Mass violations continue in Sudan, Syria and Libya; post conflict in Kyrgyzstan and Cote d’Ivoire; UNEPS sign-on letter, event, and call for papers
17 June 2011
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1. Minority Rights Group – Ethnic tensions could increase violence in Southern Sudan
2. Sudan Council of Churches – South Kordofan: reports of mass atrocities
3. Human Rights Watch – New Report on Sudan: As South Split Looms, Abuses Grow in Darfur
1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect – Open letter to the Security Council on the situation in Syria
2. Amnesty International – UN urged to act following deadly weekend in Syria
III. Libya : Both sides accused of atrocities and NATO’s increasing bombardment called into question
1. International Crisis Group – Making sense of Libya
2. World Federalist Movement Canada – Parliamentary debate regarding Canada’s engagement in Libya
3. Kwame Akonor: The African Union’s mistake of policy and principle
4. UNA Sweden defends Sweden’s actions in Libya: The UN has an obligation to protect civilians
1. Kyrgyzstan – Human Rights Watch: Post violence justice deeply flawed
2. Côte d’Ivoire – UN appointed probe finds serious rights abuses after elections
3. Côte d’Ivoire – Human Rights Watch: Côte d'Ivoire: Act Swiftly on UN Inquiry
1. Global sign-on letter supporting a UN Emergency Peace Service
2. June 17 Workshop - Operationalising the Responsibility to Prevent organized by the Global Centre for R2P and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict
3. International Network of Genocide Scholars CFP for 3rd Global Conference
4. Journal of Genocide Research Call for Papers
The violence over the disputed region of Abyei has spilled over into the state of South Kordofan, resulting in a deteriorating humanitarian situation that has displaced over 100,000 according to António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and left 300,000 unable to flee the fighting. As the Sudan Council of Churches noted in their 10 June report, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)are reported to have committed mass atrocities, including killing suspected sympathizers of southern independence, house-to-house searches and the use of aircraft to hunt down those who fled from the conflict. Meanwhile, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has reportedly failed to protect civilians from gross human rights violations. Human Rights Watch reports that the government led attacks reflect “clear patterns of abuses, often based on ethnicity.”
The UN responded on 3 June to the increasing instability by demanding the withdrawal of troops from Abyei and putting a stop to the looting and attacks that have occurred. On that same day the Security Council called Sudan’s military operations in Abyei a “serious violation” of the 2005 peace accord and has called for negotiated peace settlements between the north and south. The Council also urged leaders of both sides to cooperate with African Union efforts to reach a security accord on Abyei under which both sides withdraw their troops. On 8 June in Khartoum, Special Rapporteur and UN rights expert, Mohammed Chande Othman, called for “the government of South Sudan to fulfill its responsibility to protect all civilians and to take concrete measures to address widespread impunity and lack of accountability.” His concerns were echoed by Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo, UN humanitarian coordinator in Sudan Georg Charpentier, AU Commission Chief Jean Ping, and Ban Ki moon who called for an end to the hostilities.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against civilians in and outside of Darfur in defiance of the UN Security Council and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Southern Sudan’s SPLM asserted on 9 June in Juba that it could not forgive the atrocities committed by the SAF and “rejected the legitimacy of the newly appointed administration, and pledged to take Abyei’s case to the ICC”.
On 14 June, after two days of AU talks in Ethiopia, both President Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir reportedly agreed to withdraw troops form the disputed town of Abyei. Details have yet to be released, but the accord may entail the deployment of an African-led international mission to secure the region. A peaceful resolution in Abyei will allow for a smooth transition as South Sudan prepares to assume independence.
1. Invoking Responsibility to Protect in Sudan, Enough calls for additional military support for South
16 June 2011
The Sudanese government’s use of aerial bombing campaigns to assert control over disputed territory and target civilians and humanitarian relief efforts prompted the Enough Project to come out today with a statement outlining some steps the United States and allies could take to balance out Khartoum’s currently unrivaled air capabilities and potentially change its calculations.
The Obama administration should ramp up an array of new financial sanctions aimed at the heart of the Sudanese regime's military-industrial complex, and immediately begin preparations to provide air defense capabilities to the Government of South Sudan when it becomes independent. … [I]n the absence of international support for robust measures to protect civilians from conflict, it is imperative that the United States and its allies uphold the international responsibility to protect.
