30 November 2012
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I. UN Security Council holds debate on its working methods
1. Seven Member States urge Permanent Members of Security Council to refrain from veto in cases of mass atrocities
II. New Policy Guide on the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts
1. Joint initiative from the United Nations University, Griffith, ANU, QUT, OP Jindal Global University and the Center for Asian Integrity – Enhancing Protection Capacity: Policy Guide to the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts
III. Publications on Country Cases
1. Myanmar: Noel Morada, The Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P –R2P Ideas in Brief: ASEAN, the Rohingyas and Myanmar’s Responsibility to Protect
2. Kenya: The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention –Report: The Risk of Genocide in Kenya 2012
3. Mali: Peter van Tuijl (GPPAC), Christian Science Monitor –Mali security nightmare: Why foreign intervention alone won't stop the chaos
4. Sri Lanka: Protection Gateway –The UN’s Action in Sri Lanka: Q&A with Alex Bellamy
5. Cote d’Ivoire: Human Rights Watch –Cote d’Ivoire: New spate of Abuses by Military
6. Syria: Simon Adams, New York Times –TheWorld’s Next Genocide
IV. RtoP-Related Publications
1. Institute for Security Studies –The Responsibility to Protect: From Evasive to Reluctant Action?
2. Rachel Gerber (Stanley Foundation), Soundcloud –R2P, the fight to prevent genocide
V. RtoP-Related Events
6-7 December - Conference: Article 4(h) @ 10: Ending Mass Atrocities in Africa, Centre for Human Rights and the University of Pretoria
12 December - Panel Series on Women, Peace and Security: Fighting impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes with Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, H.E. Ms. Fatou Bensouda, Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the UN
I. UN Security Council holds debate on its working methods
Seven Member States urge Permanent Members of Security Council to refrain from veto in cases of mass atrocities
On Monday 26 November, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met to discuss the “Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council” and a letter to the UNSC dated 19 November 2012 from the UN Ambassadors of India and Portugal. Both documents pertained to the working methods of the UNSC, in particular to increasing the transparency and efficiency of Council operations.
During the meeting, seven Member States (France, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland, Malaysia, Slovenia and Spain) discussed the need for the five Permanent Members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto power in cases when populations may be threatened by genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
Several governments reflected on the draft resolution A/66/L.42/Rev.2, which was taken off the agenda of the General Assembly in May 2012 after portions of the resolution, including a recommendation that Permanent Council Members refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, caused significant controversy. At the time, all five of the Permanent Members expressed serious concern with the recommendation, making France’s support for such a measure at Monday’s debate particularly significant.
Several states noted their disappointment that the use of the veto has led to inaction on the part of the Council during crisis situations, and Liechtenstein emphasized the importance that this power “not be used contrary to the very purposes and principles of the Organization”. Without taking a position on whether Council members should refrain from the veto in specific cases, Indonesia called on the Permanent Members to circulate explanations for any use of the veto to all Member States. Russia, on the other hand, stated that the “fundamental” right to veto did not pertain to the working methods of the Council.
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect strongly supports these efforts to urge the Permanent Members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto power in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Such a pledge would enhance Member States’ 2005 commitment to end impunity, and strengthen the responsibility of States, the international community, the UN and the Security Council to prevent and stop the commission of these crimes.
See the relevant excerpts from Member States or read the excerpts (morning and afternoon) from the meeting.
See a letter addressed to all Member States from the ICRtoP in May 2012 ahead of the General Assembly consideration of a draft resolution on Security Council working methods that discussed refraining from veto in cases of mass atrocities. Read more about the draft resolution and the “responsibility not to veto” on the ICRtoP blog.
II. Enhancing Protection Capacity: Policy Guide to the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts
Hugh Breakey, Angus Francis, Vesselin Popovski, Charles Sampford, Michael G. Smith and Ramesh Thakur
United Nations University, Griffith, ANU, QUT, OP Jindal Global University and the Center for Asian Integrity
Purposes and objectives
This Policy Guide seeks to enhance the ability of policy makers and practitioners – in governments, regional and international organizations, and civil society – in strengthening their efforts to protect civilians from conflict-related grave harm and mass atrocity crimes.
