#R2P Weekly:31 August- 4 September 2015

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

Excellency,

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

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

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

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

(…)

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


Catch up on developments in…

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

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

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

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


Burundi:

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


Central African Republic:

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

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


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

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

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


Gaza:

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


Iraq:

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

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


Libya:

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


Mali:

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


Nigeria:

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


South Sudan:

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

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

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


Sudan/Darfur:

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

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


Syria:

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

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

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

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


Yemen:

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

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

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

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


What else is new?

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

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

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


 

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DRC: 10 facts about the ICC Ntaganda trial

Ntaganda_CICCThe ICC trial of Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda will open on 2 September 2015. Here are ten facts to bring you up to speed.

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#R2P Weekly:17-21 August 2015

UntitledThe UN Security Council and the Responsibility Not to Veto

 

When resolutions on crises where genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and/or ethnic cleansing are imminent or ongoing come before the Security Council’s agenda, Permanent Members should not obstruct united action to protect populations from atrocity crimes.The recent vetoes in the Security Council on resolutions pertaining to Syria and Srebrenica have reinvigorated efforts in this regard. Click on the infographic to the right for a brief overview on these current initiatives, which will enhance the Council’s ability to uphold its Responsibility to Protect.

Catch up on developments in…

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

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The president ordered an extension on the state of emergency for the Kokang region of the Shan state until 17 November. The state of emergency began mid-February when fighting erupted between government troops and ethnic Chinese rebels, forcing tens of thousands to flee. The area will remain under military control during the November 8 election.
 
The Karen National Union (KNU) announced that it will sign the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Myanmar government. Human rights watch argued that the targeted arrests of land rights activists in the Karen state are the newest form of political prisoners. 


Burundi:

The opposition in Burundi called on Nkurunziza to step down by 26 August, the last day of his current mandate. However, President Nkurunzizia was sworn in during a surprise ceremony for a third term on Thursday.
 
Four civilians were killed on Tuesday night in Bujumbura in an apparent revenge attack against members of the ruling party. The UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon condemned the assassination of Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, by unknown assailants on 15 August, which marked the second attack on a senior official in Burundi this month.
 
OHCHR reported that at least 96 people have been killed in Burundi since the outbreak of violence in April. The AU warned that Burundi is at risk of deteriorating into further violence. 


Central African Republic:

New rape allegations against members of a MINUSCA military contingent were raised  on 12 August. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon as the new head of MINUSCA. Associated Press reported that France is considering withdrawing more of its troops from the CAR. 


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

A government spokesperson announced that 34 people have been charged with crimes, including genocide, murder and rape in connection with ethnic violence in the southeast.

Following the numerous allegations of child abuse by MINUSCA peacekeepers in the CAR, MONUSCO launched a campaign prevent sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, displaying the words “Sex with children is a crime”. Martin Kolber, the head of MINUSCA, declared that the mission must work to withdraw from the country.
 
The Enough Project announced that over 140 mines in the DRC are now conflict-free.


Gaza:

Palestinian refugees protested against cuts by UNRWA, which the UN agency states are due to a lack of funding. However, many of the refugees believe the cuts are politically-motivated.

Reportedly, preparations have been made for a senior Hamas delegation to travel to Egypt for ceasefire talks with Israel, with accounts that a long-term ceasefire is under negotiation between the parties. 


Iraq:

ISIL claimed responsibility for last Thursday’s attack on a crowded market in Sadr City, which killed at least 67 people and injured 200 others.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, announced it would inquire into allegations of possible uses of chemical weapons by ISIL in Iraq against Kurdish fighters.

The U.S. and its coalition allies claimed they had conducted 22 air strikes against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria over a 24-hour period.


Kenya:

The ICC Appeals Chamber ordered judges to reconsider whether Kenya failed to cooperate with the Court regarding the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta.


Libya:

In Sirte, at least 25 people were killed, during clashes between ISIL’s affiliate in Libya and a rival Islamist group back by armed civilians. Fighting broke out after the ISIL affiliate killed a senior Muslim cleric who had refused to comply with ISIL’s orders for residents to pledge allegiance or face death. Other reports stated that at least 106 people were killed over the three days of fighting between ISIL loyalists and local tribesmen in Sirte.

The internationally-recognized government in Libya (HoR) appealed to fellow Arab states to conduct air strikes against ISIL in Sirte. The spokesman of Libya’s HoR, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, announced that he has withdrawn his offer to resign his post, stating that the resignation would have added to the chaos in the country.


Mali:

Over the weekend, violence erupted between armed groups in the Kidal region, breaking the ceasefire agreement.The pro-government Gatia militia claimed to have killed at least 20 separatists during the fighting. After three days of clashes, MINUSMA secured the town of Kidal and set up a security zone to curb the fighting. However,the CMA asked MINUSMA to immediately remove the security zone and “let the parties settle their differences.” 

The UN warned of a new hunger crisis in Mali, with more than 715,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.


Nigeria:

Over the weekend, violence erupted between armed groups in the Kidal region, breaking the ceasefire agreement.The pro-government Gatia militia claimed to have killed at least 20 separatists during the fighting. After three days of clashes, MINUSMA secured the town of Kidal and set up a security zone to curb the fighting. However,the CMA asked MINUSMA to immediately remove the security zone and “let the parties settle their differences.” 

The UN warned of a new hunger crisis in Mali, with more than 715,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.


South Sudan:

Last Friday, OCHA reported that the month-long restrictions on the movement of goods by air and river routes in South Sudan had been lifted, allowing delivery of aid supplies to Malakal.

President Salva Kiir declined to sign an IGAD-brokered peace deal by the 17 August deadline, requesting an additional 15 days to review its provisions. The government spokespersoncalled the deal a “sell-out” for the people of South Sudan. Rebel leader Riek Machar did sign the deal, which mandates the demilitarization of Juba; gives the rebel forces 40% share of government positions in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei and 33% in the central administration; and includes language on establishing a court to try violations of national and international law.  

In response to Kiir’s failure to sign the accord, the US circulated a draft resolution to the Security Council containing provisions for increased sanctions and an arms embargo in South Sudan. Under the draft resolution, if Kiir does not sign the agreement by 1 September, an arms embargo and increased targeted sanctions would go into effect on 6 September for a period of 1 year. The draft also includes language on accountability, calling for the Secretary-General to provide resources for the establishment of a hybrid court for South Sudan and report back to the Council on progress in this regard in 3 months. Should the Council decide there has been insufficient progress on the hybrid court or more broadly on the promotion of “accountability for the gravest offenses,” the Security Council retains the option of referring the situation in South Sudan to the ICC.
 
However, despite this draft resolution, reports have emerged that Kiir has told John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, that he will sign the peace deal after “a couple more days of consultation.”


Sudan/Darfur:

The non-signatory rebel groups to the Doha Document for Peace and Development, together with the acting chief of the African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) agreed to work together for a viable and lasting negotiated settlement in order to end the 12-year conflict in the western Sudan region. Reconciliation efforts between the Fellata and Salamat tribes in South Darfur are underway after clashes last week left 54 dead and 29 wounded.


Syria:

On Sunday, a series of government airstrikes killed over 110 people and injured more than 300 in a marketplace in Douma near Damascus. Stephen O’brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, condemned the attack and conveyed that he is “horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict.”

A suicide bomber killed at least 10 members of Kurdish security forces and 6 civilians in an attack claimed by ISIL. Meanwhile, more than 40 people were killed and wounded in an explosion of a booby-trapped vehicle near an Asyish post in the city of al- Qameshli.
 
