Tag Archives: UN Security Council

#R2P 4 – 8 April 2016

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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: 28 March – 1 April 2016

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On the Way to Ending Impunity:The Cases of Karadzic, Bemba, and Ongwen

Last week was an important one for the advancement of international criminal justice and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). On 24 March 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) rendered its judgment (summary) in the Karadžić case, three days earlier, the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba; and on 23 March, the ICC also decided that there was enough evidence in the Ongwen case for it to proceed to trial. Both RtoP and international criminal law, as exemplified here through the ICTY and the ICC, aim at bettering the world’s prevention of and reaction to atrocity crimes. Accountability for the perpetrators of such crimes serves as a vital element of upholding RtoP, as ending impunity for these crimes functions both as a deterrent for future perpetrators and as a means to rebuild communities in the wake of atrocities. As such, any improvements in accountability for atrocities can also be considered an improvement in the implementation of RtoP.

(…)

To read the full blog, click here.
To read the statement by the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on the conviction of Radovan Karadzic, click here.

 


Catch up on developments in…

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

 


Burma/Myanmar:

The outgoing government of Myanmar lifted a curfew in Rakhine State this week, imposed in June 2012 after clashes that displaced over 140,000, mostly Rohingya.

U Htin Kyaw of the National League for Democracy was sworn in on Wednesday as the new president of Myanmar. In his speech, Mr. Htin Kyaw urged “patience in the pursuit of democracy”, while noting that his government would strive for national reconciliation and a resolution of military clashes with ethnic groups.

 


Burundi:

Ivan Šimonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, warned the UN Human Rights Council that the human rights violations occurring in Burundi posed a threat to the country and the wider Great Lakes region. He urged the Burundian government to release political prisoners and to ensure the respect of its citizens’ human rights, be they civil and political or economic and social.

The EU has threatened to stop funding Burundi’s 5,400 strong peacekeeping mission in Somalia with the aim of forcing the Burundian government to the negotiations table.

FOREBU, a rebel group in Burundi, has claimed responsibility for the killing of an army colonel in Bujumbura.

Burundi’s ruling party accused President Paul Kagame of Rwanda of attempting to “export genocide”. Burundi’s government and the UN have both accused Rwanda of recruiting refugees to help remove President Nkurunziza from power.

 


Central African Republic:

New reports of sexual abuses by Moroccan and Burundian peacekeepers in CAR have emerged, prompting a UN investigation. Additionally, AIDS-Free World released a report that peacekeepers had abused 98 girls from 2013-present.

The French minister of defence confirmed that the French intervention in CAR, Operation Sangaris, will end in the course of the year, stating that French troops had achieved their mission of restoring security there. The withdrawal shall happen parallel to the build-up of the MINUSCA and the EU Training Mission.

Faustin-Archange Touadéra, Central African Republic’s new president, took office on Wednesday, vowing to restore peace and security to the country.
 


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Three days of clashes between the DRC’s army and the FDLR and Mai Mai militia have killedsixteen in Mpati.

The UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of MONUSCO, refusing to cut down on the 20,000-strong force, despite recommendations from Ban Ki-moon and request from the DRC government.

Several opposition parties endorsed the former governor of Lubumbashi, Moise Katumbi, for president. Katumbi was a member of President Kabila’s party, but quit while accusing Kabila of plotting to stay in power last September.

The DRC began the trials of twenty soldiers accused of rape and other crimes while serving as UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic.
 


Gaza/West Bank:

The HRC passed a resolution creating a blacklist of companies involved in settlement activities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The resolution wasdenounced by Israel and the US.

The OHCHR has stated that it is extremely concerned by the extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian man in the West Bank, fearing that it might not have been a lone incident. The Office has called for a “prompt, thorough, transparent and independent investigation”.

 


Iraq:

An ISIL attack near a gathering of workers in Tayaran Square in Baghdad killed 7 and wounded 27.

 


Libya:

Martin Kobler, Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya,condemned executions by armed groups in Warshafana against civilians in the north of the country, citing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The UAE Red Crescent is airlifting 300 tons of aid resources to Libya.

The Libyan ambassador to the UN has asked the UNSC to exempt its blacklisted sovereign wealth fund from sanctions imposed by the Council in 2011, claiming that mismanagement of funds is causing the loss of billions of dollars at the Libyan Investment Authority. However, the resolution adopted by the UNSC only reaffirms the Council’s intention to make frozen assets available to Libyans at a later date.

The heads of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, known as the Government of National Accord, have made their way to Tripoli, the capital, in order to broker a ceasefire between the rival factions and better confront ISIL.
 


Mali:

According to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has agreed to plead guilty to destroying religious and cultural sites in Timbuktu. He faces war crimes charges for his involvement in the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque during the city’s occupation in 2012.

Special forces have arrested Souleymane Keita, the top jihadist leader in southern Mali, and one of his allies near the border with Mauritania. Originally part of the jihadist forces which took control of large swathes of territory in northern Mali in 2012 and ousted by the French in 2013, when French troops ousted the jihadists in 2013, Keita went south to start his own jihadist group called the “Ansar Dine of the South”. He has been accused of running a jihadist training camp outside of Bamako and for carrying out attacks in the capital and in cities near the border with Côte d’Ivoire.

Authorities in Mali also arrested two citizens accused of “actively participating” in a deadly attack on a beach resort in Côte d’Ivoire on 13 March that killed 19 people. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, the third such strike in West Africa in recent months after the attacks on a hotel in the capital city of Mali and another on a hotel in Burkina Faso, demonstrating the mobility and access of the growing jihadist threat these countries face.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concerns about the number of challenges facing UN peacekeepers in Mali and the spreading insecurity throughout the country. In his latest report, Ban noted “The northern and central parts of Mali remain under the threat of criminal, violent extremist and terrorist groups, which take advantage of the limited presence of Malian law enforcement institutions.” Although a peace agreement was reached last year between the government and the rebels, jihadist violence still presents a real threat and the national government has not been able to maintain the country’s security with its domestic forces alone.
 


Nigeria:

In their latest report on Nigeria, ICRtoP member Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the Nigerian government’s response to the Damasak attacks last year “woefully inadequate”. The attacks resulted in the abduction of 400 women and children, including 300 schoolchildren, by Boko Haram.

In the days after the HRW report, a local Damasak resident, government administrator, elder, and chief reported that Boko Haram had abducted an additional 500 girls, boys, and women from Damask on 24 November 2014. The government of former president Goodluck Jonathan denied reports of the abduction last year, while other officials expressed doubts over the claims. One of the people that came forward, whose child had been among those abducted, claimed that the people of the city had “kept quiet on the kidnap out of fear of drawing the wrath of the government.”

Although Damasak is the largest documented school abduction by Boko Haram, it has drawn less international attention than the group’s abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, of which 57 are confirmed to have escaped, although 219 girls remain captive. Two girlsarrested by authorities during an attempt to carry out a suicide bombing on a village in Cameroon could be part of this group, and two parents of the Chibok abductees have been sent to Cameroon to meet with the girls.

Although US cooperation with Nigeria had effectively stalled during Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency due to his refusal to investigate accusations of corruption and human rights abuses committed by the Nigerian military, on Wednesday, the United States and the current Nigerian government agreed to set up working groups to strengthen security cooperation and the economy and tackle corruption.
 


