Member Sign In
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
PDF Print E-mail
6 May 2009 News Update
RtoP Listserv
Web: www.responsibilitytoprotect
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

In this issue: [RtoP Architects on Sri Lanka, Regional Forums on RtoP, RtoP references at EU-Japan Summit, NAM Ministerial Meeting and Durban]

I. Commentary by Alex Bellamy and Gareth Evans on the Crisis in Sri Lanka
II. Latest News and Reports from Sri Lanka
III. Commentary by WFM-IGP and GCR2P on Canadian Support of the RtoP Norm
IV. Regional Forums on RtoP in Africa and Latin America
V. Heads of State and Ministers Speak on RtoP in Summit Meetings, Durban Review Conference
VI. Relevant Reports

WFM-IGP hosts Genocide Prevention Benefit Night
In April, many around the world pause to remember the horrors of no fewer than six genocides that have shocked our collective consciences. In the aftermaths of the genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia the international community promised ever again, each time only to stand by and do too little too late when next confronted with clear warning signs and even acts of genocide in places like Darfur.

At the end of another month of commemoration and reflections on lessons-learned, WFM-IGP asks what the UN is doing to prevent future genocides and mass atrocities.
How do we know a population is at risk of genocide? What are the tools at the disposal of the UN to identify these populations and respond to potential crises early?
Who is responsible for acting to prevent and halt genocide in the international community?

The World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy staff will be on hand to address these questions and more at:
Cos on Third Avenue and 44th Street, New York, NY
Thursday, May 7th from 5 - 8 p.m.

Come hungry! Cos has generously agreed to contribute
10% of the nights proceeds!
Speaker: Heather Sonner, Program Officer
Genocide Prevention Project
For more information, contact: 212-599-1320.

Event Flyer:

I. Commentary by Alex Bellamy and Gareth Evans on the Crisis in Sri Lanka

1.The Conflict in Sri Lanka and the Responsibility to Protect
e-International Relations
Alex Bellamy
1 May 2009

Alex Bellamy is the Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and the recent author of he Responsibility to Protect .E-International Relations is a hub created by students to analyze current and unfolding International Relations issues.

In mid 2008, the Sri Lankan government began a military offensive against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels known as amil Tigers. That offensive escalated at the beginning of this year as towns and cities fell to government forces. By April 2009, the rebels had been pushed into a small area of jungle near Mutulivu. Alongside the igers, however, were approximately 150,000 civilians (and around half that number at the time of writing, 1 May 2009). Many of these civilians have been prevented from fleeing to safer ground by the LTTE, which is determined to use them as human shields and bargaining chips, and subjected to aerial bombardment and mortar fire directed against the LTTE by Sri Lankan government forces.

According to the UNs Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), by April 2009 around 2,600 civilians had been killed by the fighting. Civilians trapped by the fighting therefore face a double peril: if they flee, they risk being killed by the LTTE; if they stay, they are in danger of becoming victims of the governments bombardment. To make matters worse, the Sri Lankan government has limited the access of humanitarian agencies and the UN to the disputed territory. As a result, trapped civilians have little hope of accessing vital medical help and life sustaining supplies. And finally, even if they do manage to escape, ad hoc camps for displaced persons are anything but safe havens. Not only are there scant supplies and medical support, but there have also been reports of isappearances and other violations inside the camps. The UNHCR has had some access to populations through its relief centers for the displaced populations, but has reported limited access to humanitarian supplies and an inability to protect the populations seeking access to camps.

All this has inevitably prompted some humanitarian advocates to call for urgent international action. A few have invoked the esponsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle. For instance, writing in the Washington Post, James Traub described Sri Lanka as xactly the kind of cataclysm that states vowed to prevent when they adopted the responsibility to protect. Traub called for the UN Security Council to take matters into its own hands by threatening to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, dispatching a UN envoy and considering the imposition of sanctions. In contrast, Mary Ellen OConnell rejected RtoP as a istraction likely to increase mistrust and provoke opposition to international engagement aimed at protecting the civilians who remain in peril. Which of these perspectives is right?

The first thing we need to do is be very clear about what we mean when we talk about RtoP. All too often, global debate about RtoP has been hampered by confusion about what the principle actually says - and what it does not say. There are, of course, multiple accounts of RtoP circulating today, but the definitive version is found in Paragraphs 138-140 of the 2005 UN World Summit. It is this version of RtoP-and no other-that the worlds states have agreed to. ()

What does RtoP contribute to how we think about the crisis in Sri Lanka, and how the international community should engage with this issue? The first port of call is the Sri Lankan governments responsibility to protect its own population - including, and in this case especially, its Tamil civilians. In this context, RtoP represents a unanimous and unambiguous political commitment to see that the specific responsibilities associated with sovereignty are properly adhered to. Among other things, the Sri Lankan government has a duty to three things immediately:

1. Ensure that its use of force is discriminately targeted against combatants and military objects only, and where it cannot discriminate between combatants and non-combatants treat everyone in its sights as civilians (in line with the Geneva Conventions). Where this rule is broken, the government has a duty to investigate and prosecute. If it fails to do this, the Security Council could consider referring the matter to the ICC. ()

2. Allow humanitarian agencies and the UN unhindered access to the conflict zone in order to deliver life-sustaining assistance to the civilian population. The General Assembly has passed several resolutions on this matter. () Humanitarian access requires that the government respect a humanitarian ceasefire and open a protected corridor that allows agencies into the affected areas and permits civilians to evacuate safely. For its part, the LTTE has a duty to observe the humanitarian pause, allow civilians to flee and respect the sanctity of humanitarian agencies.

3. Ensure the protection of displaced persons who have managed to flee the war zone. The treatment of displaced persons should be consistent with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which has been welcomed by the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly. Significantly, Sri Lanka is one of only a handful of states to have developed a national policy based on the Guiding Principles. The government therefore has a duty to fulfill the pledges it has freely made to the displaced in its care. This includes ensuring that the displaced do not suffer discrimination, are provided with humanitarian assistance, and protected against violent and non-violent crimes.

What is the appropriate role of the international community here? First and foremost, the international community should encourage the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its responsibilities. This is a specific duty enunciated by the 2005 World Summit. Thus, it was appropriate that the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, condemned the LTTE for placing civilians at great risk and reminded the Sri Lankan government of its responsibility to protect civilians by avoiding the use of indiscriminate heavy weapons in areas densely populated with civilians, treating the displaced in accordance with international law, and working closely with the UN to meet their protection and physical needs. The Secretary-General could also consider dispatching a high-level mediation to broker an agreement whereby the LTTE permit the safe evacuation of civilians and the Sri Lankan government facilitates the process by observing a ceasefire and opening a corridor. Should the LTTE fail to act in good faith, it should find itself subjected to punitive measures by the UN Security Council. The most helpful things that other world leaders could do would be to underscore the UN Secretary-Generals messages. ()

RtoP represents a global consensus on the three pillars discussed earlier. As a global consensus, it provides a universal and enduring standard by which to hold governments to account. This standard is not a foreign imposition. It is only what governments themselves have agreed to. But RtoP also provides a lens through which to view crises such as that in Sri Lanka; one that focuses on the rights of the victims and the international communitys responsibility to protect them. These rights are already enshrined in international law but RtoP represents a universal political commitment to protect those rights and turns attention to what needs to be done in order to protect civilians at risk. In future, let us not ask whether RtoP pplies but instead focus on what measures can reasonably be taken by reference to the three pillars identified above to protect those in need. And more importantly, to paraphrase Ban Ki-moon, let us focus on translating our fine words into deeds.


Please see below for the articles referred to by Alex Bellamy by James Traub and Mary Ellen OConnor, respectively.

At Risk in Sri Lankas War:

Sri Lanka Needs Peace, Not R2P:

2.Falling down on the job
Gareth Evans
1 May 2009

Gareth Evans was the co-chair of the 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty that produced The Responsibility to Protect report, as well as the former President of the International Crisis Group. He is currently chairing the International Commission on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

As the whole world watches the continuing calamity in Sri Lanka, with thousands of civilians dead and tens of thousands more at risk as government forces try to quash the last of the insurgent Tamil Tigers, the United Nations Security Council remains mired in debates over whether or not to even discuss the issue, with a minority of member-states obstructing any collective action in response to the crisis, or even an official review. (...)

The reality is that both the LTTE leadership -- a murderous bunch of extremists for whom no tears should be shed by Tamils in Sri Lanka or by anyone anywhere -- and the Colombo government have abdicated their responsibility to protect Sri Lankan civilians from mass-atrocity crimes. And the tragedy is that they have now been joined in this abdication by the Security Council itself, notwithstanding the unanimous resolution of the General Assembly, meeting at the heads of government level in 2005, that it should take "timely and decisive" action when "national authorities are failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."

To their credit, France, the United States, Britain, and a number of other proactive Security Council members have ratcheted up pressure in recent weeks. They have pushed -- albeit cautiously -- for the council to review Sri Lanka as an official agenda item, and carefully negotiated a series of informal remarks on behalf of the council.

But because of consistent obstruction by a handful of member states, the issue continues to be relegated to informal statements and unofficial meetings -- not in the Security Council chamber -- but in the basement of the U.N. building. Those signaling varying degrees of opposition to council engagement have been China, Russia, Libya, Vietnam and --most surprisingly and disappointingly, given its role in advocating human security generally and civilian protection specifically -- Japan. While the tacit approval of a military endgame against a terrorist group is understandable enough, looking the other way as tens of thousands of innocent civilians are imperiled in the process is indefensible.