The UNSC approved a Presidential Statement backing preparatory talks for a resolution to Syria’s political crisis. The statement supported UN mediator Staffan De Mistura’s plan to work towards “political negotiations and a political transition” based on the Geneva Communique, adopted in 2012 by the first international conference on the issue and endorsed by the Security Council.
 
A ceasefire established between Syrian rebels and pro-government forces in two Shia villages near the Turkish border and a Sunni town near the Lebanese border has collapsed. The ceasefire was agreed last week to allow passage of food and medical supplies to rebel forces in Zabadani and government forces in Fuaa and Kafraya in the northwest.


Yemen:

A new op-ed by the UN Special Advisers on Genocide Prevention and RtoP reminded the parties to the conflict, the media, and the international community of their RtoP in Yemen.
 
Over the weekend, pro-government forces recaptured Zinjibar from Houthi rebels, killing at least 19 people and injuring 150 others during the fight. Pro-government fighters additionallyseized six districts in the central province of Ibb, as they make their way closer to the currently Houthi-controlled city of Sana’a.
The ICRC president, Peter Maurer, determined the situation in Yemen to be ‘catastrophic’ on his visit to Sana’a. UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food warned that the deliberate starvation of civilians could constitute a war crime and/or crime against humanity. A new report by UNICEF announced that an average of eight children per day are being killed or maimedevery day in Yemen.
 
Amnesty International released a new report detailing the impact on civilians of Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes and attacks by pro and anti-Huthi armed groups in Ta’iz and Aden, saying that such violations of human rights could amount to war crimes.

Twenty three NGOs, including four ICRtoP members, published a statement on the need for the Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry in Yemen.  


What else is new?

 The Global Policy Initiative of Columbia University released a report of their April 2015 conference “Responsibility While Protecting: Implementation and the Future of the Responsibility to Protect.”

The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace wrote an article in the Phnom Penh Post urging Cambodia to take the lead in mainstreaming RtoP within ASEAN.


 

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#R2P Weekly:10-14 August 2015

UntitledSecretary-General Releases Seventh Report on RtoP

This week the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released his seventh report on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), “A vital and enduring commitment: implementing the responsibility to protect”. The report reiterated the commitment that States made a decade ago, i.e. to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing as articulated in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. The report assessed the progression of the RtoP norm over the past ten years, identified core challenges and opportunities for implementation, and detailed six core priorities for the international community to undertake to more effectively fulfill RtoP.

Over the past decade, there have been situations in which the international community has responded proactively to the risk of atrocities and acted to prevent their recurrence, as well as cases where the international community ultimately failed to adequately protect populations. Through the discussion of the cases of Libya and Syria, the Secretary-General recognized the practical challenges that remain for RtoP’s effective implementation. The international action taken in Libya highlights the need to better understand when and how force should be used as well as the necessity of long-term support.  In addition, the inability to effectively prevent and respond to the crisis in Syria has led some to criticize the norm’s utility in catalyzing action, which has further contributed to misconceptions of RtoP as a coercive doctrine. Despite such issues, the Secretary-General stated that this “should not shake our resolve to live up to the responsibilities” agreed to in 2005. He noted that a cross-regional consensus has developed on the core framework of RtoP, one which encompasses the need to a) prioritize prevention; b) utilize all available diplomatic, political, and humanitarian tools; c) consider military force as a last resort and to be used only in accordance with the UN Charter.

Read the ICRtoP’s summary of the report here.


Catch up on developments in…

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

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Yanghee Lee, the UN human rights envoy to Burma, was barred from meeting with Rohingya Muslims during her visit last week to assess human rights in the country and announced that it was impossible for her to fulfill her mandate.

Nearly 4000 names from 78 parties, along with 100 independent candidates, have signed up to run in the November general election. Rohingya Muslims have been told that they will not be able to vote in the elections, though many could in 2010.

Forty-five senior military officers retired in order to join the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Among those who joined USDP is Khin Zaw Oo, who was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 2005-2006 Burma Army offensive in Karen State by the International Human Rights Clinic. Shwe Mann, the USDP party chief, was ousted by President Thein Sein in an event surrounded by security forces.


Burundi:

Following the post-election violence last week and the assassination of Nkurunziza’s ally General Nshimirimana, the Burundian authorities detained at least 21 people in a “security crackdown.” Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France International (RFI) condemnedthe lack of response by Burundian authorities to persecute those responsible for the abuse and torture of their journalist, Esdras Ndikumana.

Diplomats from the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Belgium and United States expressed concern that the government of Burundi intends to do away with ethnic quotas for positions of power, a key agreement in the Arusha Accords. In addition, they all called for the government of Burundi to immediately resume an inclusive political dialogue.


Central African Republic:

On Saturday, a Rwandan peacekeeper shot four of his colleagues dead and wounded eight others. MINUSCA has launched an investigation into the incident.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon vowed to take decisive action on the reports of sexual violence committed by UN peacekeepers and briefed the UN Security Council in this regard. The Secretary-General also accepted the resignation of the Special Representative Mr. Babacar Gaye as the head of MINUSCA and commended him for his tireless efforts.

Amnesty International called for an investigation into the August 2 and 3 incidents in which UN peacekeepers allegedly raped a girl and killed a father and his 16 year old son. The UNlaunched an inquiry into the incident.

The Institute of Security Studies urged CAR to include refugees in the October election.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch urged the government of the DRC, with the support of the UN, to improve efforts to protect civilians in a report on the widespread killing and displacement of civilians by ethnic militia in northern Katanga.


Gaza:

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Israel agreed to establish a sea route between the Gaza Strip and Cyprus in return for a long–term ceasefire with Hamas.  A UNRWA studyrevealed a recent alarming rise in infant mortality rate in Gaza. The UNRWA health director stated that Israel’s blockade of health facilities, medicine, and equipment on the coastal strip of Gaza could be a contributing factor.


Iraq:

ISIL claimed a car bomb suicide attack in Shiite-dominant Baquba that killed 30 people and injured 40 others. Senior Iraqi officers reported that former officials in the military and intelligence under Saddam Hussein now dominate ISIL leadership and may have contributed to its quick advancement into Iraq and Syria. Amidst widespread protests due to corruption and poor public services, the government of Iraq announced a sweeping reform of the government to reshape the dysfunctional political system, including the establishment of a corruption inquiry and the elimination the American-imposed system of sectarian and party quotas in the appointment of top officials.


Kenya:

Kenya ratified a peace treaty with Uganda and Rwanda on the East African Community Protocol on Cooperations in Defense Affairs and on the establishment of the East African Standby Force. The treaty is aimed at enhancing cooperation in regional ‘defense affairs’ such as peacekeeping, peace missions, information sharing and shared military trainings.

The victims’ representative in the collapsed ICC case against Kenyatta criticized the Office of the Prosecutor for failing to undertake effective investigations. Additionally, the IDP Network Kenya stated that the ICC Prosecutor failed to deliver justice.


Libya:

Defense lawyers in Libya announced their intention to appeal the death sentences given last week for war crimes committed by senior officials in Gaddafi’s regime.

Rival factions resumed UN- led peace talks in Geneva on Tuesday. Notably, the GNC joined the talks after boycotting the peace process last month. During the negotiations, the UN Special envoy called on the warring parties to agree on a national unity government plan by the end of August.

ISIL attempted to recapture the city of Derna, which it was forced out of last month by the al-Qaeda affiliate Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade in an offensive that took place over the weekend. The attempt left at least 10 dead and injured 21 others, most of whom are believed to be civilians. Amnesty International pressed the ICC to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by armed groups in the last four years. FIDH released a report on the increasing danger against human rights defenders in Libya whom are targeted by armed groups and in many cases either face exile or death.


