#R2P Weekly: 6-10 July 2015

Untitled

Veto on Srebrenica Resolution Hinders Ability to Prevent Next Genocide 

The following is an excerpt from the latest ICRtoP Press Release. To read the full version, click here.

With today’s veto of a resolution commemorating the Srebrenica genocide, the United Nations Security Council again showed its inability to function properly when the veto is used, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) said today.

“Unfortunately, today’s veto is only the most recent example of the Council failing to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes,” said Don Deya, chair of the ICRtoP. “Whether it’s a resolution on Syria, Palestine, Myanmar—or on a genocide that occurred twenty years ago—vetoes show how this outdated power cripples responses to atrocities by the Council and the world at large.”

The use of the veto in situations of atrocity crimes hinders the ability to fulfill the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), a landmark norm unanimously agreed to by States 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.

The resolution would have acknowledged the massacre of 8,000 civilians (mostly men and boys killed because of their identity) as genocide; called weekly1on states to prevent the future commission of genocide and reaffirmed the principle of the Responsibility to Protect in that regard; encouraged States to appoint national focal points on atrocity prevention; and welcomed the use of the UN Framework of Analysis on Atrocity Crimes as an early warning and preventive tool.  Among other reasons, Russia vetoed the text on the grounds that the tragedy in Srebrenica fails to qualify as genocide, despite international judicial rulings.

“By vetoing the resolution, Russia has erected a new barrier to reconciliation and remembrance,  said William Pace of ICRtoP member World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy. “Acknowledging the truth of what happened—and how we let it happen—is the only way to honor the victims, live up to our Responsibility to Protect, and prevent future genocides.”

Today, the UN Security Council has again shown its divisions when it comes to fulfilling that promise to prevent atrocities; though, the ICRtoP welcomes the strong support shown by most Council members for the resolution and RtoP norm.  The vote shows once again the vital need for Permanent Members of the Council to refrain from using their veto when it is facing the gravest of tasks—that of responding to situations of mass atrocities.

The international community must continue to work to develop regulations or pledges to restrain veto use.  If not, populations in Syria, Darfur, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—to name a few—will continue to pay the same price as the victims of Srebrenica.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:
Myanmar announced its election would take place on Nov. 8th, which will be the first open general election the country has seen in 25 years. New clashes between Myanmar’s army and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) took place in Southern Myanmar, with cease fire talks set for next week.

Myanmar passed a bill that prevents interfaith marriage. Human Rights Watch and other various rights groups criticized the bill as a campaign by nationalist Buddhists to incite hatred against Muslims.

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) at its 29th Session, adopted without a vote a resolution (A/HRC/29/L.30) on the “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar,” tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In this resolution, among other points, the HRC stressed that “States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights” and “Calls upon the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure accountability and to end impunity for all violations of human rights, including in particular against Muslims, by undertaking a full, transparent and independent investigation into reports of all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”


Burundi:
The Burundian government demanded that Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN-appointed mediator, resign from his post, claiming that he is not impartial. The East African Community (EAC) then asked Ugandan President Museveni to spearhead mediation efforts; however, this appointment by the EAC was immediately rejected by Burundi’s opposition parties.

President Nkurunziza’s party, the CNDD-FDD, won the parliamentary elections, getting the vast majority of seats with a total of 77 out of 100. UN election observers declared that Burundi’s parliamentary and local elections were not free, credible and inclusive and pointed to the widespread fear and campaigns of intimidation by police and armed groups. The African Union (AU) reaffirmed that there must be an end to violence in Burundi and that all actors must be brought to the table for a peace agreement. The AU also asked the Burundian government to allow AU military and civilian experts to enter the country and observe the ongoing elections.

ICRtoP member the Pan-African Lawyers Union, together with the East African Civil Society Organizations Forum and members of Burundian civil society, filed  a petition with the the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to seek an annulment of the decision by the Constitutional Court and Burundian INEC/CENI (Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante), which found Nkurunziza’s 3rd term run legal under Burundian law.

During a UN Security Council briefing on Thursday, the Representative from Burundi delivered a speech denying claims made by UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Al Hussein, that the Burundian government and its youth militia, the Imbonerakure, acted violently against protesters, human rights defenders, and the media. Instead, he attributed the attacks to an opposition group and claimed the surge of refugees leaving Burundi had been caused by the “media onslaught” of rumors.


Central African Republic:
French officials in Central African Republic (CAR) began interviewing children allegedly abused by French troops. An armed group, disguised as UN peacekeepers, raided and destroyed a local state-run radio station in Bangui. The UN dismissed 20 peacekeepers from the CAR for the use of excessive force.


Gaza:
July 8th marked  one year since the 50 day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians, 70 Israelis and destroyed 100,000 buildings.

OCHA’s Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper,expressed concern for the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the failure to rebuild the community that was destroyed. Since July 2014, almost 100,000 people have been displaced and 120,000 still lack access to water. Amnesty International, in cooperation with Forensic Architecture, launched a new digital tool to document patterns of Israeli military violation on Gaza dating back to initial attack in 2014.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution (A/HRC/29/L.35) on “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” with 41 States in favor, five abstentions and one no vote from the US. The resolution calls for the implementation of the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry report and reaffirms the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The resolution also “calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened.”


Iraq:
Iraq has seen a rise in civilian casualties as fighting intensified between Islamic State (IS) and Iraqi forces, with 25 civilian deaths in the past week and many injured. The Iraqi courtsentenced 24 IS militants to death for taking part in killing and torturing Iraqi soldiers when IS overran Tikrit last summer.


Kenya:
Al-Shabab launched another attack at a local quarry in Mandera County that borders Somalia, killing 14 people. Al-Shabab previously attacked Mandera County in December 2014.


Libya:
After the UN-led peace talks stalled this past Wednesday, the self-declared government of Libya announced the restructuring of its army into 11 brigades, including the militiamen who fought in the 2011 revolution. Fighting in the city center of Benghazi between pro-internationally recognized government forces and rebel forces resulted in the death of 14 people.


Mali:
Ansar Dine claimed responsibility for multiple attacks against UN peacekeepers in Bamako and in Mali’s border regions.


Nigeria:
Violence attributed to Boko Haram in Nigeria continued, with two bombs set off in Jos killing a total of 44 people and two female suicide bombers killing 5 in Potiskum. Later, another bombexploded in Zaria, killing 25 people. Nigeria is starting to bolster security measures to combat this recent string of Boko Haram attacks. Boko Haram is reportedly willing to release over 200 Chibok girls taken last year in exchange for 16 Boko Haram militants currently being detained by the Nigerian government. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered an official condemnation of Boko Haram’s campaign of violence in Nigeria and across the region and called for renewed support for the Multi-National Joint Task Force.


South Sudan:
This week marked South Sudan’s fourth year of independence from Sudan; however, the situation remains bleak as fighting continues between the South Sudanese government and the Sudan People Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) with over 10,000 people killed and 2 million people displaced since the conflict began in Dec 2013. A second attack in under a week on an UNMISS Protection of Civilians site took place on the 5th, killing one Internally Displaced Person.

Riek Machar, the SPLM–IO leader and former vice president, claimed he wanted a power-sharing deal with President Salva Kiir. However, a day later, Machar gave President Kiir an ultimatum; vowing that the civil war would continue as long as he remained in power.

Herve Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, without seeing prospects for a political solution, urged the UN Security Council to place an arms embargo on South Sudan and to impose sanctions on more rival leaders.


Sudan/Darfur:
A landmine exploded in the Blue Nile, killing at least five people amidst the continuation of hostilities between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Northern Sector (SPLM-N) and Sudanese forces in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan. 1,800 Sudanese soldiers weredeployed to East Darfur to contribute to security in the area and prevent clashes between armed groups. The European Union affirmed its support for a national dialogue to take place to address political issues among all parties to the conflict in Sudan. Displaced persons and refugees from Darfur presented a package of demands to the UN Security Council on security in the region. Meanwhile, Sudan remained firm on its demand for UNAMID to exit.

Armed groups in Sudan and South Sudan have repeatedly gained access to weapons from UN and AU peacekeepers. The report by Small Arms Survey concluded that 500 weapons and 1 million rounds of ammunition (including heavy machine guns and mortars) were taken from peacekeeping forces in Sudan and South Sudan from 2005-2014.


Syria:
The Islamic State took control of the city of Ain Issa as part of a strategic effort to push Kurdish forces out of Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that barrel bombs and fighting between the Syrian government and opposition force in Aleppo killed 15 civilians including several children. A Belgian military operation has rescued over 240 civilians from Aleppo who will now gain asylum in Belgium.

According to UNHCR, the number of Syrian refugees now living outside of Syria has grown to be over 4 million, which is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in over 25 years. Almost 7.6 million Syrians are internally displaced.


Yemen:
A rocket was launched into the city of Aden and killed 12 refugees. UNHCR reiterated that all sides to the conflict must respect civilian life as well as allow access by humanitarian workers to go unhindered.

The Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government of Yemen have agreed to pause fighting for the rest of Ramadan, to begin today and end on 17 July, so that  humanitarian relief can be delivered in the country.


What else is new?
Save the Date: Join the Stimson Center and the Hague Institute for Global Justice on the 14 July 2015 from 3- 4:30 pm in the Trusteeship Council at UN Headquarters for the launch of the Report of the Commission on Global Security entitled, “Confronting the Crises of Global Governance.” Dr. Madeleine Albright will be present in her role as Co-Chair of the Commission. You can RSVP here .


 

Leave a comment

Filed under RtoP, Uncategorized

#R2P Weekly: 29-3 July 2015

Untitled

Preventing Future Atrocities in Palestine

The following is an excerpt from the latest ICRtoP Press Release. To read the full version, click here.

