Tag Archives: UN

#RtoP Weekly: 15 – 17 April

Weekly

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

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

The ICRtoP infographic can be found here.

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

(image via EuroNews)

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What to Watch:

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

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

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

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


But Also Don’t Miss:

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

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

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

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

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


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#RtoP Weekly: 01 – 05 April

Weekly

This week in focus:
Recognizing Genocide Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

Please click here for the infographic.

(Image via the ICC)

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What to Watch:

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

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


But Also Don’t Miss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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#RtoP Weekly: 25 – 29 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
Ethnic tensions climbing in Mali

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

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

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

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

 

(image via AFP)

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What to Watch:

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


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


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


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: UN resolution slams Myanmar over rights violations

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

Cameroon: New Attacks on Civilians By Troops, Separatists

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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#RtoP Weekly: 25 February – 1 March

Weekly

This week in focus:
The crisis in Venezuela

The international community continues to monitor the situation in Venezuela, particularly the humanitarian crisis. Nicholas Maduro’s contested reelection, which many countries in the region and globally have considered undemocratic, has led to increased push-back from political opposition, resulting in Juan Guaido invoking the Venezuelan Constitution and declaring himself the interim-president of the country. Since undertaking his role in the crisis, Guaido has gained the support and recognition from regional neighbors in the Lima Group in addition to the US, Canada, and European nations.

One of the largest issues in the crisis has been its impact on the Venezuelan people, particularly as Maduro has begun closing the country’s borders in order to prevent the delivery of foreign aid. Maduro has claimed that accepting aid is a sign of weakness, and that its distribution would reduce the population to “beggars.” Last week, the situation escalated, with Guaido leaving for Colombia in order to bring aid over the border. Maduro subsequently ordered state forces to prevent aid vehicles from entering Venezuela, and the resulting protests included violence, civilian casualties, and the detainment of over a thousand political protesters.

At the international level, the UN Security Council remains gridlocked, dividing itself among traditional lines, with the United States calling a meeting Tuesday, 26 February and later this week, both Russian and American resolutions defeated in votes at the Council. Regionally, the Lima Group met this week to discuss ways to pressure parties to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

(image © Ivan Valencia/Associated Press)

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What to Watch:

Burma: Rohingya Crisis: UN Investigates its ‘Dysfunctional’ Conduct in Myanmar (The Guardian)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched an investigation into the organization’s own conduct in Burma following accusations it ignored warning signs of escalating violence ahead of the genocide of the Rohingya, failing to take adequate steps to prevent its occurrence. The investigation comes as a result of mounting pressure within the UN to investigate operations in the country, labeled as ‘glaringly dysfunctional’ months before the military began its crackdown in August 2017. The investigation will not be limited to any single individual or agency, but how the UN as a whole responded to the situation.


MENA: Global indifference to human rights violations in MENA fueling atrocities and impunity (Amnesty International)

In its latest report, “Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: A review of 2018,” Amnesty International warned that global indifference to human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is fueling mass atrocity crimes and impunity in the region. The organization believes the lack of accountability and the support of Western allies created a climate where MENA governments feel above the law, and perpetrators of atrocity crimes escape unpunished. Additionally, Amnesty urged all states to stop selling arms to all parties involved in the conflicts in Yemen and Israel, as well as to increase their support for mechanisms aimed at securing justice for victims.


Nigeria: Dozens Dead in Nigeria as Election Results Are Delayed (The New York Times) Peak Social Instability Risk Signals Disputed Buhari Win (Forbes) Nigeria’s Buhari Wins Re-election, Challenger Rejects Vote (Aljazeera)

The Presidential elections in Nigeria have faced delays, violence, and accusations of voter fraud. Violent altercations throughout the country after the vote on Saturday resulted in the deaths of 39 people, and the national electoral commission further delayed the release of results due to logistical issues. Rumors of voter fraud also quickly began to circulate. As a result, the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has leveled accusations of voter fraud declaring the election a “sham,” and promising to contest the results of President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Gaza: Israelis May Have Committed Crimes Against Humanity in Gaza Protests, U.N. Says

The United Nations Human Rights Council has reported evidence of Israeli forces committing crimes against humanity in the Gaza protests, targeting journalists, health workers, children, and people with disabilities.