Mali:

17 people died in an al-Qaeda claimed attack on the Byblos Hotel in Bamako. A day after, unknown gunman killed 10 civilians in the village of Gaberi in northern Mali. The UN OHCHR expressed deep concern over the release of detainees on July 16  were implicated for war crimes, terrorist acts, and gross human rights violations, and warned that their release is contrary to international law and violates Mali’s Peace and Reconciliation agreement.


Nigeria:

Boko Haram is suspected to have killed hundreds of people in recent weeks in response to the establishment of the Multinational Joint Task Force. A bomb attributed to Boko Haram was detonated in a busy market on Tuesday in Borno State, killing at least 47 people and wounding dozens more. President Buhari called for the establishment of a Military Industrial Complex to begin the domestic production of weapons as an additional step in the country’s fight against Boko Haram, which will decrease the reliance on foreign imports to support the weapon supply of the state armed forces.  President Deby of Chad announced that Boko Haram’s leader has reportedly been killed and replaced with a new leader who is “willing to negotiate.”


South Sudan:

The two rival factions resumed talks on 6 August amidst pressures from President Obama to come to an agreement by 17 August or face sanctions. However, the Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, reported that it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached as there are many outstanding issues.

Machar’s former commanders, Gathoth Gatkuoth and Peter Gadet, announced their split from the SPLM-IO and rejected the ongoing peace process. Reportedly, both have stated that they are now at war with both Machar and President Kiir for their actions in starting the crisis and failed leadership. However, SPLM-IO spokesperson denied the split in the party, arguing that the change is only a “defection” by two “disgruntled” generals.

Rebel forces in the Unity State accused the government forces and its allied militias of killing over 200 civilians, mainly women and children, last month in Leer and Mayiandit counties. They also accused the government of committing crimes against humanity in the abduction of children and murdering of civilians.


Sudan/Darfur:

Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch argued that Bashir’s visit to the UN would be an affront to victims in Darfur and that he must face his outstanding  warrants for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC. Bashir ordered the Ministry of Justice to compensate the victims of the September protests in Khartoum during which about 200 people died. Despite assurances from the Ugandan government that he would not be arrested, Al-Bashir declined to travel to Kampala for talks on South Sudan.

The Popular Committee for the Follow-up of the Implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, made up of 300 Darfuri leaders & academics, proposed a reform of the Darfur Regional Authority and warned that a referendum at this time would only lead to further divisions.

The AU Peace and Security Council called on the AU, UN, and the Sudanese government tocontinue formulating an exit strategy for UNAMID.


Syria:

The Security Council adopted resolution 2235 on Friday, formally establishing the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to  identify those whom are involved in the use of chemicals as weapons in Syria. Russia hosted Saudi Arabia in Moscow in talks on Syria but again failed to agree on the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

Two day ceasefires between Syrian rebels and pro-gov’t forces reportedly began in Zabadani, Fuaa, and Kafraya on Wednesday in order to allow food and medical supplies to be delivered. After an ISIL attack on the town of Qariyatain  in Homs Province, it is reported that at least 250 Christians are missing and believed to be held captive.

The New York Times explained that actions to combat ISIL are becoming complicated due to the actions of Turkey against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. The Nusra Front declared its withdrawal from the front lines in the fight against ISIL in Syria, claiming that the actions of the US and Turkey are not in line with the Syrian rebel cause but rather serve to advance Turkish interests. There are mixed reports, however, as to whether Nusra Front has actually begun moving off the front lines or not.

A new report released by Amnesty International includes evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the hands of the Syrian government as it continues to launch a widespread and systematic campaign targeting civilians under siege in Eastern Ghouta.


Yemen:

Over the weekend, pro-government forces recaptured Zinjibar from Houthi rebels, killing at least 19 people and injuring 150 others injured during the fight. Pro-government fighters additionally seized six districts in the central province of Ibb, as they make their way closer to the currently Houthis-controlled city of Sana’a.

The ICRC president, Peter Maurer, determined the situation in Yemen to be ‘catastrophic’ on his visit to Sana’a.

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food warned that the deliberate starvation of civilians could constitute a war crime and/or crime against humanity. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen appealed for significant contributions to scale up humanitarian efforts in Yemen, where 80 per cent of the population requires live-saving assistance.


What else is new?

Alex Bellamy with the International Peace Institute released his new piece titled, Can new sustainable development goals add firepower to the war on war?, which discusses the inclusion of the reduction of all forms of violence among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Stanley Foundation published a Policy Analysis Brief on the Economic Drivers of Mass Atrocities: Implications for Policy and Prevention.

The ICRtoP welcomed four new members to the Coalition: Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant and Episcopal Church of America (USA), Syrian Network for Human Rights (Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, UK), Justice without Frontiers (Lebanon) and the Carl Wilkens Fellowship (USA).


 

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#R2P Weekly:3-7 August 2015

Untitled

UN Security Council Set to Vote on Resolution Assigning Blame for Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria 

 

weeklyOn Thursday, 6 July 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Russia had agreed to support a Security Council resolution that would aim to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The draft, introduced by the U.S. in July, would set up a “Joint Investigative Mechanism” (JIM) to determine culpability for employing the banned weapons. The JIM would be led jointly by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who will submit to the Council, within 20 days, recommendations for the mechanism’s establishment and operation. (Read more about the specifics of the mechanism at Security Council Report.)

Nevertheless, chemical weapons are not the only weapons used causing indiscriminate harm to Syrians. The Assad regime’s incessant and overlooked use of barrel bombs, as noted by Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth, have “pulverized neighborhoods, destroyed entire buildings, and left broad strips of death and destruction.” Barrel bombs are part of the Assad government’s larger strategy to punish and terrorize civilians who happen to be in rebel-held areas. The international community has devoted comparatively little resources or attention to stopping the continued use of barrel bombs, though such a process may be “the single most urgent task to reduce” the suffering of Syrians.

The devastation wreaked by barrel bombs adds increased urgency to the U.S.’s draft resolution establishing an investigative mechanism on chemical attacks. Council unity on such a mechanism would not only be a first step to ensuring accountability for this violation of international humanitarian law. It could also, as described by Security Council report, open up future avenues of cooperation within the Council, such as on a French-proposed resolution on indiscriminate attacks, including the Syrian government’s use of barrel bombs. Establishing such a mechanism, therefore, may indicate an increased willingness by some Council members to fulfill their responsibility to protect.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Cote d’Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Kenya
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Yanghee Lee, the UN human rights envoy to Burma visited the country this week to meet with government officials, civil society representatives and other stakeholders to assess human rights and gather information on the electoral process. She is set to release her findings to the General Assembly in October. Representatives of the Karen National Union, the Restoration Council of Shan State, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, the Karen Peace Council and Harn Yawnghwe, an adviser to some ethnic armed groups, met with President Thein Sein and called on him to run for a second term, believing that his continued presidency is necessary for the success of the nationwide ceasefire and peace agreement. However, it has been argued that the continued religious and ethnic conflict in the country inhibits democratic progress. During the past year, over 11,000 Burmese fleeing ethnic and religious persecution resettled in the US, making them the largest refugee population in the US.


Burundi:

General Nshimirimana, ally of President Nkurunziza and former internal security advisor, was killed in a drive by shooting on Sunday. A journalist who was photographing the scene, Esdras Ndikumana, was detained and beaten by the National Intelligence Service of Burundi. Burundi rights activist, Pierre Mbonimpa, who openly opposed President Nkurunziza’s third term run, was shot by a group of motorcyclists and left in intensive care. On Wednesday, Côme Harerimana, a representative of President Nkurunziza’s party the CNDD-FDD was also attacked and killed. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement condemning the attack on human rights defender Pierre Mbonimpa. The UNSC urged Burundi citizens to stop the ongoing violence surrounding the presidential elections. The AU also called on all Burundians to not be provoked by these acts.

