Please find excerpts of the following below:
-Gareth Evans and Brent Scowcroft on R2P;
-An Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting held this past week at the UN, called he Responsibility to Protect: Early and Coordinated Response in Dealing with Crisis Situations;r -The General Assembly Resolution declaring January 27 as International Day of Commemoration to Honor Holocaust Victims;
-British Secretary of State for International Development Hillary Benn on the progress of Rwanda, future of Africa and R2P;
-US Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For International Organization Affairs Mark Lagon on US goals for the Human Rights Council, and R2P;
-The fifth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and R2P;
-Edward Mortimer, chief speech writer for Kofi Annan, on UN reform and R2P;
-UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour briefs Third Committee on efforts to better assist states to respond to human rights challenges.
UN Discusses Terrorism, Genocide and Nuclear Non-Proliferation
By Andre DeNesnera
Voice of America
27 October 2005
.While unwilling to define terrorism or address the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, experts say U.N. member states agreed on an important principle: to intervene in cases of genocide or ethnic cleansing.
(Former Australian Prime Minister) Mr. Evans says that became known as "the responsibility to protect."
"And the principle has now been adopted that, yes, the front-line responsibilities for dealing with internal situations of this kind, does rest with the sovereign states themselves," he continued. "But if the particular sovereign state abdicates that responsibility, either through incapacity or ill will, then the 'responsibility to protect' the citizens of that country shifts to the wider international community. And ultimately, that responsibility can take the form, in really extreme situations, of a responsibility to intervene militarily, to stop the genocide or other disaster that's occurring."
Mr. Evans cautions, that the "responsibility to protect" is not a synonym for military action. He says any military venture must first get the approval of the U.N. Security Council.
General Scowcroft says the "responsibility to protect" is a sensitive issue.
"The 'responsibility to protect' is a very touchy point, because the United Nations was founded on the sovereign independence of its member states and indeed, the Charter itself, says the U.N. may not interfere in matters that are essentially within the jurisdiction of the member states," he explained. "And what we tried to do was frame it in a way that laid out more specifically what was the line between intervention and non-intervention. And what we came up with was when a country is unable or unwilling to protect the large masses of its people, then it is the mandate of the United Nations to intervene."
Experts say in the months ahead, the United Nations must address fundamental issues such as enlarging the Security Council, nuclear non-proliferation and defining terrorism in order for the world body to remain at the forefront of major international debates.
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Soomro calls for priority to preparing disaster management plans
The Pakistan Newswire
November 2, 2005
The theme for the Parliamentary Hearing, attended by parliamentarians from around the world, was: "The Responsibility to Protect "Early and Coordinated Response in Dealing with Crisis Situations."
(Senate Chairman Mohammedmian) Soomro said the theme was "very relevant" and given Pakistan's recent experience, the early warning preparedness and coordinated response was now of utmost importance. The Senate chairman spoke in detail about the colossal loss of human life and property by the killer quake, and said it was an issue of global importance.
"Since Parliaments represent the concerns and problems of the people, it is indispensable for them to contribute significantly in disasters and crisis situations by encouraging national governments and international institutions in their efforts, and by cooperating with related organizations in providing emergency aid," the senate chairman said. Parliaments had a direct role and responsibility in addressing crisis situations, he said.
In preparedness or during the crisis situations and post-crisis phases like rehabilitation and reconstruction, parliaments have a crucial role in forging national consensus. Parliaments had also several key functions to perform in the event of disasters, including passing the necessary emergency preparatory and response legislation and approving budgets and preparing communications strategies. In scrutinizing the executive's use of extra emergency authority, Soomro said parliaments need to be constructive and ready to play their key role in the warning and post-disaster phase. In addition, he said, parliaments should support the training of emergency professionals and should ensure that the governments plan for all possible threats and disasters, not just the last disaster, and keep planning up to date. The Senate chairman emphasized the involvement of local communities, especially women, in crisis situations so that the people could play their roles in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Roads, schools, health clinics, water and food supplies needed to be planned in consultation with local community.
Warning systems must be directly linked to the communities under threat, he said adding that volunteers, Non-governmental Organizations and citizens' groups should be involved in mitigation, relief and reconstruction as natural disasters of the magnitude seen recently far surpass the capacity of governments and countries to deal with on their own.