South Sudan:

The United Nations has reported that over 48,000 South Sudanese have escaped to Sudan since the end of January, due to food shortages and ongoing conflict. Since the conflict started in December 2013, tens of thousands of people have been killed and over 2 million displaced. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is concerned about the amount of South Sudanese seeking asylum in Sudan, with an average of 500 refugees, equivalent to 100 households, arriving daily in East Darfur. The 2016 South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP), which covers all refugee programmes in the area, is only funded at 3 per cent, which leaves many emergent and necessary efforts, such as providing clean water, sanitation, medical assistance, food and shelter, incredibly underfunded.

In response to a report published by Radio Tamazuj, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has stated its commitment to protecting populations in the country. The report by the popular local media outlet accused UNMISS of declining to protect displaced persons in a camp called Sector 5 in Malakal. UNMISS had said in a previous statement that Sector 5 is not a priority for them, as they are still focusing on Sectors 1-4, which have been recently damaged by fires. However, UNMISS also stated that its peacekeepers are protecting 200,000 people seeking refuge within their bases all over the country and are working to protect people outside of their bases. The UN body hopes that the upcoming peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar will result in displaced persons returning home.
 


Sudan/Darfur:

The Special Prosecutor of Darfur Crimes, Al-Fatih Mohamed Tayfor, accused rebel groups of abducting children and forcing them to participate in military activities. Tayfor stated that the recruitment of child soldiers by armed movements violate all international conventions and international humanitarian law, as well as the 2010 Child Act. The leaders of Sudan’s primary rebel groups, such as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) have agreed to take increased measures to protect children in conflict areas.

Continuous attacks and air raids on East Jebel Marra in Darfur have resulted in most of the population of the area fleeing to camps for the internally displaced. Others have sought shelter in caves and valleys in the Jebel Marra area. Moreover, there is reportedly not a single healthcare facility throughout southern Darfur. As of 20 March, conflict had displaced approximately 129,200 people in Jebel Marra conflict since 15 January.
 


Syria:

The Syrian government recaptured the historic city of Palmyra on Sunday, marking an important milestone in the fight against Islamic State fighters, who had conducted a 10-month reign of terror in the area. The city is locally known as the “Bride of the Desert” and is popular for its 2000-year-old ruins that used to draw in visitors from all over the world, before ISIL destroyed many of the monuments. The recapture was supported by Russian military forces. The loss of Palmyra is seen as one of the biggest setbacks for the Islamic State since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across much of Syria and Iraq. This victory by the Syrian government has also opened up a vast, strategic space of desert leading to IS occupied territory in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in the east.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 363 civilians were killed during the first month of the ceasefire.This is the lowest number of monthly civilian deaths since November 2011. The 363 civilians that died last month is in stark contrast to the 1,100 who were killed the previous month, including 234 children. Nevertheless, while the ceasefire has brought some calm to Syria, fighting has continued between rival groups and jihadist factions.

The United Nations is considering appointing a specialist to facilitate negotiations with the goal of a possible prisoner exchange between the Syrian government and the rebel opposition. This effort has been identified as a priority for the Geneva peace talks, as the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has demanded that the government release prisoners countless times. The responsibility of the new specialist will also be to ensure that named-detainees are not harmed after their release.

President Bashar al-Assad told an interviewer on Wednesday that he rejects the idea of a “transitional body with full executive powers” proposed by the opposition, which requires him to step down. Assad continued to state that Syria needs a national unity government consisting of various political parties that will secure the transition to a new constitution. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution last December that called for a road map to be created in order to establish “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months, as well as a schedule for the drafting of a new constitution which should be followed by an election.

In the meantime, three days after President Vladimir Putin’s declaration to pull military forces out of Syria, Russia’s naval ship nicknamed “the Syrian Express” left the Russian Black Sea port for Tartous, Russia’s naval base in Syria. The exact contents of the ship are unknown, but according to an analysis by Reuters, the movements of the ship suggest that Russia is attempting to maintain its military presence in Syria as well as supply the Syrian army. However, over half of Russia’s fixed-wing strike force flew out of Syria following the declaration for the partial withdrawal.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community on Wednesday to aid in the resettlement of about a half a million Syrian refugees over the next three years. The United Nations Refugee Agency has aimed to resettle 480,000 by the end of 2018 but has admitted that it may be a struggle due to widespread fear, as well as a lack of political will. Ban urged states to pledge towards creating new legal pathways for humanitarian admission through family reunions, as well as labor and study opportunities.
 


Yemen:

A previously agreed upon prisoner swap was carried out between Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels ahead of the planned cessation of hostilities and peace negotiations, freeing 109 Yemenis in exchange for 9 Saudis.

UNICEF has warned of the disastrous humanitarian consequences of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen, especially in relation to children, reporting that more than 6 children are killed every day in the conflict. The United Nations Population Fund, meanwhile,reported that the Yemeni conflict has left 3.4 million women between the ages of 15-49 needing humanitarian assistance. Reproductive health and other services are severely lacking, putting the lives of thousands women and (unborn) children at risk

In attacks claimed by ISIL, three suicide bombers killed 26 people near security checkpoints in Aden. The attacks, which took place last Friday, coincided with the first anniversary of the start of the civil war.

An airstrike by unidentified planes has left at least four suspected al Qaeda members dead.
 


What else is new?

The ICRtoP is pleased to welcome two new members to its coalition:

Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights (Kurdistan, Iraq)

Founded in 2005, the Jiyan Foundation originally began in Kirkuk, Iraq as a rehabilitation center for victims of violence and torture in the region. Since then, the Jiyan Foundation has opened offices throughout several cities in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as an office in Berlin, Germany. Their main purpose is to promote and protect human rights through their assistance to victims and survivors of torture, terrorism, and atrocity crimes, with the organization working with over 2,000 victims over the years. The Foundation provides free medical treatment and psychotherapeutic support as well as social and legal counseling to assist in physical and mental and reintegration into society. Additionally, the Jiyan Foundation conducts programmatic initiatives focusing on human rights education, political advocacy, and the promotion of public awareness for atrocity crime prevention.

Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights
Founded in 2011 following the rise of the “Arab Spring”, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor documents violations of human rights committed throughout the Middle East and North Africa with the aim of informing public opinion and advocacy for action in the region. There are a range of issues in focus for the organization including, but not limited to, women’s and children’s rights, detention of prisoners of conscience, commission of torture, and refugee and migrant rights. Through a series of press releases, publications, infographics, and videos, as well as direct advocacy, the organization strives to galvanize political will to hold perpetrators to account and stimulate action for prevention and protection.

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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: 1-5 February 2016

Rtop weekly

 Recommendations from ICRtoP Regional Initiatives

At the 2nd meeting of the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC), in Manila, Philippines, ICRtoP’s Megan Schmidt delivered a speech during the workshop “Sub-regional initiatives as a support to national architectures.” Schmidt’s speech focused on the ICRtoP’s regional work in Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, and pulled the main themes that have emerged from such workshops and trainings. She also discussed three common gaps and challenges that civil society organizations have raised when discussing efforts to move RtoP forward at the national level. Finally, Schmidt shared recommendations for national capacity building that have been articulated by ICRtoP members and partners throughout the world.

Click here to read the speech in full.


