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30 January 2009
Responsibility to Protect-Engaging Civil Society
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Special Edition: UN Secretary General releases report on the Responsibility to Protect; Launch of International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect; U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice Reiterates U.S. Support for RtoP in her First Address to the UN Security Council

I. UN Secretary General releases report on the Responsibility to Protect


II. Launch of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP)



III. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice Voices US Support for RtoP


We are happy to share some exciting developments this week on the Responsibility to Protect. The long awaited report from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on mplementation of RtoP was released today, 30 January. The report includes recommendations for the advancement of the norm at the international, regional, and national levels.

The R2PCS project is very pleased to announce the launch of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP). Over the coming weeks, the R2PCS project will be transitioning into the new Secretariat for the Coalition. Our website will be redesigned to incorporate these changes, but we will continue to host all the prior information on the site. Additional information about the principles, purposes, structure, membership and activities of the Coalition will follow.

Finally, new U.S ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, affirmed United States support for RtoP in her first statement to the Security Council, which we see as a momentous commitment made by the United States to protect civilians from RtoP threshold crimes through multilateral organizations.

I. UN Secretary General releases report on the Responsibility to Protect

1. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Report: Implementing the Responsibility to Protect
12 January 2009

The following report entitled mplementing the Responsibility to Protect has been long awaited by Member States and civil society organizations alike. The report clarifies where the future of the Responsibility to Protect norm lies, as well as prospects for enhancing capacity, understanding, and implementation. The report should serve as a basis for the upcoming General Assembly debates on R2P this spring, as well as a platform for action and advocacy for civil society groups.

The present report responds to one of the cardinal challenges of our time, as posed in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome: operationalizing the responsibility to protect (widely referred to as toP or 2P in English). The Heads of State and Government unanimously affirmed at the Summit that ach individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. They agreed, as well, that the international community should assist States in exercising that responsibility and in building their protection capacities.

When a State nevertheless was anifestly failing to protect its population from the four specified crimes and violations, they confirmed that the international community was prepared to take collective action in a imely and decisive manner through the Security Council and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. As the present report underscores, the best way to discourage States or groups of States from misusing the responsibility to protect for inappropriate purposes would be to
develop fully the United Nations strategy, standards, processes, tools and practices for the responsibility to protect. ()

A three-pillar strategy is then outlined for advancing the agenda mandated by the Heads of State and Government at the Summit, as follows:
Pillar one
The protection responsibilities of the State (sect. II)
Pillar two
International assistance and capacity-building (sect. III)
Pillar three
Timely and decisive response (sect. IV)

The strategy stresses the value of prevention and, when it fails, of early and flexible response tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. There is no set sequence to be followed from one pillar to another, nor is it assumed that one is more important than another. Like any other edifice, the structure of the responsibility to protect relies on the equal size, strength and viability of each of its supporting
pillars. The report also provides examples of policies and practices that are contributing, or could contribute, to the advancement of goals relating to the responsibility to protect under each of the pillars.

The way forward is addressed in section V.

In particular, five points are set out in paragraph 71 that the General Assembly may wish to consider as part of its ontinuing consideration mandate under paragraph 139 of the Summit Outcome. Some preliminary ideas on early warning and assessment, as called for in paragraph 138 of the Summit Outcome, are set out in the annex. Policy ideas that were proposed during the consultation process and that may merit further consideration by Member States over time appear in bold type, although

the Secretary-General does not request the General Assembly to take specific action on them at this point.

Full report:

II. Launch of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP)

On 28 January 2009, WFM-IGP, along with seven other Steering Committee members launched the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP). The founding Steering Committee met to discuss principles, purposes, and structure of the Coalition, as well as some objectives for the first year. Steering Committee members include: the East African Law Society (Tanzania), the West African Civil Society Institute (Ghana); International Refugees Rights Initiative (Uganda), Initiatives for International Dialogue (Philippines), Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Econmicas y Sociales (CRIES) (Argentina), Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International. We look forward to communicating with you on the outcomes of the meetings.

Featured media coverage of the Steering Committee Meetings is below.

