#R2P Weekly: 19 – 23 October 2015

Untitled

Curbing Security Council Vetoes

(Ahead of the launch of the ‘Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes’ at the United Nations today, Fadel Abdul Ghany, Founder and Chairman of ICRtoP member Syrian Network for Human Rights, and William Pace, Executive Director of WFM-Institute for Global Policy, a founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP,wrote the following piece on the ICRtoP blog.) 

Since the founding of the United Nations seventy years ago, five states—China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, often referred to as the P5—have wielded a so-called “veto power”. Veto power means that whenever the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—to apply an arms embargo on North Korea, to create a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or authorize sanctions on South Sudan, etc.—these five countries individually have the power to stop the resolution from going forward. A veto scuttles the chances for any collective and legal international action to address situations which concern all of humanity—whether they be a potential future genocide in Myanmar, Kim Jong-un’s terrorization of his population, and recurrent war crimes in Gaza. (…)

Read the rest of the piece here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

According to local civil society groups, clashes between the military and Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) that resumed over the weekend have displaced over 2,700 people. Eighteen human rights organizations urged the Government to halt its army attacks in the Shan State, claiming that they undermine the possibility of a lasting peace agreement.

The government has determined an estimated four million people, out of the 33.5 million population, to be ineligible to vote in the upcoming election. These include the Rohingya, internally displaced persons, and Burmese citizens who do not live in the country.

Amnesty International released a report, “Deadly Journeys- The Refugee and Trafficking Crisis in Southeast Asia”, which reveals the shocking conditions and human rights abuses suffered by the 1,800 mostly Rohingya people that arrived in three boats in Aceh, Indonesia in May 2015.


Burundi:

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) expressed grave concern over the spiraling violence, as at least 140 people have been killed in Burundi since post-election violence broke out in April. Almost two dozen deaths occurred in the past two weeks.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council recommended that the AU urgently send troops to Burundi and open investigations into rights abuses as violence worsens. Most recently, the body of a treasurer for the opposition MSD party, Charlotte Umugwaneza, was found near a river outside the capital.

The European Union requested that the Burundi government partake in talks in Brussels to find a solution to the political crisis that has killed more than 120 people and displaced 190,000. The EU, who provides about half of Burundi’s annual budget, has said that further sanctions would be a last resort should talks fail. The EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on four officials close to President Nkurunziza who are accused of excessive force during clashes.


Central African Republic:

Seven United Nations police were ambushed and illegally detained by alleged anti-Balaka armed groups this weekend near the capital. They were released without their equipment or weapons, while another separate incident involved a MINUSCA member being fired upon by unknown armed men.

ICRtoP Member Human Rights Watch reported that after five days of increased sectarian violence in Bangui, at least 31 targeted killings of civilians including on the elderly and a pregnant woman have occurred.


 

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Attacks, suspected to be perpetrated by the ADF, killed six in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Local activists say that more than 500 people have been murdered in overnight massacres sweeping the Beni area in the past twelve months.


Gaza:

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun briefed the UN Security Council at an emergency session last Friday against the backdrop of escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including the violent incident in which a large group of Palestinians set fire to the compound containing the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. Mr Zerihoun said that the UN welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the arson attack and his announcement that a committee has been established to conduct a full investigation into the crime. Also on Friday, Israel deployed more troops to the border with Gaza.

In Gaza, the ruling Palestinian group Hamas has called for Day of Rage demonstrations. In the West Bank, the ‘Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade’, an armed group with affiliations to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah’s party, announced it was breaking a yearlong truce with Israel. Additionally, a Palestinian man wearing a press vest stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron, before being shot dead by Israeli forces. During the demonstrations in Gaza, two Palestinians were killed and at least 100 others injured when Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to the people of Palestine and Israel in a video message urging leaders on both sides to end the “posturing and brinkmanship” and get serious about pursuing the two-state solution. Ban also travelled to the region to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, as well as Israeli and Palestinian victims of these recent hostilities. Upon his return, Ban briefed the council on Wednesday.


Guinea:

Mr. Alpha Conde won the election in the first round with 58% of the vote, taking on his second term as president. His main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who denounced the vote as fraudulent last week, received 31% and has called for peaceful protests. Figures released on Friday showed a turnout of 66% of Guinea’s six million registered voters.

Amnesty International reported that Guinean Security forces shot two unarmed people and beat another person to death in the lead up to elections.


Iraq:

Human Rights Watch reported that security forces of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) opened fire on protestors who had gathered to demand jobs, wage payment, and the resignation of Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and head of the KDP, in which five people were killed.

Approximately 70 hostages were freed from ISIL captivity in a joint operation between US and Kurdish military forces in which one US soldier was wounded and later died.


Libya:

The UN Security Council threatened to impose sanctions on those who blocked the peace deal for Libya. The Council also “urged all Libyan parties to endorse and sign” the political deal and work swiftly to create a unity government. Nevertheless, Libya’s internationally recognized government (HoR) announced that they would not sign the UN proposal for a unity government because of the UN’s refusal to exclude amendments that were added by the rival GNC government without HoR consent. UN Special Representative for Libya Bernardino León declared that the effort towards forming a unity government in Libya would continue despite that some parties had not voted for the UN-backed political agreement.


Mali:

The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, noted that positive developments were being made in Mali but that the “precarious security situation” remains, which creates an environment where violations of the most fundamental human rights can occur.


Nigeria:

Multiple attacks occurred in northeastern Nigeria last Friday including 4 suicide attacks by women who set off explosives, killing at least 18 people, and two bombs that were detonated near a mosque in Maiduguri, killing at least 30 people and wounding 20. On Saturday, two female suicide bombers attacked Dar village, killing at least 11 people. This week, suspected Boko Haram gunmen opened fire on four cars just outside Jingalta village, killing all 20 passengers inside.

With President Muhammadu Buhari’s deadline to rid Nigeria of insurgents approaching in December, the Nigerian Military issued a “Final Warning” to Boko Haram insurgents to desist from acts of terror and turn themselves in.


South Sudan:

Riek Machar, the armed opposition leader of the SPLM – IO, condemned a number of unilateral decisions by South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, stating that his decisions were undermining the implementation of the most recent peace agreement that was signed in August. Machar particularly objected to Kiir unilaterally creating 28 states in the region and dissolving structures of the ruling party.

South Sudanese rival parties, led by President Kiir and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, are scheduled to resume negotiations shortly in order to finalize security arrangements of the previously brokered peace deal and discuss its implementation.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) declared that South Sudan is facing serious risk of famine by the end of this year with 30,000 people classified as being in a food security catastrophe.


Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan Judge Maxwell Paranagama, in the first government inquiry into the atrocities during the civil war, found the allegations that the army committed war crimes during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers to be credible.


Sudan/Darfur:

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) declared a six-month cessation of hostilities and declared itself ready to negotiate with the government ahead of scheduled peace talks. The group also encouraged the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to hold an immediate meeting with the Sudanese government to arrange the implementation of the cessation.

The UN announced that the Sudanese government started releasing food rations and other necessary supplies for peacekeepers in the Darfur region, though more than 200 shipping containers have yet to be cleared by Khartoum. Last week, the Sudanese government was accused of withholding essential supplies from UNAMID.

South Africa’s government has asked Khartoum to send a substitute for President Al-Bashir for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled for next December in Johannesburg.


Syria:

Last Friday, Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, launched new attacks against rebels south of Aleppo, reportedly involving hundreds of troops from Hezbollah and Iran. Tens of thousands of Syrians fled the government offensive within a span of three days.

Over the weekend, an airstrike by unidentified warplanes killed at least 40 ISIL fighters.

OCHA announced that a joint UN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent operation delivered essential medical and humanitarian supplies to 30,000 people in besieged areas.

Activists in Syria reported that ISIL ordered all boys and men aged 14 and above located in Raqqa to register their names and addresses with local police. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian airstrikes have killed dozens of people in the rebel-held Jabal al-Akrad region in Latakia province, including a rebel commander who formerly served in President Bashar Assad’s army. At least 45 people were killed in total, making it one of the deadliest incidents since Russia began its aerial attacks nearly three weeks ago.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, which was his first overseas trip since the civil war broke out in his country in 2011.


Yemen:

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels have agreed to peace talks in Geneva at the end of October. A Yemeni government spokesman confirmed the talks, but did not confirm whether the Houthis had provided assurances to withdraw from cities or hand over weapons.

An Al Qaeda suicide attack killed 10 Yemeni soldiers in the western city Hodaida on Friday. Al Qaeda, ISIL and other Islamist militant groups have gained ground in Yemen in recent months.

Medical sources reported that fourteen civilians were killed and 70 injured by Houthi shelling on neighbourhoods in Taiz. The next day, Yemeni government forces killed at least 20 Houthi fighters. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen stated separately that air strikes on civilian areas of Taiz on Wednesday killed 22 people and wounded 140 others. Elsewhere, coalition planes bombed a small island in the Red Sea close to the port of Midi, reportedly killing 10 civilians.

Afshan Khan, director of UNICEF emergency programs, said more than half a million children in Yemen face life-threatening malnutrition – a three-fold increase since the conflict began in March. Dr. Ahmed Shadoul of the World Health Organization in Yemen appealed to warring parties to guarantee unrestricted humanitarian access to Taiz, where masses of civilians are in critical need of health assistance, water, food and fuel. Dr. Shadoul also declared that $60 million is needed for life-saving response operations in Yemen until the end of 2015.


What else is new?