Catch up on developments in…

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


Burma/Myanmar:

Burma’s new democratic majority parliament sat for the first time on Monday 1 February. The elected members of the NLD party are comprised of teachers, poets, writer, doctors, and more than 100 former political prisoners.


Burundi:

At a summit of AU heads of state, the regional body abandoned its plan to send peacekeeping troops to Burundi after failing to garner enough support to overcome Burundi’s lack of consent. Instead, the AU will send a high-level delegation to continue dialogue and consultations about a possible deployment. Opposition groups are additionally requesting the African Union to impose economic sanctions in order to obligate President Pierre Nkurunziza to engage in political dialogue.

According to Amnesty International, emerging satellite images display mass graves near the capital city of Bujumbura, believed to be holding the bodies of 50 people killed during the political turmoil in December. Witnesses claimed that the violence was perpetrated primarily by government forces, supporting other evidence of mass atrocities and human rights violations. Ivan Simonovic, U.N. assistant secretary general for human rights, stressed the necessity to increase the number of human rights monitors in Burundi.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also responded to the situation in Burundi by stating: “The longer this situation continues, the more people will be killed and affected.” According to Radio France Internationale, U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon is considering a visit to Burundi before the end of February.

On Monday 1 February, three grenade explosions occurred in the capital of Burundi, Bujumbura. According to BBC news, at least four people were wounded.

In a leaked confidential report to the UN Security Council, the UN Panel of Experts on sanctions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accused Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian rebels to overthrow President Nkurunziza. The U.N. experts, who interrogated Burundian combatants that had strayed into the DRC, stated that the rebels claimed to have received training from Rwanda in military tactics and the use of assault rifles and machine guns, grenades, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Rwanda denies the accusations.


Central African Republic:

Another sexual allegation against foreign peace officers has emerged from CAR. The claim involved five girls and a boy, all between the ages of seven and 16 when the abuse took place. The abusers are suspected to be from Georgia, France, and the EU.

Additionally, investigators from Human Rights Watch have also accused more UN peacekeepers of raping or sexually exploiting at least eight women and girls between October and December 2015 in CAR. The abuses uncovered, which includes gang rape, allegedly involved MINUSCA peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo which currently has around 800 soldiers in the CAR. The victims were living in camps for internally displaced peoples in Bambari. Some also claimed they had engaged in sexual relations with peacekeepers out of desperation, in exchange for food or money.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated on Sunday that France will withdraw its troops from the Central African Republic over the course of this year. France had initially deployed 1,600 troops in December 2013 to help establish peace between the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka, but now has less than 900 remaining in the country. However, Mr. Le Drian stated that some troops will remain in the CAR even after the French mission formally concludes.

The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) in the CAR has released $9 million for lifesaving aid for 2.3 million people currently in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. This will include aid benefiting refugees and displaced persons, as well as the communities that host them, by improving their access to basic human necessities and services and through programs aimed at reducing violence in communities.

The ICC stated that it would deliver its verdict on 21 March in the trial of the former Congolese vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who stands accused of three counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity committed over 14 years ago by around 1,500 members of his private army in the CAR. Bemba sent his troops into the CAR in order to suppress a coup against the then-president, Ange-Felix Patasse, and whilst there, his troops allegedly murdered, raped, and pillaged. ICC prosecutors claim Bemba had authority and control over his troops when they committed these atrocities, an allegation denied by Bemba’s defense team.


Democratic Republic of the Congo:

In a press briefing on Thursday 29 January 2016, UNHCR spokesman Leo Dobbs explained how violence in eastern regions of the DRC has driven tens of thousands out of their homes. At least 15,000 civilians have sought refuge in UNHCR and IOM establishments since November. Following the killing of 14 people by suspected FDLR militants on 7 January, 21,000 civilians, primarily women and children, fled their homes in and around Miriki village. Meanwhile, OCHA reports 1.5 million civilians have been displaced in the DRC, and that 7.5 million (approximately 9% of the entire population), suffer from hunger.

A new brief from Small Arms Survey on the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) concludes that the FDLR has been severely weakened and no longer poses a threat to Rwanda. Nevertheless, the brief warns that the FDLR still poses an ideological threat, if not a military one, and that given the rebels’ past resilience, actors should avoid postponing or downgrading efforts to combat the group.

The Government of the DRC and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reached an agreement on resuming cooperation against illegal armed groups.


Gaza/West Bank:

After receiving intelligence of a possible Palestinian attack in Israel, the Israeli military imposed restrictions on access to Ramallah. The measures, which bar residents from leaving Ramallah and non-residents from entering the city, came after a Palestinian police officer shot three Israeli soldiers near an Israeli settlement.

Israeli forces demolished 24 Palestinian buildings, including ten constructed with funding from the European Union, in a village in the West Bank. Israel claimed the buildings were illegal, as it had declared the area a military zone in the 1970s. However, human rights groups have challenged Israel’s claim, countering that it is “illegal to establish a military zone in occupied territory.”

In the latest in a string of stabbings and shootings, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian who had been attempting to stab the soldiers in the West Bank.


Iraq:

While the US-led coalition against ISIL seems to be weakening the group militarily, civilians are still suffering the consequences of war. The Iraqi government was forced to end salaries to workers in ISIL-controlled areas because the radical group was taxing the workers’ income and using the proceeds to subsidize its activities, leaving hundreds left without an income. Many of ISIL’s supply routes have been compromised by US forces, which has taken a toll on the group, but has also left scarce resources for civilians. Police and other officials report that 20,000 civilians have fled over the Hamrin mountain ranges in the last few months, battling through cold weather and hunger.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting against ISIL is planning to recapture Mosul this year with the help of the Iraqi government. Should they be successful, their next goal would be to then drive the extremists out of their stronghold in Raqqa, Syria. Re-taking Mosul would be a massive strategic gain in the battle against ISIL occupation in Iraq and Syria.

In a resolution, the European Parliament recognized that ISIL’s crimes against the Yazidis, Christians, and other religious and ethnic minorities constitute genocide. The EU Parliament called on the Security Council to make a similar recognition.


Kenya:

African Union members expressed their support for a Kenyan proposal pushing for withdrawal from the ICC at the Addis Ababa summit, citing the Court’s alleged unfair targeting of African leaders. Since its founding in 2002, out of the 9 countries the ICC has opened inquiries on, all but one have been African. Kenya’s president was tried in a failed case at the ICC and the case against his deputy, William Ruto, has been faltering. This comes amid the beginning of the latest ICC trial against the former Cote d’Ivoire president, Laurent Gbagbo, for alleged war crimes.


Libya:

The joining of the UK with France, the US, and Italy to participate in potential direct military intervention in Libya is likely dependent upon whether efforts to establish a viable national unity government in Libya will succeed in the coming weeks. This comes amid recent statements from French and US officials about the possible need for intervention in the country. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that ISIL fighters in Libya pose a “major risk to Europe” as they could possibly hide among refugees traveling from Libya to Italy. On 2 February, the coalition of nations fighting ISIS met in Rome to discuss the group’s growing stronghold in Libya. US Secretary of State John Kerry called for the US and its European allies to help Libya’s military and increase security training for Libyan forces to help create a secure environment for the new unity government to operate in.