Both Israel and the State of Palestine must hold those responsible for the potential war crimes accountable if the devastating effects of another Gaza war are to be avoided, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) said today.

“Civilians have paid a deadly cost for the multiple bouts of conflict in Palestine over the past few years,” said Don Deya, chair of the ICRtoP. “If no one is held accountable for the damage they have inflicted, Israel and Hamas will continue to commit war crimes and we could be looking at another Operation Protective Edge, Cast Lead, or Pillar of Defense in the immediate future.”

(…)

The UN’s Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza conflict found evidence that both Israel and Hamas had committed serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through indiscriminate targeting of civilians—violations which may amount to war crimes. The Commission found that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented”, with 2,251 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed and 11,231 Palestinians and 1,620 Israelis injured. The report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, 29 June.

In response to the report, the international community must take all possible measures to ensure accountability for these potential war crimes. Furthermore, actors, in order to fulfill their RtoP, must exert pressure on the parties involved to address the underlying sources of conflict that have mired these populations in misery for decades.

“Recent events show that commissions of inquiry, humanitarian relief, and reconstruction will only take us so far,” said Fadi Abi Allam of the Middle Eastern civil society organization and ICRtoP Member Permanent Peace Movement. “To prevent future war crimes, Israel, Palestine, and the international community have to address the root causes of the recurring violence, including Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its settlements.”

(…)

Read the full press release here. Read the Coalition for the International Criminal Court’s overview of the report and recommendations here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Gaza
Iraq
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Ukraine

Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The presently stalled peace negotiations between rebel groups and the Myanmar government, which have been taking place over the past year with aims at reaching a “nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA)” are in danger of being pushed back another year. There is growing concern that if the NCA is not signed within the next two months, the talks will come to a halt due to Myanmar’s presidential election in August.

Various Manawatu ethnic groups held a vigil in Palmerston North, to protest the persecution of the Rohingya in the Rakhine State, speaking out “to stop the Burmese oppressive regime from committing further crimes against humanity…to stop this genocide.” The Coalition for Caring for Rohingya, a rights group based in Aceh, Indonesia, launched a petition for the Indonesian government to take actions against the Myanmar government for the maltreatment of the Rohingya. ASEAN countries set up a humanitarian fund for Rohingya refugees, for which Singapore already pledged $200k.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Pakistan submitted draft resolution  (A/HRC/29/L.30) to the UN Human Rights Council on plight of the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar, which will be voted on 3 July. However, the Asian Centre for Human Rights stated that the draft resolution is missing key issues on the Rohingya crisis and contains faulty information.


Burundi:

Burundi held parliamentary elections on Monday, 29 June with reports of “thin crowds” as many stayed home in fear of violence or in support of the boycott organized by the opposition. As many as three polling stations were attacked in Bujumbura with grenades and gunfire. The UN reported that over 10,000 people fled Burundi last weekend alone before Burundi closed its border to stem the flood. The total number of refugees now tops 144,000. The U.S. stated last Friday that it had suspended technical assistance to the National Electoral Commission, while the AU announced it would not be monitoring the vote, as “the necessary conditions are not met for the organization of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.” The UN’s Electoral Mission Observer (MENUB) remained the only international observation team within the country, though they underscored that their presence “should not be interpreted as being in support of any parties, nor as a validation of the process.”

As Burundi awaits the results of the vote, gun battles in Cibitoke killed six, though conflicting stories are emerging about the clashes. Police claim they were combatting an “armed group” while others claimed the police summarily executed civilians after being attacked. Members of the press complained that media channels were blocked to Cibitoke as news of the violence began to surface.


Central African Republic:

The CAR began voter registration for the upcoming elections set to take place in October.The elections face numerous challenges, including registering displaced persons and refugees, financing and security. The French Defense Ministry announced that they would be sending another 900 troops to the CAR to support Operation Sangris and MINUSCA.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) arbitrarily arrested and deported thousands of Democratic Republic of the Congo nationals under “Operation Mbata ya Bakolo” between April and September of 2014. Amnesty International documented a range of human rights violations during this period that could amount to crimes against humanity and called for the Republic of Congo to halt the new phase of the operation, which is has been targeting West African nationals in Pointe-Noire since 14 May 2015.


Gaza:

The UN Human Rights Council’s meeting on the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 conflict in Gaza took place on Monday. Representatives of Palestine were present to express their concerns but Israel was not in attendance. However, both Palestine and Israel promised to complete internal investigations of the alleged war crimes documented in the report.

The Islamic State is reportedly slowing gaining influence over extremists in Gaza, who are trying to undermine the Hamas government. The emergence of extremists in Gaza also indicates Hamas’s weakening governance amid a severe financial crisis and strict border control. UNRWA announced that reconstruction of the buildings destroyed during the 50 day war last summer, will begin immediately. However, most of the pledged funding has yet to be received and construction will continue to be a challenge, due to Israel’s limits on construction materials entering Gaza.


Iraq:

UNICEF warned that the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq could reach 10 million by the end of the year and that children are the most affected by the continued and sustained violence over the years. There has been a 75% increase in violence against children including killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment as soldiers, attacks on schools, and denials of humanitarian access.


Libya:

On Monday, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Libya announced that an agreement on the majority of the draft power-sharing agreement had been reached among the parties to the conflict; and expressed hope that the agreement would be finalized on Thursday pending the discussions of the final two or three issues. However, on Wednesday the new draft of the peace proposal was rejected by rebel forces, in defiance of the UN warnings that sanctions will be imposed on those who undermine the successful political transition.

UNHCR reported that the number of IDPs in Libya doubled since September from an estimate of 230,000 to more than 434,000.


Mali:

The UNSC passed a resolution renewing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for one year. This week there was yet another attack on a MINUSMA convoy near Goundam, which killed five and wounded six.

Ansar Dine and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Mali (PMLM) claimed responsibility for recent attacks over the weekend in Southern Mali on public and police buildings and a military camp. Ansar Dine warned of their plans to “multiply the attacks in Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania” while PMLM stated that their reasoning for the attack was for “regime change in Mali.”


Nigeria:

An estimated 97 people were shot dead, in a suspected Boko Haram attack, on Wednesday night in the Borno State. Female escapees from Boko Haram discussed their horrific experiences: brainwashing, beatings, rape, and constant terror and the challenges in returning home to communities that stigmatize girls who have been abducted.

President Buhari of Nigeria appointed Amina Bala Zakari to head up the National Electoral Commission, which is the first time that a woman has served as a Chairperson.  However, Buhari reportedly is delaying appointing ministers until September in an effort to ensure his anti-corruption efforts take hold in the government.


South Sudan:

IGAD put forth a draft proposal that would include a security and power-sharing formula.The deal would allocate a vice-presidential spot to the rebels, integrate the armies within 18 months, and establish a truth and reconciliation commission and hybrid court.

According to a UN report, South Sudan’s Army (SPLA) has been accused of raping and burning girls alive in their homes along with other widespread atrocities. However, the UN has been routinely denied access to the alleged atrocity sites by SPLA. An UNMISS base in Malakal sheltering thousands of civilians was attacked by rebel forces. The UN Security Council added three South Sudanese military commanders and three rebel leaders to the sanctions list, though Kiir and Machar were not among the names.  The Troika countries and the European Union submitted a draft resolution to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor human rights abuses in South Sudan.


Sudan/Darfur:

The number of attacks on civilians has steadily been increasing over the past few months in South Kordofan. The Sudan Consortium reports that over 7000 civilians were displaced and 347 homes were destroyed in 65 attacks by rebel forces (SPLM-N) in the month of May.The Sudanese government continues to censor the free press, shutting down its 75th newspaper in 2015. The National Liberation and Justice Party (NLJP) opposition group resumed participation in the Sudanese government after leaving previously because the government wouldn’t appoint their leaders in ministerial positions. It is believed that NLJP and the Sudanese government met late last week to discuss the new terms of their political participation.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted for a one year extension on the UNAMID mandate despite Sudan’s call for UNAMID to leave. The ICC Prosecutor called on the UN Security Council to take action to ensure justice for victims in Darfur amidst frustration surrounding the ICC’s failed attempt to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.The World Food Program and International Organization for Migration signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation and capacity in order to reach IDPs and other victims in Darfur and other regions of Sudan.


Syria:

The US confirmed their plans to arm and train “moderate Syrian opposition rebels” to fight against the Islamic State. The program is funded for $500 million and would train 5,400 opposition fighters a year for 3 years.

Turkey’s security cabinet met on Monday to discuss the possibility of sending troops into Syria as early as this coming week, with the ultimate goal of preventing the establishment of a Kurdish state. On Wednesday, Turkish forces deployed military reinforcement, including troops and armored vehicles, to the state of Keles, bordering Syria, after Kurdish forces (supported by US aerial forces) took the city of Tel Abyad from IS.

Jordan is preparing to establish a security zone in southern Syria to prevent IS or another jihadi movement from declaring victory in the area.

The UN held an Arria-formula meeting where civil society organizations briefed members of the Security Council on the devastating effects of the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian government on civilians. The current figures of the Syrian conflict stand at over 220,000 killed, more than a million injured, an estimated 7.6 million displaced inside the country, and over 4 million refugees. Amid funding shortfalls, the World Food Program is forced to make food aid cuts to Syria refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.


Ukraine

The UN Human Rights Council urged Ukraine to ratify the Rome statute in order for the International Criminal Court to have jurisdiction to investigate the human rights abuses on all sides of the Ukrainian conflict.


