16 April 2013
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I. United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement on conflict prevention in Africa stresses importance of the Responsibility to Protect
1. Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation –Commemoration of Rwandan genocide focuses on prevention of future atrocities
2. Remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the ceremony to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda
3. The Aegis Trust –Rwanda’s 19th genocide commemoration: Peace-building education to be expanded from Kigali Genocide Memorial
1. Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War –Looking to the Future of the ATT and Shifting Attention to Implementation
2. Vision GRAM-International –Statement regarding the Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty
3. Amnesty International –UN puts human rights at heart of historic Arms Trade Treaty
1. Kenya: Elizabeth Evenson, Public Service Europe –Will Kenya’s new president respect international court?
2. Syria: Human Rights Watch –Aerial Attacks Strike Civilians
3. Sudan: Enough Project, Satellite Sentinel Project, DigitalGlobal –New Report: Architects of Atrocity – The Sudanese Government’s War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Torture in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States
1. Dr. James Pattison, Human Rights and Human Welfare Working Papers –The ethics of “Responsibility while Protecting”: Brazil, the Responsibility to Protect and guidelines for humanitarian intervention
2. Project Muse Correspondence –Discussion between Hon. Gareth Evans & Prof. Ramesh Thakur and Dr. Robert A. Pape on Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect
3. Canadian International Council –Interview with Gilberto Rodriguez: With Power Comes Responsibility
17 April 2013 –Panel event: The Responsibility to Protect and the Crisis in Syria, University of California – Los Angeles Law School and Burkle Center for International Relations
18 April 2013 –Panel event: The International Responsibility to Protect Syria, University of Notre Dame Law School
I. United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement on conflict prevention in Africa stresses importance of the Responsibility to Protect
15 April 2013
On 15 April 2013, Members of the Security Council convened to discuss the “prevention of conflicts in Africa: addressing the root causes”, and adopted a Presidential Statement (PRST/2013/4). Within the Statement, which discussed tools and factors that impact the prevention and mitigation of conflict in Africa, Council Members “stresse[d] the importance of the responsibility to protect as outlined in the 2005 World Summit outcome document”. The Statement also expressed that the Security Council “looks forward to the 2013 UN Secretary-General report on the Responsibility to Protect” and “recalls the important role of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect”.
During the meeting, Council Members considered a concept note contained in a letter (document S/2013/204) from the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month. The concept note proposed that the Security Council consider the role of national governments and civil society in addressing the root causes of conflicts; the effectiveness of national infrastructures; measures and initiatives aimed at mitigating and forestalling the resurgence of violence in post-conflict and transitional situations; collaboration of the United Nations with regional, sub-regional and non-governmental organizations; and an assessment of the effectiveness of various Africa-focused instruments seeking to prevent conflicts in the region.
Opening remarks were delivered by Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, and the Secretary-General. Council Members were then briefed by Elliot Ohin, Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Togo, and Tekeda Alemu, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union. An additional thirteen Member States then gave interventions during the meeting, several of whom, including Australia, France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, expressed support for the Responsibility to Protect. See below for excerpts from the Presidential Statement:
(…) “The Security Council reaffirms its strong opposition to impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and emphasizes in this context the responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations to end impunity and, to that end, to thoroughly investigate and prosecute persons responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of international humanitarian law, also in the context of conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The Council underlines the importance of raising awareness of and ensuring respect of all applicable international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, stresses the importance of the responsibility to protect as outlined in the 2005 World Summit outcome document, including the primary responsibility of Member States to protect their populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Council further underlines the role of the international community in encouraging and helping States, including through capacity-building, to meet their primary responsibility. The Council looks forward to the 2013 UN Secretary-General report on the Responsibility to Protect. The Council further recalls the important role of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect in matters relating to the prevention and resolution of conflict.
“The Security Council emphasizes that the fight against impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide is an important element of conflict prevention. The Security Council affirms that these grave crimes must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking appropriate action and highlights in this regard the role of the international criminal justice system. (…)
Read the complete language of the Presidential Statement (PRST/2013/4) at the bottom of the press release from the meeting.