Since February, four U.N. envoys have been dispatched on missions to Sri Lanka to assess the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the status of displaced persons, and to discuss political solutions to the current crisis with President Rajapaksa and senior government officials. Despite obtaining a series promises from Colombo, no U.N. needs-assessment team has been received, humanitarian access remains limited, and the shelling continues.

Well aware of the absence of determined and united international action -- by the council in particular -- the government has defaulted on its promises and paid mere lip service to calls for restraint, all the while pursuing its military onslaught. But Colombo's intense efforts to prevent a review by the Security Council, with much lobbying in member state capitals, show how much weight effective council action would have.
Immediate -- and official -- action by the Council should include securing a U.N. needs assessment, the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid, and open access for the ICRC and U.N. agencies to all reception and screening points. The council could also facilitate steps toward an internationally-supervised surrender of the LTTE and a lasting political settlement.

It must be made crystal clear to both the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government that they will be held accountable for their actions. The council could consider a U.N. commission of inquiry to examine the likelihood of war crimes committed by both sides. The longer the Security Council delays taking action of this kind, the longer atrocities will continue. Its relative silence is a matter for growing shame with each passing day.


II. Latest News and Reports from Sri Lanka

1. Sri Lanka--Thousands Caught in Conflict
5 May 2009

According to reports from those remaining inside the conflict zone, fighting has intensified with both light and heavy weapons being used, according to OCHA quoted during the daily noon briefing at Un Headquarters in new York.

As of today, more than 188,000 people have crossed out of the conflict zone, with the vast majority accommodated in Internally Displaced Persons camps in Vavuniya. Over 186,000 are in camps, and some 1,700 wounded and their caregivers are in hospitals. Some 50,000 or more people are still trapped in the conflict zone. In Vavuniya, there have been positive developments in addressing basic needs for the influx of IDPs. Among them, the World Food Programme has been able to accelerate food distribution in Vavuniya, and the Government of Sri Lanka has agreed that cooked meals should be provided at Omanthai screening point. ()

Asked about reports of shelling, the UN Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was unable to confirm such reports independently, but added that it remains particularly concerned about the situation of the estimated 50,000 remaining civilians in the area, who are believed to be at serious risk. The United Nations also remains concerned about heavy fighting, she said.

Food, water and other basic supplies from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations were en route on 30 April to help some 175,000 civilians, while 4,500 family-sized tents had been set up in the past four days by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes during a 29 April press conference in New York.

Mr. Holmes also said he had met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and key Government ministers in the nations capital, Colombo, on Monday to push for a umanitarian pause in the fighting and give United Nations and other aid workers sufficient time to unload and distribute essential supplies. However, Sri Lankan officials had rejected that request, claiming that the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would exploit the lull to regroup militarily and continue their armed resistance. The United Nations would continue to press for a pause and full access to the zone for its staff.


Press Briefing by Sir John Holmes:

To see the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Situation Update as of 29-31 April 2009, please see the following link:$File/full_report.pdf

2.Aid agencies struggle as Sri Lanka crisis escalates
Nita Bhalla
1 May 2009

Aid agencies in northern Sri Lanka, where over 100,000 people have recently fled a tiny war zone, say they're overwhelmed by the exodus and ill-equipped for the next one. Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the battle ground on the northeast coast where government troops are fighting Tamil Tiger separatists in the final days of a war that has lasted a quarter of a century.

But as troops move to wipe out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, aid workers say they will face major hurdles in providing basic assistance to thousands more traumatised, wounded and malnourished survivors expected to stream into camps for the displaced in the coming days or weeks. () Aid agencies are pressing the government to identify new sites for camps where resources are more available. They also want the government to come up with a clear plan on how it will resettle people as soon as possible - something they feel may encourage donors to fund immediate relief needs.

A key concern in the camps is the provision of water and sanitation facilities such as pit latrines, say aid workers. "All the immediate water needs are being met by trucking in water bowsers," said David White, Oxfam's deputy country director. "We are looking at setting up piping systems from nearby rivers and purification units but this will take a lot of time." ()

Already stretched medical services have also been burdened by the huge influx of civilians from the war zone - many suffering from injuries, including 150 wounded in mine explosions. Many civilians are also seriously malnourished and anaemic, say relief workers. () Aid agencies also want the authorities to ease pressure in the shelters by allowing civilians who do not pose a security risk to return home, including unaccompanied children, the elderly and the wounded.

Many local aid workers - 13 of whom are working for the United Nations - should also be released, relief groups say, adding that it would be helpful to have their expertise. The government has so far only released 1,200 mostly elderly civilians. It says camp dwellers present a serious security risk and has restricted their communications as well as their movement. ()

Aid agencies are now launching multi-million dollar emergency appeals to help them provide for the displaced and prepare for new arrivals from the war zone. Tents, food and non-food items are being flown in, but charities remain concerned about funding.