The Guide clarifies and compares the twin principles of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Protection of Civilians (POC) in their normative, institutional and operational dimensions, distinguishes the principles’ different actors and methods, and specifies the situations when the two principles converge for specific actors and organizations.
With full acknowledgement of the controversies, diversities of position and ongoing developments within these issues, the objectives of this Policy Guide are to:
• Inform relevant protection actors about the normative, institutional and operational scope of R2P and POC;
• Clarify the relationship between R2P and POC, including their points of intersection and divergence (with a specific focus on the needs of policy makers and practitioners); and
• Provide practical guidance regarding when, how and by whom R2P and POC might be implemented.
Civilian populations face unprecedented threats in modern conflicts. No longer at risk merely of being caught in the crossfire, civilians have been placed in the crosshairs of combatants. Murder, assault, terror, displacement and rape are now the settled strategies of many contemporary armed actors.
Two distinct international protection principles aim to protect vulnerable peoples from mass violence: the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Protection of Civilians (POC) in Armed Conflict. Yet in a theatre where a lack of coordination and shared understanding can cost lives, there remains much confusion and controversy regarding the normative, institutional and operational links between these two principles. This Summary Document clarifies the nature of the principles, their similarities and differences, and the common myths and misperceptions surrounding them. (…)
See full policy guide.
III. Publications on RtoP Country Cases
1. R2P Ideas in Brief: ASEAN, the Rohingyas and Myanmar’s Responsibility to Protect
Dr. Noel Morada
Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
How can the central government in Myanmar be encouraged to do more in implementing its responsibility to protect the Rohingyas and affected communities in Rakhine state? What is the role of ASEAN and other international actors in preventing further escalation of the crisis between the Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhines? This policy brief identifies some recommendations on how Myanmar and ASEAN could work together with the rest of the international community in dealing with the crisis in Rakhine state following the renewed ethnic violence in the area.
Ethnic violence between the stateless Rohingyas and majority Rakhines in Myanmar’s Rakhine state erupted again in late October a few months after the first outbreak in early June this year. Based on media reports, thus far about 90 people were killed and close to 30,000 Rohingyas have been displaced by this new wave of violence after extremists vigilantes attacked and burned homes and boats in the predominantly Muslim town of Kyaukpyu. An undetermined number of Rohingyas have also taken to sea in houseboats, barges and fishing vessels in panic, with over a hundred people reported to have drowned after their boats capsized. Satellite images published by Human Rights Watch indicate that the arson attack on settlements of Rohingyas in Kyaukpyu was apparently premeditated and involved elements from the military, which affected some eight townships or districts that left over 4,000 homes destroyed as well as religious buildings. Kyaukpyu is said to be a strategic area where a multi-billion dollar China-Myanmar oil pipeline project is supposed to start. Since the outbreak of violence in June, close to 200 people have been killed and over 100,000 Rohingyas have been displaced in Rakhine. (…)
Myanmar is considered by a team of R2P experts as one of the most at-risk countries that may experience genocide or politicide between 2011-2015. Indeed, the renewed outbreak of ethnic strife in Rakhine state in October clearly demonstrates the weakness of the central government in implementing the principle of R2P, which it supported in the 2005 UN World Summit and expressed its commitment to in the UN General Assembly Interactive Dialogue on R2P in 2009 (see box). Although it quickly declared a state of emergency and implemented certain security measures to restore peace and order in the area since the first outbreak in June, there are strong indications that these remain inadequate in the face of local authorities and law enforcement agents failing to protect not only the Rohingyas but also other affected communities from vigilante attacks. That the UN’s and other international organizations’ humanitarian assistance work has been hampered by threats from extremist groups also shows that the central government has not effectively contained the ethnic violence in western Myanmar.