ISIL recently released images of the alleged execution of three people in the group’s stronghold, Sirte, Libya. They were accused of being spies and at least one of them was executed by a man in a wheelchair. Other photos also show a man being prepared for crucifixion and another tied up and crucified.

The African Union closed its summit in Addis Ababa by stating that, while it was concerned over ISIL gaining ground in Libya, the time was not right for a military solution in the country. The AU also set up a new Libya Task Force composed of fives heads of state to assist in the process of forming a new unity government. The AU also appointed a new special envoy to Libya and met with the UNSMIL chief, Martin Kobler, who urged them to play a bigger role in Libya. After talks in Algiers with the Algerian minister in charge of Maghreb affairs, Kobler again urged for a quick formation of a Libyan national unity government and reportedly said that such a government should be installed in Tripoli.

A $166 million UN-backed humanitarian appeal to aid 1.3 million people in Libya is barely one percent funded almost two months after its launch,  according to the UN. Only two donors have contributed 2.1 million in humanitarian funding as the international community has focused its efforts on mobilizing support for the Government of National Accord (GNA). While such efforts should be applauded, the UN stressed that the humanitarian needs of the people must also be addressed and cannot wait for the resolution of the political situation.


Mali:

Humanitarian workers in Mali have appealed for $354 million in order to help 1 million conflict affected people from mostly northern and central Mali. The funds will be used to help the international humanitarian community with assistance from the Malian government to increase access to food, water, education, shelter, protection, and more to support the work of 40 humanitarian organizations already working on over 127 projects throughout the country.


Nigeria:

A Boko Haram raid in Dalori, a village in northeastern Nigeria, has killed up to as many as 65 to 100 people. The raid included suicide bombers which attacked those trying to flee, the abduction of children, and the burning to the ground of up to 300 homes, including the burning alive of those inside. The government claims the death toll was 65 with around 130 injured, but residents claim that the real number of dead is closer to 100. Furthermore, some residents have complained that Nigerian authorities did not arrive to the scene fast enough to be able to assist in fighting the attackers off.

Though the Nigerian government still maintains that it has achieved a “technical defeat” of Boko Haram, in January 2016alone, Boko Haram attackers firebombed Dalori and suicide bombers killed 25 in Chibok and 10 in Gombi. Human Rights Watch argues that Boko Haram’s loss of control over key towns does not mean that the government should use this ‘technical defeat’ as an excuse to press people back to their homes, which could remain unsafe. HRW also provided satellite imagery showing that over 40% of Dalori had suffered burn scars and building damages after the the latest attack.

Days after the Dalori attack, the Nigerian military claimed it had used a drone to bomb a logistics base belonging to Boko Haram which could have possibly hit an ammunition and fuel depot and dealt a “major setback” to the group. The military said that 286 such operations were carried out by the air force last month in a “sustained aerial bombardment.”

In a press statement, the Security Council condemned the attacks committed by Boko Haram as “horrific terrorist attacks” and “called on all States to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”


South Sudan:

Russia rejected the recommendations made by a UN panel last week to place an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions on President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, stating that such measures would not be conducive to the peace process.

A report submitted to the AU by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) reports that the South Sudanese government had killed approximately 50 people in October. Government forces had stuffed the individuals into a shipping container in blistering heat. Despite the ceasefire negotiated in the August peace deal, the report documents at least five violations of the agreement similar to this one.

Furthermore, as the government and rebels delay forming a transitional government to end the ongoing civil war, people in the Western Equatoria region are experiencing widespread starvation.


Sri Lanka:
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will visit Sri Lanka from 6-10 February in the midst of uncertainty on the country’s permittance of an international judicial mechanism to investigate and try the alleged atrocity crimes committed during the country’s civil war with the separatist group, the Tamil Tigers.


Sudan/Darfur:

The UN now estimates that renewed clashes between the government and rebels in Jebel Marra, a mountainous region of Darfur, have caused approximately 44,700 people to flee their homes over the past two weeks alone. The UN cautioned that the numbers are likely to change as better data becomes available.
Sudan’s national dialogue conference in Khartoum earlier this week recommended that the Darfur administrative referendumbe postponed. The idea for the referendum initially spawned from the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), which entails that the permanent status of Darfur be determined via a nationwide referendum. It was originally scheduled to occur from 11-13 April 2016, but the chairman of the dialogue’s Freedoms and Rights Committee says they will be submitting a document for postponement to the general secretariat of the dialogue conference.


Syria:

The initial preparatory meeting for the UN-led Syrian peace talks in Geneva was finally held on Friday 29 January 2016. Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, announced that he had met with a “substantial” delegation from the Syrian government. De Mistura then declared the official launch of the peace talks on Monday, amid significant advances by the Assad government near Aleppo, helped by 320 Russian airstrikes.

A branch of the Syrian opposition, the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HRC), also met with de Mistura, but underscored that it was only in Geneva to assess the government’s intentions, not for negotiations, at least until the government ended its sieges and airstrikes on rebel-occupied territory. As a so-called gesture of goodwill, the governmentallowed aid to enter into rebel-held sections of Damascus on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, de Mistura announced a temporary suspension of the talks on Wednesday, a short two days after their official launch. The UN envoy cited the government’s unwillingness to allow humanitarian aid into rebel-held towns as an obstruction to serious talks, but hoped that negotiations would resume no later than 25 February. However, it is unclear whether Russia and the Assad government will be more willing to negotiate in three weeks than they are now, given their recent gains on the battlefield. Indeed, the pause came on the same day that the Syrian army recaptured Nubul and Zahra, two Shiite towns in Northern Aleppo held by rebels for three years.

Meanwhile, at least 50 people were killed and 100 wounded in bombings attributed to ISIL on Sunday, and King Abdullah of Jordan announced that his country was at a “boiling point” after the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.


Yemen:

Human Rights Watch revealed that Houthi forces have been preventing food and medical aid to civilians in Taizz for months. Houthi guards seized the food, water, and cooking gas at checkpoints. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director, stated: “Seizing property from civilians is already unlawful, but taking their food and medical supplies is simply cruel.” Médecins Sans Frontières noted that its 17 January entry into Taizz was the first time it was able to bring medical aid into the city in months.

In response to a recent UN report, the Saudi-led Arab coalition formed an independent team of experts to investigate military operations that have led to civilians casualtie. Nevertheless, human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, expressed concerns about the reliability of the Saudi-led Arab coalition team of experts and called for the establishment of an international and impartial commission to investigate the possible war crimes.  The UK’s International Development Select Committee requested David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, to suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia due to the likelihood that the arms were being used to commit violations of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the Committee echoed the call to form an independent commission to investigate Saudi-led military operations.

Al-Qaeda militants reportedly re-claimed the town of Azzan, in the Shabwa region of Yemen on Monday morning.


What else is new?

This week, the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) held its second meeting in Manila, Philippines. Read the agenda of the conference here.

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Leadership for “Our Common Humanity”: Why RtoP Advocates Should Support a Better Selection Process for the UNSG

The following is a co-authored blog written by Matthew Redding, ICRtoP Blog and Social Media Coordinator, and Alexandra Maresca, Program Associate at the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP). WFM-IGP is a Steering Committee member of the 1 for 7 Billion Campaign launched in November 2014 to reform the outdated process of selecting the United Nations Secretary-General.  Read on to discover why supporting this campaign is in the best of interest of RtoP advocates and all those committed to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. 

