Tag Archives: UN General Assembly

#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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#R2PWeekly: 14 – 18 November

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UN Special Adviser warns of risk for ethnic war and genocide in South Sudan

40e21209-d065-4454-beaf-4cf3e1c78475On 11 November, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, briefed the media with a statement on the situation in South Sudan following a five-day visit to the country last week. Mr. Dieng’s visit was largely in response to the growing amount of reports of ethnic-based violence that have emerged in the wake of the deterioration of the peace process between the government and opposition groups in July. During the visit, through meetings with government representatives, UN mission officials, civil society groups, and community members, Dieng tried to better understand the situation and the threats posed by the recent developments in the capital city, Juba, and throughout South Sudan.

Since the fighting resurfaced in July between President Salva Kiir’s predominantly Dinka soldiers and former First Vice President Riek Machar’s predominantly Nuer army, the extreme polarization of the groups along ethnic lines has increased. Over the last month there has also been an excessive escalation in ethnic hate speech, threatening letters, targeted killings, rape of members of certain ethnic groups, and attacks on individuals due to their perceived political affiliation. The media has also been used as a tool to help spread the hatred and encourage the segregation between the ethnic groups.

In his statement, Mr. Dieng argued that what he saw and heard during his visit confirmed his fears of the potential for genocide in South Sudan,  of which the escalating violence along ethnic lines is a strong indicator. While assessing the risk of atrocity crimes in the country, the Special Adviser concluded that all the criteria for an outright ethnic war and genocide are already in place and called on the South Sudanese leaders to take immediate measures to end the violence. He urged them to remember that the State has the primary responsibility to protect its population regardless of their ethnic, national, or political affiliations. Mr. Dieng finished the media briefing by, once again, stressing the importance of finding a solution for peace in South Sudan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a report to the Security Council released on Wednesday, has called for an arms embargo to be imposed on South Sudan as he warned of the risk of mass atrocities. He also noted that the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) lacks the means to stop such acts should they occur. Both the Secretary-General and Special Adviser Dieng agree that South Sudanese leaders must work hard for peace in the country, before things escalate further.

At the time of publishing the RtoPWeekly, Mr. Dieng was briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in South Sudan.

Source for above photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

*** Please note that there will be no RtoPWeekly next week, 21 – 25 November due to the holiday, but we will resume publication with the latest RtoP news and updates on crisis situations around the world the following week, 28 November – 2 December. Thank you.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
CAR
DRC
Iraq
Nigeria

South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

On Saturday, the Burmese army killed 25 Rohingya villagers as the army started “clearance operations” that they allege are targeting armed militants in Rakhine state. The army reported that all of those killed had been carrying machetes or other weapons. However, photos and videos have proven contradictory to this claim. Hundreds of villagers fled from their villages over the weekend to escape the violence. The operation comes in the wake of Human Rights Watch (HRW) releasing new satellite images showing the extent of Rohingya buildings and villages burned down over the past month by the Burmese army.

Refugees International released a report this week containing recommendations for ways in which governments and institutions can protect Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing the latest unrest in Myanmar. The report specifically calls on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Malaysia, Thailand, and the United States to implement strategies such as appointing officers as first points of contact for asylum seekers, assessing screening policies in annual reports, and convening previously announced joint task forces on refugee registration.


Burundi:

Following an order from the Senate for the government to carry out a census of every civil servant based on their ethnicity and region of origin, people in Burundi have voiced their concerns for a possible genocide as the round-up reminds them of the conditions leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. There are more than 100,000 people working for the state, making it the largest employer in the country.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Burundian Human Rights League (ITEKA) released a report on Tuesday warning of crimes against humanity being committed in Burundi. The Human rights groups urged the international community to send a civilian protection force to the country as they believe there is a possibility of ethnic civil war and genocide. They also pointed out that all criteria for a possible genocide are already in place, including ideology, intent, and identification of possible populations to be eliminated. On Wednesday, amid the warnings of the threat of genocide and the continuing mass exodus of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries, international humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) stated Burundi is becoming one of the biggest refugee crises in Africa.

On Monday, a letter from Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon surfaced, asking for the appointment of a new UN Envoy to the country. Jamal Benomar, the current envoy returned empty-handed from talks with the government on the situation in Burundi. UN spokesman, Farha Haq, responded by saying that there is no search for a new envoy at the moment.

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda published a report on Monday, stating that the preliminary inquiry into the situation in Burundi will continue in spite of the country’s withdrawal from the court. Bensouda said that Burundi is still obliged to cooperate with the court when it comes to proceedings initiated prior to the withdrawal becomes official in October 2017, one year after notification to the UN Secretary-General.


Central African Republic:

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Wednesday that more than 850,000 people, of which around 50 percent are children, are either internally displaced in CAR or are refugees in neighboring countries. The organization called for donors to put the children first as the efforts to reach them in CAR are restricted due to a significant lack of funds.

A UN human rights expert said on Wednesday that the justice system in CAR must be strengthened immediately for peace to be achieved and stressed that a Special Criminal Court should be established in 2017. ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch and other NGOs urgeddonor countries to support the Special Criminal Court and its mandate to end impunity for crimes under international law.

During a meeting on Thursday, the UN Security Council welcomed the signing of the National Strategy on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation, the National Security Policy, the Internal Security Forces Development Plan and the National Reconciliation Strategy by the Central African Republic. In a statement, the Council expressed its concern about the continued instability in the country and condemned the recent uptick in violence, especially against civilians, humanitarian personnel, and UN peacekeepers. The Security Council also recalled “the State’s primary responsibility to protect all populations in the CAR in particular from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” and emphasized the importance of a political solution to the conflict.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have accused former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda of witness tampering in his trial for allegedly keeping sex slaves, using child soldiers, and murders in the DRC in 2002 and 2003. Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty last month of bribing witnesses in his trial.

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo resigned from his position on Monday, fulfilling a requirement of the recent political deal that will keep Joseph Kabila as President beyond the constitutional mandate. Mr. Kabila, whose second term comes to an end next month, has cited the government’s present inability to conduct fair elections as the main reason for the extension of his presidency through 2018. The move by Mr. Ponyo now frees up the position of Prime Minister for a member of the opposition that has agreed to the deal to let Mr. Kabila remain in office. However, the main opposition group, Rassemblement, still rejects any such agreement while warning of the possibility of civil war. The UN Security Council, during their recent visit to the DRC, called for a peaceful transition of power and stressed the need for a permanent dialogue.


Iraq:

The Islamic State (ISIL) continues to perpetrate systematic killings of civilians, including women and children, in and around Mosul. The Sunni terror group has reportedly used child soldiers, aged anywhere from 10 to 14 years old, to carry out executions of detained members of the Iraqi Security Forces. At least 48,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes as a result of the enduring offensive by government forces, backed by US-led coalition forces and Kurdish militias to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

An ISIL suicide bomber killed at least 6 people and injured several others on Monday in the Iraqi town of Ain Al-Tamur on Monday. Iraqi Security Forces were able to apprehend an additional five suicide bombers before they could detonate their vests. However, a sixth bomber was able to evade custody and detonate his vest in a nearby house. An additional nine people were killed and up to 25 were wounded in two suicide bombings in Fallujah.

Human Rights Watch released a report on Monday detailing several incidents in which forces representing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) demolished Arab houses, leaving Kurdish houses untouched and intact in towns and villages throughout the country retaken from ISIL. The report, which documented incidents between late 2014 and mid-2016, was compiled through on-the-ground visits to both Nineveh and Kirkuk governorates, as well as through examining satellite imagery.

At least 700 civilians living in areas retaken by Iraqi Security forces from ISIL have taken to the streets in search of food and water. Soldiers have been handing out the few remaining rations they have to civilians while they wait for a resupply of resources from the government to arrive.

A new Human Rights Watch reports states that the mass grave found on the outskirts of Mosul earlier this month is believed to contain the remains of at least 300 former local Iraqi police officers. The policemen were allegedly held captive and then executed by ISIL late last month as government forces began advancing on the city.


Nigeria:

Late last week, Nigerian soldiers shot and killed three female suicide bombers as they attempted to infiltrate into the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.

On Saturday, officials from Chad and the UN reported that several hundred Boko Haram fighters have surrendered in the country over the past month. Most of the fighters are originally from Chad and are currently being held in detention centers along with their families.

On Tuesday, the United Nations warned that about 75,000 children risk dying from starvation within months as the situation in the country is worsening. UN humanitarian coordinator Peter Lundberg said they have assessed that about 14 million people in Nigeria will be in need of humanitarian assistance by 2017, including about 400,000 children. Lundberg also added that they do not have enough money to handle the situation and are now in dire need of funding.


South Sudan:

The South Sudanese government has accused the opposition of kidnapping about 20 humanitarian workers over the weekend and has strongly condemned the incident while promising to safely bring back the abductees. However, the armed opposition has denied the allegations.


Sudan/Darfur:

President Omar al-Bashir has said that any peace deal with the opposition rebel group, Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM-N), will not include the reintegration of the group’s soldiers into regular Sudanese military forces. Previous discussions of peace deals included reintegration, however Bashir has since stated that “no single outlaw will be absorbed” as he views the rebels as surrogate members of South Sudan’s military. Bashir has noted that Sudan is prepared for both war and peace with South Sudan.


Syria:

Russia and the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group fighting against Syrian government forces, continue to trade allegations over the use of chemical weapons in the besieged city of Aleppo. Russia has accused the opposition group of using shells containing chlorine and white phosphorus, while the SNC claims the weapons are similar to those used by regime forces and their allies in earlier attacks. The UN Security Council recently extended a mandate to further investigate the alleged use of chemical agents by the Syrian government on several occasions throughout the civil war.

Civilians still living in Aleppo were instructed via mass text message on Monday to flee the city before the onset of a “strategically planned assault using high precision weapons” began within 24 hours. The message likely came from the Syrian government as they are the only actor to have the capacity for a mass text transmission to the public.

Following the mass message, heavy airstrikes over Aleppo resumed on Tuesday after a nearly three week cessation of aerial assaults on rebel-held areas of the city. At least one civilian was killed and an additional five people were injured in a helicopter barrel bomb attack. Successive barrel bomb strikes by the Syrian government killed at least 27 civilians on Wednesday in Aleppo. Among the targets were a children’s hospital, the Central Blood Bank, and neighborhoods with nearby schools. Russian and Syrian officials have claimed that humanitarian corridors have been established to allow civilians to flee the city. However, many residents do not feel they are safe to use or have refused to flee out of principle.

Meanwhile, aerial assaults across Syria targeted eight hospitals in the past week amidst the regime’s renewed offensive to retake rebel-held territory.


Yemen:

The Saudi-led coalition said on Friday that the Houthi rebels have blocked a total of 34 boats carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen in the last six months.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led military coalition had agreed to renew the cessation of hostilities set to start on Thursday. Kerry claimed that the parties also agreed to work towards establishing a unity government in order for peace to be realized by the end of the year. However, following the statement from Kerry, the Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al Mekhlafi said the government is not interested in a ceasefire or any peace talks with the Houthi rebels.


What else is new?

Interested in interning with the ICRtoP in New York City? We are now seeking applications for Spring 2017. The ICRtoP Secretariat is looking for full-time (preferred) or part-time interns for a period of 3-4 months beginning in early 2017. Applications can be emailed to internship@responsibilitytoprotect.org. The deadline for Spring 2017 applications is 1 December, 5:00pm EST. For more information, please click here.

The Stanley Foundation released a policy memo this week, which provides insight on ways the private sector can work to prevent atrocities and promote the Responsibility to Protect. The memo captures the major discussion points and policy recommendations from a roundtable held last month amongst experts and policymakers from academia, governments, international organizations, and civil society. The roundtable focused on four key global issue areas: climate change, genocide prevention, nuclear security, and global governance.

The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (55 5th Ave., Room 1008, New York, NY, 10003) will be holding an event on Thursday, 1 December from 5:30-7:30pm to celebrate the recent publishing of Dr. James Waller’s new book, entitled Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide. Attendees will be encouraged to engage with Dr. Waller in an interactive discussion on the new book, his work, and the field of mass atrocity prevention more broadly. Refreshments will be served and signed copies of the book will be made available. Please RSVP by 28 November to Cardozo.CLIHHR@yu.edu.