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UN: General Assembly decides to designate 27 January as annual International Day of Commemoration to Honour Holocaust victims
November 2, 2005
The General Assembly today decided that the United Nations will designate 27 January - the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp - as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again.
Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the 191-member Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution condemning "without reserve" all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.
The Assembly also requested United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish an outreach programme on the "Holocaust and the United Nations", as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.
The debate on the issue stretched over two days, with delegations expressing support for the historic text, which honoured the "courage and dedication shown by soldiers who liberated the concentration camps", and commended countries that had worked hard to preserve those sites which served as Nazi death camps or forced labour prisons during the Holocaust.
ZEID RA'AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said it was appropriate to have another discussion about the Holocaust in the General Assembly because there should never be a cessation of relevant lessons drawn from that astonishing and terrifying period of human experience. The Holocaust was a different genocide; a genocide where wickedness fell into union with human organization. It was a crime of the most colossal proportions.
Sixty years on, it was still difficult for the vast majority of Member States to examine their own national histories, particularly modern histories, he said. It was high time that countries begin to reckon with what in their national memory was distasteful or was perhaps even criminal or terrible.
"But to what purpose must we all draw on our memories generally, and, in this instance, the memories of others? First and foremost, we must of course remind ourselves the extent to which chauvinistic nationalisms or philosophies of negation can be pernicious."
The principal lesson drawn by 100 members of the General Assembly was that if genocide was to be made a truly unthinkable occurrence in the future, not only must countries confront philosophies of negation within their own societies, but they must also support collectively the permanent judicial body designed to end impunity for the gravest of crimes, the International Criminal Court. Unfortunately, and by contrast, "never again" was also sometimes used as a form of moral justification for the implementation of some policies, the effect of which was the continued domination of one people by another.
SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) said that even today, the world was witness to many genocides and crimes against humanity, from Srebrenica to Kigali to Darfur. The international community was compelled to redouble its efforts towards realizing a reliable and effective security system.
It was essential to quickly implement the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing when national authorities failed to do so. Serious efforts should be made to carry that process forward.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the Jewish Holocaust had been a paradigm of genocide, a crime that, until then, lacked definition and did not allow for legal recourse. The Hague Treaties had not mentioned genocide. Massacres prior to the Holocaust could not be properly judged, and their perpetrators could not be punished, including the crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of the Americas during the colonial period, along with the practice of slavery. The profound impact of the Holocaust prompted the international community to attempt, through the United Nations, to define genocide as an international crime and to bring its perpetrators to justice. In 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and, more recently, the crime was incorporated into the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
He said the fight against the crime of genocide would only be complete when States adhered to and implemented human rights instruments in both the domestic and international spheres.
In remembering the Holocaust, the international community not only renewed its indignation and rejection of the actions committed, but also renewed its commitment to fight oppression and prejudice wherever it took place.
Grave war crimes and crimes against humanity had continued to occur since the Holocaust, he concluded. They had occurred in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, among others.
They added to the sense of abhorrence and strengthened the resolve to prevent such crimes. By co-sponsoring the resolution, Brazil expressed absolute condemnation of the Holocaust, reaffirmed its reverence for the victims and manifested solidarity with the survivors of an unspeakable crime.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, said remembering was both a duty and a common responsibility, particularly with regard to the Holocaust. The horror of that crime had been before the world for 60 years and still, history had repeated itself. An international Convention on the subject had not prevented the kind of thinking that led to genocide, nor the violence that perpetrated it, nor the injustice that made it possible or the interests that allowed it to continue over the time. Genocides, atrocities, mass killings and ethnic cleansings since the Holocaust had not been confined to any one continent. In remembering the Holocaust, it was fitting to pledge all collective effort to make sure that, having named the crime, the world's nations would recognize its manifestations for what they were and would prevent it in the future.
The first step to preventing another Shoah had been the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he continued. Many more steps were needed. The late Pope John Paul II had visited the Holy Land, and had prayed for forgiveness and for the conversion of hearts and minds.
Asking pardon purified memory. Remembering the Holocaust provided an occasion for purification, detection of symptoms and a rejection of them by taking timely and firm measures to overcome injustices of all kind.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly took up the resolution on the Holocaust Remembrance (document A/60/L.12) and adopted it without a vote.