While recognizing certain progress in democratic reforms in Myanmar since 2011, the international community however should remain vigilant in continuing to exert pressure on both President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to do more in preventing the escalation of ethnic violence in Rakhine and the spread of anti-Islamic sentiments in the country. While international attention is focused on the plight of Rohingyas in light of recent developments, the central government should also be encouraged to continue in improving its record in protecting other ethnic groups in predominantly Burmese society. Failure on the part of the central government to contain the ethnic violence, as well as the inability of the international community to provide assistance in this regard, would only undermine the political reforms initiated by President Thein Sein. If this happens, this will benefit only the hardline elements in the military that are strongly opposed to his reforms. (…)
Overall, the international community should remain steadfast in exerting pressure on the government in Myanmar in meeting its obligations under the R2P principle even as it must be recognized that it also needs encouragement and assistance in building its capabilities to deal with ethnic violence in the country. Myanmar’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014 may prove to be a good incentive for the government to comply with international norms in dealing with the crisis in Rakhine. (…)
Read the full brief.
2. New Report: The Risk of Genocide in Kenya 2012
The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention
27 November 2012
The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention has conducted a comprehensive assessment of the risk of genocide in Kenya and found the risk to be high. Analysis of various aspects of Kenyan society, including political, social, cultural, and economic characteristics, indicates that many factors which have been identified as potential precursors to genocide are present in Kenya. This does not indicate that genocide is inevitable in Kenya, only that there is sufficient risk to warrant the monitoring of events there and the implementation of preventive measures aimed at reducing that risk.
Perhaps the most significant contributing factors to Kenya's high risk of genocide are the strained and rivalry-prone social and cultural relationships between tribes, and the recent violent conflict in the aftermath of the December 2007 national elections. The country's history is one of ethnic and political division, polarization and competition, which has largely contributed to a political and social order that promotes ethnocentrism and inter-tribal antagonism. This has led to violence in the past, as it did in late 2007 and early 2008 when the disputed election results led to mass violence between groups of political supporters, divided largely along ethnic lines, which killed as many as 1,500 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
The political and institutional responses to that violence may serve to mitigate Kenya's risk of genocide. In 2008, the two primary presidential contenders, President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, agreed to share power in a coalition government. The agreement limited presidential authority primarily through the creation of a prime minister, a position that Odinga assumed while Kibaki remained president. In 2010 Kenya voted in favour of a new constitution that further decentralises power, both through the creation of a Senate as the second chamber of the legislature, and through the establishment of local counties and governors to whom some of the president's executive powers were shifted. These developments seem to put Kenya on a positive trajectory toward democracy, limited government, and greater political representation and participation. But concerns remain about the government’s commitment to the reforms, the extent of their effects on Kenyan society and whether these changes may actually serve to exacerbate existing inter-tribal tensions.
The social and political divisions in Kenya are further complicated by the country’s economic situation. Poverty is rampant, unemployment is high, and economic inequality is significant and tends to correspond to ethnic divisions, leading to widespread competition for limited jobs and resources that creates resentment amongst those who are unhappy with the outcome. Kenya's bleak economic outlook contributes to a high risk of genocide particularly when seen in light of its young population. More than 40 per cent of the country's residents are below the age of 15, and three-quarters of the population falls between the ages of 15 and 29 years. When prospects for future employment, education or high social stature are so meagre, young people are more easily recruited into militias and gangs that offer prosperity, security, and a sense of purpose, often in the form of violent or criminal acts against a scapegoat group, like a rival tribe. This sort of recruitment becomes more and more likely when young people comprise such a large proportion of the country's population.
The next national election is quickly approaching in March 2013, and it will be a test for those reforms made in the aftermath of the post-election violence of 2007-2008. There are reports that tribal militias are engaged in an arms race in preparation for the elections, whether out of feelings of injustice, a sense of revenge, or anticipated self defence and a mistrust of or lack of faith in state security forces. For these and other reasons the 2013 election has the potential to explode into mass violence on a scale much greater than that in 2007-2008, and given the presence and combination of other structural indicators and risk factors, such violence may escalate into genocide.