Continued support for the army of the new Republic of Southern Sudan must be contingent on the southern government’s demonstrable effort to improve the human rights record of its military and compliance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Enough’s Executive Director John C. Bradshaw described conditions the U.S. government should require before moving forward with preparations to provide South Sudan with additional military capabilities, as well as characteristics of the type of support the U.S. should offer:
“Rigorous vetting of South Sudanese units for human rights concerns should be a precondition for this support. Air defense systems, such as medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, should be closely monitored to ensure they are used for protection of civilian populations, and should exclude man-portable systems that could be used against civilians or be diverted to non-state actors. As part of a wider package of security assistance, this equipment and training should provide leverage to improve the human rights record of the southern security forces. Further support should be carefully conditioned upon progress toward the professionalization of South Sudan’s security forces and respect for human rights.”
In a subcommittee meeting in the U.S. House of Representatives today on preparations for the independence of South Sudan, Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ) raised the possibility of the U.S. ramping up its military assistance to the southern government. He noted that President Bush approved a request by the South for an air defense system in 2008 that has not been met. “We cannot stand by idly as Bashir continues his aggression,” Payne said.
2. Ethnic tensions could increase violence in Southern Sudan
Minority Rights Group
16 June 2011
Ethnic tensions fuelled by unequal access to resources and political influence in Southern Sudan could increase violence and threaten the stability of what will soon become Africa’s newest nation, says a new briefing by Minority Rights Group International.
Competition between ethnic groups over scarce resources continues to spark violence, often in the form of deadly cattle-raids. According to MRG research, some minority groups feel that their interests are not being represented within the political system, and that resources have been diverted to more populous ethnic groups.
‘The Government of South Sudan will need to focus on political representation for minorities and an equitable distribution of resources in order to alleviate ethnic tensions that threaten long-term stability,’ says Chris Chapman, Head of Conflict Prevention at MRG. (…)
‘The government in Khartoum must also provide constructive support to the newly independent country. The current military intervention in Abyei is unacceptable and bodes ill for future good relations between the two countries,’ Chapman adds.
MRG has supported BDI in holding reconciliation meetings between tribal leaders, allowing them to air grievances and resolve their differences. (…)
The Government of South Sudan must capitalize on that spirit of unity that prevailed during the referendum to alleviate the threat of instability caused by tensions between ethnic groups, the briefing recommends. In order to do so, the government will need to create an inclusive political culture that brings development to all areas of the region, it adds.
Read the full briefing.
See interview with Paul Oloyo Longony discussing issues of rising ethnic tension in South Sudan
3. South Kordofan: reports of mass atrocities
Sudan Council of Churches
10 June 2011
Escalating violence against civilians in Sudan’s South Kordofan state is a major humanitarian catastrophe in the making, with an estimated 300,000 people besieged, cut off from relief aid, and unable to escape fighting.
The United Nations estimates that up to 40,000 people have fled fighting between Sudanese government troops, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), and members of the former southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), in Kadugli, the capital of Sudan’s oil-producing border state of South Kordofan. (…)
Humanitarian efforts in and around Kadugli have been severely hampered by the fighting and the presence of large number of Sudan Armed Forces troops. Several eye-witness accounts indicate that SAF troops are carrying out “house-to-house” searches in the towns, pulling out suspected opposition sympathisers and in some cases killing them on the spot. Meanwhile, the SPLA has been accused of committing atrocities and failing to protect civilians.
A peace network of Christian churches that has worked in Sudan for nearly two decades, the Sudan Ecumenical Forum, says the international community should pressurise both warring parties to fulfil their obligation to protect civilians. SEF co-chair Rev. Eberhard Hitzler says that unless an immediate ceasefire is called, emergency workers are allowed to deliver relief, and the United Nations Mission in Sudan protects civilians, killing will continue on an unprecedented scale. Both the SPLA and the government forces have a responsibility to protect civilians. (…)
Meanwhile, UNMIS in Kauda – which was besieged by shelling earlier today - has apparently lost credibility with locals. This is affecting the quality of UN information, as many people are unwilling to speak to UN staff. (…)
“The international community, led by the UN Security Council, with the explicit and unwavering support from particularly China, USA, the African Union, the Arab League and the European Union, must urgently take all measures to stop hostilities, protect civilians and allow humanitarian access to all parts of South Kordofan, as a first step to re-engaging the opposing political and military parties in the search for a negotiated solution”.
