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ICRtoP Listserv
24 June 2010
 
1. Global Centre for R2P –Open letter to the Security Council  
2. ICRtoP—NGOs send letter to Security Council asking for action and to operationalize RtoP
3. Foreign Policy – It’s not too late to save Kyrgyzstan
4. ACT For Peace Statement – Immediate protection and humanitarian access needed for conflict-affected and displaced persons in Kyrgyzstan
5. ICG & HRW—Joint letter to the Security Council regarding the ongoing situation in Kyrgyzstan
 
1. ICRtoP ask Governments to include RtoP in their statements at the review conference
2. RtoP reference in NGO communiqué to State Parties
 
1. Alex Bellamy: The Responsibility to Protect – Five Years On

 
 
1. Open Letter to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Kyrgyzstan
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
24 June 2010
 
The following letter was addressed to the Security Council ahead of a meeting on 24 June where Members received a briefing on the crisis from U.N. assistant secretary-general Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. The Security Council failed to take any action, despite the highlight by Fernandez-Taranco that inter-ethnic tensions and rumors of impending violence persisted. He reportedly made clear in his presentation that measures by regional organizations were needed to prevent a reoccurrence of violence and foster an environment conducive to reconciliation and rebuilding. 
 
The Security Council must use today’s briefing by Assistant Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco as an opportunity to take decisive action to address the dire protection needs of populations at risk of atrocities in Kyrgyzstan. (…)
 
For the people of Kygyzstan and the wider region, the time for preventive action is now. It is clear that the Kyrgyz government bears the primary responsibility to protect its population. Yet it continues to be unable to provide adequate protection to the displaced, returnees, and ethnic Uzbek communities, notably in Jalalabad and rural areas. This failure to protect leaves the internally displaced and returnees vulnerable to attacks and inhibits their ability and desire to return. Many displaced already fear returning to their homes, especially in light of reports that members of the security forces may have participated, or been complicit, in the commission of atrocities. Prolonged displacement risks rendering areas void of ethnic Uzbeks. It creates an environment in which exile breeds radicalization and distrust, creating opportunities for future violence. It exacerbates the suffering of those who have already endured far too much. An international presence is needed to protect those at risk, and ensure that the displaced can safely return home and begin the process of rebuilding their lives, and of reconciliation between communities. The Security Council must authorize an international stabilization mission composed of military and police. Failure to do so will result in more lives lost in the coming days, weeks and months as the tenuous calm that currently prevails is all too fragile and the possible triggers for future violence and atrocities abound. (…)
 
The ongoing protection and security gap provides ample opportunities for extremist elements within both communities to exploit and perpetrate crimes. As the devastation becomes more apparent and both sides are exposed to radicalizing elements, this in turn may provoke retaliatory attacks by ethnic Uzbeks. This potential for future violence is exacerbated both by the existence of large groups of perpetrators who have yet to be arrested and can be mobilized to perpetrate atrocities again, and the proliferation of weapons, including those stolen from government depots. A possible moment for such mobilization may be the June 27th referendum. The vote may provide a flashpoint for violence and atrocities, whether from those people disgruntled by the result or denied a chance to participate.
 
To avert and address these risks, preventive action must be taken immediately by the government of Kyrgyzstan and the Security Council. The government must, with the assistance of international actors, strengthen the security forces‟ capacity to protect. Equally important, the government must use what leverage and influence it has to ensure that its armed forces exercise restraint, respect international law, and that those who are complicit or active in the violence, are held accountable. Yet government action in itself will not be sufficient, an international stabilization force is needed to prevent and protect. The Organization for the Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE) has created a tentative proposal to send 50 to 100 police monitors. While this is a step in the right direction, given the resounding silence to date of the international community, it falls dramatically short of what is needed in light of the level of risk.
 
