1 June 2012
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I. Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES), Chair and founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP, publishes The Responsibility to Protect: A Latin American Perspective.
1. Syrians cannot afford to wait! Arab and International civil society present measures to the League of Arab States to intensify leadership on Syria
2. International Federation for Human Rights –Syria: Escalation of violence in a context of impunity
1. Mali -Amnesty International –Mali’s worst human rights violations in 50 years
1. Sierra Leone -Human Rights Watch –Sierra Leone: 50-Year Sentence for Charles Taylor
2. Sudan and South Sudan -Bombed, displaced, starving: rains about to cut off people of Blue Nile and South Kordofan from international aid, even if Sudan allows it in
3. Sudan and South Sudan -International Refugee Rights Initiative –Darfurians in South Sudan: negotiating belonging in two Sudans
4. Libya -Giulio Terzi, Foreign Policy –Why Libya Matters
5. Libya -Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch –Libya’s Human Rights Problem
1. Rachel Gerber, The InterDependent –Peacekeeping and the Responsibility to Protect
2. Gabriela Steinemann, The Nation –Can ASEAN take up its responsibility to protect?
3. Minority Rights Group –Peoples under Threat
4.Douglas Brommessonand Henrik Friberg Fernros, Journal of International Relations and Development –The feasibility of an expanded regime on the use of force: the case of the responsibility to protect
5. Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect –Civil Society Report on Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security, Philanthropic an Service-Based Humanitarianism Organisations
6. Shin-wha Lee, East Asia Institute –The Responsibility to Protect in Humanitarian Emergencies: From Libya to North Korea?
17-18 May, Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P – Summary by Amina Rasul from Business World of conference, “Regional Capacity to Protect, Prevent and Respond: United Nations-Asia Pacific Strategy and Coordination”: Voices push responsibility to protect
20 May, The Atlantic Council – Video Archive: Young Atlanticist Delegate Panel: Responsibility to Protect – Prospects and Problems for NATO
4 June, United to End Genocide in cooperation with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court –Panel discussion and event to honor the work of ICC Prosecutor Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo and officially launch “Arrest Bashir”
I. Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES), Chair and founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP, publishes The Responsibility to Protect: A Latin American Perspective.
La Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES), a founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP, released the thirty-fifth issue of the journal Pensamiento Propio in May 2012. This edition, The Responsibility to Protect: A Latin American Perspective, focuses on the goal of fostering further debate on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) in Latin America and features contributions focusing on different national and regional perspectives on the norm.
The Responsibility to Protect: A Latin American Perspective features articles by:
• William Pace, Civil Society, Latin America, and the Development of RtoP
• Thiago Rodrigues and Graziene Carneiro de Souza, Responsibility to Protect and ‘Responsibility to React’: Last Resort of a New Global Security Device
• Juan José Lucci, The Responsibility to Protect and the Five Permanent Members Interests: The Cases of Darfur, Myanmar and Syria
• Thomas Legler, The Regional Institutions and the Responsibility to Protect – The Presidential Axis
• Ricardo Arredondo, The Argentine Government and the Responsibility to Protect – Signs of Change?
• Alfredo Toro Carnevali, The Responsibility to Protect Concept – The Perspective of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other Developing Countries
• Pablo César Rosales Zamora, The Responsibility to Protect and the Armed Conflict in Colombia
This issue also includes the Brazilian note Responsibility while Protecting: elements for the development and promotion of a concept, with articles by Gilberto Rodrigues (Responsibility while Protecting – Motivations, Content and Changes), and Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo (Responsibility to Protect – The Brazilian Perspective) reflecting on the proposed concept. The statements by Hon. Gareth Evans given before the 21 February 2012 informal dialogue on ‘responsibility while protecting’ hosted by the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations, the statement delivered by Dr. Edward Luck, Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, before the 12 July 2011 General Assembly informal dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect, and a review by Raúl Allard N. of the text The Dark Side of Globalization are also featured in this journal edition.
Read the publication.
Following the Houla massacre on 25 and 26 May, civilians remain threatened by mass violence with clashes continuing across the country as of 30 May. On 31 May at a conference in Istanbul, Turkey the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon warned that massacres such as that which occurred in Houla could “plunge Syria into catastrophic civil war – a civil war from which the country would never recover”. The same day, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a statement deploring the massacre in Houla, and reminded “the State party that it bears the primary responsibility to protect its population and should therefore take immediate measures to stop the use of excessive and lethal force against civilians and to prevent further violence against children, including killing and injuring.” Individual governments continued consideration of next steps, and the crisis is likely to be discussed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s travels to Germany and France.
On 1 June, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) held a special session on the crisis in Syria and the recent killings in Houla, the fourth such session that the HRC has held on the crisis. The HRC adopted a resolution with 41 in favor, and Russia, China and Cuba against as well as two abstentions, condemning the massacre and ordering a UN investigation to identify the perpetrators and gather evidence for prosecution. During the special session, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that the attacks in Houla “may amount to crimes against humanity and other international crimes, and may be indicative of a pattern of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations that have been perpetrated with impunity”. Ms. Pillay reiterated her call to “the Government of Syria to assume its responsibility to protect the civilian population in the country” as well as urged for the Security Council to consider referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Several civil society organizations also gave remarks during the special session, including Amnesty International and the Arab NGO Network for Development, both of whom called for the situation to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Civil society organizations continue to put pressure on Syrian President Assad to halt attacks on civilians and on the international community to act to protect the population. Over 100 regional and international civil society organizations issued a letter to the Arab League’s Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby asking for the League to carry out its targeted sanctions adopted in November 2011 and to pressure the UNSC to impose an arms embargo and sanctions, refer the situation to the ICC, and demand access for the Commission of Inquiry. The International Federation for Human Rights and ICRtoP Germany-based member Genocide Alert also issued press releases on the crisis, calling for international action to end the crisis.