 

From the earliest stages of inception, the role of the UN’s Secretary-General (UNSG) in formulating and advancing what would become known as the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) was crucial. It was former Secretary-General Kofi Annan who set in motion a momentous process of redefining sovereignty to include a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing when he asked:

“… if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”

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UNSG Kofi Annan addressing the 2005 World Summit. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

At Annan’s request, the historic International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) was formed in 2001 to debate this matter, and RtoP subsequently emerged as the answer to this quandary. Annan used the moral authority and legitimacy of the Secretary-General’s position to champion the norm and ensure it became a serious consideration among UN member states. His report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All confirmed his support and presented RtoP for adoption by the UN General Assembly at the World Summit in 2005.

It is now well known that 150 member states endorsed RtoP in paragraphs 138-139 of the World Summit Outcome Document, formally recognizing that sovereignty indeed entails an obligation to protect populations from the worst atrocity crimes. However, it soon became clear that certain states, including some permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, began to feel what Gareth Evans described as “buyer’s remorse” over lingering concerns about the potential for its abuse.

Enter Ban Ki-moon, who made no secret of his intention to make RtoP a priority during his tenure. Famously referring to RtoP as “…an idea whose time has come,”  and stating that he would “…spare no effort to operationalize the responsibility to protect,” the new Secretary-General made significant progress in clarifying misconceptions and focusing the norm, including by articulating the three-pillar approach in his 2009 report Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.

These efforts were greatly assisted by his newly created Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect – a position filled by Edward Luck, who played a distinct but complementary role to the existing Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng. Ban has since released annual reports on a thematic issue related to RtoP every year, eliciting important contributions from civil society actors, and used the informal interactive dialogues at the General Assembly to openly discuss the documents.

Aside from broadening normative consensus through rhetorical commitments and raising awareness within the UN system, both Secretaries-General have also played a critical role in implementing RtoP. For example, they have made use of their good offices to mediate crises that had the potential to escalate to mass atrocities, either personally or through their Special Representatives, in Kenya, Guinea and Kyrgyzstan, and have spurred member states to take action to halt imminent or ongoing crimes in Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic. Ban Ki-moon has taken further steps to deliver on his commitment to “promise less and deliver more” through new initiatives such as the “Rights Up Front” action plan and the launch of the Framework of Analysis for the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes.

General Assembly: Informal interactive dialogue on the report of the Secretary-General on the responsibility to protect

Ban Ki-moon providing remarks at the Informal Interactive General Assembly Dialogue on RtoP in September, 2014. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz.

Given the significance of having a Secretary-General that is a firm ally of the norm, it is now more important than ever that Ban Ki-moon’s replacement is equally supportive. Ten years after RtoP’s adoption, civil society advocates and supportive UN member states are pushing for a tangible shift from words towards deeds. Initiatives aimed at removing challenges to the norm’s implementation and expanding the global consensus around the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities will require the next Secretary-General’s steadfast support and unwavering commitment to this core UN responsibility.

 

An Outdated Selection Process in Need of Reform

Unfortunately, the current process for selecting the Secretary-General leaves much to be desired in regards to choosing a candidate most qualified to see this vision through. The UN Charter states that the General Assembly appoints the Secretary-General upon the recommendation of the Security Council.  In practice, however, the Council’s permanent members have had the final say in who gets appointed to the post.  The veto power of each of the permanent five members, coupled with a 1946 resolution requesting that the Council recommend only one candidate for Secretary-General, has turned the General Assembly into a rubber stamp for the Security Council’s decision.

Because there is no public shortlist of candidates and no set timeline for the process, member states and other stakeholders struggle to identify which candidates are being considered by the Council at any given time. Worse, with no formal selection criteria for the position and no opportunity for member states or the general public to interact with candidates, it is all but impossible to assess the Council’s chosen candidate and his or her commitment to RtoP and other international norms, as well as their continued willingness to work with civil society for advancement.

The shortcomings of the current process are an open secret, and dissatisfaction with the status quo has only grown over time.  Sir Brian Urquhart, a respected UN expert who worked for the organization for forty years, offered a set of proposals for reform as early as in 1990. The General Assembly first suggested improvements to the process in a resolution passed in 1997, and the UN General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on the Revitalization of the General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the issue by consensus every year since 2008. Yet the failure to implement these resolutions, as well as the reluctance of Security Council members to make the process more transparent, has left the selection process adopted seventy years ago largely intact.

 

1 for 7 Billion: A Growing Movement for Change

While the international community has been lucky enough to have two successive Secretaries-General that showed strong leadership on RtoP, this luck may run out, and the result could be a major setback for the norm. The 1 for 7 Billion Campaign, however, has shown that there are those unwilling to leave such an important outcome to the mercy of luck and power politics.

1for7Billion

The ‘1 for 7 Billion’ Campaign.

Launched in November 2014, 1 for 7 Billion is a group of more than fifty NGOs and concerned individuals around the world, which calls for the adoption of a more open, inclusive, and merit-based process before the next Secretary-General is chosen in 2016. Rather than endorse individual candidates, the campaign argues that a strong process will produce a strong Secretary-General.

Its supporters believe the process should be rooted in seven common-sense principles, such as transparency, inclusiveness, and a focus on appointing the most qualified candidate.  Based on these principles, the campaign suggests ten reforms designed to make these ideals a reality.   Public hearings with candidates, for example, would make it possible for all stakeholders—including member states, civil society, and the general public— to assess the values and priorities of prospective candidates.  Formal selection criteria would help to identify candidates with the skills and experience needed to implement the UN’s complex agenda.  More controversially, 1 for 7 Billion suggests that the Council recommend more than one candidate to the General Assembly for it to debate, allowing all member states to weigh in on the next Secretary-General.  Significantly, none of these proposals would require an amendment to the UN Charter.  Some, including the recommendation of more than one candidate by the Security Council, have even been advanced by Kofi Annan himself.

As the Ad Hoc Working Group’s debates begin this week, it is important to remember that the UN does not just represent the interests of states.  It also has a responsibility to individuals, to “We the Peoples of the United Nations”.  With the 70th anniversary of the UN converging with the 10th anniversary of the World Summit Outcome, it is time for a selection process that reflects the values and concerns of everyone represented by the UN – not least populations who continue to suffer the tragic effects of mass atrocity crimes.

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Shocking report details the UN’s failure to protect the people of Sri Lanka

A United Nations (UN) report alleging the failure of the international body to uphold its responsibilities to protect civilians threatened by massive human rights violations during the Sri Lankan civil war was released on 14 November 2012, and quickly spurred impassioned reactions from civil society and UN actors. For many, the Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka confirmed their earlier claims that the UN did not act rapidly or robustly to protect the people of Sri Lanka. For others, the report was a shocking reality check that the international community still has a long way to go to build the necessary political will and capacity to respond to these deadly conflicts.

Large-scale civilian suffering during the civil war

The final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, from August 2008 until May 2009, saw a dramatic escalation of violence between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), known as the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting to establish the state of Tamil Eelam in the north of the country since the late 1970s. Violence was concentrated in the Wanni, a northern region, and clashes trapped hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to basic necessities or humanitarian aid.

