[RtoP News] EU refer to RtoP in Council Resolution, Oxfam Australia releases report on Early Warning for protection conference; ongoing RtoP concerns in Sudan, Syria and Libya
22 July 2011
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1. Council of the European Union –Council Conclusions on Conflict Prevention
II. Oxfam Australia releases outcome document from the November 2011 conference on early warning for protection in Cambodia
1. Oxfam Australia– Report from the Conference ‘Early Warning for Protection: Technologies and Practice for the Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes’
III. Sudan: South Sudan gains independence, demilitarization agreement in Abyei, violence persists in South Kordofan
1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect – Open Statement on Atrocities in South Kordofan
2. Minority Rights Group International – Southern Sudan: The Role of Minority Rights in Building a New Nation
1. Press release by the Special Advisers of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, on the situation in Syria.
2. International Crisis Group – Popular Protests in North Africa and the Middle East (VII): The Syrian Regime’s Slow-motion Suicide
1. Richard Dicker – The Jurist: Gaddafi Must Be Held Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity
2. Jennifer Welsh - Canadian International Council: Libya and R2P
3. UN Radio – Interview with Edward Luck: Applying “the responsibility to protect” to Libya
1. Sri Lanka –Reconciliation on Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever
2. OHCHR – Report of the fact-finding mission of the UN into mass rapes in South Kivu, DRC
3. Human Rights Watch – Côte d’Ivoire: ICC Prosecutor Seeks Investigation
1. Minority Rights Group International – Minority women deliberately targeted for rape and other violence
1.Coalition for the International Criminal Court: The ICC and Protection of Civilians(15 July)
2. Voices from the Congo: The Road Ahead (26 July)
1. Council Conclusions on Conflict Prevention
Council of the European Union
20 June 2011
On 20 June 2011 at its 3101st Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the Council of the European Union adopted eight conclusion on how to build EU capacity to prevent conflict. The conclusions focus on improving collaboration with key national and international actors, strengthening of both the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts – called the ‘Gothenburg Programme - and the EU’s mediation capacity, improving early warning mechanisms and advances in related issues such as the protection of civilians and children and armed conflict. Conclusions cite the Responsibility to Protect as an important norm related to conflict prevention.
(…) The Council adopted the following conclusions: (…)
4. The EU already has conflict prevention tools at its disposal. Successful use of these tools relies on strengthening and combining them more effectively. There is scope for reinvigoration of EU efforts to prevent violent conflicts and their recurrence. The Lisbon Treaty and the creation of the European External Action Service, with its enhanced and integrated resources provide the opportunity to give renewed impetus to preventive action by the EU. This will be done by forging comprehensive approaches to preventing conflicts, by better integrating conflict prevention and key cross cutting issues, particularly human rights, gender, protection of civilians, children and armed conflicts and responsibility to protect, in all areas of short and long term external action.
5. The Council considers that early warning needs to be further strengthened within the EU, by better integrating existing early warning capacities and outputs from all sources, including from Member States, and drawing more extensively upon field based information from EU Delegations and civil society actors, in order to provide a more solid foundation for conflict risk analysis. Enhancing early warning will also enable the EU to work more effectively with partners regarding responsibility to protect and the protection of human rights. (…)
See full document.
II. Oxfam Australia Releases Outcome Document from the November 2011 Conference on Early Warning for Protection in Cambodia
1. Early Warning for Protection: Technologies and Practice for the Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes
The Early Warning for Protection conference was developed and implemented by Oxfam Australia in partnership with AusAID, the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, The University of Queensland and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. Held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 3-4 November 2010, the conference brought together non-government organisations and civil society organisations working with communities under threat of violence, with United Nations (UN) actors and technology specialists to explore ways to prevent mass atrocities.
Excerpts from Executive Summary:
The Early Warning for Protection conference brought together non-government organisations and civil society organisations working with communities under threat of violence, with United Nations (UN) actors and technology specialists to explore interdisciplinary ways to prevent mass atrocities. Conference participants analysed ways to identify early warning signs and signals and develop and implement effective early responses to those warnings. They also investigated the use of new technologies to facilitate early warning, early response, and community reparedness,
building on lessons learned by the disaster management community.
The conference was held within the context of the now well-established principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). (…)
Three types of early warning mechanisms and systems were examined at the conference. The first is a more traditional form usually undertaken by an institution or organisation involved in information collection and analysis for the purpose of enabling early responses to emerging crises. This form is referred to as a formal or structural organisational early warning system. The
second is also well established but more organic and includes community-based informal mechanisms that have historically provided information between and to communities at risk. The third involves newly emerging systems that use real-time technology-based early warning. (…)
Regardless of which early warning mechanism is activated, an effective and appropriate early response is essential for an early warning system to work. Depending on the circumstances, responses will need to occur at different levels: local, national, regional and international.