1. Syrians cannot afford to wait! Arab and International civil society present measures to the League of Arab States to intensify leadership on Syria
31 May 2012
This letter was addressed to Dr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League Of Arab States and signed by Federation Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), Human Rights Watch, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Arab Program for Human Rights Activists, the Arab Network for Human Rights, the Arab Centre for Independent Judiciary and Legal Practice and many others.
(…) In advance of the extraordinary meeting of the Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs on Syria to be held on June 2,2012, we the undersigned, representing Arab and international NGOs from 20 countries including 18 Arab countries, urge the LAS to call on the UN Security Council to demand access to Syria for the UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Houla massacre and other grave human rights violations, to impose an arms embargo on Syria and targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for grave violations, and to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity. (…)
Given the Syrian government’s failure to meet its commitments under Kofi Annan’s plan, we call on the LAS to carry out and monitor the implementation of the targeted sanctions against the Syrian leadership it agreed to in November 2011 but has yet to outline in any detail. LAS member states should specifically call on Russia to stop blocking UN Security Council action on Syria and stop arming the Assad government. They should also inform Russia that they will refrain from signing new contracts with Rosoboronexport, the Russian state-owned arms trading company, as long as the Russian arms transfers to Syria continue.
(…) According to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a Syrian monitoring group, the Syrian army and security forces continue their military attacks on towns and at least 2,800 civilians have been killed since the government committed to the plan on March 25.
Further, despite the Syrian government’s commitment under the plan to “intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities” and to “respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed,” it continues to arbitrarily detain persons and to arrest peaceful protesters and activists including humanitarian assistance providers. According to the VDC, security forces have detained at least 1,900 people since March 25.
The Arab League should take strong and Unified action on Syria Now…
Read the full letter.
See the Global Centre for R2P’s most recent edition of the “R2P Monitor”
2. Syria: Escalation of violence in a context of impunity
International Federation for Human Rights
31 May 2012
The discovery of 13 bodies in the area of Deir Ez-Zor reported by the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) on May 30, a few days after the El Houleh killings, confirms the urgent need for an immediate and unfettered investigation of these incidents by an independent and impartial international body. (…)
According to UN observers, the 13 bodies discovered in Assukar (50 kilometers away from the city of Deir Ez-Zor) on the evening of May 29 had their hands tied behind their back and some appear to have been shot in the head from a short distance. In addition to attacks by government artillery and tank shellings on the village of El Houleh, the killing of civilians due to close range shooting and severe physical abuse have also been reported. Several reports suggest that pro-government paramilitary group could be responsible for those crimes. (…)
International crimes have been perpetrated for more than 15 months in Syria. The UN estimates that more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed. Crimes against humanity and other international crimes have allegedly been perpetrated on a wide-scale. (…)
(…) A possible «Yemen-style solution» agreement, which could grant immunity to those responsible for grave human rights violations in exchange of a power transfer, could be currently taking place. FIDH recalls that such a deal could lead the international community to contravene international law. (…)
Despite the extreme difficulties and hazardous conditions faced by UNSMIS, FIDH insists that Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, must be implemented without any further delay.
(…) FIDH encourages the UNSC to renew and extend the UNSMIS mandate so that it can effectively monitor the implementation of the plan and allow the observers to access detention centers and inquire about the fate of political prisoners who remain in detention.
Read press release.
The President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo released a statement on 28 May condemning the secession attempt, saying that the move “will only worsen the plight of the populations already suffering atrocities and deprivation in the occupied Malian territory, and further threaten regional peace and security.” The following day, the Chief of the African Union (AU) Yayi Boni called for the creation of a UN-backed force to intervene in northern Mali, saying that “the question of stability is non-negotiable for us.".
1. Mali’s worst human rights violations in 50 years
15 May 2012
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by fighting in northern Mali and dozens have been subjected to arbitrary detention, extra-judicial executions or sexual violence including rape, Amnesty International said today.
In a report ‘Mali: Five months of crisis, armed rebellion and military coup’ Amnesty International catalogues a litany of human rights violations committed against the backdrop of a food shortage affecting 15 million people in the Sahel region.
“After two decades of relative stability and peace, Mali is now facing its worst crisis since independence in 1960,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher who has just returned from a three week research mission to the country.
“The entire north of the country has been taken over by armed groups who are running riot. Ten of thousands of people have fled the region, creating a humanitarian crisis in Mali and in neighbouring countries.”
During the research mission Amnesty International delegates visited the Malian capital Bamako and four refugee sites in Niger, about 200 kilometres north of the capital Niamey.
According to testimonies taken by Amnesty International women and girls were raped, sometimes collectively, by armed men including by members of the MNLA, particularly in Menaka and Gao. (…)
All parties to the conflict are believed to be committing human rights violations and abuses.