“Genocide Awareness Month: Creating the Will to Act”
12 April 2013
Excerpts from “Genocide Awareness Month: Creating the Will to Act”:
The ongoing crises and threats to civilians in Syria and Mali, in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) serve as reminders that mass atrocities are continuing the world over, and that more needs to be done to prevent and protect from these horrific crimes if we are to live up to the promise of “Never Again” . With the unanimous endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P) at the 2005 World Summit, world leaders took a historic step by declaring that all governments have a responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. During the month of April, which serves as ‘Genocide Awareness Month’, civil society across the globe brings attention to ongoing atrocities and educates on what individuals, organizations, and stakeholders at all levels can do to stand up in the face of genocide. While governments have committed to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes, it is up to civil society and the general public to demand that world leaders uphold these responsibilities. Public demand, however, depends on public understanding and awareness of the ongoing crimes and available prevention tools. The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect‘s global membership works to raise awareness on the prevention of genocide and other atrocities, not only in April but in their activities throughout the year. ICRtoP spoke with several Coalition members and close partners to gain insight on how they’re educating on genocide and how individuals and other NGOs can get involved. (…)
Read the full blog post.
1. Commemoration of Rwandan genocide focuses on prevention of future atrocities
Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
16 April 2013
Auschwitz Institute executive director Tibi Galis stressed the need for civil society to help governments protect their populations from genocide, at an event on Sunday marking the 19th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slain by Hutu extremists in the space of just three months.
In his keynote speech to an audience that included Rwandan survivors, Galis said that as much as is known about the causes of genocide and the urgency of addressing them, most governments are still not prepared to prevent it. He noted the roots of today’s efforts to prevent genocide in the failures to prevent the atrocities of the 1990s, specifically Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Kosovo. Explaining the origin of the Auschwitz Institute, whose programs date back to 2008, Galis said: “What we took away as an assumption is we expect our governments to do the right thing but without giving them the tools to do the right thing.”
He pointed out that much of the current activity and attention when it comes to genocide prevention in the United States is still centered around what should more rightly be called “crisis management,” as opposed to true prevention, which aims to keep violence from breaking out in the first place.
Sunday’s event was organized by Rwandan genocide survivor Jacqueline Murekatete and the nonprofit MCW (Miracle Corners of the World). (…)
During a panel discussion with Murekatete and Jonathan Schienberg, an associate producer with “60 Minutes” on CBS News, Galis expanded on the themes he raised in his keynote, stating, “We don’t need governments of heroes. We need bureaucrats who do the right thing — not because they believe in it, but because they have to.”
Although the Auschwitz Institute works mainly with governments, Galis also highlighted the importance of civil society to ensuring societies are safe from genocide. “Vibrant civil society actors [offer] a chance to articulate problems and define solutions to them.”
Asked by panel moderator Roberta Richin what individuals can do to help prevent genocide, Galis offered two recommendations: 1) “If we had a community where individuals don’t look away when something wrong is happening in the community,” and 2) for each individual to “put yourself at the service of prevention in what you are best at.” Examples he gave were engaging in dialogue with or persuading politicians, working to create a safe environment in one’s own community, and creating economic models that take care of people’s needs—things that most people don’t call prevention but are essential nevertheless.
“Most of the time we prevent genocide and mass atrocities without even realizing it,” Galis said. “At the same time, we need to do even better.”
2.Remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the ceremony to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda
15 April 2013
(…) In commemorating the 19th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, we remember the innocent people who were murdered solely because of their identity.
We pay tribute to those who risked their lives to save their fellow citizens. Such heroes stand out for being so few in number. (…)
The United Nations is strongly committed to learning the lessons of Rwanda and helping the international community to prevent future tragedies.
My Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide monitors the world for signs of the crime’s known precursors.
The “responsibility to protect” has taken its place as a new global principle.
We are strengthening our capacities for mediation, fact-finding, preventive diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We are focusing on the special procedures and other UN human rights mechanisms, which play a critical early warning role.
And we are promoting tolerance and mutual understanding, including through the Alliance of Civilizations initiative.
We have also made tremendous strides against impunity. Suspected genocidaires and other would-be criminals around the world now know that they will be held accountable before the International Criminal Court, international tribunals or domestic courts.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, with the cooperation of Rwanda and other states, continues to prosecute people for their alleged responsibility in the genocide. I encourage the international community to expedite the arrest and prosecution of the remaining fugitives who perpetrated the genocide in Rwanda.
International criminal justice is a testament to our collective determination to confront the most heinous crimes.
However, the international community has to do more to prevent atrocities, as the worsening catastrophe in Syria starkly demonstrates. (…)
Read full statement.
3. Rwanda’s 19th genocide commemoration: Peace-building education to be expanded from Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Aegis Trust
7 April 2013
Leading Rwanda’s national commemoration of the 1994 genocide, held today at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, President Kagame laid a wreath at mass graves containing the remains of some 250,000 victims before lighting the flame that will burn in front of the Memorial for the next 100 days – the duration of the slaughter in which approximately one million Tutsis were murdered.