Only such urgent international efforts can halt what is threatening to become a repeat of the mass atrocities, war crimes and protracted humanitarian crisis the world witnessed in neighbouring Darfur over the past decade, in Abyei in recent weeks and during the previous war in the Nuba Mountains in the early 1990s.
The Sudan Council of Churches is calling on the UN mission in the country to rescue survivors and on the international community to prevent a return to war in Sudan.
Read full report
4. Sudan: As South Split Looms, Abuses Grow in Darfur
Human Rights Watch
6 June 2011
Serious abuses have increased in Darfur in the past six months while the world's attention has focused on Southern Sudan's upcoming independence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United Nations Security Council, which will be briefed on Darfur on June 8, 2011, and the African Union should do much more to ensure that those responsible for continued war crimes in Darfur are held accountable and press the Sudanese government to end attacks on civilians in Darfur, cease arbitrary detention of rights activists, and reform the state security apparatus, Human Rights Watch said.
The 28-page report, "Darfur in the Shadows: The Sudanese Government's Ongoing Attacks on Civilians and Human Rights," documents the intensification of the eight-year conflict over the past six months. Since December 2010, a surge in government-led attacks on populated areas and a campaign of aerial bombing have killed and injured scores of civilians, destroyed property, and displaced more than 70,000 people, largely from ethnic Zaghawa and Fur communities linked to rebel groups, Human Rights Watch said.
"Darfur once commanded the headlines, but now risks being forgotten," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "With only a month before Sudan splits in two, international pressure to end ongoing government abuses and impunity for war crimes in Darfur is more urgent than ever."
The UN Security Council briefing by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on June 8 about international crimes in Darfur will give governments an important opportunity to insist on Sudan's cooperation with the ICC and enhance their pressure on Khartoum, Human Rights Watch said. The Sudanese government continues to obstruct the ICC's work on Sudan and those subject to arrest warrants by the ICC for crimes in Darfur, including President Omar al-Bashir, remain fugitives from justice. (…)
The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate as Al-Jazeera reports that, as of 13 June, over 1,300 civilians have been killed by government forces and over 7,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Turkey, with an additional 10,000 people waiting to seek refuge. There is great risk that the attacks against civilians led by President al-Assad may increase and amount to crimes against humanity. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, in its 9 June open letter to the Security Council, stated that the Syrian government has systematically failed, and continues to fail to uphold its primary responsibility to avert and halt the commission of atrocities.
The government launched a military crackdown in Jisr al-Shughour following the alleged deaths of 120 security personnel in the northwestern city. State television has blamed the attack on armed gangs in the region, but refugees in Turkey stated that those who had been killed were mutinous soldiers who turned on each other. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, denounced the government’s use of tanks, artillery and snipers on unarmed civilians and expressed concern for reports of large number of refugees fleeing Jisr al-Shughour. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in a statement released 13 June, called on the Syrian government to respect and protect civilians, and to refrain from using force in response to peaceful protests. As of 9 June, the UN was still denied access and was unable to dispatch the Human Rights Council authorized fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate allegations of international human rights violations. Humanitarian aid organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, have also been denied access to civilians and cities affected by the protests and violence. On June 16 the Human Rights Council heard the preliminary report of the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in Syria. Based on reports from outside the country due to the Syrian government’s denial of access to the commission of inquiry, Ms. Pillay noted that the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate and strongly urged the Syrian government to cooperate with the OHCHR.
Human Rights Watch, in a statement released on 10 June, called for the UN Security Council to vote to condemn the killings, while Amnesty International stated that the Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect has also called for the Security Council to demand an immediate cessation of the use of excessive force and to call for humanitarian access in situations where populations are at risk of mass atrocity crimes. Although the UK and France, with the support of Portugal and Germany, submitted a draft resolution before the Security Council on 9 June to condemn the gross human rights violations, Security Council Members have yet to agree to respond to the unfolding crisis in Syria.
