In this issue...
Civil Society Support for RtoP Grows as the ICRtoP Welcomes Five New Members to the Coalition
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect is excited to announce that five new Members have joined our growing network of civil society organizations dedicated to advancing the Responsibility to Protect. The Coalition’s new members hail from Liberia, Tanzania, the United States, Kenya, and Georgia and carry out programmatic initiatives in a wide range of RtoP-related sectors, including peacebuilding, conflict resolution, women’s rights, promotion of religious tolerance, and good governance. Read below to learn about how ICRtoP’s new members are working to prevent and respond to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
1. Campaign for Good Governance (Freetown, Liberia)
The Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) was established in 1996 with the goal of increasing citizen participation in governance throughout Sierra Leone by conducting initiatives in the areas of advocacy, capacity building and civic education. The organization seeks to use its work conducted throughout the country to build a more informed and participatory civil populace and a democratic and accountable government. CGG’s programmatic areas include gender and governance; justice, security and human rights; and public financial management. The organization has worked with state actors to provide medical services for victims, publish reports on past atrocities, and assist in supporting work to promote countrywide truth and reconciliation. Additionally, CGG brings school children to “sites of consciousness”—including where atrocities occurred during the war—to educate and create a culture of remembrance.
2. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (New York, USA)
Established in 2008, the Centre seeks to transform RtoP into a guide for action to prevent and respond to RtoP crimes and violations. To work towards achieving this goal, the organization engages in country-specific advocacy, conducts research to increase understanding of the norm, recommends strategies to enhance state capacity for RtoP implementation, and works closely with actors at all levels seeking to operationalize the norm. The Centre shares in the Coalition’s belief that RtoP relates to a range of other sectors of work, and as such has included reflections on such points within their advocacy on broader thematic agendas and crisis monitoring work. In addition to their research and advocacy, which includes issuing country specific statements and the bi-monthly publication of the R2P Monitor, the Centre works with the governments of Australia, Costa Rica, Denmark, and Ghana to implement the R2P Focal Points initiative, which seeks to appoint a high level official within all governments to work towards advancing the Responsibility to Protect across all agencies.
3. The International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN) (Tbilisi, Georgia)
ICCN began as the Center for Conflict Research in 1992 and in 1994 was re-established as the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation, with activities extending throughout the Caucasus region. Additionally, the Center is a member of several wider networks and international projects, including the European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, the Georgian Coalition Against Violence, and is a Steering Committee member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). The ICCN’s work, which includes peace-making advocacy initiatives, research, and training, is guided by four main objectives centered on strengthening the mechanisms necessary to prevent armed conflict. These include: developing the conditions necessary for the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts through nonviolent practices; supporting ethnic and religious minorities so that they can enjoy cooperative relationships and participate as active citizens; establishing an open and free space for civil society to engage in social and political debates, promote democratic values and gender equity, amongst other issues; and continuing to work towards transforming the Center into an organization with a clear procedures and good management, among other qualities. Examples of their work include having initiated and led the first post-war Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Osset dialogue programs, as well as initiating the longest-standing Georgian-Russian expert dialogue program in partnership with GPPAC.
4. Inter-Religious Council for Peace – Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Initially established in 1996 as the World Conference on Religion and Peace-Tanzania (WCRPTz), the organization brought together leaders and members of different faiths to work to promote issues of peace, religious tolerance, and cooperation. Beginning in 2005, the leaders of WCRPTz held discussions on how to strengthen the work of the organization to focus on peacebuilding and religious cooperation amongst its constituency, which ultimately led to the adoption of new organizational guidelines and the change in name to the Inter-Religious Council for Peace-Tanzania in 2010. The Inter-Religious Council for Peace-Tanzania convenes members of the Muslim, Protestant, Pentecostal, Sikh, Hindu, and Baha’i communities to conduct programmatic work, including research, government consultations, and trainings of its constituency, and advocacy for the prevention of crisis and promotion of peacebuilding and reconciliation. Additionally, the Council works closely with the Tanzanian National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and All Forms of Discrimination, assisting with the development and work of this body to strengthen state capacity to prevent RtoP crimes. Past engagement has included working with members of the Committee to conduct trainings for religions leaders the protocol of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, which mandates the work of the National Committee.
5. Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet Kenya) (Nairobi, Kenya)
The Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet Kenya) was established in 1992 by the Anglican Development Desk, Mennonite Central Committee, and Oxfam Great Britain in order to provide relief to victims of politically-motivated ethnic violence in Kenya’s Rift Valley. This collaboration expanded in 1993 with the establishment of the Ethnic Clashes Network (ECN), which sought to further pursue relief coordination efforts and peace advocacy work. From these mutual efforts, PeaceNet as it is known today was formally established in 2005. The organization seeks to facilitate, advocate, and coordinate broad-based peace and development initiatives for peaceful coexistence through developing strong linkages between both national and regional civil society groups that work on peacebuilding and conflict management. Specific programs include Kenya Tuna Uwezo, an ongoing project that seeks to strengthen community and civil society networks by promoting collaboration and resolving grievances in five informal settlements in Nairobi. PeaceNet Kenya also engages in lobbying and advocacy, so as to ensure that Kenyan legislation, policy, and programs promote a culture of sustainable peace.