1. Press conference by civil society coalition for responsibility to protect
United Nations Department of Public Information

28 Jan 2009

A newly formed global civil society coalition for the responsibility to protect will seek to raise awareness of that principle, strengthen its acceptance and promote the elaboration of objective criteria for its implementation, correspondents were told at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

Launching the coalition were Bill Pace of the World Federalist Movement Institute for Global Policy; Thelma Ekiyor of West Africa Civil Society Institute; Augusto Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue; and Andres Serbin of the Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economics y Sociales (CRIES).

The responsibility to protect had been unanimously approved by the Heads of State and Government at the World Summit in September 2005, Mr. Pace said, lauding that principle as one of the most important tools for preventing and stopping genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the next couple of weeks, the Secretary-General was expected to issue his report on the responsibility to protect, which would subsequently be considered by the General Assembly. He believed that, this year, important steps would be taken at the United Nations to operationalize that concept.

The civil society coalition would seek to raise awareness of the responsibility to protect and work with like-minded Governments that were supporting that norm at the United Nations in the context of the discussions around the Secretary-General's report and the General Assembly debate, he said. Ms. Ekiyor added that what civil society could do was "raise the noise level" and assist in providing the general public, and such actors as national parliaments, with information that Governments had subscribed to an international norm and should adhere to it.

Regarding the creation of the coalition, Mr. Pace said it had been established by a group of non-governmental organizations, which included the International Refugees Rights Initiative, CRIES, OXFAM International, the Initiatives for International Dialogue, the West Africa Civil Society Institute and Human Rights Watch. Many of those groups had been part of the establishment of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect in New York. Prior to the launch of the coalition, seven regional meetings and round tables had taken place in various parts of the world.

The other participants at the press conference then outlined their main activities, with Mr. Sebin saying that, as an organization involved with conflict prevention, CRIES wanted to work towards developing the civil society responsibility to protect network at the global level to prevent conflict in the region and all over the world.

Mr. Miclat said that South-East Asia was a region beset with conflict, and the Initiatives for International Dialogue was very happy to be part of the new coalition that would play an important role in preventing an escalation of hostilities. His organization would like to engage other regional organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), urging them to apply the responsibility to protect norm in its charter.

Ms. Ekiyor said that one of the main goals of her organization was to provide a platform for debate on the impact of global issues in the region. Stressing the importance of the responsibility to protect principle, she said that the statement by Kofi Annan -- that never again could the world stand back and watch what had happened in Rwanda -- had triggered a sense that everybody had a role to play in ensuring that atrocities did not recur. Since then, African Governments had made a very symbolic attempt to stop mass atrocities through the African Union constitutive act, and very recently, the conflict prevention framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had mentioned verbatim the responsibility to protect. However, the African Governments' symbolic commitment had not translated into action, and the new coalition could provide an impetus to make the Governments abide by what they had agreed on at the World Summit. ()

Asked what kind of leverage the coalition would have to promote the application of the responsibility to protect, where needed, Ms. Ekiyor said that had been one of the challenges so far. With criteria that "everyone is aware of, everyone subscribes to", it would be possible to determine when conditions for invoking the responsibility to protect existed in a particular context. The overall objective was to prevent atrocities and genocide. It was also important to explain that the reaction should not always be the use of force, and that other measures, including sanctions and mediation, could be used.

To another question, Mr. Miclat added that the task of the coalition was to popularize the responsibility to protect and work for like-minded Governments and groups to establish the indicators to invoke that principle properly. However, it was important to realize that the principle was already in place, as all Governments had signed in 2005. Civil society, as creative and bold as it was, could already tap into that norm to prevent escalation of conflict, together with other instruments at its disposal.

Mr. Pace said one of the main achievements so far was that it was now recognized that a State had the responsibility to protect populations inside its borders from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and ethnic cleansing. If it was unable to do that, all States had the responsibility to address the protection issues. If the country was manifestly failing, then the international community, through the Security Council and other mechanisms, needed to act.

A correspondent wanted to know what the coalition would do about the instances when countries were reluctant and had the power to stop international responses, as had happened, for example, in the case of China vetoing United Nations intervention in Darfur, "essentially handcuffing the international community".