Following the lighting of the flame, President Kagame visited a new ‘Peace room’ at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where students including the children of survivors and perpetrators take part in peace-building education. There he viewed a mobile exhibition created by the Aegis Trust to take this education programme into Rwanda’s rural communities.
"Remembrance of the genocide is an obligation for every Rwandan. It is also falls on us to teach and pass on that responsibility to the youth so that they, in turn, can pass it on to successive generations," Kagame stated in his speech to mark the day. "Sharing our history, some of which has been tragic, will help us prevent future evil, fight genocide ideology and anything that could take the country back to the bad past we have left behind. It will also help us focus on that which will advance the collective good of Rwandans."
“Peace-building education at the Kigali Genocide Memorial inspires young people to promote unity in their schools and communities,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, which established the memorial in partnership with the Rwandan authorities in 2004. “In time, we hope the experience of peace education here will offer a model from which other countries too can benefit.”
“Enabling students across Rwanda to have this learning opportunity is vital for the future of our country,” says Freddy Mutanguha, Country Director for Aegis in Rwanda. “Applying lessons from the past to prevent division and violence in the future is perhaps the most important way in which to honour the memory of the communities and loved ones we so tragically lost.”
The peace-building education programme was developed by Aegis in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of Education and supported by VSO, the UK’s Department for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency. (…)
1. Looking to the Future of the ATT and Shifting Attention to Implementation
Global Action to Prevent War
3 April 2013
After more than a decade of advocating for and working towards a robust and comprehensive arms trade treaty (ATT), relevant stakeholders can now mark a conclusion to the first step in this process. This was an imperfect process that yielded an imperfect treaty. Nevertheless, the task now is to take what has been adopted and ensure that it has the most effective impact possible on the ground so that the human suffering caused by the illicit and unregulated arms trade—the original purpose of and impetus for this process—is prevented to the greatest extent possible.
(…) The adoption of the ATT at the conclusion of these two weeks, even if it was a few days after the close of the Diplomatic Conference, was surely due in part to the strong leadership and good management of the President of the Conference, Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia. (…)
However, not all states were satisfied enough with the text to vote in favor of its adoption. After Tuesday’s vote, the so-called “skeptics” reiterated their well-known concerns and opposition to the text, noting substantive omissions and dissatisfaction with the process. The delegations of Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, DPRK, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela were among those that took to the floor to offer explanations of vote (EOV).
Several of these delegations continued to regret the absence of a prohibition against the transfer of arms to unauthorized non-state actors, references to the principle of self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation, an independent section dedicated to definitions, and an accountability mechanism for exporting states. These states also expressed dissatisfaction with the overall imbalance of the text in the favor of exporters and, thereby, the possibility for political manipulation. (…)
The ATT text represents a convergence, albeit a compromised one, of the majority view that the arms industry needs regulation in the form of a legally-binding instrument. Undoubtedly, the text and the process that came before it have represented the emergence of new international norms that the transfer of arms must be denied when there is serious risk of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), and when there is a likelihood that such arms would undermine peace and security. Furthermore, the undertaking of the ATT process has also underscored the need for greater transparency and accountability in the arms trade, bringing it out of the shadows and more prominently in the public domain. It is clear that the ATT writ large has been a worthy endeavor, if flawed, in attempting to consolidate the international drive towards these goals. The treaty has the potential to serve as a useful tool to continue to work towards these goals of reducing risk and increasing some levels of transparency.
Nevertheless, despite the good will of many of the stakeholders that have been dedicated to this process over the last decade, undisputed victory cannot be claimed. The text is not the ideal iteration of what an ATT could be or even the version that the group of 116 states called for in a joint statement during the second week of the Final Conference. These states called for a treaty with a comprehensive scope of items and activities, reflective of existing international legal obligations and norms, and one that enhances transparency and prohibits the transfer of arms when there is “substantial” risk of serious violations of international law, including IHL and IHRL or risk of diversion. Unfortunately, the text’s provisions do not live up to these standards nor fulfill the calls from the vast majority of the governments, international organizations, and civil society groups. This is, of course, in part due to the tremendous compromising power of consensus. (…)
The question becomes: is the text that has been adopted going to, in practice, not only set norms and goals, but positively change arms transfer policy so that it will make a difference in the lives of those who suffer armed conflict and armed violence? Ultimately, the jury is still out. (…)
(…) In moving forward with the ATT process, attention must shift to implementation and interpretation in order to ensure that the robust provisions that have been adopted are implemented in the best and most consistent way, while those that are still weak are not allowed to limit the overall effectiveness of the Treaty. Indeed, this is only the beginning of evaluating the ATT’s effectiveness. (…)
Read full opinion.
