Category Archives: RtoP

#RtoPWeekly: 30 September – 4 October

Weekly

This Week in Focus:
Plan of Action on Hate Speech and the RtoP

The 74th session of the UN General Assembly has come to a close, but not without several interesting and notable RtoP-related conversations.

One event entitled, “Confronting Hate and Protecting Rights” was held to discuss the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech. The Plan of Action addresses the root causes and drivers of hate as well as the impact on victims. An interactive panel including UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, who spoke of the ability for hate speech to be an indicator of mass atrocities, and that incitement to violence is included under RtoP. Hate speech and violence against minority groups continues to rise, and recognizing it requires accurate monitoring and identification, so the necessary actors can understand which communities are vulnerable, as well as the types of threats and its sources. Panelists spoke of the need for honest reporting on hate speech to increase its visibility, but noted that today’s hate speech is spread through social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook, which is harder to monitor and respond to in a timely manner.

A second event, “A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis” was held by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh, and detailed the plight of the 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Throughout its participation in various events around UNGA, Bangladesh called on the international community to assist them in protecting the Rohingya people within its borders, and reminding the international community of their obligations under Pillar Two of the RtoP, in helping both Bangladesh and Burma to ensure the safe and voluntary return of refugees. The event also outlined the current challenges in the crises, noting that attempts at repatriation have failed due to the mistrust between the Rohingya and the Burmese government, as well as an unwillingness of the Burmese government to address the structural and legal discrimination against the Rohingya, reinstate land rights, freedom of movement, and the right to citizenship, as well as ensuring accountability.

As part of the event, the Attorney General of the Gambia, Ba Tambadou, announced and detailed plans to file a case against Burma at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Mr. Tambadou described the events as “textbook acts calculated to destroy a people,” Adding that though genocide is committed by individuals, who should be held accountable, states also have a responsibility to protect and prevent and the Gambia’s case aims to underscore Burma’s failure to do so.

Rohingya  refugees  exhausted  streaming  off  boats  arriving
(Photo via the World Bank)


What to Watch:

Venezuela: UN Creates Independent Investigative Body (Human Rights Watch)
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution to create an independent fact-finding body to investigate alleged human rights violations in Venezuela since 2014. The body aims to ensure accountability for those who have committed such crimes, which include extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture. The HRC calls upon Venezuelan authorities to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and failure to do so will result in the creation of a full commission of inquiry. The OHCHR body also hopes its work will ensure redress and access to justice for victims.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: The memory of Srebrenica is fading away (Al-Jazeera)
This opinion piece talks of the importance of memorialization in preventing future genocides. As ethnic and religious tensions continue to rise around the world, the author warns of the need for the experiences of survivors to help inform stakeholders’ future decisions. Understanding that what occurred in Srebrenica was not a once-off anomaly, but rather a long process of dehumanization and systematic extermination, is key to future prevention efforts. The danger of the creation of the “other” for political gain used to marginalize religious, ethnic, and minority groups, is evident in the past and current examples of mass atrocities in the world.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Cameroon: Cameroon dialogue starts as Anglophone separatists pull out
Cameroon’s national dialogue began Monday, marking two years since the conflict began, but several separatist leaders pulled out calling for international mediation.

Europe: Mounting Syrian War Crime Cases Raise Hopes For Justice Against A Brutal Regime
Victims of war crimes from Syria continue to file cases in European courts, citing universal jurisdiction.

Philippines: Filming the Philippines’ “War on Drugs”
International Criminal Court Prosecutors requested the submission of the new documentary “On the President’s Orders” to examine alleged government sanctioned crimes in the “war on drugs.”


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#RtoPWeekly 3-6 September

Weekly

This week in focus:

Member States Revisit Commitments to Atrocity Prevention
in the Second UNGA debate on RtoP
 

Hello and welcome back to the RtoP Weekly! A lot happened while we were on break, but we’re looking forward to diving back in and resuming our publication.

On 27 June, the UN General Assembly held its second formal debate on the Responsibility to Protect since 2009. Common themes of the debate included the importance of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Bodies in upholding the RtoP, the importance of accountability mechanisms such as the ICC, IIIM for Syria, among others, and support for UN Plan of Action on Combating Hate Speech. The ICRtoP produced an infographic of the debate, which can be found here.

Ahead of the Formal Debate on the RtoP, the ICRtoP hosted a CSO Roundtable with the UN Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms Karen Smith. This off-the-record event helped to facilitate the channels of communication between civil society and the UN Officeon the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect on the UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report on the RtoP. This year’s Report focused on “Lessons Learned for Prevention,” and looks at state-based approaches to prevention and early action. In this vein, the Report calls upon member states to see actions such as countering hate speech, including women in peace dialogues, and implementing methods of self-review and monitoring as activities that can prevent the future occurrence of atrocities. An ICRtoP summary as well as an infographic on the report are available.

***Please take note that our website is currently under construction. If you need assistance in accessing ICRtoP materials, please contact us at info@responsibilitytoprotect.org***


What to Watch:

Burundi: CoI Presentation Report (OHCHR)

The UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi released its 2019 report, in which they detail that the presented calm within the country is due to underlying state repression of rights, as seen through the government’s removal of foreign NGOs earlier this year. The Commission used the Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes as part of its research methods, and in its press conference stated, “There is no better early warning than our risk analysis which should be carefully considered, if the often repeated commitments to prevention are to have any meaning.” Ahead of the 2020 elections the CoI’s findings continue to keep Burundi as a state at-risk for atrocities.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Cameroon: Separatist Leaders Appeal Conviction
Separatist leaders filed an appeal against the life sentences handed down to them via Military Tribunal last month, which raised serious concerns over rights violations and due process in the country.