At least four people were killed when security forces in Congo-Brazzaville opened fire on protesters demonstrating against constitutional change aimed at retaining President Nguesso in power. The next day, security forces in Congo capital fired warning shots and teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters and later arrested and detained 18 opposition activists who had attempted to hold a press conference in the capital.

On Thursday November 19th, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation will host an event to mark the launch of a new publication by Ms. Andrea Gualde, the Auschwitz Institute’s Senior Adviser for Latin America Programs. The publication is entitled “Reparations for Crimes Against Humanity as Public Policy – Argentina’s Relationship with the Past: From the Individual to the Collective as a Tool for Prevention.” The event will take place at 4:00pm-5:30pm – RSVP to info@auschwitzinstitute.org by November 6th


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Curbing Security Council Vetoes

By William Pace and Fadel Abdul Ghany

Since the founding of the United Nations seventy years ago, five states—China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, often referred to as the P5—have wielded a so-called “veto power”. Veto power means that whenever the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—to apply an arms embargo on North Korea, to create a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or authorize sanctions on South Sudan, etc.—these five countries individually have the power to stop the resolution from going forward. A veto scuttles the chances for any collective and legal international action to address situations which concern all of humanity—whether they be a potential future genocide in Myanmar, Kim Jong-un’s terrorization of his population, and recurrent war crimes in Gaza.

The inclusion of a veto power in the UN Charter was meant to ensure buy-in to the new international body from the victors of World War II. Indeed, many argue that the Soviet Union and the United States would not have joined the UN without possessing such power. To be sure, without the assurance of a veto for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, it is possible that the UN may have gone the way of the League of Nations by not surviving the Cold War.

veto

However, simply because a system served a purpose once does not mean that we should allow it to continue unchanged
today. Due to the vetoes exerted or threatened by the P5, the UN has been unable to react as the Syrian death toll climbs above 210,000. The international community has been immobilized to respond to evidence that North Korea is responsible for systematic crimes against humanity against its own people. War crimes can be committed with impunity in Gaza, on a recurrent basis, without fear that the Security Council will hold its perpetrators to account. Rohingya Muslims, with the full knowledge that the Security Council will never even meet to address their plight, have been brought to the brink of genocide.

Nor are these, as some might argue issues of only domestic concern. The refugee crisis and spread of terrorism among Syria and Palestine’s neighbors, the Rohingya migrant crisis affecting Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, and Kim Jong-un’s systematic abduction of foreign nationals make it clear that these atrocity crimes destabilize the world at large. If the Security Council, due to the veto power of the P5, cannot address issues of such magnitude, then it has become unable to fulfill its primary function of maintaining international peace and security.  Something must change—atrocities left unaddressed cannot become the new normal.


UntitledIf we want to see a Security Council that acts to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes and subsequently succeeds at its mandate, it is imperative for governments to offer their support for the new “Code of Conduct” on Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. The Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency (ACT) Group, a grouping of UN Member States working to improve the working methods of the Security Council, put forth the Code, in which signatories “pledge to not vote against a credible draft resolution aimed at preventing or ending the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.” The Code will be officially launched on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations on 23 October 2015.

The Code is complementary to another initiative currently underway at the United Nations, a political declaration spearheaded by France and Mexico. The political declaration focuses on securing a voluntary agreement among the P5 members of the Council to restrain from using the veto in situations of mass atrocities.

Interestingly, under the ACT code, such an obligation does not rest solely with the P5. Rather all elected Council members who sign the pledge would also be bound to not obstruct such resolutions. The pledge recalls that governments have already acknowledged, in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, that they had a Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P) populations from such crimes.

In a matter of weeks, the Code has received 97 signatories, including 2 members of the P5 (France and the UK), while the political declaration also has 80 number of signatories, with France being the sole P5 member currently on the list. As codes and declarations, they will be non-binding on their signatories, which may lead many to scoff that they have no utility at all. But change in the international system is always incremental.  Building international consensus that it is shameful to use the veto in situations of atrocities—and ratcheting up the political pressure on those who do—is a first step towards building a better Security Council, and in the meantime a better and faster response to atrocities.

Fadel Abdul Ghany is the Chairman and Founder of Syrian Network for Human Rights.

William Pace is a founding Steering Committee member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect and Convener of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

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#R2P Weekly: 5-9 October 2015

Untitled

Women, Peace, and Security and the Responsibility to Protect

 

In light of the upcoming 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, the ICRtoP’s latest publication examines how WPS and the Responsibility to Protect can be mainstreamed together in order to achieve a better, more holistic protection of populations.
WPS 

 

 

Click here to read the document. For more education tools from the ICRtoP, visit our publications page.

 

 

 

 


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

In New York, a coalition of Muslim groups filed a suit against Burmese president, Thein Sein, along with other government officials, for alleged crimes against the Rohingya minority, which they say constitutes genocide. The groups filed the suit under the “US Alien Tort Statute”, which has been used in the past by foreign citizens seeking damages from human rights violations committed outside the United States.
Physicians for Human Rights reported evidence that the government had forcibly displaced over 8,000 people to make room for new dam projects in Shan State. Amnesty International, meanwhile, reported that nearly100 prisoners of conscience following increased repression.


Burundi:

A series of attacks killed at least eight in Bujumbura over the weekend. Local residents stated that police were behind the killings and had been accompanied by unarmed members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party’s youth wing, Imbonerakure, who stole items from houses.

Burundi has expelled a Rwandan diplomat, accused of destabilizing the country, in another sign of increased tension between the two neighboring states.


Central African Republic:

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza requested a “tougher” mandate for MINUSCA, while also calling for the disarmament of militias and rebels after more than 40 were killed in Bangui. The recent uptick in violence has increased the flow of refugees to the DRC. UNHCR and the World Food Programme have both voiced concern at their ability to support the new wave of refugees due to a funding shortfall.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Human Rights Watch reported that senior security force and ruling party officials in DRC have allegedly hired thugs to assault peaceful political demonstrators in Kinshasa, where more than a dozen were injured. The assailants include members of the “youth league” of Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), intelligence agents from the National Intelligence Agency (Agence Nationale de Renseignements, ANR), police officers, and soldiers, all wearing plain clothes.


Gaza:

Israeli fighter jets launched airstrikes on targets in Gaza overnight on Sunday, in response to alleged rocket fire emanating from the Gaza strip, amid intensified violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where two Israelis were stabbed to death and a Palestinian man was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers.


Guinea:

Ahead of the presidential election on 10 October, fighting between rival political groups injured dozens. The fighters belonged to the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) and the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). In a statement, the EU called the situation “extremely tense” and urged actors to refrain from violence.


Iraq:

Two suicide bombings killed at least 18 in Shiite-dominated areas of Baghdad on Saturday. Meanwhile, a series of car bombings killed at least 63 in Khalis, al-Zubair, and Baghdad. The UN reported that terrorist and other violent acts had killed 717 and injured 1,216 in September alone. The Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL, also known as Islamic State or ISIS), executed 70 members of a Sunni tribe in Khanizir.


Libya:

In a new report, OCHA reported that “armed conflict and political instability has impacted over 3 million people across Libya”, who need protection and humanitarian aid. Over the weekend, the Arab League called on the parties in Libya to commit to a ceasefire and cease all military operations in order to agree on a national unity government. Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament voted to extend its own mandate beyond the end of its mandated term on 20 October. The parliament is still undecided over whether to accept the UN-backed draft agreement.


Mali:

In a step that parties hope will restore confidence in the peace accord, Mali’s government released 20 separatist rebels in exchange for 16 soldiers. During a briefing to the Security Council, Mongi Hamdi, Head of MINUSMA, noted that the peace accord was indeed back on track, but that full implementation remained impeded by obstacles. Indeed, the day after his briefing, Tuareg separatists allegedly kidnapped four near Gao whose family members were believed to be Tuaregs aligned with the government.


Nigeria:

Five children carried out suicide bombings at a mosque and the house of a vigilante leader in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, killing fifteen people and injuring 35. Militants claiming loyalty to ISIL claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last week in Abuja that killed at least 15. The Nigerian Union of Teachers announced that Boko Haram has killed 600 Nigerian teachers and displaced another 19,000. Suicide bombings, which included explosions in two mosques, killed a minimum of 40 people. Boko Haram attacked a military camp in Yobe state on Wednesday, but were eventually restrained by the military.


South Sudan:

The head of the Red Cross in South Sudan announced that women have suffered “unprecendented levels of sexual violence” over the last two years, including “abduction, rape, forced marriage, and murder.” OCHA and other aid agencies, including MSF, reported an increase in conflict since spring in South Sudan, particularly in Koch and Leer countries, which has caused aid agencies after the looting of their premises.

The SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) stated its wish for UNMISS’s mandate to be extended another three years until free and fair elections and the safety of civilians are assured.

Bypassing the parliament, President Kiir announced a decentralization plan which would increase the number of states from the current 10 to 28, in a move immediately denounced by the SPLM-IO as a violation of the peace agreement. The “troika” (the U.S., the U.K., and Norway) released a joint statement detailing their concern over the impact of the plan on the security situation. South Sudan responded that it would not change the plan, despite international pressure.

The opposition accused government forces of carrying out fresh aerial and ground attacks on civilians believed to be aligned with Machar. IGAD reported that the warring sides have committed 53 violations of ceasefire agreements in 19 months.


