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R2PCS Listserv
27 September 2007
Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue: [UN Secretary-General on R2P; R2P Applied in Burma/ Myanmar; Commentary on Darfur and R2P in the News]

I. UN Secretary-General on R2P
II. R2P Applied in Burma/ Myanmar
III. Commentary on Darfur
IV. R2P in the News

I. UN Secretary-General on R2P

UN Press Release
25 September 2007

() Looking to the coming year, and beyond, we can foresee a daunting array of challenges to come. They are problems that respect no borders -- that no country, big or small, rich or poor, can resolve on its own.

More than ever, we live in an era of collective action. Often it seems as though everybody wants the UN to do everything. We cannot deliver everything, of course. But that cannot be an excuse for doing nothing.

() Our changing world needs a stronger UN. We all understand the importance of a strong, robust, empowered Secretariat. My vision is an administration focused on results -- efficient, directed, pragmatic and accountable, an administration representing excellence, integrity and pride in serving the global good.

() To deliver on the worlds high expectations for us, we need to be faster, more flexible and mobile. We need to pay less attention to rhetoric and more attention to results -- to getting things done.

I place a very high priority on implementing the management reforms you have previously approved to promote greater transparency, accountability and efficiency.

() I will leave no stone unturned to end the tragedy in Darfur. The Government of Sudan must live up to its pledge to join comprehensive peace talks and implement a ceasefire. We must also move forward with the agreement that ended the long-running civil war between north and south and prepare for elections in 2009.

() We are closely following events in Myanmar. We again urge the authorities in Myanmar to exercise utmost restraint, to engage without delay in dialogue with all the relevant parties to the national reconciliation process on the issues of concern to the people of Myanmar. In this regard, my Special Adviser is expected to visit Myanmar very soon.

() We at the UN must take the long view, in politics as in life. Even as we deal with the here and now, we must think about tomorrow.

The third pillar of the UN, human rights, is codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which marks its sixtieth anniversary in 2008.

The Human Rights Council must live up to its responsibilities as the torchbearer for human rights consistently and equitably around the world. I will strive to translate the concept of our Responsibility to Protect from words to deeds, to ensure timely action so that populations do not face genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Our international tribunals continue their work, from Rwanda to Sierra Leone and, soon, Lebanon. The age of impunity is dead.

Meanwhile, the UNs brave and exceptionally committed humanitarian aid workers do their best to save lives. They help protect civilian populations from the depredations of armed militias, children from starvation, women from shameful violence. ()

Full text available at:

II. R2P Applied in Burma/ Myanmar

Stephen Edwards
National Post (Canada)
26 September 2007

Canada and other western powers condemned the use of force by Myanmar's military junta in suppressing this week's peaceful protests by Buddhist monks, students and other pro-democracy dissidents, but China and Russia used the shadow of the veto they hold in the United Nations Security Council to blunt the world body's response.

() Amid fears the junta's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters will increase in intensity, the United States and the 27-member European Union asked the Security Council to consider imposing sanctions on the regime.

The U.S.-EU communique also called for the council to demand the government open a dialogue with jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minorities in the country.

() But China and Russia, which have friendly relations with Myanmar's military rulers, said the council is mandated to deal only with matters threatening international peace and security.

The debate at the UN came as military leaders in Myanmar cracked down on mass demonstrations that began as a protest against rising fuel prices but have expanded to express the long-felt dissatisfaction with the rulers of one of Asia's poorest nations.

() Meanwhile, in the absence of assertive action at the UN, western powers were left announcing unilateral responses.

President George W. Bush said the United States would tighten economic sanctions on junta leaders and their financial backers, and expand a visa ban "on those most responsible for the egregious violations of human rights."

() Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier, at the UN for the annual General Assembly debate, said Canada demands an immediate end to the junta's attacks. "Canada condemns the use of deadly force by the military and police against the monks and other protesters in Burma who were expressing their right to peaceful dissent," he said, avoiding the junta's name for the country.

() In an interview Wednesday, a senior official with Burma's government-in-exile argued that a principle the Canadian government under the previous Liberal administration promoted, referred to a "responsibility to protect," remains grounds for Security Council action.

