#RtoP Weekly: 8 – 12 April

Weekly

This week in focus:
Kwibuka 25 : Remembering the Rwandan Genocide

7 April marked the 25th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Over a 100-day period, nearly 800,000 Rwandans died in the genocide, making it the quickest of the 20th century. In spite of warning signs of burgeoning conflict, the international community failed to take timely and decisive action to prevent these atrocities. Each year, Rwandans commemorate the events, known as “Kwibuka.” The Kinyarwanda word means, “to remember,” taking on a significant meaning in light of the major anniversary this year. Kwibuka 25 adopted a theme of “to remember, unite, renew,” which perhaps encapsulates the complexities of post-conflict societies in one of the simplest ways. By learning from their past and working through truth and reconciliation measures, the Rwandan people continue towards building an inclusive society and preventing the recurrence of these tragic events.
The ICRtoP statement on the 25th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide can be found here.

(image via the BBC)

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What to Watch:

China: The Persecution of the Uighurs and Potential Crimes Against Humanity in China (Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect)

Coalition Steering Group member, Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and Coalition member the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a joint report detailing China’s treatment of its Turkic Muslim population, and its response to growing international pressure. The government continues to employ a policy of arbitrary detention, religious restrictions, and extensive surveillance against the Uighurs, justifying the decision as one to counter extremism. The treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang province resulted in systemic human rights abuses. The report finds government actions may amount to crimes against humanity, and recommends solutions to end rights violations.


Israel: Israel Election Live Updates: As Gantz Concedes, Netanyahu Set for Victory  (New York Times)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won fourth consecutive term in this week’s election. Four right-wing and religious parties publicly pledged to support him in his bid to form the next governing coalition, raising concerns over a previous declaration, where he promised to annex Israeli occupied territories in West Bank. Many view his victory as a closing door for a peaceful settlement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the creation of a Palestinian state. Palestinian leaders said the election results endorsed an indefinite occupation of the West Bank, human rights abuses, and the growing encroachment on Palestinian lands
.


Libya:
Libya: Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure may amount to war crimes, Bachelet warns (ReliefWeb)

Last week, leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, launched an assault on Tripoli, causing an escalation in tensions and violence with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Coalition member Human Rights Watch said the recent threats of confrontation raise atrocity concerns, noting the militias have history of abuses against civilians. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stated the attacks taking place against civilians and civilian infrastructures may amount to war crimes, urging all parties to the conflict to make every effort to protect civilian lives. Due to the renewed violence, the United Nations decided to postpone upcoming reconciliation dialogues that were expected to lead to democratic elections, saying the current situation make it impossible to hold productive talks.

Sudan:
Omar Hassan al-Bashir Is Removed as Sudan’s President (New York Times)

Protests outside of the military’s headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, began last weekend, with the Sudanese people demanding the resignation of President al-Bashir. Over the course of several days, the protests grew, along with concern from the international community over the use of force against civilians by the military and lack of a credible transition plan. Countries like Norway, the UK, and the US urged action to prevent further instability. On Thursday, military actors arrested al-Bashir, removing him from power. In addition to placing al-Bashir under house arrest, military leaders dissolved the government and suspending the constitution, and enacted a three-month state of emergency. It was also announced that there would be a two-year transition period lead by the military, causing concerns about the future respect for human rights, protection of civilians, and rule of law in the country. Additionally, it remains unclear whether al-Bashir will be handed over to the International Criminal Court, where he faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for the conflict in Darfur.

 

But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: UN ‘disturbed’ over attacks against civilians in Rakhine
The UN Human Rights Office condemned Burmese state forces for attacking civilians, calling on both the military and Arakan Army to end hostilities and protect civilians.

Cameroon: Government Forces Attack Village
Government forces attacked a village in the Anglophone region, with Human Rights Watch warning that similar events could occur if forces are not held accountable.

Nigeria: Video Exposes Beatings by Nigerian Security Forces
Human Rights Watch called for an end to impunity and the investigation of Nigerian authorities for torture and other abuses after a video of security forces whipping a group of 15 men surfaced.

Mali: UN Urges International Community to Invest in Mali’s Humanitarian Needs
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns that the security situation will continue to deteriorate without sustained and significant humanitarian aid.

Syria: Syrian Network for Human Rights: 221 chemical attacks in Syria since 2012
A reported 221 chemical attacks took place in Syria since December 2012, killing at least 1,461 civilians, a majority of which, the Syrian Network for Human Rights attributes to the Assad regime.

Venezuela: Maduro says Venezuela ready to receive international aid
After meeting with the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nicolas Maduro announced Venezuela is ready to receive humanitarian aid.

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#RtoP Weekly: 01 – 05 April

Weekly

This week in focus:
Recognizing Genocide Awareness Month

Recognizing Genocide Awareness Month, the ICRtoP team will mark the occasion with a series of infographics. With the first week of Genocide Awareness Month, we are taking a look at the first modern genocide of the 20th century: the Armenian Genocide.

The Armenians are an ethnic group traditionally residing in the area between the Southern Caucuses into Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Prior to World War I (WWI), Armenians were a sizeable ethnic and religious minority living within the Ottoman Empire. Practicing a branch of Orthodox Christianity, the Armenian’s beliefs set them apart from the Empire’s predominantly Turkic Muslim ruling class. Despite these differences, the Armenians lived relatively peacefully within the Empire for much of its existence.

In 1908, the Young Turks Revolution established a constitutional government in the Ottoman Empire. Though the Young Turks’ politics were progressive, the party held European ethnic nationalist views. Upon the outbreak of WWI the state feared that Armenians would side with Russia, sharing similar religious views. From 1915 to 1918, the Ottoman government employed a systematic wave of deportations and executions. In 1915, the state disarmed and eventually executed Armenian troops serving in the Empire, arrested and jailed the Armenian intelligentsia of Istanbul who were transferred to labor battalions, and deported Armenian communities to concentration camps in Ottoman Syria.

By the end of WWI, the Armenian population of the Empire went from 2 million, to an estimated 400,000. While exact numbers are difficult to determine, experts estimate between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. Today, the genocide is official remembered on 24 April, the anniversary of the arrest of the Armenian intelligentsia, which is considered the official beginning of the atrocities.

Please click here for the infographic.

(Image via the ICC)

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What to Watch:

Mali: Mali warns any cuts in UN force will strengthen militants (The Washington Post)
The future of MINUSMA, the UN Peacekeeping mission in Mali, has come into question ahead of its June renewal date. The US looks for a reduction in the mission, in spite of the Security Council approving a request by France to discuss its revamping. Mali’s Prime Minister urged the UNSC to maintain the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission at its current strength, saying any reduction in force may endanger the already fragile peace process. The government’s work to implement the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration process has yet to improve the nation’s stability, adding that recent militia violence may significantly undermine the gains made with the assistance of MINUSMA.

Sudan: Bashir, opposition opt for negotiations (The East African)
Sudanese President al-Bashir and opposition forces agreed to negotiate a deal for a transitional government, thought it comes with its pros and cons. In agreeing to create a transitional government, President Bashir conceded his plans to change the constitution and run for a third term. However, the elections, slated for 2020, are now in doubt, based on the terms of the agreement or the processes’ failure. Experts are concerned about rivaling factions reaching a consensus given the wide range of views the parties and the army hold.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Mr. Nicholas Koumjian of the United States of America – Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has named Nicholas Koumjian as head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. The mechanism will collect evidence of abuses and atrocities committed against the Rohingya.

Cameroon: Half a million civilians displaced in Cameroon skirmishes
Humanitarian and UN agencies report roughly half a million civilians from the Anglophone region are internally displaced, or seeking refuge in Nigeria.

Libya: African Union to host Libya ‘reconciliation’ conference
The African Union aims to unite Libyan political rivals through reconciliation and discussing the country’s future, which are critical in creating a lasting accord and stability in the country.

Nigeria: Nigeria Struggles with Security Sector Reform
Corruption and political misuse of Nigeria’s security sector contributes to a lack of trust and accountability in the country.

Philippines: Philippine Supreme Court Orders Release of Evidence from Duterte’s Drug War
The Philippine Supreme Court has ordered police to release documents related to killings in President Durterte’s war on drugs, which human rights groups hope will help end impunity.

Venezuela: UN Should Lead Full-Scale Emergency Response
A joint John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Human Rights Watch report on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela concluded that the UN should lead a full humanitarian emergency response to deliver life-saving aid.

Yemen: Exclusive: Yemeni child soldiers recruited by Saudi-UAE coalition
Al-Jazeera obtained exclusive footage proving the use of child soldiers in recruitment camps of the Saudi-United Arab Emirate led coalition in Yemen.


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#RtoP Weekly: 25 – 29 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
Ethnic tensions climbing in Mali

Last weekend, a massacre in the village of Ogossagou, central Mali left more than 160 dead and dozens more wounded. Tensions between the Fulani herding community and local farmers have grown over the past several months with, “violence across communal lines and by so-called ‘self-defense groups’ apparently attempting to root out violent extremist groups”, said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In response to the attack, the UN dispatched a team comprised of human rights specialists, child protection experts, and members of MINUSMA (UN Peacekeeping’s Operation in Mali) to investigate the events surrounding the killings, and offered to help to “bring the perpetrators to justice in order to break the circle of impunity” in the ongoing ethnic conflict. The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, also announced that the Court would also send a delegation, as the crimes could possibly fall under its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, call for restraint from actors on both sides, as there is fear that further violence will worsen the already fragile security situation. Over the past several years, Mali has been on the edge of instability and conflict, facing religious and ethnic conflicts, as well as infiltration and growth of extremist groups. Regional actors, such as Adama Gaye, West African analyst and former director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc, are skeptical of the country’s ability to protect its populations, saying “it [the state] is no longer there; there is no state protection to ensure safety and its presence in those areas.”

“People have concluded that there is even a risk of genocide – they are using the word genocide regarding the Fulanis … it’s a very serious situation,” said Gaye. It is a reminder to the international community of the importance of its obligations under the RtoP norm, and that the crisis in Mali merits more international attention in order to prevent atrocities.

 

(image via AFP)

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What to Watch:

Israel/Gaza: Gaza Rocket Sets Off Daylong Battle Between Hamas and Israel (New York Times)
On Monday 25 April, a rocket allegedly launched from Gaza by the Hamas struck a home in central Israel, wounding seven people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in visit to the United States, declared his government would respond forcefully to the attack. Later this day, Israeli warplanes struck back at Hamas targets, and both sides exchanged fire along the border. The strikes tapered off in the evening after a ceasefire was announced, avoiding an escalation in the conflict.


Yemen: Yemen: Four years on, fears of further violations with no end in sight to brutal conflict (Amnesty International)
Four years after the beginning of the Yemeni war, Amnesty International says it has documented violations amounting to war crimes by all parties to the conflict. In order to protect the civilian population, the organization is urging for the suspension of all arms transfer to the Saudi and UAE-led coalition, especially from France, the UK and the US. 25 NGOs also called on Germany to extend its moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, asking the country use its current Presidency in the UN Security Council to work toward a better protection of the rights of civilians, and ensure accountability for all parties responsible for violations of international law.


On Wednesday 27 April, the Saudi-led coalition conducted another airstrike on a hospital, reportedly killing seven civilians. The coalition has faced repeated criticism for its targeting of hospitals and civilians possibly amounting to war crimes. The UK government is also currently investigating suggestions that British Special Forces witnessed war crimes by the coalition, along with the training of child soldiers.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: UN resolution slams Myanmar over rights violations

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution for Burmese authorities to end its violations of international law, with particular reference to sexual and gender-based violence.

Cameroon: New Attacks on Civilians By Troops, Separatists

Human Rights Watch documented the indiscriminate use of force against civilians, including arson, rape, kidnapping, and 170 deaths by state and armed force over the past six months.


Latin America: Costa Rica: Authorities must guarantee the human rights of those people fleeing the crisis in Nicaragua

Amnesty International has called on the international community to support Costa Rica’s efforts to receive and protect people fleeing the human rights crisis in Nicaragua. Nearly 42,000 refugees are already in the country.


Sudan: Bar or Arrest Sudan’s al-Bashir: ICC Members Should Not Allow Fugitives Unrestricted Movement

Ahead of the Arab League meeting in Tunisia, the international community continues to urge the country to refuse entry to or arrest Sudanese President al-Bashir.


Syria:
SDF calls for creation of international court to prosecute ISIS members in Syria

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) called on the international community to establish an international court in northeast Syria in order to prosecute ISIS members for their alleged crimes.


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Call for Internship Applications
The ICRtoP Secretariat in New York City is accepting internship applications for Summer 2019. Interested parties should submit their application before Monday, 1 April, and can find more information by clicking here.

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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)

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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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