Preventing Future Atrocities in Palestine
The following is an excerpt from the latest ICRtoP Press Release. To read the full version, click here.
Both Israel and the State of Palestine must hold those responsible for the potential war crimes accountable if the devastating effects of another Gaza war are to be avoided, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) said today.
“Civilians have paid a deadly cost for the multiple bouts of conflict in Palestine over the past few years,” said Don Deya, chair of the ICRtoP. “If no one is held accountable for the damage they have inflicted, Israel and Hamas will continue to commit war crimes and we could be looking at another Operation Protective Edge, Cast Lead, or Pillar of Defense in the immediate future.”
The UN’s Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza conflict found evidence that both Israel and Hamas had committed serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through indiscriminate targeting of civilians—violations which may amount to war crimes. The Commission found that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented”, with 2,251 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed and 11,231 Palestinians and 1,620 Israelis injured. The report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, 29 June.
In response to the report, the international community must take all possible measures to ensure accountability for these potential war crimes. Furthermore, actors, in order to fulfill their RtoP, must exert pressure on the parties involved to address the underlying sources of conflict that have mired these populations in misery for decades.
“Recent events show that commissions of inquiry, humanitarian relief, and reconstruction will only take us so far,” said Fadi Abi Allam of the Middle Eastern civil society organization and ICRtoP Member Permanent Peace Movement. “To prevent future war crimes, Israel, Palestine, and the international community have to address the root causes of the recurring violence, including Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its settlements.”
Catch up on developments in…
Central African Republic
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The presently stalled peace negotiations between rebel groups and the Myanmar government, which have been taking place over the past year with aims at reaching a “nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA)” are in danger of being pushed back another year. There is growing concern that if the NCA is not signed within the next two months, the talks will come to a halt due to Myanmar’s presidential election in August.
Various Manawatu ethnic groups held a vigil in Palmerston North, to protest the persecution of the Rohingya in the Rakhine State, speaking out “to stop the Burmese oppressive regime from committing further crimes against humanity…to stop this genocide.” The Coalition for Caring for Rohingya, a rights group based in Aceh, Indonesia, launched a petition for the Indonesian government to take actions against the Myanmar government for the maltreatment of the Rohingya. ASEAN countries set up a humanitarian fund for Rohingya refugees, for which Singapore already pledged $200k. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Pakistan submitted draft resolution (A/HRC/29/L.30) to the UN Human Rights Council on plight of the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar, which will be voted on 3 July. However, the Asian Centre for Human Rights stated that the draft resolution is missing key issues on the Rohingya crisis and contains faulty information.
Burundi held parliamentary elections on Monday, 29 June with reports of “thin crowds” as many stayed home in fear of violence or in support of the boycott organized by the opposition. As many as three polling stations were attacked in Bujumbura with grenades and gunfire. The UN reported that over 10,000 people fled Burundi last weekend alone before Burundi closed its border to stem the flood. The total number of refugees now tops 144,000. The U.S. stated last Friday that it had suspended technical assistance to the National Electoral Commission, while the AU announced it would not be monitoring the vote, as “the necessary conditions are not met for the organization of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.” The UN’s Electoral Mission Observer (MENUB) remained the only international observation team within the country, though they underscored that their presence “should not be interpreted as being in support of any parties, nor as a validation of the process.”
As Burundi awaits the results of the vote, gun battles in Cibitoke killed six, though conflicting stories are emerging about the clashes. Police claim they were combatting an “armed group” while others claimed the police summarily executed civilians after being attacked. Members of the press complained that media channels were blocked to Cibitoke as news of the violence began to surface.
Central African Republic:
The CAR began voter registration for the upcoming elections set to take place in October.The elections face numerous challenges, including registering displaced persons and refugees, financing and security. The French Defense Ministry announced that they would be sending another 900 troops to the CAR to support Operation Sangris and MINUSCA.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) arbitrarily arrested and deported thousands of Democratic Republic of the Congo nationals under “Operation Mbata ya Bakolo” between April and September of 2014. Amnesty International documented a range of human rights violations during this period that could amount to crimes against humanity and called for the Republic of Congo to halt the new phase of the operation, which is has been targeting West African nationals in Pointe-Noire since 14 May 2015.
The UN Human Rights Council’s meeting on the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 conflict in Gaza took place on Monday. Representatives of Palestine were present to express their concerns but Israel was not in attendance. However, both Palestine and Israel promised to complete internal investigations of the alleged war crimes documented in the report.
The Islamic State is reportedly slowing gaining influence over extremists in Gaza, who are trying to undermine the Hamas government. The emergence of extremists in Gaza also indicates Hamas’s weakening governance amid a severe financial crisis and strict border control. UNRWA announced that reconstruction of the buildings destroyed during the 50 day war last summer, will begin immediately. However, most of the pledged funding has yet to be received and construction will continue to be a challenge, due to Israel’s limits on construction materials entering Gaza.
UNICEF warned that the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq could reach 10 million by the end of the year and that children are the most affected by the continued and sustained violence over the years. There has been a 75% increase in violence against children including killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment as soldiers, attacks on schools, and denials of humanitarian access.