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#R2PWeekly: 24 – 28 October 2016

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Informal UNGA meeting calls for emergency session on Syria, urges international community to uphold responsibility to protect civilians

Ban.jpg

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), at the request of over 70 Member States, gathered for an informal meeting on 20 October to discuss the ongoing conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened his remarks at the meeting by noting his grave concern over the UN Security Council’s failure to take timely action to promote peace and security in Syria, allowing regional rivalries to take priority over the needs of the Syrian people. The Secretary-General also noted that several parties involved in the conflict have committed violations of human rights and international law that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the meeting, at least six Member States, including Canada, Botswana, and Switzerland, directly echoed the Secretary-General’s appeal for Syria and the international community to uphold their responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, and several Member States noted that while the recent humanitarian pause in Russian and Syrian military action in Aleppo is a step in the right direction, it falls short of the actions necessary to allow for both the creation of evacuation corridors and unimpeded access to deliver humanitarian and medical aid to civilians.

Many Member States argued that only a political solution can end the nearly six-year-long conflict and an emergency session of the UNGA should be called in order to implement a peaceful cessation of hostilities and initiate a political transition in Syria. The General Assembly has only convened 10 emergency sessions in the history of the United Nations, the last of which took place in 2009 regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The conflict has killed nearly 500 civilians, more than a quarter of which were children, and injured an additional 2,000, since the Syrian government, in conjunction with Russia and Iran, began renewed efforts to retake territory from opposition forces last month. On Wednesday alone, a purported Russian or Syrian airstrike killed at least 14 children and seven teachers and injured at least 75 others when it struck a school complex near the city of Idlib. Despite international efforts, including calls for a renewed cessation of hostilities in Aleppo and the issuance of facilitation papers to allow access to UN aid trucks, Russia has announced it is not planning any more humanitarian pauses in the country.

Source for above photo of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the informal meeting of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly on the situation in Syria: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
CAR
Cote d’Ivoire
DRC
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Libya
Kenya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

On 22 October, Burmese armed forces demanded that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) withdraw its forces from any areas under the administration of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) in and around the town of Mongla in eastern Shan State. Residents have already begun to flee the area in light of the Army’s 24 October ultimatum date having passed.

On 24 October, the repatriation of refugees from Thailand to Burma began with the voluntary return of 68 people from camps along the Thai-Burma border. For the past 30 years, Thailand has hosted over 100,000 refugees from Burma who fled their homes to escape the civil war in the country, with many of the refugees belonging to the Karen, Mon and Shan minority ethnic groups. The UNHCR has hailed the start of repatriation as a milestone in one of the world’s most protracted displacement situations.

The following day, the UN called for an investigation as allegations continue to be brought forward that state security forces, operating in Rakhine State, are continuing in a campaign of violence and repression against the stateless Rohingya minority. Up to 15,000 people have been displaced by the actions of security forces in the wake of the 9 October attack on border outposts in the region. Burmese officials have stated that they have killed 30 “attackers”, while rights groups claim that the majority of the dead have been civilians, who are also subjected to the burning of villages and arbitrary arrests. Human Rights Watch has called upon the Burmese government to allow aid to reach the region and those displaced, claiming that the government is currently blocking all aid to the area.


Burundi:

On Wednesday, Burundi officially informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the country’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Some African politicians welcomed the Burundian withdrawal from the ICC, including the president of Sudan who encouraged other African countries to do the same. Just days later, South Africaannounced its decision to follow the example set by Burundi. The ICC has asked Burundi and South Africa to reconsider their withdrawals from the institution and has urged them to work together with the Court to end impunity and protect human rights. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Botswana released a statement  reaffirming its support for the ICC and expressing “regret” over South Africa’s decision to withdraw. However, Gambia also announced its intended withdrawal from the Court on Wednesday.

On Monday, it was discovered that the Interior Ministry of Burundi issued an order to withdraw permits and ban activities of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country after accusing the organizations of taking sides and working to evoke hostility towards the government. The general secretary of FOCODE, one of the recently banned NGOs, said that the ban is a “threat to civil freedom and a threat to freedom of association”.

Several NGOs, including ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch, published an open letter on Wednesday to the Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Member States of the United Nations in Geneva and New York regarding the situation in Burundi. The letter encourages a suspension of Burundi from the UN Human Rights Council if it fails to cooperate with the UN Commission of Inquiry in the country, as allegations of severe violations of human rights need to be investigated and the government has refused to cooperate with the UN system.


Central African Republic:

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered to protest against MINUSCA, the UN mission in the country, accusing the mission of not doing enough to protect civilians. The protesters alsoclaimed that MINUSCA is supporting the rebels. People threw stones and shouted at the troops who, according to a witness, responded with warning shots. Eventually armed groups and peacekeepers exchanged fire, resulting in at least three dead protesters and several injured, including four peacekeepers. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence the following day and welcomed action taken by the government to ensure accountability for the perpetrators.


Cote d’Ivoire:

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the government of Côte d’Ivoire to respect the rights of those opposed to the newly drafted constitution, stating that civilians have the right to express dissenting opinions on the document. This follows actions by security forces to disperse protests and gatherings against the constitution, including the detainment of dissenters and opposition leaders; however, some protests occurred without incident.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

The World Food Programme has released an Emergency Dashboard for October 2016, indicating that there are approximately 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 429,613 refugees currently within the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Gaza/West Bank:

The European Commission has released a Fact Sheet for October 2016, which indicates that there are approximately 1.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and parts of Area C; of those in need, approximately 60,000 people were displaced from the 2014 Gaza Strip conflict.


Iraq:

Islamic State (ISIL) allegedly executed 284 men and boys on Thursday and Friday of last week in the city of Mosul. The deceased were allegedly from the approximately 550 families that ISIL forcibly moved from villages into Mosul to be used as human shields. The extremist group then used a bulldozer to bury the bodies in a mass grave near Mosul’s defunct College of Agriculture.

Nearly 1,000 civilians living near the city of Mosul have sought medical treatment citing breathing problems linked to toxic gases from a sulphur plant that ISIL allegedly set on fire. No deaths have been reported so far as a result of the incident. The fire is thought to be aimed at deterring advancing Iraqi and US-led coalition forces.

New evidence has emerged that ISIL killed 50 former police officers on Sunday who were being held captive in a building in Mosul. Bodies of an additional 70 civilians were found in their homes in a village just outside the city, while another 15 civilians were killed and thrown into a river. The perpetration of these latest atrocities is reportedly an attempt to continue the spread of terror as Iraqi and US-led coalition forces begin to converge on the city.

Hundreds of ISIL fighters, deemed “suicide squads”, have arrived in Mosul from their Syrian stronghold in Raqqa to defend the city against the Iraqi army and US-led coalition. The foreign fighters have been seen wearing explosive belts, arming bridges with bombs, and are said to have prepared several vehicles with suicide bombs.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided over 1,000 reproductive health consultations to women fleeing Mosul since the Iraqi and US-led coalition offensive began earlier this month. UNFPA has postured 25 reproductive health teams and 20 maternal health facilities as part of its humanitarian response in Mosul.

More than 1,000 civilians living in the Tob Zawa village near the city of Mosul have been safelymoved by Iraqi special forces to nearby refugee camps this week. At least 9,000 people have been displaced since the operation began on 17 October.


Kenya:

On 24 October, members of the extremist group, al Shabaab, attacked a hotel located in the town of Mandera in northeast Kenya, killing 12 people.

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for a probe into police killings in Kenya as about 1,200 deaths have been blamed on security forces in the last five years. The organization also reported that around 34 people have been forcibly disappeared by security forces in counter-terrorism operations in the last two years, noting that, so far, only one police officer has been held accountable.


Libya:

Late last week, Italian Coast Guard forces reported seeing a speedboat labelled “Libyan Coast Guard” attack a boat overcrowded with refugees off the coast of Libya, using sticks as weapons. At least four refugees fell into the water and drowned and up to 25 people are missing. The European Union has previously initiated a plan to train Libyan forces to manage their own sea rescue operations. Following the report on this incident, a German aid group has urged the EU to rethink the decision in order to protect refugees.


Mali:

Germany has agreed to assist the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with military helicopters if no other country decides to help, as the Netherlands and Indonesia are withdrawing their military transportation support. The German Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the reason for their pledge is their conviction on the importance of stabilizing Mali.


Nigeria:

On 23 October, the Nigerian military confirmed that at least 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing following an attack by Boko Haram in the northeastern part of the country. Superior firepower by the extremist group forced many of the soldiers to flee on foot into the Niger River where many are feared to have drowned.

This week, the Nigerian government announced that on 31 October it will meet with community leaders from the Niger Delta region as well as representatives of several of the armed groups fighting in the area in the hopes of ending the fighting in the region. However, on 25 October, the same day as the aforementioned announcement, the Niger Delta Avengers, one of such armed groups in the Niger River Delta, announced that they had attacked an oil pipeline in the region.


South Sudan:

The head of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has announced that she will step down at the end of November after serving as the UN Special Representative to South Sudan for two years. On Monday, she said that the road ahead for South Sudan would be difficult, but she is hopeful that peace will come to the war-torn country.

Amnesty International released a report on Monday, examining the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law carried out by government forces during the breakout of violence in Juba in July. The report is based on over 90 interviews conducted over three months following the re-ignition of the conflict in the country. The witnesses describe ethnic-based killings, rapes, and abuse.

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 67 aid workers have been killed since the conflict in South Sudan broke out in 2013. OCHA also reported that more than 640 incidents where humanitarian aid access was blocked were reported in the first nine months of this year. The humanitarian agency condemned the violence and called for a quick response to hold the guilty accountable for their actions.

Over the last several weeks, there has been an increase of ethnic hate speech and threats of violence, mutilation, and murder in South Sudan. On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a warning that if these incitements of violence are allowed to continue there’s a high risk of mass atrocities erupting in the country. He urged the community and top political leaders in the country to take decisive action to ensure no horrendous crimes will be committed.

On Wednesday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced in a statement the release of about 145 child soldiers who had been recruited by the Cobra Faction and the SPLA-IO, two armed rebel groups fighting the South Sudanese government. In the statement, UNICEF also noted that approximately 16,000 children are still being held as soldiers in armed groups and called on the parties to cease the recruiting of children to their armies.


Sudan/Darfur:

Sudan Call, the opposition to Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), has threatenedto initiate a large-scale protest in the coming year with the goal of overthrowing the existing government. The threat follows the opposition’s boycott of a National Dialogue agreement amongst the ruling party and its allies that set the groundwork for a future constitution of Sudan. The two parties have been unable to reach an agreement leading to a humanitarian truce and the implementation of requisite confidence building measures.


Syria:

Security developments
A three-day “humanitarian” ceasefire between regime and rebel forces has broken down as clashes in Aleppo continued over the weekend. The unilateral agreement was announced by the Syrian government and Russia to allow for both residents and rebels to leave the city. However, the agreement did not last long enough for aid agencies to obtain the requisite security agreements necessary to evacuate injured civilians and rebels refused to give up their positions.

The United Kingdom’s Minister of Defense announced on Tuesday that an additional 20 security personnel will be deployed to Syria in an effort to reboot a program to train moderate opposition forces for an upcoming offensive to retake territory from the Islamic State (ISIL). It is suspected that an operation to retake the city of Raqqa will become the focus pending the outcome of the operation to retake Mosul in Iraq.

US-led coalition strikes in Syria have killed at least 300 civilians since 2014 according to a new report released by Amnesty International on Tuesday. The organization publicly investigated available information such as news reports, satellite imagery, and photo and video evidence related to 11 aerial attacks that have been carried out since September 2014. The US State Department has not yet responded to Amnesty’s inquiry regarding the report.

An airstrike on a school complex in Aleppo killed at least 35 civilians, including 22 children and 6 teachers, on Wednesday. The attack was a part of a series of strikes conducted by either Russian or Syrian war planes in the city of Idlib. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed outrage over the attack, noting that, if deliberate, the attack should be treated as a war crime.

The humanitarian situation
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinatorstated this week that at least 400 civilians, including many children, have been killed in Aleppo in the last month. The statement, delivered to the UN Security Council at a briefing on the crisis in Syria, noted that the UN was unable to deliver humanitarian assistance and coordinate civilian evacuations due to objections from two armed opposition groups.

Political developments
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-UN joint investigative mechanism, also called the Jim, released a report on Friday confirming that the Syrian government is responsible for an attack in Idlib province in March 2015, which involved the use of chemical weapons. The attack allegedly used a device dropped from a high altitude which released a deadly agent into the air, likely chlorine. Russia has thus far thwarted attempts in the Security Council by the US, France, and the UK to impose sanctions on Syria for the use of chemical weapons in the ongoing crisis.