Peacekeeping: Analyzing the Co-Evolution of the Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in UN Peace Operations
The RtoP and Peacekeeping are closely linked and complementary – this article explores that normative relationship in practice.

Syria: At Least 98,000 Forcibly Disappeared Persons in Syria Since March 2011
Coalition member, Syrian Network for Human Rights, released several important reports this summer on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances in Syria.

Syria: Syrians Deported by Lebanon Arrested at Home
Lebanon is forcibly returning Syrians and handing them over to state authorities, where several have been detained arbitrarily.

Venezuela: Joint NGO Q&A: Why a United Nations Inquiry Is Needed for Venezuela
11 National and international NGOs called on the UN Human Rights Council to form a Commission of Inquiry on Venezuela.


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The Role of Women and Girls: RtoP and the Development-Humanitarian-Security Nexus

The Role of Women and Girls:
RtoP and the Development-Humanitarian-Security Nexus

Shayna Halliwell

Emerging and protracted crises are causing unprecedented movements of people from their homes and into insecure situations, where they typically experience a lack of access to basic services including education, health, housing and economic opportunities. Development practitioners are now witnessing large-scale funding mechanisms shift their focus to the development-humanitarian-security nexus, with an increased focus on the women and girls who disproportionately experience the effects of forced migration and protracted crises.[1] While the Responsibility to Protect has largely remained a set of principles, not yet enshrined in national or international legal frameworks, many governments are using their international assistance funding to push for development programming that addresses the root causes of conflict to prevent its occurrence. This shift towards the development-humanitarian-security nexus contributes to the normative framework around the Responsibility to Protect by using development funding mechanisms to encourage and assist States in their efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities of all kinds; to build their capacities to protect their populations from the effects of this violence; and to assist those already experiencing conflict.

While the RtoP has been affirmed in several Security Council resolutions, and many governments acknowledge the importance of the norm as indicated through its inclusion in the 2005 General Assembly World Summit Outcome Document,[2] the domestication of the RtoP continues to face challenges. While the RtoP is not evoked explicitly by states in their foreign policies, funding frameworks for international assistance have begun to move towards an understanding that development and humanitarian efforts are inextricably linked to international security concerns. International assistance policies that prioritize the intersection between development, humanitarianism, and security serve the function of putting the RtoP’s principles into action, even if they are not implemented in the ways originally anticipated or imagined.

The G7 Charlevoix Declaration (2018) is an example of this shift, as this communique prioritizes educational opportunities for women and girls, particularly in emergency situations or in fragile states, through the signatories’ development assistance systems. This focus on education is explicitly linked to increasing security in these environments, and the G7 pledged to “ensure commitment to gender equality and prioritize improved access to quality education for girls and women in the early stages of humanitarian response and peacebuilding efforts.”[3] This communique was supported by a funding announcement by Canada, the UK, Germany, the European Union, and Japan, alongside the World Bank, to put $3.8 billion entirely towards girls’ education in conflict and crisis situations.[4] Canada, for example, allocated its $400 million contribution to this fund to its Feminist International Assistance Policy.  This policy is based on the recognition by the Canadian government that “supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world.”[5] As a Project Manager for a large international non-profit that regularly works with the Canadian government, I see firsthand how the ethos behind the Feminist International Assistance Policy now dictates how the Government of Canada decides which projects or interventions to fund. One of the six action areas of the Feminist International Assistance Policy is women’s involvement in peace and security efforts, because “when women are involved in peace and security efforts, solutions are more comprehensive […] This increases community buy-in and offers a better opportunity to address the root causes of conflict.”[6] In the current global context, it is becoming clear that preventing and addressing security issues, particularly atrocities, is absolutely necessary for development projects to be sustainable in any way. The G7 Charlevoix Declaration is a strong indication of this recognition, particularly as it supports women and girls at the nexus of development, humanitarian, and peace and security agendas.

The rates of conflict and displacement of vulnerable groups of people continue to rise,[7] increasing the importance of operationalizing the RtoP. As debates on the RtoP continue, states are putting these principles into action through the ways in which they allocate their funding for development and humanitarian projects. Women and girls are the anchors of these policies that support the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect, because when women and girls are supported and empowered to participate in their communities, they have shown to contribute meaningfully to both conflict prevention and resolution.[8] Large-scale donor investment in women and girls at this development-humanitarian-security nexus simply makes sense for increased and continued peace and security efforts.

 

Shayna Halliwell is currently Senior Manager for Global Partnerships at Right to Play, a Toronto-based NGO working on child protection, education, and empowerment, where she manages international development projects across sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to her work in development, peace and security, she is interested and writes on indigenous and ethnic minority rights. Ms. Halliwell received her Master’s from Columbia University in New York.

Sources
[1] Luck & Bellamy article on ICRtoP blog.
[2] Paragraphs 138-139, http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/world%20summit%20outcome%20doc%202005(1).pdf.[3] https://g7.gc.ca/en/official-documents/charlevoix-declaration-quality-education-girls-adolescent-girls-women-developing-countries/
[4] https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-education-girls-g7-1.4699620
[5] https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/policy-politique.aspx?lang=eng#3
[6] https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/policy-politique.aspx?lang=eng#5.6
[7] https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2018/6/5b222c494/forced-displacement-record-685-million.html
[8] http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security/conflict-prevention-and-resolution

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#RtoPWeekly: 13-17 May

This week in focus:
Gender & Genocide and the Protection of Civilians

Working with the Global Justice Center, the ICRtoP will convene a panel discussion next Wednesday, 22 May, entitled “Gender and Genocide: Engendering analysis for better prevention, accountability, and protection,” as a side event to the UN Security Council Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Conflict.