Malian soldiers beat and then extra-judicially executed three unarmed people accused of spying for the MNLA in Sevare (630 kilometres north of Bamako) on 18 April 2012. Other suspects are being held in locations not registered as places of detention such as the General Directorate of Public Security (Direction générale de la sécurité d’État or DGSE).
Similarly, Malian soldiers taken prisoner by armed groups have been ill summarily executed and some were ill-treated. Two Malian soldiers who had been taken prisoner in January 2012 before being released as part of an exchange described how some soldiers had been tortured and abused. Some had their throats slit.
Delegates found evidence of the presence of child soldiers within the ranks of the armed Tuareg and Islamists groups who took control of the north of the country.
Amnesty International has collected several testimonies indicating pressure from members of the Ansar Eddin armed group on people to change their behaviour, in accordance with their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
Witnesses said that the imposition of these new behaviours has been accompanied by intimidation and physical violence, including deliberate and arbitrary killings. (…)
Amnesty International is calling all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and to take the necessary measures to protect civilians and combatants captured during the conflict. The organization calls upon Malian authorities to put an end to the harassment of those who campaign peacefully for the return of the rule of law.
Amnesty International also calls on the armed groups who have taken control of the north to stop immediately sexual violence against women and young girls and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
The organisation also urges the Malian authorities and armed groups to allow United Nations and other humanitarian agencies unrestricted access to refugees and internally displaced people, particularly in northern Mali.
Read the press release.
See the report “Mali: Five months of crisis, armed rebellion and military coup’.
1. Sierra Leone: 50-Year Sentence for Charles Taylor
Human Rights Watch
30 May 2012
The sentencing of Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison on May 30, 2012 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone is a landmark in ensuring justice for the victims of Sierra Leone's brutal armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Crucial in the sentencing was the court’s finding that Charles Taylor's position as head of state was an aggravating factor,” said Elise Keppler, international justice senior counsel at Human Rights Watch. “This sends a strong signal that the world is increasingly intolerant of leaders who exploit their positions of power to commit serious crimes in violation of international law.”
Taylor was convicted on April 26, 2012 of planning, aiding, and abetting the commission of all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the indictment against him. (…)
Judge Lussick said that in the jurisprudence of the Special Court, aiding and abetting is considered a lesser form of culpability than direct commission of crimes. However, he said, a higher sentence was justified because Taylor abused his leadership positions and "betrayed public confidence" – both as a participant in the peace talks and as president of Liberia – to fuel the conflict in Sierra Leone and exploit it for personal gain.
Human Rights Watch documented violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the armed conflict in Sierra Leone and has closely followed the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone since its inception, including producing two reports on its operations. A Human Rights Watch report on the Taylor trial and its early impact, based on interviews conducted at the court and in Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012, will be released in the coming months.
Read full article.
2. Bombed, displaced, starving: rains about to cut off people of Blue Nile and South Kordofan from international aid, even if Sudan allows it in
24 May 2012
International agencies last week raised the alarm that conditions for refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan and South Sudan – already inadequate – are about to get far worse with the onset of the rainy season.
For refugees in South Sudan, there remains at least the possibility of international aid. For IDPs in Sudan itself, however – in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states – there is no international assistance because it has been blocked by the Sudanese Government. Meanwhile, systematic Government bombing of civilians in rebel-held areas is preventing agriculture, displacing growing numbers of people and increasing their risk of starvation. (…)
In February, a proposal from the UN, AU and Arab League for international humanitarian assistance to war-affected areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile was welcomed by the armed opposition but not by the Khartoum Government. Earlier this month, UN Security Council Resolution 2046 urged acceptance of the proposal, but this too was rejected by Khartoum.
Addressing Parliamentarians in Khartoum last month on the conflicts with South Sudan and with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha said, "We will not let anyone support the enemy with even half a date. Our instruction is clear: shoot to kill…. Shoot to kill. We cannot support the enemy with one hand and fight him with the other hand. We have to stop the smuggling of food to the enemy."
An estimated 151,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile are now in South Sudan and Ethiopia, with hundreds more crossing the borders daily – ‘visibly malnourished’, according to aid workers. (…)
Little concrete information has been emerging about conditions for IDPs in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. However, the latest assessment by the Blue Nile Humanitarian Team – a civil society organisation led by people from Blue Nile who are both in the region and abroad – paints a disturbing picture. The BNHT recorded 120,000 IDPs in April – 25% of whom are children – with another 15,000 people displaced in recent weeks. Stating that over 75% of farmland in Blue Nile is no longer being cultivated due to the war, the BNHT reports that since April, IDPs have been living off wild fruits and tree leaves. The BNHT also reports that on 11 May, IDPs concentrated in the Baw Mountains were shelled by Government forces from both east and west of their locality, causing around 3,000 to flee to the southwest of Baw. Some of those fleeing described the situation they left as “the worst they have ever seen in their life.” (…)
Read the press release and the Blue Humanitarian Team assessment or download an excel spreadsheet containing raw data from the BNHT assessment.
Listen to a radio interview with Dr Mukesh Kapila, Special Representative of the Aegis Trust and former head of the UN in Sudan on Vatican Radio.
