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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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 In this issue...
  1. As CAR Descends Into Chaos, Civil Society Demands Decisive Action by the UNSC
  2. Unfinished Business: Civil Society Recommendations in Libya and the DRC
  3. RtoP-related Petitions, Interviews, and Reports

The rapidly deteriorating situation in CAR, a country which over the past year has witnessed a coup, grave human rights abuses by armed ex-Seleka rebels, and heightening inter-religious tensions, has led many to demand more robust action by the international community. On 10 October 2013, the Security Council requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to reportwithin thirty days on the planning of the African-led International Support Mission in CAR (also known as MISCA or AFISM-CAR), “including the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation.”
 
The subsequent Secretary-General 
reportwhich the Security Council discussed in closed consultations on 25 November, provided five options on different ways of supporting MISCA and CAR, as well as an option on transforming MISCA into a peacekeeping force. However, most of the Security Council’s discussions appeared to have focused on the need for enhanced UN financial and logistical support to MISCA, with the authorization of a UN peacekeeping force looking unlikely when the Council meets on Thursday, 5 December.
 
Civil society has been vocal in stating which option would be best for ensuring security and stability in CAR. On 26 November, FIDH urged the Security Council to create a UN peacekeeping operation in CAR, noting that MISCA “does not have the capacity or expertise to deal with the crimes being committed on a gross and systematic scale in the CAR, including increasing inter-communal and religious violence.” Amnesty International agreed on 2 December with the need to start preparations for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, declaring that “if the Security Council does not act now to stem the horrific cycle of violence in the Central African Republic, that failure will hang heavily on the international community for years to come.” Meanwhile, International Crisis Group encouraged the Council on 2 December to adopt a Chapter VII resolution authorizing MISCA to use all necessary means to stabilize the situation, while giving “serious consideration” to a future transition of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation when appropriate.
 

For more on the background of the crisis on CAR, please visit our website.
 
Additional editorials on CAR:
  1. Alexandra BuskieHuffington Post: Catching Fire: National Interest and CAR

  2. Thierry VircoulinAl-Jazeera America: CAR is Descending into Anarchy

  3. Dieudonne NzapalaingThe Guardian: The World Must Unite to Save CAR from Catastrophe


Unbroken Violence in Congo
Human Rights Watch (Originally published in Foreign Policy)
Ida Sawyer
25 November 2013
 
T
here was unexpected news in early November from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has endured two decades of fighting in what has become Africa's deadliest conflict: The M23 rebel group, responsible for numerous atrocities since its inception in April 2012, had been defeated.
 
The M23 was the latest in a succession of armed groups led by ethnic Tutsis in eastern Congo with backing -- weapons, ammunition, recruits -- from neighboring Rwanda. It crumbled after Kigali, facing Western criticism and aid suspension, did not offer the group the same military support that it had in the past during new fighting in October. The Congolese army and the United Nations' new African-led intervention brigade, with its mandate to carry out offensive operations, quickly took control of one rebel stronghold after another. On Nov. 5, the M23 announced it was laying down its arms.
 
This is a significant development, especially for those who have lived under the M23's oppression for the past year and a half. It has prompted over 1,000 combatants and leaders from various armed groups, worried they might be new military targets, to turn themselves in to the government or U.N. But it is by no means the end of Congo's brutal story.
 
M23 leaders with long records of serious human rights abuses -- for whom the Congolese government has rightly ruled out any amnesty or integration into the army -- are still at large. Most have fled to Uganda and Rwanda, and they could form a new armed group if they are not arrested and brought to justice. Just as concerning, however, is that much of Congo's east remains under the control of other armed groups who filled a security vacuum left when Congolese forces turned their attention to the M23 rebellion over a year ago. (...)
 
The Congolese government and the U.N. have said one of their next main targets is the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Many members of the FDLR -- which, after earlier iterations, formed in 2000 in opposition to the government in Kigali -- are Rwandan and ethnic Hutu. (...) Defeating the FDLR will not be easy: Its members, which have faced little government or U.N. pressure for months, are scattered in small groups across a vast territory, and they are experts at disappearing into the forest and blending in with civilian populations. Past military operations against the FDLR have also spurred the group to carry out large-scale attacks on civilians.
 
Read the full article.

Libya: The Authorities have a Responsibility to Protect the Population
FIDH
19 November 2013
 
Violence broke out when militia from the city of Misrata opened fire on peaceful protesters who were marching on their brigade quarters, demanding their departure from the city. Libyan news agencies report that dozens of people were killed in the clashes that followed – the deadliest street fighting in Tripoli since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Misrata gunmen and rival militias clashed again on Saturday to the east of the capital killing one, bringing the number of casualties to at least 41. They retreated with seized vehicles, weapons and ammunition. 

This acute deterioration of the security situation in the Libyan capital illustrates the government’s incapacity to regain control over armed groups and militias, which have continued to grow since the fall of the former regime in 2011. FIDH had warned Libyan authorities in January 2012 that "disarming militias and reintegrating their members into society [was] crucial and [was] the main challenge for the transition government" (…) Authorities must protect protesters from violent attacks and ensure that those responsible are held to account before an independent judiciary. 