This risk assessment represents the first step in the genocide early warning, risk reduction, and prevention process. The Sentinel Project's next steps will include the following:
• Establishment of partnerships with civil society organizations working in Kenya to facilitate information sharing;
• Monitoring of ongoing events to identify genocidal processes that may be taking place;
• Assessments of whether any prominent Kenyan organizations – either state or non-state – or individuals harbour genocidal intent;
• Assessments of vulnerability to determine which – if any – ethnic groups in Kenya are the most likely to be targeted for genocide;
• Release of periodic threat assessments summarizing the information relevant to the above points; and
• Development and articulation of recommended preventive measures to be implemented by civil society and policy makers. (…)
Read full report.
3.Mali security nightmare: Why foreign intervention alone won't stop the chaos
Peter van Tuijl
Christian Science Monitor
26 November 2012
Peter van Tuijl is the executive director of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict.
(…) The West African nation of Mali is the subject of several crises at the same time. Against this backdrop, calls for a military intervention in Mali are getting stronger. An area the size of France becoming a free haven for uncontrolled armed groups is a security nightmare for the whole of West Africa and far beyond. But foreign military intervention in and of itself will be insufficient to effectively address the chaos there. External forces would need the cooperation of local and regional civil society organizations.
The legitimacy of what was once a strong democratic state in Africa has suffered from drug trafficking, corruption, a disregard for ethnic tensions, and other forms of weak governance. When armed groups spilled into Mali at the end of the war in Libya, they found a fertile ground of grievances among local communities. In a matter of weeks, the north of Mali was occupied by an ad hoc coalition of different factions.
Having conquered the North, these groups turned on each other. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azwad (MNLA), with its base in the endemic Tuareg communities, lost out from groups promoting an Islamic state. The North is now under an aggressive patchwork rule of non-state actors, with grave consequences for the safety and rights of local people, in particular women and children.
Meanwhile, instead of fighting the insurgents, the Mali military converted its frustration into a coup in the capital Bamako, which further destabilized the country. Thanks to a diplomatic intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the military junta quickly agreed to a transition of power. By April, this led to the establishment of an interim government. However, despite the restoration of a level of constitutional order, the interim government continues to suffer from tensions among civilian politicians and the military, and does not have a strong grip on what is left of the country. (…)
Foreign military intervention in Mali, approved by the UN Security Council [on] Oct. 12, should aim to stabilize the South, especially in Bamako, and set the stage for dialogue with different parties in the North. However, external political and military forces in a conflict zone don’t usually do well with multi-tasking. Local and regional civil society organizations should be involved to address the complexity of the situation.
It is expected that about 3,000 to 4,000 troops from ECOWAS countries will enter Mali soon, with logistical support from France, the US, and other countries. But what exactly are these troops going to do?
The situation in the North can never be resolved within the confines of the Malian state if the South is not stabilized. While the South is stabilized, the process of dialogue and negotiations with forces in the North cannot wait. The difficulty for the intervention is that it has to enable both simultaneously.
The risk of a military intervention in Mali is that it will end up concentrating solely on a military solution in the North. This would require significant forces and presents a hazardous scenario. Nowhere has a hard, security-only approach proved the way to undo a context in which radicalization is thriving on local grievances. Moreover, many of the Islamist fighters in northern Mali are footloose, and an occupation of the North would merely push them into neighboring countries.
Military intervention in Mali has to be accompanied by a clear plan for dialogue and mediation to support political transition and stabilization of the South, with a similar plan to engage with different parties in the North. Where external military forces focuses on security fall short, civil society organizations can play an important role in helping to develop these dialogue processes.
Divisions among Mali’s civil society can be overcome by establishing a framework to bring many different stakeholders to the table. Such a process will be an important test-case for the collaboration between ECOWAS and regional civil society organizations such as the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding.