At the international level, responses are guided through diplomatic negotiations, between states, and within international organisations such as the UN. Response to early warning can also be instigated by pressure at a local or national level, and conference participants heard that
local dispute resolution was often the most effective form of protection for vulnerable populations. (…)
Several matters for further consideration were identified at the conference:
1. Conceptual clarity is needed regarding early warning for the prevention of mass atrocities, R2P, and protection more broadly. These concepts are closely related although the relationships are still not well understood.
2.The prevention of mass atrocities — at least structural prevention — does not fall neatly into
either development or emergency/humanitarian practice. However, there is a need for greater
convergence between humanitarian and development approaches to help prevent mass
atrocities, and protect vulnerable communities from the commission of these crimes.
3. There are untapped opportunities for collaboration between development and humanitarian nongovernment organisations (NGOs) and conflict early-warning practitioners — particularly those practitioners who are developing and using new technologies — although such collaboration is not without risk to humanitarian principles and practice.
4.The humanitarian community has much to learn from civil society organisations working
to support community self-protection, preparedness and prevention through conflict transformation. (…)
See full document
III. Sudan: South Sudan gains independence, demilitarization agreement in Abyei, violence persists in South Kordofan
South Sudan independence despite remaining barriers
South Sudan gained independence on 9 July 2011 and was admitted to the UN as the 193rd Member State. The Security Council adopted Resolution 1996 which established the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) to replace UNMIS for an initial period of one year from 9 July. The UN mission will consist of 7,000 military personnel, including military liaison officers and staff officers and up to 900 civilian police personnel to “consolidate peace and security (…), to strengthen the capacity of the Government” also including developing early warning capacity.
International Crisis Group President, Louise Arbour, outlined potential barriers to peaceful governance and coexistence with Sudan, such as revenue sharing, border demarcation, natural resource management and citizenship arrangements. Lyric Thompson of Women’s Human Rights Group noted the importance of including women in government and the rebuilding process will be a key to peace and stability for both Sudan and South Sudan.
Agreement reached to demilitarize Abyei region
As the Security Council reported on 8 July, violence in the Abyei region, which resulted in the displacement of 60,000 and the destruction of villages, may have reached an end following the temporary agreement reached on 20 June in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Representatives from the Government of Sudan and their counterparts from the SPLM agreed to demilitarize the disputed Abyei region and, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1990 adopted on 27 June, allow a UN Interim Peacekeeping Force composed of 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers to replace SAF and SPLA forces by the end of the month. African Union representative Thabo Mbeki urged the Security Council to ensure swift implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which would allow the return of thousands displaced by the fighting and the entry of desperately needed humanitarian services.
Spillover violence in South Kordofan escalates to potential mass atrocities
The security situation remains unpredictable in South Kordofan as forces continue to indiscriminately attack civilians in the region, resulting in the displacement of over 73,000, as reported by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 11 July. Human Rights Watch stated on 11 July that humanitarian access to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and other humanitarian bodies has been blocked by the Sudanese government, creating dire humanitarian conditions. Documented visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan has been gathered by the Satellite Sentinel Project, feeding into allegations that Sudan Armed Forces and northern militias had engaged in the mass killing of civilians. As the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect stated in its 20 July open statement, “credible reports indicate that the government is actively perpetrating atrocities against its own people.”
UN officials and the Security Council have expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in South Kordofan. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Framework Agreement signed on 28 June in Addis Ababa between the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan concerning political and security arrangements in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states, but highlighted the urgent need for a cease fire agreement. On 15 July Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, called for the restrictions on humanitarian agencies and personnel to be lifted, later echoed by members of the Security Council, who called for unhindered access for humanitarian assessment and assistance..
Civil society organizations have denounced the human rights violations carried out by the Sudanese government and have called for action to be taken to protect the populations in South Kordofan. A coalition of four human rights groups released a petition on 2 July calling for the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights to call on Sudan to cease human rights violations in the region. Human Rights Watch, in an 11 July press release, stated that there is evidence of arbitrary arrests, ill treatment, and torture against civilians by government forces.
Reminding the government of Sudan of is Responsibility to Protect its population from mass atrocities, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect declared that now is the time for the Security Council, regional bodies such as the African Union and Arab League, and senior UN and AU officials to condemn the commission of mass atrocities and engage with parties to resolve the crisis. As the Centre stated, “atrocities are being perpetrated. Failure to act today will…see more lives unnecessarily lost.”