Mr. Pace said that the Security Council had twice invoked the responsibility to protect in its resolutions, including in the text relating to Darfur. In that connection, many civil society groups emphasized the need for the Council to support its resolutions, once a decision had been taken. Permanent members of the Council had a serious responsibility, in that regard. He hoped that the coalition would be able to work with both elected and permanent members of the Council to convince them of their duty, as members of the organ bearing primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Regarding the role of the Security Council, he said that, in the past, a call had been made for permanent members of the Security Council to agree not to use the power of veto in cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and ethnic cleansing. He was curious to see whether that call would be repeated in the Secretary-General's report on the responsibility to protect, and in the General Assembly debate on the matter.

To other questions, Ms. Ekiyor said that what the responsibility to protect did was provide a platform for a conversation that could never before have been held on situations when sovereignty could be put aside and intervention could be considered where States manifestly failed to protect their own citizens. At the United Nations, States that had subscribed to that norm needed to put action behind it.

Press Briefing:

UN press briefing webcast:

2. UN Debates Duty to Halt War Crimes, Genocide

Inter Press Service

Nergui Manalsuren

29 January 2009

After the recent turmoil in Gaza, ongoing mass killings in Darfur, and the failure to timely intervene to aid survivors of last year's Cyclone Nargis in Burma, civil society groups are calling on U.N. member states to fully commit to the so-called "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) concept.

R2P was adopted at the U.N. World Summit in 2005 and gives the international community the authority - in principle - to take "collective action", including force, when national governments fail to protect the most The new International Coalition on the Responsibility to Protect was launched Wednesday at U.N. headquarters, and includes the East African Law Society (Tanzania), the West African Civil Society Institute (Ghana), the International Refugees Rights Initiative (Uganda), Initiatives for International Dialogue (Philippines), Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (Argentina), and Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International.

All share the belief that R2P has the potential to become a powerful new tool for averting humanitarian disasters, especially when there is a concerted effort between governments and civil society.

R2P has run into controversy in the past with some governments objecting that it could be used to violate national sovereignty or encourage aggression by stronger states.

"Even though the core of the Responsibility to Protect norm addresses the responsibility of sovereignty, states and the international community, R2P cannot succeed without the support of governments, civil society and international organisations working together to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity," William Pace, executive director of the World Federalist Movement and a founder of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), told IPS. ()

Asked whether the G-77, a bloc of 130 developing countries, has refused to provide funding for that post because they fear unwarranted U.N. intervention in domestic issues under the guise of R2P, Pace said that was not the reason why the U.N. budgetary committee, also known as the Fifth Committee, postponed a decision on funding the special advisor's post and office.

"The summit endorsement called for further discussion on R2P by the General Assembly, in terms of enhancing early warning and other commitments made by the heads of governments," he told IPS. "The Fifth Committee members apparently felt this discussion in the GA should proceed before considering the secretary-general's proposed new post was funded."

"It was the first year of the new secretary-general's term and many appointments and budgetary proposals were not handled as effectively as they should have been," he said.

Augusto Miclat, executive director of Initiatives for International Dialogue in the Philippines, told IPS that, "Their [the G-77] fears are founded, but narrow."

"That is why it is important for the Southern countries to take the lead in implementing, interpreting this norm from the perspective of victims of conflict. It is important that we are all on the same page regarding indicators about the threshold when a situation is identified as an R2P," he said.

Asked whether the recent Israeli assault on civilians in Gaza was a situation that should have invoked U.N. intervention under the R2P concept, he responded that it was.

"The world saw the disproportionate use of killing machines obviously targeting non-combatants, civilians, women and children. If this is not a war crime, what is?" he asked.

On Dec. 26, Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, also cited R2P, after being denied entry by Israel into the West Bank and Gaza.

"In the last several years, the U.N. Security Council has endorsed the idea of humanitarian intervention under the rubric of 'a responsibility to protect', also known as R2P, and no world circumstance combines the misery and vulnerability of the people more urgently than does the situation of the people of Gaza living under occupation since 1967," Falk said.

"Surely the present emergency circumstances present a compelling case for the application of this protective response under U.N. auspices. If this does not happen, it will again demonstrate to the people of the world, especially those in the Middle East, that geopolitics trumps international law and humanitarian concerns and leaves those victimised with few options."


III. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice Voices US Support for RtoP

1. Statement by Ambassador Susan Rice on Respect for Humanitarian Law in the Security Council
29 January 2009

As this is my first appearance in the Security Council, allow me to start by saying it is a deep honor to represent the United States at the United Nations. I look forward to working with all Security Council members on the full range of challenges and opportunities that confront us.

President Obama is committed to building strong international partnerships to tackle global challenges in particular, enhancing global peace and security; combating terrorism and proliferation; addressing climate change; preventing genocide; alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development; and supporting respect for human rights, democracy and human dignity.

These are shared challenges that no single nation can successfully tackle alone.

They require common action based on a common purpose and a vision of shared security, even when we have differences.

The United Nations is indispensible for advancing these goals and making our world a better, safer place.

Mr. President, I want to thank you for hosting this important meeting. And, I want to thank today's speakers for their briefings to the Security Council and more importantly for the work they do every day to promote adherence to international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. ()

The United States is deeply concerned Mr. President about the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent weeks and the tragic suffering of Palestinian civilians, who require urgent humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Violations of international humanitarian law have been perpetrated by Hamas through its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in southern Israel and the use of civilian facilities to provide protection for its terrorist attacks. There have also been numerous allegations made against Israel some of which are deliberately designed to inflame. We expect Israel will meet its international obligations to investigate and we also call upon all members of the international community to refrain from politicizing these important issues.

Mr. President, we must find more effective means to protect innocent civilians around the world.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the fighting rages on and is reported to have resulted directly or indirectly in more than 5 million deaths, as well as countless rapes, sexual assaults, recruitment of child soldiers, and other major human rights violations.

The Uganda Lord's Resistance Army has for many years terrorized civilian populations and is responsible for a major humanitarian crisis today in the region. In Sudan, the genocide in Darfur continues. More than two and a half million persons have fled their homes and hundreds of thousands have died in the conflict to date. Recent fighting between rebels and government forces have put countless civilian lives at risk and the Government of Sudan continues its campaign of bombing innocent civilians. In both the Congo and Sudan, all parties to the conflict must stop the killing and abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The United States is determined to act to prevent such violations of international humanitarian law. This means, in practical terms, preventing conflicts in the first place, keeping existing conflicts from escalating to mass atrocities, acting early and decisively when they occur, and ensuring that peacebuilding and post-conflict assistance consolidates peace durably once conflict ends. As agreed to by member states in 2005 and by the Security Council in 2006, the international community has a responsibility to protect civilian populations from violations of international humanitarian law when states are unwilling or unable to do so. But this commitment is only as effective as the willingness of all nations, large and small, to take concrete action.

The United States takes this responsibility seriously, and I look forward to the General Assembly's upcoming discussion of the Secretary-General's report on the responsibility to protect.

Mr. President, the United Nations is at the center of our collective efforts to promote respect for international humanitarian law.

Through peacekeeping, the United Nations protects vulnerable populations and helps to end violent conflict. Through the promotion of accountability, the United Nations helps to end impunity. Through the provision of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations reduces human suffering. ()

The ad hoc war crimes tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the hybrid tribunals in Sierra Leone and Cambodia, are actively prosecuting crimes involving violations of international humanitarian law. The International Criminal Court, which has started its first trial this week, looks to become an important and credible instrument for trying to hold accountable the senior leadership responsible for atrocities committed in the Congo, Uganda, and Darfur. ()

Mr. President, we call on all parties and all governments to live up to their commitments under international humanitarian law, abide by all Security Council resolutions, and cooperate with international investigations to end impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The United States is steadfast in its commitment to safeguard human rights and end violations of international humanitarian law, both in conjunction with the United Nations, and through our other efforts throughout the world. Beyond this commitment, however, is a pledge by the United States to work together with the United Nations and international organizations such as the ICRC, in a new era in support for international humanitarian law. It is in this spirit of cooperation and determination that we will seek to use this body of international law to minimize human suffering and protect vulnerable populations.

US UN Permanent Mission Transcript:

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