Sexual and Gender-Based Violence:
UN, ICRC Address Sexual, Gender-Based Violence in Conflict Situations
The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have announced their joint intention to strengthen efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict settings.

Sudan: Darfur peace process at a ‘standstill’ as demonstrations against Sudanese Government continue
Due to the protests against President al-Bashir, peace talks for the Darfur region remain halted.


Syria:
Syria war: Jihadist takeover in rebel-held Idlib sparks alarm

There is increasing concern in Northern Syria over the growth and presence of another jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, whose practices are similar to those of ISIS.

 

Sweden/Iraq: Swedish Court Says Abuses Against ISIS Fighters Still War Crimes

Human Rights Watch has warned that abuses against ISIS fighters are still considered war crimes and in Sweden, courts have convicted a former Iraqi officer for such crimes.


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#R2PWeekly: 18 – 22 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
Human Rights Violations Met with Impunity in South Sudan

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, an investigative mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, issued a report detailing the ongoing human rights violations in the country, including attacks on civilians, widespread rape, and forced displacement. Their survey, which took place after the most recent peace agreement, caused “outrage” among the experts as their findings demonstrated a lack of progress in the agreement’s implementation.

The report noted that sexual violence remains an issue in the country as the number of cases increased at the end of 2018, with roughly one in four cases being committed against girls. Other areas of note include forced recruitment of men and boys, links between good governance and natural resource distribution, as well as general instability impacting internal displacement and vulnerable populations.

Yasmin Sooka, the Commission’s Chairperson, noted that the lack of accountability for perpetrators has been a persistent problem. The establishment of inclusive transitional justice mechanisms, such as a Hybrid Court, a Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing, and a Compensation and Reparation Authority, are necessary in order to build sustainable peace and end impunity. Moreover, provisions for such mechanisms were adopted in the most recent accord as well as the 2015 Peace Agreement. 

The Commission called upon State actors, armed groups, and all parties to cease all violence and respect the peace agreement that stakeholders signed just five months ago.


What to Watch:

Burma: The Rohingya Crisis: What to Watch for in 2019 (Refugees International)
Refugee Affairs experts noted several particular areas of concern for Rohingya refugees in the coming year. The question of repatriation to Myanmar remains in focus, as the international community agrees the conditions of safe return do not exist as the Rohingya population continues to face persecution and a lack of equal protection under the law. This is compounded by a lack of established accountability mechanisms, resulting in systematic discrimination. Impunity for the crimes committed by the Burmese military at the national and international levels continues in spite of ICC and US State Department investigations for crimes against humanity and genocide.

European Union: Human rights: Council adopts conclusions on EU priorities in UN human rights fora in 2019 (Council of the European Union)
In its conclusions on EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora for 2019, the Council of the European Union stated its commitment to the promotion of the Responsibility to Protect principle in its external actions, including missions and actions on the ground. The Council also reasserted its support for the documentation of widespread and gross violations of international human rights law, which may amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Nigeria: 48 Hrs to Polls, PMB, Atiku Sign Final Peace Accord (Leadership)
In spite of the agreement signed between President Buhari and his opponent, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to respect the outcome of the election, tensions continue to escalate, which has raised the concerns of many in the international community. On Wednesday, 20 February, Buhari ordered State forces “to be ruthless” in addressing ballot box interference, while the opposition accused the President of attempting to rig the vote, and called his decision to delay the election “anti-democratic.”


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: Myanmar Army Chief Denies Systematic Persecution of Rohingya 
Burma’s army chief denied accusations of genocide, calling them an insult to the country’s honor.

Iraq: Is the Future of Isis Female?
Women are playing an increasingly important role within ISIS since its shift from a strict gender hierarchy to allowing female participation in military roles, creating new security concerns and complicating Iraqi security forces’ responses.

Venezuela: Venezuela Closes Key Maritime, Air Borders with Neighbors Amid Growing Aid Crisis
The Venezuelan government shut down its northern maritime border and grounded flights in an attempt to block humanitarian aid from entering the country.

Yemen: Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Yemen country team released its 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview, reiterating the severe needs of the Yemeni population as a result of the conflict, economic decline, and famine-like conditions.