The event looks to expand upon the Global Justice Center’s white paper, Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, and Obligations under International Law, released in December 2018, focusing on the unique ways women experience and are affected by genocidal violence. By bringing together experts from civil society, academia, and law, the discussion aims to raise awareness around the need for the inclusion of a gendered analysis to illuminate the multi-dimensional nature of atrocity crimes to prevent their occurrence, as a lack of gender-specificity in legal frameworks prevents the international community from effectively preventing and punishing atrocity crimes.

Full information on the event can be found here.

***Please note that we will be pausing RtoP Weekly publication for the time being. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope to be back in your inboxes soon!***


What to Watch:

Sudan: Sudan Talks Collapse Amid Clashes in Khartoum (New York Times)
Talks and negotiations over a transitional government in Sudan stalled on 16 May, in spite of earlier reports that both parties had agreed to a three-year transitional period. The situation deteriorated amidst the negotiations as state forced fired against protestors in an attempt to clear checkpoints in the city. Dialogues between military and civilian leaders in the days preceding seemed to be progressing, albeit slowly, over several rounds of negotiations and ongoing violence between security forces and protesters. Notably, prosecutors officially charged former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for “inciting and participating in” the killing of protesters in the mass demonstrations that led to the end of his regime last month.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: UN Fact-Finding Mission Recommends Suspension of International Dealings with Myanmar’s Military
The head of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urges the international community to end its support of the military following a tour of the country, citing a lack of accountability for actions against the Rohingya.

Cameroon: Hope for western Cameroon as Biya finally talks peace
After several high-profile events, President Biya is reportedly organizing a dialogue to address the conflict in the Anglophone regions.

Health Care in Conflict: Impunity Remains: 2018 Attacks on Health Care in 23 Countries in Conflict
The report notes increasing attacks on humanitarian workers and services in addition to providing recommendations for the UN, states, and other parties to a conflict.

Syria: Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Bashar al-Assad Crushed Dissent
The New York Times published an expose on detainment conditions under the Assad regime including details on torture and enforced disappearances.

Venezuela: Hunger for Justice: Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela
Amnesty International’s new report on rights abuses under Nicolas Maduro’s regime documents systematic and widespread violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

Venezuela: Venezuela peace talks taking place in Oslo: Norwegian media
Peace talks are reportedly taking place in Oslo, Norway between representatives of both Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido.

Yemen: Houthi withdrawal from Yemen ports going according to plan: UN
UN officials report the withdrawal of Houthi forces from Hodeidah is “going to plan.”



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#RtoPWeekly: 6-10 May

Weekly

This week in focus:
Illustrating the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders

Acknowledging the special role leaders of faith can play in preventing atrocities, the UN Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect published the “Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent the Incitement to Violence That Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes.” The 2017 report is the result of a series of consultations with leaders of faith from around the world, and provides recommendations to prevent violence, strengthen relationships between actors their communities, and build more peaceful and inclusive societies. Our infographic summary of the Plan of Action can be found through following the link!

What to Watch:

Cameroon: Routine Torture, Incommunicado Detention UN Security Council Should Condemn Abuses, Demand Reforms (Human Rights Watch)
Coalition Member Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported this week on its latest research in Cameroon, exposing torture and incommunicado detention by state authorities. HRW documented 26 cases of incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance and 14 cases of torture to coerce information or confessions from detainees. In light of these findings, the organization called for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to place the country on its agenda. This week, the United States, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, and Germany announced an Arria-Formula meeting of the UNSC on the Crisis in Cameroon for next week.

Sudan: Protest Leader: Sudan Mediators Propose 2 Transition Councils (Voice of America)
This week the Sudanese military rejected a civilian majority rule in the transitional government, leading to continued protests in Khartoum. Mediators in the situation acknowledged a proposal from the Transitional Military Council (TMC) for a dual-council format, one civilian, one military, as the basis of structure in the transitional government. Military officials also announced their desire to have the new government’s law to be guided by Sharia principles, a proposal the Sudanese Professional Authority (SPA), a leading opposition group, had yet to respond to at the time of writing. In spite of peaceful protests in Khartoum, forces in Darfur continue to commit abuses, where violence remains high from both sides.

But Also Don’t Miss:

Benin: Shots fired as post-election violence grips Benin
Soldiers fired at protesters demonstrating against parliamentary election ballots that did not include opposition candidates, reportedly killing three.

Cote d’Ivoire: UN Review Should Press Government on Justice
The UN Human Rights Council begins its Universal Periodic Review of the country, which activists hope will result in the body pressuring the country to exclude perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity from amnesty.

The Gambia: UNDP Prioritises Supporting Gambia’s Stability
The United Nations Development Program announced it will continue to support stability in the country through its work addressing root causes such as poverty, strengthening institutions, and combating climate change.

Libya: Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in relation to the escalation of violence in and around Tripoli, Libya
ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda briefed the UNSC on the situation in Libya this week. Her previous statement on the crisis can be found through the link above.

Middle East:  Persecution of Christians ‘coming close to genocide’ in Middle East – report
UK Foreign Secretary released a report alleging that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East may possibly amount to genocide.

