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2 March 2009
Responsibility to Protect-Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue:

I. Calls to align with the new U.S administration on RtoP

II. RtoP cited in articles on Zimbabwe, the DRC and Sri Lanka


III. Featured reports on RtoP

IV. Related reports: Justice in ongoing conflicts

V. Related events

I. Calls to align with the new U.S administration on RtoP

1. Impress Obama by supporting anti-genocide doctrine, PM urged
CanWest News Service
Mike Blanchfield
4 February 2009

Now that Barack Obama has replaced George W. Bush, the time is right for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives to adopt the Responsibility to Protect anti-genocide doctrine that its Liberal predecessors helped create, says one of the concept's creators.
"Under the Harper government, we really seem to have retreated from any form of an active role or presence on the world stage," said Ramesh Thakur, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., and one of the original co-authors of Responsibility to Protect report in 2001. ()
The former Liberal government struck the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty in 2001, which created what has become known as R2P an international doctrine that aims to prevent future genocide.
At its core, R2P lays out the framework for when the international community should intervene in the internal affairs of a country for example, by invading with its own military if the government is violating the rights of its citizens. Although it predates R2P, the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia to save ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is viewed as a good example of how this is supposed to work.
The UN endorsed R2P at its 2005 World Summit and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is working on a report on its role in the organization's future. In the interim, critics say the doctrine is nothing more than empty rhetoric, citing the ongoing carnage in Darfur, the eastern Congo, or even the slow response of the humanitarian effort to get aid to Burmese cyclone victims last year living under the Myanmar military junta.
Others totalitarian regimes, in particular reject R2P because they see it as an excuse to topple them. In Canada, Harper's Conservatives have had little, if anything, to say about the doctrine in three years. Many believe this is because it is so closely associated with the Liberals particularly the human security agenda of former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy.
Thakur urged the Harper government to put its own brand on the policy, or get behind something similar, such as nuclear non-proliferation. He said R2P is one of Canada's greatest international achievements along with the Ottawa treaty to ban landmines and its efforts to create the International Criminal Court. "If they identify these with the Liberal party, it does not preclude them from identifying other areas that (could) become the legacy of the Tories," said Thakur.
That is essentially the same advice Harper received from a blue-ribbon panel of experts assembled by Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa that presented the prime minister with a "blueprint" on how to engage Obama on global issues.
"An Obama foreign policy will almost certainly be pragmatically internationalist resembling that of President Bill Clinton," says the Carleton report. "Many of the ideas, such as an emphasis on 'common security' and the Responsibility to Protect, being served up by Obama's Democratic advisers, were Canadian inventions." ()

2. South Africa now a ogue democracy
The Times
Anthony Leon
22 January 2009

Anthony Leon is a politician and leader of South Africas Democratic Alliance Party.

() Obama offers the opportunity for the US and the world to look for rights-based and multilateral solutions to the global crises. South Africa should be a willing and vigorous partner in the plan to reinvigorate a more just world order. But our recent votes and voice in international forums, such as the UN, have placed us on a potential collision course with a more enlightened White House and put us in the company of the worlds rights-delinquent nations and authoritarian regimes.()
Shortly before Christmas, South Africas foreign policy was again in the news in Washington and again for all the wrong reasons. Under the headline, outh Africas Crime, the highly influential Washington Post decried our governments enablement of Robert Mugabes estruction of neighbouring Zimbabwe, at the cost of thousands of lives. ()
South Africas blocking last month of a US-British initiative to put Zimbabwe back on the UN Security Council agenda was widely portrayed as another instance of our temporising with tyranny. In its lead editorial of December 21, the newspaper thundered: hats happening here is pretty clear: South Africa, a country that aspires to continental leadership, is allowing a depraved strongman to utterly destroy a neighbouring country Motlanthes government has the economic, political and military leverage to rescue Zimbabweans from their leader; yet it not only refuses to act, but actively blocks interventions by other countries. Mr Motlanthe, Mr Mbeki and those in South Africa who support this unconscionable policy have become accessories to a grave humanitarian crime. The South African embassy in Washington issued no rebuttal.
Apart from blocking UN discussions about human rights in Zimbabwe, we voted against imposing sanctions on Burmas rights-delinquent military junta, and on Iran for violating nuclear safeguards.
Our votes in the UNs Human Rights Council extended forward cover for other tyrannies, from Belarus to Uzbekistan.This led Washington heavyweight Michael Gerson to suggest that South Africas voting record placed it in a new foreign policy category: ogue democracy.
We are clearly heading for an early collision with the administration of Barack Obama. Our UN votes, with those of Russia and China, have undermined efforts to implement the ground-breaking UN responsibility to protect resolution, which authorizes international intervention when a state fails to protect its own people from grievous violations of their human rights. But the new US administration is headed by true believers in this doctrine.
Take Obamas close foreign policy confidante, Susan Rice. She has been nominated as US ambassador to the UN and is an emphatic believer in coercive diplomacy to avert humanitarian catastrophes. She has advocated American-led bombing or naval blockades o force a recalcitrant Sudanese government to stop the slaughter in Darfur.
Seared by her visit to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide which the Clinton administration, of which she was a member, did nothing to prevent she vowed that it would not be allowed to happen again. ()
Obamas ascent on the world stage should provide a pause for thought in Pretoria. Do we want to be remembered for the distance our policies have travelled from Nelson Mandelas 1994 promise that uman rights will be the light that guides our foreign affairs? Or will we seize the moment to reconnect our constitutional commitments to equality, human dignity and liberty to our voice and votes in world forums. ()
Source :