"All the agencies are trying to scale up their response for the next exodus, but we all need funding and this is one of the biggest reasons behind our constraints," said the country director of one international aid group. The United Nations has raised just 30 percent of the funds it needed for a $155 million appeal made in February and is planning to launch an emergency appeal on Monday.

Some aid workers feel there is fatigue among donors over Asia's longest running conflict. Others believe donors are nervous about committing resources - possibly concerned about government plans to keep civilians in the camps for two or three years.
"The international community has expressed concern over a plan that would keep a huge population inside areas for that period of time," said Zola Dowell, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"It would mean we would be asked to pour resources into supporting the government in maintaining these kind of structures as opposed to providing help for people to go back home."


3.Sri Lanka president, rebels vow to fight on
Associated Press
Ravi Nessman
29 April 2009

Sri Lanka said Thursday it would push ahead with its offensive against the Tamil Tigers, brushing off international calls for a cease-fire aimed at protecting thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone.
The rebels, facing near-certain defeat, vowed to fight on as well.

The defiant statements left little hope of averting a violent finale to the civil war that has plagued this Indian Ocean island nation for more than a quarter-century. The British and French foreign ministers came to Sri Lanka on Wednesday to press for a truce and Japan's special mediator for the conflict, Yasushi Akashi, was to arrive Thursday to appeal to the government to safeguard the estimated 50,000 civilians trapped by the fighting.

But President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he had no intention of calling off the military, which has cornered the remaining rebel fighters in a tiny strip of land along the northeast coast. "The government is not ready to enter into any kind of cease-fire with the terrorists," he said.

Rajapaksa said his government was trying to rescue the trapped civilians, and appeared impatient at the continued truce appeals. "It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don't need lectures from Western representatives," he said, according to highlights of a speech distributed by his office.
Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the president's brother, said the war would not end until rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is captured or killed, according to The Island newspaper.()

"If any country really cares about these people, I ask that country to go beyond its 'diplomatic boundaries' for the sake of saving human lives and make Sri Lanka stop this genocidal war," rebel political chief Balasingam Nadesan told The Associated Press in an e-mail interview from the war zone.

In recent months, government troops forced the Tamil Tigers out of the shadow state they controlled in the north and cornered them in a narrow coastal strip. The U.N. says nearly 6,500 ethnic Tamil civilians have been killed in the offensive. The rebels called for a cease-fire Sunday; the government demanded the separatists surrender instead. Nadesan rejected that demand. "Surrendering and laying down our arms are out of the question. Our freedom struggle will continue until (our) legitimate aspirations are met," he said. During their visit, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his British counterpart, David Miliband, expressed the EU's concern over the rising civilian death toll. They appealed for humanitarian workers to be allowed into the area to deliver badly needed aid, but the request was denied, Kouchner said.The Red Cross said Thursday that conditions in the war zone were desperate.

"Given the catastrophic situation of thousands of displaced, sick and wounded people still in the conflict area, the parties must do more to protect them and must allow more food and medicine into the area," said Monica Zanarelli, an official with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The government and international rights groups have accused the rebels of holding the civilians as human shields to slow the military offensive. ()


III. Commentary by WFM-IGP and GCR2P on Canadian Support of the RtoP Norm

1. Has Canada's R2P About-Face Come Too Late?
The Embassy
Michelle Collins
22 April 2009

The Embassy is a Canadian Foreign Policy Magazine. A piece by journalist Michelle Collins examines Canadas role in RtoP and its promotion, both from the 2001 Commission to the Harper governments instructions to its representatives and Ministers to not use the terms toP and uman security, as they saw them as remnants of the previous liberal Canadian government. Ms. Collins interviewed William Pace, the Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, which serves as the Secretariat for the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, Sapna Chhatpar, Project Manager of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, and Monica Serrano, the Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Their remarks are included below.

An internal DFAIT document alludes to the fact that the new U.S. administrationhose ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, is described as a trong advocate of R2Ps expected to support advancing the doctrine into policy, and that the U.S. will ikely to seek to work with Canada. Standing before a packed room at the University of Ottawa in early March, former Canadian ambassador to the UN Allan Rock declared that the Responsibility to Protect was "at great risk" from both its opponents, and some friends. ()

But documents obtained by Embassy show that the Conservative governmentully aware the Obama administration has largely embraced the ideaas done an about-face on its once wilful neglect of the Responsibility to Protect and the Department of Foreign Affairs has instructed its overseas missions to engage with local officials on the matter, and bring them onside. () "Part of our efforts will focus on identifying countries which may be persuaded to use the debate to build support for the principle, including advocating for it to be put into practice, and tabling a resolution that will translate this responsibility into practical action for the international community and the UN. This will be done in the event that opponents of R2P put forth an unhelpful resolution," the letter states. ()