(…) The Security Council cannot delay taking action. According to the terms of the 2005 agreement, the Security Council has a responsibility to authorize “timely and decisive measures” to prevent or halt mass atrocities. In this case a time-limited United Nations mandated international force, possibly led by a regional organization or one or more states and consisting of police and military, should be deployed, ideally in advance of the referendum, to provide protection and deter attacks. The force need not number in the thousands but it must be significant and robust enough to be able to deter future attacks and provide physical protection to populations at risk including returnees, displaced people at the border, and ethnic Uzbek communities in Osh, Jalalabad and rural areas. This stabilization force will provide protection but also create a breathing space to allow for the long-term efforts that would be undertaken by a United Nations, European Union or OSCE mission that would replace the force and be mandated to assist in strengthening Kyrgyzstan‟s capacity to prevent and protect. Such a replacement force would focus on: promoting good governance, rule of law, and security sector reform; facilitating mediation, dispute resolution and reconciliation; and be supported by an international police presence.
 
The Security Council has the opportunity to authorize such a force following today’s briefing. Additional measures that the Council needs to take include requesting, via a formal public statement, that the government of Uzbekistan open the border. Currently tens of thousands are at the border, unable to cross, thus increasing their vulnerability. The council should also state its commitment to ensuring that the government be given the necessary assistance to receive the refugees. The Security Council should also make it clear that those who incite, aid or perpetrate crimes will be held accountable as a means of deterring future crimes, and that the government should take the necessary steps to ensure that impunity does not prevail. This will include undertaking a thorough investigation into the violence, including the possible role of state authorities, and prosecuting suspected perpetrators in accordance with international standards.
 
The Council cannot look the other way or hope that the situation will quickly disappear. Far too many people have lost loved ones, been forced from their homes, and seen their lives irrevocably altered. The seeds of future discontent, violence and atrocities have been sown. The Security Council must take decisive action today to prevent atrocities from occurring tomorrow. The time to act to prevent crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing and render „never again‟ real is now.
 
Sincerely, Dr. Mónica Serrano, Executive Director
 
 
2. Open Letter to the Security Council on the Situation in Kyrgyzstan
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
23 June 2010
 
 
On behalf of the undersigned civil society organizations, we urge Members of the Security Council to take immediate measures to address the ongoing crisis in Kyrgyzstan, as they have committed to do under the Responsibility to Protect.
 
We believe that the Responsibility to Protect is clearly applicable to the situation in Kyrgyzstan. The Responsibility to Protect, a norm endorsed unanimously by all Member States, is intended to ensure the protection of populations from the worst crimes and violations known to humankind, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. In recent statements, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed shock at the “scale of inter-ethnic violence”, making special mention of “indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes” occurring on the basis of ethnicity.
 
Moreover, the Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect issued a statement characterizing the violence as “targeted” and resulting in “the mass displacement of Uzbeks from South Kyrgyzstan”, which “could amount to ethnic cleansing”. This is the first time these two senior officials have made a public call for the “international community to operationalize its ‘responsibility to protect’ by providing coordinated and timely assistance to stop the violence and its incitement.”  As of 18 June, the UN has reported over 400,000 displaced, more than 200 fatalities to as much as ten times more as accounted by the Kyrgyz government, and estimates of around 1,800 injured. The interim government of Kyrgyzstan acknowledged its inability to protect its population from ethnic violence in the early days of this crisis, and it remains in need of significant support to exercise its responsibilities and respond to the continuing crisis.
 
In the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, all UN Member States have recognized the responsibility of each State to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing  and the international community’s important role in assisting states to exercise that responsibility and to helping states under stress to prevent crisis from occurring. States also committed themselves to helping protect populations from such crimes through both peaceful means and, when necessary, through collective action should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their own populations. These obligationswere reaffirmed in Security Council Resolution 1674 on the Protection of Civilian in Armed Conflict and General Assembly Resolution A/RES/63/308.
 