South Sudan: South Sudan rivals agree to delay forming government
President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar agreed to extending the deadline to form a unity government by six months.

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#R2PWeekly: 2 – 8 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
UN Community Engagement Guidelines Survey

In his last report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for increased engagement with civil society and local communities. In this vein, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) developed system-wide Community-Engagement Guidelines (CEG) this past September in consultation with civil society partners in peacebuilding, particularly at the country-level. As a first step to create comprehensive guidance on multilateral collaboration in building and sustaining peace, the PBSO has launched an online survey to provide feedback. The ICRtoP invites and encourages all its interested civil society partners to complete the survey, which should take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time. Your voices will impact the development of comprehensive practical and useful suggestions for UN engagement within local communities.

To complete the survey, please click here. We encourage you to share it widely within your networks. The deadline for submission is Friday, 15 February.


What to Watch:

Central African Republic (CAR): Q&A: Why new peace talks on CAR really matter (IRIN News)
Najat Rochdi, head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) operation in CAR gave an interview with IRIN news on the importance of inclusive dialogue as the country seeks to end its six-year internal conflict. She sees dialogue and transparency as key elements in the peace process, remaining optimistic that there is a political will behind these negotiations that will keep parties motivated and accountable to its realization. In spite of this, Rochdi warned that CAR continues to remain in a fragile humanitarian state, with nearly two-thirds of the population in need of some sort of assistance, and that a return to sectarian violence would continue pushing the country towards a state of famine.

Mali: Strengthening resilience in Mali (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
The ongoing crisis in Mali has caused tension between communities over scarce resources as food insecurity continues. To prevent a further decline of the situation, the FAO and its partners have teamed up with the Malian government to support a community resilience initiative. The program aims to teach technical, financial, and social skills necessary for communities to become self-sufficient. Some examples include providing families with animals to restore households’ access to income and a nutrition education program to assist in diversifying diets. Additionally, the project supports the Village Savings and Loan Associations to allow women to access income and improve financial literacy. By implementing these development measures, among others, the initiative to strengthen social cohesion and community resilience follow broader UN-system work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

MENA: ISIS regrouping in Iraq, Pentagon report says (NBCNews)
Pentagon report concluded the Islamic State is quickly regrouping in Iraq. In the wake of American withdrawal from Syria, the Pentagon warns that ISIL could regain territory in six to twelve months in absence of, “sustained military pressure.” The report also found that such a resurgence would occur if socioeconomic, political, sectarian grievances were not addressed properly by national and local governments in areas where the group previously operated.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Cote d’Ivoire: Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo released to Belgium
After being acquitted by the International Criminal Court, former Cote d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo was released to Belgium on the condition that he will return in the event of an appeal by the prosecution.

Iraq: Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Detained Children
Human Rights Watch reports that the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess their alleged involvement with ISIS.

Nigeria: North-east Nigeria displacement crisis continues amid ‘increased sophistication’ of attackers,
The UN reports Boko Haram attacks have destroyed humanitarian hubs, causing further internal displacement.

Yemen: UAE recklessly supplying militias with windfall of Western arms
An Amnesty International investigation has concluded that the United Arab Emirates is supplying Western arms to militia groups in Yemen who operate with little oversight and may have committed war crimes


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#R2PWeekly: 28 January – 1 February 2019


untitled
This week in focus:
CSOs Meet with New UN Special Adviser on RtoP

On 20 December, 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of his new UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms. Karen Smith, of South Africa. Ms. Smith has spent the first few weeks in her new role in New York, and graciously accepted an invitation from the ICRtoP to meet at an informal meeting with our New York-based civil society members and partners. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue such important discussions around RtoP and its implementation with the newly appointed Special Adviser, standing ready to serve as a partner in the advancement of the norm to better protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

The ICRtoP Secretariat will continue to work hard in this aim in 2019 and is looking forward to further engagement with global stakeholders across all levels and increased partnerships with the members of our Coalition.

Please find the ICRtoP’s statement on the appointment of Ms. Smith here.

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What to Watch:

Mali: How Mali Is Pursuing Justice for a War That Never Really Ended (World Politics Review)
Though violence and insecurity continue to plague Mali, the nation is taking steps to pursue justice. Backed by the UN, the government has initiated a wide variety of initiatives including disarmament, establishing a truth commission, and beginning criminal trials. President Keïta called for a partial amnesty bill to help resolve issues, but impunity may prevent full reconciliation and achieving sustainable peace.

Venezuela: Guaido calls for more protests as Maduro displays military might (Al-Jazeera)
The political situation in Venezuela remains uncertain with President Maduro and self-proclaimed interim President Guido both vie for legitimacy at home and abroad. Concerns over military deployment, humanitarian assistance, as well as debates of sovereignty remain of top concern in the international community.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: End of mission statement by the Special Rapporteur
UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee delivers her findings on the poor state of human rights in Burma.

Cameroon: Cameroon: Opposition Forces Arrested: Violent Crackdown on Leaders
State forces have arrested several prominent opposition leaders over the past week, where in what is seen as an attempt to silence those challenging the government.

Cote d’Ivoire: A Shrinking Window for Justice in Cote d’Ivoire
Human Rights Watch sees diminishing opportunities for the International Criminal Court and Cote d’Ivoire to hold perpetrators accountable for rights violations committed.

Sudan: Sudanese government releases 186 protesters
The Sudanese government released detainees arrested during the protests, this does not include opposition leaders and activists, however.

Zimbabwe: Daylight beatings instill public fear in ‘lawless’ country
Violent crackdowns by police and military forces against civilian protesters continue.