3. Darfurians in South Sudan: negotiating belonging in two Sudans
International Refugee Rights Initiative
23 May 2012
This paper is the seventh in a series of working papers on citizenship and displacement in the Great Lakes region, a collaborative project between the International Refugee Rights Initiative, the Social Science Research Council and civil society in the Great Lakes region.
(…) This paper is about the construction of citizenship, identities and belonging at a moment of profound political change: the secession of South Sudan from the Republic of Sudan (Sudan or North Sudan) that took place on 9 July 2011. At the heart of this seismic political shift lay decades of abuse by a centralised source of power that was, and still is, profoundly unjust. Since independence from colonialism, the majority of people who were legally defined as “Sudanese” have had little, if any, ability to influence political processes in their country. This political exclusion lay at the root of decades of conflict across many parts of Sudan. All of the conflicts have reflected, at some level, the reality of people living on the peripheries, experiencing a second class form of citizenship, unable to participate meaningfully in the political governance of their country.
The creation of the new state of South Sudan offers both threats and opportunities for the peoples of both Sudans. On the one hand there is considerable optimism that independence has heralded in a new era of equal citizenship for those in the South that will override the tensions and divisions of the old Sudan – and reflect a microcosm of the vision for Sudan that was embedded in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). On the other hand, there is a real possibility that this new configuration may simply reinforce the history of exclusion and partisanship that lies at the root of Sudan’s fragmentation.
The division of Sudan, therefore, has had a profound impact on all Sudanese people, whether those perceived as “southern” who now find themselves stranded and rejected as foreigners in the North, “northerners” who do not identify with a repressive Sudanese government, new South Sudanese citizens returning to a newly configured South Sudan, or those displaced by the multiple and growing conflicts across Darfur and the border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Beneath the surface of political change are multiple narratives and stories of individuals and groups who do not necessarily conform to tidy political categories, who find themselves in circumstances in which state-centric articulations of citizenship do not adequately reflect their circumstances, and who simply do not belong.
This paper explores one such narrative: the way in which Darfurians living in the South perceive, and are negotiating, their position within the new political configuration of South Sudan – whether temporarily or permanently. While ascertaining the status of Darfurians in South Sudan might not currently seem a priority in the broader scheme of what is taking place – not least the looming threat of an escalation in the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan – the paper argues, based on 104 interviews with Darfurians displaced from Darfur, that the inclusion of apparently peripheral or marginalised groups lies at the heart of building a new state in the South. By creating an environment that enables people to secure their safety, South Sudan is more likely to encourage an era of peace and reduce the likelihood of a return to conflict both within the country and on its borders. (…)
At the same time, developments in South Sudan can not be disconnected from those in Sudan, where the strong arm of the state is only becoming increasingly oppressive, and where the space for negotiating belonging continues to contract. The need for an inclusive approach to citizenship and residence in South Sudan, therefore, is particularly important in a context in which access to the rights that are supposed to accompany citizenship are being denied to all but a small minority in (North) Sudan. Indeed, with the recent attacks on civilians in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, South Sudan’s role as a place of respite is only going to become more acute. Consequently, this paper is also about the exclusion that continues to define citizenship in Sudan, not least for Darfurians whose homeland is a zone of increasing conflict. (…)
Read the full paper.
4. Why Libya Matters
22 May 2012
Giulio Terzi is Italy’s minister of foreign affairs.
One year ago, a large international NATO-led coalition was critical in helping Libyans free themselves and their country from Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's three-decade-long bloody dictatorship. But that victory is not yet secure. Today, international engagement is even more necessary to win sustainable stability in post-conflict Libya. The success of a peaceful, democratic transition in Libya is not only in the interest of Italy and Europe, it is a common good in the interest of the entire international community -- on at least three accounts.
First, only a democratic and stable country can meet the legitimate aspirations of its people, those who fought the revolution and paid the price for freedom with their lives. The international community has both the interest and the moral duty to consolidate those human gains achieved with military intervention in the name of the "responsibility to protect."
Second, a democratic and stable Libya can become a positive agent for regional cooperation and integration. Qaddafi's Libya was a regional trouble maker that spread fear and mistrust among its neighbors in both Africa and the Arab world, but the new Libya has already demonstrated its willingness to reintegrate positively in the region. It normalized relations with most of its neighbors, including Egypt and Tunisia and more recently, Algeria; it participated in the ministerial meeting between the five countries of the Mediterranean's northern shore and the five of the southern shore which was held in Rome last February; and it has positively re-engaged in the Union for the Arab Maghreb.
Third, due to its strategic geographical position, a democratic Libya, closely anchored to international Euro-Atlantic institutions, could become an important partner in the common fight against international terrorism, piracy, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. (…)
Libya, in other words, is a special case and should be treated as such. The country today faces two major challenges. First is the establishment of a new functional and democratic government. Libya has never been organized through structured central institutions. (…)
So how to build a government in a state that has lacked one for 30 years? Unquestionably, elections are the first step to building democratic, inclusive, and accountable institutions. By the end of June, Libya is going to elect its 200-member National Congress, which, in turn, will have to designate the 60 members of a Constitutional Committee tasked with drafting a new constitution. Since its independence in 1951, Libyans have experienced open elections only once, and that was under the monarchy in 1952. The challenges that await them, therefore, are huge. The preparation for the elections has already spurred widespreadparticipation in the democratic process,which bodes well for the country‘s future. Political parties and candidates are mushrooming: More than 2,000 candidates and 120 new political parties registered to stand for the 200 seats, 120 of which will be allocated to individuals, with the remainder reserved as party seats. Forty-three percent of the registered voters are women, while 43 women are candidates. Elections will not solve all Libya's problems -- but, for the first time, Libya will have an elected government directly accountable to its people and with which the international community will be able to engage.