Sudan/Darfur:

During his meetings during the General Assembly, Sudan’s foreign minister reiterated his government’s commitment to the departure of UNAMID. South Africa asked the ICC for more time to explain why it failed to arrest Sudanese President Bashir, wanted by the ICC, during Bashir’s visit to South Africa this summer. As a ratifier of the Rome Statute of the ICC, South Sudan is obliged to implement ICC arrest warrants.


Syria:

ISIL militants in northern Syria destroyed the almost 2,000-year old ‘Arch of Triumph’ in the ancient city of Palmyra, according to officials and local sources. It is the latest in a series of destructions of monuments at the UNESCO heritage site by the Islamist militant group.

NATO called on Russia to halt air strikes on Syrian opposition forces and civilians. Despite evidence that it has targeted Assad opponents, Russia maintains that its air strikes are only targeting ISIL militants. On Wednesday, Russia and Syria embarked on a joint campaign by land, sea, and air against rebel groups in an attempt to reverse opposition gains along Syria’s coast. In total, Russia has already launched over 100 airstrikes.


Yemen:

Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Baha escaped an attack on his hotel in Aden, though 15 soldiers from the United Arab Emirates were killed. The UAE blamed Houthi rebels for the attack, although ISIL has claimed responsibility.

An airstrike in Dhamar province killed 23 people attending a wedding. The Saudi-led coalition denied responsibility for the attack.

In a new report, Amnesty International highlighted new evidence of war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition, which underscores both the need for an independent investigation and the suspension of some arms transfers.

Houthi rebels, together with former President Saleh’s political party, announced their willingness to join talks on a seven-point peace plan proposed by the UN. The so-called “Muscat principles” include a ceasefire, the return of the government to the capital, Sana’a, and the removal of armed militias from Yemeni cities. The Houthis criticized President Hadi’s failure to reciprocate such a step. Hadi, meanwhile, insists that Houthis pull out of territory gained during the conflict before an agreement is possible.


What else is new?

The ICRtoP has released a new map detailing which states, as of 6 October, have endorsed the French/Mexico political declaration on the use of the veto and/or the “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action on genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.” (The map will be updated each week.)

ICRtoP Member the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a new issue of “R2P Ideas in Brief” entitled “Strengthening State Resilience for the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes.”

ICRtoP Member the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect held their annual Gareth Evans lecture on “Preventing Conflicts, Mediating the End of Wars, Building Durable Peace”, featuring H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos Horta.

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, also an ICRtoP member, is holding an event on the “ISIS Crisis: Simulating Mass Atrocity Prevention in Syria” on 26 October. For details, click here.


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#R2P Weekly: 28 September- 2 October 2015

Untitled

ICRtoP Statement on the Occasion of the  Ministerial Meetings
on “Framing the Veto in the Event of Mass Atrocities” and
“Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”

Over the past few years, the United Nations Security Council, due to the veto power wielded irresponsibly by some of its members, has been unable to respond adequately to the greatest humanitarian disaster of our generation—the crisis in Syria. Despite the international community’s repeated vows to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes, the UN organ primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security has failed to take consistent action to help staunch the ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes. The 210,000 dead, 3.9 million refugee count, and 6.5 million internally displaced show the high price that Syrians—and the region at large—have paid for such inaction.

Four vetoes used over the span of three years on one crisis cannot be dismissed as an unfortunate but ultimately unsolvable difference of political opinion between Council members. Furthermore, the threat of the use of the veto has been equally as obstructive in responding to atrocity crimes, as it curtails even discussing taking action to protect populations. (…)

Read the full statement here.


Event Announcement:
Latin America and the Responsibility to Protect:
Diverging Views from the South?

The ICRtoP, together with Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales, is holding this event on Monday, 6 October 2015. The event is open to the public. For details and to RSVP, click here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The Burmese government’s chief peace negotiator stressed that the Mon minority will be limited to observer status during political discussions if it does not agree to a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Union Minister Aung Min met with influential monks and urged them to sign the peace deal before the November elections.

However, the ceasefire talks between the Myanmar government and ethnic rebel groups collapsed after only seven out of eighteen armed groups agreed to sign the peace accord and the government refused to extend a ceasefire to three rebel groups located in Kokang province. The rebel groups who did not sign the agreement did not rule out their participation in the future, but maintained their position to only accede to a ceasefire when every armed group is included in the deal.

With just over a month until Burma’s national election, Human Rights Watch reported on the ongoing electoral intimidation in the ethnic-minority borderlands by the The Pyithu Sit (People’s Militias) and Neh San Tat (Border Guard Forces). The UNSG Ban Ki-Moon alsoraised concerns over Myanmar’s polls procedures thus far for the upcoming election and expressed his disappointment in the “effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities.”


Burundi:

The EU announced that it will impose sanctions, in the form of travel bands and asset freezes, on four Burundi officials close to President Nkurunziza.

Impunity Watch released a report detailing possible methods for addressing impunity and preventing future grievances in Burundi. Impunity Watch recommends to the UN Human Rights Council the following: a new resolution on the crisis; disarmament processes for all youth paramilitary and militia; security for independent media to be re-opened; an open-ended citizen dialogue process; and for the Burundian government to conduct independent and impartial investigations into human rights abuses and international crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.


Central African Republic:

Violence erupted in CAR after a Muslim man was murdered on Saturday, which ignited retaliations by Muslims on a Christian neighborhood and attacks by armed groups on civilians. Over 30 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the inter-communal violence. Additionally, hundreds of prisoners escaped from the primary jail in Bangui, resulting in U.N. peacekeepers firing warning shots to disperse thousands of protesters in favor of rearming the military. Bangui has since been placed under a strict night-time curfew.

Central African Republic Foreign Minister Samuel Rangba called on the United Nations to step up its support for the country by strengthening MINUSCA and lifting sanctions impacting the training of military forces.

ICRtoP member Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a new report entitled, “Too little, too late: Failing to prevent atrocities in the Central African Republic,” which noted the ‘woefully inadequate’ international response on all levels concerning the crisis in CAR.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

A German court imprisoned Ignace Murwanashyaka, the former political leader of the FDLR, for 13 years for abetting war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch issued a new report entitled “Justice on Trial: Lessons from the Minova Rape Case in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, which states the DRC government should urgently reform the country’s justice system in order to better prosecute atrocities.


Gaza:

On Wednesday, as the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accusedIsrael of not following through with the Oslo Accords peace agreement and announced that Palestinians “cannot continue to be bound by these agreements.” Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council, stated that all security coordination between Israel and Palestine has now been canceled and that Palestinians will begin using nonviolent resistance while calling for sanctions against Israel.


Guinea:

September 28th marked the 6th anniversary of the massacre of protesters in a Conakry stadium. A group of civil society organizations called for the massacre trial to be a priority following the 11 October presidential elections.


Iraq:

A suicide bomber in the town of Tarmiyah killed 7 people and wounded 16 others.


Libya:

Ageila Saleh, the leader of Libya’s Parliament, declared that, if needed, the House of Representatives will continue peace talks past the end of the Parliament’s current mandate on 20 October. Delegates from the House of Representatives and the General National Congress reportedly began meetings on the UN-brokered peace plan in New York yesterday.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly Libya’s Acting Head of State, Agila Saleh Essa Gwaider warned of the “overwhelming threat” posed by ISIL which is hindering Libya’s transition to becoming a transparent democracy. Mr. Gwaider also stated that external powers, including the UN Security Council, have hampered Libya’s attempts at fighting terrorists, due to their delay in approving requests by the Libyan government to exempt it from an arms embargo.


Mali:

Alleged Islamist militant Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has become the first person to appear at the International Criminal Court on charges of damaging humanity’s cultural heritage. Mr. al-Mahdi is accused of belonging to Ansar Dine, an ally of al-Qaida in the Maghreb, and jointly ordering or carrying out the destruction of nine mausoleums and the Sidi Yahia mosque in the Malian city Timbuktu. A hearing to confirm the charges will take place on 18 January.


Nigeria:

The Nigerian Army claimed that around 200 members of Boko Haram have surrendered. Boko Haram raided a village in neighboring Niger and massacred at least 15 civilians.

At a UN General Assembly side event, the UN, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon appealed for help for millions of people displaced in the Lake Chad Basin region after fleeing violence incited by Boko Haram coupled with repeated droughts and floods leading to malnutrition and disease. Several UN diplomats warned that the aid emergency in the region risks being forgotten among other humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and others.


South Sudan:

More than 100 advocacy groups petitioned the African Union to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan and to release a report commissioned by the continental body to investigate atrocity crimes committed during the 21-month long ongoing conflict. The African Union laterannounced that it would release the report, and that a special court would be set up to try atrocity crime suspects in South Sudan after an inquiry has found that both government and rebel forces have committed war crimes.

UNHCR started relocating 2,143 vulnerable Sudanese refugees from South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state town of Yei River to a nearby Lasu settlement site.

The United Nations called on President Kiir’s government and the armed opposition to allow UN agencies to reach all areas of the country affected by the 21 month long conflict. Additionally, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, urged that the perpetrated serious human rights violations occurring in South Sudan must be monitored.

Agence France- Presse reported on the suspected thousands of women and girls used as sex slaves throughout South Sudan’s. Dozens of interviews with victims revealed a systematic pattern of abduction and rape perpetrated by government soldiers and their allied militias during recent offensives.


Sri Lanka:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Sri Lanka to investigate the reports of secret jails, where allegedly former Tamil rebels are being tortured.

