Tag Archives: UN Peacekeeping

#R2P Weekly: 9 – 13 May 2016

Untitled
The Challenges of Engaging National Governments with RtoP and Atrocity Prevention: Confessions of a British RtoP Advocate

 

By Alexandra Buskie, Policy and Advocacy Manager, United Nations Association – UK. UNA-UK is a Steering Committee Member of the ICRtoP.

Over the past 4 years, the United Nations Association – UKalt(UNA-UK) has been working on a dedicated policy and advocacy programme “to strengthen understanding, support and leadership for the Responsibility to Protect principle in the UK’s policy, parliamentary and public arenas”. This has been no small ambition. Engaging the UK Government on RtoP and atrocity prevention has represented huge challenges and success has been difficult to measure. What follows is a reflection on these challenges, how we have sought to respond to them and what we have counted as incremental steps towards a stronger national engagement with the principle in practice. (…)

Read the full blog here.


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Côte d’Ivoire
DRC
Iraq
Kenya
Libya
Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has exhorted President Htin Kyaw to urgently revamp the nation’s “repressive and rights-abusing laws,” particularly those pertaining to race and religion protection.

Aung San Suu Kyi announced that her government is determined to help Thailand solve its long-standing refugee problems. The Thai Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, has estimated that there are 1.6 million Burmese migrant workers residing in Thailand.

Two human rights organizations, Fortify Rights and United to End Genocide, have released areport entitled “Supporting Human Rights in Myanmar: Why the US Should Maintain Existing Sanctions Authority,” urging President Obama to renew the sanctions authority on Burma for at least another year. According to the report, more than 140,000 Rohingya, Kaman and other Muslims remain confined to over 40 squalid internment camps.


Burundi:

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) called on the African Union to step up its efforts to resolvethe Burundi crisis. The PAP Rapporteur, Victor Hlatshwayo, stressed the need to put the lives of the Burundi people at the forefront.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, stated that concrete steps must be taken in order to improve the situation of IDPs in Burundi, highlighting the importance of establishing a legal framework for their assistance and protection. According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), the number of IDPs in March 2016 has reached over 25,000 in the three provinces of Rutana, Makamba and Kirundo. In addition, some 78,000 persons remain internally displaced from the 1993 crisis.

On 9 May, Burundi’s Supreme Court sentenced 21 army officers to life in prison, including Burundi’s former Defence Minister, General Cyrille Ndayirukiye, in connection with a coup plot in May 2015.

On 9 May, unidentified gunmen wearing police uniforms killed three people and injured one in a bar in Maramvya.

Jean Minani, the newly elected leader of opposition group Cnared, urged rebels to “lay down their weapons” should President Nkurunziza agree to participate in peace talks later this month.
 


Central African Republic:

OCHA has reported that the government service delivery capacity for healthcare in the Central African Republic is extremely poor everywhere except in Bangui. This has left the population vulnerable to diseases and with very little access to health services. Over 1 million are currently being served by non-governmental organizations and UN agencies through mobile services in areas not covered by the government’s basic health facilities.

Doctors Without Borders stated that 4,000 South Sudanese refugees living in CAR are doing so in deplorable conditions after having fled conflict and violence. The organisation underlined the “lack of food, water and medicines”.


Côte d’Ivoire

The trial of former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, opened in Côte d’Ivoire on 9 May. She is charged with crimes against humanity during the post-election violence that took place in the country in 2010-2011, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 people after her husband, former President Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down and relinquish power after losing the election. Mrs. Gbagbo has also been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity during the same period. Côte d’Ivoire has not applied to the ICC to challenge the admissibility of the case and Amnesty International has called for Côte d’Ivoire to comply with their obligation pursuant to her arrest warrant and surrender Mrs. Gbagbo to the ICC. Côte d’Ivoire contends that Mrs. Gbagbo’s trial is fair and transparent, but her defense has claimed that the jury is biased.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

Suspected Islamist militants reportedly killed approximately 20 to 40 villagers in the eastern region of the DRC. Meanwhile, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), another active rebel militia in the area, killed at least nine civilians in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

Authorities in the DRC have arrested Brigadier-General Leopold Mujyambere, the chief of staff for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel militia group linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A DRC government spokesman said that authorities have taken Mujyambere to the capital to await a decision from the military system on whether he will be tried in Congo or extradited to Rwanda.

On Wednesday, the DRC’s Constitutional Court ruled that President Joseph Kabila may remain in office beyond his constitutional mandate should the election be delayed, as a clause in the constitution mandates that the sitting president must remain in his post until a new president is elected and installed. Opposition parties, who have accused Kanila of attempting to hold onto power by delaying the elections later this year, have denounced the decision.

Since late April, authorities have arrested at least 27 associates of Moise Katumbi, an opposition presidential candidate, as well as other opposition party members. The Justice Ministry opened an investigation into Katumbi on 4 May, the same day he announced his candidacy for president.


Iraq:

Iraq’s government failed again to vote on a cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Hadi, prolonging the month-long political crisis.

Amnesty International urged the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to carry out an “impartial and independent” investigation into abuses committed by their respective militias and security forces.

According to the Pentagon, on 6 May, an airstrike killed Abu Wahib, a top ISIL commander, and three others outside of Rutba in Iraq. Wahib was reportedly a former al-Qaida member in Iraq and made appearances in several ISIL execution videos.

On Tuesday, a suicide bombing in Baqouba, a city northeast of Baghdad, killed at least 13 people and wounded 60 others in a commercial area of a Shiite neighborhood. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack and reported that a Shiite mosque was the intended target.

On 11 May, a car bomb killed 62 people, mostly women and children, and wounded 86 others in a crowded market in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement, specifying that they were targeting Shiite fighters.


Kenya:

Kenya has announced that the government has closed the country’s Department of Refugee Affairs and is currently working towards closing Kenya’s refugee camps. Amnesty International expressed concern over the closure of Kenya’s two large refugee camps, including the Dadaab camp, the largest in the world. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, stated, “This reckless decision by the Kenyan government is an abdication of its duty to protect the vulnerable and will put thousands of lives at risk.” The closure could displace over 600,000 people.

The United Nations and human rights organizations have also called on the Kenyan government to revoke its decision on closing the refugee camps. In a joint statement, several non-governmental organizations, which are already providing assistance to refugees in the country, have pledged to provide full support to the Kenyan government in handling refugee problems.


Libya

Next week, regional foreign ministers will meet for talks in Vienna on providing support for Libya’s new unity government and bringing stability to the country, according to Italy’s foreign minister.

Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has announced the establishment of a “Presidential Guard”, a new military force in charge of protecting government buildings, border posts, and other important public facilities and notable visitors. It is the new unity government’s first move to reorganize military forces in Libya.

Western Libyan forces have announced that they are preparing an advance to retake the the city of Sirte, which has been ISIL’s Libyan stronghold. The forces have called for international logistical support in retaking the city but stated that they would not wait for the international assistance to lunch the operation.


Mali:

Malian security services have arrested Yacouba Toure, an alleged weapons trafficker and senior member of the Islamist militant group, Ansar Dine. Toure is suspected of trafficking weapons across the border from Mali that were used in a deadly attack near Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso in October.

Oumar Aldjana, representative for Mali’s Union of Fulani, has reported that 33 Fulani civilians have been killed in a conflict between the Fulani and Bambara communities in Mali’s central Mopti region.


Nigeria:

The Nigerian military spokesman announced that the army had launched a new military offensive to rescue unarmed civilians kidnapped by Boko Haram. The U.S. is also considering selling light attack aircraft to Nigeria to help it counter Boko Haram, a deal previously put on hold due to U.S. concerns over human rights abuses perpetrated by the military.

French President Francois Hollande will attend this week’s summit in Abuja to search for a regional response to the militant threat in Nigeria. Leaders from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger will also attend. During the summit, France and Nigeria are set to sign a defense cooperation agreement, according to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Gunmen killed two policemen and three soldiers in raids on Monday in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil-producing region. A rise in recent violence in the region has raised concerns that a previously quelled insurgency could resume. The military has vowed to use “all available means and measures” to stop militants from attacking oil facilities in the region, but a labor union has called for oil companies to evacuate all staff in the region.

In a recent report, Amnesty International said that at least 149 detainees, including seven young children and four babies, have died at the Giwa barracks detention center in Maiduguri. The report called this center “a place of death” and called for its immediate close and the release of all 1,200 believed detainees or their transfer to civilian authorities. Amnesty International also said that over 8,000 young men and boys have been shot, tortured, suffocated, or starved to death since 2011 while in Nigerian military custody, with no one held responsible.

On Thursday, a suicide bombing in Maiduguri killed at least five people and wounded 19 others at a government compound. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the act.


South Sudan:

The World Food Programme warned that up to 5.3 million people in South Sudan may face severe food shortages during this year’s lean season.

An independent report by the International Organization for Migration revealed that the “protection of civilians” camps at UNMISS bases around the country, to which over 200,000 individuals have fled, will likely be necessary for years to come, despite the August peace agreement.

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict urged the South Sudanese government to actively address sexual violence crimes in the country, stating that sexual violence crimes have continued to be systematically committed during the conflict.


Sudan/Darfur:

Dr. Amin Hassan Omar, the head of the Darfur Peace Implementation Office, has announcedthat the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) have expressed interest in signing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

Gunman from local tribes killed six people, including two children, near a Darfuri camp for displaced civilians. The incident occurred after a rise in tensions between the tribesman and the displaced caused by recent cattle raiding.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has stated that Sudan would open its borders to South Sudanese people when the South Sudanese government stops providing support to Sudanese rebel groups.

Many called for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during his visit to Uganda, a signatory to the Rome Statute. The sitting president is wanted by the International Criminal Court for having allegedly committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Syria:

Assad’s forces have failed to regain control of a prison in Hama, where opposition leaders have been warning of possible mass executions of the 800 prisoners by the government. Most of the prisoners are political detainees.

In retaliation for ISIL attacks on the Turkish border town of Kilis. Turkish shelling killed 55 ISIL militants. Kilis now hosts nearly 110,000 Syrian refugees. On Thursday, Turkish artillery and US-led coalition airstrikes killed another 28 militants in ISIL-held territory near Kilis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Turkish military is currently preparing to “clear” ISIL from the Syrian side of the border.

Recent reports show that around 700 Iranian soldiers and militiamen have died fighting in the Syrian civil war, although Iran maintains officially that only “military advisers” have been deployed there. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), around 2,000 troops from the special forces wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are currently in Syria as well as at least 13 Shia militias.

On Monday, the US and Russia announced that they would work together towards reaffirming the ceasefire agreement from February. US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Russia’s major role in achieving the initial ceasefire, but also called Russia’s political solution to the conflict “not necessarily a workable equation.” The 17-nation International Syria Support Group will meet next week in Vienna.

On Tuesday, airstrikes on Binnish, a town in Syria’s Idlib province, killed at least 10 people and injured others. Clashes also erupted in and around Aleppo, regardless of the ceasefire in effect. However, on Thursday, the truce in Aleppo expired with no extension announced.