Yemen:

The Saudi-led coalition released a statement last week, which said that the Houthi rebels repeatedly violated the 72-hour ceasefire launched at midnight the day before. The truce was supposed to last for three days, but, according to the statement, it had already been breached more than 40 times by the rebels, leading the Saudi-led coalition to respond by launching missiles on Yemen. Attacks from both sides killed at least 11 people on the first day of the truce, including at least three civilians. A government source said he was grateful for the efforts of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN envoy, as he tried to broker peace between the rebels and the government, but he also confirmed that the attempt was unsuccessful as the rebels violated the truce several times. On Saturday, the UN envoy urged all parties to extend the truce, but the call was not heeded; the ceasefire ended after 72 hours without renewal.

On Tuesday, the UN special envoy to Yemen handed an outline for a peace plan to the Houthi rebels, who currently hold control in the capital on the country. According to a politician affiliated with the rebels, the plan included relieving the president of his duties and instead implementing a transitional period of one or two years before introducing presidential elections. According to a copy of the proposal seen by media, the information given by the politician is accurate as the main idea of the proposal seems to be the establishing of a new government containing less divisive people. The day after the delivery of the peace plan the Yemeni army attacked areas held by the rebels.

The UN food relief agency (WFP) has expressed concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Yemen as food security is running low and child malnutrition is rising. The regional director of the WFP said that hunger is increasing and “people have exhausted all their survival strategies”. Women and children are the most vulnerable, especially as some areas of the country are difficult to reach for food distribution.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a Humanitarian Snapshot this week, showing the impact of the conflict in Yemen. The Snapshot reveals a devastating toll on the population as food insecurity is worsening, health facilities are reaching their limits, and those engaged in the conflict continually breach the rules of international law when it comes to the protection of civilians.


What else is new?

The Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APR2P) has published the latest issue of its premier journal on RtoP, Global Responsibility to Protect. This issue, Volume 8, Issue 4, features articles discussing challenges and recommendations for the next UN Secretary-General, the connections between RtoP, refugees, and IDPs, and other important topics on the norm. To read the latest issue please click here.

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Filed under RtoP, Weekly Round-Up

#R2PWeekly: 19 – 23 September 2016

Untitled

UN Resumes Aid Delivery in Syria After Attack 

af0e1c83-b600-4b99-9ec4-07fe9e2039daThe United Nations decided to suspend all aid convoys in Syria this week following an alleged airstrike on Monday, which destroyed 18 aid trucks and killed around 20 civilians, including a humanitarian aid worker from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.  All parties involved in the conflict, including Russia and the United States, were informed about the presence of the envoy carrying relief supplies for 78,000 civilians to rebel-held territories in the northern Aleppo. The intensification of hostilities led to the suspension of envoys planned for four other surrounding cities.

Shortly after the attack on the aid convoy, United States officials claimed that Russian aircraft had dropped the bombs which hit the convoy, however, both Russia and Syria have denied these claims and any involvement in the incident. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack in his address to the UN General Assembly, calling it “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate.” UN officials have also said that it is potentially a war crime.

The fragile ceasefire that was initiated, in part, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, has been widely tested as, first, on Saturday, a US-led coalition airstrike on a Syrian military base killed at least 60 Syrian troops in what the US military is calling an errant targeting of an Islamic State (ISIL) position. Then, on Monday, a Syrian army spokesperson stated that the week-long ceasefire had officially ended. The Syrian army has laid the blame for continual violations on the rebels and the Russian Foreign Ministry has released a statement stating that there is no reason for the Syrian government to continue to commit to the truce. Aleppo-based rebel groups have also declared the ceasefire a failure, citing a lack of commitment from the Syrian government as aid intended for Aleppo was forced to sit across the Turkish border for days as the Syrian government refused to give it entry, before the attack on the aid convoy.  US Secretary of State John Kerry responded to such statements, saying that the authority to declare the ceasefire over rests with the US & Russia, with officials from both countries working to extend it on the ground. Secretary Kerry also called for all war planes in Syria to be grounded in attempts to salvage the ceasefire, but the largest wave of airstrikes in weeks ravaged rebel-held areas of Aleppo late Wednesday and into early Thursday morning,killing at least seven people, including three children. The attacks are believed to have been perpetrated by either Russia or the Syrian government.

However, on Thursday, the UN resumed deliveries of humanitarian aid, including food and medical supplies, despite the continuing surge of hostilities and apparent dissolution of the ceasefire agreement.

Source for above photo: BBC News

 


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
CAR
DRC
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Kenya
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen 


Burma/Myanmar:

Late last week, a judge sentenced five Burmese soldiers to five years of hard labor for the murders of five civilians in June from one of Burma’s minority ethnic groups.

On Sunday, the Framework for Political Dialogue (FPD) came under review at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre in Yangon. The meeting examined which ethnic and regional perspectives are to be discussed at the start of the national-level political dialogue, which is expected to now begin in January.

On Monday, eight people died in clashes in southeastern Burma that have left thousands displaced over the past month.The fighting took place between the Burmese army and a rebel-splinter group, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) in Karen state, where the dominant rebel group, the KNU, has signed a ceasefire with the government. Despite the continued fighting, Burmese army officers have pressured Karen internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their homes. Over 3,800 people have been displaced due to the fighting between the Burmese army and the DKBA since 9 September.

The latest reports from the Refugee Processing Center, run by the US State Department,show that from 1 October 2015 to 15 September 2016, 11,902 Burmese nationals, including many Rohingya, have resettled in the United States, outpacing even Syrian refugee arrivals in the US.

On Wednesday, Burma’s State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, addressed the United Nations General Assembly as the first civilian leader to represent the country at the world body’s annual debate in over 50 years. She noted that the “dreams and aspirations” of the people of Burma in shaping their future with the overwhelming majority won by her National League for Democracy party in last year’s elections, “echo those that had led to the founding of the United Nations.” In discussing the interethnic issues in the country, particularly of the Rohingya population in Rakhine state, she said, “We are committed to a sustainable solution that will lead to peace, stability and development for all communities within the state. Our Government is taking a holistic approach that makes development central to both short and long term programmes aimed at promoting understanding and trust.”


Burundi:

Independent UN investigators said on Tuesday that they have a list of suspects believed to have been involved with atrocities in Burundi. The investigators do not know the full extent of these crimes, but they have evidence of rapes, murders, disappearances, mass arrests, and torture of government opponents. Reportedly, there are likely thousands of victims. The investigators have called on international organizations to try and stop these atrocities before mass violence brings conflict to the entire region. Officials in Burundi have denied the allegations and described the report as biased.


Central African Republic:

Violence pitting the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels against rival Christian anti-Balaka militia members ignited on Friday. A spokesman for the presidency originally said on Saturday that the fighters from the former Seleka rebel coalition killed 26 villagers. However, on Monday the spokesman cut that figure to six, matching the UN’s toll. The killings took place in the village of Ndomete, not far from Kaga-Bandoro.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has released an infographic detailing humanitarian access in CAR as of August 2016. It further details how humanitarian access in parts of CAR is frequently hampered by looting, fighting and, most often, attacks against aid workers and the population.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

At least 17 people have been killed in the capital city of Kinshasa following violent clashes between political protesters and police, after months of civil unrest related to the potential extension of President Joseph Kabila’s tenure as President beyond the constitutional limit. A government-led “national dialogue”, which has failed to include many of the country’s main opposition parties, is set to present its final agreement on the issue in the coming days.

The headquarters of three opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo were alsotorched in the capital city. At least two casualties have been confirmed at the office of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS). Protests are expected to continue as the government stated Monday that it will be unable to hold elections in November.

On Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the government of the DRC for their use of excessive force following the protests. The High Commissioner also expressed shock that men in uniform had participated in some of the attacks on the headquarters of opposition political parties and that President Kabila’s government deployed the Republican Guard, a notoriously heavily armed military unit, against the protesters.

The World Food Programme has released an Emergency Dashboard infographic detailing the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo as of September 2016. The dashboard states that there are approximately 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), over 400,000 refugees, and 5.9 million individuals facing food insecurity throughout the DRC.


Gaza/West Bank:

On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers killed a 16 year old Palestinian boy who tried to stab a soldier outside of Bani Na’im, a village in the occupied West Bank near the city of Hebron. This is the seventh death in the area since last Friday, resulting from an uptick of hostilities ahead of next month’s Jewish new year holiday.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian high court in Ramallah ordered the suspension of local elections in both Gaza and the West Bank previously scheduled for 8 October. This is the second time the court has frozen the elections. The first suspension, which took place earlier this month, was the result of a formal petition signed by several Palestinian lawyers and the West Bank prosecution in response to the invalidation of a Fatah list of candidates in the Gaza Strip by Hamas courts.

President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the UN this week for protection against Israeli occupation of its territories in Gaza and the West Bank, stating that direct peace talks can only take place in an international conference such as the one proposed by France for later this year.


Iraq:

On Sunday, two Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers died in a suicide-bombing east of Mosul, as Kurdish forces continue to prepare for an assault on the city.

On Tuesday, Iraqi forces initiated an offensive to liberate the northern town of Sherqat from Islamic State (ISIL). Two days later, on Thursday, Iraqi Brigadier-General Yahya Rasoolannounced that the Iraqi military, backed by airstrikes from the US-led coalition, gained complete control of the northern town of Shirqat. The city had been under siege since 2014 when ISIL seized about a third of Iraqi territory. The retaking of Shirqat is considered a key prerequisite for the push to retake the main city of Mosul later this year.

ISIL militants reportedly fired a shell containing a mustard agent on Tuesday at an air base in Qayyara, where US and Iraqi troops are operating. No US troops were hurt as a result of the shelling. US troops tested the artillery shell after it landed and received a positive reading for the chemical agent. A second test turned up negative. Further lab testing has commenced.

The Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster has released an infographic detailing settlement status of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout Iraq. The infographic shows that there are an estimated total of 3.35 million IDPs currently residing in Iraq.


Kenya:

On Monday, an International Criminal Court (ICC) trial chamber found the government of Kenya to be in noncompliance with its requirement to cooperate with the ICC, with regards to the case of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The ICC has referred Kenya’s non-cooperation to the Assembly of States Parties, the court’s membership, for further action. Following thereferral to the ASP, Kenyan Attorney General, Githy Muigai, indicated that Kenya would not accept the court’s verdict.


Libya:

On Sunday, militia members loyal to military leader Khalifa Haftar and Libya’s eastern parliament launched a successful counter-attack on two of Libya’s most crucial oil ports, Sidra and Ras Lanuf, after briefly losing them to the Petroleum Facilities Guard, loyal to the UN-backed Tripoli based government the evening before. On Monday, General Haftar went on to call on the UN to cease injecting itself into Libyan affairs, claiming that Tripoli has been overrun by armed gangs.

Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, renewed their offensive on Islamic State (ISIL) in Sirte on Sunday, with the support of US airstrikes and special forces. The forces are attempting to push into the last section of the city still under the extremist group’s control.

On Tuesday, an airstrike near the town Houn in central Libya killed at least nine civilians and wounded 20 others. The identity of the planes that carried out the strike could not be confirmed, but armed groups loyal to factions based in eastern and western Libya are known to operate in the area.


Mali:

Over the weekend, at least 10 people died in clashes between the pro-government Gatia militia and the Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) rebel coalition. The fighting took place north of the pro-Tuareg city of Kidal, which has been jointly controlled by the two groups since February. The UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has released a statement expressing concern over the country’s fragile peace deal following the fighting over the weekend, saying such clashes, “as well as constituting repeated violations of ceasefire accords, threaten the progress achieved up until now in the implementation of the peace agreement.” MINUSMA also called on all parties to “take immediate measures to guarantee the protection of civilians and refrain from all action that could unleash a return to hostilities”.


Nigeria:

The government of Nigeria has announced that it has been negotiating with Boko Haram since July 2015 to free the over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok kidnapped by the group, with three separate rounds of negotiations having failed.

Over the weekend, American National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Maj-General Babagana Monguno, met in Washington to discuss how to better engage in dialogue with militants in the Niger River Delta and bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

On Sunday, Nigerian police liberated 14 oil workers kidnapped earlier this month in the country’s southern Niger Delta region.

The same day, eight people died in an attack by Boko Haram in Kwamjilari village in northeastern Borno state.The attack took place as villages emptied out of church from Sunday mass, with the militants also lighting maize fields and houses on fire.

On Monday, Boko Haram militants staged two attacks in the country’s northeast that left eight people dead. The separate attacks included the beheading of a village chief and his son and the killing of six civilians in a commercial convoy escorted by the Nigerian military.