5. Libya’s Human Rights Problem
Sarah Leah Whitson
Human Rights Watch
15 May 2012
This commentary by Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, was published in Foreign Policy.
Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) warmly accepted the international community's military and political support for dislodging the Qaddafi government, and vowed to build a new state that would respect human rights. But it seems to be veering off course. Not only is it rejecting international human rights monitoring and the ICC's jurisdiction, but more troubling still, it has passed some shockingly bad laws, mimicking Qaddafi laws criminalizing political dissent and granting blanket immunity to any crimes committed in "support" of the revolution.
The NTC has a lot on its hands, and building a new administration from the ground up is no small feat. Its biggest challenge has been asserting authority over the armed groups in most towns, villages and city neighborhoods who are responsible for most abuses in post-Qaddafi Libya. The militias hold about 5,000 of the country's roughly 8,000 detainees. Some have been held for up to a year, outside Libyan law, without any charge or judicial process. Numerous cases of torture and even deaths in custody have been documented.
(…) In March, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Libya described these abuses as "serious violations, including war crimes" and, incredibly, crimes against humanity -- and urged ongoing monitoring by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
But when the council met to consider the report, Libyan government representatives in Geneva adamantly rejected any proposed language in a resolution (named "Assistance to Libya in the Field of Human Rights") that would urge the government to address the abuses the Commission of Inquiry documented -- by releasing those arbitrarily detained and ensuring fair trials, for example, or allowing U.N. monitoring. The Libyans were delighted to accept "technical assistance," though.
The United States and several European Union states vetoed these proposals as well, eager to prove the Libya military intervention a success, and effectively turned a blind eye to the country's current serious human rights problems. The Friends of Libya relied on the international Responsibility to Protect to justify intervening in Qaddafi's crimes against humanity, but now ignore it when those committing the crimes are the militias they supported last year.
Libya's NTC had a similar about-face in its apparently short-lived commitment to international justice. When fighting a civil war last year, it applauded the U.N. Security Council's referral of Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC), welcomed the arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi, and pledged full cooperation. But it seems that Libya's new rulers have no more use for the court.
The government has yet to hand over Saif al-Islam and appealed a recent decision by the ICC judges asking Libya to surrender him. Instead it seeks to persuade the ICC that, although a Zintan militia has held Saif al-Islam without judicial review since his capture in November 2011, the NTC will give him a fair trial. (...) If the government refuses to comply with the ICC's order, it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that the NTC merely used the ICC as a political tool against Qaddafi, rather than as a tool of justice for the citizens of a nation long deprived of independent courts.
It is also hard to avoid the conclusion that while the NTC has talked a good game about human rights, it's commitment to free expression and dissent is in doubt. Almost a year ago, the NTC passed a "constitutional covenant" pledging to respect human rights treaties, freedom of expression, and political pluralism. But it has proceeded to pass laws that have no appreciation for what these ideas actually mean. (…)
And despite a stated commitment to establishing respect for law and an end to impunity, the NTC has instead delivered Law 38, granting blanket immunity for criminals, if they committed crimes for the good of the revolution, and barring suits against them. (…)
Some Western officials say that Libya's transitional authorities need a break after four decades of Qaddafi and months of harsh conflict. Many Libyan officials echo this claim, calling for "space" and "understanding." But it is exactly things like human rights monitoring and pressure to respect international legal obligations that will help Libya's transition. Giving Libya a pass during the transition is a recipe for more problems down the road.
Read the full commentary.
See other HRW publications, including a report, “Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya", and article, UN Security Council: Press Libya on Impunity.
1. Peacekeeping and the Responsibility to Protect
29 May 2012
Rachel Gerber leads the atrocity prevention program at the Stanley Foundation.
(…) The “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was born of the same history that forced the rethink of modern peacekeeping, with Lakhdar Brahimi’s landmark Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (2000) issued just weeks before International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) announced it would seek to forge a new consensus on what was then understood as “humanitarian intervention.” (…)
Over the same period in which political consensus surrounding R2P’s basic principles has deepened and focus has turned to implementation, the United Nations and its Member States have striven separately to refine the basic identity of UN peace operations and build a set of shared expectations for their application. Peacekeeping has been thus shaped as a “niche” policy tool – one that provides invaluable support to both States and the international community in upholding their R2P obligations, but only in circumstances that operate within what has become the core assumption of UN mission engagement: stated consent of parties to a conflict.
Contemporary peacekeeping mandates, objectives, strategy and doctrine operate explicitly on the principles of consent, impartiality and non-use of force (except in self-defense or defense of a mission’s mandate). (…) It recognized UN peacekeeping’s comparative advantage as one of assistance – facilitating an established political process driven by consenting local parties and grounded in the broadest possible base of international political support.