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RtoP Weekly: 2 – 8 November 2018

Rtop weekly

This week in focus: Pause Rohingya Repatration Plans

After Burmese and Bangladeshi officials announced their intention to begin the repatriation of Rohingya refugees last week, many international actors including NGOs, state governments, and UN officials have called upon both countries to postpone the implementation of the plan. UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, urged Bangladesh to postpone their repatriation, owing to the fact that the population is still in “high risk of persecution” upon their return.

Actors advocating with and on behalf of the population continue to reiterate that there is still a “widespread and well-founded fear that their lives, families, and communities will once again face further attacks once they are back in their homeland.” Furthermore, fundamental rights including citizenship, equal protection under the law, and non-discrimination cannot be ensured within the current political and socio-cultural environment, and Burma must address the protection, rights fulfillment, and root causes of mass violence in the country before it can be considered safe for the Rohingya’s return. Fear and mistrust persist not only from the Rohingya population, but also other marginalized ethnic and religious groups and experts on the situation in the country.

The ICRtoP continues to monitor the ongoing developments on the crisis in Burma, and had the pleasure to include Burmese activist and peacebuilder, Ms. Khin Ohmar, of Progressive Voice, as part of our event during the week of the UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace, and Security. Ms. Ohmar’s work focuses on strengthening civil society and advocating for the protection of human rights and the end of military atrocities in Burma, particularly against ethnic and religious minorities, among others.


What to Watch:

Cameroon: Cameroon: Biya Sworn In, Challenger Arrested – Report (AllAfrica)             This week Cameroonian President Paul Biya was sworn into his seventh term and delivered an inaugural address in which he promised to continue fighting until the “terrorists” in the Anglophone regions were defeated. Meanwhile, Maurice Kamto, one of the main challengers in the Presidential Election, was arrested and detained without cause given, and other separatist leaders began their military trial, possibly facing the death penalty for their roles to establish the Anglophone State of Ambazonia.

Iraq: ISIL’S ‘legacy of terror’ in Iraq: UN verifies over 200 mass graves (UN News)
The Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) discovered 202 mass graves in areas of Iraq formerly controlled by ISIL. The findings of the report will be crucial to conducting investigations and prosecuting actions by ISIL, which may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stressed that the families of the victims “have the right to know what happened” and underscored the importance of justice and reparations. Furthermore, the report asks for a victim-centered approach and a transitional justice process created in consultation with Iraqis.

Syria: No fewer than Five Massacres in Syria in October 2018 (Syrian Network For Human Rights)
ICRtoP Coalition Member, Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released its October atrocity data. SNHR documented no less than five massacres were committed in Syria in October, resulting in the deaths of 41 civilians, including 14 children, with four of these massacres committed by International Coalition Forces. Syrian-Russian alliance forces also allegedly violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 by conducting indiscriminate attacks, according to the report. SNHR also documented 488 cases of arbitrary arrests, with 63% of the arrests made by Syrian Regime Forces. Arbitrary arrests and detention are frequent tactics employed by regime forces, with detainees being held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, according to the SNHR’s findings.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Côte d’Ivoire: Prosecution Outlines Evidence on Gbagbo and Blé Goudé’s Alleged Criminal Responsibility
Despite continued efforts by former Côte d’Ivoire President, Laurent Gbagbo, and former Minister Blé Goudé, to be acquittal from the ICC, the Court still intends to prosecute them for crimes against humanity outlining the evidence to back its decision.

Gaza/West Bank: New Israel bill seeks expulsion of families of Palestinian ‘terrorists’ Israel is set to pass a new law that will allow the forced displacement of Palestinian families of suspected terrorists in the West Bank.

Libya: Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in Libya, pursuant to UNSCR 1970 (2011)  International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, confirmed to the UN Security Council that Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity in Libya despite his assertions that the case is inadmissible before the ICC.

Philippines: Independently Probe Police “Hitmen” Human Right Watch urged the Philippines to create an independent body to investigate the role of the police in Duterte’s war on drugs after an official said they were allegedly “responsible for many of the extrajudicial killings” of suspects.

Syria: French judges issue international arrest warrants against three high-level Syrian regime officials   France issued international arrest warrants against three senior Syrian intelligence officials accused of complicity in acts of torture, enforced disappearances, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Yemen: Yemen: UN chief hails ‘signs of hope’ in world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, welcomed recent discussions of possible peace talks to end the Yemen Civil War, urging all parties to end the violence and reach a political solution.

Yemen: As Famine Looms in Yemen, Saudi-Led Coalition Redoubles Attacks  The Saudi-led Coalition has drastically escalated violence in Hodeidah, Yemen over the past week, targeting Houthi rebels and worsening the humanitarian crisis.


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RtoP Weekly: 10 – 14 September 2018

Untitled
This week in focus: The RtoP Weekly Reboot

Over the past few weeks, the ICRtoP team has been working hard to develop a new approach to the RtoP Weekly. We want the Weekly to be useful and informative to you, as readers, on RtoP-related news around the world, but also to be a tool for engagement, both intellectually and with other actors in the field. We will continue to feature important updates, but hope to present a wider variety of content as well, featuring members of the Coalition, work they are doing, but also grow and deepen how we understand and engage with the RtoP doctrine.

We’re excited about the changes, and look forward to refining them over the coming weeks. In this vein, we are also asking for your help through submitting your feedback on these updates in a two-minute survey by clicking here.


