06 March 2008
Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society
In this issue:
[Launch of New Asia-Pacific Centre for Preventing Mass Atrocities, R2P in the News, Crisis in Kenya, Crisis in Darfur, Related Reports]
I. Launch of New Asia-Pacific Centre for Preventing Mass Atrocities
II. R2P in the News
1. RIGHTS: U.N. INACTION THREATENS ASS KILLINGS IN AFRICA, ASIA
III. Crisis in Kenya
1. AFRICAN GENOCIDE AVERTED
IV. Crisis in Darfur
1. AFRICAS NEXT SLAUGHTER
2. SCORCHED-EARTH STRATEGY RETURNS TO DARFUR
3. SECURITY COUNCIL: CONDEMN ATTACKS IN WEST DARFUR: LETTER TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL
4. DARFUR ACTIVISTS OUTLINE FOUR STEPS CHINA MUST TAKE TO END DARFUR CRISIS
V. Related Reports
1. ENOUGH REPORT: R2P, THE ICC, AND STOPPING ATROCITIES IN THE REAL WORLD
I. Launch of New Asia-Pacific Centre for Preventing Mass Atrocities
Bangkok, 20 February 2008
An independent Asia-Pacific Centre has been created to assist in ensuring the effective protection of populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The 'Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect' was launched today in Bangkok at a meeting attended by representatives of think-tanks, NGOs and governments throughout the Asia-Pacific. The opening address was given by Dr Edward Luck, the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, who is working on the Responsibility to Protect and who expressed the Secretary-Generals support for the Centre.
The various responsibilities of states and the international community to protect populations from mass atrocities is recognized by many as the most significant outcome of the largest ever meeting of heads of government - the 2005 World Summit.
The Centre will become a focal point for bringing together politicians, NGOs, government agencies and academics, especially in Asia, to develop viable policies and facilitate joint-protection initiatives to realize the commitments made by all governments in 2005. The Centre will also be responsible for a number of global initiatives, namely:
developing a workable early warning mechanism for predicting acts of genocide and mass atrocities;
developing a protection handbook for integrating civilian, military, non-governmental, and political efforts to protect civilians in armed conflict;
developing a definitive audit and on-going database of Responsibility to Protect ('R2P') initiatives around the world; and
editing a journal on the advancement and realization of R2P: Global Responsibility to Protect.
The Centres Advisory Board will be composed of members from key regional countries, including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Australia. Patrons of the Centre include Fidel Ramos (former President of the Philippines), Ramesh Thakur (Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation), Gareth Evans (President of the International Crisis Group), John Dauth (former Australian Ambassador to the UN) and Colin Keating (former New Zealand Ambassador to the UN).
The Centre is an associate of the 'Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect', launched last week in New York. Other Associated Centres are being established by NGOs, academics and governments in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
For further information and comment:
II. R2P in the News
1. Rights: U.N. Inaction Threatens "Mass Killings" in Africa, Asia
By Thalif Deen
28 February 2008
(...) The international failure to respond aggressively to the killings in Sudan, and more recently in Kenya, is threatening the spread of genocide and ethnic cleansing in other parts of Africa, [Mark Lattimer, executive director of Minority Rights Group International (MRG),] a London-based human rights organization[,] warns.
(...) He says that over half of the 20 countries in the world where people are most under threat of genocide are in Africa, including Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad and the Central African Republic.
(...) In Asia, MRG singles out three countries -- Burma (Myanmar), Afghanistan and Pakistan -- as potentially dangerous, while Iraq is described as the "most dangerous" in the Middle East.
(...) The threat of mass killings comes at a time when the United Nations is seeking to implement the principles of "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P), adopted by the 192-member U.N. General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit in New York.
(...) William Pace, executive director of the New York-based Institute for Global Policy [and convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)], told IPS that after the "historic and very surprising endorsement" of R2P by the heads of all states, and the backing of R2P in two Security Council resolutions in 2006, R2P lost momentum in 2007 due to a variety of reasons.
This, he points out, was mostly connected to "the always difficult transition from one (U.N.) secretary-general to a new one"-- from Kofi Annan who ended his term in December 2006 and Ban Ki-moon who took over in January 2007.
However, with the appointment by Secretary-General Ban of Francis Deng from Sudan as the new special advisor/representative for the prevention of genocide, and Ed Luck from the United States as special advisor to advance the implementation of R2P inside the U.N. institutions, "We expect important progress in 2008".
(...) He pointed out that the recent launching of the new Global Centre for R2P, with Andy Knight from Barbados as its new leader, is the first of several major NGO initiatives to support R2P, "in what is hoped will become a vital new tool for peace in our new century."
(...) [C]ivil society from all regions are committed to making old peace tools, like the United Nations, and new tools like the International Criminal Court (ICC), and R2P work, so millions of lives will be saved, he added.
(...) Asked if the U.N. appointments of Luck and Deng would advance the cause of R2P, Lattimer of Minority Rights Group International told IPS: "The U.N. special representative on the prevention of genocide and now the new special advisor on R2P are the first U.N. mechanisms with a specific mandate on genocide prevention and have a great potential to focus early U.N. action to prevent killing".