Latest RtoP Reports, Briefs, Editorials, and Interviews
R2P in Practice: Ethnic Violence, Elections, and Atrocity Prevention in Kenya
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Abdullahi Boru Halakhe
The 4 March 2013 elections in Kenya were the country’s first since widespread violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election shocked the world. The 2007-2008 post-election violence lasted two months, during which time 1,133 Kenyans were killed, while over 600,000 were driven from their homes. In keeping with R2P, international actors responded swiftly to halt the violence and Kenya is now widely cited as the first successful example of “R2P in practice.”
This Occasional Paper examines the causes of widespread ethnic violence in Kenya during 2007-2008 and explores why the country was able to avoid similar violence during the March 2013 election. In particular, it focuses on the range of reforms implemented by the Kenyan government, often with international assistance, between 2008 and 2013. The paper seeks to explain how and why particular preventive efforts succeeded in Kenya in 2013 and what that means for the future of the Responsibility to Protect.
Read the report.
The Responsibility to Protect Principle is Not the Problem: Interview with Jennifer Welsh
IPI Global Observatory
11 December 2013
Why hasn’t the principle adopted by the United Nations in 2005 to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing—known as the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)—helped to stop the war crimes in Syria?
"The principle itself is not the problem," said Jennifer Welsh, the UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP).
While acknowledging the "broad-based failure" to address Syria’s crisis, Welsh explained that "states aren't necessarily contending that there isn't an international responsibility to act, but they wonder whether force is appropriate, and particularly whether force will achieve good."
Reflecting on the Security Council's division over action in Syria and the sometimes selective use of force in the past, Welsh explored the dynamics at play when it comes to intervention. (…) "I think strategic interests are often at play; that doesn't mean other motives also aren't present," she said, noting that prudence is also part of these decisions, whether interests are at stake or not. "I think a lot of the concern over Syria expressed not just by the Russians, but by others was: would force actually accomplish positive things on the ground? Is it a prudent course of action at this point in time? And you can have reasonable disagreement." (…)
Read and/or listen to the interview here.
Law and Order: Tools for Building State Protection Capacity to Prevent Mass Atrocity Crimes
11 December 2013
Atrocities often arise from the state’s failure to protect rights and punish perpetrators of violence. A country’s legal system is both a mirror of and a guide for its development, and also a logical first place to prevent bloodshed by creating laws that criminalize human rights violations, mitigate pathways to inhumanity, and foster community reconciliation.
The international community has a wide range of “carrots and sticks” to help avert genocide and mass slaughter, however, the best remedy is to assist states in building their capacity to prevent atrocities in the first place.
In a new policy analysis brief, Dr. Sean McFate—an assistant professor at the National Defense University and a former US paratrooper—answers the question: how can a country’s legal system prevent atrocities?
Read the full report.
How Humanitarians Protect Populations Against Mass Atrocities (With Limits)
IPI Global Observatory
10 December 2013
Humanitarian organizations can sometimes play a critical role in keeping people alive when populations are subjected to genocide and mass atrocities. For example, in Darfur, Sudan, international humanitarians and their local partners protected around two million civilians displaced by mass atrocities committed by Sudanese government forces and their allies, the now notorious Janjaweed militia, in 2003-4. So effective was the humanitarian response to the crisis in Darfur that by 2005, the region’s overall mortality rate had fallen to pre-war levels.
When the storm of mass atrocities breaks, humanitarian agencies are often the only international presence on the ground. This was certainly true of Darfur, of Sri Lanka five years later, and of Syria as I write. But the relationship between humanitarian action, atrocity prevention, and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) has been fraught with difficulty. This piece briefly explores why and what can be done about it.
Read the full article.
Child soldiers are early warning of genocide to come
The Toronto Star
7 December 2013
(…) The recruitment and use of children as soldiers is an early warning mechanism that points to the potential for mass atrocity and sustained conflict. We have not only seen this in Rwanda – and now CAR – but also in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Sri Lanka, to name only a few. Reports of the use of child soldiers date back as far as 2001 in the CAR.
The international community continues to view the abuse of children as a tragedy but it fails to actively recognize how their use as child soldiers is linked to the severity of conflict and potentially genocide. Children play an active role in conflict – though often through coercion or force – and we need to devise effective solutions to prevent their use as soldiers and to also prevent mass atrocities such as those that are gripping CAR.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) explicitly outlines our responsibility to prevent mass atrocities, but also applies to the prevention of the use of child soldiers. In CAR, the abuse of children and their use as soldiers are signs that point to the potential genocide. It is time we understood this as the early warning it is – in CAR and Rwanda, we failed to do so.
A proactive, preventative approach to mass atrocities and child soldier use must be adopted. It is no longer acceptable to merely pick up the pieces after the tragedies occur – we must be willing to be bold and act positively. Never again do we wish to sit back and watch child soldiers being recruited and never again do we wish to sit back and witness genocide.
Read the article online.