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1 December 2010
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I. Country news and updates

Post Election Ethnic Violence
Calls for Prisoner Release in Myanmar
Impact of Sudan Referenda on Darfur
Election violence in Cote D’Ivoire
NGOs call for Obama to take action on LRA
NGOs commemorate 2009 Maguindanao Massacre
   
II.International Symposium on Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Remarks by Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, 15 November 2010
 
6-7 December 2010—EastWest Institute and partner organizations – Global Conference on Preventive Action at the EU parliament   

I. Country news and updates
 
1. International Crisis Group – Conflict Risk Alert: Guinea
2. Amnesty International – Guinean authorities must stop arbitrary arrests and killings
3. African Feminist Forum – Petition to the president of the Transition, President of the Republic of Guinea
 
On 15 November, the Guinean electoral Commission declared Malinke opposition leader Alpha Conde as the provisional leader of Guinea after winning the presidential elections by 52% over his opponent of the Peul ethnic group, former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo. The announcement, which has yet to be confirmed by the Supreme Court, was followed by renewed tension and clashes between the Malinka and Peul ethnic groups throughout the country. On 19 November the OHCHR announced that at least 4 people had been killed and 300 wounded by heavily armed security forces. After the declaration of a nation-wide state of emergency, security forces clashed with Diallo’s supporters during street protests, while private property was destroyed and businesses burnt down.
 
On 18 November, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit briefed the UN Security Council on the situation, leading the Council to “appeal to all parties to follow the existing legal procedure to resolve their differences peacefully”. In addition, International Criminal Court Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda declared that the Court was closely monitoring the unfolding violence and called on Guinea Security Forces to “refrain from any excessive use of force against the civilian population”.  
 
Please see the following analysis and calls from civil society, warning of the deteriorating situation and calling on the 
national government and the international community to protect civilians from further clashes and hold the military accountable.
 
1. Conflict Risk Alert: Guinea
International Crisis Group
18 November 2010
 
Guinea’s political and military leaders and the international community must take urgent measures to halt widespread attacks against defenceless civilians and to prevent political tensions from degenerating into large-scale ethnic violence and regional instability.
 
Following the announcement of presidential election results on 15 November, handing Alpha Condé victory over his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the country has descended into violence, with two days of clashes in the streets of the capital, Conakry, and elsewhere (…)
 
(…) The election campaign had witnessed sporadic violence, but the situation has now deteriorated further. The active participation of the military -- beating, molesting and shooting defenceless civilians and destroying their property -- has changed the dynamics of the violence (…)
 
(…) If Guinea’s security and defence forces do not enforce greater discipline in their ranks, the country could quickly descend into further chaos. The possibility that the violence could feed into broader ethnic tensions within the army cannot be ruled out (…)
 
(…) The following steps are needed urgently:
 
The Interim President and the Prime Minister should ensure discipline among the armed forces. General Konaté should immediately order them to stop attacking civilians; military commanders should be held accountable if they fail to restrain their troops.
 
The United Nations Security Council should send a clear message that the current military leadership will be investigated for any crimes committed against civilians while executing orders.
 
The International Criminal Court should issue a statement reminding Guinean authorities of their obligations to protect civilians and avoid gross human rights abuses in the country.
 
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Conakry should support the establishment of monitoring mechanisms on the ground to assess the level of violence and human rights abuses.
 
Both Alpha Condé and Cellou Dalein Diallo should continue to work towards diffusing tensions and address the ethnic polarisation seen during the second round of polls.
 
Read full article
 
2. Guinean Authorities must stop arbitrary arrests and killings
Amnesty International
18 November 2010
 
(…) The Guinean authorities declared a state of emergency on 17 November, three days after the Independent Electoral National Commission proclaimed Alpha Condé as the winner of the poll. As part of the state of emergency, a curfew has been imposed and the security forces have been granted extra powers. "Unless the Guinean authorities put an immediate stop to the unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force by its military and police, there is a risk that the country will be plunged into a situation which could give rise to further, serious, human rights abuses," said Gaetan Mootoo, researcher at Amnesty International (…)
 
(…) Several witnesses have told Amnesty International that the security forces, including members of the military, used their firearms against unarmed demonstrators, including minors. Doctors told Amnesty International that the dead bodies they examined showed that "people had been hit in the head, the abdomen, the thorax and the back of the head" showing that security forces sought to kill rather than simply disperse demonstrators (…)
 
(…) "The Guinean authorities must issue strict orders to the security forces to ensure that the human rights of all those who have been arrested are respected," Gaetan Mootoo said.
 