II. RtoP cited in articles on Zimbabwe, the DRC and Sri Lanka

1. Zimbabweans Right to Protection
The National Post
Hugh Segal
12 February 2009

Senator Hugh Segal is former chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and vice-chair of the Canadian International Council. He successfully drafted a motion in 2007 to remove the Canadian ambassador from Zimbabwe.

Lloyd Axworthy had two breakthroughs as foreign minister: gathering a large consensus and many signatories for a convention and treaty on ending anti-personnel mine use (the Ottawa Treaty) in 1997, and chairing a task force for the UN on humanitarian intervention which came up with the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, later adopted by the United Nations in 2000.
Unfortunately, the "responsibility to protect" commitment seems to have come to an end with Zimbabwe, a humanitarian nightmare and international embarrassment. No country more directly requires international intervention. No population requires protection from its government more urgently. But the world has provided neither.
The "responsibility to protect" convention established two criteria for intervention: a population whose government can provide no help, or one whose government has set about to harm. Today's citizens of Zimbabwe are sadly victimized by both. So why are expeditionary military measures not being put in place to liberate the women being raped by the young thugs of Mugabe's Zanu-PF, the children dying of cholera and the opposition voters who are being tormented, beaten and murdered?
Why have special forces not removed Mugabe (who claims Zimbabwe "is mine") to The Hague? Why has the leadership of the Zimbabwe armed forces (who have a reasonable reputation among African militaries) not been engaged by military colleagues in Africa and elsewhere to become "leaders in relief delivery" and convince Mugabe to leave in the nation's interest? Why has South Africa been allowed to be so hands-off in its alleged hands-on approach? ()
Intervention is sometimes more demanding than just dropping food aid or sending in white UNHCR land cruisers. If the "responsibility to protect" really meant the responsibility to intervene to save lives only when there is no risk of hard feelings or casualties, then the policy proposal shaped by Axworthy's task force should have said so.
The various appropriate American, Canadian, British, French, South African and other potential coalition command centres should be planning the appropriate intervention now. If stealing farms and land from minority citizens, killing and beating opposition voters, plunging the country into famine, raping female supporters of other political parties and allowing cholera to spread while denying its continued existence does not constitute humanitarian destruction, then what does? Does Mugabe's role as a front line anti-apartheid leader buy him a pass whatever cruelties, insanity or brutality he unleashes on his own people?
() A question for Mr. Axworthy, his fellow Liberals and our Conservative government in Canada: Who is now watching Mugabe and learning from his corruption and cruelty and the West's insouciant response?

To read a response from an MDC member in Zimbabwe to this letter, entitled lease Dont Topple Mugabe, see the following link:

2. Mullaittivu vs. Gaza : The Tokyo Co-Chairs Fail on the Responsibility to Protect
Asian Centre for Human Rights
4 February 2009

The Asian Centre for Human Rights is an India-based organization committed to protecting Human Rights in the Asian region.