After the two deadliest weeks since the ceasefire began in the country, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, issued a statement condemning the “ongoing indiscriminate and seemingly calculated attacks against civilians and civilian objects in Syria.” He also reminded States of their responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes and urged the international community to end impunity for perpetrators of the worst crimes in Syria. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, a UN-mandated human rights inquiry, also condemned the attacks and called on all parties to immediately stop the unlawful attacks on civilians, medical facilities, and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

ISIL has tried to mount a comeback outside of Palmyra, with militants cutting a crucial supply route connecting Homs, which is controlled by the government, and Palmyra.

On Wednesday, France, the UK, the US, and Ukraine blocked a Russian proposal in the UN Security Council to blacklist Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham for their alleged links to ISIL and al-Qaida militants. Jaish al-Islam is part of the High Negotiating Committee, which has been representing the opposition at the UN-brokered peace talks with the government. The US said that blacklisting them would undermine the negotiation attempts to attain a full cessation of hostilities in Syria. Ahrar al-Sham, meanwhile, is an ultraconservative Sunni militant group, which has fought as part of a military alliance with the Nusra Front, a group that is not part of the previously-brokered ceasefire. Russia has long maintained that Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham should have no involvement in the peace talks.


Yemen:

UN reports indicated that the cessation of hostilities agreement has substantially facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was able to restore water facilities in Kitaf district, serving an estimated 10,000 people. At the same time, the UN has announced that over half of Yemen’s population, 14.4 million people, are in dire need of food, which the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is struggling to provide. The FAO has reported that Yemen is suffering the worst food shortage, “the volume of food required in Yemen is far greater than humanitarian actors can provide.”

On 10 May, Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels reached an agreement on prisoner swap, releasing half of the prisoners and detainees held by both sides. The agreement was seen as the first major result of peace talks that began in Kuwait on 21 April.

Despite this cautious progress, on 6 May, a bomb attack killed seven people and wounded 15 others in Marib. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition killed at least 10 rebels in Yemen on Monday. On 11 May, a suicide bomber rammeda car packed with explosives into a government military convoy killing at least eight people and wounding 17 others in eastern Yemen. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Yet another suicide bomber attacked the convoy of General Abdulrahman al-Haleeli, killing four of his guards. General Abdulrahman al-Haleeli escaped unharmed from the attack. On 12 May, ISIL claimed a suicide attack that killed ten soldiers and wounded 15 others in the provincial capital Mukalla. The attack was carried out hours before Prime Minister, Ahmed Obeid bin Dagh’s, visit to the city.

The Pentagon has reported that a small number of US military personnel are on the ground in Yemen in order to aid Emirati forces and Saudi-led coalition efforts to root out al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). However, on 11 May, the Yemeni people took to the streets of Mastaba, a city in Hajja province, demanding the withdrawal of the US soldiers from Lahij province. Meanwhile, the Council for the Unity of Yemeni Tribes, expressed condemnation over the US military presence, calling it as “a provocative move and violation of all international laws and charters.”

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has released a report entitled, “2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement,” indicating that Syria, Yemen, and Iraq have the highest number of IDPs, amounting to more than half the global total of displaced people.


What else is new?

Next Thursday, May 19, The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies will be livestreaming “Partners in Prevention: A Global Forum on Ending Genocide” hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at the Simons Center in Washington DC. Register here.

The Global Centre for R2P released a report “Ten Years of the Responsibility to Protect: Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Prevent Mass Atrocities.

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#R2P Weekly: 2 – 6 May 2016

Untitled
Gender and Genocide 

New guest blog post by Akila Radhakrishnan of the Global Justice Center 

Akila Radhakrishnan is the Legal Director at the Global Justice Center. In her role, she works to ensure justice, accountability and equal rights to people in conflict and in post-conflict situations, and to establish global legal precedents protecting human rights and ensuring gender equality. 

“From time immemorial, rape has been regarded as spoils of war. Now it will be considered a war crime. We want to send out a strong message that rape is no longer a trophy of war.” – Judge Navi Pillay commenting on the decision in The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) revolutionary decision in the Akayesu case is often cited for setting the precedent that rape could be a constitutive act of genocide. And while the precedent is incredibly important, it’s what that finding represents that’s even more significant: women’s experiences of war and conflict may be different, but they are no less important or serious.

 yazidi 1This is the same realization that underpins the Security Council’s now over 15-year old agenda on Women, Peace and Security and scaled up efforts in recent years to combat sexual violence in conflict. However, as the recent Global Studyon Security Council Resolution 1325 found, while progress has been made, much remains to be done. Gender remains an ancillary concern in many cases and serious efforts need to be made to proactively incorporate a gender lens into modern efforts to respond to conflict and mass atrocities and counter terrorism and violent extremism.

One area where the consideration of gender has historically been and continues to be mired in complexities is in the context of genocide, where the defining of the crime element pertains not to gender, but rather membership in a protected group (national, ethnical, racial or religious). In fact during the drafting of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (Genocide Convention), unlike other groups that were considered (e.g. linguistic and political groups), there was no consideration that gender would constitute a protected group.

However, while gender in and of itself is not protected, history has clearly shown us that the way that genocide has been perpetrated does have a gender dimension—an understanding of which is essential to fully understand the scope and consequences of genocide.

Read the full blog here.


Catch up on developments in…

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


Burma/Myanmar:

Thai and Burmese officials met this week for talks about the possible repatriation of more than 100,000 Burmese refugees currently living just across the border. The process would include refugees from nine camps and and would begin within two to three years.


Burundi:

The Burundi talks, which were initially scheduled to begin on 2 May in Arusha, have beenpostponed. The office of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, the new regional mediator for Burundi, said that the dialogue could now begin in the third week of May. In the meantime, grenade attacks, assassinations, and other violence has continued.


Central African Republic:

CAR’s newly elected members of parliament took office or the first time on Tuesday. The new MPs have a five year mandate.

Ongoing violence, displacement and a lack of teachers in the country is preventing hundreds of thousands of children from attending school in the Central African Republic. UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, has stated that one in four primary schools are currently not functioning there.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

On Tuesday, Signe Poulsen, a representative of the Seoul office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the international community could not ignore the human rights abuses occurring in North Korea and urged the community to take strong action.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a new report ahead of the DPRK’s 7th Party Congress scheduled for 6 May, urging the leadership of the country’s Worker’s Party to address serious human rights abuses committed by the government. HRW also pointed out that the forced labor of thousands has been used in connection with the congress itself.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

The DRC’s justice minister has ordered an investigation into allegations that opposition leader and possible presidential candidate, Moise Katumbi, recruited mercenaries. This comes during a time of increasing political tensions as opposition members believe that President Kabila may be looking to stay in power beyond his term, which ends this year.

The Congolese National Independent Electoral Commission has requested 16 months to organize elections, citing the need for time to register new voters and the fact that in both 2006 and 2011 this much time was also required. However, the UN Security Council stated in Resolution 2277 that the government should organize elections within the constitutional limits.

On Tuesday evening, assailants raided a village in the North Kivu province in the eastern region of the DRC and killed 16 civilians. It is believed that the attack could have been carried out by Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces.


 Gaza/West Bank:

The UN Committee Against Torture is set to investigate how Israel treats detainees, including minors, within Israel and in the occupied territories, regardless of Israel’s previous assertions that the Convention Against Torture does not apply in occupied territories.

Israeli aircraft attacked five Hamas targets in Gaza on Wednesday in response to mortar fire, the most serious altercation since the end of the war in 2014 and putting a strain on the ceasefire between the two parties.


Iraq:

Following Saturday’s protests and the sacking of the parliament building, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called for unity amongst political rivals in order for the country to be able to fight ISIL.

On Sunday, dual car bombs set off in southern Iraq killed 31 and wounded 50 others. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks in an online statement, specifying that the suicide bombers were targeting police officers. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), terrorism, violence, and armed conflict killed 741 Iraqis and injured 1,374 during April.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that it requires more assistance in helping the 3.4 million people displaced in Iraq, as the ongoing conflict continues to forces more people from their homes.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International released its latest report claiming that the Iraqi government is currently holding over 1,000 individuals, some as young as 15, in abhorrent conditions and without criminal charges.


Kenya:

Raila Odinga, the former Prime Minister of Kenya and leader of the opposition party, statedthat he would not participate in next year’s presidential election if the electoral commission is not reformed. Coming ten years after the violence of the disputed 2007/2008 presidential election, Odinga expressed concern about violence at next year’s polls. Western diplomats from 11 different countries have also issued a joint statement urging Kenyans to consider what future steps are necessary to make sure the upcoming elections are free, fair, and peaceful.

Kenyan security services have stopped a potential biological terror attack on various targets in the country using anthrax. Kenyan and Ugandan authorities have arrested three suspects alleged to be part of an East African terror network with ties to ISIL and they are still looking for two others. This comes amid worsening fears that ISIL may be trying to establish a base in Kenya from which to launch attacks against Westerners like those in Mali in recent months.


Libya:

Over 100 migrants died over the weekend while attempting to reach Italy from Libya. The dangerous route is becoming more popular with migrants since the closing of the safer route via the Balkans.


Mali:

In central Mali, local community leaders have claimed that pro-government fighters killed 13 more members of the ethnic Peuhl community, which has been accused of supporting the extremist Macina Liberation Front. A government security spokesman says that investigators are looking into the reports.

Hervé Ladsous, the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, visited Mali this week and urged the country to quickly implement the 2015 peace agreements between the government and armed groups. Delays in the peace process have led to the strengthening of Islamist militant groups in Mali, who still pose a serious security threat in the region.


Nigeria:

Following continued recent attacks by armed herdsmen, President Buhari stated that the heads of Nigeria’s national securities agencies will take all necessary action to halt the violence by apprehending those involved.

As ‪Boko Haram‬ loses ground in the country, the extremist group has increasingly turned to using women and children as suicide bombers. The latest briefing from the International Crisis Group suggests that to defeat the insurgency and achieve sustainable peace, Nigeria must continue to work together with its regional and international partners and take advantage of the upcoming summit in Abuja to address issues such as the humanitarian situation and ensuring the return of the rule of law.


South Sudan:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s appointment of the new ministers of the Transitional Government of National Unity and encouraged the swift establishment of all of the transition institutions. He also called for an immediate end to hostilities on all sides. The African Union (AU) also welcomed the new transitional government, which under the terms of the August 2015 peace agreement, will be made up of members coming from President Kiir’s party, as well as those of Vice President Riek Machar, the opposition, and others.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council also called on the transitional unity government to fully implement the peace deal and to end violence and rights abuses in the country, including through the implementation of a permanent ceasefire. The Council also called for the UN mission, UNMISS, to have the freedom of movement to uphold its mandate, which includes the protection of civilians and investigation of human rights violations.

Although steps are being made towards peace in the country, South Sudanese leaders are still dealing with the need to acquire justice for the victims of the violence committed during the civil war. Human rights organizations have called for perpetrators to be held accountable for their crimes, but supporters of both sides have argued the need to pursue national healing and reconciliation before moving on to accountability. However, the African Center for Transitional Justice (ACT-J) has argued, without real accountability, national reconconciliation is meaningless.