"Under international law, certain fundamental rights cannot be suspended and must always be respected, whether or not a state of emergency has been declared including the right to life and freedom from torture."
 
Read full article
 
3. Petition to the president of the Transition, President of the Republic of Guinea
African Feminist Forum
24 October 2010
 
For urgent action in favor of the respect of women’s rights, and maintaining peace and security before, during and after the presidential elections in the republic of Guinea.
 
In view of the painful events which occurred at the Stadium of 28 Septembre in the capital city of Conakry in 2009 that included the killings and rape of Guinean citizens, and those recent ones which occurred during electoral campaign and during the proclamation of the results of the first run of the presidential elections held on June 27th 2010,
 
Human rights, and more specifically women’s rights, should no longer be a mere fact of society, to be relegated to first or second class depending upon current crises, nor should they be put at risk during electoral process during which many public events are organized country wide
 
Reaffirming our belief that the State is the first guarantor of protecting women’s rights and all citizens in general
 
In view that the President of the transitional government, Interim President of the Republic of Guinea and its transitional government, since the agreements of January 2010 in Ouagadougou, applied all their efforts to assure a peaceful transition;
 
We, women participants at the 3rd African Feminist Forum in Dakar from October 20-24 2010, having observed a recent resurgence of violence and violations committed against women, in particular physical and sexual violence are calling for: 
 
1. Respect of rule of law 
2. Adherence to democratic principles and practices 
3. End of culture of impunity for politically motivated violence, especially physical and  sexual violence 
4. Persecution of perpetrators of rape and sexual assault 
5. Restoration of legal mechanisms and independent justice  
 
Read the Petition in French
 
Suu Kyi and UN Chief make call for Prisoner Release
Agence France-Presse
19 November 2010
 
Acclaimed by many voices in the international community, human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released on 13 November after being repeatedly placed under house arrest since June 1989. On 27 November Vijay Nambiar, UN SG special envoy to Myanmar/Burma, was able to meet with the pro-democracy leader. Since her sentence ended, Suu Kyi has addressed the media and the public several times in an attempt to raise hope of better governance among the civilian population and called for reconciliation and for the release of political prisoners.
 
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar on Thursday while a UN committee condemned human rights in Myanmar despite Chinese opposition.
 
China also vociferously defended the Myanmar junta in UN Security Council consultations held to discuss the release of Suu Kyi and the much criticized national election held on November 7 (…)
 
(…) Forty-six nations -- European countries, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand -- presented a resolution in the UN General Assembly's main human rights committee which expressed "gravest concern" at Myanmar's rights record and saying the November 7 election was not "free and fair".
 
The resolution, which highlighted political prisoners, the use of torture and inhuman treatment, child soldiers and attacks on civilians, was backed by 96 nations and opposed by 28 with 60 abstaining (…)
 
(…) Suu Kyi expressed support for a visit by the secretary general's special advisor on Myanmar "and her desire to engage with him for pushing ahead in addressing the challenges facing the people of Myanmar," the UN statement said.
 
(…) Ban visited Myanmar last year but was not allowed to see Suu Kyi, who was released from almost two decades of detention and house arrest on Saturday.
 
Ban told Suu Kyi "he was encouraged by the spirit of reconciliation emanating from her statements and appeals for dialogue and compromise following her release."
 
The UN leader reiterated the United Nations commitment "to uphold the cause of human rights and support all efforts by the government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other stakeholders to build a united, peaceful, democratic and modern future for their country."
 
Read full story
 
Why a free Southern Sudan is Bad News for Darfur
Foreign Policy
Maggie Fick
24 November 2010
 
For all intents and purposes, it looked like an act of war. Just over two months before Southern Sudan votes whether to secede, on Nov. 12, the central government in Khartoum flew two Antonov aircraft over the contested north-south border and began an aerial bombardment campaign. The bombs landed in disputed territory occupied by the Southern army, marking the first overt provocation since the 2005 Sudanese peace agreement. With an unidentified number of Southern Sudanese soldiers killed, this looked like the start of a new phase of the decades-old conflict between north and south -- a looming war that many in the international community dread.
 