Yemen

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the airstrike attacks from the Arab-led coalition who has been carrying out attacks on the Houthi rebels, which resulted in serious structural damage and one casualty on 28 June 2015. In a statement he expressed, “International humanitarian law requires protection by all parties of civilians and civilian facilities, including UN staff and UN premises. The inviolability of UN premises and the important work of all United Nations staff must be respected at all times.”

Amnesty International, in an airstrike and weapon analysis, reported that the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen do not abide by international law and, due to their indiscriminate nature, result in civilian deaths, injuries, and destruction of homes.


What else is new?

The ICRtoP has created a new “Government Statements” resource for its members, partners and the public. Click on the link to find statements made by each government on RtoP, from 2005 to present.

Read inputs by civil society organizations to the ‪ASEAN Vision 2025 & its Attendant Documents, which includes elements related to RtoP and Women, Peace, and Security.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Amid ICC examination, UN Gaza panel finds evidence of war crimes

Originally posted on :

A group of displaced Palestinians in Gaza in 2014. © AP A group of displaced Palestinians in Gaza in 2014. © AP

A new UN report says that both Israel and Palestinian armed groups likely committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict. It calls on governments to ensure individual accountability by supporting the ICC’s preliminary examination into the situation.

View original 742 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

#R2P Weekly: 22-26 June 2015

Untitled

Statement on the Release of the High-Level Independent Panel Report on Peace Operations 

The following is an excerpt from the latest ICRtoP Statement on the release of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations ahead of the UN Security Council’s and the General Assembly’s deliberations on the report. 

The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) welcomes the release of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations report, an assessment requested by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General designed to identify the current state of UN peacekeeping operations and emerging future needs.

As evidenced by the crises in Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Darfur—to name but a few examples—peacekeepers are often deployed into situations in which atrocities have already been committed or there is a significant risk to populations, and correspondingly the vast majority of modern peacekeeping missions have a mandate to protect civilians. While civilian protection mandates extend beyond the prevention of atrocity crimes, peacekeeping operations serve a vital function in assisting states and the international community to uphold the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing (often referred to as “atrocity crimes”).

Accordingly, the Panel reiterated that the protection of civilians is a core obligation of the United Nations. Despite such a reaffirmation and the increasing prevalence of protection of civilian mandates, more populations are vulnerable to atrocity crimes than ever before. In this regard, the ICRtoP hopes that Member States will consider the following as the UN Security Council and General Assembly deliberate on the Panel’s Recommendations.

(…)

When populations are emerging from, are at risk of, or experiencing atrocities, UN peacekeepers are often the only actors to whom they can turn for protection. It is therefore crucial that the Security Council and General Assembly accept and clarify the recommendations made by the High-Level Panel—and, more importantly—strive to implement them in practice. Ultimately, the United Nations, its Membership, and its peacekeepers will not be judged by their resolutions or recommendations, but on their ability to fulfill their most solemn of commitments—that of protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

Read the full statement here.


Catch up on development’s in…

 Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Kenya
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

A group of influential Buddhist monks, the Ma Ba Tha, called on the government of Myannmar to ban Muslim students from wearing the burqa in schools. They also demanded a ban of the Muslim Eid holiday practice of “killing of innocent animals.”


Burundi:

Four people were killed and an additional 30 people were wounded after a wave of grenade attacks in President Pierre Nkurunziza’s hometown of Ngozi on Sunday night ahead of key parliamentary elections. Since protests began in April, 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded. The Burundi government claims efforts are being made with their own “DDR experts” in disarming civilians. One of Burundi’s Vice Presidents, Gervais Rufyikiri, has fled the country after opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term and claiming he was threatened by those in the ruling party. Journalists in Burundi are utilizing creative ways to get around the closure of public radio and many are now using “Soundcloud” to broadcast their emissions.

The EU threatened sanctions against those involved in the political violence that has shaken the country since the end of April. Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, arrived in Bujumbura “to offer support of regional efforts to reduce tensions and help Burundians peacefully settle their differences.”

The political dialogue in Burundi resumed on Tuesday, facilitated by the African Union, the East African Community, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and the United Nations. All participants from the previous dialogue attended the meetings, except for the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD. President Nkurunziza, the leader the CNDD-FDD, announcedTuesday that the ruling party is boycotting the peace talks. On Wednesday, the Minister of the Interior represented the Burundian Government at the meeting; although, he reportedlynearly walked out when the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD was described as a militia.


Central African Republic:

CAR’s presidential elections have been set to take place 18 October of this year.The EUpledged $350 million to the CAR to support “political integration and cooperation in peace and security, regional economic integration and trade, and the sustainable development of natural resources and biodiversity.”

The UN issued a statement on the formation of a panel to review the role of the UN and its response regarding allegations of sexual abuse and “other serious crimes” against children in the CAR. Days later, another report of sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel in the CAR emerged, making a total of three such abuse allegations in recent months.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The current situation in Burundi has resulted in the daily crossing of refugees into the DRC. New arrivals are being hosted by Burundians who came in 2010, while others stay in makeshift shelters waiting to be transferred to a new camp.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

As recommended by the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, openeda new UN office in Seoul to work on the human rights situation in the DPRK on Monday. On Tuesday, however, the DPRK government protested against the opening of the UN Human Rights office, issuing a statement through a foreign ministry spokesman that read, “The DPRK will decisively foil the reckless ‘human rights’ racket against the DPRK through resolute toughest counteractions.”


Gaza:

The independent UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict released its report, finding that war crimes were potentially committed by both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups.

Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council’s consideration of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 conflict in Gaza on 29 July 2015, the ICRtoP issued a press release entitled “Preventing Future Atrocities in Palestine.”


Iraq:

The US military and coalition launched a series of airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq. The 22 airstrikes in Iraq, were approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. NATO announced a plan to re-engage with Iraq to fight IS after leaving the country four years ago.


Guinea:

Guinea’s opposition leader for the upcoming presidential election, Cellou Dalein Diallo,announced a political alliance with ousted former Junta Chief Moussa Dadis Camara. Under Dadis Camara’s rule in 2009, Guinean government forces opened fire on peaceful protesters in a stadium in the capital of Conakry, killing at least 150 and wounding 1400 others.


Kenya:

A Kenyan human rights group, Muslim Human Rights, referred to as “Muhuri”, accused the Kenyan government of harassment and the use of anti-terror measures to repress its work. The government put Muhuri on a state list of terror suspects, which also includes Boko Haram, Al Qaida, and the Islamic State. Muhuri and another human rights group, Haki Africa, have accused the government of making arbitrary arrests and carrying out extra-judicial killings.


Libya:

Libya’s self-proclaimed government in Tripoli carried out airstrikes against IS fighters in Sirte. Meanwhile, the UN is trying to draft a power-sharing agreement deal between Libya’s government and its opposition.

According to the UN, an estimate of 400,000 have been displaced in Libya in post-Gaddafi violence and underfunding is causing many humanitarian agencies to shut down operation.The UN Envoy to Libya met with various armed groups in support of political discussions and Libya’s elected parliamentarians voted to stay in the UN peace talks for power-sharing between its government and the self-declared government in Tripoli, in an effort to end the crisis and bring peace and security to the country.


Mali:

Mali’s government and the largest Tuareg rebel group, Coordination of Azawad Movements(CMA), officially signed a peace agreement Saturday 20 June. The agreement allows the Tuareg North to have more autonomy from the Southern capital. After the agreement was signed, the UN envoy encouraged donors to offer a “peace dividend” or emergency fund to provide water, electricity, and education to citizens in order to demonstrate “good faith” and help stabilize the country.

The UN said that UN peacekeepers in Mali will face justice in their respective home countries after shooting protesters illegally. The incident occurred on January 27th in Gao when several UN officers fired with “unauthorized and excessive force” on protesters during peace negotiations.

The Malian government asked the UN to extend its peacekeeping mandate to help combat the issue of drug trafficking claiming that drug trafficking helps to fund rebel groups across Mali and helps continue the violence.


Nigeria:

Nigeria continues to be hit by Boko Haram attacks: two young women completed suicide bombs by a crowded mosque in Maiduguri killing 30, followed by another girl of 12 who tookher life and 20 others in a market in the Yorbe state. Nigeria’s President Buhari announcedthat the Nigerian treasury is “virtually empty” due to mismanagement and corruption. The news of the treasury comes after Nigeria has pledged millions to its Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram and raises questions about Nigeria’s ability to maintain economic stability and contribute.The EU provided 21 billion Euros to support victims and displaced persons impacted by Boko Haram. The funds will be used to provide mostly humanitarian support and relief with a special focus on combating malnutrition in the region.


South Sudan:

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the UN camp in Juba have accused government soldiers of openly attacking them, leading to five IDPs seriously wounded. UNMISS spokesperson confirms the attack and is investigating the incident; however, UN personnel found no armed groups when they were dispatched to the scene. UNICEF called for the end of violence against children in South Sudan in which castration of boys and gang rapes of girls as well as murders have been reported. The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and partners pledged USD 275 million to support IDPs and refugees in South Sudan. IGAD also called for negotiations for peace between parties in conflict. The SPLM-IO rebels (the opposition faction of the SPLM) announced their support for the Arusha reunification process, but called for it not to be held in Juba due to the ongoing violence there. South Sudanese academics in the US called for President Salva Kiir and militia leader Riek Machar to be barred from new political processes citing the need to move away from ethnically aligned parties.


Sudan/Darfur:

The Sudanese Air Force allegedly conducted an air raid in Fanga, Darfur, dropping nine bombs. The Sudanese Army is in control of Fanga and reportedly over a dozen civilians have been killed by shelling from Sudanese military forces.The AU extended the UNAMID mandate, with support for the exit strategy, and asked the UN Security Council to do the same.

