ICRtoP Releases two new educational tools exploring RtoP’s regional relevance in MENA and the Asia-Pacific
The ICRtoP serves as a key resource to increase understanding of the Responsibility to Protect amongst civil society, government and regional organization actors, the UN, and the general public. Our vast range of educational tools has been used by diverse audiences throughout the world and has had a direct impact on strengthening the global awareness of RtoP.
To contribute towards this goal of strengthening awareness of and action on atrocity prevention, the ICRtoP has released two new educational tools exploring the regional relevance of the norm: The Responsibility to Protect in the Middle East and North Africa; and The Responsibility to Protect in the Asia-Pacific.
These documents provide an overview ofRtoP’s relevance to the region in focus, explorin
g the efforts made by regional organizations, anddiscussing relevant country situations. The educational tools also provide examples of the contributions made by civil society to advance the norm.
The ICRtoP will release additional region specific tools focusing on Africa, the Americas, and Europe soon.
View the tools here:
Catch up on developments in…
The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) stated it would not sign an upcoming ceasefire agreement unless all of its nine ethnic member groups were included. The Burmese military has previously stated it will not allow three specific member groups to sign the agreement until they officially disarm, but retracted their statement later this week, noting their desire for peace.
On 28 July, three people were killed in an attack by unidentified armed men on a pub in central Burundi. Two men in the pub were killed as well as one of the attackers after the men, dressed in military uniform, stole telephones and money before opening fire.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 2302 on 29 July to send a police contingent of 228 forces to Burundi for an initial period of one year. The resolution established a police component to monitor human rights violations and the security situation while supporting the OHCHR office.
The next day, protests erupted in the capital of Bujumbura against the UN decision. Around 1,000 protesters marched peacefully towards the French embassy, critical of France’s role in drafting the adopted resolution. The government of Burundi has previously stated that it will only accept up to 50 unarmed UN police. However, on 2 August, the Burundi government rejected any UN police force presence, saying it is unnecessary and violates Burundi’s sovereignty.
Democratic Republic of Congo:
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters organized a rally in Kinshasa on Sunday following the return of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi last week after spending two years in Belgium for medical reasons. Supporters of the opposition are demanding that elections be held on schedule in November and President Joseph Kabila step down at the end of the year. Amnesty International called on DRC security forces to show restraint in handling the Kinshasa protests in light of recent violence used against protesters.
Six years after the mass rape of over 300 civilians in the Walikale region of the DRC, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, called for accountability and justice for the victims of one of the worst mass rapes in recent history. “To all the victims in Walikale and beyond, we say: justice may have been delayed, but it should not be denied,” stated Bangura.
On Tuesday, an opposition supporter wearing a tshirt with an image of political leader Etienne Tshisekedi was shot dead by a DRC soldier. The incident sparked clashes between police forces and the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) supporters.
On Thursday, AFP revealed that Mohammed Halabi, the head of World Vision, had been diverting millions of dollars worth of foreign aid to Hamas. This was discovered by Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security organ, Israel is therefore charging the director of the U.S.-based Christian NGO for diverting an estimated 60% of World Vision’s annual budget since 2010.
On Sunday, two separate attacks by ISIL in Iraq’s oil-rich region of Kirkuk killed five people and damaged oil facilities.
On 1 August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein publicly stressed his and the UN’s concern over the fact that Iraq has created a special committee to fast-track the carrying out of death sentences. Underlying his concern, Mr. Hussein noted both the relative fragility of the Iraqi system as well as the role executions could play in deepening sectarian tensions and disillusionment with the government.
On 1 August, the UN released its figures on violence in Iraq for the month of July, stating that at least 760 people died in the month of July from acts of terrorism and violence. Civilians accounted for 629 of the dead.
After Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi testified in front of the Iraqi Parliament on Monday, where he accused several members of Parliament, including the Speaker, of corruption and attempting to bribe him, Prime Minister Abadi issued travel bans for several of the lawmakers implicated. Meanwhile, the head of Iraq’s public prosecution has filed complaints against all those members of parliament accused by the Defense Minister.
The US-led international anti-ISIL coalition, on Wednesday, launched airstrikes destroying a former palace of Saddam Hussein’s which had been the headquarters and training centre for foreign ISIL recruits in Mosul since 2014.
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights has reported that ISIL has kidnapped 1,900 Iraqi civilians as they attempted to flee the Hawija district in Kirkuk province.
On the second anniversary of the start of ISIL’s genocide against the Yazidi minority, the UN has warned the world that the genocide in still ongoing, with 3,200 women and children still being held as captives by the group. ICRtoP member, the Global Centre for R2P, released a statement marking the second anniversary, in which the organization called for accountability for the commission of atrocity crimes.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta requested that France support Kenya in securing stability and peace in the region, particularly in South Sudan, Somalia and Burundi. The President voiced his concern surrounding the withdrawal of the EU’s support to AMISOM and the security of Somalia, which shares a border with Kenya. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault responded by expressing his support and concern for security in the region.