The latest numbers from humanitarian organizations show that around 54,635 refugees fledfrom South Sudan into Sudan between early February and the end of April, with an increase of around 700 people last week. Continuing conflict and food insecurity are the main drivers and more refugees are expected to flee by the end of this month before the South Sudanese rainy season begins. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP) have also issued a joint press release expressing their concerns about shortcomings in funding and how this may affect their abilities to provide assistance to South Sudanese refugees in Sudan.


Sudan/Darfur:

On Sunday, the Sudanese Air Force killed 6 children when two fighter jets bombed a residential area in South Kordofan. The children were aged between four and 12 years old.

Aristide Nononsi, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, has urged the Sudanese Government to establish a positive environment conducive to “a free and inclusive national dialogue by respecting the basic fundamental rights of Sudanese people, including the rights to freedoms of expression and association, and of the press.”


Syria/Iraq:

Surge in violence
Violence increased in Syria this week in light of the recent breakdown of the nationwide ceasefire, especially in and around the contested city of Aleppo, where over 300 people havedied in the past two weeks. A rebel coalition under the name, Fatah Halab, launched an assault on the government’s position in Aleppo on Tuesday night, but they were pushed back by Wednesday morning. The attack proved to be the most intense in Aleppo in over a year.

The US and opposition leaders, supported by claims from residents, have asserted that the Syrian government’s airstrikes have been largely focused on areas in Aleppo that were outside of the control of the Nusra Front. Instead, areas controlled by other groups, including those supported by the US and its allies, have been targeted. On Sunday night, the only road out of the rebel-held territory in the city was bombed and, if it were to be cut-off, almost 200,000 residents could be left without access to badly needed food and medical supplies, according to the opposition.

On Wednesday, the humanitarian adviser to the Special Envoy to Syria, Jan Egeland, statedthat the government of Syria is refusing the United Nations access to provide humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians affected by the ongoing war, including those caught in the middle of the surge of violence in Aleppo. He stated that there appear to be new besieged locations emerging, with relief workers unable to move around Aleppo. The Syrian government has denied aid for half of the almost one million people besieged, and has put tremendous conditions on the remaining aid.

The Syrian Army previously issued a temporary truce around Damascus and Latakia, but did not extend the truce to Aleppo until it was agreed upon by the US and Russia late Tuesday evening. By Thursday, the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo had brought a relative calm in the city, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that he is still set on achieving a total victory over the rebels in Aleppo and throughout the country. On the same day, fighting continued elsewhere in the country as ISIL captured the Shaer gas field, the group’s first major gain since losing the city of Palmyra last month.

Meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugees at the border with Jordan has risen to a new high of 59,000, with around 5,000 Syrians arriving between 3 – 5 May alone. Jordanian authorities say 52,000 people are currently gathered in Rokban, with another 7,200 people in Hadalat. In both places, conditions are dire and aid organizations are urging Jordan to speed up entry procedures.

Response to attacks on medical facilities
Following the deliberate attacks on hospitals and medical workers, including the deadlyairstrike last Wednesday that hit the al Quds hospital in a rebel-held part of Aleppo and killedat least 55 people, civil society organizations called on the UN Security Council to act. Amnesty International called for the UNSC to impose targeted sanctions against those deliberately attacking hospitals and committing other war crimes. The organization, which has interviewed doctors and activists in Aleppo and documented attacks, stated that it has found that Russian and Syrian forces have purposefully and systematically targeted hospitals in opposition-controlled regions. Medecins sans Frontieres also called on the UN Security Council to stop attacks on all healthcare facilities, sparking a social media storm for establishing hospitals as #NotATarget.

In response, the Security Council strongly condemned the attacks on the wounded and ill, hospitals and medical facilities, and humanitarian and medical personnel engaged solely in their humanitarian or medical duties. The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2286 (2016), co-sponsored by over 80 Member States, which demands accountability for those responsible for such attacks and reaffirms that all warring parties comply with their responsibility to protect populations and their obligations under international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law. In the discussion of the resolution some Council members declared such attacks on humanitarian and medical facilities and personnel to be war crimes.

Calls to reconvene peace talks
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called upon all parties, including regional and international actors such as Russia and the United States, to immediately recommit themselves to ceasing hostilities in Syria. He also called on all parties to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians throughout all parts of the country and urged them to redouble efforts to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table. In a step forward, the United States and Russia have reached an agreement to create a new monitoring group in Geneva that will observe compliance with the Syrian ceasefire agreement 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, stated that in order for the next round of negotiations to be credible, they must be supported by real and “tangible” progress made on the ground, which includes increased access for humanitarian aid throughout Syria. Mr. Mistura said he intends to re-convene the peace talks sometime this month in order to come to an agreement on a way forward by August.


Yemen:

On 29 April, thousands of Yemenis marched in the city of Taiz calling for end to the conflict and urging rebel groups to adopt a UN ceasefire resolution. The following day, UN envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed, announced that peace negotiations in Kuwait ended on a positive note, commending Yemeni parties for expressing their commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015). However, the Yemeni government later abandoned the talks for a short time after receiving reports from the Amran governorate, but have since returned to the negotiating table.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that numerous violations of international law have been committed by all sides in Yemen and they have yet to be investigated or addressed. HRW has also pointed out that it is crucial that participants in the peace talks prioritize justice for atrocities that have been committed.

Al-Qaeda militants are reportedly pulling out of Zinjibar and Jaar, two coastal cities east of Aden after progress made by the Yemeni government in fighting the terrorist group on Thursday.


What else is new?

On 8 May, Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Quebec, in partnership with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Amnistie International Francophone, and the Alliance for Genocide Awareness and Remembrance will be leading a march against genocides and for human rights in downtown Montreal. For more information, visit here.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is holding a conference, Partners in Prevention: A Global Forum on Ending Genocide, on 19 May in Washington, D.C. The event, which is free and open to the public, seeks to strengthen US policy on atrocity prevention and strengthen international partnerships on the issue. To reserve tickets visit here.

On 31 May, the Hague Institute for Global Justice will be holding a book launch for the text entitled, “Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY.” The launch will include a public panel discussion featuring Daniela Kravetz – SGBV expert practitioner, former ICTY staff member and book contributor; Stephen Rapp – Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice; Patricia Viseur Sellers – Special Adviser on International Criminal Law Prosecution Strategies for the ICC, SGBV expert, and former ICTY staff member; with moderation by  Michelle Jarvis – OTP Deputy to the Prosecutor.For more information and to RSVP, visit here.

The Global Centre for R2P released a report from a workshop convened from 18-19 February, entitled, UN Perspectives: The Future of Civilian Protection and the Responsibility to Protect, which brought together UN representatives, civil society actors, and academia to discuss pressing challenges facing the United Nations. Read the report here. The organization will also be holding an event on 11 May entitled, The Future of Civilian Peace Operations Endorsing and Implementing the Kigali Principles. Visit the GCR2P website to learn more about the event, including how to RSVP, as they will be updating with more information.

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#R2PWeekly: 25-29 April 2016

Untitled

Reducing Risk, Strengthening Resilience:
Toward the Structural Prevention of Atrocity Crimes

New Brief from the Stanley Foundation, ICRtoP Steering Committee member

In a new brief by Alex Bellamy of the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (also an ICRtoP Steering Committee member), the Stanley Foundation explores new ideas on how to make structural prevention of atrocity crimes a reality.

Despite the fact that prevention is often cited as the most effective and least costly way to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, structural prevention measures are seldom given enough attention or investment.

The new brief aims to assist actors to reduce the occurrence of risk factors of atrocities and increase societal resilience to such factors. Among other recommendations, Bellamy urges stakeholders to consider 1) adopting and utilizing an atrocity prevention lens to identify sources of risk and resilience; 2) connecting atrocity prevention measures with other mutually-reinforcing agendas; and 3) relating risk assessments to resource allocations, program design, and execution.

Read the full brief here and find other Stanley Foundation policy briefs here.


Catch up on developments in…

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


Burma/Myanmar:

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s new state counselor, met with members of the military and representatives of ethnic armed groups. She announced that she would be taking a leadership role in the peace process, though she also named a new government mediator to monitor negotiations between Myanmar’s military and armed ethnic groups.

The Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian organization, reported that military forces near the Shan-Kachin State border targeted and killed civilians.


Burundi:

Continuing violence in Burundi killed a military officer and three others in two separate events. The military officer was a colonel who was ambushed upon arriving home. Only one day prior, Burundi’s Minister for Human Rights survived an apparent assassination attempt. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’adboth condemned the attacks, while Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza gave security forces one week to find the people responsible.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has announced the opening of a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi. Bensouda stated that her office had received a number of reports indicating “acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances,” crimes which fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

UN officials briefed the UN Security Council Wednesday on the Secretary-General’s suggested options for the deployment of a so-called police “contribution” to Burundi. As detailed by Security Council Report, the first option is a large, visible presence of a 3,000-strong police protection and monitoring force, which would also have some ability to protect civilians. Another possibility would be the deployment of 228 police who would be responsible for enhancing monitoring capacity, but would have no power to protect. Under this option, the UN police would work with the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi and potentially AU human rights monitors. Finally, a third option would be a minimal deployment of 20-50 UN staff who would assess the Burundian police’s operational and institutional limitations and identify strategies for future UN police involvement.

The UNHCR has calculated that the number of refugees in Burundi has grown to almost260,000.


Central African Republic:

French President François Hollande has reversed his decision to withdraw French troops from CAR, saying that the Operation Sangaris forces would remain in the country to help train CAR’s military.

21 international and Central African human rights organizations urged the new President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, to take a tough stance against impunity for serious international crimes.

Touadera announced that his government’s first priorities would be disarming ex-combatants and rebuilding the military. In order to do the latter, however, he underscored that the international arms embargo imposed on CAR in 2013 would have to be lifted.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of MINUSCA until 31 July.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

Médecins Sans Frontières has initiated a project in Mambasa to provide medical and psychological support to victims of sexual violence. Mame Anna Sane, the MSF medical team leader, reported that the number of victims amounted to 123 in March alone.

The head of MONUSCO, Maman Sidikou, expressed concern about the upsurge of political tensions in some parts of the DRC. He stressed the crucial need for “all Congolese political actors to demonstrate maximum restraint during this critical period in the political evolution of their country.”


Gaza/West Bank:

Israeli forces shot and killed two siblings, aged 16 and 24 years old, in the West Bank as they approached a checkpoint.


Iraq:

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protested on the streets of Baghdad after a month-long political crisis. Sadr and his followers were demanding that Prime Minister Abadi abide by his plan to replace ministers with technocrats. Bowing to the pressure, Abadi submitted new names of cabinet candidates to Parliament, who eventually approved six of the nominations. They will vote on the remaining nominations on Thursday.

bomb explosion in Radwaniyah at a Shia mosque killed at least 9 people and injured 25. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion, but it is similar to attacks previously executed  by ISIL.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reported that 1,119 Iraqis had been killed and 1,561 injured as a result of terrorism and armed conflict in March alone. 575 of the fatalities were reportedly civilians. In this vein, the U.S. stated that its airstrikes in Syria and Iraq have killed 20 civilians since fall 2015. Human rights organizations dismissed the so-called effort at transparency, saying that the real tally stood around 1,100.