() Sri Lanka alleges that about 250,000 civilians living in the LTTE held areas in Mullaitivu are being prevented by the LTTE to leave for safe regions. Yet the Sri Lankan government in a statement on 2 February 2009 stated hile the Security Forces accept all responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of civilians in the Safety Zones, they are unable to give such an assurance to those who remain outside these zones. Therefore, the government, with full responsibility, urges all civilians to come to the Safety Zones; and also states that as civilians who do not heed this call will be among LTTE cadres, the Security Forces will not be able to accept responsibility for their safety."
This is nothing but justifying the impending indiscriminate shelling against the civilians in the name of defeating the LTTE. In an attempt to further justify its impending attack, Sri Lankan Army stated on 3 February 2009 that the civilians in Mullaitivu are being armed by the LTTE.
The declaration of the Sri Lankan government of its inability to protect the civilians follows President Mahinda Rajapaksa announcement on 29 January 2008 of a 48-hour ceasefire to allow safe passage to the civilians to cross over to the afe zones. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay stated on 29 January 2009 apart from people being prevented from fleeing, they have also een arbitrarily detained in special centres. Further, the socalled afe zones are neither known to those trapped nor mutually agreed by the warring parties.
The refusal to provide guarantees for safety and security of the civilians constitutes an admission of the failure of the Responsibility to Protect as agreed by the Heads of State and Government in the 2005 World Summit Outcome operationalizing the responsibility to protect which was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly and endorsed by the Security Council.
Paragraph 138 of the Outcome Document relating Responsibility to Protect states, ach individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it.

Cease-fire is the only option to prevent further violations of war crimes both by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE. International community must not wait for the fall of Mullaitivu just the way NATO troops remained a mute witness to the fall of Sebrenica in the former Yugoslavia. In a situation when the State (Sri Lanka) has publicly refused to fulfill its responsibility to protect, international community has the responsibility to se appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means or take ollective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. (Paragraph 139 of R2P).

International community, in particular the Tokyo Co-Chair, India and United Nations, must act decisively by taking the following measures:
- Mediate between government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to declare indefinite cease-fire, find out modalities for n inclusive dialogue to agree on a political settlement of the conflict and provide unrestricted access to the UN agencies, the ICRC, and humanitarian organizations to the internally displaced persons;

- Invite India to join as a member of the Tokyo Co-Chairs while India on its part must abandon its unilateral approach on Sri Lanka and accept the co-chairmanship;

- Take measures for holding a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, send a High Level Investigation Team to inquire into the violations of international humanitarian law both by the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE including fixing of the command responsibility and establishing field missions of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor human rights violations; and

- Urge Sri Lanka to lift ban on reporting on the war and prosecute those responsible for the murder and attacks on the journalists.

ICRC News Release, dated 27 January 2009:

3. Combat the terror of rape in Congo
Christian Science Monitor
Marc Sommers and Kathryn Birch
27 January 2009

Marc Sommers is a professor of humanitarian studies at Tufts University. Kathryn Birch is a consultant at Premier Healthcare Alliance and has published extensively on sexual violence in Africa.
Long overshadowed by conflicts in the Middle East, Darfur, Iraq, and Afghanistan, extensive, predatory terrorism largely of a sexual nature continues to attack the heart of Africa. The idea that the international community has a "responsibility to protect" innocent civilians must be given meaning, and nowhere is this more important than in eastern Congo. Military groups there are using rape as a devastating weapon of war.
Make no mistake: these are not isolated incidents involving rogue soldiers. This is an organized campaign of sexual terrorism and the global community must respond forcefully. ()
The United Nations Security Council took a step in the right direction last June when it adopted Resolution 1820, which officially denounces this type of sexual violence as a form of "warfare" to humiliate, dominate, and instill fear. Yet, thus far, the international community's response is woefully inadequate. ()
That's why the Obama administration must act boldly. His team can demonstrate America's commitment to upholding human rights and forcefully moving against all forms of terrorism.
They should work with other Security Council members to vigorously implement Resolution 1820, dramatically bolster the UN peacekeepers' work (while prosecuting those guilty of sexual crimes), and press the current mediators for the eastern DRC crisis, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, to highlight the issue of eradicating sexual terrorism during deliberations with the main military actors in the region.
The International Criminal Court, moreover, should expand its investigations and prosecute the chief architects and perpetrators of mass rape for crimes against humanity and even genocide where the rapes have been systematic and widespread. ()
Justice for the victims is needed, but so is work to address the causes of the conflict and ensure that the long-term patterns of truly extreme violence are finally broken.