(...) Perhaps the first practical example of the United Nations acting to implement R2P is in the current situation in Kenya, he argued.
Although much of the debate around R2P has focused on armed humanitarian intervention, the greatest chance for the United Nations in general, and these two posts in particular, to make a difference is in preventive diplomacy at an early stage to stop mass killing before it starts. (...)
To read the article in full length, please visit:
To see the MRG Peoples Under Threat table, please follow the link:
III. Crisis in Kenya
1. African Genocide Averted
The New York Times
By Roger Cohen
3 March 2008
(...) Annan, arriving [in Kenya] on Jan 22, had one obsession: "We can't let this happen to Kenya.'' Not after the one million dead between Rwanda and Darfur. Not after his UN tenure produced agreement at the world summit of 2005 on ''R2P'' the global ''responsibility to protect'' citizens in states whose own governments prove unable to do so.
''Kenya had been the safe haven in a tumultuous region and suddenly Kenya itself was going,'' Annan said. ''And when you have ethnic violence, if you don't mediate quickly, you get a hopeless situation.''
(...) We've seen this movie once too often since the Cold War ended.
(...) A regional organization, in this case the African Union, takes the lead in providing a mandate for swift preventive action. The UN Security Council issues a supportive statement. American power is used, not in sledgehammer mode, but with well-timed discretion. Intervention is choreographed by a single authoritative figure prepared to stay five weeks for peace.
(...) ''It took a while to convince them that there was no way either side could run the country without the other, that it was a perfect political gridlock,'' Annan [says].
He got a German official to explain grand coalitions. He got Jakaya Kikwete, the Tanzanian leader, to talk about how presidents and prime ministers work together. He was helped by President George W. Bush declaring during his recent African visit that ''there ought to be a power sharing agreement.''
Kibaki's foreign minister retorted that Kenya would not be ''given conditions by foreign states' - the old anti-imperialist thing. But this was international intervention of another kind. The pressure cornered Kibaki. He ceded, empowering Odinga as a prime minister with authority anchored by constitutional change.
''When we talk of intervention, people think of the military,'' Annan said. ''But under R2P, force is a last resort. Political and diplomatic intervention is the first mechanism. And I think we've seen a successful example of its application.''
Some will quibble over technicalities, but Kenya kindled the somnolent spirit of R2P. We've also seen American might in subtler guise: listening better, applying soft power. That's another reason what happened in Nairobi matters so much.
Source of information:
IV. Crisis in Darfur
1. Africas Next Slaughter
The New York Times
By Nicholas D. Kristof
2 March 2008
(...) In the 1980s and 1990s, it was [in South Darfur] that the government perfected the techniques that later became notorious in Darfur: mass rape and murder by armed militias, so as to terrorize civilians and drive them away. Now Sudan is coming full circle, apparently preparing to apply the same techniques again to Abyei and parts of the south.
(...) With international attention distracted by Darfur and the United States presidential race, the Sudanese government now is chipping away at the 2005 peace treaty that ended the north-south war in Sudan. If war erupts, as many expect, the flash point will probably be (...) Abyei [,a little town on the edge of southern Sudan], where the northern government is pumping oil from wells it refuses to give up.
(...) Since late November, there have been repeated clashes in the Abyei area between South Sudans armed forces and a large tribe of Arab nomads, the Misseriya, which is armed and backed by the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Mr. Paguot [, acting government administrator in the Abyei region,] said that several hundred people had been killed in these clashes (...).
(...) A group of Misseriya has appointed officials to create their own government for Abyei and has threatened to march in with thousands of armed men to install it. This is almost exactly the same approach that President Omar al-Bashir has taken in Darfur: arm the janjaweed and unleash them on a black African population, then dismiss the slaughter as just ribal fighting.r
Mr. Paguot said that 16,000 militia members were gathered on the north side of Abyei, backed by a few tanks and many pickup trucks with mounted machine guns, ready to invade. They arent called the janjaweed, but its the same idea.
Some local officials and Misseriya elders have worked heroically to avert violence, but state-controlled newspapers in Khartoum are carrying false reports of attacks on Arabs, inflaming tensions.
(...) The [2005 peace agreement that ended 20 years of war between North and South Sudan] came about because of tireless diplomacy by the Bush administration, but since then Washington has dropped the ball. It is still possible to avert a new slaughter here, but only if there is a major international effort involving the United Nations, Egypt, China and Europe as well as the United States to ensure that the peace agreement is followed and that President Bashir will pay a price for attacking the south.
A crucial step would be for China to suspend transfers of arms to Sudan until the Khartoum government works for peace with the south and in Darfur. Unfortunately, China refuses to take that step. (...)
Full text and video available at:
2. Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur
The New York Times
By Lydia Polgreen
2 March 2008
(...) [The attacks on Darfur by the janjaweed that came three weeks ago] - involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been - have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the worlds attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.
Aid workers, diplomats and analysts say the return of such attacks is an ominous sign that the fighting in Darfur, which has grown more complex and confusing as it has stretched on for five years, is entering a new and deadly phase - one in which the government is planning a scorched-earth campaign against the rebel groups fighting here as efforts to find a negotiated peace founder.