Interim authorities have lost the trust of the population, especially as concerns the militias. Therefore FIDH recommends that the Libyan authorities work more closely with civil society organisations to establish a mediation unit to serve as a main contact with armed groups in order to accelerate their demobilisation. (...)

Disarmament and decentralisation are pre-requisites to return to peace and to achieve a truly democratic transition. Those who perpetrate extrajudicial killings must be held accountable, in compliance with international human rights standards. Further, the government must ensure that pluralism and equal rights are fully guaranteed to all, including ethnic minorities, and that no areas of the country are excluded.
 
Read the full article.

Lawyers for Guatemala’s Ixil Community Take Justice Demands to Inter-American Community
International Center for Transitional Justice
2 December 2013
 
The genocide case against Guatemalan former general and de-facto head of state Efraín Ríos Montt recently took on a new international dimension.
 
On November 6th, lawyers of the victims in the case filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to condemn the state of Guatemala for the impunity for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Ixil people.
 
In May 2013, Ríos Montt was originally found guilty by national courts of genocide, based on broad evidence, including the massacre of 1,771 members of the Mayan Ixil people during Guatemala’s civil war in the 1980s. However, 11 days later the decision was overturned by the Constitutional Court, in a ruling which effectively means the case will have to be retried. Human rights organization CALDH and victims’ organization AJR, who represented more than 100 victims and their families at the trial, insist that the Constitutional Court’s decision is illegal. (…)
 
On the same day, a Guatemalan court announced that the Rios Montt trial will resume in January 2015, well more than a year from now. “What certainty do victims have that the Guatemalan courts will respect the due process of law this time? If they annulled the verdict once, they can do it again.” (…)
 
Read the full article.

Diplomacy and the Distractions of Protection
IPI Global Observatory
Alex Bellamy
26 November 2013

When genocide and mass atrocities strike, the first imperative is to stop the violence. When the violence stops, protection increases. With outright victory for the perpetrators of these crimes less likely than it once was and outright defeat still relatively uncommon, an increasingly significant number of episodes of genocide and mass atrocity are terminated or mitigated by agreements negotiated with some of the perpetrators. Thus, atrocities in Darfur, South Sudan, Kenya, the DRC, former Yugoslavia, and East Timor were ended or significantly reduced by negotiation. Meanwhile, one of the few international points of consensus on the current situation in Syria is the need for a negotiated political settlement involving all the relevant parties.

Sometimes, diplomatic imperatives collide head-on with protection concerns. Moral or legal considerations grounded in the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) sometimes make it more difficult to negotiate an end to violence with political leaders responsible for atrocity crimes. This is primarily because these principles reduce the capacity of negotiators to offer incentives and compromises to those responsible for atrocity crimes.

Key Conclusions 

-The termination of genocide and mass atrocities often requires negotiation with the perpetrators of these crimes, but commitments to RtoP and international criminal justice can complicate and hinder these negotiations.
 
-Sometimes diplomats need to make difficult judgments about what to prioritize, especially when what is required to negotiate an agreement runs contrary to the apparent demands of protection.
 
-Simple rules of thumb such as prioritizing protection, aligning means and ends, taking a pragmatic approach to language, sequencing policies and muddling through might help diplomats navigate this difficult terrain.

Read the full article.

The Impact of Aerial Bombing of Civilian Settlements in Southern Kordofan
Sudan Consortium
November 2013
 
During October 2013, the Sudanese Air Force dropped at least 40 bombs in 11 separate attacks carried out against civilian areas in Southern Kordofan.
 
Since the conflict began in June 2012, the effect of such targeting has been both to destroy substantial amounts of newly planted and/or mature crops, but, more significantly, to deter farmers from cultivating their fields at critical times during the crop cycle, for fear of being killed or injured in an air attack.
 
Whilst the civilian population in Southern Kordofan has developed its own protection strategies to mitigate the effects of these air attacks (including digging “foxholes” in which they can seek shelter) significant numbers of civilians continue to be killed or injured in these attacks, and indeed the number killed is increasing.
 
Read the full update.

Petition to Include Women at Geneva II Peace Talks
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
25 November 2013
 
The peace talks to bring a political settlement to the war in Syria have been postponed yet again. In the interim, the slaughter of civilians continues. There will be thousands more deaths as winter encroaches, and as humanitarian aid fails to reach the most vulnerable. Those deaths will be mainly women and children.
 
Yet, still women are kept out of the peace talks, as if their stake in their future and the future of their country is somehow less important than the voices of the men with the guns. The international community must recognize its legal obligations, moral responsibilities and the practical necessity to ensure women’s participation: peace treaties without women do not work. If women are not a part of peace negotiations, then the peace will reflect only the interests of the most powerful and will ultimately fail.
 