Human Rights Watch reported that arbitrary arrest and torture of Burundi civilians and protesters were perpetrated by the Intelligence Services, police, and youth CNDD-FDD group known as the Imobonerakure. Some victims were tortured into giving false confessions while others were intimidated into voting for CNDD-FDD candidate Nkurunziza. Over the past three months, an estimated 71,000 Burundian asylum seekers arrived in Rwanda.


Central African Republic:

Amnesty International released their latest report, “Erased identity: Muslims in ethnically cleansed areas of the Central African Republic,” on how many Muslims in CAR are being forced to convert or are being violently threatened and attacked by anti-Balaka groups. OCHA warned of an impending humanitarian crises in the CAR, with only 31% of their funding secured.

MINUSCA peacekeepers were attacked, resulting in one death and eight injured. Despite recent attacks, Babacar Gaye, the head of MINUSCA, expressed optimism about the improving security situation in CAR. Gaye also reported that nearly a quarter of eligible voters have already registered to vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum in October.


Cote d’Ivoire:

Cote d’Ivoire’s military court convicted Anselme Yapo Seka, Simone Gbagbo’s head of security, of homicide and assault during the 2010 election. Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady, is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Human Rights Watch advocated for the ICC to investigate the role of sitting President Outtarra in the 2010 election violence.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

UNHCR repatriated more than 600 refugees from CAR back to the DRC, who had fled LRA attacks six years ago. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) kidnapped 6 Muslim Clerics and are holding them for ransom in the DRC.


Gaza:

Israeli tanks entered Gaza on Tuesday, violating the 2014 agreement. Hamas media outlets claimed that an explosion in Rafa that killed four was caused by an unexploded Israeli missile still present in Gaza from last year’s war. Ban Ki- moon urged  all donors to contribute to the $100 million dollars still needed by UNRWA.


Iraq:

Turkey, in their campaign of air strikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq, was accused of killing civilians in Zargala. Turkey denied the presence of civilians in the “Zargala terrorist camp.”

Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, reported that ISIL engaged in widespread & systematic violations of human rights in both Syria and Iraq, which may amount to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Airwars, a team of independent journalists claimed that the US-led coalition against ISIL in Syria and Iraq has killed at least 459 civilians, which includes more than 100 children. The UN announced that they will look into the reports of the US-led airstrike campaign against ISIL that allegedly killed 40 civilians in Iraq near Ramadi last Friday.

The UN reiterated the need to hold perpetrators accountable for last year’s ISIL attack on at least 200,000 civilians from the Yezidi, Shi’a Turkmen, Shi’a Shabak and Christian communities. Human Rights Watch also called on the international community to do more to help Yezidi victims of ISIL. It was reported that over 100 Yazidis leave Iraq on a daily basis and that an estimated 300 Yazidis are still being held by ISIL.


Kenya:

The ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims has not yet been extended to those who suffered from persecution in Kenya’s 2007-2008 election violence. The victims of the violence asked that the ICC re-investigate the charges against sitting head of state Uhuru Kenyatta. UNOCHA reported that ethnic violence still plagues Kenya, with over 200,000 people displaced and over 300 killed thus far in 2015.


Libya:

Libyan state prosecutors announced their investigation into the ill-treatment of detainees, including al-Saadi Gaddafi, who was shown seemingly being beaten by unidentified guards in a Tripoli prison.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni emerged as a possible bridge-builder who could encourage the GNC to agree to a unity government, as proposed by a UN-led mediation. After reports emerged that European countries were planning a military operation to fight illegal immigration in the Mediterranean amidst the deadly ship wreck carrying 600 migrants off the coast of Libya, Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thanni said that Libya rejects any foreign military intervention.


Mali:

A terrorist attack on a MINUSMA convoy in Mali killed six peacekeepers and the Security Council called for the actors to be held accountable. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed an attack on a security post, which killed 11 Malian soldiers. Ousmane Oumarou Sidibe, an academic and former minister for the main opposition party in Mali, was named the new head of Mali’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR), which was established last year in order to investigate violence and abuses committed in the country from Mali’s independence to 2013.


Nigeria:

Representatives from Nigeria and Benin met in Cotonou to discuss cooperation in their fight against Boko Haram through the Multinational Joint Task Force on Saturday. Sunday, Boko Haram attacked Malari Village in Borno State, killing 13 people. However, the Nigerian army rescued 178 civilians in Borno State being held by Boko Haram and cleared the main road in Borno of all planted Boko Haram explosives.


South Sudan:

The SPLM-IO accepted the IGAD proposal to demilitarize Juba. However, activists protested against the IGAD proposed peace deal that includes a  power-sharing agreement granting the rebels greater control of the Upper Nile region, two armies, and the demilitarization of Juba. The government of South Sudan also refused the IGAD proposal and announced that it would unveil its own peace plan that will include all leaders from all states. The South Sudanese delegates left to resume peace talks in Ethiopia and discuss their proposal before the mid-August deadline.

In an independent media crackdown, the government shut down two newspapers. Reportedly, the South Sudanese army (SPLA) has been ordered by commanders to steal food and relief supplies from civilians in the Unity State, in order to cut resources from rebels and drive civilians into government held areas. OCHA also reported that the government placed restriction on aid transport, which later the government dismissed as “propaganda.”


Sudan/Darfur:

Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), met with President Bashir to discuss resuming peace talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation and the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. He also announced his intention to consult with the Sudanese armed groups in mid-August. Bashir confirmed his plans to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, despite being indicted by the ICC, and is scheduled to speak on September 26th. Amnesty International released a report which confirmed that Government forces in Sudan have committed war crimes against the civilian population of South Kordofan.


Syria:

A Syrian fighter jet crashed into civilian market in Ariha, killing at least 27 people. Iran confirmed that it would present the UN with a new plan for a political solution for the conflict in Syria, after Iran held a dialogue with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Tehran.


 

Yemen:

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, met with Arab League leaders to discuss plans for a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Yemen, which has had an enormous impact on civilians, killing almost 2000 and injuring over 4000. The Yemeni government in exile diverted aid ships from the Houthi rebel-held north to loyalist areas farther south.


What else is new?

UN OHCHR reported that, in the first half of 2015, there have been almost 5,000 civilian casualties stemming from ongoing violence and targeted killings in Afghanistan. The country has seen increases in civilian death caused by pro-government forces as well as suicide bombers. In addition, the number of women and children being killed has also risen.

The Kosovo Parliament voted to amend the Constitution to allow for the creation of a war crimes court in The Hague in order to try ethnic Albanians accused of war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. The establishment of the court is seen by many to be vital for reconciliation; however, it is opposed by many ethnic Albanians who fear the court will turn victims into perpetrators.

The Asia-Pacific Center for the Responsibility to Protect launched its new youtube channel where you can find presentations, panel discussions, events and more on RtoP.


 

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#R2P Weekly:27-31 July 2015

Untitled

Infographic on Women, Peace and Security 

While the focus of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the Responsibility to Protect differ in terms of scope and agenda, there are several ways in which they overlap and that work in these sectors can reinforce each other. Click here to see our latest infographic.

To learn more about how RtoP relates to other sectors, view our publication “RtoP And… (English and French) and readArms and Atrocities: Protecting Populations by Preventing the Means”.