In reality, these principles frame mandates and equip missions that operate in contexts of incredible ambiguity, where consent is fickle, power diffuse and shifting, and violence often ongoing. Thus, while engaging the State and other local parties to assist the transition out of conflict, these missions are also often mandated to protect civilians from the many threats that remain. (…)
Civilian protection extends beyond the four mass atrocity crimes circumscribed in the R2P framework, but captures the spirit of the principle and outlines its operational approach on behalf of UN actors in the limited context of conflicts that host a POC-mandated, consent-based mission. (…)
Defining peacekeeping as a tool of consent may seem soft, overly restrictive, and divorced from ground realities in which the intent and authority of the “consenting parties” may be highly questionable. Yet, consent – however tenuous – creates physical and political space for maneuver that would not otherwise exist. It sets commitments against which parties must then justify their actions, and allows for coercive tactical responses to violations when appropriate. Relatively muted objection to the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire’s forceful ouster of Laurent Gbagbo last spring underscores how a premise of consent can shift the parameters for engagement and make robust responses more politically palatable when force becomes the only option.
Yet, as Libya and Syria have made abundantly clear, not all atrocities begin with armed conflict and not all perpetrators are willing to engage with the international community, much less consent to UN presence on the ground. While [civilian protection or] POC shares many tangible objectives with R2P, few of its principles, doctrine or tactics are transferrable to cases of “peace enforcement,” or overtly coercive efforts to counter a perpetrator bent on a civilian-targeted strategy.
While consensus over R2P’s overarching principles has deepened significantly in recent years, the international community has yet to formulate a shared understanding of how it should approach cases in which State actors prove entirely unwilling to respect their obligation to protect their populations from mass atrocity crimes. UN Member States, Security Council members in particular, have yet to develop common expectations for the policies that are appropriate and acceptable for peace enforcement, and the ways in which “enforcers” will be held accountable to them.
Lacking such shared expectations – or even a common language to speak about them – the Security Council resolution (1973) that authorized coercive force against Colonel Gaddafi borrowed the language of civilian protection, with the added caveat that NATO was free to employ “all necessary means” to achieve this objective. Civilian protection, however, has become largely synonymous with the principles of consent, impartiality and minimal force that define the peacekeeping mandates in which it is typically invoked. The dissonance between these principles and NATO’s interpretation of “all necessary means” opened the door to forceful criticism, backlash and political posturing in the wake of the Libya campaign.
Some POC advocates fear hard won consensus over peacekeeping’s protection-focused principles and mandates have been damaged by the Libya experience.
Yet, the core of current contention over R2P implementation lies outside the space where UN peacekeeping is an appropriate tool.
Global events continue to remind us of the urgent need to clarify consensus and develop a set of shared expectations for the rare cases in which coercive force, without consent, is the only means to counter mass atrocity threats. This summer, the United Nations General Assembly will gather for an open dialogue on the third pillar of the R2P framework. Serious consideration of these needs is critical if Member States are to fully realize their self-proclaimed responsibility to protect all populations from atrocity violence.
2. Can ASEAN take up its responsibility to protect?
28 May 2012
Gabriela Steinemann is a Master’s student of Southeast Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University.
During the 1990s, massacres such as Rwanda or Srebrenica - committed in the very presence of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers - spurred heated debates among civil society, scholars and policy makers. Opinions were divergent: how should the world react to mass atrocities committed within the borders of a sovereign state? As a result of these discussions, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) released a report in 2001 which attempted to define if, when and how governments or international organisations should intervene to protect the lives and dignity of people suffering harm caused by armed violence. The core message was that protecting its population is the duty of the sovereign state; the international "responsibility to protect", or R2P, is to be called upon only if the state is unwilling or unable to do so.
Over the years, the concept has been invoked in more than one situation to justify foreign military intervention by individual countries or groupings. Thus, R2P has essentially been associated with military action, which has given it a negative connotation and discredited it in many regions including Southeast Asia: the concept's application in practice has perhaps become its very Achilles' heel. R2P, however, does not primarily imply military action, which is only to be a last resort in case of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing. Much more important are the non-coercive measures suggested by the ICISS, such as preventive diplomacy, mediation or monitoring by third parties.
As a regional intergovernmental organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) certainly has a role to play. But is such involvement compatible with the institution's principles of non-interference, respect of state sovereignty and consensus? Has Asean, in the past 30 years, lived up to its responsibility to protect? And how would it react in the future if mass atrocities were committed in one of its member states? Some positive examples of Asean involvement in helping Southeast Asian populations recover from conflict and disaster are worth noting. In Cambodia throughout the 1980s, Asean played an influential role in the mediation process leading up to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement. Nearly two decades later, after Cyclone Nargis struck parts of Myanmar in 2008, Asean managed to convince the regime to open its borders to international aid - though admittedly late. Still, the regional body's success in these two cases needs to be relativised. In the first case, neither Cambodia nor Vietnam was part of Asean at the time, which removed the sensitivities attached to interference in members' domestic affairs. Moreover, the final resolution of the conflict - deployment of a peacekeeping operation and organisation of elections - was the work of the UN.