Heavy fighting broke out between Kurdish peshmerga forces and Shiite paramilitary forces north of Baghdad.


Libya:

Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary, stated that a deployment of British troops in Libya could not be ruled out, but that any such action would require the approval of the House of Commons.

The crisis in Libya is causing hospitals to close, or significantly reduce their schedules, according to President of Médecins Sans Frontières France, Dr. Mego Terzian. Political tensions amongst the governments in Tripoli, Tobruk, and the UN-backed government have worsened the health care system in Libya. Since 2011, health care has become increasingly scarce due to damage and lack of resources.


Mali:

Ansar Dine released the three Red Cross employees it had kidnapped last week. Nevertheless, the kidnapping, together with the damage caused to MINUSMA’s airstrip by violent protests, have impeded humanitarian aid in the region, according to humanitarian agencies.

In central Mali, officials representing the Peuhl ethnic group have claimed that the military and its allies have been torturing and killing civilians accused of collaborating with the Macina Liberation Front, an Islamic militant group in the region. A government spokesman denied any knowledge of the reports.


Nigeria:

President Buhari has ordered a crackdown on Nomadic herders from the Fulani ethnic group accused of killing hundreds in clashes since the beginning of 2016. This comes after a Fulani raid in Benue State left 300 dead and tens of thousands homeless in February. Another attack on Monday on the Ukpabi Nimbo community reportedly killed at least 20 people. These Fulani raids are considered to be the country’s second biggest security threat after Boko Haram.


South Sudan:

After repeated delays, rebel leader Riek Machar finally landed in Juba on Tuesday and was sworn in as Vice President in the new unity government under President Kiir, successfully completing the first of many important steps in the peace process. President Kiir called Mr Manchar his “brother” and claimed to “have no doubt that his return to Juba today marks the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan.”

The US has pledged $86 million in additional aid to South Sudan under the condition that the leaders engage properly with the peace process. Failure to do so, the US warned, could result in the levying of sanctions or an arms embargo against the country.


Sudan/Darfur:

The results of the Darfur Administrative Referendum show that Darfuris overwhelmingly voted to keep the region’s current administrative status, leaving Darfur divided into its initial five states. Chairman of the Darfur Administrative Referendum Commission announced that 97% of registered voters chose to keep the current system and stressed that voting was held amid stable security conditions. Representatives of the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group, declared that the “results reflect the fraud the Sudanese government continues to employ in all of its elections.” The referendum fulfilled a requirement under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur that was signed in July 2011.


Syria:

Government and rebel forces killed over 30 civilians over the weekend, a further detriment to the fragile Geneva peace talks and the US-Russia backed ceasefire. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that the interim truce established between the Assad regime and the rebel opposition in late February has now effectively collapsed. Fighting has resumed in the areas that were covered by the ceasefire over the past month, government forces specifically killing 12 civilians in Aleppo on Saturday and 13 more near Damascus. The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which represents much of the opposition, has stated that only Moscow can revive the cessation of hostilities by persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt his offensives against rebels throughout the country.

U.S President Barack Obama announced that he would send up to 250 additional special forces to Syria in order to support local combatants in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that a deadly airstrike hit one of its hospitals in Aleppo, killing at least 14 patients and three doctors, including one of the city’s last pediatricians. Local reports claim that Syrian or Russian warplanes are responsible, but the Syrian military has denied targeting the hospital.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, closed the latest round of peace talks in Geneva without setting a date for the next round to begin. However, he reported that he hoped to convene indirect negotiations and called on Russia and the US to save the talks and “revitalize” the ceasefire. A major point of contention during the latest round of talks has been the increase in violence and civilian casualties across the country, especially in the city of Aleppo. Meetings between the US and Russia this past week have yet to yield any sign of renewed political will to revive the ceasefire. Russia has defended the recent Syrian attacks around Aleppo, claiming they have been in response to rebel groups who are not signatories of the ceasefire.


Yemen:

In a major shift in Yemen’s civil war, the Saudi-backed coalition mounted its first large-scale offensive against al-Qaeda forces in the south.

The UN Security Council asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit, within 30 days, a plan on how peace can be achieved in Yemen.

The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick,urged all parties to the conflict to desist from any act of violence that would undermine the cessation of hostilities agreement. He further asked the international community to increase its support for Yemen, highlighting the urgent need for “safety, food, water, basic healthcare and education for children.”

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Campaign Against Arms Trade urgedObama to use his visit to Saudi Arabia to bring up the use of cluster bombs in Yemen, weapons which have allegedly caused numerous civilian deaths and violated international humanitarian law.


What else is new?

During Genocide Awareness Month, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has been sharing reflections on past atrocities. Click here to read their stories.

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#R2P 4 – 8 April 2016

Untitled

Report: Advancing Atrocities Prevention in Southeast Asia 

21250c4e-4ffe-4ddc-b51e-1e4e28664d22On 4-6 November, 9-11 November 2015, and 7-9 December 2015, the ICRtoP and the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APR2P) held three installments of their workshop series “Advancing Atrocities Prevention in Southeast Asia” in Bangkok, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, respectively. The organizers gathered civil society representatives from Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar in order to a) deepen support of and commitment to the prevention of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing in Southeast Asia; and b) strengthen early warning and response capacities at the domestic and regional levels to prevent and respond to atrocities. The overarching goal of the workshops was to develop civil society action plans for their countries on atrocities prevention.

Read the full report 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:

The first bill proposed by the incoming government of Myanmar’s new Parliament, led by the National League for Democracy, created a new position in the government for Aung San Suu Kyi, that of state counsellor. This position, one that has been compared to that of a Prime Minister, would skirt the constitutional ban that prevented her from becoming president and allows her to have influence on the executive and legislative branches of government.

In her first act as State Counsellor, Suu Kyi announced a plan to release all political prisoners in the near future.


Burundi:

The Burundian Attorney General has asked the families of victims who had appealed to the International Criminal Court and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate their cases to come to him with their evidence instead of the international community. He further warned the international community that the evidence submitted could be “manipulated”.

The UNSC, in a unanimous resolution, requested the Secretary-General to present it with options for deploying a police force in Burundi. Such a force would monitor the security situation on the ground, promote human rights, and advance the rule of law.

The Burundian government stated that it accepts the UNSC’s resolution. However, the main opposition coalition, CNARED, expressed its objections to the UNSC’s resolution, stating that “the resolution gives President Nkurunziza the power to continue killing” and that only a peacekeeping force could help end the crisis.

ICRtoP Member International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) released a new briefing paper entitled “Burundi: A country on the edge.” Drawing on a mission to the country in February, in-depth interviews with refugees who have fled to Uganda, and IRRI’s previous experience in the country, the briefing offers insights on some crucial aspects of the current crisis.


Central African Republic:

The first trials against Congolese peacekeepers who allegedly sexually abused women and girls in CAR started in DRC. Meanwhile, in France, a prosecutor opened preliminary investigations into allegations of sexual abuse committed by French troops of MINUSCA. France also began withdrawing its troops from CAR on Wednesday.

The newly sworn-in president of CAR, Faustin Archange Touadera, announced that he had appointed Simplice Sarandji as the new prime minister.


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

Ambassador Robert King, US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is in South Korea in order to assess how to address the gross human rights violations being carried out by North Korea.

Lee So-yeon, a former soldier in the North Korean army, has spoken out about the mass rape of female soldiers within the North Korean army.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

A UN Response Team, charged with probing into allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the DRC, have found through their investigations allegations that point to sex with minors as well as paternity claims by victims.

Tanzania announced that it has already formed an investigation team that would travel to the DRC to investigate accusations of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers.


Gaza/West Bank:

Israel is charging the soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank with manslaughter.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) condemnedthe destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Lance Bartholomeusz, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, stated that over 700 people have been displaced since the start of 2016, an alarmingly high number compared to the same period last year.


Iraq:

ISIL militants killed at least 29 people in a series of suicide attacks carried out on Monday. Most deadly was an attack in a Dhi Qar restaurant popular amongst Shiite fighters that killed an approximated 14 people. Meanwhile, a car bomb set off in Basra killed at least five and wounded an additional 10. Another militant reportedly drove his car into a security checkpoint at Sadr al-Qanat; the wreck killed six troops and wounded 13. Finally another car bomber killed four troops and wounded 10 more at a paramilitary headquarters in Mishahda.


Kenya:

Judges at the ICC decided to throw out a case against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang for crimes against humanity due to a lack of evidence. Mr. Ruto denies his involvement in the charges of murder, deportation, and persecution in the period after Kenya’s 2007 elections and many of the prosecution’s key witnesses have changed their statements. The prosecution claims this is due to bribery and intimidation, but in February ICC judges still denied the prosecution the use of previously recorded witness testimonies that have been recanted. The charges will be vacated and the accused are to be released, but the decision is still subject to appeal and does not preclude new prosecution in the future.


Libya:

The UNSC welcomed the arrival of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, citing its hope that the government would “tackle Libya’s political, security, humanitarian, economic and institutional challenges and to confront the rising threat of terrorism.” The EU also demonstrated its support for the UN-backed government when it  imposed travel bans and asset freezes on three individuals who oppose its establishment.

Ali Al-Za’tari, senior UN humanitarian affairs official in Libya, called for an independent investigation into the deaths of four migrants who had been detained by the authorities, citing the widespread “abuse and exploitation” of migrants in the country and calling for their protection.


Mali:

On Tuesday, UN Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, the top UN peacekeeping official,told the Security Council that, “every day lost during the implementation of the peace agreement is a day won for extremist and terrorist groups who have been gambling on the failure of the Mali peace process.” He also warned that these delays would impact intercommunal conflicts and have unfortunate consequences for civilians. Mr. Ladsous did, however, also report positive developments towards the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, but warned that “progress on defence and security issues is too slow.” Furthermore, he announced that a strategic review of MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, will be completed before the Secretary-General’s next report in May, roughly one month ahead of the date MINUSMA’s current mandate is set to expire.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has declared a 10-day State of Emergency over the entire country due to “terrorist threats” following a meeting of ministers on Monday. The previous State of Emergency ended less than a week before on 31 March.


Nigeria:

Nigerian authorities have arrested Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of Ansaru, a Boko Haram breakaway group. Ansaru is aligned ideologically with al-Qeada in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Like AQIM, Ansaru is infamous for kidnapping foreigners and is accused of killing several Westerners. Since 2012, the US has had a $5 million USD bounty on al-Barnawi and branded him one of Nigeria’s three “specially designated global terrorists.”

According to a Nigerian Defense Ministry spokesman, the country’s military has opened a camp to rehabilitate repentant ex-Boko Haram fighters who have surrendered. The camp provides the ex-fighters with vocational training to help them meaningfully contribute to economic growth in the country. He further claimed that around 800 members of Boko Haram have surrendered within the last three weeks.