Recent movement on R2P may also have come in response to a report issued on Jan. 30 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon exploring how to implement the 2005 resolution. The secretary-general has committed to turning the R2P concept into a policy during his tenure, and a General Assembly debate on doing so is expected sometime this spring. ()

Mr. Rock, who led Canada's diplomatic efforts at the UN to get R2P passed in 2005, has joined forces with former Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy to publicly lament Canada's apparent abandonment of the doctrine. "...there will have to be a renewed sense of political leadership that seeks to reignite the commitment. Many of the earlier champions have fallen by the wayside (in particular, alas, Canada). New champions will have to emerge," Mssrs. Rock and Axworthy write in the 2009 academic journal Global Responsibility to Protect. ()

Bill Pace, executive director of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, said that in the last two years, Ottawa's support for R2P was "drastically diminished." "I talked to ambassadors in Africa and Asia who told me they were under instruction not to use the term R2P or 'human security' because the Harper government considered it part of the Liberal government legacy," Mr. Pace said. "The UN mission of Canada has stayed steadfast in support of Responsibility to Protect...some ambassadors told me. But it's probably very accurate that the current government saw this as key elements of the previous government's foreign policy, and distanced themselves from it." ()

Indeed, Canada's public endorsements of R2P at the UN over the past few years appear to be rather sparse. In a statement at the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in December 2006, Canada's UN ambassador, John McNee, avoided using the term "responsibility to protect" altogether. Instead, he welcomed the Security Council's "adoption of resolution 1674," which reaffirmed the 2005 World Summit resolution on R2P. At that same Security Council debate in 2007, Mr. McNee again side-stepped outright endorsement of the doctrine, stating only that "operationalizing the concept of the Responsibility to Protect must be the focus of further Council work."

Warren Allmand, a former Liberal MP and president of the NGO World Federalist Movement, went so far as to write a letter to then-foreign affairs minister David Emerson last year. Mr. Emerson replied in October, stating that Canada continues to be active, co-chairing the Group of Friends and providing funds to the Global Centre for R2P in New York. Mr. Emerson said Canada was exploring ways to consolidate support amongst UN members for the concept and "prevent backsliding" and that the government planned to work with others to "translate the principle into practical measures which can be used as a basis for action."

A General Assembly debate on R2P was expected in April. Last week, however, the debate was postponednother setback in the ongoing campaign to operationalize R2P before its detractors can tear it down. () Mr. Allmand said political support for the International Criminal Court was "lagging" until NGOs and human rights groups began lobbying all over the world. ()

This past January, the New York-based International Coalition for R2P launched a campaign to recruit organizations around the world to become involved. The coalition has been built out of the now-retired R2P Civil Society group, a project spurred by Paul Heinbecker, who was Canada's ambassador to the UN from 2000 until 2004. "We're now trying to be more strategic on who we have in this coalition and what these groups can do and we want to do it at a global level, building support in capitals around the world," said project manager Sapna Chhatpar. "We want to mobilize to make sure governments support R2P in New York...and we want to use our NGO contacts and see to what extent, and how much pressure we can put on NGOs and governments."
Monica Serrano, executive director of the Global Centre on R2P, said there has been a "conceptual shift" at the UN because states no longer challenge the notion that sovereignty entails responsibility. As a result, she said, it has become increasingly difficult for states to question the core assumptions that underpin R2P. ()

However the real test for the doctrine's survival will be whether or not it can actually be put to use for the protection of civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes or crimes against humanity. "We haven't yet confronted the question in a real case...the most important challenge is working with other like-minded countries to prepare the ground for the actual implementation of R2P," Mr. Rock said. "It's meaningless for someone who might be the subject of a genocide unless it's put to use, unless the Security Council is able to summon the political will to invoke it."


IV. Regional Forums on RtoP in Africa and Latin America

1. Strengthening Civil Society in the EAC: Sharing Experiences with other RECs
East African Civil Society Organizations Forum
20-21 March 2009

The 3rd Annual East Africa Civil Society Organizations Forum was held on 21-20 March 2009 in Arusha, Tanzania, and featured a panel on the Responsibility to Protect. The panelists included Sapna Chhatpar, Project Manager at the International Coalition for RtoP, Franois J. Godbout, Programme Officer of the East Africa Law Society, and Dismas Nkunda, co-director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative. The discussion was introduced by Ms. Salome Katia, the Executive Director of AMANI Forum. A summary of the remarks is below.

