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#R2PWeekly: 7-11 October

Weekly
This week in focus:

The US Withdrawal from Northern Syria

This week, the United States announced its decision to withdraw its troops from Northern Syria, causing of concern for the Kurdish and other Syrian populations living there. The decision, paved the way for Turkey to launch an offensive against the Kurdish fighters in that region, and motivated the UN Security Council to meet in an emergency closed-door meeting to discuss the situation, at the request of its European members. Many experts warn that the violence will only worsen the humanitarian situation and cause further instability.

The Kurds are an ethnic group with populations living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) form a large part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and have been key-US allies in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, commonly referred to as “ISIS”) and are currently guarding the group’s prisoners in the region. Kurdish forces also played a key role in protecting the Yazidi population during the 2014 genocide. Turkey, however, regards the YPG as terrorists due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey plans to establish a “safe-zone” along the Turkish Syrian border, creating a 20-mile deep area on the Syrian side, Turkish President Recep Erdogan plans to resettle at least a million Syrian refugees from Turkey to this safe zone, by “clearing” the area of Kurdish forces. Kurdish groups fear that this could lead to potential ethnic cleansing and genocide by the Turkish forces, and many human rights groups have cautioned against its creation of the so-called safe zone, citing the massacre in Srebanica in Bosnia-Herzegovina as an example of past areas becoming death traps.

Civilians began fleeing the region upon the US announcement, creating a mass exodus of tens of thousands. Organizations call on parties to respect international law, refraining from the targeting of civilians or engaging in indiscriminate bombing.

More broadly, due to the YPG’s role in guarding prisons holding thousands of ISIL-affiliated actors, the Turkish offensive may mean the violence risks the release of alleged criminals, preventing judicial accountability for atrocities such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

syria(photo credit Delil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)


What to Watch:

Cameroon: Cameroon’s conflict: Will the National Dialogue make any difference? (BBC)
President Biya’s National Dialogue resulted in a series of concessions and proposals, including a special status for Anglophone regions and more regional autonomy. Biya also ordered the  release of 333 separatists fighters and opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who had been arrested for leading protests over election results which he deemed were fraudulent. Biya has been facing increased international pressure due to a repression of dissenting voices and opinions. Many separatist leaders who claimed they would not stop fighting until the establishment of their own independent state shunned the National Dialogue.

South Sudan: Set Meeting on War Crimes Court (Human Rights Watch)
This week, enforcement of the peace accords in South Sudan received attention, with the United States stating that a failure to implement the agreement could result in further sanctions against political leaders in the country. Human Rights Watch also urged the South Sudanese government and the African Union to clarify the way forward for establishing a Hybrid Court. The proposed special judiciary mechanism would aim to prosecute perpetrators of atrocities committed during the war.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Central African Republic: Can the Central African Republic’s peace deal be saved?
ISS Africa analyzes the peace agreement, assessing the progress made in its implementation and the challenges it must overcome.

China: US imposes China visa restrictions over Uighur issue
The US announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials allegedly involved in the persecution of the Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.


Rohingya  refugees  exhausted  streaming  off  boats  arriving

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#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.”


Weekly Yazidi

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#RtoPWeekly: 16-20 September

Weekly

This week in focus:
RtoP Included on the General Assembly Agenda Once More

On Monday, 16 September, UN Member States voted to adopt “the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” for 74rd session of the UN General Assembly. This included a supplementary item with a vote of 92 States in favor, 15 against, and 27 abstentions.

With this move forward, the UN General Assembly will once again hold a formal debate on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), ensuring States have the opportunity to further consider the norm and the work of the UN Special Advisers on Genocide Prevention and RtoP. As the formal debate on RtoP at the end of June showed, discussion the norm in a formal debate allows more time for interventions, increasing the opportunities for increased and more in-depth dialogue on the topic, and also provide an opportunity for formal, on-the-record statements and an exchange of ideas and knowledge on preventing atrocities.