"This was Canada's brainchild and we're asking the Canadian government to help us organize an inter-governmental lobby to press the need for responsibility to protect at the Security Council," said Thaung Htun, representative in UN matters for the Union of Burma.

The Security Council last year endorsed the principle, which says international intervention is justified to protect civilians whose government can't or won't do so.

British Prime Minister George Brown said there would be "no impunity" for human rights violators in Myanmar.

Last January, however, China and Russia used their vetoes to block a resolution demanding that Myanmar release political prisoners and end sexual violence by the military.

() The unrest that has escalated into the largest protests seen in Myanmar in 20 years began last month when the junta dramatically raised the price of fuel overnight, deepening the misery in this already impoverished country. The initial protests -- rare in a nation where the military quickly crushes any show of dissent -- began with only a handful of marching demonstrators. ()

Full text available at:

26 September 2007

Switzerland's president told world leaders Wednesday that the Myanmar government's crackdown on protesters was larming and Lithuania's leader urged the international community to fulfill its pledge to respond quickly to protect civilians from massive human rights violations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the crisis in Myanmar. The 15 council nations will be briefed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, at the closed-door session.

() The European Union and the United States also issued a statement condemning the attacks on the demonstrators and called on Myanmar's military rulers to stop the violence.

In a joint statement issued after a meeting of EU and U.S. foreign ministers on the sidelines of the General Assembly, the officials urged the U.N. Security Council to iscuss this situation urgently and consider further steps including sanctions.r
Lithuanian President Valdes Adamkus did not mention Myanmar by name in his speech to the General Assembly, but said the international community must act to turn their commitment to protect civilians against mass attacks and violence into real action.

e have been too slow to respond to massive violations of human rights and mass atrocities, he said. he principle of responsibility to protect can no longer be confined to paper. ()

Full text available at:

U.S. Slaps on New Sanctions as Fears Grow of Military Crackdown on Burgeoning Protests
Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star
26 September 2007

As truckloads of armed Burmese soldiers rolled into the centre of Rangoon and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on two main cities, Buddhist monks and their supporters braced for a crackdown on their escalating protests against the ruling junta.

Military leaders also banned gatherings of more than five people.

() Meanwhile, more than 100,000 demonstrators spilled onto the streets yesterday for another day of protests. They included about 30,000 red-robed monks who set out from Burma's holiest shrine in broiling sunshine, protected by a human chain of 70,000 supporters who prayed and chanted as they walked around Rangoon's city hall.

() The prospect of blood flowing in Burma's streets alarmed world leaders, and U.S. President George W. Bush slapped on new sanctions, along with a warning to the military leaders to end their "regime of fear."

"Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear," Bush said at the United Nations in New York.

() Other Western countries joined in the condemnation, and Japan spoke out for the first time, urging "sincere efforts" for national reconciliation and democracy.

But leaders are aware that their options for forcing the notoriously brutal junta to soften its stance are limited.

A representative of Burma's detained leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council to launch negotiations between the junta and the opposition.

() "The question is how much longer should we wait? We don't want the international community to delay until Burmese people are being killed in the street, and the situation is chaotic and out of control."

With Russia and China guaranteed to oppose it, the use of international force against Burma is ruled out, in spite of the UN's adoption of the responsibility to protect vulnerable civilians.

() Although foreign investment and trade with Burma plunged after 1988, it has rebounded in spite of U.S. and European Union sanctions. In 2006, Burma had the highest trade surplus in the junta's 19-year reign, totalling $2 billion.

The reason, says the online newsletter Irrawaddy produced by Burmese expatriates, is "the large number of customers wanting to buy its natural resources. The regime doesn't have to worry about the U.S. and EU sanctions while China, India, Thailand and South Korea queue up to buy Burma's natural gas and oil from the country's huge offshore reserves."

Without the co-operation of those countries and Southeast Asian neighbours that act as Burma's financial centres, sanctions won't succeed in toppling the regime.

Full text available at:

III. Commentary on Darfur

Irwin Cotler
Ottawa Citizen
25 September 2007

One would like to think the recent agreement by the Sudanese government to allow a hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping mission is the beginning of an action that can finally arrest the ongoing genocide. Yet, this agreement risks being nothing more than a faade, yet another ruse by the government to buy time while the people of Darfur continue to die.