What to Watch:

Burma: Q&A: Justice for International Crimes in Myanmar (Human Rights Watch)

In August 2018, the United Nations (UN) Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar published a 20-page report denouncing grave breaches of international law in the country, including alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes against Rohingya. In addition, the report also put forward a series of suggestions to bring perpetrators to justice, such as a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the establishment of ad hoc tribunals. Burmese authorities have denied mission’s findings, which will be presented along with the full report to the UN Human Rights Council on 18 September.

Burma: New UN rights chief wants criminal charges in Myanmar’s Rohingya genocide (AFP)

In her first discourse as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has called for the establishment of an independent international mechanism to prepare criminal proceedings for human rights violations perpetrated against the Rohingya population in Burma similar to the one created for Syria. She requested the UN Human Rights Council to consider a resolution and bring the issue to the UN General Assembly in order to successfully create this mechanism, which will, “expedite fair and independent trials in national and international courts” and improve accountability.

United Kingdom: A comprehensive atrocity prevention strategy more vital than ever, say MPs(Global Britain)

On 10 September 2018, Britain’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and humanitarian intervention. In the document, the Committee analyzes the potential dire consequences of inaction in Syria and the ways in which the UK could improve its role regarding the prevention of mass atrocities. The report requests that the government develop a plan to prevent mass atrocity crimes by next April; reduce the use of veto in situations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; update its protection strategies in contexts of armed conflict; and clarify the circumstances in which a humanitarian intervention can be conducted so that such campaigns are well founded. Finally, the report also calls on the government to abide by the 2013 French proposal of limiting the exercise of the UK’s use of the veto in the UN Security Council in situations at risk or involving ongoing atrocity crimes.

UNSC and RtoP: The UN Security Council’s Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect: A Review of Past Interventions and Recommendations for Improvement (Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect)

ICRtoP Member, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) published a policy brief this week by Jared Genser, Managing Director of Perseus Strategies. The brief explores factors that impact successful UN Security Council responses to an atrocity situation and found that freedom from government obstruction, regional cooperation, and rapid response capacities are vital for successful RtoP implementation by the Council.

UNHRC and 70th Anniversary of Genocide Convention: Human Rights Council holds high-level panel on the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (OHCHR)

On 13 September, a High Level Panel Discussion was convened at the UN Human Rights Council to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. During the event, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, made a statement noting that genocide is still “a threat and a reality” and emphasizing the need for States to concentrate their efforts on the “warning signs” for the sake of prevention. Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, added that,  throughout history, “Genocide was not an accident, nor was it inevitable. It was the inaction of the international community in addressing the warning signs that allowed it to become a reality.” Moreover, High Commissioner Bachelet and other panelists highlighted the importance of accountability and transitional justice in order to end impunity and prevent recurrence. pointing to the International Criminal Court as an important body and pillar for ending impunity and contributing to prevention efforts.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on the decision of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber on the jurisdiction over the crime of deportation of the Rohingya population from Myanmar (United Nations)
UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng issued a statement welcoming the ICC’s decision that it does indeed have jurisdiction over the alleged forced deportation of Rohingya from Burma.

Burma: UN granted access to Myanmar villages to investigate Rohingya abuses (CNN)
The Burmese government has granted four UN agencies access to the Rakhine State, as outlined in the the Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh.

Burundi: Burundi under fire at the UN for expelling UN human rights team (Reuters)
Burundi continues to face criticism at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva for the government’s failure to cooperate with Council-mandated investigative teams intended to collect information on alleged human rights violations in the country.

Cameroon: Cameroon Women Rally to Demand End to Violence (Voice of America)
Women marched this week to demand an end to the violence and atrocities that have been affecting their communities, calling on the government and armed groups to engage in peaceful dialogues.

Nigeria: Nigeria: Release presidential panel report to ensure transparency and accountability (Amnesty International)
Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian government to release the findings of the presidential panel investigation into alleged human rights violations committed by national forces.

South Sudan: ICRC: Cease-fire in South Sudan Appears to be Holding (Voice of America)
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reported that there has been a decrease in violence in South Sudan since warring parties signed a peace agreement earlier this month.

Yemen: Fighting resumes in Yemen’s Hodeidah as peace talks stall (Reuters)
Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Hodeidah have resumed to regain control of the city, as the Houthi delegation failed to appear at the UN peace talks in Geneva.


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#R2PWeekly: 2 – 6 October 2017

 

UntitledICRtoP, Stanley Foundation, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
partner to host meeting on UN-civil society cooperation to strengthen
accountability and prevention under RtoP

On 7 September 2017, the Stanley Foundation, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung partnered to hold a breakfast meeting between 15 leading civil society organizations from all continents and Dr. Ivan Šimonović, UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). Within an informal, not-for-attribution setting, participants discussed opportunities and offered recommendations for strengthening accountability and prevention under RtoP. This session was preceded and informed by the UN Informal Interactive Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect, which took place 6 September 2017.

Throughout the discussion, participants focused on three important reflections from the recent UNGA dialogue on RtoP. First, it was noted that the space for civil society participation in the dialogue had been improved due to procedural changes in the format of the dialogue. This was lauded as pivotal for the development of the discussion surrounding RtoP.  However, concerns were also noted over a trend towards polarization in Member States’ views on RtoP, particularly regarding the resulting effects on advocacy opportunities on behalf of support for the norm.  Lastly, participants were heartened by interventions which discussed RtoP in new and innovative ways, most notably through the thematic focus of the UN Secretary-General’s latest report and the theme of the dialogue on accountability for prevention.