There is no war to be won in Mali. If ECOWAS troops enter the country, they should help to stabilize the situation by preventing fighters from the North to further advance to the South, and use their leverage to support a regional framework for dialogue at all levels. African civil society representatives will be indispensable in helping structure this military intervention to resolve the crisis peacefully.
Read the full opinion.
4. The UN’s Action in Sri Lanka: Q&A with Alex Bellamy
19 November 2012
In June 2010, the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon set up a ‘Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka’, to ‘advise him on accountability during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka’ – accountability for violations by the parties to the conflict as well as the UN’s own actions during the final stages of the Sri Lanka government’s military campaign against the last remaining Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) territory in the Wanni region, from August 2008- May 2009.
(…) The Panel found that war crimes may have been committed by both the LTTE and Sri Lankan government forces.
Regarding the actions of the UN, the overall view of the Panel was that ‘some agencies and individuals had failed in their mandates to protect people, had under-reported Government violations, and suppressed reporting efforts by their field staff’. The UN ‘did not adequately invoke principles of human rights that are the foundation of the UN but appeared instead to do what was necessary to avoid confrontation with the government’. It also noted that the failure to act by Member States was a particular ‘low mark’.
The Panel of Experts also recommended that the UN examine its own role in more detail. In April 2012, the Secretary-General established an Internal Review Panel on UN actions in Sri Lanka. (…) This week the draft report of the Internal Review Panel was leaked to the BBC and New York Times. It was also handed to the Secretary-General and released to the public. In this blog, we ask Alex Bellamy, Director of Human Protection Hub, to discuss the report’s findings and its implications for the future.
Q. What were the main findings and recommendations of this report?
The main finding of the report was that the UN failed to adequately respond to the protection crisis in Sri Lanka. (…)
In particular, the report found that the UN was not prepared to take sufficient action to improve the protection of civilians caught up in the crisis and that UN officials were consistently prepared to make tradeoffs between protection and human rights concerns on the one hand and the perceived needs to secure humanitarian access and maintain a cordial relationship with the Sri Lankan government on the other.
With particular reference to RtoP, the panel found that:
“(…)The Concept of a Responsibility to Protect was raised occasionally during the final stages of the conflict, but to no useful result. Differing perceptions among Member States and the Secretariat of the concept’s meaning and use had become so contentious as to nullify its potential value. Indeed, making reference to the Responsibility to Protect was seen as more likely to weaken rather than strengthen UN action. The events in Sri Lanka highlight the urgent need for the UN to update its strategy for engagement with Member States in situations where civilian populations caught up in the midst of armed conflicts are not protected in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law”.
This is obviously sharp criticism of the state of play with respect to RtoP in 2008-09. However, it needs to be borne in mind that almost all of these events predated the release of the Secretary-General’s first report on the Implementation of RtoP (31 July 2009) and predates the establishment of the Office for Genocide Prevention and RtoP. The July 2009 report on RtoP and three subsequent reports and informal dialogues within the General Assembly have done much to reduce differences on the meaning and use of RtoP. The principle has been used to good effect in several subsequent cases, notably Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Yemen, and South Sudan. Nonetheless, the findings from the Internal Review Panel show that much more work is needed to embed RtoP into the lived practice of the UN system and its engagement with Member States. (…)
Q: Was it significant that the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed to this internal review of the UN actions during the last months of Sri Lankan civil conflict?
Yes, I think it was very significant. In fact, the Review Panel itself described the Secretary-General’s decision ‘a courageous step’ (para. 88). It was not surprising, though. From the time of his candidacy for the position of Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has exhibited a strong personal commitment to the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and the goals of genocide prevention and human protection more broadly. He has continued to push the issue in a number of ways. (…)
Q: What should happen regarding those individuals – Sri Lankan government and military, as well as LTTE figures – that the 2011 Panel found were possibly guilty of war crimes?