Children in Armed Conflict: Stop the War on Children: Protecting Children in 21st Century Conflict
Save the Children has found that almost one in five children live in areas affected by armed conflict. Its new report shows that grave human rights violations and war crimes against children have almost tripled since 2010. The report also offers recommendations for child protection in conflict.


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#R2PWeekly: 11 – 15 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
Accountability for Syria: Germany arrests two Syrians accused of torture under Assad regime

This week Germany arrested two former Syrian intelligence officers, who are suspected of carrying out acts of torture on detainees under the Assad regime. The men allegedly worked at the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) prison, where up to 2,000 detainees are claimed to have been tortured between 2011 and 2012. These acts may amount to crimes against humanity and would be the first case to examine the accountability of senior members of the regime, their authority, involvement, and compliance in the commission of atrocity crimes.

Germany, as well as several other European countries, are investigating dozens of other former officials under “universal jurisdiction,” a legal principle that allows foreign courts to try individuals regardless of where the alleged crimes were committed, their nationality, or relationship to the State or prosecuting entity if they are suspected of committing atrocity crimes. This is a significant step in ending impunity for actions in the Syrian Civil War and would likely spur cases in countries throughout the globe to examine the accountability of Syrian officials for their actions that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as torture, forced disappearances, and targeting of civilians and humanitarian actors.


What to Watch:

 Cameroon: Hospital Attack; Medical Staff, Patients Flee (Voice of America)
A hospital in Kumba, Cameroon, was burned down by an armed group, causing patients and staff to flee. The government blamed the attack on Anglophone separatists. Local papers claim the separatists attacked due to the hospital’s treatment of government soldiers and disclosure of militia members’ identities, though separatists describe it as a ploy by the government to discredit them. The Cameroon Medical Council released a statement denying the accusations and reaffirmed its commitment to neutrality in the conflict.

Cameroon: Cameroon’s main opposition leader charged with rebellion – lawyer (Reuters)
Maurice Kamto, a prominent opposition member, has been charged in military court with rebellion and seven other charges including, “hostility against the homeland, incitement to insurrection, offence against the president of the republic,” among others. In October, Kamto lost the Presidential Election, which he described as fraudulent, and held a demonstration with supporters in protest, which ended with violence by state forces. Along with the return of instability in the Anglophone regions, there are fears Kamto’s trial and its outcome may spark further violence.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: The Rohingya Diaspora Is Crucial to Achieving Justice in Myanmar 
In this Op-Ed, it is argued that the Rohingya diaspora has a vital role to play in pushing the international community to achieve justice and accountability in Burma.

Guatemala: Opinion: Guatemala Must Not Grant Amnesty To War Criminals
A bill before the country’s Congress would free military officials convicted and waiting trial for crimes against humanity, in addition to prohibiting further investigations.

Mali: How international court may give Mali’s women a second chance at justice
An International Criminal Court case on forced marriages in Mali may allow women to seek justice for gender-based crimes and violence through the Court.

South Sudan: South Sudan: The Human Rights Council should fully renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan
In a joint-statement, several prominent NGOs, including coalition member Human Rights Watch, called upon the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to renew its mandate during the 40th session of the UN Human Right Council.

Turkey: Turkey calls on China to end mass detention of Uighur Muslims
Turkey joined others in the international community in condemning China for its mass repression and detention of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.


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#R2PWeekly: 2 – 8 February 2019

Weekly

This week in focus:
UN Community Engagement Guidelines Survey

In his last report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for increased engagement with civil society and local communities. In this vein, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) developed system-wide Community-Engagement Guidelines (CEG) this past September in consultation with civil society partners in peacebuilding, particularly at the country-level. As a first step to create comprehensive guidance on multilateral collaboration in building and sustaining peace, the PBSO has launched an online survey to provide feedback. The ICRtoP invites and encourages all its interested civil society partners to complete the survey, which should take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time. Your voices will impact the development of comprehensive practical and useful suggestions for UN engagement within local communities.

To complete the survey, please click here. We encourage you to share it widely within your networks. The deadline for submission is Friday, 15 February.