The Nigerian army has claimed victory in a battle fought against Islamic extremist militants in Malam Fatori, a town near the country’s border with Niger. Earlier in the day, Islamic State’s West Africa Province, a faction of Boko Haram, released a statement claiming to have killed over 40 soldiers and wounding many more from “a convoy of the African Coalition Crusader forces” in Malam Fatori. Neither side’s claim has been independently verified. However, the battle, which took place on Tuesday, was the first Islamic State-claimed attack in Nigeria since August.

Amnesty International published a report this week which details a Nigerian police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which systematically tortures its detainees as a means of extracting confessions and lucrative bribes. This report is an extension of the larger humanitarian crisis in Nigeria, with a reported 20,000 deaths and the displacement of 2.6 million people throughout the seven years of Boko Haram insurgency.


South Sudan:

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced late last week that the number of civilians seeking refuge from the war in South Sudan has surpassed one million, with an additional 1.6 million internally displaced.

On Saturday, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, created in March by the Human Rights Council, expressed deep concern over the slow pace of the implementation of the peace plan in South Sudan and the continuation of gross human rights violations. The report comes after the Commission’s visit to South Sudan earlier in the month.

Officials in Northern Liech state have announced that they have entered into talks with senior military officials of the SPLM-IO forces allied to former First Vice President Riek Machar in hopes of their joining the current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai’s faction of the SPLM-IO.

The United Nations has received reports saying people fleeing South Sudan into Uganda are forced to pay bribes at checkpoints run by South Sudan’s government and armed groups to reach safety. There are also reports of physical and sexual assaults and forced family separations.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published an infographic on Wednesday on the humanitarian situation and response in South Sudan. The infographic shows how the operating environment is increasingly dangerous and difficult. It also shows that the response is severely underfunded, as just 54% of the US$1.3 billion required under the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) has been received. Despite the challenges, the infographic also shows that humanitarian partners were able to deliver lifesaving assistance and protection to over 3.2 million people in South Sudan in the first half of 2016.

Members of the United States Congress are pushing the Obama administration to support an arms embargo on South Sudan. In August, the UN Security Council said that if South Sudan did not accept a 4,000 strong regional peacekeeping force, it would place an arms embargo on the country. The US has been opposed to such action in the past, but has changed its view with recent developments in the country.

Sudan’s State Minister of Interior, Babiker Digna claimed on Wednesday that his country is hosting more than 400,000 South Sudanese refugees, but it is difficult to determine the exact number as the refugee influx still continues.


Sudan/Darfur:

On Saturday, Sudan’s Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid announced that a week of negotiations over a ceasefire and humanitarian access with rebel groups has not led to a comprehensive peace deal. The African Union, which is mediating the dialogue, has temporarily suspended the negotiations between the two parties. The following day, Hamid reiterated that Sudan will reject humanitarian aid from abroad, specifically referencing a planned package from Ethiopia. The comments come amidst mounting international pressure for peace negotiations as hostilities persist between forces loyal to the Republic of Sudan and the active insurgent groups loyal to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North.

On Tuesday, the US State Department commended the recent efforts by the Sudanese government to cooperate with the US on counterterrorism operations, while also noting that that economic sanctions against Sudan will remain in place. Grave concerns regarding human rights and the management of internal conflicts, specifically in the Darfur region, which has been labelled by the US as genocide, continue to complicate the normalization of relations between Sudan and Western countries.

On Thursday, Amnesty International and ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch called for the UN Human Rights Council, currently holding a session on Sudan, to press the Sudanese government to prosecute and hold accountable those responsible for the deaths of protesters and civilians during the September 2013 civil unrest in Khartoum. The protests, which stemmed from an announcement from President Omar al-Bashir regarding cuts to fuel subsidies, left 185 people dead. According to the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, the majority of protesters were found to have been killed by gunshot wounds to the head and chest. As of today, none of the three state commissions of inquiry have been made public and only one policeman has been prosecuted.


Syria:

US Defense officials have confirmed that US Special Forces are now present alongside Turkish troops and rebels in northern Syria to take part in the Turkish-led “Operation Euphrates Shield”. Turkish forces have announced that they plan to extend the offensive to take the ISIL-held town of al-Bab, which sits on a critical juncture, with a Turkish “safe zone” possibly extending to up to 5,000 square km (1,930 square miles) of Syrian territory.

On Monday, the Homs governor postponed the planned evacuation of the last rebel-held district of the city due to “logistical obstacles”. Around 250-300 rebels are expected to be allowed to leave the city for rebel-controlled territory. However, rebels in other parts of Syria have stated that if the evacuation goes through, they would consider the ceasefire in the country to be over.

Russia announced on Wednesday that it will be sending its only aircraft carrier to waters off of Syria’s coastal region, which is likely a contingency plan for the dissolution of the present ceasefire.


Yemen:

 On Saturday, Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Yemeni government clashed on two separate fronts. Fighting broke out in the regions east of the city of Taez, which government forces are attempting to break a siege of, and east of the capital of Sanaa.

Recently released images and videos have led to claims that Saudi Arabia is using U.S.-supplied white phosphorous munitions in its military campaign in Yemen, with fears being raised over the threat that these munitions pose to civilians. US regulations dictate that white phosphorus, when sold to other countries, may only be used for signaling other troops and creating smoke screens. As of yet, it is undetermined how Saudi Arabia is using the munition in Yemen.

Recent reports have confirmed that a US-made bomb was used in an airstrike on a hospital on 15 August that killed 11 people. On Monday, Amnesty International urged that states immediately stop supplying weapons that could be used in the Yemen conflict.

On Tuesday, intensive airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit the headquarters of the National Security Bureau in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sanaa, causing damage to neighboring homes, which left at least one civilian dead and three others wounded. The coalition also bombed the defense ministry and a checkpoint in the suburbs, killing two rebels and wounding four.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed at least 20 civilians in the rebel-held Yemeni city of Hodeida late on Wednesday. The raid reportedly targeted a presidential palace used by the Houthi rebel movement, but missiles also hit neighboring houses.

The United Kingdom is set to increase the humanitarian aid it gives to Yemen, while the country is also facing criticism for selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which could be used in Yemen.

 

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#R2PWeekly: 12 – 16 September 2016

Untitled
ICRtoP Releases Summary and Educational Tools on
2016 UNGA Dialogue on RtoP

On 6 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held its eighth annual informal, interactive dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The dialogue followed the August release of the UN Secretary-General’s (UNSG) eighth, and final, report on RtoP entitled, “Mobilizing collective action: The next decade and the responsibility to protect.”

68 Member States and one regional organization delivered statements on behalf of 95 governments. The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, represented by Mr. Gus Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue, as well as three ICRtoP members –The Global Centre for R2PThe Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P, and The Canadian Centre for R2P – delivered interventions. Over the course of the dialogue, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to RtoP and supported the Secretary-General’s vision for mobilizing collective action. In doing so, Member States supported a variety of initiatives to overcome current barriers to implementation. Echoing past dialogues, but with increased support, 37 Member States as well as the European Union (EU), collectively representing 59 States, spoke of the need for veto restraint. This concern manifested itself through support of either/both of the complimentary initiatives led by the governments of France and Mexico, and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT). Many States as well as the Group of Friends of RtoP (GoF) and EU also proposed ways in which the UNGA could support RtoP in the coming decade, calling for a new UNGA resolution on RtoP and/or the formalization of the dialogue on the UNGA agenda. Emphasizing the title of the report, 11 Member States and the GoF called for the next UNSG to prioritize RtoP, with many others highlighting the need to further mainstream the norm. Finally, many Member States made note of the changing landscape of the past-decade, citing the rise of non-state actors in the commission of mass atrocity crimes as well as the continued disregard for international law, with many calling for ensuring accountability for perpetrators and more support for the International Criminal Court.

The ICRtoP has produced a number of educational materials about the UNSG report and UNGA dialogue, including a summary of both the 2016 report and dialogue, an infographic highlighting the major themes raised in the meeting, and an updated page on the UN and RtoP, which includes information on all UNGA dialogues.

View the ICRtoP’s summary of the UNSG report here.
View the ICRtoP’s summary of the UNGA dialogue here.
View the ICRtoP’s infographic highlighting key themes here.
View the ICRtoP’s UN and RtoP page here.
To read interventions delivered at the UNGA dialogue, visit here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
DRC
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq 
Libya
Mali
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Aung San Suu Kyi made visits to leaders of the United Kingdom and United States this week, including a meeting with British Prime Minister, Theresa May on Tuesday, and US President, Barack Obama, on Wednesday. In her meeting with PM May, the two discussed British support for the people of Burma, with the Prime Minister expressing concern of the commission of human rights abuses by Myanmar’s military. After her meeting with President Obama, which marked her first visit to the country since her party’s electoral victory, the US President announced that he is prepared to lift American sanctions on Burma due to the further democratization of the country in past months. However, a senior US official said that some sanctions would remain in place, such as an arms ban, “in order to ensure that the military remains a partner in the democratic transition.” Human rights organizations haveurged the US to maintain such military sanctions until the military and its allies respect human rights and democratic norms.


Burundi:

It was reported on Thursday that a former army officer and his family were killed as a result of a grenade attack, with local residents stating that the attack may have resulted from the former officer’s links to the government.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

Late last week, the DRC released eight pro-democracy activists and 170 other prisoners, some of which were found guilty of “insurrection, acts of war and political offences,” according to the ministerial release order signed by the country’s justice minister. The government’s release of the prisoners was in response to opposition parties’ demands as a pre-condition for their participation in the dialogue taking place in the capital. However, on Monday, opposition parties walked out of the talks after the government proposed that local elections should occur before presidential elections, claiming that their stance on the order in which elections will be held is non-negotiable. A government spokesman said that such an act is only a negotiating tactic and that the dialogue is not over.

The UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, reportedly rescued another 268 people from a national forest in the country’s northeast. Riek Machar, South Sudan’s main opposition leader fled South Sudan into the DRC after fierce fighting in Juba and over 750 of his supporters have followed him across the border. Officials are concerned over the stability of the region with the arrival of Machar and his supporters as the DRC government currently has limited control over its restive border regions and heavily depends on MONUSCO for security assistance. South Sudan has accused MONUSCO of supporting Machar in the conflict and have condemned the UN mission’s actions.


Gaza/West Bank:
 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video late last week that claims Palestinians want to “ethnically cleanse” the West Bank of Jews, and that Jews would be banned from living in a future Palestinian state. Palestinians have denied these claims and US officials have condemned the Prime Minister’s accusations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed that he was disturbed by the PM’s statement that opposition to the Israeli settlements is “tantamount to ethnic cleansing.”

On Thursday, the Israeli air force carried out strikes on three Hamas locations within the Gaza Strip after a rocket was fired into Israel on Wednesday. Later that day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon referenced the attacks, warning that leaders on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “do not serve the cause of peace.”


Iraq:

As the Iraqi military prepares for an offensive on Mosul, ISIL’s defacto capital in the country, the US has announced it will provide up to $181 million in humanitarian aid to assist with the expected consequences of the military action. The United Nations anticipates that up to one million people will flee their homes as a result of the offensive, which is expected to launch as soon as next month.

The US also announced that Iraqi forces, with the support of the US-led Coalition, have retaken almost half of the land previously held by ISIL.


Libya:

The British Foreign Affairs Committee released its report on Wednesday following an investigation into the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya.The report found that the launch of the military intervention was based on “inaccurate intelligence” and “erroneous assumptions.” Furthermore, the report asserts that the British government, under then-Prime Minister David Cameron, “failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element,” which contributed to the political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal (warfare), humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

On Tuesday, Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya,warned that although political space has opened up in the country, political divisions among the parties to the conflict are worsening. He added, “Today more than ever, strong action is needed to convince Libyan stakeholders to build institutions that are open, participatory and able to address the needs of all of its citizens.”


Mali:

Unidentified gunmen killed three soldiers and injured two others late last week in an ambush near the town of Boni in the Mopti region of central Mali.


South Sudan:

The Sentry released a groundbreaking report following its investigation into the networks led by President Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, in which the organization found a link “between systemic corruption and violent conflict, including the mass atrocities committed during the civil war.” The report’s findings indicate that those in power and leading these networks have amassed tremendous wealth as a result of rampant corruption, with officials financially benefiting from the continuation of the war and humanitarian crises that have erupted as a result.

The government of South Sudan has responded to the release of this report by threatening legal action against the organization, with the presidential spokesman stating that there will be steps taken to sue The Sentry. Action has also been taken against national newspaper, the Nation Mirror, allegedly for having published information on the report. The prominent paper has since been shut down, with no indication on how long this will last and causing increased concern for media freedom in the country.