What is happening in Darfur is, to our everlasting shame, a betrayal of the people of that region, a repudiation of the UN's Responsibility to Protect Doctrine and an affront to the lessons of history, such as the preventable genocide in Rwanda.

We knew what was happening in Rwanda, and we did not act. We know what is happening in Darfur, and we have yet to act. The moral injunction of "never again" has become "yet again" -- again and again.

() Accordingly, it is our responsibility -- as I said more than three years ago as Canada's minister of justice at the Stockholm Conference on the Prevention of Genocide -- to shatter the silence, to break down the walls of indifference, to sound the alarm, to stand with the people of Darfur and Sudan.

Fortunately, as a result of the recent worldwide rallies for Darfur, it is no longer public silence or indifference that is the problem. It is governmental inaction. While the world dithers, Darfurians continue to die.

Africa is to be the subject of a special meeting of the UN Security Council today. What is desperately needed is for this to become a Darfur Summit that will be convened for the express purpose of putting a Save Darfur action plan into effect -- and not to adjourn until such an action plan is adopted.

() As the student posters cried yet again at the worldwide Save Darfur rallies on Sept. 17: "If not us, who? If not now, when?" ()

Full text unavailable.

Yet a New Strategy Could Turn China Into a Force For Peace in Darfur
Jamie O'Connell
San Francisco Chronicle
23 September 23 2007

President Bush's recent decision to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games looks as unwise as his May 2004 appearance on an aircraft carrier to proclaim "mission accomplished" in Iraq. Human rights activists have labeled the games the "Genocide Olympics," highlighting the Chinese government's support for genocide in Darfur, in western Sudan.

Just as Adolf Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics to present Nazi society as a model of orderly virtue, they argue, Beijing will use the Games as an international coming out party, casting itself as an economic power, technological innovator and diplomatic leader of the first rank. An international campaign joined by the US Save Darfur Coalition - comprised of organizations as diverse as B'nai B'rith International, the Arab American Anti-Discrimination League, and the NAACP - aims to reverse this image unless China fundamentally changes policy on Darfur. This "Olympic Dream for Darfur" along with more action by the U.S. government and rising public outcry in Europe and elsewhere, could help end the first genocide of the 21st century.

() Beijing's diplomatic support has been its most important contribution to the genocide, however. Sudan has been able to turn back pressure from the United States and the United Nations for a U.N. peacekeeping force that could protect civilians, because it knew China would veto any U.N. Security Council resolution to deploy a force without Sudan's consent. Chinese opposition has stymied efforts to impose international economic sanctions.

The "Genocide Olympics" campaign aims to change Chinese policy. Engaged celebrities have generated publicity, most dramatically in March, when actress Mia Farrow compared Steven Spielberg with the director of Nazi propaganda films on the 1936 Berlin Games.

() Grassroots pressure has been just as significant. In July, the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition protested outside the Chinese Consulate with a 42,000-signature petition demanding the government use its leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide.

()The Genocide Olympics campaign has had some effect. Spielberg wrote the Chinese government to express his concern about Darfur and in July threatened to end his involvement with the Olympics if China did not take stronger action.

() China reportedly is very concerned that Darfur activists will tarnish its showcase. In March, its ambassador to the United Nations publicly criticized Sudan for backsliding on its acceptance of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (which is slightly better than AU troops alone). Two months later, Beijing appointed a senior diplomat as special envoy for Darfur, a very unusual post in its foreign policy structure. And on July 31, it voted in favor of the Security Council resolution establishing the hybrid force, rather than abstain or threaten a veto.

() Olympics-related activism also shouldn't go too far. In August, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), introduced a resolution calling for the United States to boycott the Olympics over China's role in Darfur and its human rights violations at home.

This may grab Congressman Rohrabacher some attention, but at least for Darfur it is counterproductive. The Genocide Olympics movement uses the Olympic hype to highlight China's complicity in atrocities and generate pressure on it to change its role - so a boycott would erode the marketing power that Darfur activists are harnessing.