What to Watch:

Central African Republic (CAR): Q&A: Why new peace talks on CAR really matter (IRIN News)
Najat Rochdi, head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) operation in CAR gave an interview with IRIN news on the importance of inclusive dialogue as the country seeks to end its six-year internal conflict. She sees dialogue and transparency as key elements in the peace process, remaining optimistic that there is a political will behind these negotiations that will keep parties motivated and accountable to its realization. In spite of this, Rochdi warned that CAR continues to remain in a fragile humanitarian state, with nearly two-thirds of the population in need of some sort of assistance, and that a return to sectarian violence would continue pushing the country towards a state of famine.

Mali: Strengthening resilience in Mali (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
The ongoing crisis in Mali has caused tension between communities over scarce resources as food insecurity continues. To prevent a further decline of the situation, the FAO and its partners have teamed up with the Malian government to support a community resilience initiative. The program aims to teach technical, financial, and social skills necessary for communities to become self-sufficient. Some examples include providing families with animals to restore households’ access to income and a nutrition education program to assist in diversifying diets. Additionally, the project supports the Village Savings and Loan Associations to allow women to access income and improve financial literacy. By implementing these development measures, among others, the initiative to strengthen social cohesion and community resilience follow broader UN-system work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

MENA: ISIS regrouping in Iraq, Pentagon report says (NBCNews)
Pentagon report concluded the Islamic State is quickly regrouping in Iraq. In the wake of American withdrawal from Syria, the Pentagon warns that ISIL could regain territory in six to twelve months in absence of, “sustained military pressure.” The report also found that such a resurgence would occur if socioeconomic, political, sectarian grievances were not addressed properly by national and local governments in areas where the group previously operated.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Cote d’Ivoire: Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo released to Belgium
After being acquitted by the International Criminal Court, former Cote d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo was released to Belgium on the condition that he will return in the event of an appeal by the prosecution.

Iraq: Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Detained Children
Human Rights Watch reports that the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess their alleged involvement with ISIS.

Nigeria: North-east Nigeria displacement crisis continues amid ‘increased sophistication’ of attackers,
The UN reports Boko Haram attacks have destroyed humanitarian hubs, causing further internal displacement.

Yemen: UAE recklessly supplying militias with windfall of Western arms
An Amnesty International investigation has concluded that the United Arab Emirates is supplying Western arms to militia groups in Yemen who operate with little oversight and may have committed war crimes


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#R2PWeekly: 28 January – 1 February 2019


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This week in focus:
CSOs Meet with New UN Special Adviser on RtoP

On 20 December, 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of his new UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms. Karen Smith, of South Africa. Ms. Smith has spent the first few weeks in her new role in New York, and graciously accepted an invitation from the ICRtoP to meet at an informal meeting with our New York-based civil society members and partners. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue such important discussions around RtoP and its implementation with the newly appointed Special Adviser, standing ready to serve as a partner in the advancement of the norm to better protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

The ICRtoP Secretariat will continue to work hard in this aim in 2019 and is looking forward to further engagement with global stakeholders across all levels and increased partnerships with the members of our Coalition.

Please find the ICRtoP’s statement on the appointment of Ms. Smith here.

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What to Watch:

Mali: How Mali Is Pursuing Justice for a War That Never Really Ended (World Politics Review)
Though violence and insecurity continue to plague Mali, the nation is taking steps to pursue justice. Backed by the UN, the government has initiated a wide variety of initiatives including disarmament, establishing a truth commission, and beginning criminal trials. President Keïta called for a partial amnesty bill to help resolve issues, but impunity may prevent full reconciliation and achieving sustainable peace.

Venezuela: Guaido calls for more protests as Maduro displays military might (Al-Jazeera)
The political situation in Venezuela remains uncertain with President Maduro and self-proclaimed interim President Guido both vie for legitimacy at home and abroad. Concerns over military deployment, humanitarian assistance, as well as debates of sovereignty remain of top concern in the international community.


But Also Don’t Miss:

Burma: End of mission statement by the Special Rapporteur
UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee delivers her findings on the poor state of human rights in Burma.

Cameroon: Cameroon: Opposition Forces Arrested: Violent Crackdown on Leaders
State forces have arrested several prominent opposition leaders over the past week, where in what is seen as an attempt to silence those challenging the government.