Just a day after the attack, however, both north and south seemed willing to write off the attack as an accident, an unexpectedly hopeful sign. Unfortunately, though, the bombing has more to do with the fact that Sudan's north is once again taking the fight to Darfuri rebels, the latest chapter in one of the ugliest and most lopsided conflicts the world has seen (…)
 
(…) The bombardment of Sudan's militarized borderlands certainly looked like a show of force by Khartoum, a sign to the south of what might await should it incur the north's wrath. This is something Southern diplomats surely won't forget in the negotiations that are bound to follow the referendum (…)
 
(…) Meanwhile, the message from the United States is that getting to January's referendum is the only thing that matters. Sen. John Kerry's recent visit to Khartoum underlined this point. He offered to take the government off the state sponsors of terrorism list on the sole condition that north Sudan cooperate with the referendum vote, instead of making it conditional on cooperation in Darfur as it has been in the past.

So it's perhaps no surprise that the real impact of the airstrikes has less to do with north and south and far more to do with the other Sudanese conflict (…)
 
(…) When it comes to Darfur, Khartoum has less reason to behave than it does vis-à-vis the south. Kerry's message has the effect of essentially decoupling north-south issues from Darfur in U.S. diplomatic brokering with the central government. That's good news for Khartoum, and terrible news for the people of Darfur. Although Human Rights Watch reports that "Sudanese government forces have carried out a series of attacks on civilians since August 2010" in central Sudan, including past airstrikes, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is giving a subtle green light for Khartoum to wage war in Darfur as long as it allows the Southern referendum to occur.  
Unfortunately, it makes sense that Khartoum would escalate in one region while settling with another. Indeed, this has been its strategy for decades. Successive regimes in Khartoum have managed to function and even thrive by exploiting Sudan's vast peripheral regions, using proxy groups like the Arab janjaweed to fight their war against the south (…)
 
(…) In the short term, we can expect more provocations, veiled threats, and tense moments like last the Nov. 12 bombardment, perhaps with less peaceful conclusions. In the long term, if Khartoum continues to exploit the world's distraction during the referendum to continue its quiet war in Darfur, there could be some ugly consequences come January -- not just for Darfur, but for the whole country.
 
 
Four weeks after a peaceful first round, Ivory Coast presidential election on Sunday sparked acts of violence, including 3 deaths on Saturday and two more on Sunday. Additional UN troops from Liberia have been sent to reinforce security and prevent the rise of ethnic clashes, and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo imposed a curfew on 27 November. Meanwhile, his opponent Alassane Ouattara called the curfew unconstitutional and rallied his supporters to disregard the order. As the results have not been released yet, ECOWAS urged both candidates to respect the election’s outcome.
 
Ivory Coast: Violence stokes ethnic tensions before historic presidential vote
Associated Press
Marco Chown Oved
26 November 2010
 
As Ivory Coast prepares to complete its first presidential poll in a decade, the two candidates in Sunday's runoff called for an end to the violence that has marked recent campaigning.
Multiple clashes between the candidates' supporters in the last week have caused at least two deaths in a key battleground in the center of the country, stoking ethnic tensions right before a vote that could bring a peaceful closure to the world's largest cocoa producer's enduring crisis, or plunge it back into ethnic violence.
 
Interior Ministry Official Auguste Zoguehi said a man was killed in clashes in Oume, in the center of the country, on Friday. The previous night, Zoguehi had announced on state television that one man was stabbed to death by rival supporters in nearby Bayota.
 
That announcement came just minutes before President Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara participated in one of the first live televised candidates' debates in African history.
 
Though both men called for calm, they each accused the other of involvement in political violence over the last ten years of conflict. Ouattara said that Gbagbo collaborated with the military putsch in 1999, while Gbagbo said Ouattara had a hand in a failed coup in 2002, which divided the country in two and led to an 8-year political standoff.
 
During the debate, Gbagbo announced a nationwide curfew at 10 p.m. the night of the vote to prevent any  interference in vote counting, a decision his opponent said would only further heighten suspicions over the vote.
 
International observers say they fear large-scale violence if the loser refuses to accept the results. (…)
 
 
President Obama: Rapid Action needed on Central Africa Violence
Human Rights Watch, Global Centre for RtoP, Enough Project, Genocide Network, Invisible children, Refugees International, Resolve
22 November 2010
 
President Barack Obama should move swiftly to implement a strategy released on November 24, 2010, to stop atrocities committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and help affected communities rebuild, a coalition of seven human rights groups said today. The rebel group has carried out one of the world's longest-running and most brutal insurgencies.
"President Obama's team has done an admirable job in formulating a strategy and demonstrating commitment to address the LRA scourge, but the challenge now is to turn this piece of paper into improvements on the ground," said Paul Ronan, Director of Advocacy at Resolve (…)
 
(…) LRA violence has plagued central Africa for more than two decades, and is on the increase. During the last two years the LRA has killed at least 2,300 people and abducted over 3,000 more, including many children. Another 400,000 civilians have fled the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), southern Sudan, and Central African Republic. Over that period of time, the LRA has killed and abducted more civilians than any other armed group in the DRC. In 2010 alone, LRA rebels have committed more than 240 deadly attacks.
 