Many states in June showed an appreciate for the concrete and practical examples for prevention-related actions and activities outlined in the Secretary-General’s Report, and welcomed the appointment of the work of the new Special Advisor, Ms. Karen Smith, and appreciated the work of the Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect (the “Joint Office”). The third formal debate on the RtoP will only further allow Member States and the Joint Office to increase opportunities for the exchange of information to better mainstream the RtoP norm. As such, we welcome the continuation of discussion on RtoP as part of the UN General Assembly’s formal agenda once more.

***Due to the UN General Assembly Opening and High-Level Debate, the RtoP Weekly will be on pause and resume publication in October.***

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

UNGA 74 vote


What to Watch:

Burma: 600,000 Rohingya in Myanmar face ‘serious risk of genocide’: UN (Al-Jazeera)
This week the UN Independent International Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar released a report, finding that over 600,000 Rohingya in Myanmar continue to face “serious risk” of genocide. The continued risk is owing to a lack of accountability and called for the situation’s referral to the International Criminal Court, or the creation of a special mechanism, to prosecute Burmese army generals for the arson, rape, and killings, against the Rohingya. In addition to calling for an end to impunity for the atrocities committed, the FFM also notes that Aung San Suu Kyi could also face charges for crimes against humanity owing to her role in the continued ongoing rights violations in the country, failing to address her responsibilities as head of state.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Central African Republic: UN Eases Arms Embargo
Following the peace deal in the Central African Republic, the UN Security Council eased the arms embargo to allow for the proper training of state security forces to protect its populations.

Côte d’Ivoire: ICC Prosecutors appeal acquittal former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo
ICC Prosecutors, citing legal and procedural errors, appealed Former President Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal.

Liberia: Liberia President Seeks Legislature’s Advice for War Crimes Court
President George Weah asked the National Legislature to advise him in establishing a war crimes court, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Africa must help end the atrocities in Yemen, and start by ending its involvement
This piece looks at East African nations’ role in the Yemeni Civil War, advocating an obligation to cease operational assistance to help end the conflict and stabilize the security in the region.

Yemen: Yemen: Collective failure, collective responsibility – UN Report 
A new UN Report details possible war crimes in Yemen where attacks on civilian infrastructure, use of blockades, and a lack of accountability have exacerbated the situation.


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#RtoPWeekly 9-13 September

Weekly

This week in focus:
Member States to Determine UN General Assembly Agenda for the 74th Session

On Monday, 16 September, Member States will convene and decide whether or not  several agenda items of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly will carry over to the draft agenda of the 74th session, including the Debate on the RtoP. Formally titled, “the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” the ICRtoP is hopeful for an uncontested rollover, however, states may call for a vote in order to prevent its inclusion.

During the Formal Debate in June, states showed a willingness to continue the dialogue on the RtoP, particularly given the Secretary-General’s report contextualizing lessons learned and offering concrete activities and decisions that could be taken at the national level to mitigate the risks of and prevent atrocity crimes. We’ve summarized the debate in our infographic.

***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: Tanzania: Maintain Protection Space for Burundian Refugees (Amnesty)
Following the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on Burundi’s report last week, several CSOs urged actors at all levels to take the human rights situation into consideration in decision-making processes. Several CSOs called on the Human Rights Council to extend the COI’s mandate ahead of the 2020 elections, and Amnesty International urged the governments of Tanzania and Burundi to ensure that all refugee repatriations were safe and voluntary, owing to their own work on the continued violence and rights repression.

South Sudan: South Sudan parties agree to form interim govt by Nov 12 (Reuters)
Exiled opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, returned to South Sudan this week to participate in peace discussions with President Salva Kiir. As the next step in most recent peace agreement, the leaders met and announced that a transitional government would be formed by mid-November.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Bangladesh: Clampdown on Rohingya Refugees
Rights organizations are calling on Bangladesh to restore cell service to refugee camps, investigate the deaths of several civilians and Rohingya politician, as well as end restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso threatened with famine caused by terrorism
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports over half a million have been displaced, lack healthcare, and are food insecure due to increased terrorist threats.