The military has also released a statement urging other fighters to surrender, warning that it would not relent in the fight against Boko Haram until the group is “completely neutralized”. Since 26 February, the military claims to have rescued almost 11,600 civilian hostages from Boko Haram camps and villages in northeastern Nigeria. Another army spokesman haspromised troops that the military will address “logistics deficiencies which have hindered the optimal conduct of the Nigerian Army’s counter insurgency operations.”


South Sudan:

The leader of the SPLM-IO, Riek Machar, announced on Thursday that he would return to the state capital of Juba on 18 April, in order to form a transitional government alongside President Salva Kiir.

The conflict has led to a record 5.8 million people in South Sudan facing extreme poverty and starvation. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program (WFP) stated that hunger in the nation has increased significantly since the start of fighting two years ago.


Sudan/Darfur:

Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous has reported the continuation of a series of clashes and serial bombings in rebel occupied Jebel Marra. As a result, 103,000 Sudanese have sought refuge at the four Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps facilitated by the joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur, UNAMID. Ladsous also stated that 138,000 people have been displaced since January 2016.  However, restrictions imposed by the Sudanese government on aid organizations and UNAMID has made it difficult to determine the exact number of persons displaced by recent fighting.

Amid the recent increases in conflict occurring in and around Jebel Marra, Darfuris have grown wary about the referendum set to take place next week from 11-13 April. The referendum will give residents the choice to either keep the five existing states of Darfur or to unite the region into a single, semi-autonomous zone. President Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court for committing mass atrocities, intends to move forward with the vote despite it being rejected by many. The referendum was part of the 2011 peace agreement between Khartoum and numerous rebel groups.


Syria:

Islamist rebels shot down a government warplane on Tuesday and captured its pilot. The event happened in an area south of Aleppo where al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, along with its allies, launched a new military initiative last week to take back territory from Assad. However, a prominent member of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Firas al-Suri, was killed on Sunday by an airstrike in the rebel-occupied province of Idlib along with 20 other extremists part of the al-Nusra faction. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed Abu Firas’ death andsuspects that either Syrian or Russian forces are responsible.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government reclaimed yet another town from ISIL, one week after capturing the historic city of Palmyra. Syrian forces gained control of Qaryatain,a crucial oil and gas-rich area. The territorial gain will also help Assad block militant supply routes between Damascus and Homs. The town will now act as a foothold for attacking ISIL alongside the Iraqi border.

Leaders of the religious Alawite sect, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, released a lengthy report distancing their community from the Assad regime. In the document, titled “Declaration of Identity Reform,” the group said that they represented a third model of Islam that wishes to support “the values of equality, liberty and citizenship” and called for the secularization of the future government of Syria. Furthermore, the community stressed that the legitimacy of the Assad regime in years to come lies only on the basis of democracy and human rights.

In the lead up to the resumption of the Geneva peace talks next Monday, Assad has stated that he believes the talks could lead to a new Syrian government made up of an opposition, independents and loyalists. Nevertheless, he completely rejected the idea of establishing a transitional authority. For its part, the Syrian opposition, as represented by the High Negotiations Committee, has continuously called for a halt on civilian attacks and for the Geneva talks to result in the formation of a transitional government that excludes Assad altogether. The second round of peace talks is expected to address the issue of a political transition in Syria as well as the future of the Assad regime.


Yemen:

The US and the UK received criticism for continuing to deliver arms to Saudi Arabia, which is reported to be violating international humanitarian law in its fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

A delegation of Houthi rebels is holding talks in Saudi Arabia ahead of peace negotiations scheduled on 18 April, a move welcomed by the Saudi government.


 What else is new?

The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The United Nations Development Program and International Interfaith Peace Corps is holding a Roundtable on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington DC on 18 April.   RSVP here.

Also in DC, the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum is holding an event entitled “Preventing Mass Atrocities and Deadly Conflict” on 12 April. RSVP 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: 15-19 February 2016

  Untitled
“Outdated Interpretations of the Charter Should Not Be Used to Excuse Inaction”
States Express Support for RtoP at Security Council Open Debate on UN Charter

Untitled

On Monday 15 February, the UN Security Council held an open debate on “Respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security.” As predicted by Security Council Report, states presented diverging views on the Charter’s emphasis on both human rights and sovereignty. While certain states, notably Venezuela (President of the Security Council in February) argued that the principle of non-interference should not be violated, others—including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—noted that it is “violence and conflict—and not our attempt to help Member States prevent it—that threatened State sovereignty.”

Though Ban acknowledged that states bear the primary responsibility to prevent conflict and protect human rights, he noted that some Member states either lack the capacity to do so or are themselves violating these human rights. When this is the case, Ban reiterated that the UN can help Member States meet these challenges and uphold their Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)—and in doing so, will “seek to reinforce sovereignty, not challenge or undermine it.”

Other interventions, including those of Spain, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Hungary, and the EU, agreed with Ban that upholding RtoP is in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Both Spain and Costa Rica underscored that sovereignty infers responsibility, with Uruguay adding that the principle of non-interference does not exempt states from complying with their moral and legal duty to protect populations from atrocity crimes. These states also argued that it was time to build consensus on the practical implementation of RtoP, including through assisting states, under Pillar II, to fulfill their primary RtoP.  Indeed, as the UK noted, “we should not let outdated interpretations of the Charter be used to excuse inaction” in the face of new international threats, as the situation in Syria demonstrates.

An important step in upholding both RtoP and the principles and purposes of the Charter would be limiting the use of the veto in situations of atrocity crimes. A high number of states, including Spain, Egypt, France, UK, Peru, India, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Turkey, and Hungary, expressed their dissatisfaction with the misuse of the veto. Many of these same states underscored their commitment to the “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity” and/or the French/Mexican political declaration on the use of the veto.

The ICRtoP will be collecting relevant statements from the meeting hereTo learn more about initiatives to limit the use of the veto in situations of atrocity crimes, 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:

The U.N. announced that 3,000 civilians were forced to leave their homes due to current tension between two ethnic rebel groups, theRestoration Council for Shan State (RCSS) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Burma’s northern state of Shan.


 

Burundi:

The Rwandan government announced Friday morning that it would immediately begin the relocation process for some 70,000 Burundian refugees to other host countries. The decision (which strongly contradicts the government’s stance as of two weeks ago) follows a UN Report from last week that suggested the Rwandan government had provided two months of military training to Burundian refugees seeking to overthrow the regime in their homeland.

On 11 February, two grenade attacks took place in the capital of Burundi, Bujumbara. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), 55 people have been treated. A few days later, on 15 February, a series of grenade blasts also occurred in the city. MSF reported that more than 60 people have been treated since those blasts.


 

Central African Republic:

fire on Wednesday, February 10 in a Batangafo camp for displaced persons consumed the homes of 560 families and injured five.

The UN has begun to investigate new allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeeping forces in CAR, confirming four new allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in 2014 and 2015 against minors in the Ngakobo displaced persons camp. Farhan Haq, the UN spokesperson, announced the planned repatriation of Congolese peacekeepers after the previous allegations of sexual abuse against some of their troops. The government of the DRCannounced on 18 February that they would be undertaking an investigation into the abuses. Meanwhile, the UN announced that it is working to ensure that the victims involved in these sexual abuse and exploitation allegations have access to the assistance they need. They further declared that the UN would begin to post details of allegations of abuse–and countries’ responses to the claims–online.

On 14 February, the second round of the presidential election was held in CAR. As citizens went to the polls, about 2,000 UN peacekeepers were deployed in the capital, with another 8,000 deployed in the more anarchic outer provinces. Unlike the first round, there was no gunfire in the streets and UN peacekeepers have reported little trouble. Two former prime ministers, both Christian, are contesting the presidential run-off. Vote-counting has officiallybegun in Bangui and this election is seen as a crucial step to restoring peace in the country after two years of sectarian violence. Preliminary results from Sunday’s presidential run-off indicate that Faustin-Archange Touadera is leading in the polls.


 

DPRK:

In a new report to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK, Marzuki Darusman, stated that virtually no improvement has been seen in the DPRK’s human rights abuses since the 2014 Commission of Inquiry Report. In this regard, Darusman underscored the urgency of finding the best way to hold perpetrators accountable. Though he reiterates the need for the Security Council to refer the DPRK to the International Criminal Court, he also urged for creativity in the “mechanisms of accountability.” These could include the General Assembly creating a tribunal “to prosecute crimes for which international law does not permit amnesty”; and a special Security Council-appointed committee of experts to determine the best approach under international law.

Human Rights Watch exhorted the international community to not allow the DPRK’s nuclear activities to overshadow its series of human rights abuses and stressed the importance of holding the Kim dynasty accountable for “the grave violations and crimes against humanity” committed in the DPRK.


 

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

ADF-Uganda reportedly killed six and kidnapped 14 others near Eringeti. The rebel group has killed over 500 in eastern DRC since October 2014.


 

Gaza/West Bank:

Mahmoud Daher, director at the World Health Organization’s Palestinian office, was preventedfrom leaving Gaza on Thursday due to a mandate by Hamas. The group, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, announced two weeks ago that international organizations would be required to obtain an “exit-permit” issued by Hamas in order to enter Israel. While the WHO had previously been exempt from the permit, this recent development indicates an attempt by Hamas to control the UN’s movements and activities.

Amidst reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi opened the Rafah crossing from Palestine into Egypt on Saturday, allowing 2,800 Palestinians to enter. The border was again closed on Monday.


 

Iraq:

The U.S. State Department announced that it believes that ISIL used mustard gas in both Syria and Iraq last year.

The Government of Iraq is eliminating 30% of fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, a paramilitary umbrella group composed mostly of Shiite militias. The government claims that the cuts, enacted because of the fall in Iraq’s oil revenue, would not affect the fight against ISIL.


 

Kenya:

Human Rights Watch has released a 104-page report entitled, “‘I Just Sit and Wait to Die’: Reparations for Survivors of Kenya’s 2007-2008 Post-Election Sexual Violence,”  which claims that the Kenyan government has failed in its responsibility to provide basic assistance to rape survivors of the country’s 2007-2008 post-election violence. The report is based on interviews with 163 female and nine male survivors and witnesses of rape or other sexual violence during that time.


 

Libya:

On 15 February, the UN-backed Libyan Presidency Council of rival factions proposed a revised formation of the government of national unity line-up to be approved by the country’s House of Representatives. Approval of the cabinet under the current prime-minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj, would be an important step forward in the peace process to resolve Libya’s current political disarray. The UN special envoy called on the Representatives “to do what is right for Libya and and its people” and endorse the recent nomination. On 16 February, Libya’s internationally recognized parliament decided to postpone a vote on the proposed national unity government for seven days. The original vote had been due on Monday evening, but many MPs expressed that they were not happy with having to decide so quickly without knowing much about the proposed ministers. Furthermore, the parliament has asked Sarraj to appear before them for a vote of confidence on his cabinet.


 

Mali:

UN officials have condemned the recent attack against a MINUSMA camp in Kidal on 12 February, which killed at least seven Guinean peacekeepers and wounded 30 others. A spokesperson for the Secretary-General released a statement stressing that attacks targeting UN peacekeeping personnel constitute war crimes under international law and also called for the perpetrators to be held accountable. Ansar Dine, an extremist group with links to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

German President Joachim Gauck visited Mali soon after the attacks on 13 February and announced that Germany would send 650 soldiers to Mali where 200 German soldiers are already working with the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) to train local troops to combat extremist militants.