Assembly President JAN ELIASSON (Sweden) said the Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say "never again". The significance of the resolution just adopted was that it called for a remembrance of past crimes with an eye towards preventing them in the future.
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Rwanda; Rwanda's Giant Stride: a Promising Walk
By Hilary Benn, MP and British Secretary of State for International Development
The New Times
In March, the Commission for Africa, led by Tony Blair, published its powerful report. In May, Europe agreed to double its aid by 2010, and 15 member states committed to achieving the long-held UN target of providing 0.7% of national income as aid by 2015.
In July, at Gleneagles, G8 leaders added their pledges to those of the EU, and agreed that global aid will rise by almost $50 billion a year by 2010. Half of this aid will go to Africa, as called for by the Commission for Africa. And then in September the committees of the IMF and World Bank agreed the G8 proposal to cancel over $55 billion of poor country debt once and for all.
More aid is vital, but it must be better aid too. Our aid must build the capacity of countries to eliminate poverty through their own efforts, not do it for them. After all we want lasting results.
At the United Nations Millennium Review Summit in September, the largest ever gathering of world leaders took another step forward. On the 60th anniversary of its foundation, the UN for the first time resolved that the world has a responsibility to protect citizens from genocide or crimes against humanity when their own states cannot or will not protect them - or are committing these crimes themselves. The world has learnt from Rwanda's bitter experience.
World leaders also agreed a new council for human rights, a new Peacebuilding Commission to help countries recover from conflict, and a new UN fund for humanitarian crises like Darfur, or Niger.
Africa's future rests - rightly - in Africa's hands. And that should fill us with hope and confidence. Because Africa has as much potential, creativity, passion and hope as any other continent on the planet. When all of that is set free, everything is possible.
There is an old African proverb: "When a mountain is in your path, do not sit at its foot and cry. Get up and climb it."
We do indeed have a mountain to climb, but together Africa, and its partners, have started the long climb together.
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Mark P. Lagon Delivers Remarks At B'nai B'rith
Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
October 29, 2005
Speaker: Mark P. Lagon, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For International Organization Affairs
Deputy Assistant Secretary Lagon Delivers Remarks At B'nai B'rith,
As Released By the State Department
The UN's human rights mechanisms are broken and must be fixed. There is no better example of this than the abysmal record of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The U.S. believes that the CHR should be eliminated entirely and replaced by something better.
Sudan is one example of the failings of the Commission on Human Rights. In the spring of 2004, the CHR passed a very weak resolution Sudan. The U.S. had sought to revise and replace the text, and ultimately we opposed the resolution. It simply was not strong enough with regard to the atrocities taking place in Darfur. A few days later, Sudan was reelected to the Commission on Human Rights. When Sudan was reelected, the U.S. delegation reproached the body by walking out of the meeting and issuing a public, very critical, statement.
Since then, of course, the United States has continued to bring human rights violations in Sudan to international attention. Former Secretary Powell determined that the government of Sudan had committed genocide. The United States has led the Security Council to take action. Indeed, at the recent UN Summit we were successful in making certain that the Outcome Document guaranteed a central role for the Security Council on the need for the international community to deal with cases where states are engaging in genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, and shirk their responsibility to protect their own citizens. In fact, we underscored the readiness of the Council to act in the face of such atrocities, and rejected categorically the argument that any principle of non-intervention precludes the Council from taking such action.
The Secretary-General proposed a new UN body to address human rights: the Human Rights Council. We support this proposal, and believe that the Council should replace the Commission on Human Rights entirely. The new Human Rights Council should have fewer diversions, more credibility, and preferably fewer members.
We are pleased that Member States agreed to language in the Summit's Outcome Document on the need to establish the Human Rights Council with a mandate making it poised year-round to focus on grave situations in specific countries. Some of the thorniest details, though, have not been clarified. We should bear in mind that some delegations, including a group comprising some of the world's most notorious human rights abusers, fought against this proposal. An immediate priority for the United States is passing a detailed resolution formally establishing the new Council.