(…) The Obama administration strategy outlines four primary goals for US engagement with the crisis, including stopping LRA leaders, protecting civilians from LRA attacks, encouraging escape and defection from the LRA, and providing humanitarian assistance to affected communities. It emphasizes an interagency approach and coordination with multilateral and regional partners, and raises the possibility of designating additional personnel within the administration to carry out the strategy (…)
 
(…) "The LRA attacks are a huge threat to civilians and to regional peace and stability," said Monica Serrano, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. "The international response has been woefully inadequate. The new US strategy is a chance to bring countries together to end the LRA's brutal reign, putting the protection of civilians at the heart of the effort."
 
The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was the most widely supported, Africa-specific legislation in recent US Congressional history. The law was cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 65 Senators and 201 Representatives, representing 49 states. Tens of thousands of Americans, including many young people, mobilized to support the legislation.
 
The following seven organizations have signed on to this press release:
  • Enough Project
  • Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur
  • Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Invisible Children
  • Refugees International
  • Resolve
Read full press release
 
Statement on the First Year Anniversary of the Ampatua Massacre
Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy – PCID
22 November 2010
 
Today, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) joins the nation in solemnly commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre. On this day last year, 57 people—21 women, 2 of whom were pregnant—were brutally killed on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of Ismael Mangudadatu for governor of Maguindanao (…)
 
(…) Out of 195 accused of committing the mass atrocity, 80 have been arrested and are awaiting trial. Despite the complexities of this trial, we urge government to expedite the resolution of the cases. We remain confident that the authorities would continue to exert every effort to apprehend the remaining perpetrators. We continue to hope
that justice will be given to the victims of the massacre (…)
 
(…) Among ICAPA’s policy recommendations for the elimination of private armies are:


 
1.  The repeal of Executive Order No. 194, which authorizes the possession and licensing of firearms of any type, in an unlimited quantity;
2.  An order declaring that there shall no longer be firearms amnesties, and that possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition shall be dealt with the full force of the law;
3.  The legislation of a law against private armed groups;
4.  The passage of the Anti-Political Dynasty Law (…)
 
(…) The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 96-page report titled “They Own the People: The Ampatuans, State-backed Militias, and Killings in Southern Philippines,” decried the government's failure to “seriously investigate atrocities by powerful ruling families, ban abusive militia forces, or curtail access of officials to military weaponry.”
 
The massacre and efforts to prevent similar occurences also strengthened the concept of the "responsibility to protect." At the 2005 World Summit, the Philippines officially recognized its responsibility, as a state, to protect its citizens from the most heinous crimes. That the Maguindanao Massacre occurred on Philippine soil indicates that the Philippine government was remiss in its duties as a state. The disarmament of personal armies, the tighter control of the trafficking of weapons, and the possibility of putting in place an early warning system to anticipate mass atrocities are areas where urgent, decisive action must be undertaken in order for the Philippines to carry out its responsibility to protect its citizens from future atrocities.
 
 We therefore urge President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to fulfill his campaign promises of justice for victims of the Maguindanao massacre and ensure that the resources of government will not be utilized to aid powerful political clans and their militias who rule with impunity.
 
Read full statement
 
II. International Symposium on Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities
 
Remarks by Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, 15 November 2010
 
The symposium, held in Paris, was convened by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris to assess and strategize on the capacity of governments to respond to mass atrocities. The symposium was opened with an address by Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.  Three focused panels examined core issues in genocide prevention, including the latest policy initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic, current threats of mass atrocities, and prospects for greater international cooperation. See the agenda  here
 
(…) What, concretely, should we – we governments, we advocates, we historians, we educators, we museum curators, we citizens, we NGOs – what should we be doing – and what should be doing differently -- in order to further reduce the likelihood of crimes that shock the conscience (…)

(…) First, we governments must make fresh, strategic commitments. A fresh strategic commitment is not the same as saying “never again.” It is not the same as joining consensus at the 2005 UN Summit along with the other UN member states on behalf of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). It is also not the same as voting for a Security Council resolution that includes a reference to R2P. All of these steps are worthwhile (…)
 
(…) In his National Security Strategy released earlier this year President Obama made clear that our effort to responsibly end the war in Iraq and defeat al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan must be matched with a vigorous commitment to prevent mass atrocities. His National Security Strategy included the most detailed summation of the US government’s approach to mass atrocity that an American President has given to date. The National Security Strategy may not be a document that everyone in Paris is reading, but it is a document that is widely read in Washington, and the President’s discussion of atrocity and genocide prevention sends a critical message around town and to officials throughout our government. It also sent an important message around the world – mass atrocities can’t just become priorities for remembrance in their aftermath. Signals must be sent prospectively in order for resources to be allocated and political will to be mobilized and harnessed.
 