Ending impunity is a critical ingredient of atrocity prevention and a core part of the implementation of RtoP. Atrocity crimes are more likely to be committed when would-be perpetrators believe that they are likely to get away with it. With regards to those from the government side, if the government of Sri Lanka proves unable or unwilling to properly investigate alleged crimes and prosecute the perpetrators – and there are multiple reports which suggest that it has already proved unwilling to investigate properly, let alone bring prosecutions – the Security Council ought to consider referring the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. (…) It is more likely, of course, that crimes committed by the LTTE will be prosecuted by the government, but both the process itself and the conduct should be closely monitored to ensure its compliance with basic minimum standards.
Q: Does this report have any relevance for the UN in relation to the current situations in Syria and Mali?
The short answer to this question is an unequivocal ‘yes’. As I noted earlier, the report covers a crisis that occurred immediately prior to the beginning of formal efforts to implement RtoP at the UN. Many of the recommendations the report puts forward are reflected in proposals brought forward and steps already taken in the context of implementing RtoP since 2009. Most notable in this regard are: the mainstreaming of RtoP goals throughout the UN system, the adoption of an atrocity prevention lens, the integration of atrocity prevention and protection concerns into the work of the UN’s Framework Team, the establishment of an early warning and assessment capacity, and the approval of a convening mechanism that would bring together the key departments under the chair of the Office of Genocide Prevention and RtoP to develop coherent policy options for the Secretary-General in situations of crisis involving the actual or imminent commission of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Each situation is different, of course, and brings with it its own challenges. However, the UN’s responses to the situations in Syria and Mali show that some lessons may already have been learned from Sri Lanka. (…)
See the full Q&A post.
5. Cote d’Ivoire: New spate of Abuses by Military
Human Rights Watch
19 November 2012
Cote d’Ivoire’s military was responsible for widespread human rights abuses in August and early September 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The abuses included arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, extortion, inhuman treatment, and, in some cases, torture.
The 73-page report, “‘A Long Way from Reconciliation’: Abusive Military Crackdown in Response to Security Threats in Cote d’Ivoire,” details the brutal crackdown that followed a series of violent attacks on military installations around the country in August. The attacks were allegedly committed by militants loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo. The resulting crackdown recalled the grave crimes committed during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, in some cases under the same commanders previously identified as responsible for brutal abuses, Human Rights Watch found. The government of President Alassane Ouattara needs to ensure the prompt investigation and prosecution of forces who committed serious human rights abuses, including torture and inhuman treatment, in response to these security threats, Human Rights Watch said. (…)
The report is based on a three-week mission to Abidjan in late August and early September, during the height of the military crackdown. Human Rights Watch interviewed 39 people who had been arrested and detained after the August attacks, as well as another 14 witnesses to mass arrests, beatings, and other abuses. Human Rights Watch also spoke with drivers of commercial and passenger transport vehicles, family members of people still in detention, leaders from Ivorian civil society, government officials, representatives of humanitarian organizations, representatives of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, and diplomats in Abidjan.
The seemingly coordinated and well-organized attacks on the military installations between August and October came on the heels of earlier assaults along the Liberian-Ivorian border. In a particularly high-profile raid on August 6, attackers killed at least six military personnel and stole a substantial cache of weapons from one of the most important military bases in the country. Since April, at least 50 people, including many civilians, have been killed during these attacks, which the Ivorian government has credibly blamed on pro-Gbagbo militants intent on destabilizing the country.
Ivorian authorities have the right and the responsibility to respond to security threats in accordance with Ivorian and international law, including by arresting and prosecuting suspects, Human Rights Watch said. The government has largely given that power to the country’s military, the Republican Forces. Unlike the police and gendarmerie, the military has no legal basis for overseeing arrests, interrogations, and detentions – particularly of civilians.
The authority given to the Republican Forces is of particular concern in light of the atrocities in which certain soldiers and commanders were implicated during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis and the lack of accountability for these crimes in the period since the Ouattara government took power, Human Rights Watch said.
In August, members of the Republican Forces carried out mass arbitrary arrests of perceived Gbagbo supporters almost daily in the Abidjan neighborhood of Yopougon. (…)Hundreds of young men appear to have been rounded up and detained, largely on the basis of their ethnicity and place of residence.
