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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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9 November 2012
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I. ICRtoP Steering Committee holds fourth annual meeting
II. Syria: Opposition groups reject unity plan as armed rebel groups shell capital
III. Myanmar/Burma: Recurrence of sectarian violence displaces over 35,000
1. International Federation for Human Rights –Joint statement on humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State
2. Christian Solidarity Worldwide calls for International Action to End Violence in Arakan State, Burma
IV. RtoP-Related Publications
1. New book by Alex Bellamy: Massacres and Morality –Mass Atrocities in an Age of Civilian Immunity
2. Global Public Policy Institute and partners launch project on global norms and the Responsibility to Protect
3. James Pattison, Human Rights & Human Welfare, University of Denver –The RtoP and Responsibility while Protecting
4. Journal chapter by Alex Bellamy - Massacres and Morality: Mass Killing in an Age of Civilian Immunity
5. The Stanley Foundation – Policy Memo: Assisting States to Prevent Atrocities
6. Accountability Lab –Eight Ideas on Preventing Atrocities through Accountability and Understanding
 
I. ICRtoP Steering Committee holds fourth annual meeting
The Steering Committee of the ICRtoP met for its fourth meeting in New York on 22 and 23 October 2012 to discuss the guiding priorities for the ICRtoP Secretariat and the Coalition as it works to advance the Responsibility to Protect worldwide. The Steering Committee is composed of the Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P, Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales, the East Africa Law Society, Human Rights Watch, Initiatives for International Dialogue, the International Refugees Rights Initiative, Oxfam International, the Pan Africa Lawyer’s Union, the Stanley Foundation, West Africa Civil Society Institute, and the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy.
 
Discussions focused on a range of topics, including normative developments and country cases, and upcoming activities of the Coalition.  The ICRtoP is excited to report on that in the coming year Coalition members are organizing a range of events - such as awareness raising workshops, trainings, and research initiatives - in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Central and South America, West Africa and the African continent. Many of the members organizing these projects are working in partnership with regional and sub-regional arrangements as well as UN actors.  We will keep you updated on these exciting initiatives in future listservs.
 
Finally, we would like to announce that this year marked the end of Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales’ (CRIES) two-year term as ICRtoP Chair. The Steering Committee and ICRtoP thanks CRIES and the organization’s Executive Director, Dr. Andrés Serbin, for their service to the Coalition.  We are happy to welcome the newly appointed ICRtoP Chair, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), as the new ICRtoP Chair for a two-year term.
 
II. Syria: Opposition groups reject unity plan as armed rebel groups shell capital
Amnesty International reported on 1 November that video evidence showed an armed group in Syria’s Idlib province summarily executing a group of men, believed by some to be captured members of Syrian security forces. A spokesman for Navi Pillay, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the video, if verified, could be evidence of a war crime. According to the Syrian Observatory based in London, as of early November, over 37,000 people have died in the conflict. Violent clashes continue throughout Syria, with the rebels shelling “key areas” of Damascus, including those where government buildings and embassies are located, on 7 November.
 
Much of the international community continues to develop strategies to try and end the conflict. Arab League-UN Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi stated on 5 November that there is no military solution to the crisis and urged UN Security Council members to adopt a resolution based on the June agreement by the UN-backed Action Group on Syria outlining steps for a peaceful transition. Following calls from several governments for more cohesive leadership and greater representation for those on the ground in Syria within the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council agreed, during a four-day meeting in Qatar beginning on 4 November, to expand to include thirteen other groups. However, this alliance failed on 7 November when several of the key groups rejected the deal just before electing leadership for the restructured opposition council. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby emphasized the importance of unity within the opposition citing his belief that Syrian President Assad would not remain in power much longer. Meanwhile, on 7 November, the United Kingdom (UK) stated plans to communicate directly with rebel military leaders and Turkey announced that NATO members had discussed the possibility of protecting a safe zone inside Syria. Earlier this week the UK said it would back safe passage for Assad out of the country to help mitigate the ongoing conflict.
 