At the time, several civil society organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, criticized the UN for its limited efforts to hold the Sri Lankan government accountable for likely war crimes and crimes against humanity. As noted in the report, the UN evacuated its staff in the Wanni in September 2008 when the government announced it would not be able to guarantee their security, and after that was largely unable to gain access to distribute humanitarian relief aid. With the end of the war in May 2009 came widespread calls to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the perpetrators of mass atrocities and UN efforts to protect civilians.  After a Panel of Experts, established by the UNSG, reported in April 2011 that many UN agencies and officials had not done enough to protect civilians, the UNSG created the Internal Review Panel on UN actions in Sri Lanka, which is responsible for the recently released report.

UN fails to protect Sri Lankan population

The report concludes that though the government and LTTE were primarily responsible for “killings and other violations” committed against the civilians trapped in the Wanni, the “events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond to early warnings and to the evolving situation during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians and in contradiction with the principles and responsibilities of the UN.”

The report criticizes the UN for its overall lack of action on the crisis, condemning the evacuation of UN staff without protestation as a “serious failure”. According to the report, the UN system as a whole did not put enough political pressure on the government, and left its staff on the ground ill-prepared to deal with the escalating crisis. The report also draws attention to the fact that, though the UN officials had data on the number of civilian deaths and evidence that the government, in many cases, was responsible, they only reported on the violations committed by the LTTE. According to officials at the time, they were reluctant to release information about the government’s involvement out of fear it would further hinder their access to the population in the Wanni. The sole exception was a public statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 13 March 2009, in spite of strong criticism by most UN senior officials, which reported on the number of casualties and declared that actions by the government and LTTE “may constitute international crimes, entailing individual responsibility, including for war crimes and crimes against humanity”.  The report concludes that “in fact, with its multiplicity of mandates and areas of expertise, the UN possessed the capabilities to simultaneously strive for humanitarian access while also robustly condemning the perpetrators of killings of civilians.”

According to the report, the low level of commitment to civilian protection in Sri Lanka was exacerbated by the inaction of Member States, who failed to take up the escalating crisis in the Security Council, Human Rights Council and General Assembly. To what extent was the commitment governments made in 2005 endorsing their collective responsibility to protect populations from crimes against humanity and war crimes considered during the crisis? The report notes that though RtoP was raised in the context of the war, states were unable to agree on how the norm could help the international community halt the ongoing violence. The report concludes that governments “failed to provide the Secretariat and UN [Country Team] with the support required to fully implement the responsibilities for protection of civilians that Member States had themselves set for such situations.”

Civil society and former UN officials clash over the report’s findings

Civil society organizations swiftly responded to the report, calling for accountability and to use the example of Sri Lanka as an impetus to strengthen UN protection capacities. On 14 November Amnesty International’s José Luis Díaz called the report a “wake-up call for UN member states that have not pushed hard enough for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE in the last phase of the war.”  Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch agreed, stating that the report serves as “a call to action and reform for the entire UN system.”  Additionally, Bolopion noted that “The UN’s dereliction of duty in Sri Lanka is a stark reminder of what happens when human rights concerns are marginalized or labeled as too political”.

Meanwhile, others reacted to the UN’s decision to evacuate its staff from the Wanni region. In reading the report, Edward Mortimer, who serves on the Advisory Council of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice and who formerly served as Director of Communications in the Executive Office of the UN, declared that he believed the UN left when they were most needed. The report, Mortimer stated, would show that the “UN has not lived up to the standards we expect of it…”

Benjamin Dix, a UN staff member in Sri Lanka that left the war zone, recalled his own doubts at the time, saying that he “believe[d] we should have gone further north, not evacuate south, and basically abandon the civilian population with no protection or witness….As a humanitarian worker questions were running through my mind – What is this all about? Isn’t this what we signed up to do?

Sir John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs at the time of the crisis and one of those whom the report blames for underreporting the government’s responsibility for the violence, defended the UN’s actions. Holmes told BBC that “the idea that if we behaved differently, the Sri Lankan government would have behaved differently I think is not one that is easy to reconcile with the reality at the time.”  In an attempt to provide clarity on the UN’s decision not to report casualty figures, UN spokesperson in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the time, Gordon Weiss, stated that, “It was an institutional decision not to use those [casualty lists] on the basis that those could not be verified and of course they couldn’t be verified because the government of Sri Lanka wasn’t letting us get anywhere near the war zone.” However, his remarks starkly contrast the findings of the report.

Some took the opportunity to remind that the report highlighted the ultimate failure of the Sri Lankan government to protect its population from mass atrocities.Steven Ratner, a professor at University of Michigan’s Law School, stated, “the UN failed, but the Sri Lankan government is ultimately most responsible…They are the ones who have not begun a bona fide accountability process.”  Echoing this, Amnesty International’s José Luis Díaz noted that “The report clearly illustrates the Sri Lankan government’s lack of will to protect civilians or account for very serious violations. There is no evidence that has changed.

Report shows challenges in implementation must not lead to inaction

The Secretary-General’s report not only shows the need to uphold the responsibility to protect populations in Sri Lanka by preventing a culture of impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes, it emphasizes the critical gaps that the international community must address to strengthen its political will and overall capacity to respond to emerging and ongoing situations of RtoP crimes.

With regard to the Responsibility to Protect norm, the report concludes that, “The concept of a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ was raised occasionally during the final stages of the conflict, but to no useful result. Differing perceptions among Member States and the Secretariat of the concept’s meaning and use had become so contentious as to nullify its potential value. Indeed, making references to the Responsibility to Protect was seen as more likely to weaken rather than strengthen UN action.” This finding serves as a sober reminder to governments, UN officials and the international community as a whole that though we continue to address important questions about how to implement the Responsibility to Protect, these disagreements must never hinder our commitment to react when populations are in dire need of assistance.  The report as a whole underlines the prevailing importance of the prevention of and rapid response to RtoP crimes and violations by highlighting a tragic example of the consequences when the protection of populations is not prioritized.

The initial establishment of the Panel and the Secretary-General’s decision to make its findings public show a commitment to holding perpetrators of the crimes committed in Sri Lanka accountable. However, as Human Rights Watch’s Philippe Bolopion said, “While Ban deserves credit for starting a process he knew could tarnish his office, he will now be judged on his willingness to implement the report’s recommendations and push for justice for Sri Lanka’s victims.”  The UNSG stated that the report’s findings have “profound implications for our work across the world, and I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world’s people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the Organization for help.”  We can only hope that this report will act as a much needed impetus to reform the system as a whole to better respond to protect populations from the most horrific crimes known to humankind.

 

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FEATURE: Responsibility while Protecting – the impact of a new initiative on RtoP

The “responsibility while protecting” (RwP) concept and its potential influence on the development of the Responsibility to Protect norm (RtoP, R2P) have been a source of ongoing discussion in recent months. RwP was first introduced by Brazilian President Dilma Raousseff as “responsibility in protecting” during her address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2011 and then expanded on in a concept note presented to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 9 November 2011 by Brazilian Permanent Representative, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti. RwP seeks to address concerns regarding the implementation of military measures to prevent and halt mass atrocities, emphasizing that prevention is the “best policy” and that the use of force in particular must be regularly monitored and periodically assessed so as to minimize the impact on civilians.