1. Open Statement on Atrocities in South Kordofan
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
20 July 2011
(…) United Nations (UN) member states must uphold their responsibility to protect and take immediate action to protect populations from atrocities being perpetrated daily by Sudanese government security forces, and allied paramilitary forces and militias in South Kordofan. (…)
The Sudanese government has, as in Darfur, tried to hide the horrific consequences of its actions by restricting the access of the UN, media and independent monitors to the region. Yet credible reports indicate that the government is actively perpetrating atrocities against its own people. (…)
The Nuba have borne the brunt of such targeting. They are marginalized and discriminated against by the Sudanese government on the grounds that they are not “Arab”, and that many Nuba supported anti-government movements during the 1983-2005 civil war. (…)
A leaked report by the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) argues that crimes perpetrated since the outbreak of fighting may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes – crimes that states unanimously committed to protect populations from by endorsing the responsibility to protect at the 2005 World Summit.
At the core of this commitment is the responsibility to prevent crimes before they occur. Few situations have had as much early warning of imminent mass atrocities as South Kordofan or such a glaring failure to heed these warnings. Now is the time to take action to ensure that this mistake is not repeated. The risk of future crimes against humanity and war crimes is all too clear. (…)
The UN Security Council, key countries such as China and the Gulf States, as well as the guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for the South, including the African Union (AU) and the Arab League, have a critical role to play going forward. The failure to fully implement the provisions of the CPA, including the holding of popular consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, helped fuel the current crisis. (…)
The Security Council’s 15 July issuing of “elements to the press”, a minimal expression of the Council’s opinion that does not form part of the official UN record, was a first step but is insufficient absent sustained engagement. The Council’s inability to agree on a Presidential Statement drafted five weeks ago, or to consider a resolution, despite the disturbing findings of the recently leaked UNMIS report, sends a clear message to the Sudanese government that the Council is divided and that there will be no consequences for its heinous actions. (…)
Now is the time for decisive action. Council members should request an emergency briefing by senior UN and AU officials, including former South African President Mbeki, who negotiated the 28 June agreement. Those members supporting a stronger response should use the opportunity to engage with fellow members who oppose taking further steps and find a way for the Council to speak with one voice. That voice should strongly condemn the commission of mass atrocities, demand an immediate halt in aerial bombardments, call on both sides to cease their hostilities, allow for humanitarian access, and establish a human rights fact-finding mission. The AU and Arab League should similarly call for the creation of a fact-finding mission and use their relationship with the Sudanese government to urge the parties to grant such a mission much needed access. They should, as with the UNSC, outline that there will be consequences for the Sudanese government and actors responsible for perpetrating and inciting mass atrocity crimes should they fail to halt their actions. This should include the enactment of further targeted economic sanctions.
The leaked UNMIS report cannot be more clear, “the International Community cannot afford to remain silent in the face of such deliberate attacks by the Government of Sudan against its own people. If the current conduct of the SAF, especially the aerial bombardments, does not stop, it will dissipate the Nuban population in South Kordofan.” The time for warnings has passed. Atrocities are being perpetrated. Failure to act today will be a repeat of previous mistakes and will see more lives unnecessarily lost. (…)
See full statement
See press release issued by a coalition of NGOs: South Sudan: UN Cost-Cutting Threatens Peacekeeping Mission
2. Southern Sudan: The Role of Minority Rights in Building a New Nation
Minority Rights Group International
15 June 2011
MRG’s brief overview of the report:
(…) Southern Sudan's independence referendum united the region's myriad ethnic groups in a common goal – to separate from the north and form a new country. According to official results, almost 99 per cent of southerners voted for secession in January 2011. The region, which is one of the poorest in the world, is expected to declare independence on July 9. The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), with aid from the international community, now has a monumental task ahead of it: to build a functioning state almost from the ground up. The role of minorities must be a focal point in the nation-building process. Southern Sudan is home to an estimated 56 ethnic groups and almost 600 sub-groups. Competition over access to scarce resources causes tensions between groups; such tensions often explode into violence, undermining development initiatives. There is also a danger that ethnic concerns could hijack the political process even as it develops. This could create a state dominated by the interests of the most populous ethnic groups at the expense of smaller ones. (…)
IV. Syria: Protests and violent repression continue in Syria while the president calls for a national dialogue
In mid-June, the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights called for an investigation into allegations of widespread violations committed by Syrian authorities in response to civilian protests. Meanwhile, systematic violations of international human rights law continue to be denounced, with reports of an intensified campaign of mass arrests of activists and their families, disappearances and the torture of detainees by Syrian security forces. A 4 July report from Amnesty International details atrocities committed by security forces in the city of Tell Kalakh in May. Most recently, civilians in Homs and Hama have been targets of violent crackdowns by government forces, reportedly killing eleven people in Homs on 22 July and at least sixteen in Hama since 1 July.