With regard to Kyrgyzstan, the international community should urgently fulfill its obligations under the Responsibility to Protect. We appeal for the Security Council to take immediate measures under the UN Charter, in cooperation with relevant regional organizations, to halt the violence and preserve international peace and security. We call for the Security Council to assist the interim government in addressing the ongoing crisis and in preventing further escalation of violence, in particular by providing an international stabilization mission with a policing mandate to secure humanitarian access, provide security for displaced persons to return home, and build confidence. We also urge Security Council members to refer to the Responsibility to Protect in any subsequent resolutions or statements on the situation in Kyrgyzstan.
 
Your actions can save the lives of thousands of men, women and children in Kyrgyzstan. You can make a difference by operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect.
 
Sincerely,
 
Citizens for Global Solutions (Washington, USA)
East Africa Law Society (Arusha, Tanzania)
Genocide Alert (Köln, Germany)
Global Action to Prevent War (New York, USA)
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (New York, USA)
Henry Jackson Society (London, UK)
Human Rights Watch
International Crisis Group (Brussels, Belgium)
International Refugees Rights Initiative (Kampala, Uganda and New York, USA)
Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Montreal, Canada)
OMUNGA (Lobito, Angola)
Pan African Lawyers' Union (Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia)
Society for threatened Peoples International (Göttingen, Germany)
United Nations Association of Sweden (Stockholm, Sweden)
West Africa Civil Society Institute (Accra, Ghana)
World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (New York and The Hague)
World Federation of United Nations Associations (New York and Geneva)
Zentrum für Politische Schönheit (Berlin, Germany)
 
Click here to download the letter.
 
3. It’s Not Too Late to Save Kyrgyzstan
James Traub
Foreign Policy
22 June 2010
 
In 2005, the world's heads of states, gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York, agreed that they had a responsibility to protect their own peoples from mass atrocities -- and that the responsibility would fall to the larger community when a state proved unable or unwilling to prevent such crimes. Since that time, violence reaching the legal threshold of crimes against humanity (the other specified constituent crimes are genocide, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing) has been perpetrated in Sudan, Sri Lanka, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and arguably in Kenya, Burma, and Zimbabwe, among other places. In almost every case, the world has failed to muster an even remotely effective response. So far, it looks like we can add Kyrgyzstan to the list; but it's not too late to get things right.
 
In the explosion of ethnic violence that rocked the southern city of Osh starting June 10, as many as half the country's 800,000 Uzbeks were forced to flee their homes before marauding mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz, apparently abetted by government troops…But this might be the lull before another storm: Uzbeks may seek revenge, in turn provoking new attacks from Kyrgyz or from the Kyrgyz-dominated security forces. Naomi Kikoler of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect calls the violence "a textbook case of R2P," as the norm has come to be abbreviated.
 
(…) In the first moments of the crisis, Kyrgyzstan's interim president, Roza Otunbayeva, issued a desperate call to Moscow to provide troops. Instead, Moscow referred the matter to its own regional body, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which then declined to authorize action. Russia had cited R2P -- with transparent cynicism -- to justify its 2008 invasion of South Ossetia and Georgia. Why not now, with a willing government and a genuine crisis?
 
(…)But military force is only one, and not necessarily the most effective, response to "R2P situations." In 2008, swift diplomacy prevented post-electoral violence in Kenya from turning into mass slaughter; tough sanctions at the very outset might have halted the killings in Darfur. The current lull in violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, and the eagerness for help displayed by a very weak but democratic regime, gives international actors a second chance to get things right, and without an urgent military intervention.
 
(…)The Security Council discussed Kyrgyzstan once last week, and neither Secretary General Ban Ki-moon nor council members have shown much urgency on the subject. But the White House has been engaged in virtually round-the-clock consultations on mechanisms to prevent another outbreak of violence, along with Russia, various allies, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose current head is Kazakhstan. Here, too, it might be necessary to ask the Security Council to authorize some kind of "stabilization mission," perhaps involving police or constabulary forces rather than peacekeepers.
 