1. Open Letter to the Security Council on the Situation in Syria
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
9 June 2011
(…) The United Nations Security Council must strongly condemn the unrelenting attacks by the Syrian government on its own people and call for an immediate cessation to the violence. The government’s brutal crackdown in response to protests that began in mid-March has already claimed the lives of close to 1,000 Syrians, with over 10,000 more detained and unknown numbers wounded and tortured. These attacks appear to rise to the level of crimes against humanity, crimes that states committed themselves to protect populations from in adopting the responsibility to protect in 2005. Over the past three months the Syrian government has systematically failed, and continues to fail, to uphold its primary responsibility to avert and halt the commission of atrocities. (…)
The Security Council has a responsibility to take action in situations where populations are experiencing or at imminent risk of mass atrocities. In recent years it has shown its willingness to act in accordance with this responsibility to protect. Through presidential statements and resolutions the Council has constructively engaged to prevent atrocities and protect populations in such places as Kenya, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. In each case the Council has tailored its response to reflect conditions on the ground.
Security Council action on Syria should not be held hostage to concerns about the military operation in Libya. That a healthy and open debate about ongoing efforts in Libya is warranted is clear, but this should not prevent the Council from attending to the grave threats to populations in Syria. Nor should the Council’s preventive action in Syria be further delayed by concerns that a resolution condemning the repressive tactics of the regime will lead to military intervention. The responsibility to protect, while often erroneously described as being solely about military intervention, is focused on preventing crimes before they occur and in mobilizing all available levers to urge actors to halt the commission of atrocities. The basic premise of the responsibility to protect is that the international community must act if a government abdicates its responsibility and perpetrates atrocities.
Populations in Syria face, as the Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect have noted, widespread and systematic attacks. As the situation continues to deteriorate refugee flows have grown and skirmishes on the border with Israel have begun to occur. The situation is clearly one that threatens international peace and security and necessitates Security Council action. At a minimum the full weight of condemnation by the Security Council must be brought to bear on the Syrian regime. The Security Council must call for an immediate cessation of the use of excessive and lethal force against demonstrators and demand that the regime release all those arbitrarily detained. The Council should: remind the government of its responsibility to protect; call on the government to allow humanitarian access to affected towns and cities; request that the government co-operate with an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation into recent events; and consider the imposition of targeted economic sanctions and travel bans on those individuals known to be inciting, ordering or perpetrating atrocities against civilians. There can be no more delay. (…)
See the full letter.
2. UN urged to act following deadly weekend in Syria
6 June 2011
(…) Amnesty International has condemned Syrian authorities’ brutal treatment of protesters following one of the bloodiest weekends in months of pro-reform demonstrations, with more than 120 people reportedly shot dead.
The call came ahead of a key UN Security Council vote expected this week on the violent repression in Syria.
"As the death toll in Syria reaches staggering new heights, it is imperative that the UN Security Council - which has so far been silent on this issue - votes to condemn the killings," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"It must also take decisive action and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Those responsible for the brutal crackdown of pro-reform protesters must no longer be allowed to get away with murder," he added. (…)
See full news release.
Evidence is emerging from the International Criminal Court (ICC), as announced by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo at an 8 June press conference, that the Libyan government has and continues to use rape and sexual violence as tools of war and repression to target those against the government. Mr. Ocampo reported that the ICC has found evidence to confirm that Viagra-type medication was distributed “to enhance the possibility to rape,” and that the charge of rape will most likely be added to previously issued charges. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in her report on the human rights situation in Libya presented to the Human Rights Council on 9 June, cited Mr. Ocampo’s evidence of crimes against humanity. Furthermore, Ms. Pillay stated that gross human rights violations have been committed by the opposition forces supporting the Transitional National Council, and noted that civilians have also been killed by NATO airstrikes. A Human Rights Watch report from 5 June further details the crimes committed by the opposition, including arbitrary detention and torture, against suspected Gaddafi loyalists.
NATO has continued to increase its bombardment of Tripoli, mainly targeting Gaddafi’s compound. On 7 June in the midst of the heaviest NATO air attack, Gaddafi released an audio message vowing never to surrender and that “death, life victory…we will not leave our country.” NATO states and members of the International Contact Group met again on 8 June where they discussed the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, and many states, including France, Italy, Kuwait and the US, declared they would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support for the opposition.
Despite the increase in military measures by NATO, the prolonged campaign continues to threaten the populations of Libya and neighboring countries, and invites questions regarding the motives of coalition members. International Crisis Group (ICG), in a report published on 6 June, stated that the “repeatedly proclaimed demand that ‘Gaddafi must go’ systematically confuses” NATO’s objectives. ICG declares that the only action consistent with the protection of civilians mandate would be an immediate ceasefire, which the organization recommends should be mediated through third parties trusted by both sides such as the African Union or Arab League. NATO Watch was also critical of the military campaign in Libya in its June news release, stating that the only way NATO will successfully protect the Libyan population is to “reverse its mistaken policy of taking sides” and find a political and humanitarian solution.
1. Making Sense of Libya
International Crisis Group
6 June 2011
(…) The character of the Libyan crisis today arises from the complex but so far evidently indecisive impact of the UN-authorised military intervention, now formally led by NATO, in what had already become a civil war. NATO’s intervention saved the anti-Qaddafi side from immediate defeat but has not yet resolved the conflict in its favour. Although the declared rationale of this intervention was to protect civilians, civilians are figuring in large numbers as victims of the war, both as casualties and refugees, while the leading Western governments supporting NATO’s campaign make no secret of the fact that their goal is regime change. The country is de facto being partitioned, as divisions between the predominantly opposition-held east and the predominantly regime-controlled west harden into distinct political, social and economic spheres. As a result, it is virtually impossible for the pro-democracy current of urban public opinion in most of western Libya (and Tripoli in particular) to express itself and weigh in the political balance.
At the same time, the prolonged military campaign and attendant instability present strategic threats to Libya’s neighbours. Besides fuelling a large-scale refugee crisis, they are raising the risk of infiltration by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, whose networks of activists are present in Algeria, Mali and Niger. All this, together with mounting bitterness on both sides, will constitute a heavy legacy for any post-Qaddafi government.
Thus the longer Libya’s military conflict persists, the more it risks undermining the anti-Qaddafi camp’s avowed objectives. Yet, to date, the latter’s leadership and their NATO supporters appear to be uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation. To insist, as they have done, on Qaddafi’s departure as a precondition for any political initiative is to prolong the military conflict and deepen the crisis. Instead, the priority should be to secure an immediate ceasefire and negotiations on a transition to a post-Qaddafi political order. (…)
Several principles therefore should guide the immediate search for a negotiated settlement:
· Mediation by third parties trusted by both sides, perhaps a joint African Union/Arab League proposal;
· A two-phase ceasefire – first, a mutual truce declaration between the regime and the Interim Transitional National Council (TNC) to agree on issues such as the location of peace lines, deployment of peacekeeping forces and delivery of humanitarian assistance; second, a mutual declaration of a cessation of fighting and announcement of talks on the shape and modalities of the transition to a new Libyan state;
· Ensuring that the ceasefire not only stops the fighting but also leads directly to political negotiations between the TNC and the Qaddafi regime;
· Making a clear distinction between Qaddafi “going” – ceasing to have any political role or power – as a key element of the desired political end result and his “going” immediately, as the precondition of everything else;
· Making clear from the outset that neither Qaddafi nor any of his sons will hold any positions in either the government of the post-Jamahiriya state or the interim administration put in place for the duration of the transition period;
· Making clear that all Libyans, including those who have up to now served the Qaddafi regime, will enjoy equal civil rights, including the right to political representation, in the post-Jamahiriya state;
· Providing Qaddafi with an alternative to a trial before the ICC; and
· Making clear that any post-Jamahiriya state must have real and properly functioning institutions; be governed by the rule of law; and explicitly guarantee the principle of political representation, which implies genuine political pluralism. (…)
See full summary.
2. Parliamentary debate regarding Canada’s engagement in Libya : Benchmarks for success
World Federalist Movement Canada
The international community’s engagement in Libya is an example of the application of the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. The World Federalist Movement – Canada supported the passing of UNSC 1973 as a necessary measure to prevent imminent mass atrocities in the city of Benghazi. However there are significant concerns over the permissive language of many of the resolution’s provisions, and the manner in which they are being implemented. Canadian parliamentarians, and any renewed House of Commons motion, should support continued implementation of UNSC 1973, while taking into account several key ‘benchmarks’ for a more successful engagement by Canada, NATO, and the international community in Libya.
Read the full statement in English and en français
3. Op-ed: The African Union’s mistake of policy and principle
Dr. Kwame Akonor
10 June 2011
Dr. Kwame Akonor teaches international relations at Seton Hall University in the U.S. state of New Jersey. He is also the director of the University's Center for Africana Studies and the African Development Institute, a New York-based think tank. Dr. Akonor's most recent publication "Assessing the African Union's Right of Humanitarian Intervention" appeared in Criminal Justice Ethics (2010)
Africa's handling of the Libyan crisis at the United Nations has been timorous and confusing, but it presents an opportunity as well as a challenge for the continental body on how it defines its future strategic interests.