 

Nigeria:

After a series of attacks by Boko Haram, UN experts have urged the Nigerian government to ensure that the areas which the government has already claimed are freed from Boko Haram are actually safe for the return of the displaced.

Cameroon special forces retook the town of Goshi in northeastern Nigeria from Boko Haram and freed about 100 Cameroonians and Nigerians held hostage by the extremist group. The operation also seized weapons, vehicles, and ammunition, and destroyed several bomb factories and Boko Haram training centers in the town.

A new report from International Alert and UNICEF shows that women and girls who have returned to their communities after being freed from Boko Haram by Nigerian military efforts are being ostracized and rejected upon their return. Some community members fear that those returning may have been radicalized by Boko Haram and could try to recruit others. Furthermore, some of the women returning are pregnant or have given birth to children of Boko Haram fighters. The community and even some of the mothers themselves are uncertain of these children with “bad blood”. The rejection of these women and girls is an example of an unintended consequence of the military’s push to liberate territory held by the group and demonstrate the ways in which atrocity crimes affect women and girls differently.

At the commencement of the US training assistance program for 750 soldiers from selected units of the Nigerian army on 17 January, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, stated that Nigeria cannot win the war against terrorist insurgencies without assistance from other countries and emphasized the need for other nations to support Nigeria.


 

South Sudan:

A conflict in South Sudan’s Wau state between the army and armed opposition factions caused hundreds of people to flee their homes early this week. According to residents, both sides of the conflict were involved in the destruction, which consisted of burning down huts and engaging in armed confrontation.

Violence broke out at a UNMISS protection base in Malakal between Dinka and Shilluk youths, and involved small arms, machetes, and other weapons. The UN reiterated that attacks against civilians and UN premises could constitute war crimes.

President Salva Kiir is planning to announce a transitional government of national unity on Friday, although opposition leader Riek Machar, refuses to attend the event. Reports indicate that the new government will comprise of 16 ministers and will result in the settlement of many territorial disputes, which has been a critical barrier in achieving peace. President Kiir also issued a decree reappointing Machar as first vice president. The decree fulfils an important condition of the August peace agreement, as it restores Machar to the position he held in 2013, before the breakout of the civil war.


 

Sudan/Darfur:

According to the United Nations, conflict between the Sudanese government and rebels in a mountainous area in Darfur has caused 73,000 people to flee their homes over the course of a month. This number has risen from 38,000, due to the additional 30,000 people who have fled to a base managed by UNAMID in Sortony. Civilians have been leaving their homes in Jebel Marra since mid-January, when the armed conflict between the government and the SLA escalated and they face “dire” humanitarian circumstances. Another primary camp for the displaced is located in Tawilla, which has received 18,000 IDPs since mid-January.

On 16 February, the Darfur Regional Authority and the UN signed an agreement totalling $88.5 million in development projects. These projects, which are to be funded by the State of Qatar, will help to start off the longer term objectives of the Darfur Development Strategy (DDS) to provide viable development solutions and peace dividends in Darfur.


 

Syria:

After a meeting in Munich late last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the major powers of the international community had agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” and to the immediate delivery of aid in Syria. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia would not stop its airstrikes due to ISIL and Al Qaeda group Al Nusra not being a part of the truce.

Indeed, reports emerging from Syria indicate that the ceasefire, set to begin at the end of this week, will be difficult to implement. 50 civilians were killed earlier this week when missiles hit five medical centers and two schools in rebel-held Syrian territory. Fourteen people were killedwhen missiles struck a town near the Turkish border, hitting a school sheltering families fleeing the conflict as well as a children’s hospital. In a separate attack, missiles hit another hospital in the province of Idlib, killing at least seven staff members and patients and possibly eight Doctors Without Borders personnel. The attacks occurred as Syrian troops backed by Russian forces continued their move towards the rebel stronghold of Aleppo. A UN spokesman called the strikes a “blatant violation of international laws,” while France and Turkey have labeled them war crimes. Britain, for its part, stated that they could amount to war crimes and must be investigated.

President Bashar al-Assad has declared that “no one” has the ability to create the circumstances for a successful truce, as “a cease-fire must mean stopping terrorists from strengthening their positions.” UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura arrived in Damascus on Monday to discuss further plans concerning the ceasefire and the resumption of peace talks to take place late next week.

The Munich meeting did, however, have an effect on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as aid has reached five besieged towns in Syria. Approximately 100 trucks began delivering emergency food and medical aid to tens of thousands of people across the country on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) published a report declaring that the five-year-long civil war has claimed 470,000 lives, as opposed to the widely known 250,000 UN figure. Out of the total number of fatalities, 400,000 were a result of direct conflict, with the remaining 70,000 caused by inadequate health services, lack of access to food, clean water, housing and sanitation.

Additionally, in a statement released on 12 February 2016, the UN Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect, Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh, expressed their unease concerning the lack of civilian protection during the deepening crisis in Syria. The Special Advisors stated that the Syrian population is in desperate need of protection, as they are subjected to indiscriminate air strikes on a daily basis. Moreover, Dieng and Welsh have welcomed the commitment made by members of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) to immediately apply UNSC Resolution 2254 at the fullest capacity and use their influence to ensure sustained humanitarian access amid the goal of a cessation of hostilities by the end of this week.


 

Yemen:

In the last two weeks, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has gained control of five more towns throughout Yemen. The chaos introduced by the civil war has created an effective platform for AQAP to regain the control it had lost back in 2012.

The UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh respectively, have released a joint statement on the situation in Yemen calling on the international community, and especially the UN Security Council, to take action in order to protect civilians and civilian infrastructures, which have continued to be targeted by all parties since the escalation of conflict over a year ago. Evidence indicates that some of the many violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all sides may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and the Special Advisers called for the parties to be held accountable for their actions. Furthermore, the Special Advisers asked for the control of arms flow to actors who may use them in ways which would breach international humanitarian law and warned of the consequences that the spillover of the conflict across borders could have on fuelling religious and sectarian divides in the region.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared that Houthi militias and forces are implicated in grave violations which could amount to war crimes, including the systematic killings of civilians, systematic destruction of health and education stations, and continuous blocking of humanitarian aid.


 

What else is new?

The Washington Post’s “In Theory” blog hosted a series of articles this week on the Responsibility to Protect, which can all be found here.

You can now enjoy free access to a selection of articles on “The Responsibility to Protect and the Arab World: An Emerging International Norm?”


 

Above photo: Security Council Debates Respect for Principles and Purposes of UN Charter (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas).

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#R2P Weekly: 8-12 February 2016


Untitled
A Group of U.S. Legislators Plan to Introduce a
Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), supported by a group of other legislators, plans to introduce legislation in Congress permanently authorizing the U.S. Atrocity Prevention Board (APB) and concentrating U.S. government efforts on early prevention of violent conflict and atrocities as an essential part of the United States’ national security strategy.

Along with permanently authorizing the APB, the proposed Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act would continue the APB’s engagement of high level government officials through its inter-agency nature and maintain the APB’s role in preventing violence through the continuation of programs in places like the Central African Republic and Burundi. The Act would also go further and finally authorize funding for atrocities prevention through the Complex Crises Fund, which has been appropriated since 2010, but has never been authorized. Additionally, it would provide training in conflict and atrocities prevention to Foreign Service Officers, which would help them to not only mitigate violence, but also to recognize early warning signs, which could save both lives and funding. Furthermore, the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act would strengthen the APB’s connection to Congress and its leadership and oversight, as well as require a report to Congress by the Director of National Intelligence, including a review of at-risk countries annually to ensure that APB’s atrocities prevention measures are informed by the realities faced on the ground.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby organization working towards the promotion of the public interest, has been monitoring the APB situation closely. To find more information and to urge your senators to co-sponsor the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act click on the link on the FCNL page here.

Find more information on how civil society can engage with the U.S. Atrocity Prevention Board and other existing national RtoP initiatives throughout the world with ICRtoP’s brief here.

In 2012, U.S. President Obama created the Atrocities Prevention Board in order to ensure that the prevention of mass atrocities would be considered a “core national security interest and core moral responsibility of the U.S.” The APB is currently an inter-agency committee, which is lead by the White House, but includes representatives from several different government Departments, USAID, the CIA, the US Mission to the UN, and others. The APB is mandated to assess the U.S. government’s anti-atrocity capabilities and to recommend reforms. However, although the APB has put forward meaningful contributions to the U.S. government’s anti-atrocity measures, concerns over its impermanent status and lack of a strong connection with Congress are troubling.


 

Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Libya

Mali
Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Sri Lanka
Syria
Yemen
Other 


 

Burma/Myanmar:

The National League for Democracy, the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is currently negotiating the future composition of the government with the military, talks which could possibly include a deal that would allow her to become president. However, the military has indicated that a suspension of the Constitutional clause barring Aung San Suu Kyi from assuming the presidency is unlikely. Burma’s Parliament announced that it would hold elections to select the president on 17 March.


 

Burundi:

On Saturday, 6 February, a grenade attack in Bujumbura killed four and wounded ten.

Rwanda’s government is denying allegations that it has been training refugees from Burundi with the aim of removing President Nkurunziza. Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, accused the UN of attempting to “scapegoat” Rwanda in order to dismiss the fact that Burundi’s crisis is one of its “own making.”

The ICGLR’s executive secretary, Ntumba Luaba, expressed concerns about the current situation in Burundi, stating that “all must be done to avoid a civil war in Burundi.” The Burundian crisis will be discussed at the summit of heads of State and Government of the ICGLR on Friday in the capital of Angola, Luanda.


 

Central African Republic:

A new report by Amnesty International, titled Mandated to Protect, Equipped to Succeed? Strengthening Peacekeeping, examines failures of the UN’s peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) in the CAR. The report addresses variables such as training, equipment, coordination, and the number of civilian and uniformed personnel in the mission. Amnesty notes that “MINUSCA’s presence in CAR has saved many lives and prevented much bloodshed, but the extreme violence that erupted in Bangui in September 2015 exposed the mission’s weaknesses. However, today, it still lacks the resources it needs to adequately protect civilians.”

Following the allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation carried out by international peacekeeping troops in the CAR, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Jane Holl Lute to coordinate efforts to address the “systemic issues, fragmentation, and other weaknesses” which were identified by the report on 17 December 2015 by the High-Level External Independent Review Panel on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic. The Republic of Congo has also launched an investigation into the earlier allegations of sexual abuse involving children against the country’s troops serving as UN peacekeepers in the CAR.

MINUSCA decided on Tuesday that it would maintain the 12,800 person ceiling of its military/law enforcement wing and increase the number of corrections officers in the CAR. The Security Council also requested that the Secretary General continuously review MINUSCA’s military, police, and corrections resources. Set to expire in April, MINUSCA has prioritized taming the increase in violence witnessed in since last fall.