III. Myanmar/Burma: Recurrence of sectarian violence displaces over 35,000
Violence in several townships of Arakan/Rakhine State surged in mid October between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims with the United Nations reporting on 6 November that at least 89 had been killed and 35,000 displaced since 21 October. Human Rights Watch stated on 26 October that the Rohingya, who do not have citizenship in the country, were suffering the brunt of the violence, including arson attacks on homes and property. Humanitarian agencies, including Doctors without Border, have faced difficulties in providing aid to those affected by the attacks, due to access limitations by the government.  Addressing this concern, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 5 November called on the government to provide full and unhindered access to Arakan/Rakhine State.  As a letter released by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on 6 November and signed by 25 NGOs notes, there are also great concerns with funding for such assistance, which has not yet reached half of the $32.5 million requested by OCHA for its the Rakhine Response Plan.
 
UN actors, governments, and civil society organizations have been swift to denounce the surge in violence.  UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana, who presented his report before the UN General Assembly on 25 October, urged the government of Myanmar to address the discriminatory policies fueling tensions and review the nation’s citizenship law. This was echoed by Human Rights Watch in its 26 October release calling for the government to provide the necessary security to protect the Rohingya, and stressing the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict to prevent the situation from escalating. In addition to condemning the violence, FIDH in its 30 October press release called for an independent investigation to identify those responsible for the attacks.  Government representatives have denounced the violence as well, including  the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who on 6 November called for all parties to “do what they can to end the violence and address the issue of Rohingya citizenship” as well as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Tun Razak, who also expressed concern for the deteriorating situation. 
 
1. Joint statement on humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State
International Federation for Human Rights
6 November 2012
 
This letter was signed jointly by Actions Birmanie-Belgium; Altsean; Asia-Pacific Solidarity Organization (APSOC); Association Suisse-Birmanie; Austrian Burma Center; Burma Action Ireland; Burma Campaign UK; BurmaInfo (Japan); Christian Solidarity Worldwide; Free Burma Campaign (South Africa);Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-P); Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART); Info Birmanie (France); Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID); Institute for Asian Democracy; The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); International Observatory on Statelessness; Norwegian Burma Committee; Odhikar; People’s Forum on Burma (Japan); Refugees International; Restless Beings; Society for Threatened Peoples; Swedish Burma Committee; and Taiwan Free Burma Network (TFBN).
 
As organisations that work to promote the rights of all people of Burma, including the Rohingya community, we express our deep concerns about the shortfall in funding for the humanitarian operation to assist people in Rakhine State who have been affected – directly or indirectly – by the June and post-June violence. Out of $32.5 million requested, donors have disbursed or pledged only $14.9 million to the Rakhine Response Plan, and $4.8 million of that came from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund. The conditions in the Rohingya displacement camps are unacceptable, which is a direct manifestation of the funding gap. (…)

Given the current situation of segregation of the Rohingya community outside of the town in Sittwe, we understand that many agencies are hesitant to provide assistance to these camps because of a fear of being accused of colluding with the government’s segregationist policies. We appreciate the dilemma that this situation presents to donor governments and to humanitarian agencies, but we take the view that there is a humanitarian imperative to provide assistance without further delays. Anything that can be done to ameliorate the conditions in the Rohingya displacement camps must be done as a matter of urgency.

As organisations concerned with the rights of the Rohingya community, we make this call to donors and humanitarian agencies to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs in Rakhine State. We want to be clear that we consider this to be a priority and that we will not criticise donors and humanitarian agencies for funding or engaging in humanitarian work to improve the conditions in the camps despite the concerns about segregation.

However we also call on all donors to engage in robust advocacy demanding an end to segregation and requiring the government to produce a “road map” setting out its plans for reconciliation measures and returns, rebuilding of homes, and reintegration in Sittwe.

Read full letter.
 
2. Christian Solidarity Worldwide calls for International Action to End Violence in Arakan State, Burma
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
3 November 2012
 
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on the international community to invoke the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle, in light of the Burmese Government’s failure to end the conflict in Arakan State, western Burma, between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
 
Under the principle of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which is aimed at halting Mass Atrocity Crimes such as ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the international community has a responsibility to help states fulfill their responsibility to protect their citizens.
 
