Thematic Panel Discussion on RtoP within UN General Assembly
Today at 10 a.m. EST, the President of the UN General Assembly is convening a thematic panel discussion entitled ““From Commitment to Implementation: Ten Years of the Responsibility to Protect”. The event is intended to mark the beginning of the second decade of the Responsibility to Protect and provide a space for the sharing of ideas on how to accelerate implementation of the norm.
Remember to check RtoP Weekly next week for a complete analysis of the event.
Catch up on developments in…
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A new report from the UNCHR office in Southeast Asia states that approximately 2,000 people, mostly Rohingya, have died when trying to cross the Bay of Bengal since 2012.
Amnesty International released an annual report on Burma. According to the report, there is persistent discrimination and violence against Muslims, particularly the Rohingya. The government has failed to recognize discrimination and violence, which are grounded on “national, racial and religious hatred.” Authorities have also increased the number of civilian arrests and detentions, particularly among student protesters and members of the media.
After clashes erupted between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Taaung National Liberation Army (TNLA), violating the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed on 15 October 2015, the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee announced that the government, eight signatory ethnic armed groups, and civil society have agreed to seek ways to prevent future confrontations. The military further declared that it would intervene in the skirmish between the TNLA and RCSS in northern Shan state.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Burundi this week. During his visit, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would release 1,200 people incarcerated during months of protest. Nkurunziza further promised that he would participate in inclusivedialogue with opposition parties.
HRW released a report entitled “Burundi: Abductions, KIllings, Spread Fear,” revealing that the Burundian government has systematically suppressed opposition parties by “killing, abducting, torturing, and arbitrarily arresting.”
Central African Republic:
Faustin-Archange Touadera has officially been named president of the Central African Republic. While the win still needs to be approved by the CAR’s constitutional court, polls indicate that Touadera received 63% of the vote. Touadera’s campaign director said that the new president-elect plans to focus on peace and the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration, and repatriation programme (DDRR) and the restructuring of the armed forces.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the peaceful completion of the presidential election in CAR. Ban congratulated Mr. Touadera and thanked Mr. Dologuele for his statesmanship in his concession speech. The Secretary-General has also called on the Transitional Authorities to hold the next round of legislative elections in a timely manner.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Authorities arrested six pro-democracy activists in the opposition Tuesday during a “stay-at-home” strike held to pressure President Kabila to step-down as soon as his term ends in December. MONUSCO sources indicated that the activists “were charged on five counts, including association with wrongdoers, disturbing public order and incitement to tribal hatred.”
Recent negotiations concerning the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas do not seem as promising as the initial ones were. Hamas has stated not wanting war with Israel but that it is prepared to defend itself if necessary.
Israel is detaining 420 individuals under the age of 18, with some detainees being as young as 11. Since October, the number of imprisoned youths has increased by 60%, with the most common charge being throwing stones at IDF vehicles. Pre-trial detention can, under Israeli law, last for up to a year and sentences, in cases where an israeli soldier was injured, can last up to 15 years.
Bombs planted by ISIL are making it nearly impossible for displaced persons to return to Ramadi, the city which was recaptured from the terrorist group by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces two months ago. Officials from the UN mission in Iraq stated that eight people have been killed by unexploded bombs in the last two weeks alone.
The US and coalition forces are continuing to attack ISIL in Iraq and Syria, including by carrying out 22 strikes against the extremist group on 24 February alone.
Islamist militants have lost major territories to fighters loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, head of the armed forces of the Tobruk parliament, in the city of Benghazi. The forces are reported to have cut off a key weapons supply line and re-taken the port and a hospital. These gains could perhaps give General Haftar and his political backers a stronger position in the country’s political negotiations, as it means the military forces of the eastern and western parts of the country now have almost equal territorial control. On the other hand, there is speculation that the advances could hurt the country’s political negotiations’ chances of success, as many western politicians and militiamen are strongly opposed to General Haftar.
Around one million people in Libya could soon be in urgent and dire need of help as the country is currently facing severe shortages of life-saving medications. Only one or two out of around 12 hospitals in Benghazi are still functioning, meaning many patients are not getting proper care.
A majority of members of the House of Representatives have signed a statement declaring their approval for the Presidency Council proposal for the national unity government. Afterwards, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, called for immediate action towards formalizing the approval.
A recent OHCHR report has claimed that the many hundreds of armed groups have committed killings and torture with impunity during the battle for control in Libya. The report suggests that many of these human rights violations could constitute war crimes. Women, children, human rights defenders, and journalists are some of the main targets, withdocumented cases of forced recruitment of children by ISIL. The report recommends disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in order to deal with the proliferation of armed groups and calls on the international community to make sure that the International Criminal Court has the resources it needs to investigate and prosecute these crimes and hold those responsible accountable.
According to Libyan officials, French special forces, alongside British and US troops, have been helping Libyan troops fight ISIL fighters in Benghazi. Other similar teams have been allegedly been operating in Misrata, near Sirte, ISIL’s stronghold in Libya.
