Curbing Security Council Vetoes
(Ahead of the launch of the ‘Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes’ at the United Nations today, Fadel Abdul Ghany, Founder and Chairman of ICRtoP member Syrian Network for Human Rights, and William Pace, Executive Director of WFM-Institute for Global Policy, a founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP,wrote the following piece on the ICRtoP blog.)
Since the founding of the United Nations seventy years ago, five states—China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, often referred to as the P5—have wielded a so-called “veto power”. Veto power means that whenever the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—to apply an arms embargo on North Korea, to create a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or authorize sanctions on South Sudan, etc.—these five countries individually have the power to stop the resolution from going forward. A veto scuttles the chances for any collective and legal international action to address situations which concern all of humanity—whether they be a potential future genocide in Myanmar, Kim Jong-un’s terrorization of his population, and recurrent war crimes in Gaza. (…)
Read the rest of the piece here.
Catch up on developments in…
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
According to local civil society groups, clashes between the military and Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) that resumed over the weekend have displaced over 2,700 people. Eighteen human rights organizations urged the Government to halt its army attacks in the Shan State, claiming that they undermine the possibility of a lasting peace agreement.
The government has determined an estimated four million people, out of the 33.5 million population, to be ineligible to vote in the upcoming election. These include the Rohingya, internally displaced persons, and Burmese citizens who do not live in the country.
Amnesty International released a report, “Deadly Journeys- The Refugee and Trafficking Crisis in Southeast Asia”, which reveals the shocking conditions and human rights abuses suffered by the 1,800 mostly Rohingya people that arrived in three boats in Aceh, Indonesia in May 2015.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) expressed grave concern over the spiraling violence, as at least 140 people have been killed in Burundi since post-election violence broke out in April. Almost two dozen deaths occurred in the past two weeks.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council recommended that the AU urgently send troops to Burundi and open investigations into rights abuses as violence worsens. Most recently, the body of a treasurer for the opposition MSD party, Charlotte Umugwaneza, was found near a river outside the capital.
The European Union requested that the Burundi government partake in talks in Brussels to find a solution to the political crisis that has killed more than 120 people and displaced 190,000. The EU, who provides about half of Burundi’s annual budget, has said that further sanctions would be a last resort should talks fail. The EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on four officials close to President Nkurunziza who are accused of excessive force during clashes.
Central African Republic:
Seven United Nations police were ambushed and illegally detained by alleged anti-Balaka armed groups this weekend near the capital. They were released without their equipment or weapons, while another separate incident involved a MINUSCA member being fired upon by unknown armed men.
ICRtoP Member Human Rights Watch reported that after five days of increased sectarian violence in Bangui, at least 31 targeted killings of civilians including on the elderly and a pregnant woman have occurred.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Attacks, suspected to be perpetrated by the ADF, killed six in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Local activists say that more than 500 people have been murdered in overnight massacres sweeping the Beni area in the past twelve months.
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun briefed the UN Security Council at an emergency session last Friday against the backdrop of escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including the violent incident in which a large group of Palestinians set fire to the compound containing the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. Mr Zerihoun said that the UN welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the arson attack and his announcement that a committee has been established to conduct a full investigation into the crime. Also on Friday, Israel deployed more troops to the border with Gaza.
In Gaza, the ruling Palestinian group Hamas has called for Day of Rage demonstrations. In the West Bank, the ‘Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade’, an armed group with affiliations to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah’s party, announced it was breaking a yearlong truce with Israel. Additionally, a Palestinian man wearing a press vest stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron, before being shot dead by Israeli forces. During the demonstrations in Gaza, two Palestinians were killed and at least 100 others injured when Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators.
UNSG Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to the people of Palestine and Israel in a video message urging leaders on both sides to end the “posturing and brinkmanship” and get serious about pursuing the two-state solution. Ban also travelled to the region to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, as well as Israeli and Palestinian victims of these recent hostilities. Upon his return, Ban briefed the council on Wednesday.
Mr. Alpha Conde won the election in the first round with 58% of the vote, taking on his second term as president. His main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who denounced the vote as fraudulent last week, received 31% and has called for peaceful protests. Figures released on Friday showed a turnout of 66% of Guinea’s six million registered voters.
Amnesty International reported that Guinean Security forces shot two unarmed people and beat another person to death in the lead up to elections.
Human Rights Watch reported that security forces of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) opened fire on protestors who had gathered to demand jobs, wage payment, and the resignation of Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and head of the KDP, in which five people were killed.
Approximately 70 hostages were freed from ISIL captivity in a joint operation between US and Kurdish military forces in which one US soldier was wounded and later died.
The UN Security Council threatened to impose sanctions on those who blocked the peace deal for Libya. The Council also “urged all Libyan parties to endorse and sign” the political deal and work swiftly to create a unity government. Nevertheless, Libya’s internationally recognized government (HoR) announced that they would not sign the UN proposal for a unity government because of the UN’s refusal to exclude amendments that were added by the rival GNC government without HoR consent. UN Special Representative for Libya Bernardino León declared that the effort towards forming a unity government in Libya would continue despite that some parties had not voted for the UN-backed political agreement.
