Category Archives: Weekly Round-Up

#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)

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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: 11 – 15 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
Violations Amounting to Possible Atrocities Committed in the DRC

Completing its investigation in the Mai-Ndombe province, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found that the mass killings occurring between 16-18 December 2018 were planned, intentionally targeting the Banunu ethnic community. Tensions between the Banunu and Batende communities were heightened over disputes over the burial of a Banunu chief on Batende land.

The attacks occurred in four locations, and left a confirmed 535 people killed, 111 injured, and displaced 19,000, 16,000 of whom crossed the border into neighboring Republic of Congo. OHCHR’s spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, said the reported figures were “likely an underestimate,” as the agency believes the bodies of more victims were thrown into the Congo River.

The OHCHR also indicated that the DRC had deployed police forces in the region, as there were indications of rising tensions between the groups, but they left prior to the attacks, in a “clear absence of preventative action.” The situation between ethnic groups remains tense, with the OHCHR appealing for accountability measures, as well as MONUSCO urging the Government to take action to prevent further violence and protect civilians.

 
(Yumbi after the attacks. Image by UNJHRO.)

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What to Watch:

 

Philippines: Philippines won’t cooperate with ICC probe, says Panelo (Philstar Global)

The Philippines formally leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 17 March, but the decision to do so is not without criticism. Lacking the two-thirds vote from the country’s Senate to make such a decision valid, there are questions over the move’s legality as there are also two petitions to prevent the country’s withdrawal before the Supreme Court. In spite of the uncertainties over whether or not the Philippines will remain a State Part to the ICC, the Court began a preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity, a process which could lead to a formal investigation, trial, and sentencing. Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, stated that the Philippines government would not cooperate with the ICC, claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction.


South Sudan:  UN Investigators Propose Hybrid Court for South Sudan (VOA)

This week, the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) investigative body on South Sudan reported it identified violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In order to prevent further destabilization in the country, the HRC urged South Sudanese officials to create a hybrid court, or other accountability mechanism as soon as possible to try and maintain the fragile state of the most recent peace agreement. In another threat to the peace agreement, officials announced training and establishing a unified army would present a challenge, delaying the transitional unity government.

 


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Oral Statement by Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council

The UN Special Rapporteur claims the government is unwilling to seek accountability for crimes against the Rohingya, suggesting an independent tribunal be formed for the situation if it cannot be brought before the ICC.  


Cameroon: Constitutional Crisis Worsens in Cameroon

UN and other officials continue to acknowledge the crisis in the Anglophone region, noting its roots in the exclusion and representation of its people both politically and socially.


Colombia: A Challenge to FARC’s Narrative on Child Recruitment

Human Rights Watch research suggests FARC commanders in Colombia are attempting to whitewash the group’s recruitment of child soldiers and its sexual abuse of female members.


Nigeria: Preliminary Statement of the Joint NDI/IRI International Observation Mission to Nigeria’s March 9 Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly Elections

The International Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute released a joint report on the Nigerian elections, describing acts of intimidation and violence by state officials.


Yemen: On-the-record update on situation in Hajjah and Hodeidah, Yemen

The Norwegian Refugee Council reports that attacks against civilians see impunity, as the international community remains largely focused on Hodeidah.


Syria: International investigators moving closer to bringing justice to Syria war victims

The head of the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) announced that investigators are moving closer to prosecuting for mass atrocity crimes, collecting nearly a million records.

 


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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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#RtoP Weekly: 25 February – 1 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
The crisis in Venezuela

The international community continues to monitor the situation in Venezuela, particularly the humanitarian crisis. Nicholas Maduro’s contested reelection, which many countries in the region and globally have considered undemocratic, has led to increased push-back from political opposition, resulting in Juan Guaido invoking the Venezuelan Constitution and declaring himself the interim-president of the country. Since undertaking his role in the crisis, Guaido has gained the support and recognition from regional neighbors in the Lima Group in addition to the US, Canada, and European nations.

One of the largest issues in the crisis has been its impact on the Venezuelan people, particularly as Maduro has begun closing the country’s borders in order to prevent the delivery of foreign aid. Maduro has claimed that accepting aid is a sign of weakness, and that its distribution would reduce the population to “beggars.” Last week, the situation escalated, with Guaido leaving for Colombia in order to bring aid over the border. Maduro subsequently ordered state forces to prevent aid vehicles from entering Venezuela, and the resulting protests included violence, civilian casualties, and the detainment of over a thousand political protesters.