On 21 February 2012, the Brazilian Permanent Mission organized an informal discussion on RwP with Member States, UN actors, and civil society organizations. Debate has since continued, most recently at the fourth UNGA informal, interactive dialogue held on 5 September, with many commentators and scholars reflecting on how RwP will impact RtoP and more importantly, the international response to future situations of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The ICRtoP Secretariat reached out to civil society organizations with a series of questions in order to map the origins of RwP and analyze the concept’s influence on the Responsibility to Protect.  

Read the full feature post.

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As South Sudan Marks One-Year Anniversary, RtoP Remains Essential As Country Confronts Challenges Moving Forward

South Sudan marked the one-year anniversary of its independence from Sudan on 9 July, with the official Twitter account of the Government of South Sudan (GRSS) sharing its optimism for the future, and President Salva Kiir vowing to work towards a more complete independence for the country at the celebrations in Juba.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also extended his congratulations to the people of South Sudan for “realizing their long-held aspirations” of independent nationhood.

One year on, however, the world’s newest nation has endured a number of challenges that have wracked its first year of independence, and will continue to threaten its stability as it enters its second year of nationhood.

Border Clashes, Oil Dispute with Sudan

To begin, the split with Sudan has not brought about a peace dividend between the two countries. An oil dispute over pipeline fees with Sudan led the South to halt the production and export of oil in January, which has amounted to an apparent economic disaster in South Sudan.  Protracted skirmishes over natural resources and contested border areas have also nearly led to open war between the two nations, with civilians often caught in the crossfire.

In April, South Sudanese forces captured Heglig, an oil-town in Sudan, which was met with immediate condemnation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as well as threats from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to overthrow what he called the “insect” government in South Sudan. In the aftermath, Sudan has been charged with conducting cross-border aerial bombardments on South Sudanese territory on 23 April and 9 May, in direct violation of the UNSC Resolution 2046 of 2 May, which called for an immediate end to hostilities between the two countries.

While an uncertain verbal agreement struck on 8 July between the two countries currently holds a fragile peace in place, a number of outstanding provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the decades-long Sudanese civil wars and led to the creation of the independent state of South Sudan, remain unresolved, including the status of disputed border areas in Abyei, issues of citizenship, and the sharing of oil revenues.

Amnesty International charged in an 8 July press release that a failure of leadership in Juba and Khartoum has led to increased tensions and conflict between the two countries, The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect reiterated this message, stating that the failure by both Sudan and South Sudan to resolve outstanding issues has resulted in the commission of mass atrocities in both countries. With the UN-imposed deadline of 2 August to resolve outstanding CPA issues fast approaching, the threat of a return to violence between these two countries, along with it the commission of mass atrocities, remains. In response to this, a global campaign backed by over 150 human rights activists, civil society organizations and faith leaders called We Choose Peace urged the UN, the African Union, and the League of Arab States to persuade the governments of South Sudan and Sudan to resolve the remaining CPA issues and cease all hostilities.

Ethnic Violence in Jonglei State, Human Rights Concerns

Internal violence has also marred South Sudan’s first year as a nation, with widespread ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes claiming the lives of nearly 900 in Jonglei State between December 2011 and February 2012.  In a 25 June report by the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), entitled Incidents of Intercommunal Violence in Jonglei State, the ethnic clashes were characterized as, “one of the biggest challenges for the GRSS [Government of the Republic of South Sudan] since independence in terms of testing its capacity to protect civilians and to demonstrate its capacity to impose law and order.”

The report subsequently describes how, despite warnings of an impending attack by a large number of Lou Nuer,  the GRSS was “slow to respond”, and failed to prevent or contain the violence. As the report reads, at the heart of the failure by the GRSS to uphold its primary responsibility to protect civilians was a lack of capacity:

Supported by UNMISS, the Government made efforts to contain the violence but these were constrained by the weak capacity of GRSS institutions, particularly local government, security and justice, a lack of human and logistical resources and the tenuous control that state institutions have over territories such as Jonglei, which have been marginalised and neglected over many years.

The report also reflects on the capacity gap faced by UNMISS to assist the GRSS in responding to the crisis:

While UNMISS, as part of its mandate to support the government in protecting civilians, used its resources to the maximum and the actions of both the Mission and the SPLA [Sudanese People’s Liberation Army] contributed to saving lives, it too faced serious constraints to fulfill its mandate obligation in this regard.

As we detailed in a February blog post, the ethnic violence in Jonglei State not only confronted South Sudan’s ability to uphold the first pillar of RtoP – its primary responsibility to protect civilians – but also exposed key challenges for the international community in fulfilling its second-pillar responsibilities of assistance and capacity building:

With the GRSS unable to uphold its responsibility to protect its population without international assistance, UNMISS sought to support national action through preventive deployment, fulfilling RtoP’s second pillar. At the same time, however, UNMISS itself is reeling from a capacity deficit – most importantly, in flight-ready helicopters – which has obstructed the force from effectively carrying out its civilian protection mandate during the recent outbreak of inter-ethnic violence. Thus, although the Security Council established UNMISS in a timely and decisive manner – and with a Chapter VII mandate to protect civilians by “all means necessary” – the force itself has been constrained from providing protection for the South Sudanese population.

Compounding the challenge of upholding pillars one and two has been a lack of accountability for the violence. In a 5 July news release, Coalition-member Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the GRSS to address the issue of impunity, as well as much-needed human rights reforms, ahead of independence celebrations, stating:

“The government has yet to demonstrate that it will respond to the violence appropriately by actually identifying and prosecuting those responsible,” Bekele said. “South Sudan needs justice, in addition to peace efforts, to stem the violence. The absence of justice contributes to the cycles of attacks and counterattacks across the country.”

The International Federation for Human Rights also documented concerns over the human rights situation in South Sudan in a 6 July report published to mark the first anniversary of the country’s independence, which catalogued concerns over violations of women’s rights, infringements of freedom of expression, and illegal arrests and detention.

 RtoP Essential Moving Forward as South Sudan Confronts Challenges

On top of South Sudan’s internal struggle with ethnic violence and human rights, as well as the looming threat of a return to war with their neighbours to the north and a dismal economic situation, Oxfam International has stated the country is, “facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the war in 2005.” The World Food Programme (WFP) has also reported that levels of hunger and malnutrition in South Sudan are higher now than they were one year ago, affecting nearly 4.7 million people. Tied to this is the conflict with Sudan, which, according to the WFP, “continues to produce a flow of refugees and displaced families, who put further strain on an already overstretched food supply system.”

As South Sudan begins its second year as a nation, the path ahead is fraught with an interconnected web of political, economic, and humanitarian challenges that, if left unresolved, would threaten to subvert the dream of a, “peaceful, prosperous, secure and stable South Sudan.” It is critical that lessons learned from the December 2011-February 2012 violence in Jonglei be institutionalized so as to improve the manner in which the GRSS and UNMISS confront any threatened or actual outbreaks of mass atrocity crimes in the future. In this sense, the Responsibility to Protect remains a critical framework for South Sudan and the wider international community as the world’s newest nation struggles with the extraordinary challenges it faces.

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Filed under African Union, Arab League, South Sudan, Sudan, UN

Ceasefire Violations Abound As UN Deploys Monitors in Syria

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously moved to oversee the Syrian ceasefire in two separate resolutions since 14 April, but continued reports of violations by Syrian security forces and attacks by the opposition have called into question the sustainability of the fragile six-point peace plan of joint United Nations-League of Arab States Special Envoy Kofi Annan.

