In this issue...
Also, don't forget to check out our latest blog entry called "RtoP: Latest Developments in 2013!"
On 22 January 2014, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Central African Republic. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura, and Kyung-wha Khang, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also briefed the Council following their recent trips to the country.
According to Mr. Dieng, the main purpose of his December 2013 trip to CAR was to assess the likelihood of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes occurring. His visit confirmed his earlier speech given to the Security Council in November 2013, namely that the CAR was facing a situation of widespread human rights violations and abuses such as have never been witnessed before in the country, due to widespread inter-religious clashes and reprisal attacks. An effective inter-religious dialogue is needed at both the local and national level, as the risk of genocide remains high.
Mr. Dieng noted that the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in CAR (MISCA) and French troops had undoubtedly contributed immensely to the protection of Central Africans, notably around camps for the internally-displaced. Nevertheless, the capacity of MISCA and the French troops to protect CAR populations remains limited given the scale of the violence, leading Mr. Dieng to urge the full deployment of all MISCA troops as soon as possible.
The primary responsibility to protect its populations lies with the CAR authorities, Mr. Dieng acknowledged, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliations. But as they have neither the capacity to protect populations nor the ability to exercise control over armed elements, the international community must take concrete measures to assist the state to stop human rights abuses and protect the population. Though the international response has been delayed and slow, Mr. Dieng declared that there was still the opportunity for the international community to reverse one of the worst human rights and humanitarian situations of our time, emphasizing that "we need to uphold our responsibility to protect Central African Republic populations from the risk of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes."
The Security Council will be negotiating a resolution on the renewal of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) later in January.
Please check here to read Mr. Dieng's full speech, where it will be posted as soon as it is made available.
More recent editorials/statements on CAR:
To read more about the background of the crisis in the Central African Republic, please visit our crisis page.
World Must Heed Early Warning Signs to Prevent Genocide, UN is Told
UN News Centre
15 January 2014
Twenty years after the Rwanda genocide, where “the consequences of failing to heed the warning signs were monumentally horrifying,” the world must respond early to the risk of mass atrocities amid mounting religious and ethnic polarization and demonization, a United Nations special event warned today.
“We must never forget the collective failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told participants at UN Headquarters in New York. “Repeating the phrase ‘never again’ is in itself a sign of continued failure.”
The event, formally called “Understanding early warning of mass atrocities twenty years after the genocide in Rwanda,” was co-organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), the Permanent Mission of Rwanda and the non-governmental Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
The special event comes in the run-up to the 20th anniversary commemorations of Rwanda genocide, when in a mere 100 days beginning on 7 April, 1994, more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu militants. Among today’s attendees was retired Canadian Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda at the time, who had appealed in vain for the world to take action before it was too late.
“If we are to prevent future tragedies, progress requires leadership and courage to speak out at every level – the kind of leadership and the kind of courage, that Roméo Dallaire showed 20 years ago,” Mr. Eliasson said. “It requires action by Governments to uphold their fundamental responsibilities – and by the international community when that does not happen. (…)
- Read the full article here and more about the event here.
- Read the Global Centre for R2P's letter to UN Member States on the Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide.
- Read the press release "Marking Twenty Years Since General Dallaire's Genocide Fax" from the Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies.
Human Rights Watch World Report 2014
21 January 2014
The Syrian government’s policy of waging war by killing civilians, and increasing abuses by rebel groups, elicited horror in 2013 but not enough pressure from world leaders to end atrocities and hold perpetrators to account, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2014.The initial international response was more effective when several African countries faced mass atrocities. (…)
“Despite a swiftly rising death toll and horrific abuses, Russia and China neutered the UN Security Council and enabled the killing of Syrian civilians by both sides,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “As the Geneva II peace talks begin, with uncertain prospects of success, they shouldn’t become the latest excuse to avoid action to protect Syrian civilians. This requires real pressure to stop the killing and allow the delivery of the humanitarian aid they need to survive.” (…)
Despite this failure in Syria, the doctrine of a global “responsibility to protect” vulnerable people from mass atrocities, endorsed by the world’s governments in 2005, was strengthened by the reaction to the prospect of mass atrocities in several African countries, though much more needs to be done to avoid large-scale killing there, Human Rights Watch said. In the Central African Republic and South Sudan, the African Union, France, the US, and the UN reinforced international missions in an effort to prevent the slaughter of civilians. Pressure from allies and an increased UN peacekeeping presence convinced Rwanda to stop its military support for the latest in a succession of rebel groups committing atrocities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The past year has seen numerous atrocities in Syria and beyond, and deepening repression in several countries,” Roth said. “But we’ve also seen people around the world stand up to abusive regimes, giving us hope that efforts to suppress rights will backfire.”
Read the report.
Libyan Case a Red Herring in Syria Dilemma
IPI Global Observatory
13 January 2014
The international community’s failure to respond in a timely and decisive fashion to the crisis in Syria has been widely described as a failure of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). It is not hard to see why: the UN Security Council has fallen well short of adopting “timely and decisive” measures as approximately 120,000 people have been killed and close to nine million displaced. Syria thus stands as a test for RtoP that most commentators believe it has failed.
One of the principal explanations for this apparent failure is the political fallout from the NATO-led intervention in Libya.
- The Security Council’s failure to adopt a timely and decisive response to the situation in Syria is often attributed to the political backlash from NATO’s controversial intervention in Libya.
- Voting patterns and statements offered in the Council’s Syria debates as well as the Council’s wider practice since 2011 provide little evidence of a direct link between the two cases.
- The Council’s failure on Syria more likely stems from complexities and geopolitics associated with the Syrian case itself.
Read the full article.
Planning Ahead for a Post-Conflict Syria: Lessons from Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen
International Peace Institute
Though the conflict in Syria shows no signs of abating, and hopes for the Geneva II talks in January are dim, this paper argues it is never too early to start planning for peace. The paper examines three recent post-conflict transitions in the Middle East—Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen—and draws lessons for Syria. Among them are the following:
• Drawing from the US experience in Iraq, Bennett argues that while elements of the current regime in Syria may need to go, the state must remain strong to promote stability and encourage post-conflict economic growth.
• Drawing lessons from the Taif Agreement in Lebanon, Bennett argues that Syrians must avoid official sectarianism and focus on establishing a cohesive national identity.
• Drawing from the role of the GCC in the Yemen transition, Bennett argues that regional cooperation, especially on the issue of Syrian refugees, will be critical to ensuring long term security and stability in the Middle East.
Read the report.
Event: Endtimes or Breakthrough: Human Rights in a Neo-Westphalian World
Strategic Studies Project, Amnesty International Netherlands
7 February 2014, 13:30-17:00
The Hague Institute for International Justice
In this first seminar three speakers will discuss the future of human rights and transnational justice in a post Western, post secular world: Stephen Hopgood, author of The Endtimes of Human Rights (2013), Todd Landman, Professor at University of Essex and author of Human Rights and Democracy: The Precarious Triumph of Ideals (2013), and Steve Crawshaw, director of the Secretary General's Office of Amnesty International.
See the full invitation here.