Amnesty International stated that the adoption of a resolution on human rights violations by all sides in Sri Lanka’s conflict by the UN Human Rights Council marked a crucial turning point for providing justice for victims and that the international component of the hybrid court is crucial for its credibility.


Sudan/Darfur:

The opposition Reform Now Movement (RNM) and Union of the Nation’s Forces (UNF) party have called for a joint ceasefire monitoring force from the government and rebel groups to be formed.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned an attack on Sunday against UNAMID mission in Mellit, North Darfur in which one South African peacekeeper died and four others were wounded.

A Sudanese delegation arrived in Chad on Wednesday to discuss with Chadian President Idris Deby the participation of the armed opposition in the Sudanese National Dialogue. The dialogue is scheduled to start on 10 October.


Syria:

In their speeches at the UN General Assembly on Monday Barack Obama and Vladimir Putinagreed on the need to counter the threat to peace posed by ISIL; however, they were at odds on how to end the Syrian conflict. President Obama insisted that Syria’s President Assad must be removed from power and President Putin stated that it would be an “enormous mistake” not to work with Assad in the fight against ISIL.

A study by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium found that while men make up the overall majority of civilians killed in the Syrian war, nearly 25 percent of all civilians killed by explosive weapons were women and children.

On Wednesday, Russia began carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the opponents of President Assad. Syrian opposition activist network ‘Local Coordination Committees’ reported that Russian warplanes hit five towns, not controlled by ISIL, resulting in the deaths of 36 people, five of them children. Russian jets continued airstrikes in Syria into Thursday, with reports again claiming that targets being hit are not a part of ISIL but are areas held by groups that are opposed to ISIL and the Syrian government.

French authorities launched a criminal probe of Syrian President Assad’s regime for war crimes committed between 2011 and 2013 focusing on evidence provided by a former Syrian army photographer known by codename “Caesar,” who holds 55,000 graphic photographs of scenes of brutality from the conflict.

On 5 October, Concordia University in Montreal will host an event on The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Seeking Protection in Dangerous Times.


Yemen:

Amnesty International called for an establishment of a UN HRC Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law committed by all sides in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.
Accounts from residents and medics reported that air strikes from helicopters from the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen killed at least 25 civilians in the Hajja province, but Saudi authorities dismissed the reports. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a Houthi wedding party in Wahijah on Monday killing 131 people, making it the deadliest single incident in the country’s civil war. Yemeni officials reported that the Saudi-led coalition had hit the wedding by mistake.

A Dutch draft resolution at the Human Rights Council, previously supported by other Western countries, for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties to the Yemeni conflict was dropped on Wednesday. The HRC accepted a revised resolution which omits an international inquiry and supports a decree, issued by the exiled Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, for a national commission of inquiry. Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch in Geneva stated that this is “a lost opportunity for the council and a huge victory for Saudi Arabia, protecting it from scrutiny over laws of war violations which will probably continue to be committed in Yemen.”


What else is new?

ICRtoP’s Communication and Advocacy Officer, Angela Patnode, wrote a guest blog post for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, about the need for UN Security Council reform, a proposed Security Council Code of Conduct, and the necessity of putting justice before international politics.

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released an report entitled “Preventing Mass Atrocities in West Africa,” detailing the case studies of preventative efforts undertaken by Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The Centre, together with the Elders, also released a Press Release on the high-level panel event on “Preventing Mass Atrocities: How Can the UN Security Council Do Better?”

At a Ministerial-level meeting on Wednesday of the Security Council on the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering the terrorist threat in the region, UNSG Ban Ki-moon underscored the shared responsibility to resolve the Mid-east conflicts and urged Member States to use all tools available.


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UN Security Council: The responsibility not to veto

In this guest post on the CICC Global Justice blog, Angela Patnode of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, writes that two initiatives being presented at the UN this week can increase the political cost, and isolation, of permanent members of the Security Council using their veto when dealing with situations of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

Read the blog here: UN Security Council: The responsibility not to veto

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#R2P Weekly:21-25 September 2015

Untitled

#R2P10: The Responsibility to Protect and Counter-Terrorism: A Response

(This post is a response to an earlier piece in the blog series, which can be found here.

In a recent post on this website, Kyle Matthews argued RtoP faced a conceptual problem.  There is, he suggests, a lack of consensus among those working on RtoP ‘on whether countering violent extremism and implementing certain counter terrorism measures are in fact a state obligation under RtoP’.  This is despite the fact that, as he puts it, ‘acts of terrorism and mass atrocity crimes are easily comparable and sometimes overlap’.  He urges the human rights community, national governments and the UN to fulfil ‘a duty to come together and discuss the convergence of mass atrocity and terrorism prevention’. Such discussion would ‘further develop RtoP conceptually’.  Without it the RtoP community could be accused of ‘burying our heads in the sand’.  The meaning – and normative demands – of RtoP should constantly be open for discussion, and in raising the matter Matthews does the RtoP community a great service.  Yet I would argue there are dangers contained within this exercise and the RtoP community needs to be aware of them before embarking on the exercise Matthews calls for. (…)

Read the full post here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
DPRK
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), in collaboration with the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT), the Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG) and the Women’s Organizations Network Myanmar (WON), published a report on the impact of conflict on women in Burma entitled, “Opening the box: Women’s Experiences of War, Peace and Impunity.”

In a new Statistical Analysis from the Early Warning Project launched by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum this week, Myanmar was found to be the country at the highest risk for the onset  of State-led mass killings in 2015.


Burundi:

The head of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Burundireported that the situation in the country was deteriorating. Local and international rights groups in Burundi have voiced concern about the killing of senior political and military figures, condemning the arrests of more than 600 people opposing the ruling party (CNDD-FDD).


Central African Republic:

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of the UN stabilization force in the Central African Republic, expressed that there must be no impunity for peacekeepers who perpetrate sexual abuse offences, noting that there would be even more cases coming into public view in the future.

Human Rights Watch echoed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, by describing the Central African Republic as a country “gripped with fear” and in dire need of more UN troops. However, HRW declared that deploying a peacekeeping mission was only the first step in response to this crisis and urged for mmore financial and technical support for the Special Criminal Court. ICRtoP Member International Crisis Group published a summary report on the crisis in CAR, emphasizing its long-term nature and characteristics of “sporadic surges of violence against a backdrop of state disintegration, a survival economy and deeper inter-ethnic cleavages.”


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Two ministers of the DRC government resigned  after refusing to sign a loyalty pledge to Kabila’s majority coalition, placing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to select a new cabinet ahead of upcoming elections in which Kabila is not allowed to run.

50 peacekeepers serving in MONUSCO have been recalled home for security breaches and are under investigation.


Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

The UN Human Rights Council, as part of its 30th session, held a panel on the situation of human rights in DPRK. Many states and bodies echoed the Commission of Inquiry’s report by pushing for a Security Council referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Republic of Korea noted that it may pursue an additional course of action to deal with the issue of abductees.


Gaza:

Last Friday, the Egyptian military began flooding tunnels used by Palestinian militants and smugglers under the border with Gaza. On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip, targeting two Hamas training camps, following the attacks by Palestinian militants whom had fired rockets into southern Israel.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon on Sunday condemned the recent rocket attacks by extremist Palestinian militants on Israel from Gaza. UNSG Ban Ki-moon additionally urged both Israeli and Palestinian sides to defuse recent tensions at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount compound and prevent an escalation of the current situation. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of the “risk of a new Intifada”, after clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem continued.

UNRWA announced that it has obtained the funds to rebuild 1,1000 homes destroyed during Israel’s incursion on the Gaza Strip in summer 2014.


Guinea:
The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, concluded a visit during an investigation into the events that took place in 2009 at a stadium in Conakry, where more than 100 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped during an opposition demonstration. Thus far, 16 people have been indicted in connection with the case, including former Head of State- Moussa Dadis Camara and several high ranking military officers.

Several people were wounded when rival political factions fought in northern Guinea as a result of mounting tension before presidential elections on 11 October.  Police arrested and detained a number of local opposition leaders.


Iraq:

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, concluded a visit during an investigation into the events that took place in 2009 at a stadium in Conakry, where more than 100 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped during an opposition demonstration. Thus far, 16 people have been indicted in connection with the case, including former Head of State- Moussa Dadis Camara and several high ranking military officers.

Several people were wounded when rival political factions fought in northern Guinea as a result of mounting tension before presidential elections on 11 October.  Police arrested and detained a number of local opposition leaders.


Libya:

Six people were killed and ten wounded over the weekend when fighting erupted between the Libyan National Army and fighters allied to ISIL.

UN Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, announced last Friday that lawmakers from Libya’s internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) had agreed to return to the talks with the General National Congress (GNC) after resolving an internal dispute. However, the 20 September peace agreement deadline passed unanswered. The HoR and the GNCbegan talks again on Tuesday to debate whether to accept a final version of the UN-brokered peace agreement, which Leon declared would accept no further revisions. Subsequently, on Wednesday the HoR called for a freeze in the UN-mediated peace talks until the GNC halts their offensive in the east.


Mali:

Two police officers and two civilians were killed on Saturday when armed men, thought to be Islamic extremists, attacked a police station in a town bordered with Burkina Faso. Mali’s government postponed regional elections due to insecurity in the north. Investigatorsdetermined that the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), a new group that emerged earlier this year, is behind the recent spread of violence into central and southern Mali.


Nigeria:

More than 100 people were killed Sunday in northern Nigeria in a coordinated set of bombings by Boko Haram in the north-eastern city of Maidugur. An additional bomb attack in the nearby town of Monguno killed an estimated 20 people .