Human Rights Watch has reported that military operations in northern Mali, intended to drive out Islamist extremist forces there, have led to Islamic armed groups increasing attacks in the south. Some of these groups include Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Mourabitoun, and the Macina Liberation Movement. These extremist militants continue to kill, rape, and rob civilians at an alarming rate, but the Malian security forces have, in turn, been arbitrarily detaining, torturing, and mistreating those that they have taken into custody. Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) have also allegedly been targeting civilians from the Peuhl and Dogon ethnic groups.
Gunman killed three Malian soldiers and wounded two others in an attack on a checkpoint near the border with Mauritania.
At least 10 people were killed in tribal clashes in what is being called “revenge killings” between members of the Tuaregs over the murder of one tribal elder.
Volker Türk, the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection visited Nigeria last week to review the agency’s emergency operations in the north-eastern region of the country. The insurgency of Boko Haram has internally displaced about 2.2 million people in Nigeria and Türk has called on the country’s authorities “to listen to the IDPs, their aspirations and sense of dignity and safety” referring to the organized returns of people to areas under government control that still could pose a risk to their safety.
Although the UN has urged the Nigerian government to take the concerns of the displaced into consideration, the government with the help of the military has begun forcibly resettling hundreds. Some have even been resettled to the camp where Boko Haram attacks have recently killed dozens of refugees.
Abdulrhaman Bello Dambazau, Nigeria’s Interior Minister, has embarked on a three-day visit to meet with his counterparts in Chad and Cameroon in an effort to reinforce security measures and advance a partnership to strategize on common security threats.
On 25 February, bombs taken from Boko Haram accidentally exploded killing four and wounding at least 20 people including, police officers and nearby school children at a police headquarters in northeastern Nigeria.
A prolonged armed attack at a UN-run IDP camp in Malakal killed at least 18 people and left over 90 injured on 17 February. Soldiers in government uniforms entered the UNMISS camp and began “firing on civilians as well as looting and burning tents.”
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), a body designed to monitor implementation of the August 2015 peace deal, announced that 1,370 troops aligned with former rebel leader Riek Machar will be sent to Juba in March. The deployment will be executed in hopes of sustaining a peace accord that was signed in August 2015 by both leaders.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that despite efforts by international organizations and civil society in delivering assistance, the large number of newly displaced persons is proving to be a challenge for the operation. With over 63,000 new IDPs near Sortony, an aid convoy consisting of 11 trucks left El Fasher in order to provide assistance to the most dire area.
A series of suicide bombings near Damascus and in Holms killed over 150 people last weekend. The attacks were claimed by ISIL and left 178 wounded, including a number of children. In one instance, a car bomb and two suicide bombs struck the area around the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, killing 96 people. In another incident in Homs, two car bombings killed 59 people in the area of al-Zahraa, which is known to be pro-government and houses the majority of Alawite Shias in Syria.
The U.S. and Russia announced an agreement on Monday for a partial agreement in Syria in which the Syrian government and the armed opposition were asked to agree to a “cessation of hostilities”–a deal that does not, however, apply to ISIL and the al-Nusra Front. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister also stated that the U.S. and Russia had discussed proposing a new Security Council resolution to accompany the cessation agreement.
The Syrian government officially agreed to the deal on Tuesday following pressure from Washington and Moscow, as well as the conditional acceptance of the deal by the opposition.The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, a group representing a large portion of the Syrian opposition, confirmed on Wednesday that they were ready to accept the terms of the two-week truce. The HNC said that the truce would provide an opportunity to assess the commitment of the U.S. and Russia towards a cessation of hostilities. However, the opposition publicly disagreed with Russia’s role as a guarantor of the truce alongside the U.S. due to Russia’s direct involvement in the conflict.
Meanwhile, the first high-altitude airdrop attempt by the UN to deliver aid to Syria has reportedly failed. Out of 21 aid packages dropped over eastern Syria in the city of Deir al-Zour, 10 went missing, seven landed in inaccessible areas, and four were damaged. The food that was successfully received would be able to feed only 2,500 people for one month.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for an arms embargo to be imposed on Saudi Arabia for its alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. Though not legally binding, the resolution, supporters hoped it would push EU governments to agree to such an embargo.
An airstrike by a Saudi- led coalition killed over 30 people, including 12 children and 10 women.
The UN Security Council extended sanctions against Yemen until 27 February 2016, considering the situation to be a “threat to international peace and security”. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted, includes asset freezes and travel bans as well as an extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts. The council underlined the dangers of the proliferation of weapons and the limitations on the delivery of humanitarian aid.
What else is new?
ICRtoP member Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation will be launching its Training Resource Manual for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention in the Great Lakes Region of Africa on Thursday, March 3, from 5pm – 7pm at the offices of White & Case LLP at 1155 Avenue of the Americas. To RSVP, write email@example.com by February 29th.
Above photo provided courtesy of the UN PGA’s office and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.