On 31 July, it was reported that over 120 bodies washed up on Sabratha shores in western Libya. The victims were predominantly identified as sub-Saharan Africans and some Tunisians who perished whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that the US had conducted a series of airstrikes in Sirte, on Libya’s mediterranean coast. According to an administration official, the airstrikes were approved by President Obama last week and belong to a coordinated military campaign against ISIL.
Tuesday was the second day of U.S. airstrikes against ISIL in Libya. President Obama has called the military action critical to protecting U.S. security interests.
On Wednesday, Col. Miloud Zwai, a Libyan army spokesman reported that at least 18 Libyan soldiers had been killed and 20 more injured in a car bomb in Benghazi. The attack was claimed by the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
On Thursday, the EU announced its decision to extend its civilian mission in Libya by a year, approving a $18.92 million budget to the assignment that is set to last until August 2017.
Over the weekend six people died in clashes between a coalition of Tuareg rebels, the Coordination of Azawad Movements, and a Tuareg group, GATIA, allied with the government of Mali. Seperately, two Malian soldiers died when their vehicle ran over an IED, suspected to be planted by al- Qaeda.
On 31 July, the Malian government extended the state of emergency in the country for an additional eight months. The extension, until 29 March, 2017, is in response to renewed violence in the country’s northeast which recently saw Tuareg fighters storming an army base, killing seventeen. On the same day, a Malian army Captain died after being being ambushed by four gunmen outside of his home. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has taken responsibility for the attack.
The Follow-up Committee for the Mali Peace and Reconciliation Agreement has announced that joint patrols will begin on 15 August 2016 in Gao, to be followed up by further joint patrols planned for Timbuktu and Kidal. The first battalion will consist of 600 officers and will consist of members of the Malian army and the ex-rebels of the Coordination of Azawad Movements group. Furthermore, the Committee said they had reached consensus on eight possible cantonment sites ready to begin receiving fighters on the same day.
A public inquiry found the Nigerian Army killed 347 Shia Muslims in an attack last December known as the Zaria massacre. A mass grave of the hundreds of bodies was found, prompting calls by groups such as Amnesty International for the Nigerian government to take immediate action. The Army is also accused of shooting prominent Shia leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been held in custody since December.
On Wednesday, Boko Haram announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi as its new leader in an Islamic State magazine. However, former leader Abubakar Shekau denounced the claim and accused al-Barnawi of staging a coup against him.
The UN has temporarily suspended aid delivery in Nigeria after an attack on a multi-agency aid convoy on 28 July. The attack by unknown assailants left one aid worker injured. Despite the temporary halt, UNICEF is scaling up its humanitarian assistance efforts to reach the 244,000 malnourished children in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state.
Developments in the Fighting
The past weekend saw renewed fighting between the SPLA and members of the SPLM-IO still loyal to former First Vice President Machar in Nasir town, Upper Nile state, leaving nine dead.
After a week of clashes with members of the SPLM-IO, the SPLA has withdrawn from the county of Ngo-Bagari in Western Bahr el Ghazal state. The SPLM-IO in the region remains loyal to the recently deposed First Vice President Riek Machar.
On Tuesday, both the SPLA and SPLM-IO laid blame on the other for renewed fighting between the two in the Leer County of Unity State. The same day, the SPLM-IO announced that they had forced the SPLA, loyal to Pres. Kiir, from all of their positions outside of Juba, only waiting on orders to enter the capital. The SPLA has denied the claims, instead stating that there have only been minor skirmishes over the past several days.
On 31 July, over thirty soldiers as well as three generals of the SPLM-IO defected to the South Sudanese government, recognizing Taban Deng Gai as both the country’s First Vice President as well as the leader of the SPLM-IO.
South Sudan has announced that it will be sending a high-level delegation to the UN to garner new support for the country, with the delegation being led by newly appointed First Vice President Taban Deng Gai.
South Sudan’s Agriculture Minister, Lam Akol, resigned from his position this week, calling on President Kiir to step aside and the current government to leave power. Mr. Akol, a powerful opposition figure and leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), in his resignation stated “”There is no more peace agreement to implement in Juba. The only sensible way to oppose this regime, so as to restore genuine peace to our war-torn country, is to organise outside Juba.” Mr, Akol went on to announce he has begun working with other opposition leaders to begin “consolidating” anti-government resistance.
On Tuesday, President Kiir fired six ministers from his government who remain allied to his rival former First Vice President Machar. The positions have been immediately filled by members of a dissenting faction of the SPLM-IO who have rejected Mr. Machar as the continued leader of the group.
On his recent visit to South Sudan, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien warned that the already dire humanitarian situation could deteriorate further in lieu of renewed peace talks and/or continued violence. Mr. O’brien went onto state that close to five million South Sudanese are going hungry on a daily basis.
On 2 August, the UNHCR updated its figures on those fleeing the recent violence in South Sudan, raising the total to 60,000.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has stated that preliminary findings from the UN’s investigation into the recent fighting in South Sudan have concluded that the SPLA engaged in widespread human rights violations during the violence. These violations include the killing of hundreds of civilians, including targeted executions, the rape of at least 100 women, widespread looting, and destruction of property. Mr. Hussein is calling on the UNSC to take action in light of these findings.