In the past week, thousands of homes in Arakan State have been destroyed, hundreds of people killed and over 100,000 displaced. Mosques have been attacked, and religious clerics arrested. Although violence has been committed by both communities, the Rohingyas have been the primary victims of what increasingly appears to be a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing.
 
Reports indicate that some elements among the security forces are acting in collusion with Rakhine mobs, attacking, arresting and killing Rohingyas, and it is widely believed that elements of the government are directing a policy to eliminate the Rohingyas. CSW urges the international community to put pressure on the Government of Burma to allow international observers to maintain a presence in the affected areas. CSW also calls for urgent humanitarian aid, and for unrestricted access for UN agencies and international Non-Governmental Organisations to the affected areas. (…)
 
Andrew Johnston, CSW’s Advocacy Director, said: “This crisis is a cause for very grave concern, and poses a serious threat to peace and democratisation in Burma. The recent violence is especially troubling because it appears to have escalated into a wider anti-Muslim campaign, with Muslims generally, not only Rohingyas, facing attacks. There is an urgent need for international action and aid to bring an end to this violence which has caused so much death, destruction and displacement. Longer-term, questions of citizenship and inter-racial and inter-religious harmony and reconciliation must be addressed, but right now the priority must be restoring peace and providing urgently needed aid to the affected areas.”
 
 
IV. RtoP-Related Publications
1. New book: Massacres and Morality – Mass Atrocities in an Age of Civilian Immunity
Alex J. Bellamy
Oxford University Press
November 2012
 
Most cultural and legal codes agree that the intentional killing of civilians, whether in peacetime or war, is prohibited. This is the norm of civilian immunity, widely considered to be a fundamental moral and legal principle. Yet despite this fact, the deliberate killing of large numbers of civilians remains a persistent feature of global political life. What is more, the perpetrators have often avoided criticism and punishment. Examining dozens of episodes of mass killing perpetrated by states since the French Revolution late eighteenth century, this book attempts to explain this paradox. It studies the role that civilian immunity has played in shaping the behaviour of perpetrators and how international society has responded to mass killing. The book argues that although the world has made impressive progress in legislating against the intentional killing of civilians and in constructing institutions to give meaning to that prohibition, the norm's history in practice suggests that the ascendancy of civilian immunity is both more recent and more fragile than might otherwise be thought. In practice, decisions to violate a norm are shaped by factors relating to the norm and the situation at hand, so too is the manner in which international society and individual states respond to norm violations. Responses to norm violations are not simply matters of normative obligation or calculations of self-interest but are instead guided by a combination of these logics as well as perceptions about the situation at hand, existing relations with the actors involved, and power relations between actors holding different accounts of the situation. Thus, whilst civilian immunity has for the time being prevailed over 'anti-civilian ideologies' which seek to justify mass killing, it remains challenged by these ideologies and its implementation shaped by individual circumstances. As a result, whilst it has become much more difficult for states to get away with mass murder, it is still not entirely impossible for them to do so. (…)
 
Read more about the book.
 
2. GPPi and partners launch project on global norms and the Responsibility to Protect
Global Public Policy Institute
5 November 2012
 
From 1-3 November 2012, in cooperation with the Social Science Research Center Berlin, GPPi hosted a workshop that brought together a team of researchers from around the world. The workshop marked the official launch of a two-and-a-half-year project called Global Norm Evolution and the Responsibility to Protect.
 
The research project seeks to provide a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of global norm evolution and normative conflict. It focuses on a crucial case: the evolution of a “responsibility to protect” individuals from mass atrocities. This emerging and contested norm challenges the foundations of the existing global order and has become the subject of intense global debate.
 
From 2012-2015, the research will be carried out by individuals from seven institutions in China, India, Brazil and across Europe. During the Berlin workshop, the partners developed a common research framework and planned their fieldwork and publications.
 
Michael Zürn, director of the research unit “Transnational Conflicts and International Institutions” at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), offered critical reflections on the project framework. Participants were also joined by Thomas Bagger, head of policy planning at the German Federal Foreign Office. Bagger led a discussion about the Responsibility to Protect and German expectations with regard to the role of rising powers in this debate.
 