We are seeking a Council that can more effectively reach out to countries to assist them in meeting their human rights obligations. When states abuse freedom acutely, the UN's chief human rights organ should be able to speak out plainly. We seek a body that can better offer immediate attention to human rights by quickly addressing urgent or continuing human rights violations, and can also offer technical assistance and capacity-building resources for countries seeking to strengthen their domestic human rights protections. The activities should be the main focus of the Council and the essential component of its mandate.
The membership of the Human Rights Council will be key to its effectiveness. At a minimum, governments subject to human rights- related Security Council sanctions or commissions of inquiry should be ineligible for membership. As a colleague of mine said at the onset of this year's session of the Commission on Human Rights, the membership must be the firefighters of the world, not the arsonists.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also plays a valuable role in protecting human rights around the world. Fortunately, this Office does not face the dire problems of the Commission on Human Rights. Indeed, in recent years the role of the Office has expanded, and it is now engaged in conflict prevention, crisis response, and wide-ranging technical assistance, in addition to its longstanding advocacy work. Yet the office receives a scant two percent of the UN's regular budget, and must rely on voluntary contributions. The United States supports doubling the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
One important area in which the High Commissioner could use additional resources is in the area of training, standardization, and professionalization of the so-called "special rapporteurs" -- the private experts asked to research or monitor a situation and report back to the Commission or Commissioner. These measures would permit more effective and professional support for the special rapporteurs and provide more consistency and objectivity in their reports. It might help with those who twist their mandates to attack Israel, like the rapporteur on food, Jean Ziegler.
But even more than work at the hub in Geneva, expanded resources of the Office should largely be devoted to field offices -- to offer technical assistance to nations seeking help building human rights protection and rule of law. The potential role of the Office of the High Commissioner in monitoring and preventing human rights abuses on the ground -- and in carrying out proper early warning -- is no less important than technical assistance ()
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UN: Women's participation vital to peace processes, Security Council to be told; Security Council to discuss implementation of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security
October 27, 2005
Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) has served as a catalyst for women all over the world to mobilize in their efforts to achieve equal participation. At the open meeting, the Council will hear first-hand the experiences of women leaders who are advocating for an enhanced role of women in all peace processes and their full participation as equal partners in bringing peace and post-conflict reconstruction to their own countries.
"Women at the grass-roots level in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Sudan have used this resolution to lobby for their voices to be heard in peacebuilding processes, in post-conflict elections, and in the rebuilding of their societies", said Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women.
"Since this resolution was adopted five years ago, a lot of progress has also been made within the UN system itself, in terms of understanding how to incorporate gender concerns into all aspects of peace and security. Department-specific action plans on gender mainstreaming are being prepared, gender-sensitive guidelines and new tools have been issued; staff is being trained. Still, significant gaps remain", she continued.
The report of the Secretary-General stresses, among other gaps, the need for an enhanced women's participation in peace processes and for more systematic inclusion of gender perspectives in peace agreements. Including women in peace negotiations will increase the likelihood that agreements gain the full support of the community, and ultimately of the whole nation, and also ensure that there is no impunity for war criminals who commit crimes of rape and sexual abuse.
Continuing situations of violence against women are highlighted in the report which states, "more efforts are needed to protect women's rights, including to prevent, document and report on gender-based violence", suggesting that a comprehensive monitoring and compliance mechanism could be created.
Other measures included in the United Nations time-bound action plan are additional training and "gender sensitization" for United Nations personnel, military and civilian police and more intensive efforts to build women's capacity to participate in peacemaking activities.
Key elements of the World Summit outcome are of vital importance to millions of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict areas, according to the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council.
Women in conflict areas need to benefit from the principle of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide and the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission.
"Integrating a gender perspective in the design and work of the Peacebuilding Commission is a key element for the success of the Commission's work", said the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council.
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Kofi Annan's Speechwriter Defends Work of The United Nations
Daily Post (Liverpool)
October 26, 2005
ONE of the United Nations' most senior figures was in Liverpool last night to give a talk on the recent UN summit of world leaders.
Former journalist Edward Mortimer is chief speechwriter for UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, and director of communications at the secretary-general's office in New York.
Mr Mortimer gave a speech in the Western Rooms of the Anglican Cathedral to members of the United Nations Association. Some 150 world leaders gathered in New York for the UN's 60th anniversary summit in September, meant to kick-start UN reform and create a united front on issues such as poverty and terrorism.