(…) Where Asean took action in favour of Southeast Asian populations, as seen in Cambodia and after Nargis, its measures were non-coercive and the contexts were not strictly ones of R2P. This was different in the case of East Timor, where the post-referendum violence of 1999 forced well over 200,000 people to flee their homes. While Asean had a responsibility to protect the East Timorese victims, it neither managed to discuss the issue in due time nor played a part in the subsequent peacekeeping operations, led instead by Australia and the UN. It was not until Indonesia asked for an Asian counterbalance that individual Asean members, notably Thailand and the Philippines, responded by taking up commanding roles within the peacekeeping force. In hindsight, Asean collectively should have acted by taking preventive or mediative R2P action. As in this case, the fear of angering a member state could again impede the organisation's response in similar situations in the future.
These limitations may be explained by Asean's institutional principles, rooted in the careful regional approach. It is thus relatively easy to understand why the Southeast Asian grouping would not be able to play a role comparable to that of the Arab League in the present context of Syria. Asean's consensus over majority rule, non-suspension of members, respect of internal cohesion and face saving are attributes to the organisation's strength as well as its weakness.
Given regional sensitivities, it is unrealistic (and perhaps inappropriate) to expect Asean to take stronger measures, including the use of force, against member states accused of gross violations of international human rights or humanitarian law - more so as military intervention remains extremely controversial throughout the world. Even the less intrusive establishment of a peacekeeping force has not gained regional consensus so far. Asean does, however, have a more responsible role to play in the form of diplomatic efforts aimed at protecting populations from adverse conditions; in serious cases, even economic or political sanctions can be contemplated. The simple raising of sensitive issues among Asean leaders should no longer be considered as interference; in today’s world where most problems do not respect national frontiers, the lives and dignity of the people must come first.
A change of thinking within Asean has already started. It can be nudged further if decision makers accept that state sovereignty is not a right, but rather a responsibility. Only then can one hope that they will dare to take stronger action to protect their region's populations - be it from the effects of armed conflict, environmental degradation or pervasive human rights abuse.
3. Peoples under Threat
Minority Rights Group
24 May 2012
Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen are among the most significant risers in this year's internationally acclaimed global ranking Peoples Under Threat, which lists countries where communities are most at threat of mass killing, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) says.
According to authoritative indicators factored into the Peoples Under Threat analysis, states in the Middle East and North Africa have risen notably in the table, with minorities at particular risk. As political space opens up, ethnic or sectarian grievances have been exacerbated and minorities scapegoated, the international human rights organisation says. (…)
In Libya, former rebels still hold up to 6,000 people arrested during or after the armed conflict. Detained without charge or trial, up to half are believed to be sub-Saharan migrants or black Libyans, of whom a number have been tortured to death. Systematic repression continues against the former inhabitants of Tawergha, a town with a mainly black Libyan population of 30,000 who were accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and forcibly displaced in their entirety by the Misrata brigade.
In Egypt, activists' euphoria at the downfall of the Mubarak government has been replaced by increasing anger at the arbitrary detention and torture practiced by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Egypt's Copts total 7 million or more, but the number leaving the country is reported to have increased following attacks on churches and intimidation. The political success of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Salafist parties is also viewed with concern by other religious minorities, including the Shi'a and the Baha'i.
In Syria, the fact that the government is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiism, places Alawite and other Shi'a communities at risk if the conflict intensifies, says MRG. Assyrian Christians are also deeply concerned about the possibility of attacks from Sunni militants.
In Yemen, clashes in the north between Sunni tribes and al-Houthis have added to the growing threats from sectarianism in a country where conflict with al-Qaeda-linked militants has again intensified. In recent weeks the capital Sana'a has also seen thousands of protestors from the marginalized ‘Akhdam' community, angry at the racism they face on a daily basis. (…)
The highest riser in the Peoples under Threat table this year is South Sudan, a country which acquired its independence from Sudan in July and which comes straight in at number eight. A history of cattle raiding between the Lou Nuer and the Murle, as well as other groups, has developed into inter-communal violence on a highly organised scale in Jonglei state, affecting some 120,000 people. Tens of thousands of refugees have also fled across the border into South Sudan in recent months, escaping Sudanese government shelling of communities in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile state. (…)
Download the full briefing paper.
4. The feasibility of an expanded regime on the use of force: the case of the responsibility to protect
Douglas Brommessonand Henrik Friberg Fernros
Journal of International Relations and Development
18 May 2012
Douglas Brommesson is in the Department of Political Science at Lund University and Henrik Friberg Fernros is in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg.
This article addresses the question of whether an expanded regime on the use of force, based on the report The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) of 2001, would be feasible. The formula of the R2P has since found its way into the United Nations machinery via the final resolution from the World Summit in 2005 and can be seen as an emerging and more permissive norm on the use of force in cases of humanitarian catastrophes. The question of whether or not the theoretical framework of the norm is feasible is therefore urgent. Our analysis of feasibility is based on three logics of human action: the logic of consequence, logic of appropriateness and logic of arguing. We argue that each of these logics contains aspects that must be observed before a regime can be considered feasible. These logics are coupled with three mechanisms of socialisation of norms: strategic calculation, role-playing and normative suasion. We construct a minimal standard for a feasible regime by deducing requirements from the logics and their mechanisms, and then apply that standard to the content of the ICISS report. The empirical results show that the report must address the fact that it lacks qualities in regard to all three logics, before the expanded regime can be considered feasible.