Rather than acting decisively, the African Union (AU) cowered to pressures from the West and voted for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorised military action in Libya.
The African support of the U.N. resolution was a mistake not only because it undermined the existing mechanisms and processes that are relevant for human protection on the continent but also because the now two-month-long military response in Libya to protect civilians has since degenerated into a plan to embolden Libyan rebels fighting to oust the country's leader, Muammar Al Gaddafi, from power.
The Mar. 17, 2011 U.N. resolution on Libya is historic but problematic. It marked the first time the Security Council has authorised a military response to protect civilian populations in a non-consenting state. The action, according to the U.S. and its allies, was necessary to protect civilians from a leader who has "no conscience" and was intent on committing mass atrocities.
The resolution is based on an emerging human rights norm, not law, known as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). According to this principle the international community has a responsibility to intervene in sovereign territories to prevent and halt mass atrocities. R2P remains controversial and the Libyan events exacerbates (rather than eases) our understanding of its application. (…)
Africans weakened their own peace architecture by supporting the U.N. resolution. On Mar. 10, 2011, the AU Peace and Security Council established a committee comprising of the heads of states of Mauritania, Congo, Mali, South Africa, Uganda, as well as the chairperson of the AU Commission to find a political solution to the crisis.
The group was scheduled to meet both sides to the conflict in Tripoli on Mar. 20. It is rather puzzling that just two days before their own peace mission was about to begin, African leaders voted to use force in Libya. (…)
Finally, if African leaders really believed that humanitarian intervention were needed in Libya, they could have acted independent of the U.N. Article 4(h) of the AU Act gives the AU the right to intervene forcibly in one of its member states with regards to war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Thus if the AU was convinced that Gaddafi was committing mass atrocious crimes, they could have taken unilateral action without recourse to the U.N. (…)
The Libya debacle provides an opportunity for the AU to elaborate on its principles of democracy and human rights, the basis of the current war. The AU needs clear and consistent guidelines on what it means by consent of the governed. In the case of Libya, they ought to have a discussion on whether the political system outlined in Gaddafi's green book is legitimate.
Clarifying the parametres for democratic governance will give the AU a rationale to expel noncompliant members. Similarly, the AU should have a common rationale on when interventions designed to end large- scale human suffering are warranted and how they would be carried out. The AU meeting this month in Equatorial Guinea could be a venue to begin discussing such issues.
Read the full article.
4. UNA Sweden defends Sweden’s actions in Libya: The UN has an obligation to protect civilians
30 May 2011
An article from Swedish news source, Svenska Dagbladet, entitled Swedish military should leave Libya argued on 31 May that Sweden should withdraw its military contribution to the Libya mission. Criticizing R2P, it stated that behind the principle are powerful states such as the USA and that the risk of misuse is large. It also stated that, according to several experts, the Libyan mission is in contradiction to the precaution criteria saying that force should be used only as a last resort, when all peaceful means have been exhausted and only when international peace is under threat. According to the article, this was not the case in Libya and the mission is therefore in breach of international law.
In response, UNA Sweden submitted an article to Svenska Dagbladet entitled The UN has an obligation to protect civilians defending the value of the R2P norm and underlining that it was agreed on with broad support from all regions and represents a much needed change of mindset after the atrocities witnessed in the 1990s. “The problem is not that too much is done for populations under threat but that too little is done by the member states, in terms of prevention, as well as action and peacebuilding”. UNA Sweden has also many times underlined the need for humanitarian aid to Libya, says UNA president Aleksander Gabelic.