Nicaragua: Nicaragua ‘crisis’ still cause for concern amid murder, torture allegations
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet reminded the Human Rights Council that rights repression remains a concern, urging all parties to engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve the crisis.


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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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#RtoP Weekly: 18 – 22 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
The Burmese Military, Peace, Reconciliation, and Reform

The Burmese military’s role in the ongoing discussions around peace, accountability, and its role in the country’s politics pose an interesting challenge in the way forward. On Monday, 18 March, military officials announced the establishment of an internal court to investigate and prosecute its members for actions against the Rohingya. The stated goal of the court is to “scrutinize and confirm” rights violations committed against the Rohingya, in addition to responding to the various accounts of mass killings, rape, and forced displacement organizations and international bodies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations reported. Many experts, however, still see the measure as one of “bad faith,” and is an attempt to distract and ward off additional international pressure and involvement in internal affairs, with Amnesty International’s Nicholas Bequelin alleging that the idea of the Tatmadaw investigating itself and enacting accountability measures is “dangerous and delusional.”

The military’s involvement in the country’s government in finding a way forward is another piece of the puzzle, proving to be a challenge in peace negotiations and government reform. Composed of various minority and ethnic groups, the peace and reconciliation discussions in Burma must accommodate multiple perspectives and points of view, extending the process. One particular sticking point is the stronghold the military holds in politics and government with a set proportion of representation that allows it to impose its power by being able to reject measures it opposes, as seen this past week in discussions over constitutional reform.

By being able to leverage its power and influence over politics and government, and see impunity for the mass atrocities committed, the Burmese military’s lack of cooperation threatens peace and stability in the country without the UN, its member states, and other influential actors working to address the root causes of conflict and find pathways forward to prevent the recurrence of rights violations against the country’s populations.

(Photo via Burma Link)

Weekly Burma


What to Watch:

Central African Republic:  Just one month in, optimism around CAR’s peace deal is fading (Mail & Guardian)
The latest Central African Republic (CAR) peace agreement is in peril, with fighting between armed groups increasing over the past month. Leaders of the various armed groups see impunity for their actions due to a lack of judicial mechanisms in the country, but also fail to recognize their own roles and responsibilities in the conflict, with many attesting that “if civilians suffered, then we should talk about reconciliation, not justice. Justice will only lead to more problems,” wanting amnesty for those involved. The lack of accountability measures risks the continuance of violence in the conflict. This past week, several signatories withdrew their participation in the peace agreement, resulting in additional dialogues in Addis Ababa this week to save the peace deal.

Philippines: Philippines quits International Criminal Court over inquiry into Duterte’s drug war (France24)
In 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a preliminary examination of President Duterte’s drug crackdown and accusations of extrajudicial killings. As of 17 March, the Philippines officially withdrew as a State party to the ICC. In spite of the country’s withdrawal, the Court announced its intention to continue its examination, as it retains jurisdiction on matters already under consideration. Duterte’s spokesperson argued the Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statute, and issued a statement attesting that “the tribunal is non-existent and its actions [are] a futile exercise.”


But Also Don’t Miss:

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Radovan Karadžić war crimes sentence increased to life in prison
The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals upheld the charges of genocide against Radovan Karadzic, sentencing him to life in prison for his role in the Srebrenica massacre.

Cameroon: North West, South West: Women Ready to Contribute to Peace Initiatives
Women from the North-West, South-West Women’s Task Force met with state officials to lobby for inclusive peace dialogues.

Nigeria: ‘Impunity remains widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria’…US human rights report
The US State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights accused the Nigerian government of failing to investigate human rights violations appropriately, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances.

South America: As Venezuela crisis deepens, U.S. sharpens focus on Colombia rebel threat
ELN and FARC rebels from Colombia are exploiting the instability in Venezuela to expand their drug trade and operate with impunity, causing concern over peace and security situation in the region.