Catch up on developments in…

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


Burma/Myanmar:

Student victims of the government crackdown on those protesting education reform earlier this year met with the Myanmar Human Rights Commission to discuss the violation of their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble. Local aid workers in Burma/Myanmar condemned the Burmese military for blocking aid to the estimated 1,000 newly displaced civilians from renewed fighting between the military and the Kachin Independence Army, saying such action was a violation of international humanitarian law.


Burundi:

Pierre Nkurunziza won his third five-year term in the heavily disputed presidential election with 69.41 % of the vote. Nkurunziza’s main opposition leader, Agathon Rwasa, accepted his elected seat as a deputy speaker of parliament in the Burundian National Assembly despite his refusal to legitimize the presidential election.

The UN electoral monitoring mission in Burundi, MENUB, released a statement saying that “while election day was relatively peaceful and conducted adequately, the overall environment was not conducive for an inclusive, free, and credible electoral process.” Reporters without Borders reported that elections took place under a massive media blackout imposed by President Nkurunziza. Burundi’s Forum for Strengthening Civil Society (FORSC) stated that Nkurunziza should not be part of any national unity government, as he has broken the Arusha Accords. Burundian refugees reportedly are not returning home after elections, fearful of continued violence.

Over 40 child soldiers surrendered to Burundian security forces after being unwittingly recruited by a rebel militia. They are currently imprisoned in Burundi, but many human rights defenders are calling for their release, citing Burundi’s ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Child.


Central African Republic:
Clashes between ex-Seleka and Revolution Justice armed groups resulted in the deaths of 26 people.The International Committee for the Red Cross and CAR Red Cross reported that over 1000 people are still searching for missing loved ones. Amnesty International found that displaced Muslims returning home are being forced to abandon their religion by the anti-Balaka.


Gaza:
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced a severe financial deficit, meaning many Palestinians may be cut off from access to much-needed humanitarian services. Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture released new evidence showing that Israeli forces, in retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier, may have committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during “Black Friday” last year in Rafah. The Israel Defense Forces declared that they would widen their investigation into their soldiers’ conduct during last summer’s war in Gaza, including through examining the bombing of a civilian clinic.


Iraq:
The U.S. and allies conducted a series of 26 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq   on Sunday in their continued fight to eradicate the group from the region. Turkey launched a campaign against Kurdish militants in Iraq, striking the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) base in northern Iraq. Turkey’s direct targeting of Kurdish armed groups in Iraq has effectively ended their fragile peace process with the Kurds, which began back in 2012.


 

Libya:
Libya’s internationally recognized Information Minister, Omar Qweri, called for the UN Security Council to remove the arms embargo against Libya, claiming that this would enable the country to defeat the Islamic State in Libya by next year.

The Libyan court ruled that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and eight other Gaddafi associates will receive the death penalty for crimes committed during the 2011 revolution. In total, over 30 of Gaddafi’s allies were tried and now have 60 days to appeal their sentence. However, UN human rights officials announced that the trial did not meet international standards.  Libya’s minister of justice also condemned the trial as illegal, claiming judges in the case were acting under duress. ICRtoP member, Human Rights Watch, among several other civil society organizations, also objected to the death sentences and the way in which the trials were conducted.


Nigeria:
Militants, suspected to be Boko Haram members, conducted raids and kidnappings of an estimated 30 people surrounding Lake Chad, in which three civilians and thirteen Boko Haram militants were killed. A child suicide bomber detonated herself in a crowded Damaturu city market in Yobe state, killing at least 16 people with an estimated 50 others injured. Two other would-be suicide bombers were reportedly arrested. Nigerian soldiers halted a Boko Haram attack in the town of Buratai in Borno State, while also rescuing 30 civilians, mostly children, in another part of the region. Nigeria appointed Iliya Abbah as the General for the Multinational Joint Task Force to fight Boko Haram, though there is still no clear date for the force’s deployment.


South Sudan:
The SPLM-in Opposition, led by Riek Machar, announced that it would hold a consultative meeting in the first week of August to discuss the new IGAD-Plus peace proposal circulated last week. The latest proposal included clauses maintaining that no amnesty would be granted to individuals responsible for committing crimes after December 15, 2013. South Sudan’s rival parties claimed to have made significant progress compromising on key issues and are hopeful of the prospect of reaching an agreement.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, urged all parties in South Sudan to lay down their arms and commit to sustainable peace. A local official reported that South Sudanese government troops stole food aid and killed seven people in an attack in Unity State that forced 35,000 civilians to flee into the bush. Men, suspected to be from the Murle tribe, abducted three children in Jonglei state.

Obama held a multilateral regional meeting on South Sudan and counter-terrorism in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. South Sudan’s foreign minister announced a plan to petition the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for a breach of protocol for not insisting that the South Sudanese government be invited to the meeting with Obama. The Obama Administration is reportedly considering implementing new sanctions and an arms embargo on South Sudan if leaders fail to reach a peace agreement by mid-August.


Sudan/Darfur:
The African Centre for Justice and Peace accused the Sudanese army in West Darfur of torturing a captive to death for allegedly providing information to the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Two other captives are at risk of suffering the same fate. JEM-Dabajo and the ruling party met in attempts to end the historical tensions between the two groups. JEM-Dabajo reiterated their plans to run for chairmanship of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) to ensure better distribution of reconstruction projects.


Syria:
Days after Turkey launched its first attack against the Islamic State in Syria, the Turkish Prime Minister blamed the rise of the Islamic State on the international community’s inaction against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Early in the week, the US, Turkey, and Syrian insurgents, agreed on a plan in which they would work together to target IS militants in the northern region of Syria bordering Turkey to create an “ISIS free” zone. However, there are multiple conflicting reports on whether the U.S. has actually agreed to the plan, what the plan would entail, how it would be implemented, and its ultimate goal.

Following the establishment of the plan for an “ISIS free” zone, NATO met to discuss Turkey’s campaign not only against ISIS but also Kurdish armed groups in Iraq. The two targets are uniquely opposed to one another, but Turkey has grouped them together under its campaign to fight terrorism in the region. NATO members ultimately expressed support for Turkey’s recent military actions against IS as well as the Kurdish armed groups.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) accused Turkish forces of shelling a Kurdish village in northern Syria, a claim denied by Turkey.

In his first public speech in a year, President Assad spoke on the ongoing war in Syria and admitted that the government has suffered some recent military setbacks and a shortage of soldiers.

Stephen O’Brien, the head of OCHA, briefed the UN Security Council on the dire humanitarian situation in Syria and called for a political solution to the ongoing crisis. He noted that attacks by government and allied forces in the Damascus suburb of Zabadani has led to a high number of civilian deaths and displacement. The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, also presented recommendations to the UN Security Council for achieving a political solution in Syria, which would strengthen progress on the “Geneva Communique” by creating a Syrian-owned framework for implementation.


Yemen:
A vehicle exploded just minutes before a fragile five-day humanitarian pause was set to take hold on Sunday, killing 10 Houthi rebels and prompting a Houthi-led shelling of residential areas in the city of Taiz in retaliation. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition seized a key town in its fight against Houthi rebels in Yemen, following the arrival of hundreds of additional Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Saudi-led bombings in Yemen, actions which may amount to war crimes. HRW also found that attacks by pro-Houthi forces have indiscriminately targeted civilians in Aden, killing dozens with mortar shells and rockets.


What else is new?

The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect published a blog written by Obinna Ifediora on “Continental Sovereignty: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation in Africa.”

UNelections.org Campaign and Information Center noted this week that “The Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group has distributed a revised version of a non-paper which calls on all member states to take “timely and decisive action” in cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The non-paper is endorsed by the 27 states who are members of the ACT group, as well as the Netherlands and Spain. In a meeting on 29 July, the group presented the draft and invited all member states to provide feedback and join the list of endorsing states. The group hopes to finalize the text, with input from member states and civil society, this coming October in connection with the 70th anniversary of the UN.”