Mercy Corps has stated that, unless humanitarian support is drastically and urgently increased, an estimated 40,000 people will be at risk of dying in Unity State from starvation that has been fuelled in part by the ongoing conflict in the country. In addition to those at risk of death, an estimated 4.8 million are directly impacted by the hunger crisis.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held consultations on Wednesday to discuss the status of the Regional Protection Force, with Member States expressing concern over recent statements made by members of the South Sudanese government that went against commitments to the force. The Council met with President Kiir while in South Sudan earlier this month, and agreed to a joint statement that expressed acceptance of the force. Some governments stated at the 14 September UNSC meeting that if this commitment is not upheld then the Council must consider stronger measures, such as an arms embargo. The same day, it was reported that President Kiir stated that the UN was working to support his rivals as UN actors assisted in the transportation of Riek Machar to receive medical care, and thus the organization was “not part of the solution.”

On Thursday, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan expressed its concern for the state of human rights in the country, including harassment and intimidation of civil society and journalists, and the commission of sexual violence against civilians.


Sudan/Darfur:

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir is set to visit Shattaya, a locality in which 150 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have reportedly recently returned to their homes.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has reported 298 new Sudanese arrivals last month in South Sudan, bringing the year’s total to 9,291 so far. Around 90 percent of the arrivals were women and children.


Syria:

On Monday, a nationwide ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia took effect in Syria at 7.pm. local time. This is the second such attempt by the global powers this year. The ceasefire is an attempt to allow badly needed humanitarian aid to reach previously cut off populations and, if the ceasefire holds, the US and Russia plan to begin coordinating efforts targeting the Islamic State (ISIL) and Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra, who are not included in the truce. Prior to the ceasefire, neither the Syrian government forces nor any of the rebel groups had formally declared to respect the agreement, but representatives from both sides indicated that they would. However, at the deadline for the cessation of hostilities, the government said it would respect the ceasefire, but maintain the right to defend itself from attack.

Only a few hours before the ceasefire took effect, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a public appearance at a mosque in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus which was recently recovered from rebels after a four-year siege. While there, he promised that the government would take the land back from “terrorists” and rebuild Syria.

On Tuesday, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, lauded the “significant drop in violence” in the 24 hours following the start of the ceasefire. He said, “Sources on the ground, which do matter, including inside Aleppo city, said the situation has dramatically improved with no air strikes.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that it had not received any reports of any combatants or civilians killed by fighting within any of areas the regions where the ceasefire is in effect.

By Wednesday, even with the successful holding of the ceasefire, no humanitarian aid had been delivered to Aleppo due to a lack of security guarantees. The UN attempted to negotiate for the safety of 20 aid trucks and their drivers. Mr. Mistura said, “There is always in these cases attempts to politicize humanitarian aid. So the government has been putting some conditions which I will not elaborate on and the opposition—at the receiving end in eastern Aleppo—have been putting some conditions.” He added that the deliveries would only be made when those conditions were met. By late Wednesday night, the US and Russiaannounced a 48 hour extension of the ceasefire, as UN officials continued to negotiate for the security of the aid convoys. However, within less than 24 hours, US and Russian officials accused their counterparts of violating the ceasefire agreement. Nonetheless, reports of relative calm continued from Aleppo and other areas covered by the truce, while aid convoys remained halted at the Turkish border on Thursday, continuing to await security guarantees.


Yemen:

The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen declared that he “remains deeply disturbed by the unrelenting attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure” in the country, this statement coming after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a well killed 30 civilians last Saturday. It was said that the attack occurred after the machinery being used by workers drilling for water was mistaken for a rocket launcher. In addition to those civilians being killed by direct fire, photos have shown the horrific impact the war has had on children as 1.5 million are facing malnutrition according to UNICEF.


What else is new?:

Dr. James Waller, Academic Programs Director for the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation will hold an event on Thursday, 29 September in New York City to promote his newest book, entitled Confronting Evil: Engaging in our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide. The event will take place in room 1302 of the International Affairs Building at Columbia University from 12-2pm. If you would like to attend, please send a short RSVP tojack.mayerhofer@auschwitzinstitute.org to confirm your attendance.

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies will be holding a conference entitled, “Assaulting Cultural Heritage: ISIS’s Fight to Destroy Diversity in Iraq and Syria” on 26 September. To learn more about the event, including how to register, click here.

 

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#R2P Weekly: 29 February – 4 March 2016

Untitled

ICRtoP Summary of
Thematic Panel Discussion on RtoP within UN General Assembly

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 09.55.29

On Friday, 25 February 2016, the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened a high-level thematic panel discussion entitled From commitment to implementation: Ten years of the Responsibility to Protect to mark the 10th anniversary of adoption of the norm.

Find the ICRtoP’s summary of the dialogue here. To read any of the statements made, click here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
DPRK
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Kenya
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


 Burma/Myanmar:

A Burmese human right organization, Network For Human Rights Documentation- Burma (ND-Burma), released a report identifying 84 human rights violations between January and December 2015. The violations occurred both in areas of active armed conflict and those covered by ceasefires.

John Ging, director of operations at the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), called for an end to discrimination against displaced Muslims, particularly the Rohingya.


 

Burundi:

The African Union plans to deploy 100 human rights observers and 100 military observers toBurundi. Members of the opposition have complained that 200 observers is insufficient to cover Burundi’s territory.

The East African Community named former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the new mediator for talks on ending Burundi’s crisis, a move welcomed by the opposition group National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Accord (CNARED).

A UN team of experts began investigating human rights violations in Burundi. The experts will remain for one week and present their findings in late March. Meanwhile, authorities in Bujumbura unveiled a mass grave, which they claim contains the remains of government supporters.


 

Central African Republic:

According to LRA Crisis Tracker, the Lord’s Resistance Army kidnapped over 200 people in eastern CAR this year, already nearly twice the amount that had been abducted last year.

In a press release, the ICRC noted that hundreds of thousands of displaced people in CAR are waiting to return home from displaced camps. Armed men number among the camp’s residents, while accidental fires have wreaked havoc in three separate sites.

CAR’s constitutional court confirmed Faustin-Archange Touadera’s election as president.


 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

The DPRK’s foreign minister denied any claims of human rights violations by his State, warning that his country would no longer work with the Human Rights Council. He also pointed towards gun violence in the United States of America and the handling of the refugee crisis by European States as “proof of partiality and double standards.” During this session of the Council, Japan and the EU will likely present a resolution condemning the violations in North Korea.


 

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

On 29 February, attacks killed at least 12 in Mamabio, in eastern DRC. The Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights, which monitors violence in the region, stated that attacks have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist group from Uganda.


 

Gaza/West Bank:

Israeli forces arrested 38 Palestinians on Monday for various reasons, including violent acts, ties to Hamas, border infiltration, and alleged arms smuggling through the Gaza sea.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking the Attorney General’s approval to deport relatives of West Bank terrorists to Gaza. In his letter to AG Avichai Mandelblit, Netanyahu stated, “I am convinced that such a measure will lead to a significant decrease in the number of terror attacks against the State of Israel, its citizens and its residents.” A few days prior, Mandelblit rejected a similar query from the political party Likud, arguing that such an explosion is a violation of both Israeli and international law.


 

Iraq:

At least 27 people were killed on Monday at the funeral of a Shi’ite military commander’s relative in Diyala, when a suicide bomber detonated his vest. 55 more people were wounded. This follows twin-set of market place bombings which took place in Baghdad on Sunday, killing 53 and injuring 117. These events are the deadliest of the year thus far in Iraq.

The U.S. military is planning for the next phase of the battle against ISIL, which is re-taking Mosul. The U.S. claims to have isolated the city and says that the capture of Shaddadi, Syria last week had cut the last significant lines of communication between Mosul and ISIL’s Syrian capital of Raqqa.


 

Libya:

In a briefing to the UN Security Council, the head of UNSMIL, noted that Libya risks division and collapse if it does not move ahead now. After a minority of parliamentarians opposed a vote on a new list of candidates for a cabinet on 22 February, Kobler vowed to reconvene the Libyan Political Dialogue. He further noted that the “overwhelming majority” of the Libyan people are in favor of the Libyan Political Agreement.

A new UNSMIL report stated that shelling, gun shots, explosive remnants of war, and aerial bombardments had killed 28 and injured 38 others since January.

The U.S. announced that it was prepared to expand military operations against ISIL in Libya, but only after Libyans agree on a national unity government.


 

Mali:

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a former member of Ansar-Dine, stands accused of causing irreparable damage to Africa’s cultural heritage by destroying ancient shrines in Timbuktu during the conflict in 2012 in Mali. According to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the former trainee teacher and Islamic militant had “led and personally taken part in the attacks on nine mausoleums and mosques in the city with pick-axes and crowbars.” Although trying cultural destruction as a crime is established in past jurisprudence in international law, this case is the first to be tried addressing it as a heinous crime, but the prosecutor, Ms. Bensouda, does not think this will be the last.


 

Nigeria:

On 2 March, 76 emaciated-looking people associated with the Boko Haram group, including women and children, surrendered in Gwoza, a town near Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria. The food shortages are likely a result of the successful choking of Boko Haram supply chains by the Nigerian military in their fight to suppress the insurgency under President Muhammadu Buhari.


South Sudan:

A UN source anonymously claimed that approximately 50,000 may have been killed since the start of the civil war. The source further estimated that around 2.2 million had been displaced.

South Sudan missed another deadline in implementing the August peace deal, as rebel troops under former vice-president Machar signaled that they would not arrive in Juba on Tuesday as planned. The rebels announced that the government had not designated cantonment areas or food and medical care facilities for their troops. The government, meanwhile, claims that the delay is due to the rebels’ failure to submit their names to the troika, who are responsible for their transportation to Juba.


 

Sudan/Darfur:

Over 10,000 people living in the Kalma camp for the displaced protested on Tuesday, demanding an end to the six-month-long pause in food aid delivery to the camp. The displaced persons arriving at Kalma from 2013 to 2014 were not registered by the camp and therefore never added to the permanent food subsidy lists of the humanitarian organizations operating in the area. The Secretary General of the camp appealed to relief organizations, asking them “to act immediately to save people.”

In the meantime, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed reports by the UN concerning the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have fled their homes since 15 January, when the conflict in Jebel Marra escalated. UN OCHA has stated that 90,000 have been displaced since 21 February due to the continued conflict between the Sudanese army and the rebel opposition, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLA). The Ministry described that figure as inaccurate and claimed that government authorities have provided aid to the displaced, who have since returned to their villages.

The Sudanese military has meanwhile claimed control over all areas north of Jebel Marra.


Syria:

Hours prior to the start of the ceasefire in Syria last Saturday, reports surfaced claiming that over 100 airstrikes had been conducted in Northern Aleppo. Amnesty International, for its part,accused the Russian and Syrian government of deliberately and systematically targeting health facilities in Aleppo over the past 12 weeks. The human rights organization claimed to have evidence that these attacks were an attempt by government forces to gain ground before the cessation of hostilities took effect.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that there has been 31 violations of the ceasefire in 3 days. Zakharova said the exact number was provided by the U.S. and did not specify which parties have contributed to the offences. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that all alleged violations of the ceasefire would be investigated and added that both the U.S. and Russia are working on a mechanism to ensure airstrikes only target UN-designated terrorist organizations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared on Tuesday that his government would “do its part” to ensure the success of the ceasefire. He has also offered amnesty to the opposition if they agree to disarm. Meanwhile, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a group representing the opposition, cautioned that ceasefire violations would further threaten the possibility of finding a peaceful, political solution to the five-year war.

UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura stated that the U.S.-Russia cessation of hostilities plan is reportedly holding up despite the many setbacks. Mistura noted that the ceasefire has greatly reduced violence in Syria and created hope for the resumption of the peace talks in Geneva next week. The truce is further expected to assist in making progress with the delivery of aid to remote and besieged areas.

In the meantime, Israel accused the Syrian government on Tuesday of using chemical weapons against civilians during the ceasefire.


 

Yemen:

An airstrike on 27 February on Khaleq market killed 32 civilians and injured at least 41, making the death toll the highest from a single bombing since September 2015.

President Hadi declared that Yemen’s army and popular resistance forces have liberated more than 85% of Yemeni territories from control of the Houthis. The president was confident that his forces would soon regain control of Sanaa as well.

Amnesty International urged all states to impose an arms embargo on all warring parties in Yemen.


 

What else is new?

The ICRtoP co-signed a statement along with around 60 other domestic and international groups asking ‪US lawmakers to pass the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act in support of mass atrocity prevention. The passing of the legislation would authorize “critical tools that are needed to prevent violent conflict and save lives” such as the Atrocity Prevention Board and the Complex Crises Fund, require training for Foreign Service Officers in prevention, and more. Read the full statement with signatories here.