Ms. Salome Katia, Executive Director of AMANI Forum introduced the Responsibility to Protect norm (RtoP) with the five tenets upon which it is based as below;

Civil society as a custodian for civility- given that CSOs have a duty to engage in a reform agenda and establishing facts to facilitate intervention.
Prevention as early warning - observing that alerting relevant institutions in the prevention of conflict depends on the penetration civil society has had in the given community.
RtoP as a subsisting principle - noting that civil society is already engaged in advocacy with governments in conflict prevention and intervention.
Cultural backing of RtoP- realizing that civil society provides conducive environments for intervention in humanitarian crises.
Creation of awareness and consensus on other social change issues - acknowledging that CSOs must engage the concept and reach consensus on its meaning and application.
Civil society as already engaged in promulgating the RtoP norm given that through the monitoring of government activities and determining the need for soft and hard intervention CSOs are engaging the norm.

Ms. Katia also identified some challenges that face RtoP. The subjectivity of the interpretation of the norm had lead to disagreements and even misunderstandings on the issue. A constant challenge to the implementation of the RtoP norm continues to be the varying levels of political will by governments. A third concern was that the RtoP norm places insufficient emphasis on the root causes of conflict. Further, the norms legal status remains unclear. ()

In terms of challenges, Ms. Chhatpar intimated that although many governments had agreed to the RtoP principle at the 2005 World Summit, not many knew of its existence and how it works. There were also sentiments expressed by some governments that the RtoP norm only involved the use of force while some viewed it as a solution to all existing problems, a misconception given that its scope is limited to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

A second challenge to the advancement of the norm had been its misuse. Ms. Chhatpar pointed to crises in Iran and Burma that had lead to interventions based on self-interests of the intervening states. A third challenge she mentioned was the lack of consensus on what prevention meant and how prevention measures work. As a point of discussion, she raised concerns about how soon intervention should begin the legal basis for intervention, the modus operandi of intervention and the basis for authorization of intervention measures through the Security Council.

Normative challenges included establishing the legal grounding for RtoP given that it builds on previous interventions based on genocide and humanitarian crises. She further added that the RtoP norm was merely an agreement and had no force of law. A third normative challenge was ensuring the RtoP norm was domesticated in existing legal instruments such as the African Charter and regional frameworks on conflict prevention such as those at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The RtoP principle also faced political challenges closely associated with the lack of political will and operational challenges such as building the capacity of civilian and military units. ()

Ms. Chhatpar concluded her presentation by announcing the launch of ICRtoP. The Coalition would bring together civil society groups from all regions of the world with the goals of strengthening normative consensus for the norm, building and fortifying a like-minded group of governments in support of RtoP and mobilizing civil society to push for action to save lives in country-specific situations.

Mr. Dismas Nkunda Co-Director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative in his presentation on RtoP in the EAC pointed to Darfur as an opportunity for EAC Partner States to apply and operationalize the RtoP norm. Nkunda mentioned that RtoP might have helped to solve the Burundi crisis. He concluded by asserting that EAC Partner States have firm commitments under both the EAC Peace and Security Architecture and under the African Union. ()

Full report:

2. Regional Forum on Responsibility to Protecteeting Summary
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
26-27 February 2009

The following Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Responsibility to Protect was hosted in Mexico on 26-27 of February 2009. Further topics included discussion of views on the Secretary Generals report, and the role to be played by the General Assembly, Security Council, and Civil Society. The Regional Forum focused upon RtoP as a 3 Pillar approach consisting of pillar I) the Responsibility of the State, Pillar II) Assistance of State in Exercising their Responsibility, and Pillar III) Timely and Decisive Action on the part of member states.

This regional forum for Latin America and the Caribbean was the first of its kind following the release of the January 2009 report of the UN Secretary-General (UN SG) on the Responsibility to Protect. Government representatives from capitals, embassies and missions to the United Nations were joined by NGOs and academics from the region. Participants welcomed the opportunity to exchange views in a regional context on the responsibility to protect and the Secretary-Generals report.

Full Meeting Summary:

V. Heads of State and Ministers Speak on RtoP in Summit Meetings, Durban Review Conference

1. Joint Press Statement--18th EU-Japan Summit
4 May 2009

On 4 May 2009, representatives of the European Union and Japan attended the 18th European Union-Japan Summit. Vclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, High Representative Dr. Javier Solana and Jos Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in Prague, Czech Republic. Summit leaders committed themselves to promoting the EU-Japanese strategic partnership, and cooperate on shared values regarding human rights, good governance, the rule of law, sustainable development, and a market-based economy. Topics discussed included Peace and Security, as well as Global Responsibility. The Press Statement released jointly by the EU and Japan included the following aspects:

Summit leaders underlined the importance of fully implementing the reforms of the UN system adopted at the 2005 UN Summit, including reform of the main UN bodies, as referred to in the outcome document, in order to strengthen the UNs capacity to effectively address global challenges. Summit leaders also underscored the importance of further multilateral cooperation, including in the work of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. They also stressed the need to achieve concrete results on a new UN scale of assessments. ()

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen Africas Peace and Security Architecture by the African Union, to improve Africas peacekeeping capabilities. Both sides stressed the importance of dealing with humanitarian crisis such as in Darfur, Chad/Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo. ()