Read a second blog on the Global Action to Prevent War site entitled “Gender-Based Violence in the Arms Trade Treaty”.
2. Statement regarding the Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty
3 April 2013
Today Vision GRAM celebrates the victory of the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. After a long battle, 154 states voted in favor, with 23 abstentions and 3 voting against. This is significant, as states took this Responsibile action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world whose lives will be saved or greatly improved. We applaud the decision of the States who voted to contribute to Peace and security of the world.
Violence destroys the lives of many people, though women and children are disproportionately affected. Many Children are forcibly recruited and used by armed groups. Now, “We will replace their rifles with pens,” says Victor Amisi, Executive Director of Vision GRAM International. Women also celebrate a victory today, as they are often victims of rape and sexual violence due to the unchecked weapons trade. “It is a form of justice for the survivors of armed violence.”
Vision GRAM congratulates the States who made a responsible and courageous step, deciding to protect their populations, as the prevention of genocide, and crimes against humanity is part of the obligation of the State.
Today we call on Nations to keep the momentum and ratify the treaty as soon as possible. There is still much more to do.
Read full statement in English and French.
3. UN puts human rights at heart of historic Arms Trade Treaty
2 April 2013
Today, governments at the United Nations adopted by a wide margin an Arms Trade Treaty that will prohibit states from transferring conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons will be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
In the UN General Assembly 155 states voted to adopt the treaty just days after Iran, North Korea and Syria – three human rights-abusing countries under some form of UN sanctions – staged a cynical move to try and block it. All three voted against the treaty today and 22 other states abstained.
“The world has been waiting a long time for this historic treaty. After long years of campaigning, most states have agreed to adopt a global treaty that can prevent the flow of arms into countries where they will be used to commit atrocities,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, from the UN conference in New York. (…)
The treaty also obligates all governments to assess the risk of transferring arms, ammunition or components to another country where they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Where that overriding risk is real and cannot be mitigated, states have agreed the transfer will not go forward.
“When you think of the huge economic interest and the political power in play for the big arms producers and exporters, this treaty is a tribute to both civil society who championed the idea to save lives and reduce human suffering as well as the governments who heeded that call,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International. (…)
The treaty was adopted after more than six years of UN deliberations – a process that began in December 2006 when the General Assembly agreed to consult all states on the feasibility, scope and parameters of a treaty to regulate the international transfer of conventional arms.
A record number of states responded to the UN Secretary General, almost all of them positively. Human rights and humanitarian law were put at the top of the list of criteria.
The scope in the adopted treaty covers major categories of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons which proliferate in countries with low-level conflicts, armed violence and a massive number of civilian casualties.
“As in all treaty negotiations, we did not get everything that we wanted, so for example ammunition is not fully included in all the treaty provisions, but since this treaty can be amended and has many strong rules it provides a firm foundation on which to build an international system to curb the flow of arms to those who would commit atrocities,” said Wood.
“This shows that when members of the public come up with a really good idea that will help make the world better and get organized, they really can make it happen and make a difference on a global scale.”
The treaty will be opened for signatures and ratification on 3 June 2013 at the UN General Assembly and will enter into force shortly after it has been ratified by 50 states.
1. Will Kenya’s new president respect international court?
Public Service Europe
12 April 2013
At his inauguration on April 9, Kenya's new president, Uhuru Kenyatta, promised to uphold "international obligations". This was most likely a reference to the International Criminal Court. Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, are to stand trial before the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the country's election-related violence in 2007 and 2008.
But this pledge came with a caveat. International obligations would be upheld, he said, provided they are founded on "mutual respect and reciprocity". As the product of a global treaty, the ICC depends on the mutual respect of its 122 member countries, including Kenya. The real question is what respect Kenyatta and his new government will show for the court. The previous government's record was deeply ambivalent. (…)
Government officials and members of parliament swiftly challenged the court. Parliament pressed the government to withdraw Kenya from the ICC treaty, while a faction of the government campaigned for a United Nations Security Council deferral. Kenya petitioned to retake the cases, as was its right, but lost when ICC judges found no evidence of national investigations. As the cases have neared trial, Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, has reported that the government has stalled or failed to assist its investigations, contrary to its ICC obligations. She cited this problem as one factor in her recent decision to drop the charges against Kenyatta's former co-accused, Francis Muthaura. The government is now seeking, before the ICC judges, to refute this claim of limited assistance.
