15 March 2012
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1. Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect release statement marking a full year of violent suppression of anti-government protests in Syria
2. Global Centre for R2P – Statement on the Anniversary of Atrocities in Syria
3. Amnesty International – Syria: New report finds systemic and widespread torture and ill-treatment in detention
4. International Federation of Human Rights – Open letter to the members of the UN Security Council - United for Syria: Stop one year of bloodshed
5. International Crisis Group – Policy Briefing: Now or Never: A Negotiated Transition for Syria
1. Human Rights Watch – Libya: Human Rights Council Monitoring Needed
III. Sudan/South Sudan: Violence persists in Jonglei State, south Kordofan and Blue Nile as two nationsface nationality and border issues
1. Human Rights Watch – Sudan: Don’t Strip Citizenship Arbitrarily
1. Coalition for the ICC – Press Release: Guilty Verdict Delivered in First ICC Trial
2. International Refugee Rights Initiative – Report: Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Reflecting on the Impact of the ICC in Ituri
1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect – R2P Monitor
2. Lloyd Axeworthy, Global Brief – Don’t Allow Libya to Define R2P
3. James Rudolph, The Christian Science Monitor – Responsibility to protect’: the moral imperative to intervene in Syria
4. Ramesh Thakur, Institute for Security Studies – Libya and the Responsibility to Protect: Between opportunistic humanitarianism and value-free pragmatism
5. Ekkehard Straus, European Union Institute for Security Studies – From idea to experience: Syria and the Responsibility to Protect
1. Global Action to Prevent War – Spring 2012 Newsletter
2. Stanley Foundation and Global Centre for R2P – Policy Memo: Preparatory Workshop for the Second Meeting of the R2P Focal Points Network
3. Minority Rights Group – Report: Kenya at 50: unrealized rights of minorities and indigenous peoples
Humanitarian aid hindered by Syrian forces, despite UN demands
One year since uprisings in Syria began on 15 March 2011, the situation continues to deteriorate as evidenced by attacks in Idlib near the Turkish border beginning on 10 March 2012 and reports of a “massacre” of approximately 50 women and children in Homs on 12 March. In Idllib, the Free Syrian Army retaliated, attacking Syrian tanks and helicopters and targeting Syrian forces. Human Rights Watch, in its 15 March press release on the attack on Idlib, stated that witness accounts indicate “significant destruction and a large number of deaths and injuries” in the city, with Syrian activists tallying 114 deaths since 10 March. Reports of widespread and systematic torture of detainees have been released as Amnesty International, in its 14 March report entitled 'I wanted to die': Syria's torture survivors speak out, documents "31 methods of torture or other ill-treatment by security forces, army and pro-government armed shabiha gans." In a statement on 13 March, Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby said that the killing of civilians in Syria amounted to crimes against humanity.
In a 2 March 2012 UN General Assembly meeting on Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that "credible reports" suggested the death toll had surpassed 7,500 with the daily death toll exceeding 100 in many instances. 20,000 refugees have registered with the UN with an estimated 100,000 - 200,000 others displaced within Syria. In an effort to support its response to the increasing refugee crisis, the UN High Commission for Refugees announced on 13 March that it had appointed a Regional Refugee Coordinator.
With violence escalating, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were finally able to begin evacuations and deliver aid supplies to Homs on 24 February. The humanitarian organizations were only granted approximately 45 minutes of access on 7 March to the most besieged district, Baba Amr, where they found a “devastated” city from which most civilians has already fled. As of 9 March the ICRC reported that the situation remained dire as cold weather with the worsening economic situation “making it even harder for people to cope.”
Measures to resolve crisis remain hampered due to unwillingness of the Syrian government
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) released a statement on the ongoing violence on 1 March calling for “immediate and unhindered access” to be granted to Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary General on Humanitarian Affairs, who struggled until 6 March to gain access to assess the humanitarian situation. Reporting that she was “horrified” by the violence and the “devastated” area of Homs, and that “limited” progress had been made to deliver aid to hard-hit cities, Amos submitted a proposal to the government, who agreed to allow a “limited assessment” of the situation by UN agencies and Syrian authorities. As reported by Al-Jazeera on 15 March, a team of UN experts is scheduled to be dispatched to Damascus to engage in a Syrian led humanitarian mission to several cities affected by the violence, including Homs, Hama, and Daraa.
Member States during a UNSC meeting held on 12 March confirmed that another UN draft resolution was under way, to be presented by the United States. Russia spoke in opposition to the “unbalanced” resolution, citing the draft’s call for the Syrian government to halt violence but not the rebel groups. A coalition of over 200 humanitarian and human rights organizations issued a call on 12 March to the governments of Russia and China to support UN efforts to respond to and halt atrocities in Syria. Meanwhile, the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect released a statement on 15 March in which they declared that “the lack of unified international condemnation and response to protect the Syrian population has encouraged the Government to continue its course of action.” The Advisers stated that reports suggest that “Security Council paralysis” has resulted in increased violence by Syrian authorities which has caused the population to “fend for itself”.