Source :

III. Featured Reports on RtoP

1. R2P How to make the international system more responsive?
European Union Institute for Security Studies
24 November 2008

The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) is an EU think tank agency that works under the EUs Second Pillar of Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The EUISS organised a Panel Discussion in New York on 24 November 2008 on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in cooperation with the Liaison Office of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union with the United Nations, and with the collaboration of the Center on International Cooperation, New York University. ()
Enshrined by the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit, the principle of R2P is still subject to much debate. The Panel addressed some of the fundamental questions relating to the content and implementation of R2P, for example looking at whether the formulation of this concept has made a difference in the international response of states and international organisations to mass atrocities, and whether greater clarity on the principle would lead to better implementation or rather unnecessarily complicate states responses.
It was considered that the reference to R2P in the Outcome Document has not led to a higher engagement of the main global actors, including the EU, in the response to ongoing massacres. Doubts were cast as to whether the debate on the concept will lead to more resources at national or international level as the principle already exists under international law and R2P does not entail new mechanisms or rules. However, it was considered valuable by some participants for public awareness reasons.
Concerns were raised over the possibility that the debate on R2P at the UN General Assembly, when it considers a draft report on the subject by the UN Secretary General in March, will get caught up with disagreements over Security Council representation, as well as opposition from some emerging powers to openly refer to coercion for upholding human rights obligations, and fears of unbalanced application to different states depending on their political power.
Source :[tt_news]=1150&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=65ad864942

2. The Responsibility to Protect and Protection of Civilianssia Pacific in the Security Council
Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
10 February 2009

In its earlier report on the position of Asia-Pacific governments in the UN Security Council's deliberations on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Centre found that with few exceptions, the region's governments were unanimous in their support for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as agreed by Member States at the 2005 World Summit and reaffirmed by the UN Security Council in 2006 (Resolution 1674). Governments emphasised the primary responsibility of each state to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and the international community's duty to assist states to fulfill their responsibility. They also acknowledged that in extreme situations other measures might be needed to protect populations from these four crimes and emphasised that such measures be consistent with the UN Charter. The Centre detected a strong regional preference for consensual measures exercised through pillars one and two of the R2P and concern that the principle might be used to justify non-consensual intervention or a widening of interference in the domestic affairs of states. To this end, governments in the Asia-Pacific region cautioned against expanding the application of R2P beyond the four crimes identified by the 2005 World Summit and tend to agree that coercive measures should only be contemplated when a crisis constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
The purpose of this update brief is to analyse the positions taken by Asia-Pacific governments at the most recent Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians and to examine their implications. The most recent meeting was dominated by the situation in the Middle East and reported attacks on the civilian population in Gaza and by the presentation of a new aide-memoire to guide protection practice and the Council's decision-making. In this context, Asia-Pacific governments chose to not specifically consider the R2P, though China and Viet Nam restated their support for the primacy of the State's responsibility to protect its own population. ()
Full Report:

IV. Related reports: Justice in conflict

1. Pursuing Justice in Ongoing Conflict: Examining the Challenges (Conference Report)
Wilton Park
December 2008

Legal experts, mediators, policy makers and practitioners met to take stock of issues arising in the exercise of criminal justice during conflict, focusing in particular on Uganda and Sudan. They also sought to identify options available in addressing the tension created by pursuing peace and justice in parallel.