The South African High Court criticized the South African government for ignoring the court order that prohibited Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir from leaving South Africa during his visit at the AU Summit. The Court requested the public prosecutor to determine if the government had broken the law and warned that, “If the state… does not abide by court orders, the democratic edifice will crumble stone-by-stone until it collapses.”


Syria:

The Islamic State, disguised in Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) uniforms so they were not feared, reportedly killed dozens in and around the Syrian border city of Kobani. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that at least 20 Syrian Kurds, including women and children, were shot dead in the nearby town of Hasakah around the same time of the Kobani attacks. In a similar instance the Islamic State, disguised as the Free Syrian Army,attacked the town of Kobani. The IS used a suicide bomber to blow up a border crossing with Turkey and shot dead an estimated 20 Syrian Kurds.

The Islamic State was pushed back after the YPG took the town of Ain Issa and its surrounding villages, just 30 miles from the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. The deliberate targeting of civilians by all sides of the conflict however has yet to stop.

UN investigators determined that the daily barrel bombings on Aleppo this year by the Syrian government amount to the war crime of targeting civilians.


Yemen

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, conveyed his optimism that the parties in Yemen can reach a humanitarian truce, while a long-term cessation of violence is pursued.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)announced that it will release $25 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in an effort to accelerate aid.


What else is new?

The International Peace Institute released a new report by Dr. Alex Bellamy and Dr. Adam Lupel, entitled “Why We Fail to Prevent Mass Atrocities”, which examines the obstacles to effective prevention efforts and the strategies needed to improve the UN’s ability to respond.

At the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, prosecutors reopened the case against former Bosnian Serb military Chief General Ratko Mladic. They will present new evidence, found after 400 bodies have been recovered from the mass grave in Tomasica, which demonstrates the involvement of Bosnian Serb forces under his command, in the murder of non-Serbs in the country’s 1992-95 war. Mladic is charged with with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and if convicted, the 73-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The UN  Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism and fundamental freedoms, Ben Emmerson, urged the Security Council to take effective action to protect civilians in areas under the control of ISIL during the release of his  report (A/HRC/29/51). Specifically he says, “The Security Council has an obligation to act…Given the reports of genocide, all members of the Security Council may now have a specific responsibility to take action to prevent this most serious of international crimes.” He also adds, “The Council has conspicuously failed to either authorize military action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, or to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

#R2PWeekly: 15-19 June 2015

Untitled#R2P10: The Impact of the Syrian War on Women

The following is an excerpt from the latest submission for the #R2P10 blog series. ICRtoP had the privilege of speaking to Laila Alodaat, a human rights lawyer and MENA Project Coordinator at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, to discuss the impact of the Syrian conflict on women.

The Syrian crisis continues to show the detrimental impact that the spread of arms and the use of explosive weapons has on civilian populations. How has the widespread use of such weapons impacted women in Syria and what are likely long-term consequences?

The Assad regime spared no effort to turn the peaceful uprising that called for freedom and dignity into an armed conflict. While brutally targeting pacifist activists,  lawyers and political figures who were demanding civil and legal reforms, it also applied indirect measures like releasing extremist convicted criminals from prisons, turning the political seen into chaos. Such actions, combined with aggressive repression, abuse, torture and use of propaganda, resulted in civilians taking up arms as self-defence, a phenomena that later on turned into an element of the armed conflict feeding on the uncontrolled influx of arms to the country.

Today, the increased militarisation and the proliferation of arms have devastating impacts on the structure of society and on the well-being of civilians who are suffering far beyond numbers of casualties. And while small arms have a devastating impact on women, the greatest threat still revolves around the extensive use of explosive weapons, which has been the main strategy of the Assad regime to impose corporal punishment on entire communities and to retain control of areas that fell out of its control.

Since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, 53% of civilians died by explosive weapons. As a result of the Assad regime doubling the use of explosive weapons in 2014, over 35% of the death toll in Syria (76000 of an estimated 220000 casualties) took place in that year. Furthermore, almost half of the global casualty by explosive weapons in the world between 2011-2013 occurred in Syria. This has a devastating impact on women and girls, as 74% of the casualties are a result of explosive weapons and 17% of small arms.

(…) Read the full blog post here.

Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya

Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other

Burma/Myanmar:

Around 500 Buddhists, supported by extremist monks, protested in the Rakhine State over the country’s repatriation of Rohingya refugees. Meanwhile, a Pakistani Taliban leader called for the Rohingya to “take up the sword and kill in the path of god.” As national elections are set to take place in November later this year, Amnesty International warned of strict media control in the form of harassment and intimidation tactics carried out by the government. Speaking on the citizenship status of the Rohingya the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said, “The protection of rights of minorities is an issue which should be addressed very, very carefully and as quickly and effectively as possible, and I’m not sure the government is doing enough about it.”


Burundi:

More than 300 people have been injured and dozens killed since protests erupted over President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term at the end of April. Human Rights Watch released a video showing evidence of police abuses against protesters, including firing bullets at them indiscriminately. The AU agreed to send around 50 military experts to Burundi with a mission “to observe what is happening and to give counsel to the police if need be.”


Central African Republic:

The National Election Authority (ANE) is expected to announce later today the official dates for elections to be held in October. CAR officials say that the voter census and sign-up will begin in July.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The ICC scheduled the opening of the trial for Bosco Ntaganda on 7 July. He will be tried for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights discussed a plan to open a field office in Seoul as early as this month to monitor human rights in North Korea, upon recommendations in the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report.


Gaza:

Anticipating the UN’s account regarding last year’s Israel-Gaza conflict, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a report stating their operations in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” Israel has already refused to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council’s inquiry, stating it is biased. Israel’s report also attacks Hamas, saying the group, “intentionally and systematically used strategies designed to maximize harm to civilian life and property.”  The final UN shelter in Gaza closed Thursday, while many people still remain homeless.


Iraq:

US and coalition forces launched 16 airstrikes against ISIS in nine Iraqi cities including Makhmur, Mosul, Ramadi, Sinjar and Tal Afar. Twelve militants, two government soldiers and three members of Shi’ite militias were killed in a clash between ISIS and pro-government forces in Baiji, a town that is close to the country’s biggest refinery and a strategic point in counter ISIS efforts.


Kenya:

Somali al-Shabaab militants tried to force entry into a Kenyan military camp resulting in the death of 11 al-Shabaab militants and two Kenyan soldiers. Al-Shabaab says that they have repeatedly attacked Kenya in retaliation for Kenya’s participation in an AU peacekeeping force in Somalia. The AU once again called for the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto to be terminated due to recanted evidence. Human Rights Watch  in their latest report, accused Kenyan security forces and police for violating the rights and assaulting Muslims and ethnic Somalis.


Libya:
The alliance controlling Tripoli welcomed the UN draft agreement between the Fajr Libya Islamist militia-led alliance and Libya’s government. The agreement has yet to be signed but under the proposed draft both governments would commit to integrating their militias into a reformed military under the direct control of a unity government.

Human Rights Watch called for Libya’s internationally recognized government to end arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment, including torture, and for further investigation into the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the government.


Mali:
Mali’s government voted overwhelmingly to approve Prime Minister Modibo Keita’s proposed stability program in a new effort to secure the North, against armed factions and jihadist groups.


Nigeria:

Nigerian President Buhari released $21 million of the $100 million intended for the newly formed Multinational Task Force, comprised of Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. The force will work to fight terrorism and promote regional security in Central Africa. The US also pledged 5 billion USD to the multinational joint task force, declaring that “Boko Haram is not just a Nigeria problem.” Just days after the task force was set up, abandoned bombs from Boko Haram exploded, killing 13 people and injuring 45 others in the North East. The Chadian military led several strategic air strikes against Boko Haram bases in Nigeria in retaliation for the string of recent suicide bombings in both Chad and Nigeria.


South Sudan:

An estimated 14,000 South Sudanese fled into Sudan over the weekend, adding to the 160,000 South Sudanese already registered by the UNHCR in Sudan. The AU’s Peace and Security Council threatened to take measures against warring parties that are destabilizing South Sudan and urged the UN Security Council to identify individuals and entities in accordance with UNSC resolution 2206 (2015). The IGAD-Plus mediation group on South Sudan was launched to support the IGAD led peace negotiation between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. The IGAD-Plus group will include the AU, the UN, EU, China, the troika (UK, US, and Norway), and five African states (South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Chad, and Rwanda).


Sudan/Darfur:

During Omar al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa to attend the AU Summit, the ICC called on South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President, accusing him of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed that ICC member states, which includes South Africa, must implement the arrest of Bashir.  While the Pretoria High Court was deciding whether to hand Bashir over to the ICC following a suit brought forward by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, the ICC fugitive returned to Sudan on Monday. On Tuesday, reports emerged that Sudanese soldiers had surrounded the base of South African peacekeepers working for UNAMID, as they waited for the Pretoria High Court’s decision on Bashir’s arrest, only withdrawing after Bashir left South Africa. However, the UN and the South African National Defense Force denied that South African peacekeepers in Sudan had ever been held hostage in exchange for the safe return of President Omar al-Bashir.

The ICC rejected the reasons cited by South Africa for allowing Al-Bashir’s visit. According to AU Chairperson Robert Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma blocked actions to arrest Bashir.

The Institute for Security Studies condemned South Africa’s failure to arrest Bashir but praised civil society’s efforts for his arrest, while Amnesty claimed that the decision not only “undermined the country’s commitment to the ICC” but has “ridden roughshod over the rights and hopes for justice of all those people who were killed and displaced during the war in Darfur.”