Cote d’Ivoire: A Shrinking Window for Justice in Cote d’Ivoire
Human Rights Watch sees diminishing opportunities for the International Criminal Court and Cote d’Ivoire to hold perpetrators accountable for rights violations committed.

Sudan: Sudanese government releases 186 protesters
The Sudanese government released detainees arrested during the protests, this does not include opposition leaders and activists, however.

Zimbabwe: Daylight beatings instill public fear in ‘lawless’ country
Violent crackdowns by police and military forces against civilian protesters continue.


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RtoP Weekly: 10 – 14 September 2018

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This week in focus: The RtoP Weekly Reboot

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

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


What to Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


But Also Don’t Miss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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#RtoP Weekly: 30 July – 3 August 2018

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 Coalition Member Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) Releases Report on Attacks in Southern Syria 

ICRtoP member, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), has published a report documenting the attacks occurring in southern Syria allegedly carried out by the Russian-Syrian alliance, as well as Islamic State (ISIL) forces from mid-June to 30 July 2018. The SNHR gathered and compiled photos and videos from internet sources as well as information directly from local activists in order to analyze the extent and gravity of the attacks. The report asserts that the US’ failure to intervene is an abandonment of its bilateral ceasefire agreement with Russia to maintain stability in the region.

The report calls on the international community to act on its Responsibility to Protect as long as the UN Security Council remains divided and unable to act in a timely and appropriate manner. In addition to applying pressure on the UNSC, the SNHR hopes that justice and accountability remain at the forefront of the Syrian response, by holding the Syrian government responsible for its actions, urging for the referral of the Syrian Civil War to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and for UN agencies to continue documenting human rights violations, crimes against humanity, and open commissions of inquiry and investigations.


Catch up on developments in…
Burma/Myanmar
CAR 
DRC
Gaza/West Bank
Iraq
Libya 
Mali

Nigeria
Philippines
South Sudan
Syria
Venezuela
Yemen
Other


Burma/Myanmar:

The IOM, 19,000 refugees, and local workers built 1,150 shelters for Rohingya people, as part of a quick response plan to improve the living conditions of the Rohingya refugees living at risk in Bangladesh during monsoon season.

On 25 July, the Indian Government commissioned a project to compile a list of biometric data of Rohingya refugees who fled to India from Burma to deport them “if necessary.” Rajnath Singh, Minister of the Interior, stated that the report will be given to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so deportation negotiations with Bangladesh and Burma can begin if necessary. India sees many of the Rohingya as immigrating illegally, but the possibility of forced return to unsafe conditions is of concern under the RtoP norm and refugee law.

The Burmese Government announced on 30 July it would establish a four-person commission to investigate human rights abuses committed against the Rohingya community in the Rakhine State as a reaction to the growing international calls for accountability over accusations of ethnic cleansing. The Independent Commission is formed by two local and two international members and it is considered part of Burma’s national roadmap to “address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine”


Central African Republic:

The UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), announced 118 incidents against humanitarian workers in CAR in the second quarter of 2018, a sharp increase from the first quarter of this year. Aid organizations are being forced to reduce service delivery for already vulnerable people, and the instability continues to place CAR at the top of the list for most dangerous countries for humanitarians.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) condemned the attacks occurring against civilians and peacekeepers in Pombolo, southeastern CAR, during the month of July. These human rights violations were largely committed by members of the armed group Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) or local anti-Balaka forces. MINUSCA identified over 250 perpetrators to date, and pledges to continue working to restore security in the area.


Democratic Republic of Congo:

In a UNSC Briefing on 26 July, MONUSCO Head, Leila Zerrougui, told members that the right conditions for a free and fair Presidential election in the DRC did not yet exist. Human rights violations against protesters, opposition, and media continue to curb freedom of speech and assembly rights, in addition to arbitrary detention. In provincial elections, women only comprise 12% of candidates, and the electoral commission has yet to respond to MONUSCO’s offer to provide logistical support for the election.

Jean Pierre Bemba arrived back in the DRC for the first time in 11 years on 1 August in order to submit his candidacy for the December Presidential elections. His candidacy continues to raise questions regarding the security and credibility of the elections.


