In this issue...
2. ICRtoP, PALU and Stanley Foundation Event Report-- From Non-Interference to Non-Indifference: Reflecting on Implementation of Article 4 (h) Agenda of the African Union
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect is pleased to announce the addition of four new members to the widening network of civil society organizations dedicated to the advancement of the RtoP norm. The new members, who are based in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sudan, work in several RtoP-related sectors (including children and armed conflict, human rights, justice, and peacebuilding) and crises (such as Burma, Sudan, and South Sudan.) Read below to learn about how ICRtoP's new members work to prevent and respond to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing.
Child Soldiers International (London, U.K.)
Child Soldiers International (CSI) is a human rights organization conducting international human rights research and advocacy with the objective of ending the military recruitment and the use in hostilities of individuals under the age of 18. Working to ensure the effective implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), CSI strives to accomplish five strategic objectives, which include building momentum for a global ban on and improving actions to prevent the recruitment of children, as well as strengthening accountability for those responsible for the unlawful recruitment and use of children. CSI achieves these goals through its thematic research and analysis, producing reports and conducting advocacy on specific priority countries, and contributing to debates on relevant psychological issues. The organization’s research on priority countries supports the monitoring capabilities of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, with their thematic work focusing on the following concepts: state armed forces; straight-18 (a campaign to ensure all countries make 18 years the minimum age for joining the armed forces); non-state armed groups; accountability; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and OPAC Implementation. CSI also works with local NGOs in priority countries, as well as with national governments and the international community.
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa)
The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), formed in 1994 to continue the work of the ‘Institute for the study of Public Violence’ as the research branch of the ‘Goldstone Commission of Inquiry’, aims to promote a culture of human rights, peace and democracy. Through seminars, workshops, and periodical reports, HURISA trains civil society and community-based organizations, government departments as well as lawyers and students, on human rights promotion and the use of human rights architecture. HURISA presents research and information to South African government officials to inform policy making in relevant fields. The organization utilizes its observer status in the African Commission, its membership of the Sudan Consortium and its role as host of the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human Rights and People’s Rights to encourage NGOs to participate in the strengthening of the African human rights system. Additionally, the organization advocates for the nomination of Commissioners of the African Commission On Human and Peoples’ Rights and the full ratification by African governments of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. HURISA has co-organized events and seminars on RtoP, including one held in Gauteng, South Africa from April 29th-30th 2008 on the Responsibility of the International Community to Protect civilians in Darfur. Additionally, they have been active through the signing of statements and letters advocating for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into atrocities committed in South Sudan following the 15 December 2013 crisis.
U.S. Campaign for Burma (Washington, D.C., USA)
The U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB) is a U.S. based organization established to “help build and channel political will for freedom” in Burma. It was founded in 2003, and focuses on advocacy surrounding human rights and civilian protection for the Burmese people to bring an end to Burma’s military dictatorship. A recognized leader of the Free Burma movement, the organization is devoted to empowering grassroots activists around the world. Through public education, leadership development initiatives, conferences, and advocacy campaigns, it educates Americans about the situation in Burma. In line with its education initiative, USCB maintains an extensive ‘About Burma’ website section, as well as a blog highlighting the communal efforts of those involved in ending mass atrocities in the country. It stresses the responsibility of the Burmese government and the international community to protect Burma’s ethnic and religious minorities. Specific actions by the organization have resulted in a multitude of grassroots campaigns, including the CrowdMaps site – an up-to-date, chronological and interactive representation of human rights abuses in Burma – and, in August 2013, a successful joint letter to President Obama from Kachin organizations and civil society groups urging the United States government to renew the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. Currently, the organization is working on a campaign advocating for the international community to protect the Rohingya Muslim population in the Arakan State, which is subject to ethnic cleansing and violence by the government. It partners with organizations around the world, as well as celebrities, global leaders, and over 70,000 grassroots members.
Zarga Organization for Rural Development (Khartoum, Sudan)
The Zarga Organization for Rural Development conducts work in the areas of human rights, peacebuilding, and education in Sudan, and also provides humanitarian support in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Within these areas, the organization completes research, conducts seminars and lectures, and holds workshops in the country. Zarga is working to promote access to education by developing primary schools and vocational centers with support from the Japanese government. As a member of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), the organization has participated in a range of advocacy initiatives to end impunity and promote justice, particularly in Sudan. This has included holding a workshop in 2010 for International Justice Day, in which Zarga convened human rights activists to highlight the plight of civil war victims in Sudan who have suffered from atrocities and sexual violence. The organization was also a participant at a recent civil society forum on Sudan and South Sudan held in Addis Ababa, where the ICRtoP’s Outreach Officer met with the Executive Director.
ICRtoP, PALU and Stanley Foundation Event Report- From Non-Interference to Non-Indifference: Reflecting on Implementation of Article 4(h) Agenda of the African Union
Together with the Stanley Foundation and the Pan African Lawyers Union, the ICRtoP held an event on 23 January 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the implementation of the RtoP norm in Africa and the implementation of Article 4(h) of theAfrican Union’s Constitutive Act. Over 45 representatives from civil society, the UN, the AU, and governments came together to discuss the historic switch represented in Article 4 (h) from ‘non-interference’ to ‘non-indifference’ in Africa and the growth of the RtoP norm established by the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. Participants discussed the challenges in living up to their protection responsibilities enumerated in these two commitments, including the issues of capacity-building and how these obligations are implemented in current and past African crises. In the first half of the day, attendees assessed Africa’s current regional and national architecture for the prevention and response to atrocities for the advancement of Article 4(h) and RtoP. Civil society groups presented ideas on how organizations could work to strengthen available mechanisms and tools to prevent these crimes. In the second panel, participants reflected on how Article 4(h) and RtoP have worked in practice by examining the crises in Kenya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the international, regional, and civil society responses to such situations.
Read the full report on the event.
Watch the panels here: Session One, Discussion One, Session Two, Discussion Two.