ICRtoP Member Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation is launching the 2015 Annual Report of the Technical Secretariat of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention on 8 March. RSVP to diana.mantilla@auschwitzinstitute.org by March 4.


 

Above photo: General Assembly Holds Panel Discussion on Responsibility to Protect. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias.)

 

 

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#R2P Weekly: 19 – 23 October 2015

Untitled

Curbing Security Council Vetoes

(Ahead of the launch of the ‘Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes’ at the United Nations today, Fadel Abdul Ghany, Founder and Chairman of ICRtoP member Syrian Network for Human Rights, and William Pace, Executive Director of WFM-Institute for Global Policy, a founding Steering Committee member of the ICRtoP,wrote the following piece on the ICRtoP blog.) 

Since the founding of the United Nations seventy years ago, five states—China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, often referred to as the P5—have wielded a so-called “veto power”. Veto power means that whenever the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—to apply an arms embargo on North Korea, to create a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or authorize sanctions on South Sudan, etc.—these five countries individually have the power to stop the resolution from going forward. A veto scuttles the chances for any collective and legal international action to address situations which concern all of humanity—whether they be a potential future genocide in Myanmar, Kim Jong-un’s terrorization of his population, and recurrent war crimes in Gaza. (…)

Read the rest of the piece here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

According to local civil society groups, clashes between the military and Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) that resumed over the weekend have displaced over 2,700 people. Eighteen human rights organizations urged the Government to halt its army attacks in the Shan State, claiming that they undermine the possibility of a lasting peace agreement.

The government has determined an estimated four million people, out of the 33.5 million population, to be ineligible to vote in the upcoming election. These include the Rohingya, internally displaced persons, and Burmese citizens who do not live in the country.

Amnesty International released a report, “Deadly Journeys- The Refugee and Trafficking Crisis in Southeast Asia”, which reveals the shocking conditions and human rights abuses suffered by the 1,800 mostly Rohingya people that arrived in three boats in Aceh, Indonesia in May 2015.


Burundi:

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) expressed grave concern over the spiraling violence, as at least 140 people have been killed in Burundi since post-election violence broke out in April. Almost two dozen deaths occurred in the past two weeks.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council recommended that the AU urgently send troops to Burundi and open investigations into rights abuses as violence worsens. Most recently, the body of a treasurer for the opposition MSD party, Charlotte Umugwaneza, was found near a river outside the capital.

The European Union requested that the Burundi government partake in talks in Brussels to find a solution to the political crisis that has killed more than 120 people and displaced 190,000. The EU, who provides about half of Burundi’s annual budget, has said that further sanctions would be a last resort should talks fail. The EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on four officials close to President Nkurunziza who are accused of excessive force during clashes.


Central African Republic:

Seven United Nations police were ambushed and illegally detained by alleged anti-Balaka armed groups this weekend near the capital. They were released without their equipment or weapons, while another separate incident involved a MINUSCA member being fired upon by unknown armed men.

ICRtoP Member Human Rights Watch reported that after five days of increased sectarian violence in Bangui, at least 31 targeted killings of civilians including on the elderly and a pregnant woman have occurred.


 

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Attacks, suspected to be perpetrated by the ADF, killed six in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Local activists say that more than 500 people have been murdered in overnight massacres sweeping the Beni area in the past twelve months.


Gaza:

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun briefed the UN Security Council at an emergency session last Friday against the backdrop of escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including the violent incident in which a large group of Palestinians set fire to the compound containing the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. Mr Zerihoun said that the UN welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the arson attack and his announcement that a committee has been established to conduct a full investigation into the crime. Also on Friday, Israel deployed more troops to the border with Gaza.

In Gaza, the ruling Palestinian group Hamas has called for Day of Rage demonstrations. In the West Bank, the ‘Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade’, an armed group with affiliations to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah’s party, announced it was breaking a yearlong truce with Israel. Additionally, a Palestinian man wearing a press vest stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron, before being shot dead by Israeli forces. During the demonstrations in Gaza, two Palestinians were killed and at least 100 others injured when Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to the people of Palestine and Israel in a video message urging leaders on both sides to end the “posturing and brinkmanship” and get serious about pursuing the two-state solution. Ban also travelled to the region to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, as well as Israeli and Palestinian victims of these recent hostilities. Upon his return, Ban briefed the council on Wednesday.


Guinea:

Mr. Alpha Conde won the election in the first round with 58% of the vote, taking on his second term as president. His main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who denounced the vote as fraudulent last week, received 31% and has called for peaceful protests. Figures released on Friday showed a turnout of 66% of Guinea’s six million registered voters.

Amnesty International reported that Guinean Security forces shot two unarmed people and beat another person to death in the lead up to elections.


Iraq:

Human Rights Watch reported that security forces of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) opened fire on protestors who had gathered to demand jobs, wage payment, and the resignation of Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and head of the KDP, in which five people were killed.

Approximately 70 hostages were freed from ISIL captivity in a joint operation between US and Kurdish military forces in which one US soldier was wounded and later died.


Libya:

The UN Security Council threatened to impose sanctions on those who blocked the peace deal for Libya. The Council also “urged all Libyan parties to endorse and sign” the political deal and work swiftly to create a unity government. Nevertheless, Libya’s internationally recognized government (HoR) announced that they would not sign the UN proposal for a unity government because of the UN’s refusal to exclude amendments that were added by the rival GNC government without HoR consent. UN Special Representative for Libya Bernardino León declared that the effort towards forming a unity government in Libya would continue despite that some parties had not voted for the UN-backed political agreement.


Mali:

The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, noted that positive developments were being made in Mali but that the “precarious security situation” remains, which creates an environment where violations of the most fundamental human rights can occur.


Nigeria:

Multiple attacks occurred in northeastern Nigeria last Friday including 4 suicide attacks by women who set off explosives, killing at least 18 people, and two bombs that were detonated near a mosque in Maiduguri, killing at least 30 people and wounding 20. On Saturday, two female suicide bombers attacked Dar village, killing at least 11 people. This week, suspected Boko Haram gunmen opened fire on four cars just outside Jingalta village, killing all 20 passengers inside.

With President Muhammadu Buhari’s deadline to rid Nigeria of insurgents approaching in December, the Nigerian Military issued a “Final Warning” to Boko Haram insurgents to desist from acts of terror and turn themselves in.


South Sudan:

Riek Machar, the armed opposition leader of the SPLM – IO, condemned a number of unilateral decisions by South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, stating that his decisions were undermining the implementation of the most recent peace agreement that was signed in August. Machar particularly objected to Kiir unilaterally creating 28 states in the region and dissolving structures of the ruling party.

South Sudanese rival parties, led by President Kiir and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, are scheduled to resume negotiations shortly in order to finalize security arrangements of the previously brokered peace deal and discuss its implementation.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) declared that South Sudan is facing serious risk of famine by the end of this year with 30,000 people classified as being in a food security catastrophe.


Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan Judge Maxwell Paranagama, in the first government inquiry into the atrocities during the civil war, found the allegations that the army committed war crimes during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers to be credible.


Sudan/Darfur:

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) declared a six-month cessation of hostilities and declared itself ready to negotiate with the government ahead of scheduled peace talks. The group also encouraged the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to hold an immediate meeting with the Sudanese government to arrange the implementation of the cessation.

The UN announced that the Sudanese government started releasing food rations and other necessary supplies for peacekeepers in the Darfur region, though more than 200 shipping containers have yet to be cleared by Khartoum. Last week, the Sudanese government was accused of withholding essential supplies from UNAMID.

South Africa’s government has asked Khartoum to send a substitute for President Al-Bashir for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled for next December in Johannesburg.


Syria:

Last Friday, Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, launched new attacks against rebels south of Aleppo, reportedly involving hundreds of troops from Hezbollah and Iran. Tens of thousands of Syrians fled the government offensive within a span of three days.

Over the weekend, an airstrike by unidentified warplanes killed at least 40 ISIL fighters.

OCHA announced that a joint UN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent operation delivered essential medical and humanitarian supplies to 30,000 people in besieged areas.

Activists in Syria reported that ISIL ordered all boys and men aged 14 and above located in Raqqa to register their names and addresses with local police. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian airstrikes have killed dozens of people in the rebel-held Jabal al-Akrad region in Latakia province, including a rebel commander who formerly served in President Bashar Assad’s army. At least 45 people were killed in total, making it one of the deadliest incidents since Russia began its aerial attacks nearly three weeks ago.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, which was his first overseas trip since the civil war broke out in his country in 2011.


Yemen:

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced that the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels have agreed to peace talks in Geneva at the end of October. A Yemeni government spokesman confirmed the talks, but did not confirm whether the Houthis had provided assurances to withdraw from cities or hand over weapons.

An Al Qaeda suicide attack killed 10 Yemeni soldiers in the western city Hodaida on Friday. Al Qaeda, ISIL and other Islamist militant groups have gained ground in Yemen in recent months.

Medical sources reported that fourteen civilians were killed and 70 injured by Houthi shelling on neighbourhoods in Taiz. The next day, Yemeni government forces killed at least 20 Houthi fighters. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen stated separately that air strikes on civilian areas of Taiz on Wednesday killed 22 people and wounded 140 others. Elsewhere, coalition planes bombed a small island in the Red Sea close to the port of Midi, reportedly killing 10 civilians.

Afshan Khan, director of UNICEF emergency programs, said more than half a million children in Yemen face life-threatening malnutrition – a three-fold increase since the conflict began in March. Dr. Ahmed Shadoul of the World Health Organization in Yemen appealed to warring parties to guarantee unrestricted humanitarian access to Taiz, where masses of civilians are in critical need of health assistance, water, food and fuel. Dr. Shadoul also declared that $60 million is needed for life-saving response operations in Yemen until the end of 2015.


What else is new?

At least four people were killed when security forces in Congo-Brazzaville opened fire on protesters demonstrating against constitutional change aimed at retaining President Nguesso in power. The next day, security forces in Congo capital fired warning shots and teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters and later arrested and detained 18 opposition activists who had attempted to hold a press conference in the capital.

On Thursday November 19th, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation will host an event to mark the launch of a new publication by Ms. Andrea Gualde, the Auschwitz Institute’s Senior Adviser for Latin America Programs. The publication is entitled “Reparations for Crimes Against Humanity as Public Policy – Argentina’s Relationship with the Past: From the Individual to the Collective as a Tool for Prevention.” The event will take place at 4:00pm-5:30pm – RSVP to info@auschwitzinstitute.org by November 6th


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#R2P Weekly: 5-9 October 2015

Untitled

Women, Peace, and Security and the Responsibility to Protect

 

In light of the upcoming 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, the ICRtoP’s latest publication examines how WPS and the Responsibility to Protect can be mainstreamed together in order to achieve a better, more holistic protection of populations.
WPS 

 

 

Click here to read the document. For more education tools from the ICRtoP, visit our publications page.

 

 

 

 


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

In New York, a coalition of Muslim groups filed a suit against Burmese president, Thein Sein, along with other government officials, for alleged crimes against the Rohingya minority, which they say constitutes genocide. The groups filed the suit under the “US Alien Tort Statute”, which has been used in the past by foreign citizens seeking damages from human rights violations committed outside the United States.
Physicians for Human Rights reported evidence that the government had forcibly displaced over 8,000 people to make room for new dam projects in Shan State. Amnesty International, meanwhile, reported that nearly100 prisoners of conscience following increased repression.


Burundi:

A series of attacks killed at least eight in Bujumbura over the weekend. Local residents stated that police were behind the killings and had been accompanied by unarmed members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party’s youth wing, Imbonerakure, who stole items from houses.

Burundi has expelled a Rwandan diplomat, accused of destabilizing the country, in another sign of increased tension between the two neighboring states.


Central African Republic:

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza requested a “tougher” mandate for MINUSCA, while also calling for the disarmament of militias and rebels after more than 40 were killed in Bangui. The recent uptick in violence has increased the flow of refugees to the DRC. UNHCR and the World Food Programme have both voiced concern at their ability to support the new wave of refugees due to a funding shortfall.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Human Rights Watch reported that senior security force and ruling party officials in DRC have allegedly hired thugs to assault peaceful political demonstrators in Kinshasa, where more than a dozen were injured. The assailants include members of the “youth league” of Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), intelligence agents from the National Intelligence Agency (Agence Nationale de Renseignements, ANR), police officers, and soldiers, all wearing plain clothes.


Gaza:

Israeli fighter jets launched airstrikes on targets in Gaza overnight on Sunday, in response to alleged rocket fire emanating from the Gaza strip, amid intensified violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where two Israelis were stabbed to death and a Palestinian man was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers.


