Statement on the Release of the High-Level Independent Panel Report on Peace Operations
The following is an excerpt from the latest ICRtoP Statement on the release of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations ahead of the UN Security Council’s and the General Assembly’s deliberations on the report.
The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) welcomes the release of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations report, an assessment requested by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General designed to identify the current state of UN peacekeeping operations and emerging future needs.
As evidenced by the crises in Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Darfur—to name but a few examples—peacekeepers are often deployed into situations in which atrocities have already been committed or there is a significant risk to populations, and correspondingly the vast majority of modern peacekeeping missions have a mandate to protect civilians. While civilian protection mandates extend beyond the prevention of atrocity crimes, peacekeeping operations serve a vital function in assisting states and the international community to uphold the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing (often referred to as “atrocity crimes”).
Accordingly, the Panel reiterated that the protection of civilians is a core obligation of the United Nations. Despite such a reaffirmation and the increasing prevalence of protection of civilian mandates, more populations are vulnerable to atrocity crimes than ever before. In this regard, the ICRtoP hopes that Member States will consider the following as the UN Security Council and General Assembly deliberate on the Panel’s Recommendations.
When populations are emerging from, are at risk of, or experiencing atrocities, UN peacekeepers are often the only actors to whom they can turn for protection. It is therefore crucial that the Security Council and General Assembly accept and clarify the recommendations made by the High-Level Panel—and, more importantly—strive to implement them in practice. Ultimately, the United Nations, its Membership, and its peacekeepers will not be judged by their resolutions or recommendations, but on their ability to fulfill their most solemn of commitments—that of protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.
Read the full statement here.
Catch up on development’s in…
Central African Republic
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
A group of influential Buddhist monks, the Ma Ba Tha, called on the government of Myannmar to ban Muslim students from wearing the burqa in schools. They also demanded a ban of the Muslim Eid holiday practice of “killing of innocent animals.”
Four people were killed and an additional 30 people were wounded after a wave of grenade attacks in President Pierre Nkurunziza’s hometown of Ngozi on Sunday night ahead of key parliamentary elections. Since protests began in April, 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded. The Burundi government claims efforts are being made with their own “DDR experts” in disarming civilians. One of Burundi’s Vice Presidents, Gervais Rufyikiri, has fled the country after opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term and claiming he was threatened by those in the ruling party. Journalists in Burundi are utilizing creative ways to get around the closure of public radio and many are now using “Soundcloud” to broadcast their emissions.
The EU threatened sanctions against those involved in the political violence that has shaken the country since the end of April. Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, arrived in Bujumbura “to offer support of regional efforts to reduce tensions and help Burundians peacefully settle their differences.”
The political dialogue in Burundi resumed on Tuesday, facilitated by the African Union, the East African Community, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and the United Nations. All participants from the previous dialogue attended the meetings, except for the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD. President Nkurunziza, the leader the CNDD-FDD, announcedTuesday that the ruling party is boycotting the peace talks. On Wednesday, the Minister of the Interior represented the Burundian Government at the meeting; although, he reportedlynearly walked out when the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD was described as a militia.
Central African Republic:
CAR’s presidential elections have been set to take place 18 October of this year.The EUpledged $350 million to the CAR to support “political integration and cooperation in peace and security, regional economic integration and trade, and the sustainable development of natural resources and biodiversity.”
The UN issued a statement on the formation of a panel to review the role of the UN and its response regarding allegations of sexual abuse and “other serious crimes” against children in the CAR. Days later, another report of sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel in the CAR emerged, making a total of three such abuse allegations in recent months.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The current situation in Burundi has resulted in the daily crossing of refugees into the DRC. New arrivals are being hosted by Burundians who came in 2010, while others stay in makeshift shelters waiting to be transferred to a new camp.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:
As recommended by the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, openeda new UN office in Seoul to work on the human rights situation in the DPRK on Monday. On Tuesday, however, the DPRK government protested against the opening of the UN Human Rights office, issuing a statement through a foreign ministry spokesman that read, “The DPRK will decisively foil the reckless ‘human rights’ racket against the DPRK through resolute toughest counteractions.”
The independent UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict released its report, finding that war crimes were potentially committed by both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups.
Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council’s consideration of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 conflict in Gaza on 29 July 2015, the ICRtoP issued a press release entitled “Preventing Future Atrocities in Palestine.”
The US military and coalition launched a series of airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq. The 22 airstrikes in Iraq, were approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. NATO announced a plan to re-engage with Iraq to fight IS after leaving the country four years ago.
Guinea’s opposition leader for the upcoming presidential election, Cellou Dalein Diallo,announced a political alliance with ousted former Junta Chief Moussa Dadis Camara. Under Dadis Camara’s rule in 2009, Guinean government forces opened fire on peaceful protesters in a stadium in the capital of Conakry, killing at least 150 and wounding 1400 others.
A Kenyan human rights group, Muslim Human Rights, referred to as “Muhuri”, accused the Kenyan government of harassment and the use of anti-terror measures to repress its work. The government put Muhuri on a state list of terror suspects, which also includes Boko Haram, Al Qaida, and the Islamic State. Muhuri and another human rights group, Haki Africa, have accused the government of making arbitrary arrests and carrying out extra-judicial killings.