The breakfast meeting also resulted in a range of recommendations on how the UN can strengthen its work on the Responsibility to Protect and atrocity prevention. These recommendations include ensuring a focus on thematic topics within atrocity prevention measures, such as the importance of incorporating a gender-lens. However, the recommendations also include propositions on how to develop existing tools to support RtoP efforts, such as the addition of a focus on atrocity prevention within the Universal Periodic Review process in the United Nations Human Rights Council and including RtoP on the UN General Assembly’s formal agenda.

Finally, participants also discussed recommendations on how to better mobilize implementation of RtoP. Participants noted the importance of strengthening legal tools for atrocity preventions, such as international humanitarian and human rights treaties, which can be used to set precedent and deter the future perpetration of such atrocities. Furthermore, participants highlighted the important role of regional and sub-regional organizations in upholding RtoP and in working with and supporting national capacities for prevention.

To read the full Policy Memo with reflections and recommendations, please click here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
CAR
DRC
Kenya 
Libya
Mali
Philippines
Nigeria
South Sudan 
Syria
Venezuela
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Representatives from both Burma and Bangladesh agreed on 2 October to implement a working group that would aim to send over 500,000 Rohingya refugees back to the Rakhine State. The two parties are set to meet later this week to discuss the terms and conditions of the agreement.  However, the Burmese government has questioned the practicality of the return of thousands of Rohingya refugees and migration experts have pointed out flaws in the process, including that many Rohingya from Rakhine State have been denied Burmese citizenship.

Human Rights Watch has collected testimonies from 14 Rohingya villagers that allegedly outline the scope of the violence that occurred in the villages of Maung Nu and Hpaung Taw Pyin in Rakhine State. The reports describe sexual assaults, beatings, stabbings, and shootings of villagers of all ages, including women and children. HRW also reported that on 27 August the Burmese military carried out several dozen summary executions of Rohingya Muslims in Maung Nu. Witnesses also reported that government soldiers had “beaten, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and shot villagers who had gathered for safety in a residential compound, two days after Rohingya militants attacked a local security outpost and military base.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of a Child have expressed concerns that the violence against the Rohingya in Rakhine State “may amount to crimes against humanity.” The resulting massive wave of Rohingya refugees has also led to increased rates of poverty and malnutrition, specifically among the women and children.

According to reports from UN and aid workers in Burma, UN leadership officials in the country have attempted to stop activists from raising concerns over the human rights abuses facing the Rohingya population in discussions with the Burmese government. Furthermore, a former UN official has asserted that the same leadership has also attempted to block human rights advocates from gaining access to Rohingya villages in Rakhine State.


Burundi:

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted last Friday to extend the investigation of the Commission of Inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity. Burundi’s ambassador expressed disagreement by saying that “there was no longer any need to continue the Commission of Inquiry” after the Council passed a resolution a day before to send three experts into the country.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has made an appeal for 429 million USD to address the refugee crisis in the East African region. Around 400,000 Burundian refugees have been displaced throughout the region in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Catherine Wiesner, UNHCR Regional Refugee Coordinator for Burundi, has said that “the chronic underfunding for the Burundi refugee situation has severely hampered reception capacities and the quality of protection rendered by host countries.”


Central African Republic:

The International Crisis Group (ICG) has released a report denouncing that the international community and national authorities in the CAR have not been able to address the escalation of violence or to find solutions to the crisis. Efforts have been focused on the DDRR (disarmament, demobilization, reinsertion and repatriation) of the rebels, but there has been little progress made, according to the group. ICG has stated that both the government and its partners must “put pressure on the rebels – particularly by tackling their sources of income and exercising stronger military deterrence – but also rebuild trust among the populations of peripheral regions”.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has expressed concern over the difficult situation that people with disabilities face amid the rising violence in the country; many times, they are unable to escape the violence and cannot flee to another country for safety. Those who do flee are reportedly “often not identified or counted in registration or data collection exercises, are excluded from or unable to access mainstream assistance programmes and forgotten when specialised services are set up.” MSF has also pointed out that displaced persons and refugees with disabilities are also more exposed to harassment, exploitation, physical and sexual violence, and discrimination.

The UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that around 64,000 refugees fled from the CAR to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between the months of May and August. Congolese villages have not been able to cope with the influx of Central African refugees, as over 170,000 refugees from CAR have arrived in the DRC since the crisis began.

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a new report claiming that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war in the CAR. According to the report, sexual slavery and rape have been in widespread use by the two main parties to the conflict, the Muslim Seleka and the Christian anti-Balaka groups, as a method of “revenge for perceived support of those on the other side of the sectarian divide”. Such abuses are criminalized by international and national law and could constitute war crimes, but no arrests or trials have been conducted for such crimes since the conflict began in 2013. HRW has called on the government of the CAR and international partners to provide assistance to victims of sexual violence and to end impunity.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

 The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned that there could be further displacement in the DRC if the security situation in the insecurity remains unstable. Thousands of Congolese refugees that have arrived in Zambia have reported “extreme brutality, with civilians being killed, women raped, property looted and houses set alight.” Around 60 percent of these refugees are children and have shown signs of severe malnutrition.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council that funding cuts to the MONUSCO may “compromise its ability to deliver on its core priorities” late last week.


Kenya:

The African Human Rights Bureau has urged the UN Security Council to intervene in Kenya as it noted that the ongoing crisis has reached similar levels of concern the violent situation that took place after the elections in 2007-2008. Dan Alila, the bureau’s special counsel, said that “if no serious political intervention is made now by the UN, then Kenya could slide into a grave political instability with attendant chaos, violence, mayhem, and massive displacements and killings, thereby causing a humanitarian crisis.” He also said that a reformed electoral commission or an ad hoc UN committee should supervise the poll in which the two main parties are represented.