Human Rights Watch released a report describing Guinea’s security forces use of excessive lethal force, abusive conduct, and lack of political neutrality during election-related protests that took place during April and May of 2015.


 

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R2P at 10: Continental Sovereignty

Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation in Africa

Author: Obinna Ifediora, UQ

SUDAN, Nyala: In a photograph made available by Albany Associates, newly arrived engineers from China serving with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) stand to attention after arriving in Nyala, South Darfur 17 July.

In recent times, global-regional cooperation on peace and security issues in Africa have come under serious strains, as the event in South Africa, last June, regarding the attempted arrest of Omar al-Bashir over allegations of genocide and war crimes in relation to the crisis in Darfur region, Sudan on ICC arrest warrant demonstrate. Analysts, academia, and commentators have sought to explain this widening dichotomy with the notions of ‘African Unity’ or ‘African Solidarity’ and still, on the basis of state-led policy of ‘Pan Africanism’. Instead, I present, in this blog, a different narrative to this stand-off of global liberal institutions/ideas and regional approaches…

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#R2P Weekly: 20-24 July 2015

Rtop weekly

#R2P10: The Responsibility to Protect and Counter-terrorism

The following is an excerpt from the most recent submission to the ICRtoP’s RtoP at 10 blog series, written by Kyle Matthews, Senior Deputy Director of Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), and Cédrick Mulcair, MIGS Junior Fellow.

On the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) by all member states at the United Nations, an important question has arisen: are we seeing a convergence between the mass atrocity prevention and counter-terrorism communities? While acts of terrorism and mass atrocity crimes are easily comparable and sometimes overlap, some human rights practitioners have demonstrated ambivalence in admitting that RtoP is more than just a humanitarian concept and touches upon national and international security.

Open Briefing by the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). Photo Credit: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz.

Open Briefing by the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). Photo Credit: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz.

Over the past few years, the world’s gaze has been routinely directed to atrocities committed by non-state actors in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and West Africa. There, groups such as the Islamic Stateal-Shabaab and Boko Haram have been waging wars on their governments and respective civilian populations through mass casualty attacks. Yet these groups are more often condemned for acts of “terrorism”, as opposed to crimes against humanity.

Some even argue that acts committed by such groups fall outside of the scope of RtoP, and purely into that of counter-terrorism. The cause of this detrimental gap in interpretation dates to the manner in which the RtoP was initially discussed and endorsed at the 2005 World Summit. This can partly be explained by that fact much emphasis was placed on cementing the notion that national governments bear responsibility for not committing atrocity crimes against civilians in their respective jurisdictions, leaving non-state actors on the margins of the policy debate.

(…) Read the full blog here.

Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar:
UNHCR called for concerted support for the displaced peoples of Rakhine State, in particular the Rohingya. The Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in Myanmar/Burma announced their plan to submit the range of difficulties facing the indigenous people to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the Human Rights Council that will meet in November. Nationwide ceasefire talks resumed between the government and armed ethnic groups, in hopes to finalize agreements before the upcoming November election. Burmese youth launched a social media campaign to combat hate speech in the country against ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Rohingya.

Burundi:

Negotiations between the ruling government party CNDD-FDD and various opposition groupsended on Sunday when neither CNDD-FDD or government representatives attended.Former presidents Domitien Ndayizeye, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and former Speaker of Parliament Jean Minani all dropped out of the presidential race in Burundi citing unfair election conditions.
The presidential election took place on Tuesday the 21st, despite many appeals by the international community for their delay. Explosions and gunshots were reported throughout the night and there was very low voter turnout as fear of participating loomed.

On Wednesday, Agathon Rwasa the main opposition leader called for a unity government, to which President Nkurunziza’s spokesperson replied that the CNDD-FDD would also accept the unity government.The African Union began its initial deployment of human rights observers and military experts to Burundi.

Burundi’s electoral commission CENI has begun to count the votes. The victor of the presidential election is expected to be announced later today. In a new report, Amnesty International warned that Burundian authorities have used excessive lethal force, including against women and children, to silence those opposed to the President.

Central African Republic:

In a recent surge of rebel assaults, a convoy of World Food Program trucks was attacked by suspected members of the rebel group, Front Démocratique du Peuple Centrafricain (FDPC), while being escorted by the UN Peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, which led to the death of a driver and several injuries.

Flavia Pansieri, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, resigned citing health concerns. It was also reported that in a confidential statement given by Ms. Pansieri when speaking before a separate internal investigation, she expressed regret for her “failure” to follow up on allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in the CAR for months.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) released its latest report on CAR citing the need for a new strategy in addressing the conflict, as dependence on aid has become “dangerous.” The IRC outlines the need for continued aid in country but also new support in governmental and security reform as well as economic development.

Gaza

Four bombings took place in Gaza that targeted officials from Islamic factions, including Hamas. The Palestinian Housing Minister laid the first brick for Gaza reconstruction after the 50 day Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which took place in the summer of 2014.

The EU Council’s conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process stressed that there is no other viable option but a negotiated two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where Palestine is recognized as an independent, democratic, and sovereign state. The EU also urged for the immediate address of the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The UN held an Arria-Formula meeting on Gaza where the Norwegian Refugee Council, Gisha, and academics and experts in the field, briefed the Security Council on the issues of accountability, freedom of movement, and the humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza.

Iraq:
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for detonating the explosion of a merchant ice truck in an open market in Khan Bani Saad on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, killing 120 and wounding 140 others, making this the single most deadliest attack by IS. Continuing violence attributed to IS killed 37 people in four separate bombings in Baghdad and 22 Iraqi soldiers from the Popular Mobilization Forces in Fallujah.

OCHA warned that about 40% of the critically needed water and sanitation programs supporting 74,000 IDPs will be forced to shut down at the end of the month, due to a lack of funding.

Two UK-based organizations, Conflict Armament Research and Sahan Research, reported that IS recently used chemical agents against Kurdish forces and civilians in both Iraq and Syria.

Libya:
An estimated 37 people were killed and many more wounded in violent clashes between the Tuareg and Tebu peoples in southern Libya.

The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini confirmed that the EU is looking to impose sanctions on individuals opposing the Libyan peace agreement with ties to Islamist forces in Tripoli. General Khalifa Haftar, leader of forces aligned with the House of Representatives and a former Gadaffi aide, was also reportedly threatened with travel bans and asset freezes, but dismissed the EU’s warnings of sanctions as meaningless.

Nigeria:

At least 30 people were killed in bombings of two bus stations in Gombe, attributed to Boko Haram. UNHCR warned that continued attacks and violence from Boko Haram have caused a massive and unsustainable refugee influx to Cameroon from Nigeria. President Buhari saidthat he would be willing to negotiate for the safe return of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls if the negotiator on the side of Boko Haram proved to be credible.

After firing all of his top military officials, President Buhari announced that he will name new cabinet members in September after putting in place measures for good governance.

South Sudan:

The expulsion of Unity State coordinator of UNMISS, Mary Cummins, was officially reversed by the Unity State Government. South Sudan peace talks are expected to resume today in Addis Ababa, and are hoped to be the final meeting to reach a peace agreement; however, the government of South Sudan said that they will not accept any new additions to the deal.

