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21 February 2007
Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue: [R2P in the News; R2P and The Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide; R2P and Darfur]

I. R2P in the News
II. R2P and the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide
III. R2P and Darfur

I. R2P in the News

by Gareth Evans
7 February 2007

The following are excerpts from an address given by Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group, at Stanford University to launch the Stanford MA Program in International Policy Studies. He mentions R2P extensively throughout his address.

()All that said, it is important to recognize not just how far we have to go, but how far we have actually come. The concept of the responsibility to protect, born in 2001, has now been formally and unanimously embraced by the whole international community in the UN 60th Anniversary World Summit in September 2005.

()If humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Sebrenica, to gross and systematic violations of human rights?

() It is one thing to develop a concept like the responsibility to protect, but quite another to get any policy maker to take any notice of it. The most interesting thing about the Responsibility to Protect report is the way its central theme has continued to gain traction internationally.

() A further important conceptual development has occurred since last Septembers Summit: the adoption by the Security Council in April of a thematic resolution on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict which contains, in an operative paragraph, an express reaffirmation of the World Summit conclusions relating to the responsibility to protect. And we have now begun to see that resolution in turn now being invoked in subsequent specific situations, as with Resolution 1706 of 31 August on Darfur. A General Assembly resolution may be helpful, as the World Summits unquestionably was, in identifying relevant principles, but the Security Council is the institution that matters when it comes to executive action. And at least a toehold there has now been carved.

()Holding the Line Against Backsliding. We cannot, unfortunately, assume that the bridgehead achieved at the World Summit and in subsequent Security Council resolutions will necessarily hold. Some member states particularly in Asia were very reluctant to accept this part of the Summit outcome document, and continue to fight a rearguard action against it. They have been much aided in this respect by R2Ps false friends. Occasional efforts by defenders of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, notably the UK government, to paint it as justified by R2P principles (as other defences in terms of possession of weapons of mass destruction or support for international terrorism crumbled away) have not been at all analytically persuasive. But they have succeeded admirably in reinforcing the arguments of R2P opponents that any concession as to the limits of state sovereignty would create an excuse that would be exploited all too willingly by neo-colonialists and neo-imperialists keen to return to their bad old interventionist habits of decades past.

() Building Available Capacity. If R2P is not to remain more theoretical than real, we must somehow solve the problem of capacity, ensuring that the right civilian and, as necessary, military resources are always there in the right amounts and with the appropriate capability. The experience of the current AU mission in Darfur is a classic demonstration of the problem - too few troops, too poorly equipped, and too immobile to perform effectively even the limited civilian protection task required by their present mandate. The UN is currently feeling desperately overstretched, with over 80,000 military and 15,000 civilian personnel deployed worldwide, but with the worlds armed services currently absorbing some 20 million men and women in uniform (with another 50 million reservists, and 11 million paramilitaries), it hardly seems beyond the wit of man to work out a way of making some of that capacity available when and where its needed to prevent and react to man-made catastrophe.

Another crucial practical operational issue is to address the question, up until now almost completely neglected by the worlds militaries, of developing detailed concepts of these R2P/ civilian protection operations, which involve neither traditional warfighting (where the object is not to stop violence as such, but to defeat an enemy) and peacekeeping operations (which although these days usually involving much more than the traditional passive monitoring, have still not come to grips with the kind of responses needed to cope with the threat or reality of atrocity crimes). Its not just a matter of force configuration, but of developing new doctrine, and new kinds of rules of engagement, and new kinds of training.

Generating the Political Will to Act.()

We can, if we need to, always justify making R2P a reality on hard-headed, practical, national interest grounds: states that cant or wont stop internal atrocity crimes are the kind of rogue states, or failed or failing states, that cant or wont stop terrorism, weapons proliferation, drug and people trafficking, the spread of health pandemics and other global risks.

But at the end of the day the case for R2P rests simply on our common humanity: the impossibility of ignoring the cries of pain and distress of our fellow human beings. For any of us in and around the international community - from individuals to NGOs to national governments to international organizations - to yet again ignore that distress and agony, and to once again make ever again a cry that rings totally emptily, is to diminish that common humanity to the point of despair. We should be united in our determination to not let that happen, and there is no greater or nobler cause on which any of us could be embarked.()

Full text available at:

II. R2P and the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide

UN Department of Political Affairs
14 February 2007

Non-governmental organizations on Wednesday protested a plan by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to downgrade the position of a special adviser on the prevention of genocide while mass killing and crimes against humanity remain unpunished.

The Institute for Global Policy, which represents NGOs on human rights, refugees and humanitarian issues, said downgrading the work of a special adviser would hurt their efforts to fight for human rights worldwide.

"The continued collective failure of the international community to prevent incidence of massive crimes against humanity and genocide compel us to recommend the continuance of this vital initiative to prevent genocide," said William Pace, the institute's executive director.

The mandate of the special adviser was created by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2004, who named the adviser on an ad- hoc basis and renewed it every year. Ban, who succeeded Annan on January 1, apparently plans to merge the position into another UN office.