(…) Russia may be cynical on R2P, but this U.S. administration is not. In his National Security Strategy released last month, Obama vowed to remain "proactively engaged in a strategic effort to prevent mass atrocities and genocide." Last summer, when the Sri Lankan government killed thousands of civilians in its campaign to wipe out a vicious terrorist group, the administration worked quietly, and as it turned out ineffectively, to stanch the violence. Kyrgyzstan presents an easier test -- about as easy as R2P situations are likely to get. This time, no points for trying hard.
 
Click here to read the full article.
 
4. Immediate Protection and Humanitarian Access Needed for Conflict-Affected and Displaced Persons in Kyrgyzstan
ACT for Peace
21 June 2010
 
Act for Peace, member of the International Coalition for RtoP, is also part of the global Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, which helps communities affected by poverty and conflict in more than 100 countries.  The ACT Alliance has called upon the provisional Kyrgyz government to guarantee the safe transportation of life-saving assistance and access for aid workers to avert a humanitarian crisis. ACT is represented in Kyrgyzstan by Christian Aid, DanChurchAid (DCA) and ICCO en KerkinActie, working with local partners.
 
The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan remains unpredictable and volatile. Tens of thousands of people have been affected by the recent crisis, and it appears that organized campaigns of murder, banditry, rape and forced displacement have been carried out. According to the principles of International Humanitarian Law, the affected population has the right to protection and humanitarian assistance.

Many hundreds have died since the night of 10 June. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and are now living in makeshift conditions in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Local officials in the south have told the International Crisis Group they fear they cannot guarantee the security of refugees encamped along the Kyrgyz side of the border with Uzbekistan. Preliminary information indicates that the destruction in Osh is widespread, with hundreds of buildings and homes destroyed, and that this is a massive humanitarian crisis.

While the available data provides rough estimates and indicates the need for immediate action, a comprehensive and objective joint needs assessment is required to determine more accurate needs to ensure that those in need of support are covered by the interventions.

Many of those affected are located in isolated and border areas, and have little or no access to food and basic protection. Whilst some humanitarian aid has been made available, distribution has been irregular and has not been able to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis; there also remain concerns over the impartiality of these distributions. (…)

We the undersigned humanitarian agencies call upon the EU/UN to use its offices to work with the provisional government to:
  • Focus its full attention on security concerns and the restoration of the rule of law, ensuring urgent and immediate protection of people affected by the crisis, and;
  • Develop a secure humanitarian corridor for the provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance, and;
  • Ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided impartially and solely on the basis of need, by agencies that are viewed by the affected population as impartial and independent; and
  • Work towards achieving a long-term solution to the humanitarian issues that have resulted from the crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Signed by ACT Alliance, a coalition of 100 church-related humanitarian and development organizations working in 130 countries worldwide. :

John Nduna, ACT Alliance General Secretary
Jan van Doggenaar, ICCO & Kerk in Actie International Programme Director
Henrik Stubkjær, Dan Church Aid General Secretary
Paul Valentin, Christian Aid International Director
 
Click here to see the press release from Act for Peace that accompanied their statement.
 
5. Joint Letter to the Security Council Regarding the Ongoing Situation in Kyrgyzstan
International Crisis Group & Human Rights Watch 
17 June 2010
 
We urge the United Nations Security Council to take immediate steps to address the ongoing crisis in Kyrgyzstan. With a death toll likely to reach far higher than the official count of 200 and an estimated 400,000 displaced in Kyrgyzstan and across the border in Uzbekistan, the situation poses a significant threat to international peace and security. The Kyrgyz authorities have primary responsibility for halting the violence and resolving this crisis, but reports from the ground provide ample evidence that the government is unable to protect those in need, and Kyrgyz authorities have already acknowledged that they need substantial assistance. 
 
(...)The humanitarian situation is grave and increasingly urgent because Kyrgyz forces cannot be relied upon to provide the secure environment needed for humanitarian assistance to reach the population.
 
(…) International security assistance is urgently needed. An international stabilization mission of limited size could make a significant difference by securing the area for humanitarian relief, providing security for some of the displaced to return home, and creating space for reconciliation, confidence-building, and mediation programs to succeed. This mission would have a policing mandate and could be bolstered by military forces, particularly constabulary forces or gendarmes, if necessary.
 
