United Nations/American University of Cairo program as a visiting scholar conducting research into women’s relationships to state structures.
See event information.
5. Call for papers: The Self-Interest of Armed Forces in Accountability for their Members for Core International Crimes
Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law and Stanford University
27 November 2012 (Deadline for papers: 1 February 2012)
Stanford University and the FICHL are co-organizing an international expert seminar at Stanford on 27 November 2012 on the self-interest of armed forces in ensuring that their members are held accountable for core international crimes. Leading military lawyers from more than ten States around the world, Professor Richard J. Goldstone, and other prominent experts will present papers at this seminar. (…)
The political and diplomatic rhetoric put forward in favour of criminal justice for atrocities frequently refers to the struggle against impunity and that there can be no lasting peace without justice. A common theme is the obligation to investigate and prosecute core international crimes under international law. Sometimes a government may also pursue national prosecutions in response to purely political interests or expectations. Both the language of international legal obligation and that of politics can act on military or civilian decisions to investigate or prosecute, as a raised stick. This seminar is not concerned with the stick, but the carrot.
Most often, such accountability tends to be rationalized and imposed as a 'stick', even when undertaken by the military. However, one should also look at accountability from a 'carrot' perspective, namely, whether such accountability is in the self-interest of the armed forces. Why do soldiers, officers and military leaders themselves often prefer such accountability? Is it because accountability mechanisms distinguish them as military professionals who are uncompromised by such crimes? Or is it because of the way individual incentive structures, such as promotion, function? Are they concerned that the commission of war crimes may undermine the public's trust in the military, increasing the security risks faced and the size and cost of deployment in the area concerned? Or are they motivated by moral, ethical or religious reasons? Does accountability ensure higher discipline and morale and therefore secure more effective chains of command? Or is it because accountability gives them a political advantage vis-à-vis potential opponents? Or does it promote a better public image? Could such accountability be particularly crucial when the armed forces are involved in efforts to establish a new regime in a post-conflict situation or a process of democratization?
This seminar seeks to create a better understanding of the self-interested reasons that armed forces may have in ensuring accountability for core international crimes by clearly mapping and articulating the above issues and others. It aims to provide military lawyers and military professionals around the world with a more comprehensive statement of these reasons. The needs of institutional military training mechanisms are also relevant. To these ends, the papers presented at the seminar will be published in an open access anthology. Additionally, a concise policy brief summarizing the outcome of the seminar will be published online and in print in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese shortly after the seminar. It will list and describe each self-interest of armed forces in ensuring accountability as identified during the seminar.