Amid more protests, civilians are responding to the oppression by attacking embassies, actions which were condemned by UN SG Ban Ki-moon. As of 26 June, Al Jazeera reported approximately 12,000 refugees fled Syria and crossed over into Turkey with Syrian troops moving closer to the border in an effort to prevent further escapes. In an apparent attempt to find a solution, President Bashar al-Assad began a national dialogue process on 10 July between the government and the opposition to discuss short-term reforms, and to design a possible outline for democracy. However, the government has not given a timeline for the process, and opposition leaders boycotted the dialogue because of the continued violence.
On 21 July, the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect Edward Luck and Francis Deng issued a press release reporting that the scale and gravity of the crimes “indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria”. The Special Advisors stressed the need for an “independent, thorough, and objective investigation”, also calling on the government to allow unhindered humanitarian access, and cooperation with the HRC fact-finding mission. The Advisors pressed the Syrian government to ensure that “security forces and civilian personnel under their command comply fully and consistently with international human rights obligations” and that the government should “work with civil society to encourage understanding and trust between communities, while taking care not to act in a way that could exacerbate possible differences”.
Amnesty International has called for a Security Council Resolution to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms embargo and to freeze the assets abroad of the Syrian President and his senior associates, urging Security Council members Brazil, India and South Africa to support the move.
1. Press release by the Special Advisers of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, on the situation in Syria.
Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
21 July 2011
The Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect are alarmed at persistent reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations by Syrian security forces responding to anti-government protests across the country.
Security forces reportedly continue to target the civilian population in areas where protests are taking place, killing protestors and arbitrarily arresting residents, often from their homes. There have been numerous reports of disappearances and the torture of detainees. Serious violations of international human rights law are reported to have systematically occurred in the context of such attacks on civilians.
Based on available information, the Special Advisers consider that the scale and gravity of the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria. They underline the need for an independent, thorough, and objective investigation of the events in the country. They call on the Government of Syria, as the Secretary-General has done, to allow humanitarian access to affected areas and to facilitate the visit of the Human Rights Council-mandated fact finding mission so that it can complete its work.
Without these steps, it will be very difficult to defuse existing tensions and to prevent the escalation of violence. All actors involved in the current crisis in Syria are urged to refrain from the use of force, from acts of violence, or from incitement to violence.
The Government of Syria is reminded of its responsibility to protect its population, as all heads of State and government pledged to do in the 2005 Summit Outcome Document. They agreed to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement. To that end, the Government should work with civil society to encourage understanding and trust between communities, while taking care not to act in a way that could exacerbate possible differences. As a first step, the Government should ensure that security forces and civilian personnel under their command comply fully and consistently with international human rights obligations in the exercise of their functions.
Full press release
2. Popular Protests in North Africa and the Middle East (VII): The Syrian Regime’s Slow-motion Suicide
International Crisis Group
13 July 2011
(…) Desperate to survive at all costs, Syria’s regime appears to be digging its grave. It did not have to be so. The protest movement is strong and getting stronger but yet to reach critical mass. Unlike toppled Arab leaders, President Bashar Assad enjoyed some genuine popularity. Many Syrians dread chaos and their nation’s fragmentation. But whatever opportunity the regime once possessed is being jeopardised by its actions. Brutal repression has overshadowed belated, half-hearted reform suggestions; Bashar has squandered credibility; his regime has lost much of the legitimacy derived from its foreign policy. The international community, largely from fear of the alternative to the status quo, waits and watches, eschewing for now direct involvement. That is the right policy, as there is little to gain and much to lose from a more interventionist approach, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The Syrian people have proved remarkably resistant to sectarian or divisive tendencies, defying regime prophecies of confessional strife and Islamisation. That does not guarantee a stable, democratic future. But is a good start that deserves recognition and support. (…)
The violence that has ensued is clouded in some mystery. Crude propaganda from the regime and its policy of banning outside reporters has ensured this. Protesters claim they are entirely peaceful, but that assertion is hard to reconcile with witness testimony and with the vicious murder of several security officers. More plausibly, criminal networks, some armed Islamist groups, elements supported from outside and some demonstrators acting in self defence have taken up arms. But that is a marginal piece of the story. The vast majority of casualties have been peaceful protesters, and the vast majority of the violence has been perpetrated by the security services. (…)
The security services’ brutal and often erratic performance has created more problems than it has solved, as violence almost certainly has been the primary reason behind the protest movement’s growth and radicalisation.