On Monday, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Libya announced that an agreement on the majority of the draft power-sharing agreement had been reached among the parties to the conflict; and expressed hope that the agreement would be finalized on Thursday pending the discussions of the final two or three issues. However, on Wednesday the new draft of the peace proposal was rejected by rebel forces, in defiance of the UN warnings that sanctions will be imposed on those who undermine the successful political transition.
UNHCR reported that the number of IDPs in Libya doubled since September from an estimate of 230,000 to more than 434,000.
The UNSC passed a resolution renewing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for one year. This week there was yet another attack on a MINUSMA convoy near Goundam, which killed five and wounded six.
Ansar Dine and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Mali (PMLM) claimed responsibility for recent attacks over the weekend in Southern Mali on public and police buildings and a military camp. Ansar Dine warned of their plans to “multiply the attacks in Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania” while PMLM stated that their reasoning for the attack was for “regime change in Mali.”
An estimated 97 people were shot dead, in a suspected Boko Haram attack, on Wednesday night in the Borno State. Female escapees from Boko Haram discussed their horrific experiences: brainwashing, beatings, rape, and constant terror and the challenges in returning home to communities that stigmatize girls who have been abducted.
President Buhari of Nigeria appointed Amina Bala Zakari to head up the National Electoral Commission, which is the first time that a woman has served as a Chairperson. However, Buhari reportedly is delaying appointing ministers until September in an effort to ensure his anti-corruption efforts take hold in the government.
IGAD put forth a draft proposal that would include a security and power-sharing formula.The deal would allocate a vice-presidential spot to the rebels, integrate the armies within 18 months, and establish a truth and reconciliation commission and hybrid court.
According to a UN report, South Sudan’s Army (SPLA) has been accused of raping and burning girls alive in their homes along with other widespread atrocities. However, the UN has been routinely denied access to the alleged atrocity sites by SPLA. An UNMISS base in Malakal sheltering thousands of civilians was attacked by rebel forces. The UN Security Council added three South Sudanese military commanders and three rebel leaders to the sanctions list, though Kiir and Machar were not among the names. The Troika countries and the European Union submitted a draft resolution to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor human rights abuses in South Sudan.
The number of attacks on civilians has steadily been increasing over the past few months in South Kordofan. The Sudan Consortium reports that over 7000 civilians were displaced and 347 homes were destroyed in 65 attacks by rebel forces (SPLM-N) in the month of May.The Sudanese government continues to censor the free press, shutting down its 75th newspaper in 2015. The National Liberation and Justice Party (NLJP) opposition group resumed participation in the Sudanese government after leaving previously because the government wouldn’t appoint their leaders in ministerial positions. It is believed that NLJP and the Sudanese government met late last week to discuss the new terms of their political participation.
The UN Security Council unanimously voted for a one year extension on the UNAMID mandate despite Sudan’s call for UNAMID to leave. The ICC Prosecutor called on the UN Security Council to take action to ensure justice for victims in Darfur amidst frustration surrounding the ICC’s failed attempt to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.The World Food Program and International Organization for Migration signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation and capacity in order to reach IDPs and other victims in Darfur and other regions of Sudan.
The US confirmed their plans to arm and train “moderate Syrian opposition rebels” to fight against the Islamic State. The program is funded for $500 million and would train 5,400 opposition fighters a year for 3 years.
Turkey’s security cabinet met on Monday to discuss the possibility of sending troops into Syria as early as this coming week, with the ultimate goal of preventing the establishment of a Kurdish state. On Wednesday, Turkish forces deployed military reinforcement, including troops and armored vehicles, to the state of Keles, bordering Syria, after Kurdish forces (supported by US aerial forces) took the city of Tel Abyad from IS.
Jordan is preparing to establish a security zone in southern Syria to prevent IS or another jihadi movement from declaring victory in the area.
The UN held an Arria-formula meeting where civil society organizations briefed members of the Security Council on the devastating effects of the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian government on civilians. The current figures of the Syrian conflict stand at over 220,000 killed, more than a million injured, an estimated 7.6 million displaced inside the country, and over 4 million refugees. Amid funding shortfalls, the World Food Program is forced to make food aid cuts to Syria refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.
The UN Human Rights Council urged Ukraine to ratify the Rome statute in order for the International Criminal Court to have jurisdiction to investigate the human rights abuses on all sides of the Ukrainian conflict.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the airstrike attacks from the Arab-led coalition who has been carrying out attacks on the Houthi rebels, which resulted in serious structural damage and one casualty on 28 June 2015. In a statement he expressed, “International humanitarian law requires protection by all parties of civilians and civilian facilities, including UN staff and UN premises. The inviolability of UN premises and the important work of all United Nations staff must be respected at all times.”
Amnesty International, in an airstrike and weapon analysis, reported that the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen do not abide by international law and, due to their indiscriminate nature, result in civilian deaths, injuries, and destruction of homes.
What else is new?
The ICRtoP has created a new “Government Statements” resource for its members, partners and the public. Click on the link to find statements made by each government on RtoP, from 2005 to present.