(…) Accountability for the recent violence, including on the part of state authorities, will be essential to securing long-term stability and reconciliation. The government should be encouraged to investigate crimes, ensure the protection of witnesses, and hold accountable those responsible for the violence. Given the extent and character of the violence, however, government efforts toward accountability should have an international component to be credible and effective. As an immediate step, the government should cooperate with OHCHR to begin investigations.
 
(…)The instability in southern Kyrgyzstan cannot be wished away, and without a decisive international response there is considerable risk that widespread violence will reignite. It is possible that ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks may seek violent revenge for the past week of mayhem.
 
(…) In the absence of an international mission to restore law and order, further such violence is likely to continue and could spill over to neighboring countries. Should conditions persist, widespread violence could cause a complete collapse of the state, with the attendant human rights, political, and security consequences for the region, including the risk of unilateral intervention by outside actors.
 
(…)The Security Council has an obligation to respond to these risks and should act immediately to work with the government, regional organizations and others to prevent further escalation of violence, including by authorizing international law enforcement and security assistance
 
To read the full letter, click here.
 
 
 
1. Highlights and outcomes of the Review Conference:
 
The first Review Conference on the Rome Statute was held in Kampala, Uganda from 31 May to 11 June 2010. States parties to the ICC met to consider amendments to the Rome Statute and to take stock of its implementation and impact 8 years after the entry into force of the Rome Statute.
The Conference started with a General Debate where States delegates, officials from international organizations, court and tribunals, NGOs and other high level experts took part in a "stocktaking exercise", ‘i.e. a series of open discussion panels aiming to take stock of the Rome Statute's impact to date and to look for ways to improve the system's functioning in relation to: cooperation, complementarity, victims and affected communities and peace and justice. (see statements and summaries here).
 
Over 600 NGOs attended the meetings, advocating for a fair, effective and independent ICC in Kampala. In the words of the Coalition for the ICC, “Kampala an opportunity for
world leaders and the global community to openly recommit to the Rome Statute’s historic initiative to end impunity for the gravest crimes”. The International Symposium on Stocktaking, an informal NGO Forum, was organized by HURINET-G, Uganda Coalition on the ICC (UCICC) and the International Commission of Jurist (ICJ – Africa Program) to enhance the participation of civil society in the Review Conference. Many other side events were organized focusing on the major themes of the Conference: State Cooperation, Peace & Justice, Complementarity, and Victims & Affected Communities.
 
 
The main outcomes of the debates include the following:
  • State Parties (SP) adopted provisions governing the terms of the Court’s ability to investigate and prosecute individuals for the crime of aggression.
  • SPs agreed upon a jurisdictional regime for the crime of aggression, which provides separate procedures depending on whether the situation was referred by the UN Security Council, or whether it came before the Court through a State referral or upon the ICC Prosecutor’s initiative
  • SPs agreed not to delete Article 124 but to review it in five years. Article 124 of the Rome Statute is an optional protocol which allows States not to subject their nationals to the Court's prosecutions or investigations over war crimes for a seven year period
For more detailed information: CICC Review Conference Page
 
 
2. References to RtoP during the Review Conference
 
In advance of the ICC Review Conference, ICRtoP Director Doris Mpoumou and Chair Andres Serbin sent a letter on behalf of Coalition members to heads of state of foreign ministers, urging States to express their support for RtoP in their general statement at the Review conference. The letter also called on the Assembly of State Parties and the ICC to explore ways to deepen the link between these two important advances in the international peace, security, and justice agenda. (see full letter below).
 