Libya:

On Tuesday, recent violence in the city of Sabratha killed at least five civilians and wounded another 12. Furthermore, reports suggest that the city’s hospital has also been attacked twice.


Mali:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a report on 28 September focused on the current state of affairs in Mali following the death of three peacekeepers. The Secretary-General reported that the security situation in the state has plummeted due to domestic political instability and the increased amounts of extremist attacks since his last report in June. He also outlined specific human rights violations that occurred within Mali, including forced disappearances, the military recruitment of children, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and unlawful detention. In all, the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) documented 151 alleged cases of human rights violations in 2017 to date. In addition, the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System documented 1,368 cases of gender-based violence between January and June 2017. The region also continues to struggle with food insecurity, forced displacement, rampant poverty, and school closures. The Secretary-General also called upon the international community to increase UN funding for MINUSMA.


Nigeria:

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has claimed that portions of President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech on 1 October amounted to hate speech against ethnic Igbo populations in Nigeria.

The Nigerian military has commissioned human rights offices in conflict-affected Borno State in order to combat the perpetration of human rights violations by Nigerian soldiers. Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Buratai has also called on the media to work with Nigerian military and security forces in the fight against Boko Haram in the region.


Philippines:

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano stated this week that the Philippines welcomes independent experts from the UN to “conduct an objective assessment of the country’s human rights situation”. However, Mr. Cayetano also requested, that only unbiased investigators should be allowed to make the assessments.

The International Center for Transitional Justice’s Reparative Justice Program Director Ruben Carranza has argued that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may initiate an investigation into the Philippines if the government does not take action on alleged human rights violations in the country. According to Carranza, this could include an investigation into the criminal accountability of individuals in the country, including President Duterte.

Human rights defenders have repeatedly called for the removal of the Philippines as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council due to the government’s continued denial of extrajudicial killings allegations.


South Sudan:

President Salva Kiir has begun pushing for elections to be held in 2018 despite the ongoing conflict in the country. The current term of the transitional government expires in February 2018. The UN has warned, however, that the insecurity in the country is not a stable environment for a vote to take place.

Clashes between government armed forces and rebel groups have killed 91 rebels and five soldiers in the northeastern part of the country. Mabior Garang Mabior, a spokesman on behalf of the rebel groups, has accused the government of breaching a ceasefire.


Syria:

At the beginning of this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report on individual deportations and collective expulsions of entire families of Syrian refugees from Jordan, a process which the group alleges has been occurring and increasing in frequency since mid-2016. In the first five months of 2017, the Jordanian authorities reportedly deported 400 registered refugees per month. According to interviews conducted by HRW, Syrian refugees were deported without basic due process, an explanation for their deportation, or even information about the state of security they would be returning to in Syria. Furthermore, such acts would be a violation of, among other international legal obligations, the Arab Charter of Human Rights, to which Jordan is a State party. The report also noted that international humanitarian workers have suggested that the deportations increased as part of an overall increase in security measures throughout Jordan, however, according to HRW, the Jordanian authorities have failed to provide evidence that any of the deported refugees were involved in situations of armed attacks in Jordan.

On Monday, two suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts in a car bomb attack on a police station in Al-Midan, an area of Damascus. The attack killed 17 civilians and policemen. Islamic State (ISIL) has claimed responsibility.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that in the past two weeks violence in Syria has reached its most intense level since the battle for Eastern Aleppo in the winter of 2016. The ICRC noted that the military activity correlated with very high levels of civilian causalities and that at least ten hospitals had been damaged in the last ten days. As violence escalated, the number of internally displaced people increased and humanitarian aid workers are reportedly struggling to provide food and basic health care for the many refugees who have arrived in refugee camps around Raqqa and Deir Az Zor. ICRC has repeated its call on all parties in the conflict to abide by International Humanitarian Law.

An investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has found evidence that sarin nerve gas, which was the substance used in the attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April, was also used in another attack five days earlier in the town Latamneh in northern Syria. This attack reportedly injured more than 50 people. The findings disprove earlier statements that the Khan Sheikhoun attack was the first time the banned substance had been used in the war since 2013. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss the use of chemical weapons in Syria.


Venezuela:

The crisis in Venezuela has provoked massive waves of refugees fleeing to Colombia. An estimated 25,000 people cross the border every day through the Simon Bolivar International bridge. Common goods have become scarce in Venezuela and hospitals struggle to treat their patients with a shortage of medicines. Many cross the border daily to acquire food or sell goods in the market of the town of Cucutá and go back to Venezuela. For this reason, the government of Colombia has introduced “border mobility cards” so that Venezuelans can cross the border back and forth without their passport


Yemen:

Late last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution establishing an independent group of experts to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all warring parties in Yemen. Amnesty International called the resolution a “breakthrough” and a “victory for Yemenis.”

This week, journalists from several media outlets reported that a draft UN blacklist allegedly included States in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for killing and maiming children as part of their military campaign in the country. However, the UN Secretary General (UNSG) has yet to approve the list, and it is therefore still subject to change. The UN ambassador of Saudi Arabia has reportedly refused to comment until the list has been officially published and the Saudi Mission to the UN commented that there was no justification for their government to be on the list..


Other:

The Universal Rights Group, with support from the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN in Geneva, has launched a comprehensive guide on the 2017 Human Rights Council Elections.

 

 

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