Summit leaders expressed their hope that the Government of Myanmar tackles the countrys severe political, structural and economic problems and fosters a peaceful transition to a legitimate, democratic and civilian government without delay. They pointed out that elections planned for 2010 could be welcomed by the international community if they were based on an inclusive dialogue among all the stakeholders in Myanmar. In this context, they called on Myanmar to release political prisoners and detainees, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and to lift all restrictions imposed on political parties immediately. ()

Summit leaders expressed deep concern over the large number of civilians who are still caught in the conflict area in Northern Sri Lanka, in particular the many continuing reports of civilian casualties and fatalities. They condemned efforts by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to prevent civilians from leaving and urged them to free all civilians, and the Sri Lankan military to guarantee their safe passage. They called on the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to comply fully with international humanitarian law and to end the conflict. () Summit leaders called on all parties in Sri Lanka to engage in an inclusive political process that addressed the legitimate concerns of all communities. ()

Summit leaders reaffirmed their intention to cooperate in the area of human security by promoting this concept in the UN and other international fora, and to pursue dialogue on human security. They also stressed the need for the General Assembly of the United Nations to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law, as stated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

Full Press Release:

2. Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau
27-30 April 2009
Havana, Cuba

On 27-30 April 2009, the non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau met in Havana, Cuba, to discuss preparations for the forthcoming XV Conference of Heads of State in the Non-Aligned Movement, to be held in Sharm-el Sheikh, Egypt on 15 and 16 July 2009. In preparation for this, they reviewed and deliberated global issues of collective concern.

They re-affirmed the 5 principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, which are 1) mutual respect for each others territorial integrity and sovereignty, 2) mutual non-aggression, 3) mutual non-interference in domestic affairs, 4) equality and mutual benefit, and 5) peaceful coexistence. Topics discussed and included in the meeting included regional and sub-regional political issues, human rights , and social and developmental issues, and UN reform. Included in the meeting report was the Responsibility to Protect, in regards to the promotion and preservation of multilateralism. Excerpts from the document are reprinted below.

19.2 Remain seized of and active in further deliberations in the UN General Assembly on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, bearing in mind the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in their internal affairs, as well as respect for fundamental human rights. The Movement took note of the presentation by the Secretary General of the Report mplementing the responsibility to protect (document A/63/677);

61.5 The Ministers reiterated the role of the General Assembly in the maintenance of international peace and security and expressed grave concern at instances wherein the Security Council fails to address cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or ceasefire between parties, in fulfilment of its primary responsibility in this regard; ()

Full Meeting Report:

3. Durban Review Conference Outcome Document
24 April 2009

Held in Geneva from 20-24 April 2009, the Durban Review Conference was attended by heads of state and institutional actors. The annual Durban Review Conference reviews the ground-breaking Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DPAA) established in 2001 in Durban, South Africa to combat racism in all manifestations, strengthen education, fight poverty, secure development, improve access to justice, and bolster respect for rule of law and human rights. The DPAA included framework for the inclusion of governments, institutions, and civil society actors to work together to eradicate racism and xenophobia.

The delegates reaffirmed their ommitment to prevent, combat and eradicate racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. Delegates adopted a section within the report on the auses, sources, forms, and contemporary manifestations of racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. Paragraphs 138-139 of the World Summit Outcome Document were highlighted as a provision to prevent against ethnic conflict. Portions of the Conference Document are included below.

4. Expresses concern that challenges and obstacles identified in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action remain to be addressed and overcome in order to effectively prevent, combat and eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that there are still many areas where achievements have not been gained or further improvements have to be attained;

5. Emphasizes the need to address with greater resolve and political will all forms and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in all parts of the world and in all spheres of life; ()

8. Reaffirms the responsibility of Governments for safeguarding and protecting the rights of individuals within their jurisdiction against crimes perpetrated by racist or xenophobic individuals or groups or agents of the State; ()

10. Reaffirms that democracy and transparent, responsible, accountable and participatory governance at the national, regional and international levels, responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people, are essential to effectively prevent, combat and eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; ()

12. Reaffirms that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law; reaffirms further that all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts shall be declared offence punishable by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression;

13. Recognizes that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are still among the root causes of armed conflict and very often one of its consequences and deplores the occurrences of armed conflicts as well as ethnic or religious violence, and notes, in this respect, relevant provisions of the 2005 World Summit outcome, in particular paragraphs 138 and 139;

14. Reaffirms that the principles of equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that are essential in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;

Full Outcome document:

VI. Relevant Reports

1.Acting Against Atrocities: A Strategy for Supporters of the Responsibility to Protect
Harvard Belfer Center
Claire Applegarth and Andrew Block
April 2009

The following paper was written by students Claire Applegarth and Andrew Block as a masters thesis at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvards Kennedy School of Government, in addition to being featured in a series on Kennedy students work.