As the crisis deepened, the regime gradually recognised the necessity of reform. Playing catch-up with protester demands, it always lagged one if not several steps behind, proposing measures that might have had some resonance if suggested earlier but fell on deaf ears by the time they were unveiled. (…)
The result has been an apparent stalemate. Protesters gain ground but have yet to cross the crucial threshold that requires enlisting the capital. The regime scores some points by rallying its supporters, but the crisis of confidence with much of the population and loss of legitimacy is almost surely too deep to be overcome. But it would be wrong to bet on the status quo enduring indefinitely. Economic conditions are worsening; should they reach breaking point – a not unimaginable scenario by any means – the regime could well collapse. Predominantly Allawite security forces are overworked, underpaid and increasingly worried. Should they conclude that they ought to protect what still can be salvaged – their own villages – rather than try to defend what increasingly looks doomed – the existing power structure – their defection also would precipitate the end of the regime.
Under the circumstances, is there anything the international community can usefully do? Many commentators in the U.S. and Europe in particular believe so and are clamouring for a more muscular response. In truth, options are limited. Military intervention is highly unlikely; it also would be unquestionably disastrous. It could unleash the very sectarian civil war the international community wishes to avoid, provoke further instability in an already unstable neighbourhood and be a gift to a regime that repeatedly has depicted the uprising as the work of foreign conspirators. Sanctions against regime officials can be of use, though this instrument almost has been exhausted; going further and targeting economic sectors that would hurt ordinary Syrians would backfire and risk a repeat of the unfortunate Iraqi precedent of the 1990s.
International condemnation is valuable insofar as it keeps the spotlight on – and potentially deters – human rights violations. In this respect the visits by Western ambassadors to Hama, where the prospect of major violence threatens, were welcome. But there are limits to what such steps can accomplish. To do what some are calling for (denounce the regime as illegitimate, insist that Bashar step down) are feel-good options that would change little. Ultimately, what matters is the judgment of the Syrian people; while many clearly wish to topple the regime, others have yet to reach that conclusion. A premature determination by the international community potentially could be viewed by those Syrians as undue interference in their affairs. (…)
The humanitarian crisis remains acute in Libya and civil society organizations continue to report that forces loyal to both sides have committed gross human rights violations. As Amnesty International stated on 23 June, Gaddafi’s forces have used rockets to target residential areas and, as per a Human Rights Watch press release dated 13 July, rebels have been implicated in attacks on civilians and the destruction of property in Western cities.
On 27 June, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Muammar al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and the leader of Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah al-Sanousi. In the face of criticism by the AU, which stated in its AU Summit Declaration that the warrants could prolong the crisis, Human Rights Watch emphasized in its 27 June press release that “it is unlikely that there is a connection between the ICC investigation and Gaddafi’s refusal to step down.” .
Concern rose over the humanitarian situation in the Nafusa Mountains where, according to information released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on 1 July, stating that over 100,000 people have fled and an additional 64,000 were seeking refuge in Tunisia due to indiscriminant shelling. On 14 July, the UN Inter-Agency Humanitarian Assessment mission to the Libyan port city of Misrata reported that explosive remnants remained in the city and that the delivery of supplies, including medical equipment, had been disrupted. Humanitarian and UN agencies, such as the UN World Food Programme, are only able to reach the city by sea as the route from Benghazi to Misrata remains dangerous due to fighting.
International efforts to seek a resolution to the crisis continue, although with little progress. The African Union in its AU Summit Declaration on 1 July reaffirmed support for implementing the AU Roadmap put forth by the Peace and Security Council on 27 March, but also called on Member States to disregard the ICC arrest warrants as they “seriously complicate” efforts to find a political solution. As of 11 July, the Secretary-General’s UN Envoy for Libya has begun negotiations in an effort to reach a solution that would “fulfill the Libyan people’s legitimate aspirations for a peaceful and democratic future”. According to a 19 July report by BBC News, individual governments. have begun to strengthen diplomatic efforts to negotiate with Qaddafi –France and the United States, which has officially recognized the Transitional National Council, both met with representatives of the Gaddafi government and reiterated their position that Gaddafi needed to leave office.