Guinea:

Ahead of the presidential election on 10 October, fighting between rival political groups injured dozens. The fighters belonged to the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) and the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). In a statement, the EU called the situation “extremely tense” and urged actors to refrain from violence.


Iraq:

Two suicide bombings killed at least 18 in Shiite-dominated areas of Baghdad on Saturday. Meanwhile, a series of car bombings killed at least 63 in Khalis, al-Zubair, and Baghdad. The UN reported that terrorist and other violent acts had killed 717 and injured 1,216 in September alone. The Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL, also known as Islamic State or ISIS), executed 70 members of a Sunni tribe in Khanizir.


Libya:

In a new report, OCHA reported that “armed conflict and political instability has impacted over 3 million people across Libya”, who need protection and humanitarian aid. Over the weekend, the Arab League called on the parties in Libya to commit to a ceasefire and cease all military operations in order to agree on a national unity government. Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament voted to extend its own mandate beyond the end of its mandated term on 20 October. The parliament is still undecided over whether to accept the UN-backed draft agreement.


Mali:

In a step that parties hope will restore confidence in the peace accord, Mali’s government released 20 separatist rebels in exchange for 16 soldiers. During a briefing to the Security Council, Mongi Hamdi, Head of MINUSMA, noted that the peace accord was indeed back on track, but that full implementation remained impeded by obstacles. Indeed, the day after his briefing, Tuareg separatists allegedly kidnapped four near Gao whose family members were believed to be Tuaregs aligned with the government.


Nigeria:

Five children carried out suicide bombings at a mosque and the house of a vigilante leader in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, killing fifteen people and injuring 35. Militants claiming loyalty to ISIL claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last week in Abuja that killed at least 15. The Nigerian Union of Teachers announced that Boko Haram has killed 600 Nigerian teachers and displaced another 19,000. Suicide bombings, which included explosions in two mosques, killed a minimum of 40 people. Boko Haram attacked a military camp in Yobe state on Wednesday, but were eventually restrained by the military.


South Sudan:

The head of the Red Cross in South Sudan announced that women have suffered “unprecendented levels of sexual violence” over the last two years, including “abduction, rape, forced marriage, and murder.” OCHA and other aid agencies, including MSF, reported an increase in conflict since spring in South Sudan, particularly in Koch and Leer countries, which has caused aid agencies after the looting of their premises.

The SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) stated its wish for UNMISS’s mandate to be extended another three years until free and fair elections and the safety of civilians are assured.

Bypassing the parliament, President Kiir announced a decentralization plan which would increase the number of states from the current 10 to 28, in a move immediately denounced by the SPLM-IO as a violation of the peace agreement. The “troika” (the U.S., the U.K., and Norway) released a joint statement detailing their concern over the impact of the plan on the security situation. South Sudan responded that it would not change the plan, despite international pressure.

The opposition accused government forces of carrying out fresh aerial and ground attacks on civilians believed to be aligned with Machar. IGAD reported that the warring sides have committed 53 violations of ceasefire agreements in 19 months.


Sudan/Darfur:

During his meetings during the General Assembly, Sudan’s foreign minister reiterated his government’s commitment to the departure of UNAMID. South Africa asked the ICC for more time to explain why it failed to arrest Sudanese President Bashir, wanted by the ICC, during Bashir’s visit to South Africa this summer. As a ratifier of the Rome Statute of the ICC, South Sudan is obliged to implement ICC arrest warrants.


Syria:

ISIL militants in northern Syria destroyed the almost 2,000-year old ‘Arch of Triumph’ in the ancient city of Palmyra, according to officials and local sources. It is the latest in a series of destructions of monuments at the UNESCO heritage site by the Islamist militant group.

NATO called on Russia to halt air strikes on Syrian opposition forces and civilians. Despite evidence that it has targeted Assad opponents, Russia maintains that its air strikes are only targeting ISIL militants. On Wednesday, Russia and Syria embarked on a joint campaign by land, sea, and air against rebel groups in an attempt to reverse opposition gains along Syria’s coast. In total, Russia has already launched over 100 airstrikes.


Yemen:

Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Baha escaped an attack on his hotel in Aden, though 15 soldiers from the United Arab Emirates were killed. The UAE blamed Houthi rebels for the attack, although ISIL has claimed responsibility.

An airstrike in Dhamar province killed 23 people attending a wedding. The Saudi-led coalition denied responsibility for the attack.

In a new report, Amnesty International highlighted new evidence of war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition, which underscores both the need for an independent investigation and the suspension of some arms transfers.

Houthi rebels, together with former President Saleh’s political party, announced their willingness to join talks on a seven-point peace plan proposed by the UN. The so-called “Muscat principles” include a ceasefire, the return of the government to the capital, Sana’a, and the removal of armed militias from Yemeni cities. The Houthis criticized President Hadi’s failure to reciprocate such a step. Hadi, meanwhile, insists that Houthis pull out of territory gained during the conflict before an agreement is possible.


What else is new?

The ICRtoP has released a new map detailing which states, as of 6 October, have endorsed the French/Mexico political declaration on the use of the veto and/or the “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action on genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.” (The map will be updated each week.)

ICRtoP Member the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a new issue of “R2P Ideas in Brief” entitled “Strengthening State Resilience for the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes.”

ICRtoP Member the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect held their annual Gareth Evans lecture on “Preventing Conflicts, Mediating the End of Wars, Building Durable Peace”, featuring H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos Horta.

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, also an ICRtoP member, is holding an event on the “ISIS Crisis: Simulating Mass Atrocity Prevention in Syria” on 26 October. For details, click here.


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#R2P Weekly: 28 September- 2 October 2015

Untitled

ICRtoP Statement on the Occasion of the  Ministerial Meetings
on “Framing the Veto in the Event of Mass Atrocities” and
“Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”

Over the past few years, the United Nations Security Council, due to the veto power wielded irresponsibly by some of its members, has been unable to respond adequately to the greatest humanitarian disaster of our generation—the crisis in Syria. Despite the international community’s repeated vows to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes, the UN organ primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security has failed to take consistent action to help staunch the ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes. The 210,000 dead, 3.9 million refugee count, and 6.5 million internally displaced show the high price that Syrians—and the region at large—have paid for such inaction.

Four vetoes used over the span of three years on one crisis cannot be dismissed as an unfortunate but ultimately unsolvable difference of political opinion between Council members. Furthermore, the threat of the use of the veto has been equally as obstructive in responding to atrocity crimes, as it curtails even discussing taking action to protect populations. (…)

Read the full statement here.


Event Announcement:
Latin America and the Responsibility to Protect:
Diverging Views from the South?

The ICRtoP, together with Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales, is holding this event on Monday, 6 October 2015. The event is open to the public. For details and to RSVP, click here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The Burmese government’s chief peace negotiator stressed that the Mon minority will be limited to observer status during political discussions if it does not agree to a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Union Minister Aung Min met with influential monks and urged them to sign the peace deal before the November elections.

However, the ceasefire talks between the Myanmar government and ethnic rebel groups collapsed after only seven out of eighteen armed groups agreed to sign the peace accord and the government refused to extend a ceasefire to three rebel groups located in Kokang province. The rebel groups who did not sign the agreement did not rule out their participation in the future, but maintained their position to only accede to a ceasefire when every armed group is included in the deal.

With just over a month until Burma’s national election, Human Rights Watch reported on the ongoing electoral intimidation in the ethnic-minority borderlands by the The Pyithu Sit (People’s Militias) and Neh San Tat (Border Guard Forces). The UNSG Ban Ki-Moon alsoraised concerns over Myanmar’s polls procedures thus far for the upcoming election and expressed his disappointment in the “effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities.”


Burundi:

The EU announced that it will impose sanctions, in the form of travel bands and asset freezes, on four Burundi officials close to President Nkurunziza.

Impunity Watch released a report detailing possible methods for addressing impunity and preventing future grievances in Burundi. Impunity Watch recommends to the UN Human Rights Council the following: a new resolution on the crisis; disarmament processes for all youth paramilitary and militia; security for independent media to be re-opened; an open-ended citizen dialogue process; and for the Burundian government to conduct independent and impartial investigations into human rights abuses and international crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.


Central African Republic:

Violence erupted in CAR after a Muslim man was murdered on Saturday, which ignited retaliations by Muslims on a Christian neighborhood and attacks by armed groups on civilians. Over 30 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the inter-communal violence. Additionally, hundreds of prisoners escaped from the primary jail in Bangui, resulting in U.N. peacekeepers firing warning shots to disperse thousands of protesters in favor of rearming the military. Bangui has since been placed under a strict night-time curfew.

Central African Republic Foreign Minister Samuel Rangba called on the United Nations to step up its support for the country by strengthening MINUSCA and lifting sanctions impacting the training of military forces.

ICRtoP member Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a new report entitled, “Too little, too late: Failing to prevent atrocities in the Central African Republic,” which noted the ‘woefully inadequate’ international response on all levels concerning the crisis in CAR.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

A German court imprisoned Ignace Murwanashyaka, the former political leader of the FDLR, for 13 years for abetting war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch issued a new report entitled “Justice on Trial: Lessons from the Minova Rape Case in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, which states the DRC government should urgently reform the country’s justice system in order to better prosecute atrocities.


Gaza:

On Wednesday, as the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accusedIsrael of not following through with the Oslo Accords peace agreement and announced that Palestinians “cannot continue to be bound by these agreements.” Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council, stated that all security coordination between Israel and Palestine has now been canceled and that Palestinians will begin using nonviolent resistance while calling for sanctions against Israel.


Guinea:

September 28th marked the 6th anniversary of the massacre of protesters in a Conakry stadium. A group of civil society organizations called for the massacre trial to be a priority following the 11 October presidential elections.


Iraq:

A suicide bomber in the town of Tarmiyah killed 7 people and wounded 16 others.


Libya:

Ageila Saleh, the leader of Libya’s Parliament, declared that, if needed, the House of Representatives will continue peace talks past the end of the Parliament’s current mandate on 20 October. Delegates from the House of Representatives and the General National Congress reportedly began meetings on the UN-brokered peace plan in New York yesterday.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly Libya’s Acting Head of State, Agila Saleh Essa Gwaider warned of the “overwhelming threat” posed by ISIL which is hindering Libya’s transition to becoming a transparent democracy. Mr. Gwaider also stated that external powers, including the UN Security Council, have hampered Libya’s attempts at fighting terrorists, due to their delay in approving requests by the Libyan government to exempt it from an arms embargo.


Mali:

Alleged Islamist militant Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has become the first person to appear at the International Criminal Court on charges of damaging humanity’s cultural heritage. Mr. al-Mahdi is accused of belonging to Ansar Dine, an ally of al-Qaida in the Maghreb, and jointly ordering or carrying out the destruction of nine mausoleums and the Sidi Yahia mosque in the Malian city Timbuktu. A hearing to confirm the charges will take place on 18 January.


Nigeria:

The Nigerian Army claimed that around 200 members of Boko Haram have surrendered. Boko Haram raided a village in neighboring Niger and massacred at least 15 civilians.

At a UN General Assembly side event, the UN, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon appealed for help for millions of people displaced in the Lake Chad Basin region after fleeing violence incited by Boko Haram coupled with repeated droughts and floods leading to malnutrition and disease. Several UN diplomats warned that the aid emergency in the region risks being forgotten among other humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and others.


South Sudan:

More than 100 advocacy groups petitioned the African Union to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan and to release a report commissioned by the continental body to investigate atrocity crimes committed during the 21-month long ongoing conflict. The African Union laterannounced that it would release the report, and that a special court would be set up to try atrocity crime suspects in South Sudan after an inquiry has found that both government and rebel forces have committed war crimes.

UNHCR started relocating 2,143 vulnerable Sudanese refugees from South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state town of Yei River to a nearby Lasu settlement site.

The United Nations called on President Kiir’s government and the armed opposition to allow UN agencies to reach all areas of the country affected by the 21 month long conflict. Additionally, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, urged that the perpetrated serious human rights violations occurring in South Sudan must be monitored.

Agence France- Presse reported on the suspected thousands of women and girls used as sex slaves throughout South Sudan’s. Dozens of interviews with victims revealed a systematic pattern of abduction and rape perpetrated by government soldiers and their allied militias during recent offensives.


Sri Lanka:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Sri Lanka to investigate the reports of secret jails, where allegedly former Tamil rebels are being tortured.