Kenyatta and Ruto sent contradictory messages during the campaign. The two, who stood on opposite sides of the political divide in 2007 and are accused of organising attacks against each other's supporters, have now been united by the ICC's charges. On the one hand they pledged their cooperation to the ICC, while on the other they at times painted the election as a referendum on the ICC and the court as a tool of western imperialism. Indeed Kenyatta's caveat at his inauguration also came with a warning. He cautioned that no one country or group of countries should control international institutions or the interpretation of international treaties. As the keynote speaker, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, praised Kenyan voters for resisting "blackmail" by the ICC and accused "arrogant actors" of "using [the ICC] to install leaders of their choice in Africa".
(…) This conveniently ignores that four investigations were referred to the court by the government concerned and two by the UN Security Council. Museveni himself sought the ICC's investigation in Uganda and hosted the court's states parties at a conference in a resort outside Kampala in 2010. Above all, the claim that the ICC is a stalking horse for the west ignores the horrific crimes committed in Kenya and that victims and their families have yet to see any measure of justice from Kenyan courts. Far from backing off, the international community needs to stand in solidarity with these victims and press Kenya's new government on its ICC cooperation obligations.
Kenyatta and Ruto are not fugitives, making some "business as usual" with the new government possible. But the ICC finds itself in a challenging situation in which it must depend at the highest levels on the very people it is putting on trial for the cooperation it needs to proceed. This reality means the international community will need to be vigilant in reacting to any signs that this cooperation is on the wane. Kenyatta's reformulation of his pledge on the ICC at his swearing-in should be cause for concern. He is seeking to have the charges against him dropped following the withdrawal of the case against Muthaura, a petition the ICC judges will decide. Kenyatta and Ruto, along with Ruto's co-accused, are entitled to a vigorous defence. That is their right and it should be scrupulously respected. But the Kenyan government should simultaneously ensure that the court can go forward with its independent, judicial process.
With witness protection a key concern – Bensouda has called the scale of witness interference "unprecedented" – the new government should signal that it will do all it can to help ensure the safety of those who would seek to assist the search for justice. Kenyatta missed the opportunity on day one to declare unequivocal commitment to the court. His administration should not miss opportunities to demonstrate this support in the days ahead.
Read full opinion.
2. Syria: Aerial Attacks Strike Civilians
Human Rights Watch
11 April 2013
The Syrian Air Force has repeatedly carried out indiscriminate, and in some cases deliberate, air strikes against civilians. These attacks are serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war), and people who commit such violations with criminal intent are responsible for war crimes.
The 80-page report, “Death from the Skies: Deliberate and Indiscriminate Air Strikes on Civilians,” is based on visits to 50 sites of government air strikes in opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo, Idlib, and Latakia governorates, and more than 140 interviews with witnesses and victims. The air strikes Human Rights Watch documented killed at least 152 civilians. According to a network of local Syrian activists, air strikes have killed more than 4,300 civilians across Syria since July 2012. (…)
Media reports, YouTube videos, and information from opposition activists show that the Syrian government has conducted air strikes all over Syria on a daily basis since July 2012.
Through the on-site investigations and interviews, Human Rights Watch gathered information that indicates government forces deliberately targeted four bakeries where civilians were waiting in breadlines a total of eight times, and hit other bakeries with artillery attacks. Repeated aerial attacks on two hospitals in the areas Human Rights Watch visited strongly suggest that the government also deliberately targeted these facilities. At the time of Human Rights Watch’s visits to the two hospitals they had been attacked a total of seven times.
In addition to the attacks on the bakeries and hospitals, Human Rights Watch concluded in 44 other cases that air strikes were unlawful under the laws of war. Syrian forces used means and methods of warfare, such as unguided bombs dropped by high-flying helicopters, that under the circumstances could not distinguish between civilians and combatants, and thus were indiscriminate.
In the strikes Human Rights Watch investigated, despite high civilian casualties, damage to opposition headquarters and other possible military structures was minimal. As far as Human Rights Watch could establish, there were no casualties among opposition fighters. (…)
The government’s use of unlawful means of attack has also included cluster munitions, weapons that have been banned by most nations because of their indiscriminate nature. Human Rights Watch has documented government use of more than 150 cluster bombs in 119 locations since October 2012. Human Rights Watch also documented that the government used incendiary weapons, which should, at a minimum, be banned in populated areas.