This week, the European Union Mission in Khartoum, the UNDP, the UN, the African Union and the UNAMID began their joint Peace and Reconciliation Project. The Project aims to support the Comprehensive Partnerships for building Peace and Reconciliation in Darfur by funding and structurally supporting increased dialogues between tribes and local communities in Darfur in hopes of establishing pacific settlement of disputes.
On 2 August, the African Union stated that peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), the rebel groups in Darfur and the opposition alliance will start on the 8th of August. On that same date, the opposition will sign the Roadmap Agreement for Peace in Sudan.
On 3 August, 200 fighters from the Democratic Justice and Equality Movement (DJEM) arrived in the North Darfur capital of El-Fasher to begin the security arrangement procedure set out in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).
Developments in the Fighting
Al-Nusra, one of the most potent fighting forces against the Assad regime, has officially severed its ties with al-Qaeda after originally starting off as the terrorist organization’s branch in Syria. Al- Nusra will now operate under the moniker of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (“the Levant Conquest Front). The move is believed to be in response to American and Russian plans to begin jointly targeting the group due to their association with al- Qaeda.
An alliance of Syrian rebel groups, including Jabhat Fatah al Sham (formerly al-Nusra) and Ahrar al Sham, have launched an offensive in an attempt to break the siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. The rebels have launched their offensive in the south and west of Aleppo in hopes of both opening a new supply line for rebels in the city as well as cutting off the government’s supply route. The focus has been on the Ramouseh district in south-west Aleppo, which if taken would cut-off government controlled western Aleppo from the outside world. Meanwhile, the UN is pushing for a humanitarian pause to the fighting and hopes to announce a comprehensive plan in the coming days.
Over thirty people died from rebel shelling of government held Western Aleppo over the course of Monday and early Tuesday.
On 1 August, Syrian rebels shot down a Russian helicopter in Idlib province, killing all five on board. The following day, a Syrian rescue service operating in the area claimed that a helicopter dropped containers filled with gas, believed to be chlorine, on the nearby town of Saraqeb, with thirty three people suffering from its effects, while unrelated Russian airstrikes in Idlib allegedly killed 15 people and injured a further thirty.
The US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) are now in control of over 70% of the city of Manbij, after having pushed ISIL out of most of the western, eastern and southern portions of the city.
Over the weekend, the U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy E. Ramzy flew into Damascus to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moulem to discuss how to budge the stalled peace process in Geneva. The UN is attempting to have the talks restarted by the end of August.
The Chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, has admitted he is not sure whether or not Syria can or will remain one country. US Sec. of State John Kerry has previously mentioned a possible “Plan B” for Syria, which would see Syria be partitioned if a ceasefire could not take hold.
On 1 August, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released its death toll report for the month of July. The SNHR tallied the deaths of 1,557 civilians in the month of July at the hands of the main combatants in the conflict. 769 of the civilians died due to the government, with Russian forces allegedly being responsible for the deaths of 239 civilians. The report also noted that for the month of July, nine children died a day on average in the conflict.
On Wednesday, the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) stated that in the past week alone that the Syrian government has launched airstrikes against six different hospitals in Aleppo, calling it the single worst week for attacks on medical facilities in Syria’s civil war.
On Sunday, seven Saudi border guards were killed in clashes with Yemeni militants at the border with the war-torn country. The guards were fighting to stop attempts by the militants to cross the border into Najran, Saudi Arabia. Coalition aircrafts also helped to repel the attack.
On Sunday, Houthi rebels attacked government forces in Shabwa, a southern province, killing 42. The conflict continued until Tuesday as government forces tried to repel the fighters with air support provided by the Saudi-led coalition.
On Monday, the Yemeni delegation walked out of peace talks being held in Kuwait. This occurred after the Houthi’s rejected the peace plan, labelling it ‘incomplete.’ The return of the Yemeni delegation is contingent on whether the rebels will agree to a UN deal. Before leaving Kuwait, Minister Mikhlafi told reporters that they would ‘return any minute…if the other side agrees to sign’ and has given the Houthis an August 8 deadline to approve the deal.
On 1 August, Saudi Arabia’s civil Defence spokesman in Jizan has stated that four members of a family were killed by a missile from Yemen.
The next day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced his concern for the children of Yemen at a Security Council debate on children and armed conflict. He restated his support for the claim that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60% of child deaths and casualties in 2016, with the Houthi rebel group responsible for the remainder.
In addition to this, at least six soldiers were killed in a double car bombing at an army base of troops loyal to President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, in Habilayn, Lahj province.
What else is new?
Former leader of Chad, Hissene Habre, has been ordered to pay millions of dollars to victims in compensation. Convicted in May of this year of crimes against humanity, the decision of the special African Union court will likely impact 4,700 victims and relatives of those affected by Habre’s crimes.