RtoP Weekly: 19-22 May 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Read the full press release here.

Catch up on developments in…

Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
South Sudan


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

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

Central African Republic:

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

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

What else is new?

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

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

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

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

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