UNICEF reported  that half a million children had fled attacks by Boko Haram in the past five months, bringing the total number of displaced children by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries to 1.4 million (1.2m in Nigeria, 265,000 in Cameroon, Chad and Niger).

Nigerian forces rescued 241 women and children during a raid on two camps controlled by Boko Haram and arrested 43 militants belonging to the group.


South Sudan:

South Sudan’s rival parties concluded a week long ceasefire workshop without consensus on how to implement a security arrangement and form a joint command as part of the deal. Questions of how best to demilitarize Juba remain, as both sides cited differences in the size of the protection force required. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD),noted, in its first report since the ceasefire took effect on 30 August, that both government and rebel forces had violated the deal. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agreed to discuss further the proposed sanctions on top military commanders and others in South Sudan after the opening of the General Assembly. The US State Department announced more than $80 million in additional humanitarian assistance for South Sudanese refugees and persons affected by the conflict.


Sri Lanka:

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany offered assistance to Sri Lanka with its investigation of alleged atrocities during its civil war. In response, however, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera declared that his country wanted to conduct its own investigation but would accept some outside technical support. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former President of Sri Lanka, pressed the current Sri Lankan government to reject a UNHRC report that called for a special hybrid court to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war.

 


Sudan/Darfur:

President al-Bashir pardoned rebel leaders who will take part in the national dialogue conference on 20 October and declared a two-month ceasefire in war ravaged areas.

UNOCHA reported that around 50,000 of the 223,000 people displaced from the conflict havereturned to Darfur this year, with 104,000 of them receiving some form of humanitarian assistance.

Human Rights Watch released a detailed  report on how Sudanese government forces have carried out systematic attacks on towns and villages in the western part of Darfur in the past 18 months, including the raping, torturing, and killing of their civilians.

The European Union called on the Sudanese government to conduct an independent investigation into the violent protests of September 2013, when at least 200 people were killed, though the government stated the death toll as 85.


Syria:

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu held their first talks in more than a year via telephone to discuss solutions to the Syrian conflict. As the talks occurred, four Russian fighter jets arrived at an airfield near the Syrian city of Latakia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Moscow on Monday and agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria to avoid accidentally trading fire.

Warring sides in Syria reached a UN-supervised agreement on actions concerning the fate of two villages. The ceasefire deal includes the withdrawal of rebel militants and evacuation of civilians from those areas and is to be implemented within six months, with the evacuation of wounded from all sides beginning immediately.

The UN Human Rights Council during its 30th session held an interactive dialogue on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria. Several nations echoed the call of the COI for a UNSC referral of the situation to the ICC to ensure full accountability, in addition to the COI’s proposal for an ad hoc tribunal. Transitional justice was also noted as playing a critical role in the fate of Syria, with civil society and women playing a central role in the political solution.


Yemen:

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed atleast 50 people when they hit a Houthi security compound in north Yemen and a residence in Sana’a. President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadireturned to Yemen, landing in Aden after spending six months in exile in Saudi Arabia.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon voiced extreme concern at the recent escalation of ground fighting and airstrikes in Yemen which have devastated more cities and increased civilian casualties.

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, urged the Security Council and the international community to promote political dialogue aimed at ending violations against children in Yemen. She reported that more than 400 children have been killed, and more than 600 injured, in Yemen between 26 March and August.


What else is new?

The US warned Russia that its continued blanket use of its UN Security Council (UNSC) veto will jeopardize the Security Council’s long-term legitimacy and could lead the US and other countries to bypass the UNSC as a decision-making body.


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#R2P10: The Responsibility to Protect and Counter-terrorism: A Response

In a recent post on this website, Kyle Matthews argued RtoP faced a conceptual problem.  There is, he suggests, a lack of consensus among those working on RtoP ‘on whether countering violent extremism and implementing certain counter terrorism measures are in fact a state obligation under RtoP’.  This is despite the fact that, as he puts it, ‘acts of terrorism and mass atrocity crimes are easily comparable and sometimes overlap’.  He urges the human rights community, national governments and the UN to fulfil ‘a duty to come together and discuss the convergence of mass atrocity and terrorism prevention’. Such discussion would ‘further develop RtoP conceptually’.  Without it the RtoP community could be accused of ‘burying our heads in the sand’.  The meaning – and normative demands – of RtoP should constantly be open for discussion, and in raising the matter Matthews does the RtoP community a great service.  Yet I would argue there are dangers contained within this exercise and the RtoP community needs to be aware of them before embarking on the exercise Matthews calls for.

General Assembly Reviews UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

General Assembly Reviews UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

First, I am not sure why the RtoP community is uncertain about on how states should respond to acts that are labelled ‘terrorism’.  The World Summit Outcome Document for instance is clear.  A state has ‘a responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’; and when a state ‘manifestly fails’ to do this ‘the international community has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’. Should these means prove inadequate then states have a collective responsibility to stop genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity by taking ‘timely and decisive action’ acting though the Security Council in accordance with Chapter VII.

The repetition of the four crimes in the same paragraph might be suspect stylistically but it is done to make the basic point: RtoP is about protecting populations from specific acts that are now defined in law, the meaning of which is reinforced by the growing jurisprudence of national and international courts.  It does not matter whether these acts are described as acts of terrorism.  To the extent the acts labelled ‘terrorism’ do meet the criteria specified by these four crimes then RtoP insists states have a collective responsibility to protect populations from those acts.  But states also have a collective responsibility to protect populations from these crimes when the label is not applied.  Where is the confusion or lack of consensus?

The problem with saying RtoP has to develop conceptually to somehow recognise a convergence of ends is that ‘terrorism’ has no such clarity.  Indeed, proposals to include ‘terrorism’ as a core crime punishable at the International Criminal Court were dropped for this very reason.  ‘Terrorism’, moreover, is often used to describe acts that fall outside RtoP’s scope – as defined by the World Summit Outcome Document.  A move to codify the overlap between RtoP and counter-terrorism thus risks needless confusion.  More to the point, the label ‘terrorism’ is politicized in ways that RtoP (arguably) is not. Clearly there is sometimes a convergence of ends across the counter-terrorism and humanitarian discourse but to accept that without critical analysis would risk the international consensus on RtoP.

Second, the counter-terrorism discourse is certainly useful in mobilising political will but usually that is because it speaks to the concept of ‘national’ or ‘homeland’ security rather than the protection of ‘foreign’ populations.  In this respect, counter-terrorism and RtoP can work against, rather than complement, each another.

UntitledThis was apparent in my research for the United Nations Association on the UK’s Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS).  In many ways this is an admirable policy.  It has put in place cross-government practices designed to prevent conflict by supporting institutions that promote stability in conflict-prone countries.  Given that core crimes often (although not always) take place in conflict, one can accept (with some qualification) that the UK is ‘doing’ RtoP through BSOS.  Certainly the emphasis on ‘upstream prevention’ echoes conceptual developments in the RtoP area.

And yet a close examination of BSOS implementation illustrates the way counter-terrorism can work against RtoP.  We are told, for instance, that the UK government will ensure that BSOS ‘is aligned with related strategies, notably the CONTEST Counter-Terrorism strategy’. As I noted in my report, this raises the potentially problematic question of how scarce resources are being allocated.  Would the UK be willing to support upstream prevention measures in a country where there was a threat of mass atrocity but no terrorist threat to national security? The fact that RtoP is not mentioned as a ‘related strategy’ but CONTEST is suggests it would not.

Indeed, the fact that the Central African Republic did not appear on the Stabilisation Unit’s list of funding priorities prior to the recent crisis, despite appearing on many genocide watch lists, suggests that the UK is not necessarily ‘doing’ RtoP through its BSOS or counter-terrorism strategies.  Of course, this is not unexpected.  States do act in their interests.  But the very idea of R2P is that it aims to reconstitute those interests in ways that prevent mass atrocity crimes.  To collapse the distinction between RtoP and counter-terrorism would make that harder.  It would potentially reinforce a way of thinking that prioritises national security at the expense of even the most obvious RtoP responses.

There is a third reason why the RtoP community should be cautious about embracing a counter-terrorism narrative.  This relates to the way counter-terrorism, especially the so-called ‘war’ on terrorism, reinforces a nationalist or ‘realist’ ethic that is often at odds with the cosmopolitan ethic underpinning RtoP.  The reason humanitarian and human rights groups are, as Matthews acknowledges, ‘ambivalent’ about the supposed RtoP/counter-terrorism convergence is because, from their perspective, international law has (at best) been manipulated by those waging the war on terrorism.  The protection of populations from the core crimes is a just cause, but RtoP will lack legitimacy if, like the ‘war’ on terror, it is used to exempt some states from the moral and legal standards they apply to others.

Finally, I have argued elsewhere that the rise of ISIS and the situation in Syria and Iraq should indeed prompt reflection on the meaning of RtoP.  A military response has not protected the vulnerable populations of these states; and it is by no means certain that an escalated military response will be effective.  But states can fulfil their collective responsibility to protect by offering asylum to those fleeing the violence.  Yet again, the hyper-realist ethic that informs the war on terror can lead states to close borders (and even remove citizens) when RtoP demands that they open those borders (see Huysmans and Buonofino 2008 for further discussion).  In its aim to eradicate risk, the national security state tends to forget the humanity and generosity it is otherwise capable of showing.

