Civil Society and Member State Events Call Attention to Urgency of Further Implementation and Mainstreaming of RtoP
As the UN General Assembly convened on 8 September 2014 to reflect on the most recent report of the Secretary-General on RtoP, civil society organizations and Member States seized the opportunity to hold a series of events to bring greater focus to the urgency of effective RtoP implementation and the need for further action on mainstreaming the norm. While some events focused on the theme of the report (Pillar II, or the international community’s responsibility to assist states to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing), others looked at regional action to enhance prevention and response, as well as country case examples that highlight the tragic consequences that result from inaction. Find more information on some such events below.
The Role of Human Rights, Development Assistance, and Peacekeeping: Building State Capacity for Atrocities Prevention
ICRtoP, Stanley Foundation, Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
8 September 2014
In preparation for the General Assembly’s 6th annual informal dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, and the Stanley Foundation convened an expert panel to further explore three elements of RtoP’s second pillar, namely the role of human rights mechanisms and actors to encourage and assist states to prevent atrocity crimes; the impact of development assistance in building state capacity to uphold protection obligations; and the impact of temporary international assistance through the use of peacekeeping and stabilization operations to assist states under stress.
Ms. Christen Broecker, Associate Director and Director of Research at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, gave an overview of UN human rights actors and structures relevant to bolstering resilience, and specifically focused on how human rights monitoring and promotion encourages capacity building mechanisms. In order to bolster the role of development actors in preventing mass atrocities, Mr. Lawrence Woocher, Senior Atrocity Prevention Fellow at United States Agency for International Development, suggested several steps development practitioners can take to bolster mass atrocity prevention. Such recommendations included the need for development actors to recognize and communicate the risks of mass atrocities to better inform their own programs and broader actions taken by domestic and international actors. Ms. Alison Giffen, Senior Associate and Co-Director of Future of Peace Operations Program at The Stimson Center, focused her remarks on the role peacekeeping operations (PKOs) can and should play towards upholding pillar two. Ms. Giffen reflected on the need to deliver better training and more clear guidance to peacekeepers and all personnel working with a mission, especially on how to protect civilians and the critical role such actors serve in assisting states.
In closing the event, the moderator, Mr. Patrick Travers of the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and RtoP, highlighted the many themes that emerged from the discussion, including the importance of early action, the need for better pre-deployment training of peacekeepers, and the critical importance of enhanced information sharing and cooperation among actors at all levels.
The civil society organizers of the event will be producing a full summary shortly.
The Responsibility to Protect, International Law, and the Case of the Central African Republic
ICRtoP, Cyrus Vance Center for International Justice, New York City Bar Association
10 September 2014
On 10 September 2014, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), together with Coalition member The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and the New York City Bar Association, convened an event entitled “The Responsibility to Protect, International Law, and the Case of the Central African Republic”. Featuring experts from civil society and the United Nations, the event examined the relationship between RtoP and existing international legal doctrine, as well as the practical application of RtoP in conflict situations, such as the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). Mr. Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, gave the keynote address, in which he warned that impunity for mass atrocities continues to be the norm in CAR. As CAR welcomes the official deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) this month, Mr. Dieng stressed that accountability and reconciliation must remain at the core of the international response in CAR.
At the start of the panel, Ms. Megan Schmidt, Senior Program Officer at the ICRtoP, provided an overview of how RtoP came into being and the norm’s successes and challenges over the past ten years. Mr. Don Deya, CEO of the Pan-African Lawyers Union and Chair of the ICRtoP, discussed the nexus between RtoP and existing legal doctrine, including the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Genocide Convention. Mr. Florent Geel, Head of the Africa Bureau at the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), echoed Mr. Dieng’s comments on the rampant impunity continuing in CAR. Though the ICC will be important in holding the orchestrators of the conflict accountable, Mr. Geel stressed that CAR would have to find a national solution in order to bring all perpetrators to justice. Human Rights Watch’s UN Director, Philippe Bolopion, described the delayed international response to the atrocities in CAR. Mr. Bolopion described the looming challenges for MINUSCA as “enormous”—both in terms of the time and cost necessary for the mission and the extreme difficulty of preventing ethnic violence. While RtoP was not explicitly recalled, Mr. Bolopion remarked, the eventual reaction by international actors to CAR was definitely inspired by the norm.
For more information on the event, click here.
Preventing Mass Atrocities: Why We Fail and What Can be Done About It
International Peace Institute, Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
9 September 2014
On 9 September 2014, the International Peace Institute (IPI) and ICRtoP member The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APR2P) hosted a roundtable titled “Preventing Mass Atrocities: Why We Fail, and What Can be Done About It.” Alex Bellamy, Director of APR2P, moderated the event. Speakers included Dr. Jennifer Welsh, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on RtoP; Youssoufou Bamba, Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire; David Haeri, Director of the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division of the UN DPKO/DFS; as well as Simon Adams, Executive Director of ICRtoP member The Global Centre for R2P. According to IPI’s summary of the event, participants “highlighted some of the political and institutional obstacles to atrocity prevention… the UN’s own institutional obstacles.”
For more information on the event, click here.
High Level Panel Launch of Report on Mainstreaming RtoP in Southeast Asia
High Level Advisory Panel on RtoP in Southeast Asia, UN Office on Genocide Prevention and RtoP, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations
9 September 2014
On 9 September 2014, the High Level Advisory Panel on RtoP in Southeast Asia, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and RtoP, and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN hosted the launch of the High Level Advisory Panel’s report entitled “Mainstreaming RtoP in Southeast Asia: Pathway Towards a Caring ASEAN Community.” H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN, provided the welcoming remarks, in which he explained how Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members have contributed to the development of RtoP, stressing that RtoP is not alien to the regional body. Mr. Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, moderated the event and highlighted that the implementation of RtoP is not the task of one state or region alone. Hence, he also explained why he approached Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former Secretary-General of ASEAN, and requested advice on the promotion of RtoP in Southeast Asia.
Subsequently, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan provided a brief summary of the report in which he highlighted that the ultimate objectives of RtoP are consistent with the goals of ASEAN, while reminding ASEAN states that they had made a commitment to the norm. He also underscored that ASEAN has existing mechanisms that are important for the implementation of RtoP and that the body continues work closely with the UN in promoting international peace and security. Mr. Hung Nguyen Duy, member of the High-Level Advisory Panel and former ambassador of Vietnam to ASEAN, stressed that we must raise public understanding of RtoP in Southeast Asia, prioritize prevention, and examine the particularities of each region when implementing RtoP. Mr. Dieng also provided a statement on behalf of Dr. Jennifer Welsh, UN Special Adviser on RtoP, in which she called for enhanced UN-ASEAN partnerships.
To read the full report, click here.