At the international level, the UN Security Council remains gridlocked, dividing itself among traditional lines, with the United States calling a meeting Tuesday, 26 February and later this week, both Russian and American resolutions defeated in votes at the Council. Regionally, the Lima Group met this week to discuss ways to pressure parties to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

(image © Ivan Valencia/Associated Press)

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What to Watch:

Burma: Rohingya Crisis: UN Investigates its ‘Dysfunctional’ Conduct in Myanmar (The Guardian)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched an investigation into the organization’s own conduct in Burma following accusations it ignored warning signs of escalating violence ahead of the genocide of the Rohingya, failing to take adequate steps to prevent its occurrence. The investigation comes as a result of mounting pressure within the UN to investigate operations in the country, labeled as ‘glaringly dysfunctional’ months before the military began its crackdown in August 2017. The investigation will not be limited to any single individual or agency, but how the UN as a whole responded to the situation.


MENA: Global indifference to human rights violations in MENA fueling atrocities and impunity (Amnesty International)

In its latest report, “Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: A review of 2018,” Amnesty International warned that global indifference to human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is fueling mass atrocity crimes and impunity in the region. The organization believes the lack of accountability and the support of Western allies created a climate where MENA governments feel above the law, and perpetrators of atrocity crimes escape unpunished. Additionally, Amnesty urged all states to stop selling arms to all parties involved in the conflicts in Yemen and Israel, as well as to increase their support for mechanisms aimed at securing justice for victims.


Nigeria: Dozens Dead in Nigeria as Election Results Are Delayed (The New York Times) Peak Social Instability Risk Signals Disputed Buhari Win (Forbes) Nigeria’s Buhari Wins Re-election, Challenger Rejects Vote (Aljazeera)

The Presidential elections in Nigeria have faced delays, violence, and accusations of voter fraud. Violent altercations throughout the country after the vote on Saturday resulted in the deaths of 39 people, and the national electoral commission further delayed the release of results due to logistical issues. Rumors of voter fraud also quickly began to circulate. As a result, the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has leveled accusations of voter fraud declaring the election a “sham,” and promising to contest the results of President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Gaza: Israelis May Have Committed Crimes Against Humanity in Gaza Protests, U.N. Says

The United Nations Human Rights Council has reported evidence of Israeli forces committing crimes against humanity in the Gaza protests, targeting journalists, health workers, children, and people with disabilities.


Sexual and Gender-Based Violence:
UN, ICRC Address Sexual, Gender-Based Violence in Conflict Situations
The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have announced their joint intention to strengthen efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict settings.

Sudan: Darfur peace process at a ‘standstill’ as demonstrations against Sudanese Government continue
Due to the protests against President al-Bashir, peace talks for the Darfur region remain halted.


Syria:
Syria war: Jihadist takeover in rebel-held Idlib sparks alarm

There is increasing concern in Northern Syria over the growth and presence of another jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, whose practices are similar to those of ISIS.

 

Sweden/Iraq: Swedish Court Says Abuses Against ISIS Fighters Still War Crimes

Human Rights Watch has warned that abuses against ISIS fighters are still considered war crimes and in Sweden, courts have convicted a former Iraqi officer for such crimes.


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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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#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


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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: 3 – 7 December 2018

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This week in focus:
The 70th Anniversaries of the Genocide Convention

On 9 December, the international community will mark the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”). In honor of this historic event, the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Denmark, and Switzerland, as well as the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in Geneva and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, will host a panel discussion entitled “Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention: Challenges, good practices, and ways forward in prevention,” on Friday, 14 December in Geneva, Switzerland.

Seventy years after the international community ratified this landmark document, human rights violations and atrocities continue to occur in spite of the historic calls of “never again.” Yet much can still be done to prevent these crimes. In this vein, the event aims to share stories of success and best practices to mitigate these threats and create sustainable peace. In order to better protect populations and uphold the obligations States and the international community have under the Responsibility to Protect, it  requires strong and capable national policies, the use of existing global mechanisms, and multilateral collaboration. Next week’s event hopes to provide a variety of stakeholders with an opportunity to reflect on the future implementation of the Genocide Convention at all levels.

For those interested in joining the event in Geneva, the full event invitation can be found here, or your RSVP can be submitted directly via this link.

**Please note that this will be the last RtoPWeekly in 2018. We will resume publication in the new year. Happy holidays to all those celebrating from the ICRtoP Secretariat team!**


What to Watch:

Syria: A vision from Syrian civil society organizations about the General Principles of the Rebuilding process of Syria (Syrian Network for Human Rights)
A group of civil society organizations released a statement, including Coalition Member the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), specifying their vision of the reconstruction process in Syria. In the statement, the organizations expressed their concern over the use of the international aid, as it could potentially be used by the coalition of Russia, Iran, and Assad’s government as political, focusing aid deliverance solely in those areas they considered. The CSOs argue, that if this were to happen, the international community would, in essence, be rewarding war criminals. In this vein, the authors propose alternatives to ensure the appropriate use of funds, stressing that democracy is a crucial condition for a successful rebuilding process, and identify several principles which are necessary under human rights and international law such as victim compensation, transparency, democracy, and full and localized participation by civil society.

Syria: 231 Civilians Killed in Syria in November 2018 (Syrian Network for Human Rights; Middle East Monitor)
SNHR, released its monthly reports, documenting 231 civilian deaths in November 2018: 72 by regime forces, and 79 in air attacks by the international coalition. In other findings, the organization recorded 529 cases of arbitrary arrest, with 70 percent made by regime forces. The severity of human rights abuses and evidence of war crimes has not gone unnoticed, with Stephen Rapp, Chairman of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), noting that the evidence of war crimes committed by the Syrian government is the strongest collected since the Nuremberg trials.

Yemen: Yemen talks set to start in Sweden after wounded Houthis evacuated (Reuters; CNN; CBC News)
Yemen’s Houthis agreed to attend UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden after the Saudi-led coalition approved the medical evacuation of their wounded members. UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in Sana’a, Yemen to escort the delegation to the talks in Stockholm. Many see the peace talks as “the most significant step” toward reaching a solution to end the conflict. Negotiations come after growing international pressure for an end to the war as the humanitarian situation continues deteriorates. At the negotiations, Griffiths will seek to secure a truce in the country’s main port, Hodeidah, ending the air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians to date, though the warring parties are reportedly still far from agreement at the time of writing.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: The Kachin IDP crisis: Myanmar’s other humanitarian disaster
A Burmese military division is now reportedly targeting the Kachin minority in the Kachin State, leading to large numbers of IDPs. The same unit previously carried out the crimes against the Rohingya.

Burma: ‘Genocide’ Evidence in Case of Myanmar’s Rohingya Growing
The US Holocaust Museum found evidence that genocide was committed against the Rohingya in Burma and urges for accountability.

Burundi: Burundi orders UN to close Human Rights office in Bujumbura
After high levels of criticism over its human rights situation, Burundi has ordered the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to close its Bujumbura office within two months.

Cameroon: Peace Operations: International Manual Presented in Yaounde
The Leuven Manual on the International Law Applicable to Peacekeeping Operations, focusing on legal obligations and best practices at the UN and regional levels, was dedicated in Yaounde.

GAAMAC: The Importance of Atrocity Prevention [Video]
During GAAMACIII participants discussed what atrocity prevention is and how it can be achieved.

South Sudan: UN Says More Than 150 Women, Girls Raped in South Sudan
Over 150 cases of rape and sexual violence occurred over the past week near Bentiu. The heads of UNICEF, UNFPA, and the USG for Humanitarian Affairs issued a joint-statement urging accountability for those carrying out the attacks.

Sudan: UN Women’s Org. hosts North Darfur peacebuilding workshop
UN Women conducted a workshop at a Darfurian IDP camp in Sudan on strengthening women’s involvement in peace building.


 

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RtoP Weekly: 26 – 29 November 2018

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This week in focus:
Making “Never Again” a Reality – Germany and the UNSC

With Germany taking a seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2019 and 2020, it provides the country a great opportunity to uphold its obligations under the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and promote atrocity prevention measures to better protect populations within the Council. In Making “never again” a reality: What Germany can contribute during its next term in the Security Council toward preventing mass atrocities, a new report fromo the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), ICRtoP member the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation’s (AIPR) Dr. Tibi Galis and Jack Mayerhofer argue that in order to better institutionalize atrocity prevention, Germany should move away from “conflict-hopping.” This approach is one that predominately reacts to the various crises that are already occurring, often causing the UNSC to fall into political gridlock, stalling actions that could prevent the commission of atrocities crimes at a cost to human life. The authors argue that instead, Germany should prioritize atrocity prevention in all deliberations of the Council, increasing and normalizing its implementation, leveraging other UN human rights systems, and avoiding political standstill in the Council.

We would like to congratulate our colleagues on their publication, and are honored to be participating in its launch event in New York next week. ICRtoP’s Brittany Roser will be featured as a panel discussant in the off-the-record discussion alongside the report authors from AIPR, Kerstin Pürschel of the German Mission to the United Nations, and moderator, Sapna Chhatpar Considine of Strategy for Humanity. Please note the event is by invitation only.

A full-text version of the publication can be found here.


What to Watch:

Assembly of the States Parties of the ICC: Next Friday, 7 December, the governments of Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands will host a panel event on “Hard Law Obligations, Atrocity Crimes and Veto” as part of the 17th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) of the ICC side events. The discussion will focus on the use of the Security Council veto in situations of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Participants will examine whether or not the use of such instrument by the Permanent Five members of the Council (“the P5”) is in accordance with existing international legal principles and standards. The event will be aimed at encouraging discussions on new approaches to the restriction of veto in situations of mass atrocity crimes, the various legal arguments related to the unrestricted veto, seeking a way forward for the UN General Assembly to consult the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on questions related to veto and mass atrocity crimes, and the different initiatives for voluntary veto restraint.

Nigeria: European Asylum Support Office (EASO)- Country of Origin Information Report(EASO)
Widespread violence, insecurity, and serious crimes continue to prevail in Nigeria, as documented by several reports issued during this week. The EASO issued a report detailing the persecution and rights violations experienced by individuals in the country and the numerous mass atrocity crimes committed by several groups during the past few years, including killings, torture, abductions, and sexual violence. Similarly, Amnesty International published its findings on the targeting of women in IDP camps, where they are often the victims of violence and serious abuses that, according to the organization, could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Both offices call for accountability and justice as the crisis persists.

Yemen: US ‘slams the brakes’ on UN Yemen ceasefire resolution (CNN)
A resolution drafted by the UK calling for UNSC action for a ceasefire and additional humanitarian aid in Yemen has been stalled by the US over concerns of angering Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups already criticized the resolution for being insufficent, as it only calls for a limited ceasefire in Hodeidah. The US, together with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, are concerned that if the resolution is adopted, Saudi Arabia or the Houthis may decide not to participate in the peace talks that are scheduled to take place next week in Sweden.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Myanmar Seizes Boat With Rohingya Fleeing To Malaysia
Burmese authorities seized another boat carrying Rohingya Muslims trying to reach Malaysia. The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reiterated its message that it is crucial to “address the root causes of displacement” in order to deal with the crisis.

China: Academics Condemn China Over Xinjian Camps, Urge Sanctions
Academics called upon the international community to impose sanctions over China for the mass detention of Uighur Muslims adding countries should grant group members asylum, and urged the UN to open an investigation.

Israel: Israel Votes Down Recognition of Yazidi Genocide, Citing UN
Israel voted against a bill to recognize the crimes committed by ISIL against the Yazidi people as genocide in Iraq and Syria.

Liberia: AFL Soldiers Ready to “Deal With” Threats Concerning War Crimes Court
Liberia’s armed forces expressed support for the creation of the War Crimes court assuring the population they were ready to protect their safety if any instability occurred.

Libya: UNHCR appeals for more resettlement, end to detention as Libya evacuations near 2,500
UNHCR evacuated almost 2,500 refugees and asylum seekers who were previously detained in Libya, urging countries to offer additional resettlement places due to the dangers migrants face should they be returned.

Philippines: Philippine Court Jails Three Police Officers For Drugs War Murder
A court in the Philippines convicted three police officers involved in the extrajudicial killings carried out during the war on drugs. Rights advocates noted, however, that the “killings must stop.”

Syria: Chemical weapons agency to investigate alleged Aleppo attack
Rebel forces allegedly committed a gas attack in Aleppo on Saturday, that harmed 100 civilians. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Syrian officials will investigate.

Syria: Children and armed conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic – Report of the Secretary-General
Secretary-General Guterres’ report describes the violations committed against children in the Syrian war, documenting over 7000 casualties, forced recruitment, torture, abductions, and sexual violence.

Yemen: Prospects Grow for Yemen Talks in Sweden Next Week
Yemen’s warring parties will attend the UN-sponsored peace talks expected to take place next week in Sweden, following pressure from Western countries for an end to the conflict.


 

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

Engage with the ICRtoP!
Tag or mention us! Use #ICRtoP or @ICRtoP to share your RtoP news and updates, or for a chance to be featured by ICRtoP.

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