In this issue...
UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect Holds Event to Launch New Framework of Analysis on Atrocity Crimes
Earlier this fall, the UN Office to the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect released their new Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes. On 11 December 2014, together with the Permanent Missions of Italy and the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations, the Office held an event to mark the release of the Framework, convening governments, academics, and civil society to discuss key aspects of the new tool. Aidan White, Director of the Committee for Ethical Journalism, moderating the event, hailed the Framework as an opportunity to combat the pessimism and the sense of powerlessness that the widespread atrocity crimes in 2014 had wrought on the global community. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson concurred, noting that the new tool, by promoting a systematic approach to prevention, would help the international community to prevent and protect people from atrocity crimes in the near future. Both the Missions of Italy and Tanzania reiterated their governments’ support for prevention for the maintenance of international peace and security on the local, regional, and international level. Meanwhile, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, hoped that the Framework—designed to be a tool for practitioners—would be widely used by governments, international organizations, and civil society and galvanize the international community to take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to atrocities response.
In this regard, Ms. Azza Karam, Senior Adviser at the UN Population Fund, described the proactive role religious leaders play in atrocities prevention, as they encounter many of the risk factors identified in the Framework. Religious leaders, who are at the helm of what are often the oldest, most-established institutions in a country, have the power to either stoke tensions or help “deprogram” hate through the promotion of peaceful religious texts. Similarly—as Agnes Callamard, Director of Global Freedom and Expression and Information at Columbia University described—the media has a crucial role in atrocities prevention, and eight of the indicators elaborated in the Framework reference the media. Atrocities may breed in cultures where the media is unable to counter propaganda by providing readers with unbiased sources of information or promoting discourse.
Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch then described the crucial role of civil society in preventing atrocities, citing both the ICRtoP and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect as examples of organizations working to hold actors accountable to their 2005 commitment to protect populations. Ms. Hicks summarized civil society’s role in the prevention of atrocities as falling in four key areas: building resilience and strong institutions, providing early warning information, atrocities response (by engaging in mediation and dispute resolution), and advocating for accountability for the perpetrators of atrocities.
In closing the event, Dr. Jennifer Welsh, Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, underscored the need to enmesh the Framework Analysis into governments, international organizations, civil society, etc., with the objective of making it “normal” to analyze these risk factors and develop protocols when these indicators appear. The UN is already mainstreaming the Framework, as it will be a key element in implementing the Rights Up Front initiative (for more on Rights up Front, please see our blog below.)
Read the Framework Analysis on Atrocity Crimes here.
Last December, the UN unveiled its new Rights up Front initiative, an action plan meant to ensure that the protection of civilians and their human rights are at the forefront of the UN agenda. The latest blog from the ICRtoP explores the implementation of Rights up Front, nearly one year after its introduction. The blog notes that while there have been some positive indications that Rights up Front is beginning to take hold, particularly in the UN’s response to the crisis in South Sudan—recent controversies surrounding the UN/AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) “suggest that the UN could once again be repeating the very mistakes that the initiative was designed to prevent.”
To read the full blog, click here.
The post of the UN Secretary-General is “said to be the world’s most impossible job…It is also one of the most important.” Among the myriad other challenges he/she must face, the Secretary-General plays an outsize role in the promotion and implementation of the Responsibility to Protect norm. For example, the current UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has been crucial in the mainstreaming of the Responsibility to Protect at the UN, thanks in large part to his annual report and his Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect. In addition, his predecessor, Kofi Annan, was one of the main advocates for the adoption of a Responsibility to Protect norm from 2003-2005. As RtoP enters its tenth year in 2015, it is critical that the next Secretary-General be a strong supporter and advocate for preventing and responding to crimes that have an inherent impact on the maintenance of international peace and security.
Despite the fact that the Secretary-General makes decisions that can affect 7 billion people, the selection process is secretive, outdated, and open to manipulation by the Permanent Members of the Security Council. In this vein, and in light of the many other global issues with which the next leader of the UN will have to contend, ICRtoP members the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy and the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom, in partnership with Avaaz, have launched the 1for7billion campaign. 1for7billion seeks to change the method of selection by creating a transparent, inclusive process based on formal criteria and qualifications.
Learn more about 1for7billion here and how your NGO can endorse this campaign.