Matthews is right.  Acts labelled as ‘terrorism’ can constitute RtoP crimes, regardless of whether those acts are being committed by state or non-state actors; and when ‘terrorists’ are engaged in such acts then the RtoP norm insists that the international community should protect populations.  I think that is clear within the meaning of RtoP and for that reason I’m not certain that what Matthews articulates is in fact a problem for the RtoP community.  What would be problematic is if – as a result of the reconceptualisation Matthews asks for – states were allowed to argue that they were fulfilling their responsibility to protect by taking action that is designed primarily to respond to national security concerns.  There is evidence that states who otherwise claim to be leaders on RtoP see things this way, and I would be concerned if, by recognising the so called convergence of RtoP and counter-terrorism, the RtoP community lost its ability to criticise such approaches.

Jason Ralph is Professor of International Relations at the University of Leeds and Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland. He is currently a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow.  His recent work includes America’s War on Terror.  The State of the 9/11 Exception from Bush to Obama (Oxford University Press, 2103).

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#R2P Weekly:14-18 September 2015

Untitled

Main Themes of Latest General Assembly Dialogue
on the Responsibility to Protect

info

 

Want a quick overview of the major themes and highlights of last week’s General Assembly discussion on RtoP? Check out the ICRtoP’s latest infographic above for quick numbers on how many states called for a GA resolution on RtoP; supported efforts for the Security Council to not block resolutions on atrocity situations; and more.

For a more complete look at last week’s GA discussion, read our full summary here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) launched an anti-hate speech initiative for Burma that will monitor and report on hate speech, while promoting public debate and tolerance. International Crisis Group reported that the nationwide ceasefire remains elusive while campaigns for the November elections have already begun.


Burundi:

UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice and Reparations, Pablo de Greiff, conveyed that the failure of the international community to immediately intervene in Burundi could result in “new mass atrocities” and lead to a larger regional war with impossible implications. He also noted that the UN Human Rights Council is working on a Burundi resolution, led by the European Union and a few African states.


Central African Republic:

The UN reported that a civilian MINUSCA employee is suspected of sexual exploitation, and that they are undertaking an investigation. This brings the total number of alleged sexual abuse cases to 17.

Amnesty International advocated that credibility will only be restored to UN Peacekeeping in CAR if those who committed sexual violence are brought to justice, noting that sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers threatens the integrity of the entire United Nations system.

Watchlist reported that both ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka militias have attacked numerous schools throughout CAR and pressed international peacekeeping forces to do more to protect children’s right to education.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Seven senior political figures were expelled from the DRC’s ruling party after they signed a letter urging President Joseph Kabila to relinquish power when his term expires next year and to take immediate steps to ensure a presidential election scheduled for November 2016 happens on schedule. If the election goes ahead, it would mark the first peaceful transition of power in the history of the DRC.


Gaza:

Several hundred Palestinians demonstrated in Rafah last Saturday against increasing power cuts stemming from deterioration in electricity lines from Egypt, leaving residents of Gaza with four to six hours of electricity supply per day.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the Security Council and noted his grave concern over the violence and continuing clashes in and around the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem, stating that the provocations have the potential to ignite violence far beyond the city.


Iraq:

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq on Friday, thereby continuing to undermine the Kurdish-Turkey ceasefire.

ISIL claimed responsibility for two suicide bombs in Baghdad that killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 60 at police checkpoints in the Wathba and Haraj markets. An additional blast occurred in Bab al-Muadham district, killing four, but no claims of responsibility for the attack have been made.


Kenya:

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reported that Kenyan security forces have carried out 25 extrajudicial killings and 81 enforced disappearances in the last two years as part of a crackdown on militants. The report of the Commission additionally expressed concern that ethnic Somalis and Muslims were being disproportionately targeted.

After the ICC issued arrest warrants against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett – who are alleged to be Kenyan journalist Barasa’s accomplices in corrupting witnesses in the case against Deputy President William Ruto –  Barasa for the first time signaled that he may surrender to the court.


Libya:

On Monday, Bernardino Leon, UN Special Envoy for Libya ,announced that both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the General National Congress (GNC) governments had made compromises in order to overcome longstanding differences and that he is confident a final political agreement can be reached by the September 20th deadline. However, the next day, the HoR rejected amendments submitted by the GNC to the National Unity Plan.  The HoR were particularly opposed to two main amendments: First, that the proposed 120-member State Council be composed entirely of sitting members of the GNC; and second, that the Libyan military and security forces be built by the Unity Government, which would leave out the HoR National Army commander General Khalifa Heftar. After the stall, Bernardino Leon called on rival governments to return to the negotiating table of peace talks in Skhirat.

The UNSC extended the mandate of UNSMIL until March 2016, emphasizing that there can be no military solution. The Council also condemned the use of violence against civilians and institutions, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.


Mali:

In a fresh violation of a UN-brokered peace deal, fighting erupted near the Algerian border between the Coordination for Azawad Movements (CMA) and the Platform armed groups.


Nigeria:

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs condemned last Friday’s suicide bombing on the Malkohi IDP camp in Yola, which killed at least 7 people and injured 14.

The spokesman for the Nigerian military reported that the new counter-terrorism strategies have yielded the surrender of “scores” of Boko Haram militants, and that Boko Haram has been “sufficiently weakened.” The Nigerian military recaptured Gamboru Ngala, a border town with Cameroon, that Boko Haram used as a stronghold to launch attacks in both Nigeria and Cameroon. Nigeria’s army also announced that they rescued a dozen kidnapped women and children that were being held captive by Boko Haram. President Buhari has reportedly been engaged in talks with Boko Haram over the 219 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok. French President Francois Hollande pledged that his administration will support and provide assistance to Nigeria to tackle insurgency and extremism in the country.

Nigeria concluded their Violence Against Women (VAC) survey and was commended by UNSG Ban Ki-moon for being the first West Africa country to do so. The survey found that 6 out of 10 Nigerian children experience some form of violence and 1 out of 4 girls suffer sexual violence.


South Sudan:

An attempt to adopt sanctions (an arms embargo and assets freeze) against two additional belligerents by the UN Security Council was blocked by Russia and Angola. Angola reportedly wished to give the two sides more time to implement the new peace deal, while Russia expressed concern that new sanctions would aggravate the situation. IGAD mediators announced that their monitors had witnessed the South Sudanese government carry out a helicopter gunship attack on rebel positions only days after signing the peace deal.

A consortium of aid groups operating in South Sudan reported that aid workers have been attacked, including with acts of murder and rape, with increasing frequency.


Sri Lanka:

The new government of Sri Lanka announced a plan to the UN Human Rights Council for a truth, justice and reconciliation commission and a new constitution to stabilize the country and address remaining grievances following the decades-long civil war. However, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the government to set up a special court to investigate the “horrific” abuses committed by both sides during the civil war. The strong recommendation was presented alongside the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka that asserts that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed.

On Thursday, September 17 2005, Adama Dieng, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, released a statement which called for the establishment of credible accountability and reconciliation mechanisms for Sri Lanka.


Sudan/Darfur:

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella group of rebels, announced its willingness to sign a six-month cessation of hostilities with Khartoum.  The SRF emphasized the cessation was for the purposes of protecting civilians, allowing uninterrupted humanitarian assistance, and creatinga more healthy atmosphere for peace processes. The Sudanese president has announced recently his readiness for a two-month ceasefire in the Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Darfur regions. At the opening of the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the high level of impunity towards severe human rights violations in Sudan, especially in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan.

An African Union (AU) commission tasked with investigating the activities of the Ugandan Lord resistance (LRA) arrived in Khartoum. Sudan has been long accused of harboring and supporting the LRA rebels.


Syria:

A US official stated his government’s belief that ISIL is making and using chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, saying that the US has identified at least four occasions on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border where ISIL has used mustard agents.The UN announced that senior disarmament official Virginia Gamba will lead the Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria in order to determine who was responsible for earlier chemical weapons attacks. The Security Council approved the investigation last week, which will be a joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien urged the Security Council to find a political solution to end the conflict in Syria, warning members that the war had created one of the largest refugee exoduses since the Second World War. Mr. O’Brien also explained that, 18 months after the adoption of resolution 2139 on allowing unhindered humanitarian access to Syria, parties had disregarded the resolution and humanitarian aid has been unable to reach civilians in need.

Russia positioned about a half a dozen tanks at an airfield south of Latakia as part of a military buildup in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended delivering military assistance to the Syrian regime, describing it as aid for a government fighting “terrorist aggression”. The top US commander in the Middle East Gen. Lloyd Austin admitted on Wednesday that only four or five US-trained Syrian fighters remain on the battlefield against ISIL and acknowledged that the US would not reach its goal of training 5,000 soldiers in the near term. French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that France will soon join the coalition of Western and Middle Eastern countries carrying out airstrikes against ISIL in Syria.


Yemen:

Last Friday, rocket fire from the Houthi rebels killed 20 civilians and wounded dozens more in a busy market. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition sent reinforcements into Yemen in preparation to retake the capital Sana’a, seized by the Houthi insurgents a year ago. As part of the assault on Sana’a, coalition warplanes struck an arms depot and killed at least seven civilians and wounded 10. On Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition launched additional airstrikes killing at least 16 Yemeni civilians, including ten people from a single family.

The Yemeni government abandoned UN-mediated peace talks with the Houthis, which were set to start this week. Yemen’s Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and several government ministers returned to Yemen after months spent in exile in Saudi Arabia, and plan to stay in recently reclaimed Aden.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday called for an independent inquiry into human rights violations committed in Yemen by both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch argued that the international community must urgently take steps to hold to account the actors committing mass atrocities in Yemen’s civil war.

The UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect released a statement on the situation in Yemen, expressing their concern at the “virtual silence” of the international community and the increasing impact of the conflict on civilians. They stated their belief that violence will only escalate if there is not a “serious commitment” of the parties to finding a political solution to the conflict.


What else is new?

Human Rights Watch reported that the EU has been deflecting its responsibility to protect refugees by failing to agree on a proposal for mandatory distribution of asylum seekers inside the EU.

The UN Secretary-General announced that he will hold a high-level meeting on the refugee crisis during the General Assembly at the end of September in order to mobilize a “humane, effective and rights-based response” to a global crisis that has seen 60 million people flee their homes.


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#R2P Weekly:7-11 September 2015

Untitled

General Assembly Holds 7th Informal Dialogue on RtoP;  ICRtoP & Partners Hold Event Exploring Priorities for Norm Over Next Decade

Tuesday, 9 September 2015, UN Member States gathered to discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Responsibility to Protect, “A Vital and Enduring Commitment: Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.” (Read a summary of the report here.)

Sixty-nine Member States spoke on behalf of 91 governments, with one regional organization (the EU) also participating. Several civil society organizations gave interventions, including the ICRtoP and three of its members (the Global, Asia-Pacific, and Canadian Centres for RtoP). Thirty delegations called for the Security Council to not block resolutions aimed at preventing or responding to atrocity crimes by welcoming either the ACT Code of Conduct or the French and Mexico political declaration. At least 16 states, as well as the Group of Friends of RtoP, showed support for a General Assembly resolution on the ten-year anniversary of the norm, while 26 others welcomed and encouraged the expansion of the R2P Focal Points initiative.

fadiICRtoP Steering Committee Member Fadi Abi Allam of Permanent Peace Movement (Lebanon) delivered a statement on behalf of the ICRtoP. The ICRtoP emphasized the need to further show how RtoP relates to other sectors; urged the Security Council to better assume its RtoP by not blocking resolutions designed to prevent or respond to atrocities; and called for the General Assembly to adopt a resolution on the ten-year anniversary of the norm.

Check back next week for a full summary of the dialogue.

The day after the dialogue, the ICRtoP, the Stanley Foundation, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung held an event titled “The Responsibility to Protect at Ten: Perspectives and Opportunities.” The purpose of the event was to focus on opportunities to further mainstream RtoP within other sectors and enhance capacity for addressing new civilian protection challenges.

Dr. Jennifer Welsh, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, delivered introductory remarks, in which she reflected on key themes of the General Assembly dialogue and noted areas of opportunity for implementing RtoP in the future.

Other speakers included Erin Mooney, Senior Protection Adviser for the UN and ProCap, who spoke on how protection assistance for the displaced and refugees could be enhanced through implementing RtoP; Alex Hiniker, UN representative of PAX, who provided ideas on how disarmament/arms control initiatives and RtoP could work together to protect populations; and Alex Bellamy, Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for RtoP, who discussed how measures to counter violent extremism could impact atrocities prevention and response.

The ICRtoP and its co-sponsors will soon produce a full report on the event.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Ukraine
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Human Rights Watch urged the government to publicly condemn the Border and Security Affairs Minister of the Mandalay Region Parliamentarian, Dr. Myint Kyu, who spoke out against gay men and transgender women and called on police to arrest them. The Burmese election campaign began on Tuesday and excluded Muslim candidates from the ballot while wiping an estimated 500,000 Rohingya from the voter list.


Burundi:

Patrice Gahungu, the spokesperson for the opposition party Union for Peace and Development (UPD) – Zigamibanga, was assassinated on Monday evening in Bujumbura.The Chairman of the UPD was murdered earlier this year.

Burundi, whose budget is 52 percent donor funded, formally received notifications that aid from European countries, the United States, and various key aid agencies would be suspended. Meanwhile, early in his controversial third term, reports are emerging that President Pierre Nkurunziza is deepening ties with the governments of China and Russia.


Central African Republic:

The UN established a “weapons-free zone” in Bambari to protect civilians from militant groups involved in inter-religious clashes, which have killed more than 10 people in the month of August and have displaced more than 800,000 people during  two years of violence.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Ahead of upcoming presidential elections, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) stated that human rights violations by DRC authorities are increasing, with journalists and activists being targeted specifically.


Gaza:

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, urged all Palestinian leaders and factions to use the postponement of the Palestine National Council meeting to take constructive steps towards achieving unity. Though the meeting of the Council was scheduled to take place next week in Ramallah, a new date has not yet been set for what will be the first gathering of the Council in nearly 20 years.


Iraq:

After the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed its armed campaign against Turkey by targeting police and military officers and killing more than 100 people in the past 50 days, Turkey deployed ground forces and launched a wave of airstrikes into Iraq to pursue Kurdish militants in the first such action since the 2013 Kurdish-Turkey ceasefire.


Kenya:

The International Criminal Court on Thursday announced public arrest warrants against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on accusations of “corruptly influencing witnesses” in the case against Kenyan deputy Prime Minister, William Ruto, for crimes against humanity.


Libya:

The General National Congress (GNC) called for a regional conference to deal with the “migrant” influx crisis. UN Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino Leon, reported that the talks aimed at uniting Libya’s two warring governments are entering the last round and that there is hope of signing a deal by 20 September. Later in the week, Bernardino Leon met ten leaders from each of Libya’s three historic provinces in Cairo, then headed back to Morocco for final talks aimed at naming the prime minister and two deputy prime ministers to head the new Government of National Accord.


Mali:

Malian Special Forces arrested three jihadi suspects after recent attacks against MINUSMA. Despite the signing of a peace deal in June, ongoing conflict in northern Mali and consequent insecurity has increasingly threatened the livelihood of millions. UNOCHA reported that an estimated 3.1 million people are considered to be “food insecure” and roughly 54,000 people are without adequate access to potable water.


Nigeria:

The Nigerian military arrested a number of suspects who were caught allegedly carrying fuel and drugs for Boko Haram in Yobe state. IOM released its 5th Displacement Tracking Matrix, which reported an increase in internally displaced people to over 2.1 million from  the 1.3 million recorded in June. IOM attributed the increase to the intensification of attacks by insurgents in the north.


South Sudan:

The South Sudanese parliament warned that it would reject the recently agreed to Compromise Peace Agreement if it were found to violate national sovereignty; however, when tabled later in the week, the parliament unanimously voted to adopt the deal.


Sudan/Darfur:

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch released a report stating that the Sudanese government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has gone on two episodes of killings and mass rape of civilians in dozens of Darfur villages since February of last year. HRW urged the government to end RSF atrocities and bring those responsible to justice; the abuses have found to be widespread, varying, and systematic against civilian populations and may constitute crimes against humanity. HRW also underscored that existing peacekeeping forces have not fully carried out their mandate of protecting civilians and have seldom released public reports or comprehensive documentation on abuses against civilians during any RSF counterinsurgency campaigns.

Judges at the ICC asked South African authorities to account for their failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir this summer during his travels to the country.


Syria:

Syrian rebel militants from a coalition of mainly Islamist groups, including the al-Nusra front,seized key Abu al-Duhur airbase in north-western Idlib province after a two year siege.

Amnesty International reported that the Democratic Union Party (PYD)-led autonomous administration in northern Syria has been unlawfully detaining and unfairly trying peaceful critics and civilians believed to be sympathizers or members of alleged terrorist groups.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that the UN Security Council is failing Syria due to power divisions preventing action to end the conflict. He said that Russia and China should “look beyond national interest” and stop blocking Security Council action on the conflict in Syria. Additionally, the United Nations Special Envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, called for “a real discussion” to end the conflict in Syria.

After the United States and NATO warned Russia over its involvement in the Syrian conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that humanitarian aid flights to Syria also carry military equipment. Separately, Lavrov stated that Russian military advisers have been in Syria, but that their presence has been a part of a longstanding agreement to provide the country with military aid.


Ukraine:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, declared that nearly 8,000 people have lost their lives in eastern Ukraine since mid-April 2014, as he released the 11th report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The report states that the number of civilian casualties more than doubled this past month, in comparison with the previous three months.

The Ukrainian government, though not a member of the International Criminal Court, voluntarily accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC backdated to early 2014 and accused “senior officials of the Russian Federation” and rebel leaders of committing atrocities during the annexation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine.


Yemen:

Around 1,000 soldiers from Qatar’s Armed Forces, more than 200 armored vehicles, and 30 Apache combat helicopters deployed to Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition’s fight against Houthi rebels. War planes from the coalition bombed the capital of Sanaa in the largest attack on the city in over five months.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, released an emergency fund of $15 million to help alleviate the “almost incomprehensible” scale of human suffering in Yemen, where four out of five people are lacking the most basic survival items such as clean water, food, fuel and medicines. In addition, the Secretary-General and members of the Security Council strongly condemned the suicide attack of September 2 against a mosque in the northern Jarraf district of Sana’a in Yemen that killed 30 and injured 100.


What else is new?

In a new analysis for the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory, the Asia Pacific Center for the R2P’s Alex Bellamy highlighted that “one of the most straightforward and effective measures that could be adopted in fulfillment of RtoP is the provision of safe passage and asylum to those fleeing” the Syrian conflict.