But while they failed to agree on such key issues as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a definition of terrorism, Mr Mortimer claimed that significant progress had been made.
He said: "It achieved many good things, such as agreeing on a responsibility to protect nations from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
"The need for a global organisation, in which nations can work out agreements and implement those agreements, is greater than ever
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UN: High Commissioner Louise Arbour briefs Third Committee on efforts to better assist states to respond to human rights challenges
October 26, 2005
MICHAEL O'NEILL ( United Kingdom) introduced a draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/60/L.22), which he said was a vital issue in the work of the Committee. While the year 2005 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children were still growing up being denied rights, and their rights were being violated all over the globe. The inherent and unique vulnerability of children made such violations unacceptable, and States clearly had much more to do to highlight the issues that prevented the enjoyment of human rights by all children, as well as to seek responses to those issues.
The draft resolution highlighted the vital role of the Convention, as well as detailed challenges that all States still faced in promoting the rights of children, he continued.
This year, the resolution was also being used to highlight the particular vulnerability of children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The destructive force of the disease undermined children's rights on many levels, and, therefore, merited particular attention. The sponsors looked forward to working with delegations on the text, and to attract the support of all delegations, he added.
Statement by High Commissioner
Introducing her report on the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during the past year, LOUISE ARBOUR, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the past 12 months provided a remarkable backdrop for the Committee's meeting, and for the entire session of the General Assembly.
The Secretary-General's reform agenda, coupled with the outcome document agreed to at the World Summit, represented an ambitious - and necessary - programme of change for the United Nations. The Outcome Document, agreed to by all 191 Member States, was at its core a validation and defence of - and a collective, unambiguous recommitment to - universal human rights: that they were both inherently valuable in upholding and sustaining human dignity and integral to the pursuit and maintenance of both peace and security, and development.
From an Organization borne out of the horrific violence of the first half of the last century, and which had since witnessed, often impotently, many further acts of indescribable cruelty perpetrated on a larger scale, the World Summit's consensus on "the responsibility to protect" represented a watershed commitment, she said. The Summit recognized explicitly that every State had the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In doing so, Member States asserted unequivocally their belief in the primacy of the rule of law, and determination to ensure that State sovereignty was not misused as a shield against responsibility and accountability. The Summit also committed the United Nations to improving the effectiveness of the human rights treaty bodies, and her Office was working on proposals for a unified permanent treaty body.
In parallel with, and supported by, the General Assembly, her Office was currently engaged in its own major reform process.
In particular, it was assessing how it could better assist in responding to the key human rights challenges posed today by poverty, discrimination, conflict, impunity, democratic deficits and institutional weaknesses. In other words, just as the call had been issued to Member States to move from declarations to implementations, so, too, was the Office refocusing its work accordingly. The approach had been built on the premises that human rights were universal and indivisible, and that no country's human rights record was perfect. The Office was also seeking to improve how it engaged with individual States in helping to address their specific human rights challenges; exercised leadership in the field of human rights; and ensured that it maximized its impact through a system of dynamic partnerships. The reforms, however, would fail unless the Office was equipped with significantly greater resources as contemplated in the Outcome Document, she said.
While absolutely necessary, the process of reform was not without pitfalls, she continued. However, States did not have the luxury of ignoring today's human rights concerns as they better equipped themselves to address tomorrow's challenges.
While developing the foundations to move from an era of declaration to one of implementation, States must constantly fight against that process itself becoming but mere declaration. They must implement, as they sought to reform, and they must not become prisoners of process, distracted from the substance of the task. Today's challenges to human rights required a concerted response by the entire human rights community, whether Governments, legislatures, judges, national institutions, civil society, or the United Nations system, including her Office, intergovernmental mechanisms, the treaty bodies and the special procedures. In the discharge of individual and collective responsibilities, the old, unspoken orthodoxies of viewing human rights as being inherently intrusive and antithetical to State interests must be avoided.
Rather, States must realize that they were uniquely poised, in the aftermath of the World Summit, to embark on a mutually reinforcing enterprise: namely, to implement human rights as a critical component of a more just and safer world.
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