Gaza / West Bank:

Al Jazeera reported on 29 July that job cuts in the Gaza Strip office of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), partly attributed to US aid cuts to Palestinians, is a “massacre for employees.” 113 employees lost their jobs this week, and reports say that 1,000 contracts will not be renewed from December. Protests against the cuts are ongoing, with staff members noting that there is little sense in letting go of the crucial workers helping “tens of thousands of refugees in the Gaza strip.” Fears over the reduction in aid workers persist; unemployment in the Gaza strip is already at 44%.

The Daily Star reported on 30 July that a Norwegian-affiliated activist boat which attempted to breach the 11-year-long blockade on Gaza but was intercepted by the Israeli navy. The ship carried personnel and medical supplies, like many other activist groups attempts to breach the blockade with humanitarian relief for Palestinians.

Only three days after Tareq Baconi of the European Council on Foreign Relations released an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that the only way to prevent the currently looming war in Gaza is for Israel to “loosen the chokehold” on the Gaza strip and prioritize “core political drivers,” Israel has blocked entry of fuel supplies into Gaza. The move is in retaliation for the continuing use of incendiary kites by Hamas causing at least 19 fires on Wednesday, Israel reported. The Gaza Strip’s two million residents will continue to suffer from a lack of power and essential services.


Iraq:

In further post-election political fall-out, authorities charged five more election officials with corruption on 28 July, Reuters reported. Officials running election offices in both Jordan and Turkey were also fired. The May election result is not yet confirmed as ballot recounts are still underway, and  protests calling for improved government services and access to electricity, water, and jobs continue across the country.

The UN Refugee agency released new figures showing that since 2014 around 2.14 million Iraqis have been displaced in attempts to flee ISIS-related violence. Many homes have been destroyed and internally displaced persons have nowhere to return to from the camps they currently live in, Al Jazeera reported on 29 July.

On 31 July coalition member, Human Rights Watch, expressed its concern that torture allegations made against security forces in Iraq are not adequately investigated. Concern is mounting as numerous alleged ISIS members are detained and tortured into giving confessions because authorities want to “achieve convictions” to reaffirm the strong message of the group’s defeat in the country. While there is the legal infrastructure within the justice system to investigate such claims, judges and lawyers interviewed by HRW noted that it is scarcely used.


Libya:

Spanish charity ProActiva Open Arms claims that an Italian towboat rescued and returned over 108 migrants back to Libya on Monday, 30 July. If confirmed by the UN, such a return would be a violation of international law.

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded that 1,504 people have died in attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea and reach Europe 2018 to date. This marks the fifth consecutive year where over 1,500 people have died attempting the crossing.


Mali:

NGO Acción contra el Hambre reported on 26 July a new outbreak of violence amongst the Tuareg community in northern Mali. These clashes threaten to exacerbate the food crisis already present in the country and to increase the number of displaced people.

Over 300 people have been killed so far this year in the Mopti region as a result of the increase in ethnic violence. As a result, many members of the Fulani community have been forced to move to Bamako’s outskirts. Jihadists groups are using the conflict and ethnic tensions to recruit members for their cause.

In a telephone interview on 27 July, the head of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Sahel region told said that direct humanitarian assistance provided by international forces makes it riskier for aid organizations to carry out their work, as it makes it more difficult to distinguish armed forces from humanitarians. She also explained how Doctors Without Borders is negotiating with international actors to convince them to contribute to the construction of infrastructures or provide assistance in areas where their NGO does not work instead of implementing direct humanitarian assistance activities.

Several violent incidents occurred during Malian elections, despite President Keita deploying 30,000 security personnel throughout the country. Violence disrupted and even halted voting in some villages, with 105 polling stations closed because of security concerns. Approximately 4,000 others were affected in some way by violence. Results are still unknown, but voter turnout is expected to be low.

On 31 July, the French Ministry of Defense reaffirmed the success of its stabilizing operation “Barkhane,” which neutralized over 230 suspected jihadist terrorists in the Sahel last year.


Nigeria:

Eight people were killed and seven injured on 23 July in a suicide attack on a mosque in the Borno region, historically known as the birthplace of the extremist group Boko Haram. However, no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. This incident is the last of a series of attacks to mosques that have been occurring in recent months.