ICRtoP member International Crisis Group released a report detailing how the rise of Christian and Muslim fundamentalist movements in Cameroon is rapidly changing the religious landscape and paving the way for religious intolerance.

International Crisis Group also issued a conflict alert for Nepal, stating that  protests against a draft constitution have left 23 dead and hundreds injured in Nepal in two weeks.

War crimes prosecutors in Serbia charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. This is the first time that a court in Serbia has charged anyone over the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Bosnian-Serb forces.


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#R2P Weekly:31 August- 4 September 2015

Untitled34 Civil Society Organizations Urge Support for the ACT “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes”

Excellency,

On behalf of the undersigned civil society organizations, we are writing to request your government’s explicit support for the new “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.”

Over the past few years, the world has witnessed an intolerable rise in the commission of atrocities against civilians. Populations from Syria to the Central African Republic to South Sudan, to name but a few, suffer daily from the very same crimes that the international community has repeatedly vowed to prevent.

At such a moment of global instability, expectations have grown for preventive, timely, and decisive action by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as the UN organ primarily tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security. The UNSC has indeed exerted leadership by taking recent action on a number of situations of atrocity crimes.

However, due to the veto power wielded irresponsibly by its Permanent Members, the UNSC has failed to adopt similarly strong measures in other cases where these crimes are imminent or occurring, for example in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Vetoing resolutions that attempt to prevent or respond to atrocities makes it difficult for the international community to uphold its Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), a landmark norm unanimously endorsed in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. Under RtoP, States and the international community agreed that they had an obligation to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

(…)

Read the full letter and list of signatories here. To read the ACT Code of Conduct, click here (also available in French and Spanish).


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The UN Refugee Agency warned of an expected surge before monsoon season of mostly Rohinghya and Bangladeshi refugees heading for Southeast Asia. On Monday, President Thein Sein signed into law the Monogamy Bill, the last of four controversial bills criticized by rights groups for discriminating against the country’s Muslim minority.

Asia and the Pacific Policy Society publishedWill Myanmar be the World’s Next Mass Atrocity?, by United to End Genocide’s Daniel P Sullivan, which warns that attacks against Rohingya Muslims are likely to escalate ahead of the November election.


Burundi:

The head of Burundi’s parliament accused an unnamed East African country of sheltering an insurgency that has carried out attacks since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his third term bid. Anti-government protests resumed in the capital after residents accused the police of harassment, stemming from the disarming of Bujumbura neighborhoods amid political tensions surrounding the president’s controversial re-election this summer.


Central African Republic:

An anti-Balaka militia in CAR released 163 previously enslaved children this weekend. Though welcome, this is in fact only a partial fulfillment of a UN-brokered deal, as it is speculated that 6,000 children have been captured by the group. UNHCR indicated that several thousand people have been forcibly displaced from renewed violence in the Bambari region.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, announced an additional allegation of sexual abuse against a member of the French military force in the CAR. The girl was believed to be in her mid to late teens and she gave birth to the child in April.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The trial of former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntganda began this week at the International Criminal Court. Ntaganda is wanted for 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity in the DRC. At the opening of his trial,  which marks the first time that a militia leader faces charges for sexual and gender-based violence committed against child soldiers under his command, he pled not guilty to all 18 charges.

MONUSCO reported that more than 100 child soldiers were able to escape and deserted their positions with the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FPRI) during clashes between the FPRI and government forces. Six soldiers were killed in the North Kivu province of the DRC.


Gaza:

The UN published a report warning that the Gaza strip could become “uninhabitable” by 2020. The Israeli military claimed an attack on a Hamas military position in Gaza, in response to Hamas gunfire on homes in Netiv Haasara in southern Israel.


Iraq:

Suspected ISIL attacks on commercial areas around Baghdad left at least 11 civilians dead and 28 wounded. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reported that during the month of August, 1,325 people (585 civilians) were killed and over 1,811 people (1,103 civilians) injured from terrorism, violence and armed conflict in the country.

The UN Security Council condemned the use of sexual violence in Iraq and Syria as a “tactic of war” and urged all parties to the conflicts to take feasible steps to prevent and protect civilians from such acts.


Libya:

The UN Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon, met with leaders of the Tripoli based unrecognized government, the General National Congress (GNC) and said he hopes a draft agreement on forming a national unity government can be finalized in coming weeks. The GNC announced their intention to take part in the peace talks on Wednesday, just before they began in Geneva on Thursday. At the talks, the envoys from the GNC declared their optimism that a deal creating a unity government could be reached, on the condition that a draft accord is modified first. The two Libyan government parties will soon present their candidates for Prime Minister and two deputies to lead such a national unity government.


Mali:

Unidentified gunmen killed two Malian soldiers on Tuesday in an attack at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Timbuktu. The attack fuels concerns at simmering violence after the breakdown in the UN peace deal signed in June between the government and rival armed groups.


Nigeria:

Boko Haram attacked Baanu village, killing 56 people, during a meeting with the parents of the 219 girls abducted by the group back in 2014. Further attacks from Boko Haram took place in the Northeast, killing an estimated total of 80 people over the weekend. Since the inauguration of President Buhari at the end of May, more than 1,000 lives have been lost to deadly Boko Haram ambushes and the use of suicide bombers.The Nigerian intelligence agency reported the spread of Boko Haram into Nigeria’s biggest city of Lagos, warning that a dozen members of Boko Haram had been seen and apprehended in the city since July.


South Sudan:

Rebels and government actors accused each other on Sunday of not abiding by the ceasefire, just hours after it came into effect. The South Sudanese military called for IGAD, the eight nation regional bloc who helped bring about the ceasefire, to monitor the area and compliance with the peace agreement.

The UN Security Council threatened sanctions against “any party” who does not respect the peace deal agreed to last week. A UN panel of experts warned the Security Council that the violence will likely continue in South Sudan, even if battling parties agree to end the conflict. The panel also urged the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and to place sanctions on those in the position to perpetuate or cease the ongoing conflict.

The World Food Program reported that approximately 4.6 million people in South Sudan are struggling with severe food insecurity and that aid convoys are often restricted by local authorities. Since independence, the South Sudanese economy has continually declined, and over 10,000 people have been killed with more than 1.6 million displaced.


Sudan/Darfur:

President Omar Al-Bashir visited China on Monday, defying calls by various international human rights organizations to arrest him for crimes against humanity. China is a permanent member of the Security Council which referred the case to the ICC, but is not itself a party to the Rome statute.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Monitor, published by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), noted that South Sudan spent roughly 30 million dollars last year on machine guns, grenade launchers, and other weapons from China, along with Russian armored vehicles and Israeli rifles and attack helicopters.


Syria:

A van filled with explosives was detonated in front of a school on the outskirts of Latakia, killing at least 10 people and injuring 25. The UN confirmed, although Syria’s head of antiquities denied, that ISIL militants had destroyed the Temple of Baal in the second attack this week on the ancient city of Palmyra.

The International Red Cross reported that water has become a “weapon of war” in Syria, with civilians undergoing extreme suffering due to deliberate cuts to water and electricity supplies in Aleppo. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, warnedthat 1 million people have been displaced by violence in 2015 alone and that the humanitarian crisis could yet worsen if a political solution is not found.

ICRtoP member, International Crisis Group, published a new report arguing that a significant but realistic U.S. policy shift on deterring regime airstrikes represents the best chance of reaching a political settlement in Syria.

The Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released its 10th report, which details how civilians have been specifically targeted by one or more of the warring parties, often on aspects of their identity. Additionally, the report condemns the failure of the international community to assist civilians fleeing the war-torn country, calls for all parties and states to work to resolve the conflict, and urges the Security Council to “open a path to justice.”


Yemen:

At least 31 people were killed by a pro-government airstrike which hit a bottling plant in the northern province of Hajjah. According to the UN, almost 4,500 people have died since the Saudi-led pro-government coalition began its campaign in March. A suicide attack and subsequent car bomb, detonated near a Zaidi mosque in the rebel-held Yemeni capital of Sanaa, resulted in the death of at least 20 people. Unknown gunmen shot dead two Yemeni Red Cross aid workers in northern Yemen as they were travelling from a mission in the city of Saada to the organization’s main office in the capital.

The UN OCHA’s latest crisis update reported that at least 95 civilians were killed and 129 injured between 14 and 27 August from indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling. OCHA additionally stated that militants violated international law when they forced all 80 patients out of the Yemen International Hospital in Taiz after seizing the facility.

The UN OHCHR described the humanitarian situation in Yemen as “untenable” and that the increase in the number of civilian casualties in the Taiz province is alarming.The OHCHR reiterated its concern regarding the near collapse of the healthcare system in Taiz, as all six public hospitals in the area are no longer operational. Save The Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres also warned that major hospitals in Taiz and Sanaa are struggling to function due to supply shortages caused by the ongoing conflict and a blockade by pro-government forces.

Human Rights Watch reported that Southern armed groups and Houthi forces have committed serious abuses against civilians and fighters in their custody. Southern militants have summarily executed at least seven Houthi prisoners since March and Houthi rebels have unlawfully detained and mistreated civilians.


What else is new?

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect welcomed Rwanda as the 50th state to join the Global Network of R2P Focal Points. Meanwhile, the EU became the first regional organization to appoint a Focal Point.

ICRtoP member, Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (CRIES),  published their latest edition of Pensamiento Propio,  Latin America and the Responsibility to Protect: Divergent views from the South?

Russia rejected a proposal from France for permanent members to refrain from using their veto when action is required to address mass atrocities.


 

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