Syria:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 43 people were killed, including at least 12 children, and over 190 injured after up to 300 rockets were fired on the city of Aleppo by opposition rebels Tuesday.  Pro-government forces in Damascus carried out an attack using improvised weapons, “elephant rockets,” targeting rebel held areas just outside of Damascus, resulting in the death of at least 27 people and injuring 60. The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) provided evidence to the US Congress showing the systematic use of chemical weapons, including chlorine, by the Assad regime to spread fear amongst the civilian population. The UNHCR reported that 23,135 refugees have fled from Syria into Turkey amidst new fighting near the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad between the Islamic State and Kurdish forces. Kurdish fighters eventually won control of the town, cutting off the Islamic State’s major supply line to Raqqa.


Yemen

Saudi-led airstrikes hit  civilians fleeing the violence in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people, marking the single deadliest attack since the air campaign began three months ago. Several mosques in Sana’a were hit by explosions in attacks claimed by the Islamic State which resulted in the death of more than 20 people. On the eve of Ramadan, in the capital of Sana’a, ISIS set off four car bombs that claimed two lives and injured 60. According to data released by the OHCHR, from 11 June to 15 June a total of 50 civilians, including 11 children, were killed. These latest figures bring the total number of civilian deaths to 1,412 in Yemen. Furthermore, the humanitarian situation is increasingly worsening with more than 80% of the population in need of critical humanitarian aid, due to the air and sea blockade aimed at cutting off the Houthi rebels supply of arms, which has also blocked aid from entering the country. At the preliminary inclusive consultations to bring together the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government of exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for a humanitarian truce so that aid could reach the population.


What else is new?

A new in-depth report by the Enough Project discusses how rebel and militant groups in the CAR obtain funding, often from natural resources, and offers recommendations on how to prevent these actors from receiving economic profits in the future.

UNHCR says that the number of refugees and displaced persons is at an unprecedented high, with almost 60 million people displaced worldwide. In the past year alone, the number rose by over 8 million.


Above photo: UN Observers Document Damage Done by Recent Shelling in Homs. UN Photo/David Manyua

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

#R2P10: The Impact of the Syrian Conflict on Women

The international community has begun to recognize the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls, and the necessity to include women in the prevention and resolution of crises. In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted historic Resolution 1325 – the first resolution on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). Since then, the UN Security Council has adopted Resolutions 1820(2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), and 2106 (2013), which address sexual violence in conflict, and Resolution 2122(2013), which focuses on women’s participation, empowerment, and human rights.

The scope and purpose of the WPS agenda and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) are different. Nevertheless, there are several ways they overlap and have the potential to reinforce one another. Firstly, gender-based human rights violations can serve as early warning indicators for atrocity crimes. Secondly, RtoP crimes and violations have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, and can amount to atrocity crimes as recognized in UNSC Resolution 2106. Thus, both agendas also work to strengthen mechanisms to prevent such violations from occurring. Additionally, WPS and RtoP seek to increase the recognition of women’s role in the prevention and response to mass atrocities.

The following is the latest submission for the #R2P10 blog series. ICRtoP had the privilege of speaking to Laila Alodaat, a human rights lawyer and MENA Project Coordinator at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, to discuss the impact of the Syrian conflict on women.

 

The Syrian crisis continues to show the detrimental impact that the spread of arms and the use of explosive weapons has on civilian populations. How has the widespread use of such weapons impacted women in Syria and what are likely long-term consequences?

The Assad regime spared no effort to turn the peaceful uprising that called for freedom and dignity into an armed conflict. While brutally targeting pacifist activists,  lawyers and political figures who were demanding civil and legal reforms, it also applied indirect measures like releasing extremist convicted criminals from prisons, turning the political seen into chaos. Such actions, combined with aggressive repression, abuse, torture and use of propaganda, resulted in civilians taking up arms as self-defence, a phenomena that later on turned into an element of the armed conflict feeding on the uncontrolled influx of arms to the country.

Today, the increased militarisation and the proliferation of arms have devastating impacts on the structure of society and on the wellbeing of civilians who are suffering far beyond numbers of casualties. And while small arms have a devastating impact on women, the greatest threat still revolves around the extensive use of explosive weapons, which has been the main strategy of the Assad regime to impose corporal punishment on entire communities and to retain control of areas that fell out of its control.

Since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, 53% of civilians died by explosive weapons. As a result of the Assad regime doubling the use of explosive weapons in 2014, over 35% of the death toll in Syria (76000 of an estimated 220000 casualties) took place in that year. Furthermore, almost half of the global casualty by explosive weapons in the world between 2011-2013 occurred in Syria. This has a devastating impact on women and girls, as 74% of the casualties are a result of explosive weapons and 17% of small arms.

UN observers document damage done by shelling in Homs, Syria

UN observers document damage done by shelling in Homs, Syria

Beyond casualties, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has a great impact on health care systems due to the destruction of infrastructure and hospitals, and a general fear of moving around in an armed conflict setting. This is particularly right in the Syrian context where attacks on health facilities and personnel by different parties to the conflict have become commonplace. A recent publication showed that between February 2014 and February 2015, at least 83 separate attacks on health facilities were reported.

As for women, the lack of access to reproductive health can be a death sentence especially in places where maternal mortality is already high. No recent information on maternal mortality in Syria is available. However, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) stated that 80% of maternal mortality could be prevented by better access to health care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. We believe similar, if not worse, statistics are applicable to Syria.

It is also crucial to mention that the survivors of explosive weapon attacks suffer from long-term challenges such as disability, psychological harm, and thus social and economic exclusion that have a greater impact on women in a society where they have less access, more restrictions and limited freedom of action compared to men.

To what extent has the failing rule of law and rampant impunity in Syria disproportionately affected women and what issues need to be prioritized to address these matters going forward?

During the armed conflict, the already shaky rule of law completely failed; firstly when the Syrian regime transformed the judiciary into a tool of repression through a combination of unconstitutional laws and emergency military courts, and secondly when it gave unlimited power to the notorious security branches that took pride in the horrifying reputation of torture, abuse and being the place where the best and brightest disappear.

This failure resulted in more power given to arms and force against those who do not have access to it (women, children, elderly civilians, disabled people) or do not wish to use it (again women, ideologically pacifists, etc.) leaving them marginalised, disempowered, and with no access to justice.

As the state completely abandoned its role in protecting citizens, constructing a fair society and ensuring safety and security, arms became the sole source of power and justice. And while they are only available to men, Syrian women were left with no power or protection and had to retreat quickly from being active right-bearers into subjects in need of protection by men, reaffirming masculine stereotypes that harms men and women alike.

The empowerment of women requires recognition and criminalisation of gender-based crimes and a comprehensive approach to combat impunity for crimes perpetrated by all groups in control. Dealing with these crimes requires adapting a culture of reform, restitution and rehabilitation, rather than mere punitive justice. Only a victim-centred approach to justice will allow space for rehabilitation, social and psychosocial support, empowerment and growth for both women and men.

Conflicts often force women to take on new roles and responsibilities as a result of the gendered impact of war and the commission of atrocity crimes. Can you explain how this has been the case, particularly with regards to the economic impact on Syrian women?

It is crucial to adapt a viable political economy approach to understand the depth of women’s suffering in the on-going conflict. The Syrian conflict is yet another example of how women’s experiences of violence cannot be separated from the new roles dictated upon them by the emerging war economy.

The Syrian regime’s targeting of civilians and civilian-populated territory with explosive weapons among other devastating means resulted in a widespread destruction of infrastructure. The enormous increase in military expenditures and the subsequent collapse of traditional income sources and local currency gave place to emerging war trades that enforced masculine constructions and resulted in a war economy that brought additional burdens on women. These women now bear new responsibilities as heads of household and primary carers for a large number of children, elderly and orphans while their rights to work, education and movement have been almost entirely compromised.

Today, with 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, 7.6 million people internally displaced by violence, and 4 million registered refugees (statistics of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as of March 2015) and only 15% of the required fund met (US$ 1,135,217,169 received of the US$ 7,426,692,851 required), Syria is a case study of the feminisation of poverty. Women form the majority of poor people not solely due to the lack of income or inability to work, but also due to the lack of access to productive resources and gender biases in law and practice.

It is widely acknowledged that women are crucial actors in peace processes and that equal participation in such efforts is necessary to uphold the rights of all civilians and ensure the sustainability of peace agreements. That said, women remain disproportionately represented in efforts at all levels to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes. How have women in Syria organized to impact global peace processes, and how has the international community received such efforts?

Syrian women showed great abilities when equipped with the space and choice. In January 2014, 47 Syrian women of diverse backgrounds and positions came together to set up the Syrian Women’s Initiative for Peace and Democracy with the aim of contributing to a peace process that ensures an immediate stop of the fighting, lifts the siege in civilian areas, releases political detainees and ensures effective participation of women on all levels of decision making as well as the negotiation process and transitional period. They have also offered to send a delegation to observe the Geneva II negotiation process and ensure that demands and experiences of Syrian women will be respected.

The document issued by the Initiative proved to be the most inclusive, balanced and civilian-centred document since the Syrian uprising started, however, despite the tireless efforts of the initiative’s members, the consecutive UN envoys to Syria failed to translate their promised support into action. Hence, Syrian women continue to be absent from formal negotiations.

The participation of women in opposition fronts also continues to be minimal and the concerns of women remain sidelined. This marginalisation has had devastating consequences, including the lack of gendered aspect in the emerging policy, absence of women experiences, and an emphasis on arming and militarisation vs. development, conflict resolution and peace making.