Project and workshop participants included Zhang Haibin of Peking University, C.S.R. Murthy of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, Oliver Stuenkel and Matias Spektor of Fundação Getulio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro, Christopher Daase and Julian Junk of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Ricardo Soares de Oliveira of Oxford University and Xymena Kurowska of Central European University in Budapest. (…)
 
Read the full article.
 
3. Massacres and Morality: Mass Killing in an Age of Civilian Immunity
Alex Bellamy
Human Rights Quarterly
4 November 2012
 
(…) Abstract:
The norm of civilian immunity, which holds that civilians must not be intentionally targeted in war or subjected to mass killing, is widely supported and considered a jus cogens principle of international law. Yet not only does mass killing remain a recurrent feature of world politics, but perpetrators sometimes avoid criticism or punishment. This article argues that the paradox can be explained by understanding that civilian immunity confronts a protracted struggle with competing ideologies, some of which have proven resilient, and that decisions about how to interpret the norm in specific cases are subject to intervening contextual variables. (…)
 
Access the journal here.
 
4. The RtoP and Responsibility while Protecting: The Secretary-General’s Timely and Decisive Report on Timely and Decisive Responses
James Pattison
Human Rights & Human Welfare, University of Denver
31 October 2012
 
Dr James Pattison is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester. His research interests include humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect, the ethics of war, and the increased use of private military and security companies.
 
The United Nations Secretary-General's report on pillar three of the responsibility to protect (RtoP), "Responsibility to Protect: Timely and Decisive Response," is the most interesting, timely, and decisive of his four reports thus far on the RtoP. To start with, the subject matter of pillar three – the international community's potentially coercive responses to humanitarian crises, including humanitarian intervention – is the most controversial part of the RtoP doctrine and the area that has attracted the most criticism from skeptics. Previous reports, such as Implementing the Responsibility to Protect(2009),gave pillar three, and humanitarian intervention in particular, fairly short shrift, focusing instead on the far less controversial issues, such as capacity-building, assistance, and early warning. (…)
 
First, the report defends strongly the moral case for humanitarian intervention on occasion (e.g., "[a]fter the tragedies of Rwanda and Srebrenica, none can argue that Chapter VII measures can never be an appropriate response"). This is contrary to those who, for varying reasons, deny the permissibility of such action.
 
Second, the report takes a strong stance on some legal issues. Against those who have doubted the legality of humanitarian intervention (in the 1990s in particular), the report asserts that humanitarian intervention is legal when authorized by the UN Security Council ("the Security Council can authorize the use of force"). It also asserts that the Security Council must authorize humanitarian intervention and largely dismisses the legal authority of regional organizations to do so. (…)
 
Third, against those skeptical of the ICC's merits (and those of other tribunals) and who believe that it has been counterproductive in the promotion of human rights, the report notes that "the emergence of a system of international criminal justice has had a positive influence on the development of the concept of RtoP."
 
Fourth, the report challenges the more recent claims that the RtoP doctrine is empty rhetoric and has done little to tackle the four central crimes (crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide). It argues instead that the "international community has made significant progress" in the implementation of the RtoP.
 
Fifth, the report takes a very robust line on the issue of sequencing ("[p]illars are not sequenced"). That is, it rejects the view that the three pillars of the RtoP should be carried out sequentially, so that humanitarian intervention would be only a last resort. To that extent, it repudiates a central aspect of the original "Responsibility while Protecting" (RWP) initiative by Brazil, which in the original concept note proposed this sequencing (although the Brazilians have since changed their view on this issue). (…)
 
 
5. Policy Memo: Assisting States to Prevent Atrocities
Stanley Foundation
25 October 2012
 
(…) As part of its 53rd annual Strategy for Peace Conference, the Stanley Foundation convened some 30 government and international officials, mass-atrocity specialists, and civil society representatives near Washington, DC, on October 17–19, 2012, to explore the strategic and policy dimensions of assisting “states under stress” to prevent atrocity violence. Participation reflected a diverse range of global perspectives and incorporated voices from across the Global North and South.
 
The dialogue aimed to link conversations gaining momentum in national capitals and key multilateral organizations on building “state protection capacity” and the role of international assistance in supporting such efforts. Participants were invited to consider how an atrocity lens might focus broader objectives for structural prevention and to share experiences in navigating the political and institutional challenges of applying atrocity priorities to development assistance, crisis stabilization, and peacebuilding policy. 
 