1. Libya: Gaddafi Must Be Held Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity
Human Rights Watch
Published in Jurist
18 July 2011
(…) Amid preparations for the Libya contact group meeting in Istanbul on Friday, which sought a solution to the conflict in Libya, some states reportedly were-behind the scenes-exploring the possibility of offering Muammar Gaddafi the option of internal exile in exchange for relinquishing all power.
The Istanbul talks are a chance to end the nearly five-month-long conflict in Libya. However, to achieve this much-needed peace, governments involved in peace-brokering should bear in mind that the prosecution of people who are wanted for grave crimes should not be bargained away. Indeed, any political solution that avoids meaningful justice will undercut prospects for a long-lasting peace. (…)
By issuing arrest warrants, the ICC has taken an important step toward providing the victims of serious crimes in Libya the chance for redress. The ICC's action sends a strong message that the law can reach even those long thought to be immune to accountability. Justice should not be abandoned as efforts to end the devastating conflict are pursued. Human Rights Watch research in countries such as Sierra Leone and Angola shows that the failure to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes to account can contribute to future abuses.
The record from other conflicts also shows that arrest warrants for senior leaders can actually strengthen peace efforts by stigmatizing those who stand in the way of conflict resolution. For example, the indictments of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are credited with keeping them sidelined during the Dayton peace talks, which led to the end of the Bosnian war. In this way, accountability for the most serious international crimes can serve not only the interests of victims who want to see justice for their suffering, but also the longer-term interests of peace and stability. (…)
Handing Gaddafi a "get out of jail free card" would not only be inconsistent with the international community's expressed commitment to justice for crimes in Libya, but would also have serious consequences for a durable peace. Sidestepping accountability in Libya would send a message to abusive leaders around the world that if they hang on long enough, all will be forgiven. (…)
See full article
2. Libya and R2P
Canadian International Council
23 June 2011
Jennifer Welsh is a professor of International Relations at Oxford University and is a fellow of Somerville College. She is the author, co-author and editor of several books and articles on international relations. One of her current research projects includes the evolution of the notion of the Responsibility to Protect.
(…) The international response to civilian deaths in Libya (and the imminent threat of mass atrocities) is unusual in three keys respects. First, Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians without the consent of the “host” state. This is the first time the Council has ever done (though of course it came close in some other cases, such as Somalia and East Timor). The Council’s intentions, and actions, could not be interpreted as anything other than coercive.
Second, in contrast to other crises involving alleged crimes against humanity (most notably Darfur), diplomacy produced a decisive response in a relatively short period of time. The resolution’s passage was made possible by the fact of regional support (i.e., the request from the Arab League, and was passed by a Security Council whose composition is very much in line with that recommended by advocates of Council reform (non-permanent members included Brazil, Germany, India, Nigeria and South Africa). Thirdly, the effort was not led by the United States; France and the UK proposed the resolution, and Lebanon was a key figure in security support for it. These three features suggest that many analysts of intervention (including myself) need to revise their previously pessimistic assessments of what is possible in contemporary international politics.
What is less clear, however, is how the crisis in Libya—and NATO’s on-going aerial campaign—will affect the fortunes and trajectory of the principle of R2P. (…)
There is clearly a need to increase the capacities of states to protect their own populations, and to develop non-coercive tools that third parties can wisely employ to address the deep causes of mass atrocity crimes. But there is also an urgent need to elaborate the more targeted and coercive tools that the international community can employ as part of so-called pillar III (the international responsibility to protect populations when national authorities ‘manifestly fail to do so’) —whether those tools are being employed preventively (to avoid an imminent catastrophe) or as part of a response to large-scale atrocities that are ongoing. (…)
Read full article
Read Ms. Welsh’s full biography.
3. Applying “the responsibility to protect” to Libya
4 July 2011
The Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, focuses on the international community’s responsibility to prevent and halt four crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Agreed on in 2005 at the United Nations World Summit, the principle is now being discussed in relation to Libya. In this broadcast, UN Special Advisor for the Responsibility to Protect, Dr. Edward Luck discusses the Responsibility to Protect and the situation in Libya in a recent interview with Gerry Adams from UN Radio.
United Nations Special Advisor for the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck answers questions posed by Gerry Adams about the reasoning behind the invocation of RtoP in Libya, the involvement of regional organizations in the Libya crisis and the role of the international community in enacting the norm of RtoP. He also comments on his vision for RtoP in five years and emphasizes the role of civil society in the effective implementation of RtoP.
Listen to full broadcast.