Sub-Saharan Africa: The Great Lakes can’t afford more instability
ISS Africa explores the need for a new regional approach to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region in order to prevent any escalation in conflict.

United States: US Threatens International Criminal Court: Visa Bans on ICC Staff
In its latest rebuke of the International Criminal Court, the US announced a travel ban on members of the Court involved in investigations against its citizens.

United States/Somalia: USA/Somalia: Shroud of secrecy around civilian deaths masks possible war crimes
Amnesty International reports increasing drone strikes and resulting civilian deaths possibly amounting to war crimes in Somalia, calling for an impartial investigation into the attacks.


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Call for Internship Applications
The ICRtoP Secretariat in New York City is now accepting internship applications for Summer 2019. Interested parties can find more information by following the link.

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#RtoP Weekly: 4 – 8 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
ICRtoP and Partners Celebrate International Women’s Day with Release of Policy Memo and CSW63 Side-event

Integrating a conflict prevention and human security approach to the development agenda, including  strategically within national budgeting and security sector governance processes by tackling root causes of conflict through enhanced early warning and early response measures, can ensure that social infrastructure responds to the goals of sustainable development, equality and peace. As research and women’s lived experiences show, gender equality is linked to inclusive human security and safer, more peaceful communities when women and girls are empowered.

Along with the theme for International Women’s Day 2019, #BalanceforBetter, the priority theme for CSW63, focusing on access to sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, presents an opportunity to highlight ways in which the peace, development, and humanitarian intersect and reinforce their mutual goals. This includes: removing barriers and accelerating progress for gender equality; encouraging investment in gender-responsive social systems; and building services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

In this vein, the ICRtoP, in partnership with Freidrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York, and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), working within the Prevention Up Front (PuF) Alliance, will co-host a side event to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to explore the priority theme of the CSW63 through a conflict prevention lens. The panel discussion will unite gender experts from multiple agendas, including human security, governance, development, and humanitarian fields to discuss innovative peacebuilding practices.

Further information on our event can be found here.


Weekly 08-03Policy Memo: In Honor of International Women’s Day: Fostering Inclusion Builds Resilient Societies

In October 2018, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office (FES New York), the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), and Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), working in partnership within the Prevention Up Front (PuF) Alliance, convened a side event to the annual UN Security Council (UNSC) Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) highlighting the benefits of and best practices for integrating and including women peacebuilders into prevention work. The panel brought together a diverse group of gender experts to discuss ways to advance women’s roles in conflict and atrocity prevention. Panelists reflected on their personal experiences, developing a set of recommendations focused on supporting collaboration, cooperation, and integration of women across communities of practice and contribute to their meaningful participation in peace processes, emphasizing the need to establish stronger linkages between the WPS, Sustainable Development, and conflict prevention and resolution agendas.

The full policy memo is available here.


What to Watch:

Burma: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/HRC/40/68) (Advance Unedited Version) (UN Human Rights Council)
The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar has issued an advanced copy of the latest report on the human rights situation in the country, focusing on hate speech, the shrinking space for political opposition and democracy, as well as the continuance of armed conflict. As Ms. Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur, did not receive permission to enter the country, the report’s findings are the result of visits and interviews conducted in Bangladesh and Thailand. The Burmese government attests that the report is counterproductive to the people of their country, but Ms. Lee continues to attempt to engage state officials in dialogues.

In another move to seek justice and accountability for the crimes committed in Burma, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation unanimously approved a measure establishing the legal rights of the Rohingya people before the International Court of Justice. The measure paves the way for individuals to bring cases against the State for crimes committed against them by Burmese state forces in Rakhine State.

DRC: DR Congo: Tshisekedi pledges to free political prisoners (BBC)
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi announced a series of changes and guarantees as part of his “emergency program for the first 100 days.” These changes aim to “cement the democratic achievement” of the country’s peaceful transition of power and include freeing political opinion prisoners and dissidents as well as a recently announced coalition government uniting his party with Former President Kabila’s allies.