RtoP was mentioned at two important occasions during the Review Conference. First,during the General Debate of the Assembly of State Parties, where the delegations of Estonia (statement) and the Czech Republic (statement) mentioned the norm. The delegation from the Czech Republic, speaking on the definition of the crime of aggression, stated, “Its definition cannot weaken the contemporary issues of international law, such as the Responsibility to Protect.” Estonia’s statement was particularly significant, as it recognized the important link between the ICC and RtoP, stating, “We want to emphasize once more the importance of the principle that each individual State has the primary responsibility to protect its population from the gravest international crimes and put an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of such crimes. Pursuit of this principle is possible only if the state has the necessary legislative and institutional capability to investigate and prosecute such crimes.”
 
Second, during the Review Conference a group of 51 NGOs issued a communiqué recognizing this link between RtoP and the ICC. Voke Ighorodje from the ICRtoP attended the event and was involved in pushing for RtoP to be included. The document recommends to “Advance and enhance mechanisms to promote peace building and conflict prevention, in which the ICC can play a part, and support the emerging norm of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) as a means of focusing these efforts.”
 
See below for a detailed section on the ICRtoP letter and the NGO communiqué.
 
1. ICRtoP Letter to Heads of States and Foreign Ministries in advance of the Review Conference
ICRtoP
21 May 2010
 
On behalf of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) – a global network of NGOs dedicated to advancing the norm worldwide – we are writing to you in relation to the upcoming Review Conference of the Rome Statute to be held on May 31 - June 11, 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. As you know, the main purpose of the Review Conference is to consider amendments to the Rome Statute but it will also allow for an assessment of developments relating to the Treaty since its entry into force in July 2002.
 
An important related development is the 2005 United Nations General Assembly endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). This new norm asserts that the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing lies with the State. Only when the State is unwilling or unable to fulfill this responsibility does the State yield the responsibility to the international community, through a wide range of preventive and reactive measures.
 
Where the Rome Statute creates a permanent court to end impunity and to hold individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, RtoP emphasizes the role of the State in preventing and halting these same crimes, and calls for regional and international organizations to carry this responsibility when the State fails to protect.
 
Many governments recognized the link between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the RtoP at the July 2009 UN General Assembly debate. Specifically, States emphasized the link between the prevention of mass atrocities, at the core of RtoP, and the prosecution of those responsible for committing mass atrocities through the ICC. States also called for the accelerated ratification and domestication of the Rome Statute, as a concrete way to enhance national and domestic capacity to implement their responsibility to protect their populations from mass atrocities.
 
The Kampala Review Conference will bring together governments and civil society organizations from around the world that would gain from reinforcing awareness of the complementary goals of the Rome Statute and RtoP. Excellency, we request that you and your government consider expressing your support for RtoP in your general statement at the Review Conference. In addition, we call on the Assembly of State Parties and the ICC to explore ways to deepen the link between these two important advances in the international peace, security, and justice agenda.
 
To download the recent letter sent by the ICRtoP to Heads of States and Foreign Ministers in advance of the ICC Review Conference in Kampala, click here.
 
2. Civil Society Communiqué to State Delegates at the ICC Review Conference
 
Members of civil society gathered at the 2010 ICC Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda issued a communiqué that recognized the important links between the ICC and RtoP. Writing on the role of the ICC in peace and justice, the communiqué reads:
 
“Recognising that the Rome Statute System was established to put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community;
 
Recognizing that States parties have the responsibility to create environments within which the ICC can carry out independent, impartial investigations and respond effectively to the needs of victims and affected communities;
 
Recognising the importance of transparency on the part of the Court in avoiding accusations of politicization and double standards;
 
We respectfully recommend that States:
Advance and enhance mechanisms to promote peacebuilding and conflict prevention, in which the ICC can play a part, and support the emerging norm of the Responsibility to Protect as a means of focusing these efforts (…)”
 
Click here to read the full communiqué.
 
 
1. The Responsibility to Protect – Five Years On Alex Bellamy
Ethics & International Affairs
Summer 2010
 
The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) has become a prominent feature in international debates about preventing genocide and mass atrocities and about protecting potential victims.
 