To read the criticism (in Swedish)
Read the UNA-Sweden response (in Swedish)
1. Kyrgyzstan – Post Violence Justice Deeply Flawed
Human Rights Watch
8 June 2011
(…) Investigations and trials following inter-ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 have been fundamentally flawed and undermine efforts to provide justice, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 86-page report, "Distorted Justice: Kyrgyzstan's Flawed Investigations and Trials on the 2010 Violence," concludes that criminal investigations into the 2010 violence have been marred by widespread use of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, including torture. Prosecutorial authorities have refused to investigate allegations of torture, and courts have relied heavily on confessions allegedly extracted under torture to sentence defendants to long prison sentences after court hearings in which threats and other forms of intimidation and, in some cases, physical attacks against defendants and their lawyers went unchallenged. The profoundly flawed investigations and trials, mainly affecting the ethnic Uzbek minority, undermine efforts to promote reconciliation and fuel tensions that might one day lead to renewed violence, Human Rights Watch said. (…)
Human Rights Watch urged the Kyrgyz authorities to:
· Immediately enact a zero-tolerance policy for violations during detention;
· Amend Kyrgyz legislation to ensure that it fully incorporates its international law obligations to prevent and punish all incidents of torture;
· Promptly and objectively investigate all allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and other violations of detainees' rights;
· Initiate a formal review process of all cases connected to the violence in the south;
· Conduct new investigations and trials in all cases in which there have been serious violations;
· Facilitate a visit to Kyrgyzstan by the UN special rapporteur on torture. (…)
See full media release.
Also see Amnesty International’s report, Still Waiting for Justice: One year on from the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan
2. UN appointed probe finds serious rights abuses after elections
UN News Service
10 June 2011
(…) Serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed following last November’s presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, according to investigators tasked by the United Nations Human Rights Council with probing alleged abuses.
The International Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its report to the Council in Geneva yesterday, said the violations were committed by both the Forces de Défense et de Sécurité (FDS), loyal to Côte d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, and the Forces Républicaines that fought for President Alassane Ouattara, who defeated Mr. Gbagbo in the elections.
The Commission also calls for the establishment of an independent mechanism on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement issued today. The UN Human Rights Council will consider the report on Wednesday.
The Commission visited Côte d’Ivoire from 4 to 28 May, going to the commercial capital, Abidjan, and to the western, northern and southern regions of the country including Duékoué, Guiglo and Korogho. It also travelled to neighbouring Liberia where thousands of Ivorian refugees fled during the conflict.
Among its recommendations is that the Ivorian Government makes sure that the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice. (…)
3. Côte d'Ivoire: Act Swiftly on UN Inquiry
Human Rights Watch
15 June 2011
(…)The Ivorian government should swiftly carry out the main recommendations of a new United Nations report and ensure fair, credible justice for grave crimes committed after the 2010 presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN Commission of Inquiry report was presented before the UN Human Rights Council on June 15, 2011.
The commission, established by the Human Rights Council in late March, looked into the six months of violence that followed former President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down after President Alassane Ouattara won the November 28 runoff vote. The commission documented serious violations of international law - including potential war crimes and crimes against humanity - by armed forces on both sides. Scores of women were raped during the post-election period, and the death toll is estimated to be at least 3,000.
"The UN Commission of Inquiry report highlights the political and ethnic killings and other heinous crimes by armed forces from both sides," said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "If Côte d'Ivoire is to make the break from the past that President Ouattara has promised, impartial justice for the thousands of victims is essential."
Among its principal recommendations, the commission called on the Ouattara government to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; to address root causes of the conflict, including discrimination; and to help restore security by rapidly disarming thousands of men from groups that took part in the conflict who will not become part of the armed forces. (…)
(…) An annex to the commission's report identifies those most responsible for post-election crimes and recommends criminal investigations of these suspects. The commission has chosen to keep the list confidential. Human Rights Watch urged the commission either to publish the list within a specific time to contribute to efforts to provide truth and justice for victims or to explain why confidentiality is necessary. (…)
(…) Human Rights Watch also called on the Human Rights Council and UN Security Council to take note of the commission's recommendation and publish immediately the 2004 UN Commission of Inquiry report on crimes during the civil war in 2002 and 2003. The report has been kept secret because of some domestic and international concerns at the time that its findings would derail peace negotiations.
Because justice was sidelined, however, many leaders on both sides of the political and military divide remained in power and are again implicated in grave crimes against civilians, Human Rights Watch said. Publication of the 2004 report, including the annex that identified those most responsible for grave violations, would shed needed light on those crimes and help ensure that Côte d'Ivoire ends the complete absence of credible justice over the last decade. (…)
(…) On May 19, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said he would investigate crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire. Human Rights Watch urged Ouattara and foreign governments, particularly Ghana, where several high-level Gbagbo allies implicated in abuses are rumored to have fled, to cooperate with the ICC if an investigation is opened.