The second round of presidential elections will take place in CAR this weekend. Ahead of these elections, the UN’s latest report, which will be released later this month, details horrible human rights violations in Bangui during the violence that erupted at the end of 2015. The report recommends ending impunity and prosecuting the perpetrators of past and present crimes, ending armed groups’ attacks on civilians, reforming the CAR armed forces, and the implementation of disarmament, violence reduction, and protection of civilians and victims programs, as well as many others.


 

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

As Congolese election approaches, political tension between President Joseph Kabila and opposition parties continues to escalate. The opposition parties want to secure that the Congolese government does not make any changes in the Constitution that would extend presidential term of Mr. Kabila.


 

Gaza/West Bank:

On Saturday, there was an arson attack on a synagogue near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The synagogue hosted a memorial dedicated to the three Jewish teenagers kidnapped and killed during the summer of 2014, one of many events inciting the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict.

A 15-year old Palestinian boy was shot and killed after throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank on Wednesday. Since October, 27 Israelis and an American citizen have been killed by Palestinians. 157 Palestinians have been killed in the same time by Israeli forces, including 101 militants. Other Palestinians have reportedly been killed in their own demonstrations against the state of Israel.

Turkish and Israeli representatives met on Wednesday in Geneva in hopes of rapprochement. Significant topics are likely to include Turkey’s desire for Israel to lift the Gaza blockade, and Israel’s request for Turkey to shut down Hamas offices within its borders.


 

Iraq:

ISIL executed 300 supposed “Iraqi police personnel, army troopers and civilian activists” by firing squad in Mosul, an act apparently intended to prevent a potential uprising of people in the militant-held city. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is currently working to deploy 4,500 troops in preparation for an offensive to retake Mosul.


 

Libya:

Airstrikes executed Sunday by a party yet to be revealed targeted a hospital in east Libya. Four casualties have been reported, including a nurse, her 10-year-old child, and two fighters of the anti-government Shura Council.

The UK’s Royal Air Force has already been flying missions over Libya to prepare for a potential future invitation by a Libyan national unity government, once it has been formed, to help Libyan state troops to stabilize the country and combat ISIL in Libya. However, the foreign minister, Tobias Ellwood, did stress that British troops would not enter Libya to hold or take any ground and that “it would be illegal to send any support until a government is in place and an invitation is given to us to provide assistance in the training of their armed forces.” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry agreed, claiming that Libya must form a unified government before Western allies intervene against ISIL fighters in Libya and that it “has to be a Libyan-led” process.

Additionally, the Pentagon is lobbying for $200 million in the 2017 U.S. budget for counter-terrorism operations in Libya.

Efforts to form the national unity government in Libya continue to be troubled by differences over the defense portfolio. The internationally-recognized government has recently set a new deadline giving the UN-supported Presidential Council an extra week to come to an agreement on the lineup for the new, smaller cabinet.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, called upon the UN Member States for  “unity and action” at a meeting of the UN Security Council on 9 February in order to combat the threat of ISIL, which he called “one of the major challenges of our time to international peace and security.” Mr. Feltman also noted that in order to do so, it was necessary to a) address the group’s political and socio-economic standings, and b) counter ISIL’s financing and recruitment of violent, extremist foreign fighters through preventative and criminalization efforts.


 

Mali:

On 5 February, militants attacked a UN police base in the city of Timbuktu. After detonating a vehicle in one of the entrances to the base, a fight ensued, with Malian and UN peacekeeping forces eventually retaking the police base. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a Malian commander and four militants were killed.

The Azawad Movements and Platform armed groups have signed a peace deal. The deal focused mainly on the management of Kidal, which will be shared jointly between the two groups. Although the Malian government does not recognize full autonomy for Azawad, it did say that it would devolve more authority in the region.

Three Malian soldiers were killed by a landmine in the Mopti region in Mali, while two more were wounded and sent to the hospital. Although no group has claimed responsibility, Al-Qaeda-linked militants have been fighting Malian army in the region, which is very close to the border with Burkina Faso. Another attack by suspected Islamist militants in the Mopti region killed two civilians and a customs officer and burned a car at a customs post on 11 February.


 

Nigeria:

Nigeria’s Department of Secret Service (DSS) announced that it had arrested an alleged ISIL recruiter in Nigeria. The DSS claims that two Nigerians are already training in Libya. Furthermore, the DSS captured seven suspected members of a breakaway group of Boko Haram, the leader of which has previously pledged allegiance to the head of ISIL.

Two female suicide bombers killed 58 people and injured at least 78 others at a camp of about 50,000 people displaced by Boko Haram violence in north-eastern Nigeria. The majority of those injured or killed were mostly women and children. A third woman equipped with bombs had also entered the camp with the others, but surrendered herself to authorities and refused to detonate her explosives after she had seen her parents and siblings in the camp.


 

South Sudan:

40,000 people are being starved to death in South Sudan war zones. The UN released a report on Monday accounting the worst conditions yet in the continuing 2-year civil war, including possible war crimes, such as the blockading of food supplies.  25% of the population, or 2.8 million people, is in need of immediate aid. Meanwhile, President Kiir and opposition leader Machar missed a second deadline to form a transitional government. International mediators criticized both Kiir and Machar for a lack of willingness to compromise, expressing fear that South Sudan would become a failed state. Some analysts have warned that the economy could collapse within a matter of weeks if a unity government is not formed.


 

Sri Lanka:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, was in Sri Lanka this week for four days to begin investigations and meet victims of the human rights violations committed during the civil war in the country, as well as government officials, civil activists, and religious leaders.

Zeid has called for the government to quickly locate the thousands of civilians which were reported missing during the civil war, but the government claims that most of those missing are likely dead. Tamil politicians provided the UN with a list of around 4,000 names which had been reported missing during the conflict, but many Tamil civilians have been missing since being abducted by pro-government militias or taken from their homes by police or military personnel. After almost 30 years of conflict and the loss of tens of thousands of lives, progress has been made in Sri Lanka, but the country still has its challenges is still “in the early stages of renewal” according to Mr. Zeid. Amid the issues plaguing the country and the President’s claims that the accountability mechanisms for past crimes would be handled domestically even after the country had co-sponsored the adoption of a UN Human RIghts Council resolution including foreign judges, investigators, in such a judicial mechanism, Mr. Zeid said the implementation of that resolution were high on his agenda.

Additionally, the Sri Lankan government appointed to parliament a former army chief, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, whose forces are accused in war crimes after a seat was vacated by the death of the incumbent. Human Rights Watch points out that this appointment contradicts the government’s pledge to accountability and suggests that “the government may protect senior military leaders suspected of widespread abuses.” President Sirisena gave Fonseka a full pardon for his criminal conviction in March 2015 and promoted him, and the Sirisena government has also previously protected and promoted other implicated military commanders such as the promotion to chief of army staff of Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias in May 2015.


 

Sudan/Darfur:

The UN announced that the tens of thousands of civilians affected by the armed conflict between the government and opposition forces in Jebel Marra are now in dire circumstances and in need of immediate aid. 34,000 have been displaced recently as a result of fighting between the President Bashir regime and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-AW). In one case, eleven displaced children died of malnutrition while attempting to take shelter on one of Jebel Marra’s mountains. 161 children are currently at risk of the same fate.


 

Syria:

Increased sieges by the Syrian government on Aleppo, as well as heavy airstrikes provided by Russia, forced tens of thousands of people to flee towards the Turkish border last weekend. Turkish aid trucks and ambulances rushed to the Syrian side of the border on Sunday to assist the thousands of civilians affected. Turkey has been providing refuge to Syrians since the crisis began and has now given asylum to an estimated 2.5 million Syrians. However, Turkey has thus far closed its borders to the 35,000 previous residents of Aleppo, despite pleas from the EU to accept them.

Previously, control of the area around Aleppo had been split between the government and rebels groups. As the government encroaches into rebel-held territory, however, UN officials have expressed worry that the last line of transportation to the Turkish border, as well as food supplies to 300,000 insurgents and civilians, could be cut off. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described the situation in Aleppo and other parts of Syria as ‘grotesque’ while calling for those responsible for the possible war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice.

At a meeting of world powers in Munich on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for an immediate ceasefire and aid to be sent to civilians in an attempt to make progress in the peace process. However, Russia’s involvement in the war has effectively ended the stalemate and given Assad more sway than perhaps at any point since the uprisings began in 2011, casting the resumption of the peace talks later in February increasingly in doubt. Russia has suggested beginning a ceasefire on 1 March, an idea dismissed by the U.S., who countered that such a date would give Assad enough time to decimate Syria’s moderate rebel forces.

A United Nations report published on Monday describes the plight of thousands of detainees held by the Syrian government and rebel groups in official and makeshift detention centres throughout the five-year-war. The report details detainees being unlawfully imprisoned, tortured, beaten to death, subjected to tactics of “extermination” and other inhuman acts. The investigation conducted by the international organization found that government officials intentionally maintained poor conditions in order to systematically create life-threatening situations. Furthermore, killings and deaths occurred at a high frequency and with the aid of state resources. Consequently, the UN report  states that “the government has committed the crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts … based on the same conduct, war crimes have also been committed.”

However, a watchdog group has challenged the statistics compiled by the UN, claiming that the IO has severely underestimated the amount of besieged Syrians, a topic at the centre of the peace talks that were abruptly halted last week and postponed until 25 February. The Siege Watch report says that there are currently 1.09 million people trapped in 46 besieged areas as opposed to the 18 claimed by the UN.

Additionally, a suicide car bomb exploded in Damascus near a busy vegetable market, hitting a police officer’s club. The attack, claimed by ISIL, has killed nine police officers and wounded 20 according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. IS was responsible for multiple bombings last month that left 71 dead.


 

Yemen:

An airstrike executed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition hit a cement factory north of Sana Wednesday evening, killing more than 15 people, including civilians. Just days prior, Saudi government officials had agreed to investigate aerial bombings in Yemen and promised to improve its military strategy in order to prevent further civilian casualties.

Also in Aden, a clash between Yemeni forces and Al-Qaeda militants in Aden killed six people on Tuesday. Al-Qaeda has reportedly gained more ground in Yemen’s south this week.

After being refused access for months to Taix, the UN’s World Health Organization finally managed to deliver medicine and supplies to address urgent needs in the country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said it might be possible to “to try to engage in some productive conversations about how to bring that [Yemen] conflict to a close” over the next few weeks.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon added his voice to those pressuring the United Kingdom to stop its arms sales to Saudi Arabia due to its alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. Ban noted that “We need states that are party to [the] arms trade treaty to set an example in fulfilling one of the treaty’s main purposes – controlling arms flows to actors that may use them in ways that breach international humanitarian law.”


 

What else is new?

The Global Observatory has released a recent report by Alex J. Bellamy entitled, “Time to Rethink Protection as Syrian Mistakes Echo Sri Lanka

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#R2P Weekly: 2 – 6 November 2015

Untitled
Myanmar Elections – Free and fair?