The obligation to minimize harm to the civilian population applies to all parties to a conflict. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Syrian armed opposition groups did not take all feasible measures to avoid deploying forces and structures such as headquarters in or near densely populated areas. However, an attacking party is not relieved from the obligation to take into account the risk to civilians from an attack on the grounds that the defending party has located military targets within or near populated areas. (…)
Human Rights Watch believes this report should galvanize international efforts to end deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate air strikes and other attacks on civilians, including all use of cluster munitions, ballistic missiles, incendiary weapons, and explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. (…)
In addition, Human Rights Watch calls on governments and companies to immediately stop selling or supplying weapons, ammunition, and material to Syria, given compelling evidence that the Syrian government is committing crimes against humanity, until Syria stops committing these crimes. (…)
Read full article and the report, “Death from the Skies: Deliberate and Indiscriminate Air Strikes on Civilians”.
Read the briefing paper from the International Federation for Human Rights, “Violence Against Women in Syria - Breaking the Silence”.
Read a plea issued by UN Officials Valerie Amos, Ertharin Cousin, Antonio Guterres, Anthony Lake, Margaret Chan entitled, “A U.N. Appeal to Save Syria”.
3. New Report: Architects of Atrocity – The Sudanese Government’s War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Torture in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States
Enough Project, Satellite Sentinel Project, DigitalGlobal
Over the past two years, the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, have used DigitalGlobe satellite imagery and on-the-ground research to gather information that could serve as evidence of the Sudanese government’s responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in its South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The level and extent of evidence set out in our reports supports referring the situation in Sudan’s two southern states to the International Criminal Court, or ICC, for further investigation and prosecution. So that the evidence can be collected as quickly and effectively as possible, even in the absence of such a referral, the United Nations should immediately establish an impartial commission of inquiry to carry out an investigation into the likely war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture, which our evidence suggests are taking place in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
This report offers a legal characterization of some of SSP’s main findings between April 2011 and the present. Given the limitations imposed by cloud cover and other logistical hurdles, it is impossible to know how many other atrocity crimes went undocumented during that period. The acts discussed in this report are likely only an outline of the realities on the ground in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and DigitalGlobe satellites continue to monitor the situation alongside citizen journalists operating in the two areas. The international community must do more to investigate the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture being perpetrated by Sudanese government forces against their own people. If implemented quickly, a commission of inquiry and the involvement of the International Criminal Court prosecutor could serve as a substantial deterrent force against future violence. (…)
Read the full report.
1. The ethics of “Responsibility while Protecting”: Brazil, the Responsibility to Protect and guidelines for humanitarian intervention
Dr. James Pattison, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Manchester
Human Rights and Human Welfare: Working papers
1 April 2013
In the aftermath of the NATO intervention in Libya, the responsibility to protect (RtoP) doctrine has received considerable blowback. Various states, most notably some of the ‘BRICS’ states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), claimed that NATO exceeded its mandate given to it by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1973 (by allegedly focusing on regime change rather than on the protection of civilians), was inappropriate in its target selection, violated the arms embargo by transferring arms to rebels, and generally caused too much harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. (…)
In this context, in 2011 Brazil presented the ‘responsibility while protecting’ (RwP) initiative. According to Brazil, this offers “an additional conceptual step” and “a new perspective” on RtoP and the protection of civilians more generally (2011b: 16). RwP highlights the need for those undertaking humanitarian intervention considering alternative measures first, to take extra care when using military force to protect civilians, and to report continually to the UNSC. Italso brings back to the fore the issue of guidelines for humanitarian intervention (in this case, for the UNSC).
Subsequently, RwP has been cited in various discussions on RtoP. For instance, it was subject to a section of the UN Secretary General’s (SG) recent report on pillar three of RtoP, Responsibility to Protect: Timely and Decisive Response (Ki-moon 2012: 13–15). In this report, Ban Ki-Moon argues that the initiative is “welcome” (2012: 13) and that it “provides a useful pathway for continuing dialogue about ways of bridging different perspectives and forging strategies for timely and decisive responses to crimes and violations relating to RtoP” (2012: 15). (…)
On the one hand, Brazil’s RwP initiative has been seen as a vital addition to RtoP, strengthening it at a time when it was facing a difficult period and ameliorating the worries surrounding the intervention surrounding Libya. (…)
On the other hand, some have argued that RwP is morally problematic and “suggests additions or interpretations that conflict with the existing consensus [on RtoP] and may turn into obstacles to timely and decisive protection” (Kolb 2012: 9). (…)
Much depends, then, on the normative worth of the Brazilian initiative. Should it be welcomed and does it bode well for the roles that emerging powers may play in the future? Or, does it face several moral problems that signify major worries about the roles that emerging powers such as Brazil will play in the promotion of RtoP and other similar norms? Consequently, the primary aim of this paper is to assess the normative worth of RwP. I will first outline the details of RwP and its development (Section II). I will then suggest that RwP adopts what I will call a ‘Restrictive Approach’ to the ethics of humanitarian intervention. I will argue that such an approach and RwP’s account of the guidelines governing humanitarian intervention are morally desirable. As already noted, one upshot of the development of RwP has been a renewed interest in the possibility of guidelines or criteria for humanitarian intervention.