Human Rights Watch released a report detailing widespread atrocities carried out by South Sudanese government forces that may amount to war crimes. In response to the report, South Sudan army spokesperson announced that the government would accept an investigation. Opposition leader, Riek Machar, removed two top generals whom are ethnic Nuer in a move to prepare for peace talks with the South Sudanese government/

Sudan/Darfur:

The national dialogue body for Sudan, the 7+7, said that they intend to ask President Bashir to delay the process, which was promised to resume after Ramadan, until October in order to allow for more contact with opposition groups.

Syria:
Evidence indicates that the Islamic State fired chemical mortar shells late last week at Kurdish forces.The UN Envoy to Syria, warned that civilians continue to be caught in the conflict and that new bombings in the city of Zabadani by the government have caused unprecedented levels of destruction. The Global Peace Index determined Syria as the “most dangerous country in the world.”

Yemen

After being driven out of Aden last week, Houthi rebels fired rockets at the city killing at least 43 people on Sunday. On Monday over 100 more people were killed in a Houthi attributed shelling, just south of Aden. The UN reported that civilian casualties continue to rise in Yemen and at least 36,000 people, 50% of which were civilians, have been killed since Saudi Arabia launched its bombing campaign against Houthi rebels at the end of March.

The largest UN aid shipment in months arrived in Aden carrying enough food to feed 180,000 people for a month.

What else is new?

Former Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré’s trial for the alleged commission of war crimes began on Monday in Senegal, but was subsequently postponed for 45 days. Habré is indicted for killing up to 40,000 people during his rule in the 1980’s.

The controversial Law on Association and NGOs (LANGO) in Cambodia was passed by the National Assembly, despite a boycott by 55 Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members, and is now pending a Senate vote expected to take place later today. Hundreds of people gathered across Cambodia to demonstrate against the pending law around the country on Wednesday. Local and international NGOs along with the U.S., U.N. and European Union oppose the law as it would give the government the power to shut down organizations.

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#R2P10: The Responsibility to Protect and Counter-terrorism

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. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect those shared by the membership of the Coalition. Below is a piece by Kyle Matthews, Senior Deputy Director of Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), and Cédrick Mulcair, MIGS Junior Fellow.

On the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) by all member states at the United Nations, an important question has arisen: are we seeing a convergence between the mass atrocity prevention and counter-terrorism communities? While acts of terrorism and mass atrocity crimes are easily comparable and sometimes overlap, some human rights practitioners have demonstrated ambivalence in admitting that RtoP is more than just a humanitarian concept and touches upon national and international security.

Open Briefing by the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). Photo Credit: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz.

Open Briefing by the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). Photo Credit: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz.

Over the past few years, the world’s gaze has been routinely directed to atrocities committed by non-state actors in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and West Africa. There, groups such as the Islamic State, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram have been waging wars on their governments and respective civilian populations through mass casualty attacks. Yet these groups are more often condemned for acts of “terrorism”, as opposed to crimes against humanity.

Some even argue that acts committed by such groups fall outside of the scope of RtoP, and purely into that of counter-terrorism. The cause of this detrimental gap in interpretation dates to the manner in which the RtoP was initially discussed and endorsed at the 2005 World Summit. This can partly be explained by that fact much emphasis was placed on cementing the notion that national governments bear responsibility for not committing atrocity crimes against civilians in their respective jurisdictions, leaving non-state actors on the margins of the policy debate.

Ten years later, however, we are bearing witness to the truth that governments no longer hold the monopoly on the use of deadly violence against civilians. At the end of 2014 the British Broadcasting Corporation, in association with King’s College London, released a study which demonstrates just how deadly the situation on the ground has become for civilian populations where “terrorist” groups are present. The study’s data confirmed that in the month of November alone more than 5,000 people were killed in over 600 jihadist attacks across 14 countries, which averages seven casualties every hour. These statistics are not an anomaly; they represent a dangerous and increasingly worrying pattern that can be observed in three distinct corners of the globe.

Rally for the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. Photo credit: UN photo.

Rally for the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. Photo credit: UN photo.

In West Africa, Boko Haram, whose name can roughly be translated to “Western Education is a Sin”, has been on a bloody warpath against civilians (Christians in particular) in Nigeria since 2002 but has really escalated it mass atrocity crimes beginning in 2009. In the six years that followed the start of their insurgency, more than 13,000 civilians were killed by the group. Equally disturbing is that Boko Haram has made the decision to specifically target schools and students, while also kidnapping children where they are either forced or indoctrinated to become sex slaves, child soldiers or suicide bombers. Boko Haram has also committed atrocity crimes in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, drawing in their armies into the conflict. The problem has thus evolved to become truly regional, and in no way isolated within Nigeria’s borders.

Within the Horn of Africa, Al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab, or “the youth” continues to commit mass atrocity crimes with impunity. Operating initially out of Somalia, it has now expanded to attacking crowded population centers in surrounding countries like Kenya. The attack of April 4th 2015 on Kenya’s Garissa University which killed nearly 147 students and injured 79 more, stands as one example among many of their willingness to harm civilian populations. Al-Shabaab is also considered notorious for attacks such as the one on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September 2013, where 67 civilians were killed. It also carried out suicide bombings against crowds watching a screening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final in Uganda, killing 74 and injuring 70.

Suspected al Shabab militants wait to be taken off for interogation during a joint night operation between the Somali security services and AMISOM forces in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo Credit: AU UN IST PHOTO / Tobin Jones

Suspected al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo Credit: UN PHOTO / Tobin Jones

Within Iraq and Syria, the now infamous Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remains active and increasingly threatening. The transnational Sunni Muslim extremist group was best described by Alex Bellamy in his piece for the Canadian International Council “The Islamic State and the Case for the Responsibility to Protect”. Bellamy rightly points out that ISIS

“…as a matter of proudly held and publically proclaimed ideology, makes no distinction between soldiers and non-combatants. It makes blanket claims that peoples and individuals that fail to conform to its worldview are legitimate targets for killing. […] The IS has shot, beheaded, knifed, bludgeoned, burned and tortured its unarmed victims – every one of these instances a crime against humanity, if not an act of genocide. It stands opposed to the values that sustain the community of humanity”.

With the group expanding through affiliates in Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, the atrocity prevention community must begin formulating new strategies to protect civilians in these countries.

But most interesting is that Bellamy touches upon a central problem that RtoP advocates must begin finding the answers to. In his words:

“Others have claimed that the problems posed by IS are primarily ones of counter-terrorism, not RtoP. That view mistakes the nature of the organization’s violence. It also overlooks the reality that terrorism — understood as violence intentionally targeted against civilians — is itself often a crime against humanity. In some situations, such as that caused by the IS, counter-terrorism and RtoP are simply different ways of talking about the same problem: violent attacks on civilian populations. The fact that a crisis can be described in terms of counter-terrorism does not mean that it is not also a challenge to RtoP. IS is not unique in this regard, the same point applies to groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab. More needs to be done in future to understand the contours of the relationship between RtoP and counter-terrorism.”

The positive news is that people are beginning to take note. In June 2015, the 5th annual meeting of the Global Network of RtoP Focal Points in Madrid brought this discussion to the fore. RtoP focal point, UN representatives and civil society actors held important policy discussions on terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, opening the way to see countering violent extremism as an important first step towards the goal of preventing atrocities.

In the months and years ahead, those working on RtoP will need to achieve consensus on whether countering violent extremism and implementing certain counter terrorism measures are in fact a state obligation under RtoP. If a national government stops its citizens from traveling abroad to join a transnational terrorist group that is committing genocide, should that be considered a policy that advances atrocity prevention? Similarly, does cutting off domestic financing to extremist groups count as a positive policy response? Equally important, does the disruption of social media accounts that incite hatred and advocate for mass casualty attacks also fall under RtoP?