Key issues discussed included:
*adopting a holistic approach towards transitional justice, for example including criminal justice procedures, non-judicial truth commissions and traditional or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms could minimise the tension between peace and justice;

*whether sequencing transitional justice measures, together with improved policy coordination, may be significant in achieving a sustainable peace;

*the international community giving greater support to the effective implementation of complementarity between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and national justice systems, through assistance to strengthen national legal structures, legislation and trained personnel;

*the international community and the ICC strengthening the ICCs legitimacy, whether through more constant consultation by the ICC with states where cases are under consideration or being prosecuted, and/or undertaking outreach with civil society to promote greater understanding of the ICCs role and what can be expected from it. ()

Full Paper:

2. What the Warrant Means: Justice, Peace, and the Key Actors in Sudan
ENOUGH Project
12 February 2009

The issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudans sitting head of state for crimes against humanity offers the Obama administration a chance to catalyze multilateral efforts to bring about a solution to Sudans decades-long cycle of warfare. One of the crucial missing ingredients to conflict resolution efforts has been some form of accountability for the horrific crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated by the warring parties in Sudan (). Peace without justice in Sudan would only bring an illusion of stability, without addressing the primary forces driving the conflict.

Full Paper:

3. Congos Dangerous Crossroads
30 January 2009

Last weeks arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the deployment of an estimated 4,000 Rwandan soldiers into eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, as part of joint Rwandan-Congolese military operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, represent a dangerous, crossroads. ()

Full Report:

V. Related Events
1. The Responsibility to Protect: The Way Forward
The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, New York
March 26 2009

The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center Presents The Responsibility to Protect: The Way Forward by Professor Sheri Rosenberg as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series. Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director, Human Rights and Genocide Clinic, and Director, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, has earned many awards for her studies in human rights and brings her expertise to the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Centers Distinguished Lecture Series at Manhattanville College. In her lecture, Rosenberg will discuss the intricacies of the international community and our responsibility to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes.

7:30pm - Reid Hall, Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase NY. For information and reservations, call 914.696.0738.

2. The Responsibility to Protect
America Abroadadio broadcast
12 April 2009

In this episode, the Responsibility to Protect: With each new episode of genocide there are calls for never again. The Holocaust, Rwanda, the Balkans, and now Darfur. After each atrocity the world says never again, and yet here we are, again. But now the international community has a new ideahe Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Its the notion that each country is obligated to protect its citizens, and if that country cant, then the international community must. But is this new norm more than high-minded rhetoric? And does it violate the each countrys right to have control within its borders? Well explore two situations in Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya to see what R2P looks like on the ground. And we take a step back to see how the concept of R2P went from a fledgling idea to being endorsed by the UN general assembly.
America Abroad Serious radio for the intellectually curious, America Abroad explores today's critical issues with balance and depth. America Abroad is the only public radio program that devotes an hour to a single issue-providing historical context and international perspective. America Abroad: Airs on 225 NPR stations and in 145 countries on NPR Worldwide. The mission of AAM is to harness the power of media to inform America and the world about the critical international issues of our time.
For more information:

3. The Future of the Responsibility to Protect
UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations 2009 Annual Conference
14 April 2009

This conference will assess the prospects and pitfalls of R2P, and of humanitarian intervention more generally, in a post-Iraq world. R2P represents an important milestone in our understanding of sovereignty, intervention, and human rights. The goal of this conference is to consider the origins and likely trajectory of R2P, to take stock of lessons learned from past crises, and to explore the role of R2P with regard to current crises in places like Darfur, Burma and Zimbabwe. Though our focus is not exclusively on the role of the United States, we are particularly interested--in light of both the legacy of the Iraq War and the interests and values of many members of the Obama administration--in what role R2P will play in American foreign policy over the next several years.

We invite you to attend this stimulating and timely event featuring a keynote address by Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia and Co-Chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and now President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. Other conference panelists include General Wesley K. Clark (ret.), Doyle McManus of the LA Times and numerous experts from around the country. Conference admission is free and open to the public.

More information and reservations at

4. Irish Centre for Human Rights ummer School

The Irish Centre for Human Rights runs annually two Summer Schools; one on International Criminal Court and one that focuses on the rights of Minorities and Indigenous peoples. Both courses offer five days of intensive lectures delivered by specialist on the fields and a series of social events, providing a fruitful environment for knowledge, debate, stimulation and social interaction.

Registration deadline is April 30th 2009. For all information, details and registration, please visit the Summer Schools website:

Minority Rights, Indigenous People and Human Rights Law, June 15-20 2009:

International Criminal Court, June 21-26 2009:

Thanks to Emily Cody for compiling this listserv

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