Second, we governments must organize ourselves in keeping with our stated priorities (…) In March this year President Obama took the unprecedented step of creating the first-ever NSC position with responsibility for coordinating and supporting the Administration’s policies on preventing, identifying, and responding to mass atrocities and genocide. He filled it with one of the most able public servants we could find, a lawyer who had served in the Clinton and Obama Administrations in different roles, and one who more importantly had lived and worked in Rwanda and Sudan. As many of you know, in order to keep fighting and be effective on this range of difficult issues, the commitment often has to be personal (…) It is important to have individuals focused on ensuring that the President doesn’t look back on his presidency and wonder why he wasn’t informed or presented with decisions. Structure and organization increase the likelihood that options will be properly presented. In short, governments can improve their ownership and responsiveness to mass killing, but it requires a level of governmental organization that matches the methodical organization characteristic of mass-killings.
 
Third, and very related, governments must work to systematize “prevention.” (…) There is no reason we shouldn’t have systems in place designed to routinize our response to indicators of mass atrocities. The structure and organization I have described makes it much easier to ensure early engagement on these issues. Working with our regional colleagues at the NSC, we now regularly convene a wide range of departments and agencies for discussions on how to prevent violence in some of the most difficult and challenging places in the world. We take advantage of what we know about when ethnic violence and atrocities take place – we are extra vigilant in the run up to and aftermath of elections and referenda, and of course in the wake of coups or other severe political or economic shocks. These “whole of government” meetings focus on prevention, and they drive the development of plans and responses, separate from day-to-day bilateral policymaking (…)
 
(…) My fourth and final point is that it is extremely unlikely that even the modest steps I have described would have been taken if not for the advent of the modern anti-genocide movement, comprised of students, religious groups, and citizens from across the United States. The kernel of this movement appeared for the first time around Bosnia, but it didn’t activate for Rwanda. However, because of Darfur, which reached its peak killing period around the ten year anniversary of Rwanda, the movement has been broadened and institutionalized (…) The truth is that the cause that brings us together today must become politicized (…) It is the citizen and Congressional pressure on Sudan that brought this issue to the immediate attention of a freshman Senator from Illinois and convinced him to visit the refugee camps in Chad on his first trip as a Senator to Africa. And it is President Obama’s knowledge of the issue that has led him to assert day-to-day leadership on Sudan in the run-up to the January 9 referendum. Grass root and grass tops pressure works (…)
 
Read full statement
 
 
6-7 December 2010—EastWest Institute and partner organizations – Global Conference on Preventive Action at the EU parliament 
 
Sponsors of the conference include ASEAN Institute of Strategic and international Studies (ASEAN–ISIS), Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (CRIES), Global Partnership for the prevention of Armed Conflicts (GPPAC), European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
 
A core element of EastWest Insitute’s mission is to help prevent violent conflicts before they begin. Part of this goal is the Global Conference on Preventive Action, a conference EWI will convene in late 2010 to galvanize a Global Action Plan to prevent violent conflict and to help integrate conflict prevention approaches into security and development policy (…)
 
Based in part on the regional recommendations, the Global Conference will:
  • Raise awareness of and increase attention to the role of regional organizations in supporting and maintaining peace and stability in their regions, in line with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations;
  • Foster greater collaboration and communication between states, regional organizations, civil society and traditional security and development actors;
  • Provide an opportunity for donors and recipients to share experiences, lessons, and best practices;
  • Address the information and communication needs of state, regional and international security and development policymakers;
  • Enhance coordination within civil society, resulting in higher quality policy advice for states and regional and international organizations;
  • Bring together regional and global perspectives to avoid duplication of efforts and to mobilize the resources of all actors to their full capacity; and
  • Detail practical, short- and medium-term steps to enhance preventive approaches.
Click here for more info
 
Thanks to Stephanie Perazzone for compiling this listserv
          
 

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