Sudan: Al-Bashir appoints Ahmed Haroun acting chairman of Sudan’s ruling party (Sudan Tribune)
In light of the protests against his regime, Sudanese President al-Bashir appointed Ahmed Haroun as the acting chairman of the National Congress Party. Similar to al-Bashir, Haroun is also subject to indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. The changes in party and government leadership strengthened the voice of the political opposition, looking for an unconditional step-down the regime and its main actors as well as ending acts of oppression, torture, and violence against peaceful civilians, and releasing all political prisoners.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Iraq: Some Child Soldiers Get Rehabilitation, Others Get Prison
The Iraqi national government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are detaining and prosecuting child soldiers for alleged ISIS involvement.

South Sudan: South Sudan: President Calls for No Revenge Attacks
President Salva Kiir urged the South Sudanese people to refrain from engaging in revenge attacks as the country continues to implement its latest peace agreement.

Syria: Hundreds of Isis prisoners with ‘no blood on their hands’ released in Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have released suspected ISIS members, creating concern some may return to the group in the future.

Yemen: “DAY OF JUDGMENT” The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen
A report on the impact of US and European weapons in the Yemeni conflict urges for an immediate halt of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in order to prevent further harm to civilians.


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#R2PWeekly: 18 – 22 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
Human Rights Violations Met with Impunity in South Sudan

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, an investigative mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, issued a report detailing the ongoing human rights violations in the country, including attacks on civilians, widespread rape, and forced displacement. Their survey, which took place after the most recent peace agreement, caused “outrage” among the experts as their findings demonstrated a lack of progress in the agreement’s implementation.

The report noted that sexual violence remains an issue in the country as the number of cases increased at the end of 2018, with roughly one in four cases being committed against girls. Other areas of note include forced recruitment of men and boys, links between good governance and natural resource distribution, as well as general instability impacting internal displacement and vulnerable populations.

Yasmin Sooka, the Commission’s Chairperson, noted that the lack of accountability for perpetrators has been a persistent problem. The establishment of inclusive transitional justice mechanisms, such as a Hybrid Court, a Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing, and a Compensation and Reparation Authority, are necessary in order to build sustainable peace and end impunity. Moreover, provisions for such mechanisms were adopted in the most recent accord as well as the 2015 Peace Agreement. 

The Commission called upon State actors, armed groups, and all parties to cease all violence and respect the peace agreement that stakeholders signed just five months ago.


What to Watch:

Burma: The Rohingya Crisis: What to Watch for in 2019 (Refugees International)
Refugee Affairs experts noted several particular areas of concern for Rohingya refugees in the coming year. The question of repatriation to Myanmar remains in focus, as the international community agrees the conditions of safe return do not exist as the Rohingya population continues to face persecution and a lack of equal protection under the law. This is compounded by a lack of established accountability mechanisms, resulting in systematic discrimination. Impunity for the crimes committed by the Burmese military at the national and international levels continues in spite of ICC and US State Department investigations for crimes against humanity and genocide.

European Union: Human rights: Council adopts conclusions on EU priorities in UN human rights fora in 2019 (Council of the European Union)
In its conclusions on EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora for 2019, the Council of the European Union stated its commitment to the promotion of the Responsibility to Protect principle in its external actions, including missions and actions on the ground. The Council also reasserted its support for the documentation of widespread and gross violations of international human rights law, which may amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Nigeria: 48 Hrs to Polls, PMB, Atiku Sign Final Peace Accord (Leadership)
In spite of the agreement signed between President Buhari and his opponent, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to respect the outcome of the election, tensions continue to escalate, which has raised the concerns of many in the international community. On Wednesday, 20 February, Buhari ordered State forces “to be ruthless” in addressing ballot box interference, while the opposition accused the President of attempting to rig the vote, and called his decision to delay the election “anti-democratic.”


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Myanmar Army Chief Denies Systematic Persecution of Rohingya 
Burma’s army chief denied accusations of genocide, calling them an insult to the country’s honor.