However, the utility of guidelines or criteria for humanitarian intervention has been subject to some scepticism (e.g., Bellamy 2011: 164–9; Brown 2005; Weiss 2005). A secondary aim of the paper—which I turn to in Section III—is to argue that the development of guidelines for humanitarian intervention under RtoP, as highlighted by RwP, would also be morally desirable. In fact, I will argue that guidelines for humanitarian intervention under RtoP already exist to some extent; what RwP adds is an interpretation of these guidelines in accordance with the Restrictive Approach to the permissibility and conduct of intervention. In the conclusion (Section IV), I will consider some of the political implications of RwP. (…)
Read full paper.
2. Correspondence: Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect
Academic discussion between: Hon. Gareth Evans & Prof. Ramesh Thakur and Dr. Robert Pape
Project Muse, made available by Australian National University
To the editors (Gareth Evans and Ramesh Thakur write):
As cochair (Evans) and member (Thakur) of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), and principal authors of its 2001 report The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), we read Robert Pape’s article with great interest—but also with growing surprise and ultimately considerable disappointment. Intervention can be studied as an analytical concept or as a political project, and Pape’s article clearly falls into the latter category. His purpose is to advance his so-called pragmatic standard of humanitarian intervention against the standard of the genocide convention (which, in his view, sets the bar much too high) and R2P (which he thinks is loose and permissive, setting the bar much too low). For an article proposing to advance humanitarian intervention as a political project, however, it is remarkably disconnected from political reality.
Pape completely overlooks the emergence of R2P over the last decade as the normative instrument of choice for converting shocked international conscience about mass atrocity crimes into decisive collective action. His forty-page article devotes just two pages to R2P, focusing entirely on its original articulation in the ICISS report and totally ignoring its subsequent intellectual and political evolution. (…) The 2005 World Summit Outcome Document and its subsequent translation into shared understandings in intergovernmental circles have simply been airbrushed from history in Pape’s account. (…)
First, Pape resurrects the language and discourse of “humanitarian intervention.” ICISS was successful in repositioning the international consensus because we made the core, sustaining idea not the “right to intervene” but the “responsibility to protect.” (…)
Second, not only does Pape take his readers back to the rightly rejected and discarded world of humanitarian intervention, but he would also take us back to the unsustainable world of unilateral interventions. (…)
Third, going backward on humanitarian intervention means a reluctance to embrace the responsibilities to prevent and rebuild, which are core to R2P but not normally part of humanitarian intervention discourse, as Pape’s contribution makes clear. (…)
Fourth, Pape would take the normative architecture back to the pre-R2P status quo on a false premise. The charge against R2P—that it is too permissive and would embroil the United States and the West in interventions without end all over the world— is wrong in theory and demonstrably false in practice. (…)
Fifth, we can only regard as an egregious straw man, built for the sole purpose of knocking down, Pape’s assertion that R2P “would effectively obligate” states “to commit vast resources to provide for the welfare of foreigners even if this came at the expense of obligations to their own citizens” (p. 52). To our knowledge, no advocate, supporter, or sympathizer of R2P—and, before this, no critic of R2P—had made this claim. (…)
Robert A. Pape replies:
In my article “When Duty Calls,” I advance a new, pragmatic standard for humanitarian intervention that speciªes when the United States and other members of the international community should intervene militarily to stop a government from harming its own citizens.1 The pragmatic standard has three requirements for the use of force: (1) an ongoing campaign of mass homicide sponsored by the government; (2) a viable plan for international intervention with reasonable estimates of low casualties for the intervening forces; and (3) a workable strategy for creating lasting local security for the threatened population. In addition, I explain why adopting the pragmatic standard would save more lives than the two prevailing alternatives: the so-called genocide standard (i.e., the moral imperative to intervene to prevent genocide), which sets the bar for intervention too high, and the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which sets the bar so low that virtually every instance of anarchy or tyranny would create unbounded obligations beyond the capacity of states to fulfill.