5. Civil Society Report on Development, Human Rights, Peace and Security, Philanthropic an Service-Based Humanitarianism Organisations
Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
9 May 2012
(…) This report aims to provide information and analysis on the ways in which civil society organizations (CSOs) have engaged with the norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Since the proclammation of R2P in 2001 and its adoption in by one hundred and fifty states in 2005, civil society organizations have paid increasing attention to R2P. Several civil society organizations, such as the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect and the International Coalition for Responsibility to Protect, have formed with a mandate specifically focused on R2P. These organizations, which are a collaborative enterprise between numerous CSOs, have significantly increased the level of CSO engagement with R2P. These developments, in conjunction with the proclamation of UN Resolution 1973 authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya on March 17th, 2011, have intensified interest in R2P amongst civil society groups in recent years. (…)
Further sections include: Research Methodology; Peace and Security Organizations; Human Rights Organizations; Development Organizations; Philanthropic Organizations; Service-Based Humanitarian Organizations; ICRtoP Organizations; and Quantitative Data.
Read the full publication.
6. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Humanitarian Emergencies: From Libya to North Korea?
Shin-wha Lee, East Asia Institute
This working paper, “The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Humanitarian Emergencies: From Libya to North Korea?”, was published by the East Asia Institute’s Asia Security Initiative.
(…) This working paper first reviews international responses to complex emergencies, with particular emphasis on multidimensional UN peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention. Second, the development of the concept and debates of the R2P will be discussed, which will be followed by the limitations and controversies related to the notions and practices of the R2P. Third, the possibility of the R2P applied to both internationally endorsed R2P crimes and “non-R2P” crimes will be examined with a number of case studies: Cambodia, Darfur, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Libya, and Syria as R2P-delineated crimes; and Myanmar, Somalia, and Zimbabwe as non-R2P cases. Through these case studies, we can evaluate the possibility and validity of expanding the scope of the R2P and find the practical implications for the case of North Korea. It seems unfortunately improbable that the UN member states will apply the R2P to North Korea, not only in its current situation, but even if the people of the country were to face a situation like that of Libya and Syria, because China and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, will veto any military intervention against North Korea.
In brief, the initial assumption of this paper is that considering the difficulty in turning the R2P from words to deeds, it is practical to limit the R2P’s scope to four crimes. However, the narrowly described R2P also limits its potential to prevent, protect, or react to complex humanitarian emergencies, even for cases such as North Korea, where human rights violations and humanitarian challenges are among the most dreadful in the world. Therefore, it is ultimately beneficial to explore ways to expand the scope of the R2P in a way that does not undermine its applicability in the real world. (…)
Read the full working paper.
1. Voices push responsibility to protect
17 May 2012
The following is a partial summary of the conference, Regional Capacity to Protect, Prevent and Respond: United Nations-Asia Pacific Strategy and Coordination, organized by ICRtoP Steering Committee member, the Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P, and held in Bangkok on 17 and 18 May 2012. Evelyn Serrano, Regional Coordinator for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, spoke at the conference on behalf of ICRtoP and William Pace, Executive-Director of WFM-Institute for Global Policy, a Steering Committee member of ICRtoP. A full report from the conference is forthcoming.
(…) Evelyn Serrano, speaking for the International Coalition for R2P, called for building political will of both citizens and states. New voices, so to speak. She made special mention of the role of women especially in areas of conflict to strengthen the resolve of governments to protect their citizens. Women have been particularly vulnerable, targets of heinous methods of ethnic cleansing such as rape. Awareness raising, education and capacity building are crucial if mass atrocity crimes are to be prevented by concerted action of stakeholders at all levels. States will not act if citizens are not concerned or do not show their concern. Since citizens and civil society often lack access to policy makers, it becomes essential to capacitate citizens and civil society. (…)
Read the full article.
2. Young Atlanticist Delegate Panel: Responsibility to Protect – Prospects and Problems for NATO
The Atlantic Council
20 May 2012
Hosted by the Atlantic Council and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, this year’s 2012 Young Atlanticist Summit in Chicago, primary public diplomacy event at the 2012 Chicago Summit , brought together top UN, US and foreign government leaders and 250 young leaders to discuss the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The 250 delegates, aged 25-35, represent all NATO Alliance countries, as well as partner nations. The event took place from 19-21 May.
In a panel discussion, “Responsibility to Protect – Prospects and Problems for NATO,” speakers and audience members discussed the future of NATO in RtoP situations and implications this will have for the alliance and for countries faced with a mass atrocity crisis. The panel discussed the main issues regarding the relationship between RtoP and NATO - an “uneven” application of the doctrine, the scope of intervention is not yet concrete, and the possible consequences of NATO being directly associated with RtoP –, the contradiction between NATOs founding mission and actions it would take if RtoP became a priority, and the role of regional organizations in RtoP situations.
3. Panel discussion and event to honor the work of ICC Prosecutor Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo and officially launch “Arrest Bashir”
United to End Genocide in cooperation with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court
4 June 2012, 3:00-6:00 PM
Museum of Tolerance, 226 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY
United to End Genocide, in cooperation with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, invite you to an event to honor the work of outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo. Mr. Moreno Ocampo and incoming Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will give remarks. The event will also feature an expert panel discussion.