Amnesty International stated that the adoption of a resolution on human rights violations by all sides in Sri Lanka’s conflict by the UN Human Rights Council marked a crucial turning point for providing justice for victims and that the international component of the hybrid court is crucial for its credibility.


Sudan/Darfur:

The opposition Reform Now Movement (RNM) and Union of the Nation’s Forces (UNF) party have called for a joint ceasefire monitoring force from the government and rebel groups to be formed.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned an attack on Sunday against UNAMID mission in Mellit, North Darfur in which one South African peacekeeper died and four others were wounded.

A Sudanese delegation arrived in Chad on Wednesday to discuss with Chadian President Idris Deby the participation of the armed opposition in the Sudanese National Dialogue. The dialogue is scheduled to start on 10 October.


Syria:

In their speeches at the UN General Assembly on Monday Barack Obama and Vladimir Putinagreed on the need to counter the threat to peace posed by ISIL; however, they were at odds on how to end the Syrian conflict. President Obama insisted that Syria’s President Assad must be removed from power and President Putin stated that it would be an “enormous mistake” not to work with Assad in the fight against ISIL.

A study by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium found that while men make up the overall majority of civilians killed in the Syrian war, nearly 25 percent of all civilians killed by explosive weapons were women and children.

On Wednesday, Russia began carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the opponents of President Assad. Syrian opposition activist network ‘Local Coordination Committees’ reported that Russian warplanes hit five towns, not controlled by ISIL, resulting in the deaths of 36 people, five of them children. Russian jets continued airstrikes in Syria into Thursday, with reports again claiming that targets being hit are not a part of ISIL but are areas held by groups that are opposed to ISIL and the Syrian government.

French authorities launched a criminal probe of Syrian President Assad’s regime for war crimes committed between 2011 and 2013 focusing on evidence provided by a former Syrian army photographer known by codename “Caesar,” who holds 55,000 graphic photographs of scenes of brutality from the conflict.

On 5 October, Concordia University in Montreal will host an event on The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Seeking Protection in Dangerous Times.


Yemen:

Amnesty International called for an establishment of a UN HRC Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law committed by all sides in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.
Accounts from residents and medics reported that air strikes from helicopters from the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen killed at least 25 civilians in the Hajja province, but Saudi authorities dismissed the reports. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a Houthi wedding party in Wahijah on Monday killing 131 people, making it the deadliest single incident in the country’s civil war. Yemeni officials reported that the Saudi-led coalition had hit the wedding by mistake.

A Dutch draft resolution at the Human Rights Council, previously supported by other Western countries, for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties to the Yemeni conflict was dropped on Wednesday. The HRC accepted a revised resolution which omits an international inquiry and supports a decree, issued by the exiled Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, for a national commission of inquiry. Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch in Geneva stated that this is “a lost opportunity for the council and a huge victory for Saudi Arabia, protecting it from scrutiny over laws of war violations which will probably continue to be committed in Yemen.”


What else is new?

ICRtoP’s Communication and Advocacy Officer, Angela Patnode, wrote a guest blog post for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, about the need for UN Security Council reform, a proposed Security Council Code of Conduct, and the necessity of putting justice before international politics.

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released an report entitled “Preventing Mass Atrocities in West Africa,” detailing the case studies of preventative efforts undertaken by Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The Centre, together with the Elders, also released a Press Release on the high-level panel event on “Preventing Mass Atrocities: How Can the UN Security Council Do Better?”

At a Ministerial-level meeting on Wednesday of the Security Council on the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering the terrorist threat in the region, UNSG Ban Ki-moon underscored the shared responsibility to resolve the Mid-east conflicts and urged Member States to use all tools available.


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#R2P Weekly:21-25 September 2015

Untitled

#R2P10: The Responsibility to Protect and Counter-Terrorism: A Response

(This post is a response to an earlier piece in the blog series, which can be found here.

In a recent post on this website, Kyle Matthews argued RtoP faced a conceptual problem.  There is, he suggests, a lack of consensus among those working on RtoP ‘on whether countering violent extremism and implementing certain counter terrorism measures are in fact a state obligation under RtoP’.  This is despite the fact that, as he puts it, ‘acts of terrorism and mass atrocity crimes are easily comparable and sometimes overlap’.  He urges the human rights community, national governments and the UN to fulfil ‘a duty to come together and discuss the convergence of mass atrocity and terrorism prevention’. Such discussion would ‘further develop RtoP conceptually’.  Without it the RtoP community could be accused of ‘burying our heads in the sand’.  The meaning – and normative demands – of RtoP should constantly be open for discussion, and in raising the matter Matthews does the RtoP community a great service.  Yet I would argue there are dangers contained within this exercise and the RtoP community needs to be aware of them before embarking on the exercise Matthews calls for. (…)

Read the full post here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
DPRK
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), in collaboration with the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT), the Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG) and the Women’s Organizations Network Myanmar (WON), published a report on the impact of conflict on women in Burma entitled, “Opening the box: Women’s Experiences of War, Peace and Impunity.”

In a new Statistical Analysis from the Early Warning Project launched by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum this week, Myanmar was found to be the country at the highest risk for the onset  of State-led mass killings in 2015.


Burundi:

The head of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Burundireported that the situation in the country was deteriorating. Local and international rights groups in Burundi have voiced concern about the killing of senior political and military figures, condemning the arrests of more than 600 people opposing the ruling party (CNDD-FDD).


Central African Republic:

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of the UN stabilization force in the Central African Republic, expressed that there must be no impunity for peacekeepers who perpetrate sexual abuse offences, noting that there would be even more cases coming into public view in the future.

Human Rights Watch echoed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, by describing the Central African Republic as a country “gripped with fear” and in dire need of more UN troops. However, HRW declared that deploying a peacekeeping mission was only the first step in response to this crisis and urged for mmore financial and technical support for the Special Criminal Court. ICRtoP Member International Crisis Group published a summary report on the crisis in CAR, emphasizing its long-term nature and characteristics of “sporadic surges of violence against a backdrop of state disintegration, a survival economy and deeper inter-ethnic cleavages.”


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Two ministers of the DRC government resigned  after refusing to sign a loyalty pledge to Kabila’s majority coalition, placing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to select a new cabinet ahead of upcoming elections in which Kabila is not allowed to run.

50 peacekeepers serving in MONUSCO have been recalled home for security breaches and are under investigation.


Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

The UN Human Rights Council, as part of its 30th session, held a panel on the situation of human rights in DPRK. Many states and bodies echoed the Commission of Inquiry’s report by pushing for a Security Council referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Republic of Korea noted that it may pursue an additional course of action to deal with the issue of abductees.


Gaza:

Last Friday, the Egyptian military began flooding tunnels used by Palestinian militants and smugglers under the border with Gaza. On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip, targeting two Hamas training camps, following the attacks by Palestinian militants whom had fired rockets into southern Israel.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon on Sunday condemned the recent rocket attacks by extremist Palestinian militants on Israel from Gaza. UNSG Ban Ki-moon additionally urged both Israeli and Palestinian sides to defuse recent tensions at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount compound and prevent an escalation of the current situation. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of the “risk of a new Intifada”, after clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem continued.

UNRWA announced that it has obtained the funds to rebuild 1,1000 homes destroyed during Israel’s incursion on the Gaza Strip in summer 2014.


Guinea:
The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, concluded a visit during an investigation into the events that took place in 2009 at a stadium in Conakry, where more than 100 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped during an opposition demonstration. Thus far, 16 people have been indicted in connection with the case, including former Head of State- Moussa Dadis Camara and several high ranking military officers.

Several people were wounded when rival political factions fought in northern Guinea as a result of mounting tension before presidential elections on 11 October.  Police arrested and detained a number of local opposition leaders.


Iraq:

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, concluded a visit during an investigation into the events that took place in 2009 at a stadium in Conakry, where more than 100 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped during an opposition demonstration. Thus far, 16 people have been indicted in connection with the case, including former Head of State- Moussa Dadis Camara and several high ranking military officers.

Several people were wounded when rival political factions fought in northern Guinea as a result of mounting tension before presidential elections on 11 October.  Police arrested and detained a number of local opposition leaders.


Libya:

Six people were killed and ten wounded over the weekend when fighting erupted between the Libyan National Army and fighters allied to ISIL.

UN Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, announced last Friday that lawmakers from Libya’s internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) had agreed to return to the talks with the General National Congress (GNC) after resolving an internal dispute. However, the 20 September peace agreement deadline passed unanswered. The HoR and the GNCbegan talks again on Tuesday to debate whether to accept a final version of the UN-brokered peace agreement, which Leon declared would accept no further revisions. Subsequently, on Wednesday the HoR called for a freeze in the UN-mediated peace talks until the GNC halts their offensive in the east.


Mali:

Two police officers and two civilians were killed on Saturday when armed men, thought to be Islamic extremists, attacked a police station in a town bordered with Burkina Faso. Mali’s government postponed regional elections due to insecurity in the north. Investigatorsdetermined that the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), a new group that emerged earlier this year, is behind the recent spread of violence into central and southern Mali.


Nigeria:

More than 100 people were killed Sunday in northern Nigeria in a coordinated set of bombings by Boko Haram in the north-eastern city of Maidugur. An additional bomb attack in the nearby town of Monguno killed an estimated 20 people .

UNICEF reported  that half a million children had fled attacks by Boko Haram in the past five months, bringing the total number of displaced children by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries to 1.4 million (1.2m in Nigeria, 265,000 in Cameroon, Chad and Niger).

Nigerian forces rescued 241 women and children during a raid on two camps controlled by Boko Haram and arrested 43 militants belonging to the group.


South Sudan:

South Sudan’s rival parties concluded a week long ceasefire workshop without consensus on how to implement a security arrangement and form a joint command as part of the deal. Questions of how best to demilitarize Juba remain, as both sides cited differences in the size of the protection force required. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD),noted, in its first report since the ceasefire took effect on 30 August, that both government and rebel forces had violated the deal. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agreed to discuss further the proposed sanctions on top military commanders and others in South Sudan after the opening of the General Assembly. The US State Department announced more than $80 million in additional humanitarian assistance for South Sudanese refugees and persons affected by the conflict.


Sri Lanka:

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany offered assistance to Sri Lanka with its investigation of alleged atrocities during its civil war. In response, however, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera declared that his country wanted to conduct its own investigation but would accept some outside technical support. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former President of Sri Lanka, pressed the current Sri Lankan government to reject a UNHRC report that called for a special hybrid court to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war.

 


Sudan/Darfur:

President al-Bashir pardoned rebel leaders who will take part in the national dialogue conference on 20 October and declared a two-month ceasefire in war ravaged areas.

UNOCHA reported that around 50,000 of the 223,000 people displaced from the conflict havereturned to Darfur this year, with 104,000 of them receiving some form of humanitarian assistance.

Human Rights Watch released a detailed  report on how Sudanese government forces have carried out systematic attacks on towns and villages in the western part of Darfur in the past 18 months, including the raping, torturing, and killing of their civilians.

The European Union called on the Sudanese government to conduct an independent investigation into the violent protests of September 2013, when at least 200 people were killed, though the government stated the death toll as 85.


Syria:

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu held their first talks in more than a year via telephone to discuss solutions to the Syrian conflict. As the talks occurred, four Russian fighter jets arrived at an airfield near the Syrian city of Latakia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Moscow on Monday and agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria to avoid accidentally trading fire.

Warring sides in Syria reached a UN-supervised agreement on actions concerning the fate of two villages. The ceasefire deal includes the withdrawal of rebel militants and evacuation of civilians from those areas and is to be implemented within six months, with the evacuation of wounded from all sides beginning immediately.

The UN Human Rights Council during its 30th session held an interactive dialogue on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria. Several nations echoed the call of the COI for a UNSC referral of the situation to the ICC to ensure full accountability, in addition to the COI’s proposal for an ad hoc tribunal. Transitional justice was also noted as playing a critical role in the fate of Syria, with civil society and women playing a central role in the political solution.


Yemen:

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed atleast 50 people when they hit a Houthi security compound in north Yemen and a residence in Sana’a. President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadireturned to Yemen, landing in Aden after spending six months in exile in Saudi Arabia.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon voiced extreme concern at the recent escalation of ground fighting and airstrikes in Yemen which have devastated more cities and increased civilian casualties.

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, urged the Security Council and the international community to promote political dialogue aimed at ending violations against children in Yemen. She reported that more than 400 children have been killed, and more than 600 injured, in Yemen between 26 March and August.


What else is new?

The US warned Russia that its continued blanket use of its UN Security Council (UNSC) veto will jeopardize the Security Council’s long-term legitimacy and could lead the US and other countries to bypass the UNSC as a decision-making body.


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