() Finally, Olympic boycotts historically have been ineffective; the Soviets didn't withdraw from Afghanistan when we skipped Moscow in 1980. Fortunately, the Save Darfur Coalition and its allies know all this and reject talk of boycotts.

() If China becomes a force for peace in Darfur, then President Bush's Olympic trip may still draw criticism based on China's domestic human rights violations - but at least he will not be endorsing a "Genocide Olympics."

Full text available at:

IV. R2P in the News

Tamil Guardian
13 September 2007

Though only recently invested in international law, the world is already facing a rhetoric-implementation gap on R2P. Recent calls, such as outlined in a International Crisis Group (ICG) report setting out the case for international intervention in Sri Lanka, couched in the language of the doctrine Responsibility to Protect or R2P, is a far cry from its embryonic use in Serbia where the wishes of the Kosovan Albanian community have been taken up by the most powerful states.

() However since Kosovo, the architects responsible for framing the legality of the R2P doctrine have aimed to limit such intervention to ackling the crisis by formulating responses and solutions that work by nevertheless maintaining the territorial integrity of the offending state.

() However, though only recently invested in international law, the world is already facing a rhetoric-implementation gap on R2P.

Put loosely, states wishing to implement the doctrine are too often likely to do so for divergent and self-serving reasons, so whilst the theory is sound, implementation is often weak or skewed.

() Therefore opposition to and manipulation of international law and binding UN resolutions means that questions of intervention become more politico-legal and are not as clear cut as advocates of external intervention on behalf of human rights might hope.

Despite the responsibilities of states and the obligations of the international community being clearly stated in the resolutions permitting intervention under R2P this still occurs. Consequently intervention by the UN or other UN authorized forces often becomes bogged down in the political dynamics of the offending state.

() Therefore, if as some are arguing, the time has come for R2P to be used in Sri Lanka, the question becomes which organization or nation(s) would intervene; what are their motivations, and what would the outcome be?

It is well known and documented that successive Sri Lankan Governments have and continue to undertake acts of violence against the Tamil community. Most manifestly the state not only failed to protect Tamil civilians from Sinhalese mobs in lack July 1983, it actively supported the pogrom.

() With the mountain of evidence strongly showing the extra-judicial violence undertaken by Sri Lankan security forces; the proliferation of paramilitaries, ethnic cleansing and colonisation, etc, intervention can be argued under international law as necessary.

() Therefore, it should be theoretically possible to gain a UN resolution backing intervention to protect Tamil civilians.

However, there have not been any serious follow up by the international community with credible explorations as to the implementation of R2P.

() The stark difference between rhetoric and implementation of R2P and opposition to intervention by key states is not uncommon - UN intervention in Kosovo was vetoed by Russia, citing opposition to UN interference in the nternal affairs of its friend and long time ally, Serbia. This continues to today with Serbian-Russian opposition to an independent Kosovo. ()
Sri Lankas post-independence history shows that Tamils have no stake in the Sinhala project that is the Sri Lankan state. This is why the Tamil struggle came about.

Amid the multi-faceted brutality being visited on our people, the time has come to realise our right to rule ourselves in an independent state.

If international intervention is to take place in Sri Lanka it should mirror the Kosovo intervention, recognizing the crimes being committed against our people and accepting that independence from Sinhala rule is the only solution for the Tamil question.

Full text available at:

Government of Australia Press Release
25 September 2007

Australia will increase support for international efforts to protect children and civilian populations in times of conflict, and to drive reform of the United Nations system.

() Australia will become a founding donor of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCRP), a new independent organisation to protect civilian populations from mass atrocities.

The Centre will advocate international action in line with the UN endorsed concept of the responsibility to protect when countries are unwilling or unable to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, a concept unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2005. Australia will provide $300,000 over two years to the Centre.

The Centre will be based at the City University of New York. The Hon Gareth Evans AO QC, former Australian Foreign Minister, is co-chair of the Centres advisory board.

() Australia is also committed to continuing the reform of the UN, to make it more effective in tackling poverty, providing humanitarian assistance and protecting the environment. Australia will provide $200,000 to the UN Development Group Office (UNDGO) to support the ne UN model, which aims to improve development results on the ground by streamlining UN operations.()

Full text available at:


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