1. Reconciliation on Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever
International Crisis Group
18 July 2011
(…) Two years since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka is further from reconciliation than ever. Triumphalist in its successful “war on terror”, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has refused to acknowledge, let alone address, the Tamil minority’s legitimate grievances against the state. (…)
Partners, especially India, Japan, the U.S., UK, European Union (EU) and UN, should send a strong message against increasing authoritarianism, condition aid on transparency and restored civilian administration in north and east and support accountability, including an international inquiry into alleged atrocities by both sides in the war’s final stages.
Much has improved with the end of the war in May 2009. The paralysing threat of suicide attacks on civilians in the south has ended with the destruction of the LTTE, while Tamil families no longer fear the Tigers’ forced recruitment of their children and other abuses. Economic and political security is better for some segments of society. But decades of political violence and civil war have polarised Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities and undermined institutions, particularly those involved in law and order. (…)
Progress toward reconciliation in this environment was always going to be difficult. It has been made much more so by the post-war policies of President Rajapaksa and his powerful brothers. (…)
To deflect criticism of its unlawful conduct in the final stages of the war the government established a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Promoted as a mechanism for both accountability and reconciliation, it will produce neither. In April 2011, a UN panel of experts found that the LLRC lacks the independence, mandate and witness protection capacity to serve as an accountability process for the many credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides and recommended an international investigation. (…)
Tamils are not the only community to find themselves marginalised. There have been no official efforts to address the conflicts that flared within Sinhalese communities in the south. (…)
Aid money should not be delivered without firm knowledge of how it will be spent, which requires extensive monitoring. Assertions that the government is moving towards reconciliation must be tested against realities on the ground, which means insisting on access. The Rajapaksas’ authoritarianism must be challenged directly and publicly, with strong messages against retrograde constitutional changes and centralisation of power. An international inquiry into alleged atrocities by both the government and LTTE is needed; UN member states should actively work to establish one, unless the government shows by the end of 2011 that it is willing and able to ensure accountability on its own. Sri Lanka eventually should also have an independent, inclusive truth commission to examine injustices suffered by all communities. It requires a fair accounting of its violent history to avoid repeating it. (…)
See full report.
2. Mass rapes in DR Congo could be crimes against humanity
6 July 2011
The rapes of hundreds of people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year could be considered crimes against humanity and war crimes, according to a new United Nations report, which urges the Government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The report concluded that about 200 combatants from two rebel groups, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Mayi Mayi Sheka, “systematically attacked civilians” in 13 villages in Walikale territory in North Kivu province between 30 July and 2 August 2010, and “looted most of these villages, raped hundreds of civilians, mostly women, but also men and children, and abducted more than a hundred people who were subjected to forced labour.”
“By using rape as a weapon of war, as a mean of terror and to ensure the enslavement of civilians,” the armed groups breached the Geneva conventions, according to the report, co-authored by investigators from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
By using rape as a weapon of war, as a mean of terror and to ensure the enslavement of civilians,” the armed groups breached the Geneva conventions, according to the report, co-authored by investigators from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
“Due to the fact that these attacks were well-planned in advance and carried out in a systematic, targeted manner, the exactions committed could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes,” which are under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the report noted. (…)
3. Côte d’Ivoire: ICC Prosecutor Seeks Investigation
Human Rights Watch
23 June 2011
(…) The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has taken a significant step toward ensuring that those responsible for grave crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire are held to account, Human Rights Watch said today.
Dozens of people alleged to have participated in or overseen abuses by the former Gbagbo forces, including the former president and his wife, have been in detention in Côte d'Ivoire for over two months. The justice minister recently said that preliminary investigations have been completed in some cases by civilian or military prosecutors, though formal charges have not been initiated. Human Rights Watch called on the government to initiate proceedings swiftly against people in detention to end their legal limbo.
In sharp contrast, though, no member of the Republican Forces has been arrested or detained for grave post-election crimes, despite consistent reports of their involvement in war crimes and potential crimes against humanity.
"Impartial justice will be essential to rebuilding respect for the rule of law in Côte d'Ivoire," Keppler said. "Both the ICC and national efforts should investigate and prosecute crimes by both sides." (…)
African civil society organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa have called for African governments to support the ICC as a crucial court of last resort to ensure justice for victims. (…)
See full article.
1. Minority women deliberately targeted for rape and other violence
Minority Rights Group International
6 July 2011
(…) Women from minority and indigenous communities are targeted for rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and killings specifically because of their ethnic, religious or indigenous identity, Minority Rights Group International says in its 2011 annual report launched today.