Those arrested were often brought to military camps, which are not lawful detention sites for civilians under Ivorian law. (…)
Human Rights Watch interviewed five victims of torture who had been detained at the Adjame camp. They said military personnel subjected them to beatings, flogging, and other extreme forms of physical mistreatment, generally during questioning related to the location of guns or alleged suspects, or to extract a confession. (…)The detention conditions described were grossly inadequate, including severe overcrowding, near complete denial of food and water, and humiliating practices like being placed in a room with excrement all over the floor as punishment.
(…) Although it did not reach the level of torture, Human Rights Watch likewise documented cruel and inhuman treatment at the BAE and Dabou military camps, including frequent beatings. (…)
While in Abidjan, Human Rights Watch briefed the Ivorian government, including the interior and human rights ministers, on its principal findings, and followed up with a letter to the Ivorian presidency detailing the report’s main conclusions and asking for an official response. In its answers, the government stressed the gravity of the security threat and the need for solidarity with the military in the face of the repeated, violent attacks. However, authorities also promised an investigation into the abuses documented by Human Rights Watch, indicating that anyone found responsible for torture or inhuman treatment would be prosecuted.
“The Ivorian government’s promises to ensure credible and impartial investigations into human rights abuses are a positive response, but the reality is that its forces remain largely above the law,” Dufka said. (…)
See full press release.
See the report.
6. The World’s Next Genocide
Dr. Simon Adams
New York Times
15 November 2012
Dr. Simon Adams is the Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
At a recent meeting hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador who witnessed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, made a chilling prediction. “The next genocide in the world,” he said, “will likely be against the Alawites in Syria.”
A few months ago, talk of possible massacres of Alawites, who dominate Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, seemed like pro-regime propaganda. Now, it is a real possibility.
For more than a year, Mr. Assad’s government has been committing crimes against humanity in Syria. As it fights for survival on the streets of Aleppo and Damascus, the risk of unrestrained reprisals against Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect and Syria’s other religious minorities is growing every day.
Following the rise to power of Mr. Assad’s father, Hafez, in 1970, Alawites were transformed from a persecuted minority sect to the controlling force within the army and government. (…)
When the Arab Spring reached Syria last year, it dredged up animosities that had been lurking for decades. (…)
The Syrian government’s actions have deepened the sectarian divide. (…) Sunni areas were shelled by artillery and tanks, and the pro-government shabiha militia, made up mainly of Alawites, carried out ferocious massacres of men, women and children. The majority of victims were Sunni civilians.
As the civil war intensifies, Mr. Assad is increasingly outsourcing the dirty work. (…) And by drawing Christians, Druse, Shiites and Alawites into the civil war on an explicitly sectarian basis, the Syrian government has all but guaranteed that there will be reprisals against these communities if Mr. Assad falls.
Indeed, as pro-democracy protests degenerated into civil war, the ideological composition of the opposition changed. The Free Syrian Army’s slogan remains, “We are all one people of one country.” But inside Syria those chanting “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to their graves!” have become more than a fringe element. Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented cases of rebels executing Syrian soldiers and Alawites regarded as government collaborators. (…)
Governments that have publicly committed themselves to helping end Syria’s misery, including the United States, must immediately do two things to help prevent a violent backlash against Alawites and other minorities. First, they must impress upon the newly united Syrian opposition that support depends on strict adherence to international humanitarian law. Armed groups who advocate fracturing Syria along sectarian or regional lines should be denied funds; there should be absolutely no aid for rebel groups who target Alawites and other minorities for reprisals or who commit war crimes.
Second, outside governments should intensify their efforts to hold all perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable at the International Criminal Court, regardless of their allegiance. (…)
Read full opinion.
IV. RtoP-Related Publications
1. The Responsibility to Protect –– From Evasive to Reluctant Action?
Institute for Security Studies
The publication of The Responsibility to Protect –– From Evasive to Reluctant Action? The Role of Global Middle Powers is the conclusion of a series of activities that started in 2011. Among the activities was a dialogue meeting to debate the many issues surrounding the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept from the perspective of four middle-power countries –– Germany, India, Brazil and South Africa (GIBSA) –– which are also aspiring permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members.