 

What steps must domestic and international actors take in order to address the war’s impact on women and ensure women’s full participation in resolving this crisis as it wages into its fifth year?

A sustainable peace in Syria cannot be achieved without the active participation of women and the incorporation of their perspectives at all levels of decision-making. We cannot afford to wait for a resolution to the conflict in order to start containing its devastating impact on women. It is imperative that all stakeholders stop compromising the effective participation of women at all levels, whether in constitutional and legislative councils, temporary or permanent local councils, judiciary, local courts, law enforcement and police authorities.

Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, briefs the UNSC on the situation in Syria.

Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, briefs the UNSC on the situation in Syria.

National and international organizations must take women’s issues and experiences into account and act effectively to support and rehabilitate them to allow for full and substantial participation, whether individually or through groups and initiatives. This would also be in line with UN Resolution 1325, which calls upon all conflict parties to include women in the management and resolution of armed conflicts.

Finally, the participation of women in solving the Syrian dilemma should go beyond mere token representation to focus on structural changes that allow space for women issues to be tackled, as well as for their opinions, and that of civil society and peaceful actors, to weigh as much as those of parties to the conflict.

1 Comment

Filed under RtoP, Syria, Women

RtoP Weekly 8-12 June 2015

Untitled

AU Summit a Chance to Increase Regional
Political Will to Act to Protect Populations

As African Union members gather for the AU summit in South Africa, which began Wednesday and will run until 14 June, leaders should be thinking, in line with their Responsibility to Protect, of creative and timely actions to protect an array of at-risk populations from atrocity crimes.

The African Union’s predecessor, the Organizationfor African Unity (OAU), played a key role in the mediation process that led to the signing of the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, a crucial step in bringing peace and stability  to Burundi. It is therefore crucial that the AU work to safeguard this legacy, including through assisting Burundi and regional/international actors in establishing the environment necessary for holding free and fair elections. The AU should further consider issuing a statement that underscores the need to respect the will of the people and warns that any actor that commits or calls for the commission of gross human rights violations will be held accountable.

Additionally, the AU could highlight the need for any dispute about the electoral process/results to be raised through the relevant judicial bodies, with support provided to assist in this process if needed. Such actions will serve to ensure that any challenges to the process are raised through the relevant legal channels, and not through calls for action that could lead to adversely impacting the political and human rights of civilians.  As Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the former OAU secretary-general, stated recently, “No one should underestimate what is at stake…Without coordinated international action to de-escalate the situation, I am fearful for the consequences.”

However, Burundi is just one of several African countries in which populations are either experiencing or are at risk of atrocity crimes. Atrocities throughout the African region, including in Mali, Darfur (Sudan), South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and Libya again prove the critical need for committed and steady regional prevention and response in order to fulfill this organization’s’ Responsibility to Protect (RtoP).

Finally, though pressing country situations may dominate discussions, the AU should ensure that it gives its theme “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development” due consideration. As is all too often documented in various crises, women remain disproportionately impacted by the commission of atrocity crimes, and such atrocities bear long-term economic, social, political, and psychological consequences for women and the society affected as a whole. Thus, through taking concerted effort to enhance the promotion and protection of women’s rights, the African Union will directly contribute to the empowerment of women throughout the continent and assist governments in upholding their protection obligations articulated in the Responsibility to Protect. Furthermore, women and women’s rights organizations play a crucial role in the advancement of atrocities prevention; however, despite their inherent right to directly contribute to the prevention and response to atrocities, women overall are drastically underrepresented in such processes. By enacting measures to acknowledge the role women are already directly playing in atrocities prevention as well as taking action to ensure barriers to equal participation are broken down, the African Union will serve to ensure its membership upholds the equal rights of all citizens. This will in turn strengthen initiatives undertaken by states to protect populations from atrocities through having diverse and holistic input into such processes.

 


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other

Burma/Myanmar:

150 of 208 migrants that were found adrift in a boat off of Myanmar’s coast were set to transfer back to Bangladesh. Myanmar has yet to state what will happen to the remaining migrants as the countries work to determine the origins of those stranded.  Myanmar police have arrested more than 90 people for human trafficking offences this year, but no cases have been reported in the Rakhine state, where persecuted Rohingya have fled.


Burundi:

The electoral commission proposed a postponement of elections for the second time, pushing back voting from June 26 until July 15, which sparked renewed tension and violence across the country. However, Burundi’s political opposition rejected the proposal put forth by the electoral commission as well as called for UN mediator Said Djinnit to step down following allegations of bias in favor of the government. On 11 June, Said Djinnit ultimately steppeddown as mediator in the Burundi crisis, but he noted that he remains committed to peace in the country and will serve as the UN’s envoy to the Great Lakes region.


Central African Republic:
The Head of State of the Transition, Catherine Samba Panza, officially created the Special Criminal Court, giving it investigative and judicial powers over war crimes committed since 2003 to begin the process to end impunity in the country.While major security and political progress has been made since President Panza’s appointment, women at the grassroots level remain left out of peace and reconciliation efforts and are calling for more inclusive participation.

Foreign policy specialists have also called for the United States to renew its waning commitment and become more vocal and active in providing support for a truly democratic and stable CAR


Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The families of 34 victims filed a public complaint requesting the exhumation of the mass grave in Maluku which, although found over two months ago, has yet to be responded to by the government. Human Rights Watch suspects that officials are trying to hide evidence of government abuses that could be found at the site.


Gaza:

The International Criminal Court is sending a delegation to Israel for a preliminary examination into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Palestinian territories. If the delegation determines that there is reasonable basis for an investigation and that the ICC has the authority to do so, it will investigate the activities in both Israeli and the Palestinian territories.


Iraq:

The new UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Stephen O’Brien, met senior Iraqi Government officials in Baghdad and discussed that more must be done for the Iraqi people. However, Lisa Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq stated, “If funding is not urgently secured, more than half of all humanitarian programmess are likely to close or be curtailed in the coming weeks and months.”  Meanwhile, the United States government is sending 450 more US military personnel to train and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province, as they try to take back the city of Ramadi from ISIS. Britain is also sending 125 more troops to Iraq to assist in training of the state forces.


Libya:
Russia and China opposed the request from the United States, Britain, France and Spain to impose sanctions on two Libyans for obstructing UN talks. The UN facilitated Libyan political dialogue on forming a national unity government began on Monday in Germany.  There is now a draft  agreement said to address most of the challenges facing Libya, but the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the North African nation said that “time has come to make an agreement” and he urges the draft to be finalized before the beginning of Ramadan on 17 June. Meanwhile, a coalition of Islamist militias in Libya vowed to take down a local unit of ISIS situated in Darnah.


Mali:

The Malian government and the Tuareg rebels agreed on a ceasefire calling for the retreat of all rebel forces to 20 kilometers outside Menaka, a strategic town East of Gao. Suspected Islamist militants attacked a Malian police base near the southern border with the Ivory Coast.


Nigeria:

Recently elected President Buhari attended the G7 Summit asking for assistance in the fight against Boko Haram as well as support in improving Nigeria’s infrastructure and economy. Heannounced that he will move the military’s base to the Maiduguri, the largest city in the Northeast and an area heavily impacted by Boko Haram. Opponents of Buhari were elected to the Senate presidency and other leadership positions on 9 June, which demonstrates the ongoing political tensions and the difficulties that Buhari will face as he tries to reform his government.


South Sudan:

South Sudan’s latest talks began in Ethiopia on Monday to try to solve the 18 month old conflict. The warring factions only have one month to form an internationally-mandated power-sharing government. The government of South Sudan also formed a Parliamentary committee to investigate the recent fighting in Maridi County between Dinka pastoralists and local youth. In addition the government released statements assuring that its forces are in control of the oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states, negating rebel claims that they captured the fields.


Sudan/Darfur:

Dr. El Tijani Sese, chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority, expressed his hope that the new Sudanese government will consider dialogue as a priority to reach peace in Darfur at the Darfur-Darfur conference being held at the Research Centre for Peace and Development of the University of El Geneina. President Omar al-Bashir formed a new government, a month after winning the very poorly attended election, and says that he wants to bring peace to his country. At a Security Council briefing, Edmond Mulet, UN peacekeeping deputy chief,stressed to the council that insignificant progress in peace efforts has been made in Darfur. He also pointed to the increasing and indiscriminate attacks against civilians taking place. Dozens of women and girls report being gang-raped by Sudanese government forces in Golo.


Syria:

In addition to ISIS, al-Qaeda is becoming a prominent part of the rebellion in Syria. Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra shot at least 20 members of the Druze minority and has also forced hundreds to convert to Sunni Islam.  A public square in Al-Janudiyah, controlled by opposition forces, was raided by air strikes from the Syrian government killing at least 49 civilians. Kurdish forces and moderate rebels fought ISIS in the town of Tel Abyad and thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey.


Yemen:

Saudi-led air strikes on the rebel forces headquarters killed twenty civilians and hit residential buildings.  As violence continues to escalate, those trapped in the conflict in Yemen continue to share their experiences living in constant fear with little access to food, water and aid. Meanwhile, the families of American drone strike victims, Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber and Waleed bin Ali Jaber, filed a lawsuit in Washington, asking the court to deem the strike unlawful and publicize the truth.


 

What else is new?

The UN commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea  released a report on June 4th, which details the human rights abuses committed by the regime of President Isaias Afwerki.  Mike Smith, the chair of the commission of inquiry stated that, “the commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity.”