Executive Summary:
The advent of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) signals the international communitys commitment to ending genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, and serves as a declaration that state sovereignty will no longer be a shield behind which perpetrators of mass atrocities can hide.

Despite achieving consensus for RtoPs vision among UN member states in 2005, efforts to move RtoP from words to action have stalled. The ability of RtoP supporters to regain momentum has been complicated by their own diverging views on RtoP. Lack of coordination has caused them to struggle in arriving at a common understanding of the concept and has hampered efforts to develop a clear vision for its implementation.

As supporters attention has been focused almost exclusively on an upcoming RtoP debate in the UN General Assembly, there is a void in strategic thinking on the long-term evolution of RtoP. With this consideration in mind, the purpose of this report is threefold: (1) to uncover the areas in which conceptual ambiguity surrounding RtoP persists and recommend ways to better coordinate supporters positions and messaging; (2) to determine how RtoP supporters can better mainstream RtoP into their own national-level institutions and processes; and (3) to propose a strategy for sustaining the political will to act on RtoP by moving dialogue and action to forums outside the UN. ()

Full Report:

2. Annual Parliamentary Hearing Reporthe Responsibility to Protect
2008 Parliamentary Hearing
20 February 2009

The 2008 IPU Hearings took Place on the 20th and 21st of November 2008, and featured panels on the Responsibility to Protect, Sexual Violence against Women and Children in Conflict, Human Security, and Peacekeeping Operations.

The panel on the Responsibility to Protect featured Dr. Edward Luck, the Special Advisor to the Secretary General with a focus on the Responsibility to Protect, H.E. Joseph Nsengimana, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations, and Ms. Nicola Reindorp, the Director of Advocacy at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Their remarks and excerpts from the portion of the report on RtoP are excerpted below.

Session I: Responsibility to Protect
() The Summit Outcome document calls for further consideration of the responsibility to protect by the General Assembly, which will happen in 2009. A small number of States, while expressing their willingness to support the first two pillars, are now objecting to the third pillar, that of response. However, the essence of the agreement in 2005 was to move beyond the quibbling of the previous decade about whether the United Nations should act in cases of mass atrocity crimes and instead stipulate clearly that it should. It is imperative that the debate be constructive, focused not on rehashing arguments about what has been agreed, but on what the responsibility to protect should mean in practice. Here, parliamentarians have a major responsibility to ensure that their governments do not retreat from the agreement, but instead concentrate on what they will do to fulfil their responsibility to protect their
populations, what they will do to assist other States, and what they need from each other or the United Nations to do so.

In the discussion that followed the panellists remarks, the participants observed that, fundamentally, the doctrine of the responsibility to protect builds upon existing commitments, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the statute of the International Criminal Court. It would be counterproductive to attempt to expand the doctrine beyond the four crimes that the world leaders had agreed should be cited in the World Summit Outcome document. Attempting to invoke the doctrine in a wider range of circumstances would lead to a generalized situation of intervention in the affairs of a State by others, which would be counter to the United Nations Charter. ()

Also, because of its close focus on the four crimes, the responsibility to protect is different from humanitarian intervention, which is a much broader concept. Whereas States might fear that humanitarian intervention could be misused to allow other States to meddle in their internal concerns, the language of the World Summit Outcome document makes it clear that the responsibility to protect can be invoked only if governments anifestly fail to protect their populations from the four crimes: in other words, only when the evidence of their failure is clearly to be seen.

The parliamentarians also pointed out that:

In a situation where the responsibility to protect is going to be invoked, the international community should not adhere to too rigid a timetable. If it waits too long for confirmation that a country is not fulfilling its obligation to protect its citizens, and then waits even longer for confirmation that peaceful means of persuasion are proving inadequate, intervention will arrive too late to prevent catastrophe. It should be possible to move rapidly from one stage to the next, or even implement measures of differing types simultaneously.

Parliaments should codify the agreement of 2005 by incorporating the doctrine into domestic law and by ensuring that national penal codes criminalize the four classes of abuse in question. They should also hold debates around the provisions and implications of the responsibility to protect, promote awareness and contribute to its implementation, press governments to stand by the agreements to which they subscribed in 2005, and ensure that measures, including coercive measures such as arms embargoes or trade sanctions, are fully implemented.

Governments should be urged to set up functional networks for the collection and timely transmission to the United Nations of information providing early warning of situations that threaten to deteriorate into genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.

Governments should work to ensure that the United Nations plays its proper role, under both the Charter and the mandate implicit in the responsibility to protect, which means taking care not to regionalize issues excessively, while still making use of the capacities of regional organizations and civil society bodies; they should also support the proposed extension of the mandate of the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to also include war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Full report:

Browse Documents by Region:

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
c/o World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
708 Third Avenue, Suite 1715, New York, NY 10017