The meeting, entitled ‘‘The Responsibility to Protect –– Views from South Africa, Brazil, India and Germany’’, took place on 7 June 2012 at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria and brought together some 80 participants. This assembly included high-ranking representatives of the foreign ministries of South Africa, Germany, India and Brazil, diplomatic personnel from these four embassies in Pretoria, representatives of international think-tanks from all participating countries, members of the South African parliament, scholars from Germany and South Africa, and civil society representatives.
In this publication, researchers from leading think-tanks in the four GIBSA countries present a variety of viewpoints on R2P. While the GIBSA countries demonstrate widespread support for R2P, there is no single overriding position. Many of their official standings mirror the arguments on R2P in the global discourse.
Considering the prominent role that GIBSA countries play in their respective regions and their increasing importance on a global level, this publication provides a fascinating insight into their debate on R2P, which, too often, is overshadowed by the views of the permanent members of the UNSC. In addition, two young scholars take a fresh look at R2P and add a new dimension to the on-going dialogue. (…)
Read the publication, The Responsibility to Protect – From Evasive to Reluctant Action?
Read more information.
2. R2P, the fight to prevent genocide
Interview with Rachel Gerber, the Stanley Foundation
26 November 2012
Rachel Gerber, a program officer at the Stanley Foundation where she is responsible for human protection programming, participated on a panel discussing RtoP and the Arab Spring during the 2012 Reporting on International Security and Terrorism Seminar in Istanbul, Turkey. In the following recording, Ms. Gerber reflects on this topic, discussing the norm within the context of the recent and ongoing uprisings in the region. She also provides a brief overview on the norm and its origins, distinguishing RtoP from broader protection and humanitarian agendas.
Hosted by international security experts and attended by twenty-five journalists from around the world, the three-day seminar examined the role of the news media and how journalists can avoid being exploited. It was sponsored by Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Stanley Foundation, Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Stiftung Mercator, Istanbul Policy Center and Sabanci University.
Listen to the recording.
V. RtoP-Related Events
1. Conference: Article 4(h) @ 10: Ending Mass Atrocities in Africa?
Centre for Human Rights and University of Pretoria
6-7 December 2012
Senate Hall, Conference Centre, University of Pretoria
The Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria will host a Conference from 6-7 December 2012 in Pretoria, to provide an opportunity for academics, judges, practitioners, policy makers, military personnel, government officials and other commentators to consider legal, procedural and practical challenges in the implementation of Article 4(h). The Conference will provide a forum for important issues to be addressed through evidence-based research and policy debate. The main issue for discussion at the Conference will be how to prevent and end mass atrocity crimes in Africa?
As such, the over–arching theme of the Conference is ‘Article 4(h) @ 10: Ending Mass Atrocities in Africa? The Conference will also facilitate a debate to draw a “Statement on the Role of Article 4(h) in Ending Mass Atrocities in Africa.” The idea of “Pretoria Principles” is to providing actionable guidelines to governments, R2P focal points and practitioners on operationalizing R2P, in general, and particularly on preventing atrocities, compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law instruments, cooperation with international human rights institutions and the international criminal court. (…)
2. Panel Series on Women, Peace and Security: Fighting impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes with Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, H.E. Ms. Fatou Bensouda
Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations in New York
12 December 2012, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
United Nations North Lawn Building (CR 1)
During this panel series, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, H.E. Ms. Fatou Bensouda, will speak about the work of the International Criminal Court to prevent and prosecute sexual and gender-based crime.
The event is the launch of a lecture series on Women, Peace and Security organized by the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations in New York in close partnership with the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD) at Princeton University, and the PeaceWomen Project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The series seeks to support implementation efforts and awareness-raising of the WPS agenda through a series of panel discussions in New York followed by lectures at Princeton University.