Participants identified the following next steps in the process of developing a shared global vision of what it means to “build state capacity” and “assist states under stress” to prevent atrocity violence:
 
Further explore the incentives and motives that encourage perpetrators to target civilians and
the core governance deficits they most readily exploit.
Seek to fully integrate this atrocity-focused lens within broader discussions on conflict
prevention, development, stabilization, and peacebuilding, encouraging dialogue across silos.
Broaden dialogue among the core stakeholders necessary to develop a shared global vision of
how global assistance might reinforce domestic efforts to build capacity to prevent atrocity
violence. (…)
 
See full policy memo.
 
6. Eight Ideas on Preventing Atrocities through Accountability and Understanding
Accountability Lab
25 October 2012
 
Last week, the Lab team was fortunate enough to be part of a working group at the Stanley Foundation’s 53rd Strategy for Peace Conference, which focused on “Assisting States to Prevent Atrocities: Implications for Development Policy, Stabilization and Post-Conflict Peace-Building”. Accountability as a concept is, of course, intricately linked to the prevention of atrocities- and indeed to justice in the wake of these types of violence. A few thoughts on the intersection of these ideas coming out of the conference would include the need for:
 
i) Differentiating Conflict and Atrocities Risks. There has been some important progress on reorienting the international community towards conflict prevention but we still do not yet adequately address mass atrocity issues. (...)
 
ii) Understanding Structural and Operational Issues. We have also moved towards operationalizing the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) but this is as much a responsibility to “prevent” as it is to “protect”. Dealing with atrocities must include not just reactive military intervention, for example, but also preventative governance and accountability programs that ensure inclusive growth and development for all segments of societies. This can in turn be matched with more targeted upstream operational capacities for dealing with problems when they emerge.
 
iii) Moving from Early Warning to Early Response. (…) A number of indicies and typologies of countries exist as the basis for intervention of one sort or another, but this action is often delayed as a result of absent longer-term plans and capacities. We do not yet know best how to mobilize the capacity within civil society to prevent and respond in these situations, or use technology (such as remote sensing) to gather and use information to hold individuals accountable for behaviors.
 
iv) Valuing Diversity and Inclusion. The issue of citizenship is central to atrocity prevention, as it is imperative that states ensure identities can be multiple and self-reinforcing rather than single and mutually exclusive. Atrocity prevention at its heart is about managing diversity and this can be approached in different ways with different levels of success. (…)
 
v) Ensuring “Fair Governance” not just “Good Governance”. The prevention of violence requires processes of governance that provide fair rules applicable equally to all citizens. A starting point for this is of course the rule of law- defined broadly as the police, legal machinery, judiciary and penal system- which is trustworthy and effective. (…)
 
vi) Blending International Ideas with Local Solutions. The internationally recognized R2P concept is now moving into practice on the ground. Ghana has sought to implement R2P through building upon local and regional peace councils that coordinate with a national peace council on issues of peace and insecurity. Local peace committees in Kenya are also linked with a text message system to report violence upwards and downwards. R2P focal points are now being developed by 17 governments to mainstream the issue within national policies and share knowledge internationally based on national needs with the support of great organizations like the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the ICRtoP. Significant progress is being made, and combining international ideas with local realities in this way is a sound basis for progress.
 
vii) Leveraging the Private Sector. Bringing in business on this issue is critical because so many of the countries where atrocities may take place are endowed with natural resources that businesses look to exploit. (…)
 
viii) Internationalizing R2P. R2P is moving from a concept to a legal and operational instrument, but we as the international community remain unclear as to how best to enforce it and the division of labor for doing so in practice. The US has made some progress in this regard through integration of the doctrine into planning and with the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board- which is working to develop tools and ensure joined-up strategies across US government agencies (and military) that might be involved with these issues. Regional approaches will also be central to its consolidation- through organizations such as ECOWAS, the African Union’s NEPAD and so on- which have started to integrate these ideas but certainly have room to develop them further over time.
 
 
 
 
 

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