The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, noted that positive developments were being made in Mali but that the “precarious security situation” remains, which creates an environment where violations of the most fundamental human rights can occur.
Multiple attacks occurred in northeastern Nigeria last Friday including 4 suicide attacks by women who set off explosives, killing at least 18 people, and two bombs that were detonated near a mosque in Maiduguri, killing at least 30 people and wounding 20. On Saturday, two female suicide bombers attacked Dar village, killing at least 11 people. This week, suspected Boko Haram gunmen opened fire on four cars just outside Jingalta village, killing all 20 passengers inside.
With President Muhammadu Buhari’s deadline to rid Nigeria of insurgents approaching in December, the Nigerian Military issued a “Final Warning” to Boko Haram insurgents to desist from acts of terror and turn themselves in.
Riek Machar, the armed opposition leader of the SPLM – IO, condemned a number of unilateral decisions by South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, stating that his decisions were undermining the implementation of the most recent peace agreement that was signed in August. Machar particularly objected to Kiir unilaterally creating 28 states in the region and dissolving structures of the ruling party.
South Sudanese rival parties, led by President Kiir and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, are scheduled to resume negotiations shortly in order to finalize security arrangements of the previously brokered peace deal and discuss its implementation.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) declared that South Sudan is facing serious risk of famine by the end of this year with 30,000 people classified as being in a food security catastrophe.
Sri Lankan Judge Maxwell Paranagama, in the first government inquiry into the atrocities during the civil war, found the allegations that the army committed war crimes during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers to be credible.
The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) declared a six-month cessation of hostilities and declared itself ready to negotiate with the government ahead of scheduled peace talks. The group also encouraged the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to hold an immediate meeting with the Sudanese government to arrange the implementation of the cessation.
The UN announced that the Sudanese government started releasing food rations and other necessary supplies for peacekeepers in the Darfur region, though more than 200 shipping containers have yet to be cleared by Khartoum. Last week, the Sudanese government was accused of withholding essential supplies from UNAMID.
South Africa’s government has asked Khartoum to send a substitute for President Al-Bashir for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled for next December in Johannesburg.
Last Friday, Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, launched new attacks against rebels south of Aleppo, reportedly involving hundreds of troops from Hezbollah and Iran. Tens of thousands of Syrians fled the government offensive within a span of three days.
Over the weekend, an airstrike by unidentified warplanes killed at least 40 ISIL fighters.
OCHA announced that a joint UN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent operation delivered essential medical and humanitarian supplies to 30,000 people in besieged areas.
Activists in Syria reported that ISIL ordered all boys and men aged 14 and above located in Raqqa to register their names and addresses with local police. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian airstrikes have killed dozens of people in the rebel-held Jabal al-Akrad region in Latakia province, including a rebel commander who formerly served in President Bashar Assad’s army. At least 45 people were killed in total, making it one of the deadliest incidents since Russia began its aerial attacks nearly three weeks ago.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, which was his first overseas trip since the civil war broke out in his country in 2011.
The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels have agreed to peace talks in Geneva at the end of October. A Yemeni government spokesman confirmed the talks, but did not confirm whether the Houthis had provided assurances to withdraw from cities or hand over weapons.
An Al Qaeda suicide attack killed 10 Yemeni soldiers in the western city Hodaida on Friday. Al Qaeda, ISIL and other Islamist militant groups have gained ground in Yemen in recent months.
Medical sources reported that fourteen civilians were killed and 70 injured by Houthi shelling on neighbourhoods in Taiz. The next day, Yemeni government forces killed at least 20 Houthi fighters. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen stated separately that air strikes on civilian areas of Taiz on Wednesday killed 22 people and wounded 140 others. Elsewhere, coalition planes bombed a small island in the Red Sea close to the port of Midi, reportedly killing 10 civilians.
Afshan Khan, director of UNICEF emergency programs, said more than half a million children in Yemen face life-threatening malnutrition – a three-fold increase since the conflict began in March. Dr. Ahmed Shadoul of the World Health Organization in Yemen appealed to warring parties to guarantee unrestricted humanitarian access to Taiz, where masses of civilians are in critical need of health assistance, water, food and fuel. Dr. Shadoul also declared that $60 million is needed for life-saving response operations in Yemen until the end of 2015.
What else is new?
At least four people were killed when security forces in Congo-Brazzaville opened fire on protesters demonstrating against constitutional change aimed at retaining President Nguesso in power. The next day, security forces in Congo capital fired warning shots and teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters and later arrested and detained 18 opposition activists who had attempted to hold a press conference in the capital.
On Thursday November 19th, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation will host an event to mark the launch of a new publication by Ms. Andrea Gualde, the Auschwitz Institute’s Senior Adviser for Latin America Programs. The publication is entitled “Reparations for Crimes Against Humanity as Public Policy – Argentina’s Relationship with the Past: From the Individual to the Collective as a Tool for Prevention.” The event will take place at 4:00pm-5:30pm – RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 6th