Though the topic and the questions it brings up are not easy ones to tackle, the human rights community, national governments and the United Nations have a duty to come together and discuss the convergence of mass atrocity and terrorism prevention. While the original RtoP report tabled in 2001 by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty did not contain many practical recommendations in protecting civilians from genocidal non-sate actors, it appears the time is ripe to further develop RtoP conceptually. We should not bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problem will simply disappear.

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#R2P Weekly: 13-17 July 2015

Untitled

Reports of Possible War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity or Genocide in Iraq

A UN report this week warned that the violations of international humanitarian law, together with gross human rights violations and abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.

The “Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq”, released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), highlights the “severe and extensive” breadth of abuses endured by civilians in Iraq. A total of 15,000 civilians have been killed since January 2015, with another 30,000 injured.

At the hands of the Islamic State, certain groups of civilians (such as those perceived to be affiliated with the Iraqi government or security forces, journalists, doctors, and those who refuse to align with the group) have been systematically killed, kidnapped, or subjected to ill-treatment including amputations and executions. Moreover, the Islamic State is showing signs that it is implementing an ongoing policy to “suppress, permanently expel, or destroy” Christians, Faili Kurds, Kaka’e, Sabaeans, Shabak, Shi’a Arabs, Turkmen, Yezidi and others in areas under its control. The group has also committed sexual and gender-based violence and recruited and used children in military operations.

At the same time, military operations by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), as well as its associated forces, “at times may have violated the principles of distinction and proportionality, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attacks.”

UNAMI and OHCHR urged parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as to take necessary measures to prevent and respond to the displacement of the civilian population. The Government of Iraq, meanwhile, must ensure that the ISF, and all forces associated with it, are held accountable for their actions. The Government must further allow all displaced civilians to be admitted to safe areas and given access to humanitarian services. Furthermore, UNAMI and OHCHR claimed, Iraq should accede to the International Criminal Court or refer the situation in Iraq to the Court.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Cote d’Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Iraq
Libya
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The Burmese government initiative to issue new identification cards or “green cards” to those going through the citizenship process has not been well received by the Rohingya. In order to apply for the ID card and go through the citizenship process, the Rohingya must first identify themselves as Bengali, as Rohingya is not an accepted term.

More than 100 Birmingham City Councillors signed a letter calling for the British Government to push the UN Security Council to intervene in Myanmar in order to “stop the genocide and persecution” of the Rohingya. It has been reported that UNHCR officers were denied access to visit Rohingya leaders in Maungdaw on 11 July; however, they were later given access by the Maungdaw authority to meet only those Rohingya leaders selected by the authority.


Burundi:

Seven UN Special Rapporteurs called for immediate UN Security Council action to prevent Burundi from regressing further back into violent conflict, urging the Council not to “simply stand by and wait for mass atrocities to unfold.”  An umbrella of civil society organizations, including ICRtoP Steering Committee Member, the Pan-African Lawyers Union, sued the government of Burundi for President Nkurunziza’s third term bid at the East Africa Court of Justice. Burundi’s former second vice president of the ruling CNDD-FDD Gervais Rufyikiri, with the support of other high profile people in exile, pushed for the establishment of a “National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Accord and the Rule of Law in Burundi,” with the ultimate goal of removing President Pierre Nkurunziza from power.

The East African Community mediator, Ugandan President Museveni, left Burundi without a negotiated peace agreement between the Burundi government and opposition, though the Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga is expected to take over the mediation efforts.


Central African Republic:

UNHCR urged the Central African Republic to allow refugees to participate in the elections expected to take place in October.


Cote d’Ivoire:

For the first time, about 20 members of the army that helped place President Alassane Ouattara in power in 2011 have been indicted for alleged crimes committed during the fighting, which claimed thousands of lives.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Nine people were killed in eastern DRC by  the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which has repeatedly attacked several villages north of Beni. The UN Security Council met to discuss the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and determined that the success of MONUSCO rests on securing a successful partnership with the government on security and the electoral process. The UN also dropped the demand that the Congolese government replace two generals accused of human right abuses before resuming cooperation with the Congolese army against the FDLR. Human Rights Watch called on the DRC government and the UN to arrest Sylvestre Mudacumura, the military commander of the FDLR, indicted on nine counts of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.


Gaza:

The Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) Military Police opened investigations into 10 reported incidents of military misconducts by five high ranking officials, which took place during the war in Gaza last summer.  Palestine also formed a committee to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Israel conveyed its willingness to the EU to participate in a dialogue on the economic situation in the West Bank, which would take place in September.


Iraq:

The Iraqi government announced that it has launched a new offensive against IS in Anbar Province.


Libya:

A rocket was launched into Benghazi, killing 15 people. A UN-drafted peace agreement was reached with the internationally recognized government of Libya, the House of Representatives. However, the main opposition group, the General National Congress, has not signed. Libya accused the UN Security Council of hampering its fight against the Islamic State (IS); meanwhile, the UN envoy to Libya stressed that Libya can only effectively address the IS after warring parties agree on a national unity government.


Nigeria:

At least 33 people were killed in three suspected Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari fired and replaced the government’s top military officials for their failure to address Boko Haram and for human rights violations. Human Rights Watch’s Nigeria researcher, Mausi Segun, called for the new military chiefs appointed by President Buhari to immediately and publicly signal support for the president’s commitment to upholding human rights in military operations as well as to ensure the country acts on its obligations under international humanitarian law.


South Sudan:

The government of South Sudan’s Unity State expelled an UNMISS official, Mary Cummins, in retaliation over the UN’s report on human rights abuses committed by the government; however, the South Sudanese government later said that she would not be expelled, stating that the Unity State’s administration has no constitutional ability to expel UN officials.

The East African mediation group “IGAD” announced a new deadline, August 10th, for President Salva Kiirr and rebel leader Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement. “IGAD-Plus”, which includes IGAD  as well as the US, UK, Norway, China, the EU and the UN, are set to meet on July 10th to draft a peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ban Ki-moon called for President Salva Kiir  and Riek Machar, the SPLM–IO leader and former vice president, to  agree on a political solution and “make true to their promises to protect their people.”

The AU may release the Commission of Inquiry report on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the civil war later this month. The report will be discussed at the AU ministerial level meeting on July 24th.


Sudan/Darfur:

The UN Security Council renewed the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for an additional five months. The Blue Nile Centre for Human Rights and Peace Studies accused the Sudanese government of forcibly displacing people in Blue Nile state.

The leaders of the Berti and Ziyadiya warring tribes in North Darfur signed a cessation of hostilities agreement. Clashes between the Rizeigat and Habaniya peoples in South Darfur resulted in the deaths of over 170 people on Tuesday.

The government of the United Kingdom was accused of human rights abuse complicity by providing military support and training to the government of Sudan.


Syria:

Syrian government helicopters bombed Aleppo with over 4 barrel bombs and missiles, killing at least 22 civilians. The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met with the opposition leaders of the Southern Front alliance for the first time. The UN Security Council is expected to vote next week on the creation of a panel to investigate the use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria.


Yemen:

The cease-fire brokered by the UN to pause fighting for the rest of Ramadan failed, as fighting continued between Houthi rebels and rival militias and a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led airstrikes drove the Houthi rebels out of the city of Aden over the few days and Ministers from Yemen’s exiled government, previously forced out by the rebels in March, returned to the city on Thursday with the intent of reviving the country’s institutions.


What else is new?

Listen to the ICRtoP’s Senior Program Officer, Megan Schmidt, and the Security and International Relations Programme Director at the University of Westminster Aidan Hehir, in an interview with the Monocle’s Foreign Desk discussing the progression of the Responsibility to Protect norm.


 

 

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