A new app, eyeWitness, developed by the International Bar Association, provides a quick way for anyone to capture photos/video that can be used to investigate and prosecute individuals who commit atrocity crimes. The app is currently only available for Android devices but will be adapted to others soon. The app uploads the photos to a database in the US and includes a timestamp and GPA location and can be deleted from the phone itself. A team of IBA lawyers will review the photos and determine if they need to be submitted to an international war crimes tribunal.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under African Union, Uncategorized

#R2P10: The Burundi crisis and the risk of regionalisation

The following is the most recent submission to the ICRtoP’s RtoP at 10 blog series, which invites civil society and academic experts to examine critical country cases, international/regional perspectives, and thematic issues that have been influential in the development of the norm over the past 10 years, and that will have a lasting impact going forth into the next decade. Below is a piece by Lucy Hovil, Senior Researcher at International Refugee Rights Initiative, a Steering Committee Member of the ICRtoP.

Much hope was pinned to the summit of East African Community (EAC) heads of state on 31 May in Dar es Salaam to discuss the situation in Burundi that has evolved since President Nkurunziza announced his intention to stand for a third term. The potential impact of this meeting was lessened by the fact that Nkurunziza, not surprisingly, did not attend: the last time he left the country, there was an attempted coup.

Previous experience in the region has shown that the destiny of each of the region’s countries is deeply intertwined with that of its neighbours. The approach of the EAC is an important example of the role that regional institutions can play in implementing the responsibility to protect. As noted by the Secretary-General noted in his 2011 report on The Role of Regional and Sub-Regional arrangements in Implementing the Responsibility to Protect, those that “are closer to the events on the ground may have access to more detailed information, may have a more nuanced understanding of the history and culture, may be more directly affected by the consequences of action taken or not taken, and may be critical to the implementation of decisions” at the global level.

Moreover, as noted by the Secretary-General, such regional actors have a responsibility under the second pillar of RtoP to assist Burundi to fulfill its protection obligations and protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Therefore, the involvement of the EAC is laudable and necessary (if the outcome from the most recent meeting is somewhat wanting).

However, it is also important to remember that regional leaders have as often been part of the problem as part of the solution.  Therefore, urgent attention needs to be paid to the regional dynamics of this crisis to avoid an escalation – and a regionalisation – of what is, at least for the moment, a distinctly Burundian crisis. In a troubled region where numerous conflict dynamics have been left hanging, there is significant potential for those in need of political bolstering to draw in others in a political tit for tat. With much tinder on the ground, the potential for conflict to spread around the region should neither be assumed nor ignored.

Already the crisis has exacerbated tense relations between the governments of Rwanda and Burundi. Many of the leaders of the failed coup have allegedly escaped to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, fuelling rumours that Rwanda was behind the coup. Off-the-record interviews with opposition politicians in Burundi show their faith in a strong alliance with Rwanda who, they believe, is ready to come to the rescue of the “oppressed” if needed. Rumours are rife in Bujumbura that a number of army officers have gone to Rwanda. Many fear that Rwanda will become a base for those in exile to create an opposition army, or that Rwanda could intervene more directly.

The Burundi government has expressed no doubt as to where Rwanda’s loyalties lie. According to a declaration broadcast on radio on 25 May, the government said “some countries” are getting involved in the crisis in Burundi and are making matters worse. As one civil society leader in Bujumbura told the author, “Any Burundian knows that what the government is really referring to here is Rwanda.”

The instability and continuing presence of armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) provides further fuel for the potential regionalisation of the Burundi situation. Just as armed groups in the DRC have been supported by regional powers in a form of proxy warfare in the past, there is a risk that these groups might be drawn into the current crisis. Already there are rumours to this effect. Some members of the opposition are accusing the government of Burundi of allowing interahamwe (former génocidaires who took part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide) to operate alongside the government’s notorious armed youth wing, the imbonerakure. The government has strongly denied these allegations. However, with the opposition asserting support from the government of Rwanda, the temptation for the government of Burundi to “make a deal” with Rwanda’s enemies, whether the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), an anti-Rwandan-government militia including a number of former interahamwe or génocidaires, or others, is not beyond the realms of possibility. For its part, the government of Burundi is already claiming that damage has come from this alleged alignment, saying that Burundians who had previously fled to the DRC and had then returned to Burundi, have been forced to flee once more into exile for fear of being accused by the opposition of belonging to the interahamwe.

Much of this is rumour and conjecture, and it is important to emphasise that neither civil war nor regional conflict are by any means inevitable. Indeed, there are plenty of factors that can prevent this from happening if sufficient action is taken. While any resolution is going to need a creative combination of factors, the leaders of the EAC, if able to work together, can be key players and have the potential to comprehensively address these regional dynamics before they escalate.

However, whether or not this will happen remains to be seen. There is a serious concern that the EAC leaders could split into factions and exacerbate tension. For example, tensions between Burundi and Rwanda were aggravated when Burundi “sided” with Tanzania in their stand-off with Rwanda in 2013. Tanzania’s President Kikwete called on countries taking part in peace talks on the ongoing crisis in eastern DRC to open discussions with all the rebel groups operating there, including the FDLR. Rwandan President Kagame, who was still smarting from having lost favour with a number of donors who suspended aid in mid-2012 following accusations that it was supporting the M23 rebellion in eastern DRC, was infuriated by the suggestion, and the relationship between the two countries quickly deteriorated. Tanzania expelled thousands of Rwandans – including refugees and a number of Burundians and Ugandans who were accused of being Rwandan – and Rwanda increased trade barriers against Tanzania. While Burundi supported Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda sided with Rwanda, splitting the EAC. Although relations have since become more civil, tensions have remained.

Furthermore, leaders in the region will be hard pressed to take the moral high ground on the presidential term limit debate. Uganda’s President Museveni has tampered with the constitution to accommodate not only a third term but to remove term limits entirely, and the Rwandan parliament is soon to debate whether or not Rwanda should do the same. Even more worryingly, political leaders may see their own fates reflected in whether or not President Nkurunziza remains in power: they may be tempted to conduct their external affairs primarily with a view to their own political futures rather than to the good of Burundi.

All of this boils down to the fact that the current crisis precipitated by President Nkurunziza’s declaration of his intention to run for a third term has the potential to exacerbate numerous tensions that have been simmering below the surface for years, or even decades. Once more, it seems that the failure to deal adequately with past rounds of conflict is likely to come back to bite the region. With so many loose ends left hanging – as evidenced by rebel groups operating in eastern DRC and a broader failure throughout the region to generate justice and equitable governance – the situation remains tense. Indeed, the exodus of approximately 100,000 refugees from Burundi to neighbouring states has, in many respects, already made it into a regional affair.

Ultimately, however, the responsibility for what is taking place in Burundi rests primarily with the government and thus firmly at the feet of the president. Although President Nkurunziza appears to hold most of the cards at the moment, this may not remain the case for much longer. The more he tightens the screws on the opposition the more dangerous the situation will become, and the more likely it is that his opponents will look to alternative sources of assistance. As head of state, he has a responsibility to protect populations in his country and to prevent of the escalation of the crisis.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

RtoP Weekly 25-30 May 2015

UntitledAt Summit Today, Governments Must Address Underlying Causes Forcing Rohingya to Flee from Burma
Today, 29 May 2015, 17 states (chiefly from the Asia-Pacific region) will gather in Thailand to discuss the crisis of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants trapped at sea. Over the past few weeks, several Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia and Thailand, prompted international alarm by turning away hundreds of starving sea migrants. At one point, an estimated 6,000 migrants were stranded at sea, abandoned by their human traffickers, before Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to provide them with temporary shelter.

At today’s Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asian nations have an obligation to no longer ignore the plight of the Rohingya in Burma, often referred to as the “world’s most persecuted minority.” As outlined by a statement signed by 60 civil society organizations, including the ICRtoP and 8 of its members, the Burmese government has escalated this humanitarian crisis via increasingly restrictive policies, practices and legislation, including through widespread sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls. Therefore, declared Human Rights Watch, regional governments should “exert pressure on Burma as the main source of the problem”, including by calling on Burmese officials to “end the repressive measures and denial of basic rights that have driven Rohingya to flee their native Arakan state over many years.” Only by encouraging and assisting Burma to halt its discriminatory citizenship and legal policies against the Rohingya can the international community fulfill its Responsibility to Protect the Rohingya from the atrocity crimes they currently face.

In the short and medium-term, as Amnesty International highlighted, international and regional actors at the conference must supply migrants with the desperately-needed humanitarian aid, coordinate search and rescue operations, allow boats carrying asylum seekers to land safely, and ensure that asylum-seekers undergo a fair refugee status determination procedure.
For more on Burma:


Catch up on developments in…

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

Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Other

Burma/Myanmar:

Though signs are emerging that negotiators from the government and ethnic rebel groups are closing in on a ceasefire accord, it is less certain whether the ceasefire accord will lead to a political dialogue, and thus a broader peace-building process, prior to general elections in 2015. Mass graves have been found at large, sophisticated, and now abandoned smuggling camps in Malaysia, believed to have housed Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants.


Burundi:

Zedi Feruzi, leader of the opposition party Union for Peace and Development, was shot and killed, leading activists to suspend talks with the government. The East African Community announced that it would hold a summit this Sunday to discuss the crisis. The Government underscored that it would not negotiate with actors on President Nkurunziza’s candidacy and claimed that the media had abused the practice of freedom of press by inciting insurrection. The government further made an appeal to its public for money to fund the upcoming election, after international actors withheld aid for the vote. Lithuania, the current president of the Security Council, stated that the “predominant” opinion among Council members was that Burundi’s June elections should be delayed.