Adopting Resolution 2042 on 14 April, all members of the Council agreed to dispatch an advance team of up to 30 unarmed United Nations monitors to assess whether the Syrian government and the opposition were respecting the ceasefire. And while Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, said his country would “spare no expense” to ensure the success of the Annan plan, violence escalated a day after the Council’s decision was made, with Syrian forces and heavy weaponry remaining in cities across the country. Amnesty International called the passing of the resolution positive, but underwhelming, noting the constant breach of trust by the Syrian government.

By 19 April, with reports of ceasefire violations by the government nearly every day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the Syrian government had failed to adhere to the ceasefire plan, and that, there has been no meaningful progress on the ground.” Attempting to salvage Annan’s peace plan and ensure greater implementation on the ground in Syria, the Secretary-General proposed an expansion of the monitoring mission mandated by Resolution 2042 of up to 300 unarmed monitors, and the establishment of a new mission, the United Nations Support Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

Developments followed quickly at the Security Council, with the 15-member body unanimously endorsing the expansion of the monitoring mission to 300 unarmed observers with Resolution 2043 on 21 April. In an interesting turn of events, it was the Russian delegation – which has twice vetoed Security Council action on Syria (on 4 October 2011 and 4 February 2012), as well as voted against a General Assembly resolution – that circulated the Resolution, which calls for the expeditious deployment of the monitors, unimpeded access for them, cooperation between the UN and Syria to provide for air transportation assets, and the ability of the monitors to communicate with individuals without retaliation against those individuals.

Members of the UN Security Council unanimously approve Resolution 2042 on 14 April. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Reports of government-perpetrated violence in Homs and Damascus continued to emerge immediately after the passing of Resolution 2043, leading UN officials to call for a full cessation of violence and Security Council Members to urge the rapid deployment of more monitors to the country on 24 April.

Ten days after the advanced observer team was mandated by the Council, only 11 monitors were active in the country. Ahmad Fawzi, the spokesperson for Kofi Annan, said on 27 April that the full advance team of 30 monitors would be deployed by Monday, 30 April, but Syrian activists have expressed concerns with the slow deployment process. The mission also faces complications on the ground as a result of Syria’s lack of cooperation and non-compliance. The Syrian government has reportedly refused to allow any monitors that are nationals of any of the countries in the 14-member “Friends of Syria” group, and a government spokesperson also stated on 15 April that it would need to be involved in “all steps on the ground” by UN monitors, raising concerns over the ability of the monitors to have unhindered access in the country.

Recent reports suggest that a game of cat and mouse has ensued in Syria between security forces and the UN monitors, with gunfire and shelling by government security forces occurring immediately after the observers toured cities like Homs and Hama, which have seen some of the most destructive violence by government mortar fire.

On 25 April, Special Envoy Annan called the recent flares of violence “unacceptable and reprehensible”, and confirmed that the Syrian government has still yet to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from major cities and towns. This was echoed by the Secretary-General on 26 April, who expressed his alarm at continued attacks by government forces against civilian populations and demanded Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s President, comply with the ceasefire. A day later, the Secretary-General appointed Norwegian General Robert Mood as head of UNSMIS, who urged for help and cooperation” by all sides to end the violence.

An advanced group of UN monitors tour Homs on 21 April. (UN Photo/Neeraj Singh)

As violence in Syria continues, including devastating explosions in Hama and deadly blasts in Idlib, and hopes falter for the successful implementation of Annan’s peace plan, Western and Arab countries have begun to talk of the need for contingency planning if the Assad government does not cease attacks and withdraw troops and heavy weaponry from cities.

At the Friends of Syria meeting on 19 April, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the imposition of an arms embargo, as well as stricter sanctions against the country to ensure Syrian compliance with Annan’s six-point plan. On 25 April France’s Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, also stressed the need for contingency planning, stating that Paris would be pushing for a Chapter VII resolution at the Council, which could include punitive sanctions against the Assad regime, if Syria did not fully implement the peace plan by May. The Arab League has also stated on 26 April that it will call on the UN Security Council to take “immediate action to protect Syrian civilians” at an upcoming Council meeting, with Nabil el-Araby, the League’s Secretary General, stressing the need to rapidly deploy the full monitoring force to Syria.

Despite the continued violence in the wake of the deployment of UN monitors, some analysts are urging caution in writing off Annan’s plan, especially as the monitoring mission has yet to be deployed in full. Mark Lynch, Associate Professor at George Washington University and author of a blog on the Middle East at Foreign Policy Magazine online, urges against abandoning Annan’s plan in favour of military intervention, stating:

“The painstakingly constructed international consensus in support of diplomacy and pressure should not be abandoned before it has even had a chance. Nobody expects the current diplomatic path to quickly or easily end the conflict in Syria, but military intervention does not offer a compelling alternative…It is highly unlikely that Bashar al-Assad or his regime will voluntarily comply with a ceasefire, and even more unlikely that they will surrender power.  But international diplomacy does not depend on Assad’s good intentions. Instead, it aims to demilitarize the conflict and create the political space for change driven by Syrians disgusted by the destruction of their country.” 

Daniel Serwer, professor at John Hopkins School of Advance International Studies and blogger at peacefare.net, noted, ensuring the 300 monitors are deployed as rapidly as possible will be crucial to success:

“If they are going to have an impact, the observers will need to acquire it after full deployment over a period of weeks, working diligently with both protesters and the regime to ensure disengagement and to gain respect for Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. This they can do, but only by being forthright in their assessments of what is going on, determined in their efforts to go where they want when they want and honest in communicating their observations to both the Syrian and the international press.”

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, George A. Lopez, sees the long-term utility of the monitoring mission, despite the continued violence:

“Assad’s increased bombardment of city areas before the monitors’ arrival has generated cynicism and criticism of this UN effort as irrelevant….But the monitoring presence is not futile. Rather, the monitors’ documentation and related work, especially in making consistent demands of all fighting parties to end particular actions, can decrease the killing. The monitors provide a first, small crack in the previously closed door of Syrian repression.”

The deployment of monitors by international and regional organizations is one of the many tools available to the international community under the third pillar of the Responsibility to Protect framework. If such missions receive the cooperation of the host government of the country in which they are deployed, as well as the requisite capabilities and support from the international community, they can investigate and report on violations, which may effectively deter attacks against civilians in the context of a ceasefire between armed belligerents.

If, however, the threat or commission of mass atrocities in the context of a country-specific situation continues in spite of a deployment of monitors, the third pillar of the RtoP provides for a range of diplomatic, economic, legal, and military measures that national, regional, and international actors can implement to stem such atrocities. Proactively assessing the effectiveness of measures employed to protect civilians, as well as contingency planning in the wake of the failure of such measures, is thus critical in responding to situations of ongoing mass crimes. Such planning does not mean that a particular measure will be written off, or that another will be favoured as a course of action moving forward. Instead, it indicates that the international community is prepared to mobilize the necessary will and resources to effectively respond to massive human rights violations in a flexible, timely manner.

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Filed under Monitoring Mission, Prevention, RtoP, Security Council, Syria, Syria Ceasefire, Third Pillar, Timely and Decisive Action, UN