Gareth Evans and Ramesh Thakur, both long-standing proponents of the responsibility to protect standard, argue that my article pays insufªcient attention to R2P, ignores the evolution of R2P after its founding document in 2001, and fails to appreciate that R2P is now the “normative instrument of choice” guiding “collective action” by the international community to stop governments from harming their citizens. They see no need for a new standard because, in their words, there is already “rapid acceptance of R2P in international political settings.”
Evans, Thakur, and I agree that the international community has a broad responsibility to protect innocents threatened by their governments. We disagree, however, that such a broadly framed responsibility entails an obligation or a duty to intervene militarily. (…)
Read the full article, including Evans and Thakur’s full assessment of Pape’s article and analysis of the Responsibility to Protect within the international community today as well as Pape’s complete response including specific answers to his critics’ five points.
3. Interview with Gilberto Rodriguez: With Power Comes Responsibility
Canadian International Council
27 March 2013
Brazil is exerting new-found confidence on the world stage, and it is more than holding its own in debates over human rights issues, including intervention. OpenCanada talked to Gilberto Rodrigues, international relations professor at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil and a board member of the Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES), a Latin American Civil Society Network based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to explain Brazil’s increased interest in and impact on R2P.
Tell us about the role of the organization CRIES (Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Socialies) in the development of “Responsibility to Protect”or R2P.
CRIES is a Latin American/Caribbean network based in Buenos Aires, which works on issues of human rights, social integration, and the environment. CRIES was invited to help found the international coalition on R2P and so we decided to create a project on R2P. We have been working on R2P since 2009, especially as it pertains to Latin America and the Caribbean. We have considered these countries’ positions on R2P and explored potential R2P situations in the region.
The concept of Responsibility while Protecting (RwP) was introduced by a Brazilian-led policy paper. What international reactions were sparked by this initiative?
RwP was a very interesting proposal from the Brazilian diplomatic corps. It is revealing of Brazil’s new identity – as an emergent power and global player. The Brazilian diplomatic corps saw room to go into the very sensitive and difficult issue of R2P and intervention. Historically, Brazil has had a very cautious position on intervention. I would say that we have typically leaned against intervention, because as a nation we experienced a lot of unilateral intervention, and we witnessed it elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are inclined to be suspicious of intervention because of this history. At the same time, we have a very strong commitment to human rights. The core of R2P is respect for human rights and humanitarian law. Brazil, as a new power and global player, cannot be silent about this, and it has not – we introduced the idea of RwP to the UN General Assembly. RwP is about boundaries, not about avoiding R2P or opposing it. (…)
What kind of leadership role do you see for Brazil in future?
This is a very interesting question, and one for which there is no clear answer. But I have some ideas. First, this idea of being a ‘global player’ is a new role for Brazil. It will require us to learn how to lead without provoking conflict with our neighbors, namely Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela. Our government cares a lot about integration processes within South America, so imagine we will continue our work in this area. There are many new issues that could be placed on the civil society agenda, and looked at by the academic community and the private sector. To lead through civil society will require an active, sustained dialogue with the government. So, Brazil could lead on many issues but we need the tools to do so – we need a framework where all sectors of society can participate. Now is a challenging moment for Brazil, for the world is expecting leadership at the global level but we are still developing the institutions that can provide this. (…)
Read full interview.
1. Panel event: The Responsibility to Protect and the Crisis in Syria
University of California – Los Angeles Law School and Burkle Center for International Relations
17 April 2013, 12:10 PM
University of California – Los Angeles Law School, Room 1430
The recently articulated “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine refers to the duty of the international community to prevent and stop the commission of crimes against humanity, genocide and other serious human rights violations, especially when the state where the atrocities take place is involved in their commission or cannot stop them. This panel will discuss this doctrine by analyzing the ongoing situation in Syria.
Panelists include: General Wesley Clark (UCLA Burkle Center Senior Fellow); Asli Bali (UCLA Law School); and Professor Ricardo Arredondo (University of Buenos Aires).
See event flyer.
2. The International Responsibility to Protect Syria
University of Notre Dame Law School
18 April 2013, 12:30 – 1:50 PM
The Syrian regime’s brutal response to the pro-freedom movement which began two years ago has led to the death of over 80,000 Syrians, including over 5,000 children. Over 1 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries, and another 3-4 million are internally displaced. The Assad regime has been accused of war crimes, including the use of sexual violence, ballistic SCUD missiles and chemical weapons against civilian populations. What should the international community do?
Panelists Muna Jondy, an immigration attorney; Jennifer Thuma, a professor and Indianapolis-based attorney; and Kenan Rahmani, a 1L Syrian American human rights activist, will be discussing their first-hand experiences and possible solutions.(…)
Read more information.