Iraq: Is the Future of Isis Female?
Women are playing an increasingly important role within ISIS since its shift from a strict gender hierarchy to allowing female participation in military roles, creating new security concerns and complicating Iraqi security forces’ responses.

Venezuela: Venezuela Closes Key Maritime, Air Borders with Neighbors Amid Growing Aid Crisis
The Venezuelan government shut down its northern maritime border and grounded flights in an attempt to block humanitarian aid from entering the country.

Yemen: Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Yemen country team released its 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview, reiterating the severe needs of the Yemeni population as a result of the conflict, economic decline, and famine-like conditions.

Children in Armed Conflict: Stop the War on Children: Protecting Children in 21st Century Conflict
Save the Children has found that almost one in five children live in areas affected by armed conflict. Its new report shows that grave human rights violations and war crimes against children have almost tripled since 2010. The report also offers recommendations for child protection in conflict.


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#R2PWeekly: 11 – 15 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
Accountability for Syria: Germany arrests two Syrians accused of torture under Assad regime

This week Germany arrested two former Syrian intelligence officers, who are suspected of carrying out acts of torture on detainees under the Assad regime. The men allegedly worked at the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) prison, where up to 2,000 detainees are claimed to have been tortured between 2011 and 2012. These acts may amount to crimes against humanity and would be the first case to examine the accountability of senior members of the regime, their authority, involvement, and compliance in the commission of atrocity crimes.

Germany, as well as several other European countries, are investigating dozens of other former officials under “universal jurisdiction,” a legal principle that allows foreign courts to try individuals regardless of where the alleged crimes were committed, their nationality, or relationship to the State or prosecuting entity if they are suspected of committing atrocity crimes. This is a significant step in ending impunity for actions in the Syrian Civil War and would likely spur cases in countries throughout the globe to examine the accountability of Syrian officials for their actions that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as torture, forced disappearances, and targeting of civilians and humanitarian actors.


What to Watch:

 Cameroon: Hospital Attack; Medical Staff, Patients Flee (Voice of America)
A hospital in Kumba, Cameroon, was burned down by an armed group, causing patients and staff to flee. The government blamed the attack on Anglophone separatists. Local papers claim the separatists attacked due to the hospital’s treatment of government soldiers and disclosure of militia members’ identities, though separatists describe it as a ploy by the government to discredit them. The Cameroon Medical Council released a statement denying the accusations and reaffirmed its commitment to neutrality in the conflict.

Cameroon: Cameroon’s main opposition leader charged with rebellion – lawyer (Reuters)
Maurice Kamto, a prominent opposition member, has been charged in military court with rebellion and seven other charges including, “hostility against the homeland, incitement to insurrection, offence against the president of the republic,” among others. In October, Kamto lost the Presidential Election, which he described as fraudulent, and held a demonstration with supporters in protest, which ended with violence by state forces. Along with the return of instability in the Anglophone regions, there are fears Kamto’s trial and its outcome may spark further violence.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: The Rohingya Diaspora Is Crucial to Achieving Justice in Myanmar 
In this Op-Ed, it is argued that the Rohingya diaspora has a vital role to play in pushing the international community to achieve justice and accountability in Burma.

Guatemala: Opinion: Guatemala Must Not Grant Amnesty To War Criminals
A bill before the country’s Congress would free military officials convicted and waiting trial for crimes against humanity, in addition to prohibiting further investigations.

Mali: How international court may give Mali’s women a second chance at justice
An International Criminal Court case on forced marriages in Mali may allow women to seek justice for gender-based crimes and violence through the Court.

South Sudan: South Sudan: The Human Rights Council should fully renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan
In a joint-statement, several prominent NGOs, including coalition member Human Rights Watch, called upon the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to renew its mandate during the 40th session of the UN Human Right Council.

Turkey: Turkey calls on China to end mass detention of Uighur Muslims
Turkey joined others in the international community in condemning China for its mass repression and detention of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.


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