6novweekly

            On 8 November the people of Myanmar will vote in what is being called the country’s first “free and fair elections” following five decades of military rule and an imposed civilian government that was established in 2010. Over 6,000 candidates from 91 registered political parties will be running; but the two perceived front runners – the ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi – are drawing most interest. Should Suu Kyi’s party win, however, she would be unable to legally become the country’s leader as a constitutional provision bars any individual with foreign children from holding office. Suu Kyi, the mother of two British-born children, has however stated that if her party wins the election, she will be the leader of the government, even if she is not the president. She declared that the constitution “will have to change to allow civilian authorities to have the necessary democratic authority over the armed forces.”
While the presence of 150 EU election observers and hundreds of international journalists should increase the transparency and credibility of the elections, there are many issues raising alarm for the electoral process and its outcome. With regards to the political parties themselves, a 3 November report released by the Worldwide Movement for Human Rights found that the majority of the 91 parties have failed to prioritize or commit to human rights issues within their platforms.  Arguably the most undemocratic aspect of the elections is the disenfranchisement of a half million Muslim Rohingya civilians and the “purge” of Rohingya electoral candidates. In addition, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Ms. Yanghee Lee, has raised concerns about restrictions in place on freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
The ongoing conflict in various regions of Myanmar between rebel groups and government forces further jeopardizes the fairness of the upcoming elections.  Civilians in these regions will not be able to access polling stations, and thus will not be able to participate in the elections.  On a similar note, civilians in Karen state expressed concernabout a potential win by the USDP out of fear of a return to violence in the region at the hands of government forces.  Of further alarm is the release of two academic reports by theLowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, which allege evidence of a campaign of genocide against the Rohingya community by the government of Myanmar.
Many United Nations officials have expressed concern about the upcoming elections, and have called on the government of Myanmar to take all measures possible to ensure an environment of peace. The Secretary-General raised his concern with regards to the use of hate speech, and the “provocation of communal hostilities and the abuse of religion for political purposes.”  His Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, in a statement released on 4 November, noted similar concerns, including with regards to the politicization of ethnicity and religion which has led to increased “advocacy of religions hatred against Muslim minority” by religious leaders.  The Advisers also noted their concern that the electoral process has increased marginalization, particularly of the Rohingya population. It is hoped that such concern and calls for the government of Myanmar to take all possible action to ensure peaceful elections will result in efforts to provide the opportunity for civilians to freely participate in the democratic process. As Special Rapporteur Lee stated, “the credibility of the elections will be judged by the environment in which they are conducted and the extent to which all sectors of Myanmar society have been allowed to freely participate in the political process.”


Catch up on developments in…

Burma/Myanmar
Burundi
Central African Republic
Cote D’Ivoire
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gaza
Guinea
Iraq
Libya

Nigeria
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Syria
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

Three men with machetes attacked U Naing Ngan Lin, the opposition candidate for the NLD for Dakhinathiri Township in Naypyitaw, and his convoy – he was in serious but stable condition.

The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement was signed on October 15th but the deal has been criticized for being “broken before it began” with various ethnic groups reporting continued fighting leading to displacement.


Burundi:

Burundi’s President Nkurunziza gave the armed opposition, which is against his third consecutive term as president, an ultimatum this week to lay down weapons by the end of the week and surrender with amnesty or face anti-terrorism legislation. Sections of Bujumbura have been temporarily barricaded following the deaths of four people in violence between police and “insurgents.” Residents are reportedly fleeing these sealed off areas in fear of what will happen after Nkurunziza’s deadline to lay down arms passes.


Central African Republic:

Over the weekend, retaliatory attacks between armed groups in Bangui resulted in the death of three people, 22 people injured and more than 100 houses burnt down as thousands fled their homes. Parliamentary and presidential polls originally postponed to 13 December, currently seem unlikely as violence continues to escalate.


Cote D’Ivoire:

Despite criticisms last week, the UN Secretary General congratulated President Ouattara’s reelection and stated that “the successful conduct of these polls confirms that Côte d’Ivoire is returning towards lasting peace and stability.”


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

ICRtoP member, Human Rights Watch, and eight other NGOs urged the Security Council to hold another formal session on the DPRK to reiterate that the country’s human rights record remains a priority for the international community.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Fourteen of sixteen NGO aid workers abducted by unknown rebels in eastern DRC over the weekend are still being held for ransom, increasing fears that the North Kivu province may again be ripe with rebels, smugglers, and cross-border raids indicative of the larger political crisis of the nation.


Gaza/West Bank:

Amnesty International urged  the Israeli military to immediately take steps to protect Palestinian civilians from attacks by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and ensure effective investigation of all attacks, including the killing of a Palestinian teenager in Hebron by an Israeli civilian which took place on October 17th.

Israeli forces  shot and killed a Palestinian near the West Bank settlement Gush Etzion on Thursday. Reportedly, the Palestinian man had ignored calls to stop and then attempted to attack an Israeli soldier at a crowded bus stop.


Guinea:

Women aligned with the opposition, Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), led a demonstration in Conakry against “human rights violations” targeting UDFG militants.

The UN Special Regional Envoy to West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, urged newly re-elected President, Alpha Conde, to form a “wide  consensus government in the interests of peace” after the opposition party did not recognize the outcome of the vote. Guinea’s Constitutional Court on Saturday formally confirmed Conde’s win, dismissing the claims of election fraud.


Iraq:

ISIL militants and a suicide bomber killed four civilians and wounded 15 others in a rare attack in Iraq’s northern Kurdish province.


Libya:

Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) threatened to flood Europe with migrants if the European Union would not recognize the GNC as the official government.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UNSC on Thursday that Libya’s incessant conflict and political division may soon come to an end because significant progress is being made towards achieving peace and stability in the country. The UNSMIL mission is making important steps to encourage promotion of the rule of law, protection of civilians and end impunity for atrocity crimes.


Nigeria:

The National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria set a goal to “ensure that 80 per cent of Nigerians are aware of their fundamental human rights by the end of December 2015.”


South Sudan:

A new rebel group calling itself Tiger Faction New Forces (TFNF) announced in a statement that its forces would lay down weapons and accept negotiations if the government nullified its unconstitutional order to expand the current number of states from 10 to 28 in the face of a recently signed peace deal.  Later in the week, despite the increasing internal and international pressure, the South Sudanese government rejected the proposal to reverse the order expanding the number of recognized states to 28.

Medecins Sans Frontieres described the conditions in the Unity State as an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, detailing that the civilian population is subjected to repeated and targeted violence and lack access to basic needs.


Sudan/Darfur:

After researching 77-firsthand accounts of rape victims in Darfur, the UK-based human rights organization, Waging Peace, reported that sexual violence in the conflict area is rampant and expansive. Victims, if they survive, receive no physical or psychological supports, while less than a quarter of total cases documented are reported officially and even less are acted upon by police.

The US government extended sanctions for another year against the government of Sudan. The Sudanese government dismissed the reasons for the sanctions and claimed that it is in fact making constructive efforts to achieve security in the region.


Syria:

Last Friday, US President Barack Obama announced that “several dozen” Special Operations troops will be sent to Syria in what will be the first “open-ended mission” by US ground forces in the Syrian conflict.

Also on Friday, Syrian government airstrikes killed at least 61 people and injured over 100 when they struck a marketplace in the Damascus suburb of Douma. An additional series of Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes killed at least 80 people in about 25 different areas of Aleppo province on Friday.

World leaders including US Secretary of State John Kerry and Rusian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Vienna over the weekend to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria but failed to reach an agreement on the future of President Bashar al-Assad. However, it was decided that further talks will be held in two weeks.

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir declared that Russia and Iran must agree on a date and method by which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will step down and foreign forces will withdraw from Syria. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also stated that disagreements on Assad’s future should not delay a humanitarian ceasefire or a deal to end the Syrian war.

ISIL gained territory in central Syria, taking the town of Maheen from the regime forces late on Saturday through the use of two suicide car bombs, killing or wounding an estimated 50 government soldiers.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that six civilians including two children and a woman died in regime warplanes missiles fired on Bustan Al Qaser neighborhood in Aleppo on Tuesday.

A new report by Amnesty International condemned the Syrian State and allied militia for the abduction and detention of tens of thousands of people since civil unrest against the regime began in 2011.The report highlights that state officials profit from the disappearances.

ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch denounced the practice of Syrian rebel groups who are detaining both regime supporters and soldiers, putting them in metal cages and placing them around the Eastern Ghouta region as a means of deterring indiscriminate government attacks.


Yemen:

On Friday the UN World Food Programme (WFP) appealed for safe access to the besieged city of Taiz where fighting has blocked food supplies and left thousands at risk of famine. The last food aid to reach Yemen was five weeks ago when food was delivered to nearly 240,000 people. The WFP urged that access is needed in order to “prevent a humanitarian tragedy” that threatens the lives of thousands. Late this week a Russian plane reportedly carrying 23 tons of humanitarian aid arrived at Houthi-controlled Sanaa airport.

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Sunday killed dozens of Houthi rebels as clashes between the rebels and pro-government forces spread across several southern provinces, leaving 19 Houthi and 14 Popular Resistance fighters dead.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said he expects peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties to begin by November 15th at the latest. The opposing forces have already agreed to implement Security Council Resolution 2216 calling on Houthis and their allies to withdraw from main cities and surrender arms captured from Yemeni government forces, but they will not do this until after UN talks. On the other hand, Yemeni and Saudi-coalition forces want the Houthis to withdraw before talks begin.


What else is new?

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer issued an “unprecedented joint warning” on Saturday for states to prevent conflicts, abide by international law and help refugees. Mr Maurer said the world is in a new era where combatants ignore the most fundamental rules of war in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

A multidisciplinary panel discussion open to the public on “Global Security, Justice and Governance” with the World Federalist Movement’s President Lloyd Axworthy and other notable participants, including William Pace of WFM-Institute on Global Policy and Fernando Iglesias of the Creation of Latin American and the Caribbean Criminal Court against Transnational Organized Crime, will take place on Friday November 6th, from 4:30pm-6:00pm in the United Nations Church Center, 10th Floor, 777 UN Plaza, NY, NY 10017.

The Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights will be hosting a lunchtime lecture titled “The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: From Static to Dynamic Action” with Bill O’Niel, a lawyer specializing in humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law. The event will take place on Monday, November 9th, from 12:00pm-1:00pm in Room 420 of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights, 55 Fifth Ave, Manhattan, NY. RSVP to cardozo.clihhr@yu.edu

The “10th anniversary of Responsibility to Protect: A Focus on Prevention” panel will be held on Thursday, November 19th from 11:00am-1:00pm in the Palais Des Nations including panelists such as Dr. Jennifer Welsh, UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Mr. Volker Turk of UNHCR, Mr. Davide Rodongo of the Graduate Institute, Ms. Elisabeth Decrey Warner of Geneva Call, among others. The event is organized during Geneva Peace Week by the Permanent Missions of Australia, Ghana, Hungary, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uruguay, with the support of the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Graduate Institute.To RSVP, click here.

Gareth Evans released his latest op-ed entitled “Indonesia’s Forgotten Genocide,” in which he describes how October marked the 50th year anniversary of the Indonesian military launching one of the worst and least talked about mass murders. 500,000 members of sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were systematically killed across Central and East Java, Bali, and northern Sumatra. A new bout of censorship by the Indonesian government threatens the prospect of bringing the massacre into public discourse.


 

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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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