Libya’s self-proclaimed government in Tripoli carried out airstrikes against IS fighters in Sirte. Meanwhile, the UN is trying to draft a power-sharing agreement deal between Libya’s government and its opposition.
According to the UN, an estimate of 400,000 have been displaced in Libya in post-Gaddafi violence and underfunding is causing many humanitarian agencies to shut down operation.The UN Envoy to Libya met with various armed groups in support of political discussions and Libya’s elected parliamentarians voted to stay in the UN peace talks for power-sharing between its government and the self-declared government in Tripoli, in an effort to end the crisis and bring peace and security to the country.
Mali’s government and the largest Tuareg rebel group, Coordination of Azawad Movements(CMA), officially signed a peace agreement Saturday 20 June. The agreement allows the Tuareg North to have more autonomy from the Southern capital. After the agreement was signed, the UN envoy encouraged donors to offer a “peace dividend” or emergency fund to provide water, electricity, and education to citizens in order to demonstrate “good faith” and help stabilize the country.
The UN said that UN peacekeepers in Mali will face justice in their respective home countries after shooting protesters illegally. The incident occurred on January 27th in Gao when several UN officers fired with “unauthorized and excessive force” on protesters during peace negotiations.
The Malian government asked the UN to extend its peacekeeping mandate to help combat the issue of drug trafficking claiming that drug trafficking helps to fund rebel groups across Mali and helps continue the violence.
Nigeria continues to be hit by Boko Haram attacks: two young women completed suicide bombs by a crowded mosque in Maiduguri killing 30, followed by another girl of 12 who tookher life and 20 others in a market in the Yorbe state. Nigeria’s President Buhari announcedthat the Nigerian treasury is “virtually empty” due to mismanagement and corruption. The news of the treasury comes after Nigeria has pledged millions to its Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram and raises questions about Nigeria’s ability to maintain economic stability and contribute.The EU provided 21 billion Euros to support victims and displaced persons impacted by Boko Haram. The funds will be used to provide mostly humanitarian support and relief with a special focus on combating malnutrition in the region.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the UN camp in Juba have accused government soldiers of openly attacking them, leading to five IDPs seriously wounded. UNMISS spokesperson confirms the attack and is investigating the incident; however, UN personnel found no armed groups when they were dispatched to the scene. UNICEF called for the end of violence against children in South Sudan in which castration of boys and gang rapes of girls as well as murders have been reported. The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and partners pledged USD 275 million to support IDPs and refugees in South Sudan. IGAD also called for negotiations for peace between parties in conflict. The SPLM-IO rebels (the opposition faction of the SPLM) announced their support for the Arusha reunification process, but called for it not to be held in Juba due to the ongoing violence there. South Sudanese academics in the US called for President Salva Kiir and militia leader Riek Machar to be barred from new political processes citing the need to move away from ethnically aligned parties.
The Sudanese Air Force allegedly conducted an air raid in Fanga, Darfur, dropping nine bombs. The Sudanese Army is in control of Fanga and reportedly over a dozen civilians have been killed by shelling from Sudanese military forces.The AU extended the UNAMID mandate, with support for the exit strategy, and asked the UN Security Council to do the same.
The South African High Court criticized the South African government for ignoring the court order that prohibited Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir from leaving South Africa during his visit at the AU Summit. The Court requested the public prosecutor to determine if the government had broken the law and warned that, “If the state… does not abide by court orders, the democratic edifice will crumble stone-by-stone until it collapses.”
The Islamic State, disguised in Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) uniforms so they were not feared, reportedly killed dozens in and around the Syrian border city of Kobani. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that at least 20 Syrian Kurds, including women and children, were shot dead in the nearby town of Hasakah around the same time of the Kobani attacks. In a similar instance the Islamic State, disguised as the Free Syrian Army,attacked the town of Kobani. The IS used a suicide bomber to blow up a border crossing with Turkey and shot dead an estimated 20 Syrian Kurds.
The Islamic State was pushed back after the YPG took the town of Ain Issa and its surrounding villages, just 30 miles from the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. The deliberate targeting of civilians by all sides of the conflict however has yet to stop.
UN investigators determined that the daily barrel bombings on Aleppo this year by the Syrian government amount to the war crime of targeting civilians.
United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, conveyed his optimism that the parties in Yemen can reach a humanitarian truce, while a long-term cessation of violence is pursued.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)announced that it will release $25 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in an effort to accelerate aid.
What else is new?
The International Peace Institute released a new report by Dr. Alex Bellamy and Dr. Adam Lupel, entitled “Why We Fail to Prevent Mass Atrocities”, which examines the obstacles to effective prevention efforts and the strategies needed to improve the UN’s ability to respond.
At the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, prosecutors reopened the case against former Bosnian Serb military Chief General Ratko Mladic. They will present new evidence, found after 400 bodies have been recovered from the mass grave in Tomasica, which demonstrates the involvement of Bosnian Serb forces under his command, in the murder of non-Serbs in the country’s 1992-95 war. Mladic is charged with with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and if convicted, the 73-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism and fundamental freedoms, Ben Emmerson, urged the Security Council to take effective action to protect civilians in areas under the control of ISIL during the release of his report (A/HRC/29/51). Specifically he says, “The Security Council has an obligation to act…Given the reports of genocide, all members of the Security Council may now have a specific responsibility to take action to prevent this most serious of international crimes.” He also adds, “The Council has conspicuously failed to either authorize military action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, or to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court.”