The NGOs said in a statement they strongly oppose any moves to weaken the work against genocide and called for the prompt renewal and strengthening of the post of special adviser on the prevention on genocide. ()

Full text available at:

By Michelle Nichols
14 February 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon must renew and strengthen a genocide-prevention envoy's post when it expires at the end of next month, top rights groups said on Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Institute for Global Policy told Ban in a letter they fear the position of the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide would lose clout if it were merged with another U.N. role.
"This has been a very important post," said Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International's U.N. representative. "Without its existence there would not have been this concern about genocide and the prevention of genocide that we're seeing today.

(...) The rights groups said Mendez's replacement needed to be independent, authoritative and a recognized expert in human rights in order to give the post the credibility needed to influence governments.

They also said the post needed to have good access to the secretary-general and the U.N. Security Council to warn them of possible mass human rights violations. ()

Full text available at:

III. R2P and Darfur

Institute for Security Studies
By Joseph Yav
21 February 2007

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on Friday rejected a UN peace force for Darfur and said he would not grant visas to UN rights monitors who want to visit the strife-torn region. He also said that the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, led by Nobel peace laureate and anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams, would not be allowed to travel to Darfur because its members were biased

While the international community is looking for ways to prevent further human rights abuses in Africa, especially in Darfur, the government of Sudan has declined to cooperate with the Human Rights Council by refusing to issue the necessary visas for the High-Level Mission to carry out its work inside the country in fulfillment of its mandate. Indeed, on the final day of an Africa-France summit gathering in the Riviera resort of Cannes, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir justified that decision during a news conference, in the following terms: "there are members of that delegation who in our view are not impartial therefore it is difficult to say that they will be honest and reflect reality."

() Weak, failing, failed, and poverty-stricken states often use national borders to preserve the fiction of effective sovereignty. This is certainly true in the case of Sudan and sets the context in which any discussion of intervention on the continent should be placed. Khartoums government is invoking sovereignty, firstly, as a veil to hide its brutal campaign against civilians; and secondly, as a shield to fend off calls for international action to protect its victims. While respect for the sovereignty of Sudan must be upheld as a core principle of international law, general principles of international law and the AU Constitutive Act itself provide for inherent limitations on the exercise of this principle, inter alia, where what is at stake is the protection of citizens from exposure to grave and massive violations of human rights in the absence of the willingness or ability of the state to protect. Therefore, Sudan should be taught that sovereignty, properly defined, is not a defence against demands for redress of breaches or gross violations of fundamental human rights.

The deteriorating situation in Darfur demonstrates how urgent it is for African leaders and the international community to move the debate of sovereignty versus intervention beyond semantics and to reach a consensus on when a defence of 'state sovereignty' is patently unacceptable.

Full text available at:

Africa News
19 February 2007

()Last week, International experts on Peacekeeping gathered at the Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra to deliberate on "Halting widespread or systematic attacks on civilians: Military strategies and operational Concepts."

They included senior personnel and military officers from all over the world with knowledge and years of experience to deliberate on civilian protection issues.
The meeting was supported by the Henry L Stimson Centre based in Washington DC, USA.

()The government of Canada together with a group of major foundations took up the challenge in response to the Secretary General's call of establishing the International Commission on Intervention and States Sovereignty (ICISS). The Work of the Commission has culminated in the "Responsibility to Protect" principle.

The core argument of this principle is that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe such as mass murder, widespread torture, rape and starvation.

()"There is the need to protect civilians through military intervention to prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing or mass killings," says Victoria Holt, a Senior Associate of the Stimson Centre.

"Civilian protection should be the primary mission." According to her when a state is unable to protect its citizens, then the sovereign rights will fall back.
She said in the case of genocide in any part of the world, how the military will operate without hurting the civilians is very important.

She also said there is the need to examine the crisis in Rwanda, Sierra-Leone, Bosnia, and Democratic Republic of Congo to find out what strategies were used and how they can be improved to enhance future peacekeeping operations and also to handle the Dafur crisis.

The meeting was a follow up to an earlier one held in September 2006, on Garnering the political will to meet the Responsibility to protect in Africa.
According to the KAIPTC, this meeting generated lots of interesting debates on civilian protection and getting the international community involved in ensuring that the concept of the Responsibility to Protect becomes successful on the African continent.

The emphasis was to draw the attention of African leaders on the responsibility to protect and also get them more involved in operationalising the concept.

()Special consideration must therefore be given to the role of intergovernmental and Non-governmental organizations, associations or networks -individually or collectively in operationalising the concept of Responsibility to Protect through policy development, research programmes, training and other relevant measures.

Full text available at:

15 February 2007
The following excerpts are from a European Parliament on the situation in Darfur calling for action in accordance with R2P.

The European Parliament,

-having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1706(2006) proposing a 22 000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur,

-having regard to the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in Abuja, Nigeria, on 5 May 2006,

-having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is binding and applied without exception,

D. whereas the UN "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine provides that where "national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity," others have a responsibility to provide the protection needed,

1. Calls on the UN to act in line with its "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, basing its action on the failure of the Government of Sudan to protect its population in Darfur from war crimes and crimes against humanity, and also its failure to provide humanitarian assistance to the population;

Full text available at:

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