Human Rights Watch also stressed the importance of holding fair domestic trials to ensure justice for victims and to promote respect for the rule of law in the conflict-ravaged country. Scores of people alleged to have participated in or overseen abuses by the former Gbagbo forces have been in detention for over two months, but prosecutors have still not initiated formal charges. Human Rights Watch called on the government to end this legal limbo and to initiate proceedings swiftly against people in detention, in accordance with law, or release them. (…)
1. Global sign-on letter supporting a UN Emergency Peace Service
World Federalist Movement – Canada and Global Action to Prevent War
A global sign-on letter supporting a United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) will be sent to UN Missions prior to the July 12 General Assembly interactive dialogue on the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in implementing the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
The letter and background paper are available here.
2. June 17 Workshop - Operationalising the Responsibility to Prevent
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
17 June, 1:15 – 5:30
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict will hold a workshop on 17 June 2011 beginning at 12:30pm in New York to analyze R2P’s preventive agenda and outline steps that could be taken to enhance the effectiveness of preventive strategies and tools. (…)
The recent experiences in both Côte d’Ivoire and Libya demonstrate that R2P was an important factor in the decision by the Security Council to respond in a “timely and decisive” manner to the specter and evidence of mass atrocities.
Yet, the international community has faced a number of challenges in anticipating the range of policy options available and assessing their appropriateness and likely effects in these different contexts. In addition, while both the ICISS Commission and the Secretary General's 2009 report on R2P emphasize prevention as a core part of the strategy for the implementation of R2P, there is still relatively little research on how mass atrocities should or can be prevented and how we can learn from preventive strategies in previous and on-going cases. The workshop seeks to address these gaps by bringing together scholars and practitioners to examine the normative, political, and operational questions that are raised by structural and proximate R2P prevention, and their long-term consequences for the advancement of the principle of R2P in international society.
Speakers include Special Adviser Ed Luck, Monica Serrano of the Global Centre, Serena Sharma and Jennifer Welsh of toe Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict Institute, Ekkehard Strauss from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Eileen Babbitt from Tufts University, George Lopez from the Panel of Experts, Martin Mennecke from the Danish Institute of International Studies, Jake Sherman from the Center on International Cooperation, and Andrea Bartoli from George Mason University.
For more information please see the workshop programme.
3. Call for Papers: International Network of Genocide Scholars 3rd Global Conference
Genocide: Knowing the Past, Safeguarding the Future
Deadline: 15 December 2011
Papers are called for the International Network of Genocide Scholars 3rd Global Conference on Genocide at San Francisco State University, USA from 28 June to 1 July 2012.
Prevention; International law and genocide; Education and genocide prevention; Holocaust and its representation; Genocide in art, literature and film; Genocide and mass culture; Visuality and Genocide; Colonial mass violence; Cultural genocide and ethnocide; Reconciliation, restitution and recognition; Genocide denial; Politics of apology; Forms of remembrance and memory politics; Climate change and mass violence; Social origins of mass violence; Genocide and the International Order; Humanitarian interventions: chances and problems; Gender and violence; Late Ottoman population policy; Soviet mass violence; From Indonesia to Cambodia: genocides in Cold War Asia; From Biafra to Darfur: mass violence in post-independence Africa.
4. Call for Papers: Journal of Genocide Research
From Prevention to Stability? Military Humanitarian Intervention in Historical Perspective
Deadline: 30 July 2011
(…) Military Humanitarian Intervention (MHI) plays a pivotal role in mainstream concepts of the prevention of genocide. Once genocidal crisis occur or are identified (by early warning systems, for example), it is
hoped that the use of military force will restrain the perpetrator or stop violence. (…)
History tells a different story. Military interventions do not automatically create even medium term stability even if they succeed militarily in the first place, which many do not. They are by no means universally accepted; indeed, they are seen by some as neo-colonial in aim and praxis, because they are mostly carried out by Western powers. (…)
Genocide prevention therefore needs to start by critically evaluating the tools it has at hand, and here MHI is at the forefront. The Journal of Genocide Research is therefore inviting contributions on this topic from scholars of all disciplines for a special issue edited by Jürgen Zimmerer (University of Hamburg). Articles on individual MHIs, which examine the humanitarian crises, the motives of the intervening powers, the strategic framework and the short, medium and long term consequences are particularly welcome as are articles with a comparative approach.
Please send proposals and a short cv to
The deadline for proposals is 30 July 2011, and submissions are due on 31
June 2012. All submissions are subjected to the journal’s regular
anonymous peer review process.