(...) The United Nations estimates that the recent fighting has forced about 45,000 people to flee their homes in Darfur, which is roughly the size of Texas and has a population of about six million people. (...)
(...) Sudan's biggest trading partner and ally, China, has (...) come under pressure from advocates who have linked the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer to the fighting in Darfur. China has been more publicly critical of the Sudanese government in recent weeks. (...)
(...) Despite the pressure, the government seems determined to fight on, and the most powerful rebel groups - the biggest factions of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army - have refused to sit down for talks. So the violence continues, tracing a familiar arc as it wears on.
(...) But as the conflict enters its sixth year, an older, deadly pattern is returning, and with it fears are rising among villagers, aid workers, diplomats and analysts that Darfur is headed for a new cycle of bloodletting and displacement on a vast scale.
For full article, please visit:
3. Security Council: Condemn Attacks in West Darfur: Letter to the Security Council
Human Rights Watch
27 February 2008
A letter of disappointment with the recent horrific attacks carried out by the government of Sudan and Janjaweed militia on three civilian villages in the region of West Darfur on February 8 and the United Nations Security Council irresponsibility to take instant measures to bring the Darfur crisis to an end, was released on 27 February by Human Rights Watch. The concerned letter outlines the manifestations of the Sudanese government's disregard for its international legal obligations and also calls on the Security Council to immediately act to stop the ongoing violence in Darfur.
(...) We believe that (...) recent abuses in West Darfur demonstrate how far Khartoum has been emboldened by the failure of the international community to impose real consequences for such actions in the past. Previously the Council showed an inexplicable reluctance to address large-scale killing of civilians, contributing to the intractable problems of the past four years. It is now well past the time for the Council to confront the government of Sudan's undisguised contempt with real action. We call on the Council to take action on two fronts as follows:
First, the Security Council should promptly issue a presidential statement condemning the government of Sudans violations of international humanitarian law in West Darfur, the appointment of Musa Hilal, and the refusal to cooperate with the ICC.
Second, in accordance with the Councils own criteria, the Sanctions Committee should impose targeted sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on individuals who impede the peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities or are responsible for offensive military overflights. Human Rights Watch recommends that the Council immediately task the Panel of Experts to investigate the attacks on February 8 in West Darfur as well as the other actions listed above and to report, promptly and publicly, to the Sanctions Committee with a list of those who are responsible. (...)
To read full version of Human Rights Watch Letter to the Security Council, please visit:
Media release on the HRW Letter available at:
4. Darfur Activists Outline Four Steps China Must Take to End Darfur Crisis
The Save Darfur Coalition
15 February 2008
The following is a joint statement released by five leading Darfur advocacy organizations, namely The Save Darfur Coalition, EHOUGH Project, STAND, Genocide Intervention Network, and Dream for Darfur, that outlines the four major steps, beyond private pressure on Sudan, China has the responsibility to take to help put an end to genocide in Darfur:
(...) All nations share in the responsibility to do all they can to help bring an end to the genocide in Darfur, and, after five years of conflict, to help bring peace and security to the people of Sudan. China, though, has a special obligation to respond. China also, more than any other government except Khartoum itself, has the ability to help bring peace and security to the people of Sudan.
China's responsibility and leverage stem from its intricate economic, military, and diplomatic relationship with Sudan. (...)
(...) China did take some helpful actions last year, appointing a special envoy to Sudan, providing military engineers in Darfur, helping with the passage of UNAMID. Yet, at the same time, Chinas ties to Khartoum grew closer than ever last year, with a doubling in trade just one example.
(...) China should:
1. Immediately provide half of the transport helicopters that UNAMID requires, with support from Europe and the United States for maintenance and contracting arrangements.
2. Support punitive measures, such as UN Security Council targeted sanctions, against Khartoum officials, until peace and security for Darfur is achieved. UN targeted sanctions should be imposed immediately against government, rebel, or militia officials who are responsible for undermining UNAMIDs deployment, the North-South peace deal, or regional stability, such as attempting to overthrow the government in neighboring Chad.
3. Verifiably suspend all military cooperation with the Khartoum regime, including weapons transfers, until peace and security for Darfur is achieved.
4. Work with the United States, France, and the United Kingdom in a quartet supporting UN and African Union initiatives in Darfur, Southern Sudan, and Chad. This cooperative work on the peace process needs to be comprehensive. The problems of Darfur, Southern Sudan, and Chad are intertwined, so unless peace is advanced on all of these fronts it will be unlikely to be achieved on any of these fronts.
To read the entire Joint Statement on China and Darfur, please visit:
V. Related Reports
1. ENOUGH Report: R2P, the ICC, and Stopping Atrocities in the Real World
A February 2008 report was recently produced by ENOUGH to raise awareness and to evaluate the progress of both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine as essential pillars in the fight to eliminate and prevent genocide and crimes against humanity on global level. Through a brief review of the first three cases of ICC investigations, i.e. Northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan, John Prendergast and Lisa Rogoff's report highlights the need for translation of R2P from mere words and papers into concrete action for the purposes of making a change in the world. The strategy paper can be viewed at: