Tag Archives: R2P

#RtoP Weekly: 15 – 17 April

Weekly

This week in focus:
Genocide Today: The Yazidis (2014- present)

Continuing to recognize Genocide Awareness Month, the ICRtoP turns its attention to ongoing atrocities, taking a look at the genocide of the Yazidi people at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The crimes committed against the Yazidi people is one portion of continuing and complex crisis in Iraq and Syria, and this infographic not only chronicles these events, but also highlights the ongoing plight of the Yazidis and the resulting accountability efforts.

The ICRtoP infographic can be found here.

***Please note that there will be no RtoP Weekly next week as our offices will be closed over the Easter Holiday. We will resume publication in May.***

(image via EuroNews)

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What to Watch:

Burma: Myanmar’s 2020 Elections and Conflict Dynamics (United States Institute of Peace)
Elections for many of Burma’s legislative bodies are scheduled for late 2020, coinciding with the 21st Century Panglong peace process, and the potential repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) outlines the possibility for violence caused by the convergence of these events including divisive campaigning, populist rhetoric, and misinformation that will increase tensions and undermine support for the peace process. The USIP report also outlines opportunities for the international community and Burmese government to take in order mitigate the risk of conflict leading up to elections.

International Criminal Court (ICC): Afghanistan: ICC refuses to authorize investigation, caving into USA threats  (Amnesty International)
The ICC announced it will not investigate crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan. Many see the decision as an abandonment of victims’ rights, and note that crimes have been committed in the country with impunity. Amnesty further argues the Court has a moral and legal duty to reach out to the victims of crimes in the country and explain its decision.

Libya: Arab Pacifists Demand an End to Violence in Libya (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – GPPAC)
In a statement issued this past weekend, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), expressed its concerns over the recent confrontations in the country, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to the use of child soldiers in the conflict. GPPAC also called on the UN and the Security Council to do all they can to prevent conflict through nonviolent means, and promote a national dialogue for peace and democracy.  At the same time, the Arab League Envoy on Libya criticized foreign nations’ involvement in the dispute, saying they are fueling the conflict and escalating violence. They called on warring parties in Libya to cease hostilities and return to the negotiating table.

Sudan: AU warns Sudan military, protesters make demands (Africa News)
The Sudanese military continues to remain in power after it removed al-Bashir from office last week. Though the military stated its intention to create a civilian government, protests outside its headquarters continue. The African Union (AU) issued a statement giving state forces 15 days to transfer power to a civilian government, or face suspension in the regional organization. Many hope the involvement of the AU and its warnings lead to a peaceful transfer of power.


But Also Don’t Miss:

International Criminal Court: All roads to global justice lead to the Rome Statute 
In an Op-Ed, Eric Paulson argues that the International Criminal Court was set up to end impunity for mass atrocity crimes, punish perpetrators, and prevent future occurrences, and that misconceptions over the ICC’s mandate threatens justice worldwide.

Israel/Palestine: Palestinian state likely not in US proposed peace plan: Report
The United States-proposed peace plan for Israel and Palestine reportedly contains practical improvements for the lives of Palestinians, but likely excludes the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Qatar: Doha conference seeks to address impunity for war crimes
Qatar is hosting an international conference in Doha, seeking to address impunity and find solutions in order to hold individuals and states accountable for war crimes and human rights violations.

Venezuela: First Red Cross aid delivery lands in crisis-torn Venezuela
The first International Committee of the Red Cross aid shipment arrived in Venezuela, marking a “tacit recognition” from Nicolas Maduro that a humanitarian crisis exists in the country.

Yemen: Plan for troop pullback ‘now accepted’ by rival forces around key Yemen port, but fighting intensifying elsewhere, Security Council warned
The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen said pro-government forces and Houthi rebels agreed to withdraw troops from the front lines in and around Hodeidah, though fighting is intensifying elsewhere in the country.


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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: 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: 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: 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: 10 – 14 September 2018

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This week in focus: The RtoP Weekly Reboot

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

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


What to Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


But Also Don’t Miss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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#RtoP Weekly : 17 – 22 June 2018

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 RtoP in the UN General Assembly

It is a busy and exciting time at the ICRtoP, as we wrote to you in our Weekly a fortnight ago, the first formal debate on the RtoP in the UN General Assembly since 2009 will be taking place 25 June. As such we have been preparing for the debate and are looking forward to advocating for the inclusivity, importance, and perpetuity of RtoP’s inclusion on the UN Agenda.

Secretary-General Guterres has remained committed to conflict and atrocity prevention over his tenure, and the upcoming debate and side events next week in New York will provide Member States an opportunity to develop formal, on-the-record statements and encourage further dialogs on the doctrine’s domestication and implementation. As the Secretary General noted at the Oslo Forum this past week, the number of countries involved in conflict and number of people killed in conflicts increasing at significant rates, preventative action is “more necessary than ever.”

**Please note that there will be no RtoPWeekly 22 – 29 June due to the Formal Debate on the RtoP in the UN General Assembly. However, we will resume publication with an update on these events, including the Secretary General’s Report on the RtoP, the debate, and the crisis situations around the world the following week, 30 June – 6 July.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
DPRK
DRC
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Kenya
Libya 

Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan
Syria
Venezuela
Yemen


Burma/Myanmar:

A photojournalist travelled with the UN Children’s Fund and interviewed 14 Rohingya refugee women survivors of brutal sexual violence. On 18 June, he published a photo-essay in his personal blog where he explains how the issue of rape is still a taboo in Rohingya society. The blog also highlights how the shame that rape carries decreases the prospects of victims to marry or remarry close to zero. UNICEF also collected testimonies from various victims whose children have been called the “forgotten victims of war” by Secretary General Guterres.

Prior to World Refugee Day on 20 June, a report by the UN stated that a record number of people were displaced, and noted the Rohingya was one of the largest groups of refugees.


DPRK:

On 20 June, the follow up after the historic summit demonstrated flaws as James Mattis, the US Defence Secretary, claimed to be unaware of the steps of the alleged process of dismantling nuclear weapons by North Korea, nor does know when the next meeting discussing denuclearization will be held.


DRC:

Following his release from detention at the ICC, Former VP Bemba returned to Belgium, where he owns a home, the International Justice Initiative reported on 18 June. The ICC and Belgium signed an agreement in 2014 allowing for the interim release of detainees into their territory. As part of his release conditions, Bemba had to provide his address and contact information to authorities, in addition to agreeing to surrender himself immediately if required by the trial chamber.


Gaza/West Bank:

In retaliation for the release of incendiary kites by Palestinian protesters, the Israel Defense Forces struck nine targets in Gaza in through air strikes on 19 June. Concern continues over Israel’s “excessive use of force.”

On 20 June, Palestinians in Gaza fired “several dozen rockets and mortar bombs” into Israel. No Israeli casualties were reported. Hamas spokesperson noted that the strikes were in line with a “bombardment for bombardment” policy they have implemented, and that strikes were in “retaliation for an earlier Israeli air strike.”

Injured Palestinian protesters continue to face barriers to healthcare access due to the 11 year Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza. Hospitals have extremely limited access to medical supplies and only one third of injured people had exit permits approved to travel out-with Gaza for life-saving treatment. Instead, many lacking treatment have just faced a “slow death,” Al Jazeera reports.


Iraq: 

The wives of ISIS fighters continue to face prosecution for terrorism in Iraqi courts, following the defeat of ISIS in the country. PBS reports that while Iraq wants to extradite the women back to their home countries, such as Russia, the governments are refusing to accept them. If women with children are convicted, the children will remain in prison with them until they reach school age, when they will be sent to orphanages in Iraq. Coalition member, Human Rights Watch, is expressing concern over the lack of fair trials for these women and also the lack of consideration of individual circumstances in each case, particularly as those charged face the death penalty as punishment.


Kenya:

On 19 June the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) released a report that 60 percent of sexual violence cases that were reported during the 2017 General Election were perpetrated by security officers. The KNHCR also noted that many of the crimes went unreported due to a lack of trust in law enforcement agencies.


Libya: 

Fighting continues as the Libyan National Army attempts to take over the city of Derna. The LNA claims to claims to have captured 75% of the city, DW News reported on 18 June. Over 2,183 families have fled so far, according to the UN Migration Agency. Conditions are expected to continue deteriorating as the conflict continues.

A study released by Airways and New America reports that, since October 2011, 2,158 air strikes have taken place in Libya, by US, UAE, French and Egyptian forces. The report claims that strikes killed 395 civilians.


Mali:

On 14 June, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations highlighted the importance of consolidating democracy in Mali through the upcoming Presidential elections that will be held on 29 July. He also stressed that Mali should implement the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation after the elections, as it will help towards the peaceful resolution of disputes.

On 18 June, members of local human rights NGOs informed EFE about 25 civilian bodies found in a mass grave in the region of Mopti, in central Mali. More than half of them were identified as part of a list of arrested people by FAMA, which suggests an “extrajudicial execution” committed by soldiers. AI and HRW have also recently denounced FAMA for their alleged abuses against Malian civilians with the pretext of counter-terrorist struggle. On 19 June, Mali’s defence minister Coulibaly admitted that its armed forces were implicated in the killings of the 25 civilian bodies found in three mass graves. Coulibaly instructed military prosecutors to open an inquiry to fight impunity and promote the enforcement of humanitarian conventions and international rights.


Nigeria:

On 16 June, the UNSG condemned the killing in the north-eastern Nigerian area of Damboa by six suicide bombers allegedly conducted by Boko Haram. This attack took the life of 30 people and targeted the Eid al-Fitr celebrations by Muslims which mark the end of Ramadan. Guterres reminds that attacks which affect civilians go against international humanitarian law and he demands Nigeria to find the people responsible for the massacre and that they are brought to justice.


South Sudan:

President Salva Kiir rejected an offer for his peace talks with Dr. Riek Machar to be hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in favor of a more neutral location, South Sudanese officials announced a week prior to the anticipated discussion. There were concerns about an IGAD country hosting the peace talks, with alleged competition and interests between Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, as each country offered to host the negotiations. Instead, Michael Makuei, Information Minister and government spokesperson, said that President Kiir would prefer to travel to South Africa to meet with Dr. Machar, where the former has been on house arrest since 2016. In spite of protestation from the South Sudanese government, the peace talks between President Kiir and Dr. Machar took place in Addis Ababa on 20 June, though little about the discussion or its outcome is known at the time of writing.

In efforts to impose economic effects on officials, the Trump Administration announced “network sanctions” against the families and commercial ties of  South Sudan’s leaders last week. The proposal, advocated for by John Prendergast and The Sentry, urges Kenyan and Ugandan leaders to investigate ties and seize relevant assets. As of 19 July, Kenya has resisted the push from the US saying it “will only act within the context of international practices through the United Nations conventions and the Bretton Woods institutions.” The Trump Administration, which is keen to end the conflict in South Sudan, believes that officials in Nairobi and Kampala have not done enough to curb illicit money flowing through their system.


Sudan/Darfur:

Since 15 June, the Jebel Marra area of Darfur saw increased violence, including indiscriminate shelling by government forces, tribal clashes, and by villagers against displaced farmers, according to Netherlands based Radio Dabanga. In the Rokoro locality, they reported of indiscriminate shelling by government forces in addition to the detention and beating of several teenage boys. Meanwhile, a tribal conflict south of Abu Jubeiha city left two dead and dozens more wounded until police and security forces intervened and stopped the violence on 16 June. Police forces also intervened in the attacks in South Darfur, in which hostile villagers retaliated against displaced farmers hoping to settle and cultivate the land. 17 were injured. Violent attacks also wounded returnees on 19 June, when a group of over 70 armed militants fired upon farmers returning to cultivate their land, reinforcing the need for secure, safe conditions and the collection of arms if government officials are as serious about implementing a voluntary return program to Darfur.

The detention of Humanitarian Azrag Hasan Humeid on 18 June also incited protection concerns. Humeid, who started a youth initiative aimed at helping families through small enterprise ventures in East Darfur, was arrested upon the return from a trip to Khartoum and transferred to Ed Daein. An anonymous source suspects that his membership in a minority tribal group in the region, as well as the unfavorable position the leading National Congress Party has against civil society initiatives, contributed to his arrest.

ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, delivered another biannual report to the Security Council (UNSC) on the situation in Darfur. She noted that after 13 years, and 27 reports, the victims of the violence in Darfur had still yet to see any steps taken towards bringing the perpetrators of the alleged crimes to justice. She called for the UNSC to supporting the effective implementation of its own Resolution which referred the Darfur situation to the Court in the first place.


Syria:

Syria’s state-run news agency, Sana, accused a US-led coalition of conducting air strikes on 17 June which killed 52 people. The  Syrian Observatory for Human Rights verified the number of deaths. The US Operation Inherent Resolve, denies the reports, claiming that Israeli forces conducted the strikes.

The UN Commission of Inquiry released a report on 20 June accusing the Assad regime of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Eastern Ghouta earlier this year. The targeting of civilian areas, denial of food and medicine to civilians and attempts to starve 265,000 people all amount to breaches of international law.

On 21 June however, the New York Times revealed that the UN report in fact omitted crucial details that were included in an earlier draft that they received a copy of. The earlier draft placed more direct blame on the Assad regime for use of chemical weapons. A member of the Commission however stated that more evidence was required to back up claims in the earlier draft which they would continue to look into

The Citizen reported on 21 June that in the last three days alone 12,000 Syrians had to “flee their homes” as a result of continuing attacks by the Assad regime on rebel-held areas of Daraa in the south.


Venezuela:

On 19 June, Jorge Valero, Ambassador of Venezuela in the UN, rejected the report on human rights on Venezuela that the UN plans to publish. They accuse the UN of relying on unverified information and that it “lacks scientific rigor”. This coincides with the publication of UNHCR’s report on Global Trends in Forced Displacement, which ranked Venezuela fourth in the list of countries of origin for new asylum seekers in 2017. The number of Venezuelans requesting international protection was 111,600 in 2017, triple the numbers registered in 2016.


Yemen:

Despite talks between Houthis and the UN Envoy to Yemen occurring over the weekend regarding a UN administrative take-over of Hodeidah, Martin Griffiths reportedly left the country without comment. It is unclear so far whether they reached a peaceful agreement.

Reuters reported on 19 June that the Saudi-led coalition invading Hodeidah captured large swathes of the port city from Iran-aligned Houthi fighters. Residents are reporting that “water has been cut off” to many homes and “death and destruction” is everywhere.

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#R2P Weekly: 29 January – 2 February 2018

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Burma: New evidence of mass graves in Rakhine State

The Associated Press (AP) has reported the presence of at least five mass graves in the village of Gu Dar Pyin in Rakhine State in Burma. AP interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and examined their reportedly clandestine photos and videos from their experiences. Refugees from the village made claims of an attack by government forces on 27 August 2017, which survivors have described began when soldiers stormed the village and opened fire arbitrarily. The soldiers allegedly carried weapons, as well as shovels and containers filled with acid. Later, when survivors came back to look for their families, they reportedly found a village burned to the ground with corpses strewn across the area, as well as impromptu mass graves with burned bodies in an assumed attempt by military forces of covering their actions. Mohammad Karim, a Rohingya man from Gu Dar Pyin, also presented AP with a time-stamped video showing the described destruction and killings. The video purportedly shows one corpse with the skin melted away and limbs scattered around it, according to AP reports. Survivors allegedly discovered three mass graves in the north part of the village, including a pond with the capacity for about 80 people. The other mass graves were reportedly smaller and located on former latrine holes. The Burmese government has denied access to Rakhine State, but satellite images of the area have confirmed the destruction of the village. Furthermore, AP’s latest investigation is not the first to assert the presence of mass graves. In December, Burmese authorities confirmed one mass grave in the village of Inn Dinn, but claimed that the bodies within the grave were of terrorists and pledged accountability for the perpetrators.

Since 1982, the government has continued to deny citizenship to the Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country of Burma. In 2012 and 2016, violent clashes between Buddhist nationals and the Rohingya forced many to flee. However, the situation escalated in mid-August 2017, when members of the resistance group, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), attacked 20 Burmese police post, leaving 71 people dead. The government responded with systematic violent attacks against Rohingya villages, resulting in a massive influx of Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh. Estimates suggest that at least one-third of the 1.2 million Rohingya people from Burma are now considered refugees.

The Burmese government has denied the mass killings and the burning down of villages in Rakhine State. However, it has not rejected the use of force against Rohingya terrorists. For example, on 14 September 2017, the government reported 40 percent of Rohingya villages are empty, but stated that the people who left were terrorists or were connected to terrorism. Several human rights groups, the United Nations, and the European Union have condemned the treatment of the Rohingya and urged the Burmese government, which includes Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, to act responsibly. They have also requested access for observers and humanitarian aid workers to the area. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the situation in Burma a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Still, UN officials are hesitant to call the actions of the Burmese government forces genocide until an international tribunal investigates the facts. However, the UN has warned that all the signs of genocide are present.

In September 2017, the Burmese government created the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, with a mandate to find solutions to the ethnic conflict in Rakhine State. The Commission concluded with a report carrying 88 recommendations, such as calling for the freedom of movement of the Rohingya and for an end to forced segregation, but also stressed the citizenship issue as the main obstacle. The government said it will comply with the Commission’s recommendations, but no tangible actions have been taken.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
CAR
DRC
Gaza/ West Bank
Iraq
Kenya
Libya 
Mali

Nigeria
Philippines
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Venezuela
Yemen
Other

 


Burma/Myanmar:

On 31 January, CARE International warned that the wellbeing of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh would deteriorate in the upcoming rainy season. Refugee camps could face floods and landslides. Approximately 900,000 people are estimated to live in the refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar region.

Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae,  outlined in his Interim Report the need for a comprehensive humanitarian and political solution to the plight of the Rohingya. Rae also urged members of the international community to actively improve the conditions of refugee camps in Bangladesh. He further called on the Burmese government to ensure the safety of the Rohingya once repatriated and to allow neutral observers into Rakhine State. Lastly, Rae advocated for accountability, and for those who have committed crimes to be brought to justice.


Central African Republic:

On 26 January, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reported that peacekeepers were working with authorities in the CAR to alleviate suffering from the displacement crisis.

According to MINUSCA, fierce fighting in the CAR’s northwest region has forced 65,000 people, mostly women and children, to flee to the city of Paoua. The number of internally displaced persons in the country reportedly 60 percent higher than it was last year. Adrian Edwards of the UN refugee agency said that these numbers are the highest they have been in the past four years.

On 30 January, the UN Security Council unanimously renewed an arms embargo against the CAR for another year, and also set out new criteria that could potentially lead to new sanctions. In the French-drafted resolution, the Security Council also condemned incitement to violence on religious or ethnic grounds, and indicated that anyone who perpetrates such crimes would face sanctions. Accordingly, this resolution could lead to targeted sanctions against those involved in anti-Muslim or anti-Christian violence in the country.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Violence in the DRC that began in December 2017 has forced more than 10,000 people to flee to neighboring Uganda. Upon arrival, some of these refugees have claimed that in the DRC men are being killed and women are being raped. In the past week alone, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more than 8,000 people have fled from the eastern part of the DRC to neighboring countries. In particular, almost 7,000 Congolese have fled to Burundi, while 1,200 crossed over to Tanzania. The UNHCR has expressed its gratitude for those countries who have taken in refugees, but is also concerned about the effect that the high influx of refugees is placing on the limited resources of camps.

The UNHCR is also concerned about the impact that violence is having on the civilian population in the DRC. Notably, violence in the DRC is impacting children in horrific ways. Militias have recruited more than 3,000 children to fight. Moreover, UNICEF has documented 800 accounts of sexual abuse against children. Tajudeen Oyewale, acting head of UNICEF in the DRC, stressed that “it is simply a brutal situation for children with no end in sight”. UNICEF is attempting to ensure that humanitarian aid still reaches children in the DRC. The UN stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has also reported that in the Kasai region there has been an alleged increase in summary executions. Allegedly, 64 percent of the summary killings have been carried out by state actors.

On 27 January, armed men ambushed a group of MONUSCO peacekeepers, killing one Pakistani peacekeeper. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the killing and urged all armed groups to lay down their arms.

President Joseph Kabila stated that he would not step down before the 23 December 2018 elections, despite protests calling for his resignation. After September 2016 protests resulted in several deaths, protests in the DRC were officially outlawed. MONUSCO has repeatedly reminded authorities in the DRC of the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. President Kabila indicated that in the near future he would introduce a law to “reframe” the right to protest for “those who wish to express themselves”.


Gaza / West Bank:

Israel’s defense forces warned that funding cuts to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) could threaten Israeli security. Military officials fear that the lack of funding could add to the already growing unrest. The military officials believe that UNRWA workers aid, more than they damage, Israel’s security.


Iraq:

Even after the declared defeat of the Islamic State (ISIL), the stability of Iraq remains fragile. In addition to government corruption and economic despair, the country continues to cope with an ever-increasing threat of violent sectarianism between the Sunni and Shiite populations. Accordingly, the upcoming 12 May elections present a pivotal moment for Iraq, but could also threaten to unravel hard-fought gains in the country. As of now, it seems that the two main candidates standing for election are current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, both from the same Shi’ite Dawa party.

Airstrikes continued in Iraq this week as well. According to reports, a botched US-led coalition airstrike allegedly killed eight Iraqi people and injured 20 more in Al-Anbar province on Saturday 28 January. Local police claim that the Coalition wrongfully targeted civilians and police after Iraqi forces confused police vehicles as part of a terrorist convoy. On Thursday 1 February, Turkey’s armed forces also reported that airstrikes conducted earlier in the week against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq killed 49 militants.


Kenya:

On 26 January, Kenya’s opposition released what it claimed to be “authentic” evidence showing that Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, was the rightly elected President. Odinga’s team did not release any information as to how they received the results. Furthermore, the electoral commission in Kenya did not validate these results. According to the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, 92 people were allegedly killed during the political unrest after the election in August 2017.

Raila Odinga swore himself in as the “people’s president” on 30 January at Uhuru Park. His candidate for Deputy President Kalonzo Musyoka, however, was not present. The highly controversial ceremony comes after the National Super Alliance (the opposition movement known as ‘NASA’) boycotted October’s rerun presidential election, in which current President Kenyatta won with a low voter turnout. Officials from Kenyatta’s government warned on 28 January that no gathering could take place; yet, police forces did not intervene in the event. After the inauguration, Kenyatta issued a statement declaring the ceremony illegal. Hours after his inauguration, Odinga took to Twitter to thank his supporters, saying that “We have arrived in Canaan; thank you for staying course with us.”

In response to the ceremony, Al Jazeera reported that the government took independent TV stations off the air ahead of the ceremony on Tuesday morning. The chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild also stated that the government cautioned senior editors not to cover the event. However, on 1 February, Kenya’s High Court suspended the government’s ban for 14 days until the Court addresses the case. The shutdown has lasted for three days, but there are no signs of compliance by the government with the Court’s decision. The three shut-down TV stations manage two-thirds of all Kenya’s TV audience.


Libya:

Two days after the twin car bombing in Benghazi killed 35 people and injured dozens more on 23 January, reports began to emerge on social media that 10 people had been summarily executed outside the mosque where the bombing took place.  Moreover, Libyan residents reported that five bodies were found in Benghazi’s Laithi neighborhood on 26 January, and medical sources similarly reported that three people who appear to have been summarily killed were found in Derma. On 27 January, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that it was “appalled” by the alleged retributory killings, and further stated that “The brutal pattern of violence must end. Those in effective control of fighters and those ordering, committing such crimes are liable under international law.”

The UN is also attempting to revive the stalled 2015 peace plan for Libya, as reported on 29 January. While recognizing the complex legislative, political, and security challenges,  UN officials, including special representative Ghassan Salame, have said they nevertheless want to assist Libya in holding elections by the end of 2018. Smail Chergui, Commissioner of the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council, stated that the UN and the AU would work together to promote reconciliation and prepare the necessary conditions for elections. However, the AU warned against rushing to elections.

Nearly two months have elapsed since videos began to emerge showing refugees being sold as slaves in Libya. On 29 January, Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the AU, reported that more than 13,000 migrants have been repatriated from Libya since the beginning of December 2017. It appears that Niger and Rwanda have also offered refuge to those who cannot be returned to their countries of origin. However, on 31 January, for no apparent reason, Libya’s Illegal Immigration Agency decided to shut down four immigrant reception centers in western Libya, housing thousands of mostly African migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.

On 1 February, ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that armed groups in Benghazi were preventing at least 3,700 internally displaced families from returning to their homes, accusing these people of either “terrorism” or “supporting terrorism”. Additionally, HRW interviewed several displaced people, who said that groups affiliated with the Libyan National Army forces (LNA) have tortured, arrested, and forcibly disappeared family members who remained in Benghazi.

This week, the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported that 378,000 children were in need of humanitarian assistance and that the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate. UNICEF is appealing for 20 million USD to scale up its humanitarian assistance response. On 29 January, unexploded ordinances also appear to have killed three children.


Mali:

On 25 January, a civilian vehicle ran over a landmine in central Mali, killing 26 people, including children. The victims were traveling from northern Burkina Faso to Mali for a weekly market. A Malian security source said that “terrorists use these mines to spread fear”. However, no one has claimed responsibility for the blast. On 27 January, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the “barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack”. The Security Council also stressed the need to increase efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, and urged all States, in accordance with their international legal obligations, to cooperate with the Governments of Mali and Burkina Faso to bring the perpetrators to justice. On 29 January, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita also canceled plans to attend an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and declared three days of mourning “in tribute to all those who have lost their lives in the last few days in terrorist attacks”.

On 29 January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report in which it had recorded 133 cases of humanitarian access constraints in Mali in 2017. This was the highest number OCHA had ever recorded in Mali.


Nigeria:

BBC Monitoring tracked Boko Haram’s attacks in 2017, and on 25 January, the BBC reported that Boko Haram killed more than 900 people last year. Furthermore, in 2017, Boko Haram was allegedly responsible for 90 armed attacks and 59 suicide bombings. The group targeted villages, militaries, mosques and internally displaced people fleeing the violence.

Since the beginning of the year, fighting between farmers and herdsman over land in five states of Nigeria has killed over 168 people and has resulted in thousands being displaced. In an attempt to combat this growing violence, Nigeria’s military has launched air raids, reportedly killing at least 35 people on 30 January. Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director, Osal Ojigho, has condemned the unlawful use of deadly force and declared that “The government must overturn its response to these deadly clashes to avoid the crisis getting out of control”.


Philippines:

On Monday 29 January, the Philippine Justice Department charged three police officers with the murder of Kian Loyd delos Santos, a 17-year old boy, who was killed in August 2017, in the midst of a drug war. Allegedly, the officers killed him because they believed he was a drug pusher. After his death, the Catholic church led the opposition against President Duterte’s brutal drug policy. In response to the protests that erupted after Mr. delos Santo’s killing, President Duterte installed a civilian-led drug enforcement officer. However, in December 2017, the police once again regained control of the drug war.


South Sudan:
 
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng called on the governments of Uganda and Kenya to stop contributing to the conflict in South Sudan. Dieng also stated that there were large quantities of weapons flowing through Kenya and Uganda into South Sudan. He warned that although the primary responsibility for the protection of populations lies with the government, the international community also has a duty to prevent atrocities.

On 24 January, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stated that the conflict in South Sudan is deteriorating because of the country’s the leaders. She called on the Security Council to implement an arms embargo against South Sudan in an attempt to slow the violence. Ambassador Haley also called on the African Union (AU) to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan, and also for Uganda and Kenya to work harder to facilitate peace. She called South Sudan an unfit partner to the UN Security Council. In the following days, the AU also called for sanctions against those disrupting the peace process in the country. South Sudan called on the envoy from the United States to discuss the comments.


Sudan/Darfur:

The violent crackdown by government forces on peaceful protests continues in Sudan. The Sudan Tribune reported the use of teargas and batons against civilians in the latest protest on Wednesday. The protests reportedly began over price hikes and the implementation of austerity measures.

Consequently, the European Union (EU) urged the Sudanese government to release opposition leaders and human rights activists arrested during the protests. Sources estimate that more than 170 activists have been arrested. The EU also called on the government to respect the freedom of the media and to stop the seizures of newspapers.

On 30 January, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N al-Hilu), one of the two factions of the rebel group SPLM-N in Sudan, extended the cease-fire for four more months starting on 1 February in the areas of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. The leader of the SPLM-N al-Hilu Abdel-Azizi stated that the extension is a show of goodwill for the upcoming peace talks with the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa. The talks will take place at the beginning of the February, however, SPLM-N Agar, the other faction of the rebel group, will not participate in the talks.


Syria:

Attacks on rebel-held territory continued this week in Syria. Since Sunday 28 January, suspected Russian-backed airstrikes by Syria’s government reportedly killed at least 35 people. Fighting also continued in Afrin. As of 31 January, Turkey claimed to have killed at least 712 fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and ISIL since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch. Turkey further claimed that 63 members of YPG and ISIL were ‘neutralized’ on 30 January alone. The city of Manbij is also on edge. Indeed, if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan follows through with his pledge to clear Turkish forces from all of the northern Syrian border, Turkey would likely have to face confrontation with the US, it’s NATO ally. On Sunday 28 January, General Joseph L. Votel, commander of the US Central Command, stated that the US would not withdraw from Manbij.  Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the American coalition confirmed General Votel’s remarks. This week, French President Emmanuel Macron also warned Turkey that its operation should not become an excuse to invade Syria.

Accordingly, violence in Syria overshadowed the Russian-sponsored “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue”, which took place in Sochi from 29-30 January (the ‘Sochi talks’). Furthermore, the majority of Syria’s rebel groups boycotted the Sochi talks, and a group of opposition delegates who had decided to come ultimately refused to leave the airport after taking offense at the event’s logo which featured only the flag of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, attended the Sochi talks, on the condition that the constitutional drafting process would remain in Geneva, the majority of the 1,500 delegates in attendance were pro-Assad. The Sochi talks ended with a few vague resolutions. Delegates agreed to set up a 150-member constitutional drafting committee that would be based in Geneva, put forward names of people to they would like to see on the Committee, invited absent groups to name representatives as well, and endorsed a democratic path forward through elections. Ultimately, however, a final agreement will need to be reached in Geneva, with UN support, regarding the constitutional committee’s powers and procedure, as well as criteria for selecting its members. According to Vladimir Putin, the Sochi talks were designed to break the impasse in negotiations and end the seven-year civil war. However, analysts believe that Russia’s real goal was to reshape the diplomatic process to fit the political and military reality (that Assad is still in power) and replace the US as the most engaged global power.


Venezuela:

Venezuelan opposition groups will be meeting with their government in the Dominican Republic to demand electoral safeguards for the elections that are scheduled to take place in April.  They are demanding a “balanced” election counsel and want Venezuelans living abroad to be able to vote. The opposition is also demanding that their members be allowed to run. Opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles are not allowed to run in the elections. Lopez’s party will not be involved in the talks.

On 26 January, the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned of increasing malnutrition rates among children in Venezuela. The economic crisis in the country severely limits the amount and quality of food of Venezuelan families. Due to limited official data, the agency could not provide precise numbers. However, the organization Caritas reported in August 2017 that 15.5 percent of children suffered from some level of wasting, while 20 percent were at risk. UNICEF urged for a short-term response to counter malnutrition.


Yemen:

Migrants and refugees continue to use Yemen as a transitory hub, despite the prevalent armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in the country, which exposes these people to a heightened risk of human rights violations. For instance, on 26 January, the UN reported that at least 30 refugees drowned, when a boat carrying 152 people, including 101 Ethiopians and 51 Somalis, capsized off the coast of Aden, Yemen. Allegedly, smugglers who were operating the overcrowded vessel also opened fire on the passengers.
On 25 January, UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed a $1 billion pledge by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to support humanitarian action in Yemen, as well as their pledge to raise $500 million more from regional donors. Additionally, Secretary-General Guterres welcomed the Saudi-led coalition’s delivery of 180,000 liters of fuel to the northern province of Marib.

However, infighting between former allies of the Saudi-led coalition (which have been fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in northern Yemen) came to a head this week. Previously, on 21 January, southern leaders, aligned with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) had set a one-week deadline for Yemen’s President, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to dismiss the cabinet. As the deadline neared, fighting erupted on Sunday 28 January, between armed separatists aligned with the STC (backed by the UAE) and forces loyal to President Hadi (backed by Saudi Arabia). As the STC seized several government offices in the strategic port city of Aden that day, Yemen’s prime minister, Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, accused the STC of staging a “coup”. Then on Tuesday 30 January, after two days of clashes, separatists loyal to the STC appear to have seized control of Aden, including the area around the presidential palace. Some news reports also suggested that Yemen’s Prime Minister and several senior government officials that were holed up in the palace were preparing to flee to Saudi Arabia. According to hospital sources, the fighting killed at least 10 people, and wounded 30 more. On 30 January, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that the UN’s relief officials were “extremely concerned by the violence that [they’d] seen over the last couple of days”, called on “all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law” and indicated that “it’s paramount that civilians are protected and that the wounded are afforded safe medical care and that all sides facilitate life-saving access”.


Other:

On 29 January, UN agencies reported that conflict is the underlying common factor of countries suffering from food insecurity. The report, which monitors 16 countries, emphasized the presence of acute hunger in South Sudan, Yemen, and Syria. The UN agencies highlighted the importance of access for humanitarian support to the affected areas.

 

 

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