In this issue…
Secretary-General Identifies Re-Commitment to the Responsibility to Protect as One of Key Opportunities for International Community in 2015
On 8 January 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered informal remarks to the General Assembly on opportunities and challenges for the international community in the year ahead. The Secretary-General highlighted several “hot spots” that would continue to push “response capacities to the limit”, notably Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and Nigeria. In this vein, the Secretary-General reminded States that 2015 marks ten years since their endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect norm. Though UN discussions of the norm have covered a wide range of issues, “in too many crises the international community does not act on early warning signs, or fails to match rhetoric with responses.” His next report on RtoP, the Secretary-General announced, will focus on ways to operationalize the norm and “reclaim the people-centred focus that made the endorsement of the principle possible in the first place.”
The Secretary-General then recalled his Human Rights Up Front initiative, launched in December 2013, which was designed to ensure that the UN responded earlier, more effectively, and in a unified manner to prevent atrocities. As the Secretariat and UN System embrace Human Rights Up Front, the Secretary-General urged Member States to take similar measures to prevent atrocities.
To read the Secretary-General’s full remarks, click here.
To read the ICRtoP Blog “Rights Up Front and Civilian Protection: An Uneven First Year”, click here.
With a vote of 141 in favor, 10 against, and 8 abstentions, the General Assembly approved a series of texts and resolutions that revised the 2014-2015 budget. As DPI noted, “although all texts before the Assembly were adopted without a vote, delegations did call for a vote regarding a section in the draft resolution on questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium.” This oral amendment was proposed by the delegation of Cuba (an action they have performed annually since 2012) speaking on behalf of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The proposal called for the elimination of “all references to actions and results tied to the Responsibility to Protect as expressed in the strategic framework and narratives related to the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.”
States overwhelmingly voted down the amendment, which received only 15 votes in favor, 80 against (the highest amount of “no” votes yet), and 60 abstentions. The increased number of votes against this amendment excluding RtoP, together with the heightened participation shown at the annual GA dialogue on RtoP, again demonstrate the amplified support enjoyed by RtoP within the United Nations.
Civil Society Groups Highlight Ongoing and Potential Crises and Elections to Watch in 2015; Renew Calls for Action
29 South Sudanese and International NGOs, including 3 ICRtoP Members, Call on Obama to Implement an Arms Embargo for South Sudan to Protect Human Rights
8 January 2015
Upon the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, a group of civil society organizations (including ICRtoP members PAX, United to End Genocide, and Human Rights Watch), penned a letter urging US President Obama to support an arms embargo on both parties to the conflict in South Sudan. According to the organizations, the conflict in South Sudan “has been characterized by a complete disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law” and attacks which should be investigated as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, the Security Council has failed to authorize an arms embargo, a measure which “would help to halt the supply of weapons to individuals and groups who have committed serious violations of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and protect civilians at grave risk.” Furthermore, South Sudan’s neighbors have shown support for such a measure, which should remain in place until “there is no substantial risk that weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology sent to South Sudan will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
Read the full letter here.
Read the ICRtoP's recently-updated Q & A on "The Responsibility to Protect and South Sudan" here.
15 Elections to Watch for Peace and Security in 2015
IPI Global Observatory
7 January 2015
In a recent publication, IPI Global Observatory underscores that in 2015, more than half of the countries in Africa (as well askey states in other regions) will be headed to the ballot box. Many of these elections will occur in countries experiencing atrocities, including South Sudan, Nigeria, Sudan, Central African Republic, and Myanmar, and “will carry consequences for regional and international peace and security.” As IPI notes, elections are often seen as a “benchmark for disengagement by the international community in post-conflict countries”, despite the fact that they have substantial power to reignite conflict and instigate civil unrest.
Read the full article here.
10 Wars to Watch in 2015
International Crisis Group (originally in Foreign Policy)
In a new article in Foreign Policy, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, president of ICRtoP Member International Crisis Group, laments that the staggering challenges presented in 2014 to international peace and security.The new conflicts that emerged during the course of the past year show few signs of improvement, while older conflicts, such as Syria, have only worsened. Though the conflicts are numerous, Guéhenno highlights ten crises—including many in which atrocities are ongoing, such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, DRC, and Libya—to watch in 2015. Because the “picture that emerges from this survey of conflicts is grim”, Guéhenno urges the “old powers” to acknowledge that successful peacekeeping in 2015 will depend on close engagement with a wider array of actors than in the past.
Read the article here.
WANEP Launches Research Project on the Responsibility to Protect
West African Network for Peacebuilding
9 January 2014
On 9 January 2014, ICRtoP Member the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) officially launched a research project on the Responsibility to Protect titled, “Assessing Regional and National Capacities for Implementing R2P in Ghana and West Africa” in order to raise awareness on RtoP and to ensure that key stakeholders, particularly the media, engages with the norm. The project focuses on the operationalization of RtoP in Ghana and will examine the readiness of actors in Ghana and other ECOWAS states to prevent and respond to atrocities.
To read more about the project, click here.