Central African Republic:
Save the Children warned that more than 60% of CAR’s children have witnessed or been subjected to acts of extreme violence since March 2013. Evidence emerged that the United Nations knew about allegations that French peacekeepers had sexually abused children for months. French and Central African justice authorities announced that they were cooperating in ongoing investigations on the accusations.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Residents of a town in eastern DRC started a tax strike in protest of several rebel massacres that have occurred there.Congolese soldiers clashed with FDLR rebels, wounding six, as anagreement to move the Rwandan Hutu fighters from one transit camp to another fell apart.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

U.S., South Korea, and Japan announced that they would tie the DPRK’s rights records to nuclear talks, issues which the countries had previously dealt with separately.


Gaza:

Amnesty International reported that the military wing of Hamas carried out a campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza in the summer of 2014. A rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel on Tuesday.


Iraq:

Iraq began its operation to expel the Islamic State from Ramadi. Suicide bombings killed at least 17 Iraqi soldiers in Anbar. Shiite authorities in Baghdad have started restricting the entry of Sunnis displaced by the Islamic State. Iraq exhumed 500 bodies from mass graves in Tikrit, believed to be those of Iraqi soldiers killed by the Islamic State in June 2014.


Libya:
Libya’s internationally-recognized Government says that gunmen tried to assassinate the Prime Minister. Human Rights Watch warns that civilians are trapped in Benghazi and called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation.


Mali:

International Crisis Group warned that Mali’s peace agreement must be strengthened if a resumption in fighting is to be avoided. Thousands of Malians marched in support of the agreement. A UN peacekeeper was killed by militants in Bamako. At least nine civilians werekilled in a separatist attack in northern Mali, with Tuareg rebels accusing pro-government militias of executing the civilians. The UN stated that it was investigating the incident.


Nigeria:

Boko Haram killed dozens in an attack in Borno. UNICEF reported that women and children carry out 75% of the suicide attacks in Nigeria. Fulani herdsmen killed 96 in Benue. Video footage captured near Boko Haram camps indicates that foreign fighters are among the group’s leaders.


South Sudan:

AU Peace and Security Council renewed its call for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and an arms embargo on South Sudan. Uganda’s Parliament, in a new report, urgedthe government to pull its forces from South Sudan, though the Ugandan defense minister rejected the proposal. Paloch, an oil field in Upper Nile State (the sole region still pumping crude oil), has emerged as a prime rebel target. The loss of Paloch could spell disaster for the oil-dependent South Sudanese government. The UN estimated that over 40% of South Sudanese will face a severe food shortage over the coming months.


Sudan/Darfur:

An estimated 3,000 civilians who fled militia attacks in East Jebel Marra two months ago are being terrorized by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The Sudanese government said that it prevented a move by European states to give the ICC jurisdiction over crimes against women and children. The UN special rapporteur on violence against women called for an inquiry into the accusations of mass rape in Tabit, Darfur in November 2014.


Syria:

Kurdish forces wrested control of 14 Assyrian villages from the Islamic State. The Syrian foreign ministry said that it wanted more coordination with Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State. Syria’s air force bombed an Islamic State-controlled air base in Raqqa and also carried out intense strikes to dislodge the Islamic State from Palmyra. The Islamic State reportedly executed over 200 after taking control of Palmyra last week. Opposition activists claimed that they have documentation of 18 cases of chlorine gas attacks since 6 March 2015. Turkey stated that it has reached an agreement “in principle” with the U.S. to provide air support to Syrian rebels. Hezbollah vowed to increase its participation in the civil war..


What else is new?

The ICRtoP is extremely saddened to hear of the passing of renowned genocide prevention scholar Sheri Rosenberg last Friday. A leading voice in this field, her work will continue to impact the Responsibility to Protect for years to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

RtoP Weekly: 19-22 May 2015

Untitled

Burundi Needs More Than Rhetoric on Responsibility
International Community Must Act Now to Prevent Atrocity Crimes
(The following is an excerpt from an ICRtoP press release)

The international community must take timely and decisive action to protect populations in Burundi who could be at risk of mass atrocity crimes due to a surge in violence surrounding upcoming elections, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) said today.

Actors at the international, regional, and national levels frequently underscore their dedication to the prevention of atrocity crimes. Many have said that prevention is the most crucial, cost-effective, and efficient way to implement their Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), a norm under which United Nations (UN) member states agreed that they have an obligation to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

“With the quickly devolving situation in Burundi, the international community has an opportunity to match its rhetoric on prevention with actual action, in line with its Responsibility to Protect,” said Don Deya, chair of the ICRtoP.

Burundi exhibits several risk factors, as outlined in the UN’s Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, which create an environment conducive to atrocities. (…)

Read the full press release here.

Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Iraq
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Myanmar finally acknowledged that the international community had “concerns” over the hundreds of Rohingya migrants trapped at sea after fleeing persecution in Myanmar, but suggested that regional partners resolve the issue. The National League for Democracy, a prominent opposition party in Burma, demanded that the government give the Rohingya minority Burmese citizenship. The Philippines indicated its willingness to open its country’s doors to the migrants on Tuesday, while Thailand announced that it will host talks on 29 May among 15 countries affected by the crisis, which will aim at devising measures to deal with the influx of Rohingya refugees. After consultations between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia announced they would provide temporary shelter to an estimated 7,000 migrants stranded at sea. 450 migrants were rescued by Indonesian fishermen on Wednesday. Myanmar announced it “was ready to provide humanitarian assistance to anyone who suffered at sea.”


Burundi:
The President of Burundi fired his defense, foreign, and trade ministers as protests resumed after the failed coup attempt. He further postponed parliamentary and local council elections by one week, to 6 June, under advice from Burundi’s Electoral Commission and East African leaders. Meanwhile, protests resumed against President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, with Burundian security forces firing shots and tear gas at protesters. The ministers of the East African Community held an emergency meeting on the situation on 18 May in Arusha. The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council released a statement on Monday urging respect for the Arusha Accords and underlining that “the people of Burundi must be allowed to elect democratic, legitimate and constitutional government through inclusive, credible and transparent elections, held in a conducive environment.” In a press statement on the crisis, the EU Council stressed that “there can be no impunity for those responsible for serious human rights violations.”


Central African Republic:

The Security Council issued a press release welcoming the Bangui Forum and urged implementation of the Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction. The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, noted that elections in CAR may need to be postponed.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

President Kabila called for all political parties to join a forthcoming national dialogue “focus on creating an environment for a peaceful electoral process.” The European Union Parliamentapproved a draft regulation that would oblige companies to provide information on the use of material sourced from conflict zones. The Parliament underscored that the EU must ensure that importers do not fuel conflict and human rights abuses in areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of Africa.


Iraq:

The UN announced that 25,000 people fled Ramadi during the Islamic State’s fresh and successful attempt to re-take the city. The AP released a Q & A on what the fall of Ramadi could mean for the fight against the terrorist group. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of the internally displaced denounced Iraq for failing to adequately support and protect the nearly three million people displaced by the Islamic State.


Libya:
Justice First enlisted Luis Moreno Ocampo, former prosecutor for the ICC, to assist in pursuing a war crimes probe in Libya. The UN Support Mission in Libya warned Libyan armed groups that abducting civilians, torture and murder are war crimes, and that those who commit them are criminally liable, including in front of the ICC.


Mali:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing of a peace agreement between the Malian government and a coalition of armed groups. Despite the peace agreement, Tuareg rebels killed three soldiers near Timbuktu. Assailants attacked a UN residential compound in Mali in Bamako.


Nigeria:

Nigeria’s military said that it destroyed 10 Boko Haram camps. Reports surfaced that hundreds of women and girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram have been raped, in what might be a deliberate strategy to create a new generation of Islamist fighters. At least 7 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside of a livestock market.


South Sudan:
The UN Secretary-General condemned the sharp uptick in fighting in South Sudan in Unity and Upper Nile State, which included two mortar bomb attacks on a UN compound. A Security Council press statement on the crisis reiterated that the “Government of South Sudan bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including from potential crimes against humanity and war crimes.” They also underscored their willingness to impose sanctions against those responsible for the violence. The Red Cross warned of a looming food crisis in the country, while UNICEF declared that dozens of children have been raped, killed, and abducted over recent weeks in Unity. Rebelsdeclared that they captured an oil refinery in Upper Nile, a claim denied by the government.


Sudan/Darfur:

The Sudanese government approved a strategy to end tribal violence in East Darfur anddispatched more troops to east Darfur. Attacks by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces havedisplaced the majority of the populations in Jebel Marra.


Syria:
Iran reportedly expanded its credit line to the Assad regime. A coalition of Islamist groupscontinued their advances on territory held by Assad in Idlib province.  The Islamic State has allegedly seized two oil fields near the world heritage site of Palmyra. Hezbollah said its fighters had expelled Syrian opposition forces from Syria’s Qalaman region. Syria’s “White Helmets,” a volunteer civil defense search and rescue corp that responds to victims, told diplomats at the UN that they needed a no-fly zone. The Islamic State won control of Palmyra, the first time that the militants had seized an entire city from Assad’s forces.


What else is new?

ICRtoP Member Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation  is holding an event to mark the launching of their 1st Edition of the National Mechanisms for the Prevention of Genocide and other Atrocity Crimes Booklet on Tuesday, 9 June. For details and to RSVP, click here.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. State Department, and USAID released a newAtrocity Assessment Framework.

Security Council Report released their latest cross-cutting report tracking UN Security Council involvement on the issue of Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

The ICRtoP, together with the Cyrus Vance Center and the International Justice Project, is holding an event on Tuesday, 26 May titled “Is International Law Effective in Preventing Genocide? Lessons Learned from Darfur”. Register here.

Want news like this delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our listserv here. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized