In this issue...
Civil Society and UN Officials Urge Security Council to Authorize a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Central African Republic
On Friday, 14 March, religious leaders in the Central African Republic, including Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui; Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, President of the CAR Islamic Community; and Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou, President of the Alliance of Evangelicals of the CAR; briefed the Security Council during its Arria Formula meeting on the Central African Republic (CAR). All three religious leaders adamantly underscored that the roots of the conflict in their country were military and political, rather than religious, while also highlighting the urgent need for a UN peacekeeping operation and more international support for efforts to end impunity.
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, also briefed the Council. Noting that only an estimated 20% of the Muslim population remained in CAR, Mr. Dieng declared that the widespread and systematic targeting of civilians "based on their religion or ethnicity indicates that crimes against humanity are being committed and the risk of genocide remains high." CAR's civilian population must be protected from such atrocity crimes, Mr. Dieng urged, and the international community must work to find ways to promote reconciliation between communities. In this regard, he announced that his Office was working with CAR's Transitional Authorities to create a National Committee on the Prevention of Genocide by May 2014, in accordance with the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and All Forms of Discrimination.
The Arria Formula meeting on CAR came just as the Security Council was beginning to debate a resolution authorizing a UN peacekeeping operation in the CAR, as recommended in the most recent Secretary-General report. Several civil society groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and International Federation for Human Rights have been vocal in urging the Council to create such a peacekeeping force. As these groups and others noted in a joint letter on 12 March, "only a strong UN peacekeeping mission will have the resources and the civilian expertise to improve the protection of civilians, create conditions conducive to the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid, help reestablish the basic functions of the rule of law in the country, create the conditions for a safe and voluntary return of displaced people, monitor and report publically on human rights violations, and disarm and reintegrate armed elements."
Six NGOs, Including ICRtoP, Sign Joint Letter to France on Use of Security Council Veto in Mass Atrocity Situations
On 13 March 2014, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, and the ICRtoP sent a joint letter to Mr. François Hollande, President of France, on the use of the veto on the Security Council in situations of mass atrocities. The letter was also circulated to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Ambassador Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations. It read as follows:
We welcome France’s leadership in calling upon the Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council to adopt a ‘code of conduct’ agreeing to voluntarily refrain from using the veto in situations of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Since France’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Hubert Védrine, first articulated the need for a ‘code of conduct’ in 2001, over forty countries have endorsed the idea at various UN fora. Your reiteration of the need for the code in your September 2013 statement at the Opening of the sixty-eighth Session of the UN General Assembly, and H.E. Laurent Fabius’ elaboration in the New York Times, have re-energized debate about the use and abuse of the veto in mass atrocity situations.
The veto has been used several times in mass atrocity situations since the universal endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect at the 2005 UN World Summit. Most recently, three double vetoes by Russia and China have blocked Security Council action on Syria that could have helped save civilian lives.
As we approach the third anniversary of the Syrian crisis and the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we encourage you to substantively develop your proposal. To this end, we respectfully urge you to increase efforts to define how the code of conduct would work and build political support for restraint of the use of the veto amongst your fellow permanent members of the Security Council, as well as the broader UN membership.
This should entail:
We stand ready to urge the Security Council and the broader UN membership to discuss and support your proposal.
Read the letter in French.
R2P and Gender: The Marginalization of Responsibilities
Sara E. Davies
13 March 2014
(excerpt) What was striking was the shared interest between the two agendas [R2P and Women, Peace and Security] on the benefit of preventive diplomacy, first and foremost. In our observation of both the WPS literature and the R2P reports that were coming from the Office for the Prevention of Genocide, as well as its key New York civil society advocates (the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, Global Action to Prevent War and Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect), it was clear that both agendas were unanimous in the view that protection entailed much more than simply waiting on UN Security Council action to end mass atrocities. This, the two agendas agree would be too little and too late. As such, we sought to clear misconceptions concerning R2P as much as address its problematic history of perceived gender blindness – and the risk that these would impinge on future engagement between R2P and WPS advocates. (...)
It is not enough to say R2P must have a gendered approach without identifying who is responsible for taking forward this approach and identifying what we think such an approach should look like. Refusal to see potential for cross-cutting issues in these agendas limits the capacity of both agendas to achieve their common goals. The WPS community has a vital role in contributing to this debate. The WPS agenda has a longer history at the state, regional and international level that is of value to the R2P community to progress mutual agendas, particularly the prevention of mass atrocities. Mutual engagement does not deny or undermine WPS’s broader agenda beyond mass violence; but it could potentially deepen the commitment of states and international organizations if the forces of responsibility to protect and women’s peace and security combined on areas of mutual concern.
Read the full article.
Lessons from Intervention in the 21st Century: Legality, Legitimacy, and Feasibility
12 March 2014
(excerpt) The most difficult conceptual problem to deal with when legality, legitimacy and feasibility do not march neatly in step, is what to do when an intervention is manifestly legitimate (in the sense of appearing to reasonably satisfy all the criteria listed above) and appears practically feasible, but lacks legal formal authority because of the use, or threatened use, of a Security Council veto by a Permanent Member, for self-interested or realpolitik-driven reasons which appear to the rest of the world to have little or nothing to do with the objective merits of the case: Russia’s obstruction of the Kosovo intervention in 1999 being the most widely (if not universally) accepted example. (…)
These are all, needless to say, complex and difficult questions, on which informed and reasonable opinions are bound to differ. But conceptual clarity is always a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for good policymaking. And when any question arises about the appropriateness of coercive intervention, using the three lenses of legality, legitimacy and feasibility to illuminate and frame the issues is as good a starting point as we’re ever going to get.
Read the full article.
18 March Event: "Reflections on the Genocide in Rwanda 20 Years Later"
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
In just 100 days in the spring of 1994, up to one million Rwandans, predominantly Tutsis, were murdered in one of the world's worst crimes of the 20th century. Decades later, we find ourselves asking again how this could have happened as the world stood by.
Join us for a conversation to explore the difficult questions that still haunt us today about the leaders who instigated violence, the individuals who participated willingly in mass murder, and the international community that looked away.
Read more here.
29 March Event: "From the Rwandan Genocide to R2P: A Journey of Lessons Learned"
Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
This conference consists of three panel discussions and a keynote address by the Dr. Jennifer Welsh, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.Our conference aims to raise awareness of and engagement in R2P discussions. Our first objective is to discuss Canada’s lessons learned from the international response during the Rwanda genocide. Furthermore, we seek to discuss the way forward for Canada and the broader international community in implementing the R2P principle.
Read more here.
23 April Event: Annual Day of Remembrance and Action against Mass Atrocities
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
De Sève Cinema, Concordia University
For this occasion, MIGS will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. Please join us for a panel discussion on the lessons of Rwandan genocide featuring:
Click here for more information.