The International Crisis Group reported on 26 July that the conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria is more lethal than Boko Haram in 2018 thus far. The pastoral conflict has become Nigeria’s severest security challenge with 1,300 deaths, and displaced hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, strengthening ethnic, regional, and religious polarization.

On 29 July, the President Buhari ordered the deployment of aircraft and 1,000 troops to combat banditry in Zamfara State, which has resulted in the killing and kidnapping of hundreds in the region.


Philippines:

On 27 July, UNSG Guterres welcomed Duterte’s new legislation which grants more autonomy to Muslim communities in the Southern Philippines. SG Guterres congratulated negotiators, the Government of the Philippines, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for their work, and describes the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as a “landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace”. The legislation institutionalized terms of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, which the the government and MILF signed in 2014.

11 people died on 31 July when a car bomb exploded in the city of Lamitan. The Philippine government condemned the terrorist attack, calling it a “war crime.” The Islamic State group has claimed credit for the attack.


South Sudan:

On 2 September, members of Nepal’s peacekeeping operations in South Sudan were accused of allegedly raping two teenage girls. UNSG Guterres’ office responded, announcing they would send in investigators as the SG has pledged to take a harder line in responding to misconduct among UN forces against members of the populations they are supposed to be protecting.


Syria:

A Kurdish-Arab alliance supported by the US is willing to negotiate with Assad’s government in the hope of working towards a “democratic, decentralized Syria.” Faced with a choice between further fighting or negotiations over the fate of the northeastern region of Syria in which they function, the alliance hopes to build a “decentralized” state working “alongside the Syrian government,” Al Jazeera reported on 28 July.

Arab News reported on 30 July that recent attacks on the Sweida province by Daesh fighters left over 200 dead and 36 women and children kidnapped since last Wednesday. At least two of those kidnapped have since died. Syrian military planes conducted airstrikes on Monday in the Sweida area against the group. Daesh holds small areas of territory in the Syrian desert in both Sweida and Daraa.

According to the Guardian, Syrian government forces took control of Daraa province, previously under ISIS control, on 31 July. Members of the White Helmets that were not evacuated last week are still appealing to be rescued, fearing the progressing government military.


Venezuela:

On 31 July, Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, tweeted: “The crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorship in Venezuela will not go unpunished”. Also, he reminded the international community of its commitment to enforce freedom and justice in the country.


Yemen:

On 2 August CNN released rare drone footage taken from the capital city, Sanaa, which exhibits the destruction caused by years of siege and airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. Human Rights Watch alleges that the coalition has conducted 85 illegal airstrikes in the area.

Save the Children estimates that over 6,000 residents of the port city, Hodeidah, flee “every single day” and are in “extreme danger.” Half of those fleeing are children, with their escape involving encountering “minefields, airstrikes and being forced to cross areas of active fighting.” The UN continues to hold talks between the warring parties – the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition – over the fate of the city, but Save the Children representatives describe the city as a “ghost town” with extensive destruction already clear to see. 22.2 million out of the country’s total 27.4 million (80%) of civilians require humanitarian assistance, representing a 15% increase on last year’s figures.


Other:

In an initiative lead by Rwanda, the US, and the Netherlands, 32 countries urged UNSG Antonio Guterres to take administrative actions when UN Peacekeepers violate the Kigali Principles of civilian protection. The signing states also pledged to ensure that the troops they provide peacekeeping missions take more proactive measures in mitigating potential threats to civilian safety.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al-Hussein, announced that the OHCHR would investigate the reports of human rights violations and escalating violence against the Anglophone community in Cameroon. Although violence has occurred on both sides, the Anglophone community alleges economic and political discrimination in government policies and tens of thousands have fled to neighboring countries.

Following the 30 July elections, violence once again fell upon Zimbabwe, in what many hoped to be a peaceful event. The government deployed forces against unarmed and peaceful protesters in its capital, Harare, which turned violent. Prior to the official Presidential Election results, ZANU-PF, the party of former President Robert Mugabe and his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, had secured the necessary two-thirds vote to amend the country’s constitution in the parliamentary election. Following the instability and violence, Amnesty International called for an investigation into the army’s role and conduct against protesters.

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