In the flagship annual publication, State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2011, MRG documents cases from across the world showing how women from minority and indigenous communities often face disproportionately higher levels of violence and are targeted for attack in situations of conflict and in times of peace. (…)
The report cites cases from situations of armed conflicts, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan and Burma, where women from minority and indigenous communities have suffered systematic sexual and other violence specifically because of their ethnic, religious, tribal or indigenous identity. (…)
In many of these countries rape has been used as a tool of war against women from minority communities. (…)
Minority and indigenous women are in particularly vulnerable positions because they often come from poor socio-economic backgrounds and live in remote areas. They have little access to justice and in many cases face discrimination from the police and the judicial system because of their minority status and because of their gender. (…)
Like other women, minority and indigenous women also face violence from within their own community or their own families. Poverty, low literacy and social and economic marginalisation are some of the factors that contribute to the incidence of domestic violence within minority and indigenous communities. In Canada and Australia, according to the report, the limited available data show high levels of violence against women within indigenous groups, but there are indications that complaints from such women are treated less seriously by the authorities.
The report makes a strong case that, despite the levels of violence faced by minority and indigenous women, many of them are fighting for their rights to be recognised, and demanding justice. (…)
1. The ICC and Protection of Civilians
Coalition for the International Criminal Court
15 July 2011, 10am-12pm
Conference Room 2, North Lawn Building, UN Headquarters
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court held a panel discussion focusing on the ICC and the protection of civilians on July 15, 2011 in celebration of International Justice Day, reflecting on the link between international justice and the protection of civilians agenda including the Responsibility to Protect norm.
Panelists included: H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, the Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein; Mr. William Pace, the Convenor of the CICC; Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; Ms. Charlotte Bunch, Gender Equality Architecture Reform Campaign; Mr. Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Lawyers Union; and Mrs. Barbara Plett, BBC UN Correspondent.
Specifically with regards to the Responsibility to Protect:
Mr. Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer of the Pan-African Lawyers Union focused on the complementary role of regional judicial instruments. He noted the role played by the African Court for Human and People’s Rights in the Libyan crisis, which summoned the Libyan government in March and called for the cessation of human rights violations, to which Libya filed a response. Mr. Deya noted that regional action was crucial to pursuing international justice similar to the key role of regional organizations in implementing the Responsibility to Protect. Despite the central role of the UN, Mr. Deya explained that the AU Roadmap in Libya also implemented RtoP principles by offering a range of diplomatic, political, and financial measures. Mr. Deya admitted that while the effects of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 on RtoP are yet to be determined, there were concerns that the implementation of the Resolution went beyond the protection of civilians and now included regime change.
H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, the Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein noted that the General Assembly had assembled for a dialogue on the role of regional organizations in implementing RtoP. He noted the commonalities and differences between the ICC and the RtoP mandate. Ambassador Wenaweser emphasized the preventative aspect of both RtoP and the ICC, but acknowledges the controversial nature of the third pillar because of the inclusion of use of force as a last resort. He underlined the narrow mandates of both the Rome Statute and RtoP, which apply to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. RtoP and the ICC present clear overlap in their scope and the principle of complementarity within their mandates, thus reinforcing the role of the State in protecting its population.
2. Voices from Congo: The Road Ahead
26 July 9:30am-12:00pm
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Helena Rubinstein Auditorium
RSVP by 22 July
Summary of the event from the museum:
(…)The stakes for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the coming months are very high, not only for the country but also for the region. Preparations for elections scheduled for November are inadequate, political intimidation and violence are increasing, and human rights violations continue.
We invite you to join us for a unique conference that will bring to Washington a Congolese perspective on the current political and human rights situation and help inform policy on Congo with constructive ideas and recommendations.
This event is cosponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Eastern Congo Initiative. It is made possible in part by the Helena Rubinstein Fund.
Ben Affleck will open the event. Scott Campbell from the UNOCHR, Catherine Kathungu from Association des Femmes Juristes pour les Droits de la Femme, Abbé Benoit Kinalegu from Catholica Justice and Peace Commission, and Anneke Van Woudenberg from Human Rights Watch will speak on a panel assessing the human rights situation, moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Gen Ifill. Barrie Freeman from the National Democratic Institute, Dismas Kitenge from Groupe Lotus, and Donat M’Baya from Journalistes en Danger will speak on a panel about the challenges and opportunities presented by elections, moderated by Colum Lynch from the Washington Post. Featured speakers include US Senator the Honorable Richard Durbin and Cindy McCain from the Eastern Congo Initiative.
See full summary of event