Women have been organizing, through an inclusive and representative process, and they are prepared to participate in negotiation. Instead, they are told by the United Nations that the political situation is complicated. Women already know that. Yet, they are told that they should look for alternative models and lobby mediators in corridors.
 
This is untenable and wrong. We must join our Syrian sisters in raising our voices, so that Syrian women are not just included but have a real role in deciding the future of their country.
 
Please join in signing this petition and calling for the inclusion of Syrian women’s leadership in the Geneva II negotiations and beyond.
 
Read the petition online.

R2P Is Dead, Long Live R2P: The Future of the Responsibility to Protect
Stanley Foundation
8 November 2013
 
(...)The recently appointed UN special adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, answered our questions about the future of R2P, what the crisis in Syria is doing to the doctrine, and how to better institutionalize the principle.
 
The Stanley Foundation (TSF): What are your main priorities for the R2P doctrine going forward?
 
Jennifer Welsh: My two main priorities over the coming year are to first, advance Pillar Two of the principle  in terms of both clarifying how states’ capacities to protect can be enhanced through international assistance and identifying particular mechanisms that need to be created or reformed to better provide that assistance, and second, work to embed the principle more firmly within the processes and structures of the United Nations, particularly in terms of human rights, conflict prevention, and protection of civilians. On a more general level, my goal is to work collaboratively with the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide to continue to build the capacity of our joint office to raise awareness about potential or actual atrocity situations and to catalyze action in response.

TSF: Ever since the military intervention in Libya in 2011, many in the international community have sounded the death of R2P. What are your thoughts?
 
Welsh: The criticisms leveled about the military operation in Libya did lead to constructive discussion about the principle of R2P—especially the need for those who act militarily on behalf of the United Nations Security Council to remain accountable. But it is important to remember that R2P is about much more than military intervention, even under Pillar Three. There are tools the international community can employ that do not involve the use of force. I think the Libya case was also an important reminder of the role of regional organizations in operationalizing the principle of R2P. Post-Libya, we have not necessarily seen a retreat from states’ commitments to the protection of their populations, or from the Security Council’s willingness to acknowledge the principle—as it has done in subsequent resolutions.

TSF: How has violence in the Arab Spring, including what’s happening in Syria, affected the R2P principle?
 
Welsh: The crisis in Syria and its staggering human cost reveal yet again how important it is for regional and international actors to take preventive measures more seriously, so as to avoid continuing deterioration of conditions for populations. It also reminds us that the Responsibility to Protect is borne by a wide variety of actors, not just the Security Council. There are many actors who have indeed attempted to fulfill their protection responsibilities—including the UN Human Rights Councilwhose Commission of Inquiry has endeavored to provide a fact base for decision making and accountability; neighboring countries which have accepted refugees; and states and organizations that have applied sanctions. Moreover, thUN Secretary-General has continually and consistently called upon actors, especially states in the Security Council, to fulfill their responsibilities by reaching a consensus on ways to bring an end to the violence.
 
More broadly, it is crucial to point out that whether military intervention occurs or not is not an appropriate “test” for the effectiveness of the Responsibility to Protect. The principle involves a host of noncoercive and coercive tools. Moreover, as per thOutcome Document of the UN World Summit in 2005, states have declared and accepted that decisions on the use of force, which involve a myriad of considerations, not just the Responsibility to Protect, will occur on a case-by-case basis.

TSF: There has been a call by some states for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to give up their veto vote in cases of mass atrocities. Is there a way to make that happen? Do you think it is a realistic call?
 
Welsh: The Security Council is an important actor in authorizing some of the more coercive measures of the third pillar of R2P. In this respect, striving to ensure that action is both timely and effective is the responsibility of all members of the council. History has shown us that when the council can act in a concerted and prompt fashion, positive outcomes can be achieved. A willingness to forego the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations could therefore be a positive step, but we should not necessarily see this, in itself, as being the “magic” solution to bringing about council unity. There will often be, appropriately, different views on the legitimacy of various courses of action, especially those involving the use of force. Those views must be heard and digested by the council in its efforts to find a common path. Those states suggesting changes to the use of the veto are important players, and their leadership could make a difference. But the modalities of this change still need to be fleshed out and debated further. Reform of council working procedures has occurred before, so there is precedent.

TSF: Given the informal nature of the current UN dialogue on R2Pdo you think it is time to consider R2P as a formal agenda item, and what would be the benefits of doing this?
 
Welsh: Our office will be led by states’ views on this matter, and we are able and willing to respond to their preferences for how to take R2P forward within the UN. Placing the annual discussion of R2P on the formal agenda of the General Assembly [GA] does have positive benefits, in terms of indicating commitment to the principle and integrating it with other important goals of the GA, such as development and human rights. That said, the informal dialogues which have been held have been instrumental in advancing the concept and refining the implementation plan developed by the secretary-general in 2009. Formalizing the informal dialogue would require some changes to what has been done in the past and might require adding more time to the discussion and treatment of R2P, but we are now at a moment in the principle’s evolution where this could be justified.
 
Read the article online.
 
 

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