(…) Five years on from its adoption, RtoP boasts a Global Centre and a network of regional affiliates dedicated to advocacy and research, an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), a journal and book series, and a research fund sponsored by the Australian government.
 
(…) For all this apparent progress, however, disagreement abounds. Much as they did before 2005, critics typically argue either that the RtoP is a dangerous and imperialist doctrine that threatens to undermine the national sovereignty and political autonomy of the weak or, quite the reverse, that it is little more than rhetorical posturing that promises little protection to vulnerable populations. To further complicate matters, profound disagreements persist about the function, meaning, and proper use of RtoP, and the principle has been inconsistently applied.
 
For example, France (in relation to Myanmar) and Russia (in relation to Georgia) used RtoP to justify the actual or potential use of coercive force in contexts where there was no apparent manifest failure to protect populations from genocide and mass atrocities. Conversely, the principle has not been used by governments and diplomats in the context of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq despite the commission of many atrocities against the populations of these countries.
 
(…) Ranging from postelection violence in Kenya, where RtoP was employed by Kofi Annan as part of a diplomatic strategy, to the Russian invasion of Georgia, where the principle was invoked to justify unilateral armed intervention, RtoP has been applied inconsistently. Some of this inconsistency, however, may actually help to clarify the principle’s scope.
 
(…)The debates provoked by the two cases (Georgia and Burma) have helped elucidate the scope of the principle and the limits on its use…In both cases, the claims advanced were roundly rejected by international society, effectively placing two limits on the use of RtoP for coercive purposes: (1) a requirement that the use of coercion be preceded by compelling evidence of genocide or mass atrocities; and (2) a relatively narrow interpretation of ‘‘crimes against humanity’’ that excludes crimes not associated with the deliberate killing and displacement of civilians.
 
(…) Had one or both of these countries been successful in using RtoP to legitimize their defense of intervention, they would have further confirmed the view that RtoP is a ‘‘Trojan horse’’ that legitimizes great power interference in the affairs of the weak—a view that was fueled by the use of RtoP-related arguments to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, the failure of Russia and France to legitimize their positions by using RtoP suggests that while great powers might be tempted to pursue this avenue, RtoP does not confer automatic legitimacy on coercive interference in the event of a political or humanitarian crisis.
 
(…) In cases where there has been little dispute about the applicability of RtoP, the principle has established a patchy track record. Nevertheless, both cases elicited a consensus that the international community has a legitimate role to play. Debates on Darfur and Kenya have hinged not on whether international actors should intervene in one way or another, but how.
 
(…) In the case of Somalia, therefore, the commission of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity has not prompted outsiders to view the problem through the prism of RtoP, to take ‘‘timely and decisive action,’’ or to prioritize the protection of Somali civilians…As such, this case highlights RtoP’s limited capacity to act as a catalyst for action by helping to manufacture political will. In the absence of states choosing to use RtoP either as a diplomatic tool or to legitimize coercive intervention, the norm has simply not been part of the international political discourse about how to respond.
 
(…) RtoP is commonly conceptualized as fulfilling two functions, but the two are not complementary. The first is to use RtoP to describe a political commitment to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocities accompanied by a policy agenda in need of implementation…Evans’s argument brings us to the second function of RtoP language…the intention behind the RtoP principle is to generate a speech act (that is, words and sentences that perform specific communicative functions, such as promises and warnings), which has the effect of elevating certain issues above normal politics as a catalyst for decisive international action. In other words, RtoP is a label that can be attached to particular crises in order to generate the will and consensus necessary to mobilize a decisive international response.
 
(…) It seems reasonable to argue that the most prudent path is to view the principle as a policy agenda in need of implementation rather than as a ‘‘red flag’’ to galvanize the world into action. This view would certainly be consistent with the evidence thus far that RtoP is best employed as a diplomatic tool, or prism, to guide efforts to stem the tide of mass atrocities, and that it has little utility in terms of generating additional international political will in response to such episodes.
 
Click here to read the full article.  
 
Thanks to Evan Cinq-Mars for compiling this listserv.

 

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