Human Rights Council
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC), during its 19th Session, adopted a resolution on 1 March calling for an end to the violence and for those responsible for crimes to be held accountable. The second report of the UN Commission on Inquiry in Syria, released in February, found that the Syrian government has manifestly failed in its responsibility to protect the population and crimes against humanity have been committed by armed forces. The HRC, which urged, once again, for a ceasefire on 9 March, was briefed on 12 March by Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of inquiry on Syria. In his briefing, Pinheiro urged for all parties to prevent escalation to civil war and for the international community to work together to resolve the crisis. At the meeting the governments of Qatar and Norway declared that Syria had failed in its responsibility to protect its population, with other Member States noting that human rights violations committed by authorities amounted to crimes against humanity.
UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy
Additional measures to resolve the crisis have included the 23 February appointment of Kofi Annan as the joint UN-Arab League special envoy in accordance with the adoption of GA Resolution 66/L.36. Former Palestinian Former Minister Nasser al-Qudha was appointed by the Arab League as Annan’s deputy-envoy on 5 March. In a meeting on 8 March in Cairo, the Arab League and Russia, in conjunction with Kofi Annan, ruled out military intervention believing that it would only worsen the situation. Annan began talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on 10 March only to leave Syria without reaching an agreement for a ceasefire. Both Assad and the leader of Syria’s main opposition group rejected dialogue, with the opposition saying negotiation was “unrealistic” and advocating for military force.
1. Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect release statement marking a full year of violent suppression of anti-government protests in Syria
Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
15 March 2012
(…) Over the past year, the Syrian Government’s increasingly violent assault of its population has deepened sectarian divides and brought the country to the brink of civil war. Clearly, the Government has manifestly failed to protect the Syrian population. (…)
The lack of unified international condemnation and response to protect the Syrian population has encouraged the Government to continue its course of action. Reports suggest that the Government has intensified its attacks in the face of Security Council paralysis, leading to a sharp increase in the number of deaths, injuries and cases of abuse and torture over recent weeks and months.
The lack of timely and decisive action by the international community has left the Syrian population to fend for itself. As a result, reports suggest that an increasing number of Syrians have taken up arms. A growing number of soldiers have reportedly chosen to defect rather than obey orders to commit crimes against civilians. As attacks by Government forces and allied militias against civilians continue, we fear that the risk of retributive acts along sectarian lines will also increase. To prevent further rounds of violence, which could have devastating effects for the country and the region, the Government must stop its attacks on the people of Syria now.
There is strong and growing evidence that crimes against humanity are being committed in Syria. We reiterate our calls for the Government of Syria to immediately end all violence against its population and for all parties, including non-state actors, to meet their obligations under international law. Violence by any party against civilian populations is unacceptable. We call on the international community, including the Security Council, to take immediate collective action, utilizing the full range of tools available under the United Nations Charter, to protect populations at risk of further atrocity crimes in Syria. (…)
Read full statement.
2. Statement on the Anniversary of Atrocities in Syria
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
15 March 2012
One year ago the Syrian government began its campaign of violent repression against a peaceful uprising. Today it stands responsible for the deaths of over 7,500 Syrian civilians. Divisions within the United Nations Security Council have emboldened the Syrian government in its ongoing commission of crimes against humanity. This cannot continue. The United Nations Security Council must uphold the Responsibility to Protect and send a strong, unified message to the Syrian government to cease its attacks on civilians. (…)
The Responsibility to Protect was created to prevent and protect populations from these mass atrocity crimes and the Security Council’s ability to fulfill this responsibility cannot be held hostage by two of its member-states. As prospects for any peaceful resolution of the conflict dwindle, all efforts must be made to urge Russia and China to work with the international community in demanding a halt to further crimes against humanity.
While all measures must be considered, we are deeply concerned that the further militarization of the situation will only lead to more lives lost. The appointment of Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria provides a critical opportunity for diplomatic engagement. (…)
The Security Council has a responsibility to take action in situations where populations are experiencing mass atrocities. In keeping with the Responsibility to Protect we urge Security Council members to:
• Strongly condemn the unrelenting attacks by the Syrian government on its own people and demand an immediate ceasefire followed by unhindered humanitarian access;
• Provide their full support and cooperation, both materially and politically, to the diplomatic mission of Kofi Annan;
• Indicate that the Council is prepared to take additional steps, including imposing an arms embargo, authorizing targeted sanctions, and referring the situation to the ICC, should the Syrian government fail to cease its attacks on civilians. (…)
Read the full statement.
3. Syria: New report finds systemic and widespread torture and ill-treatment in detention
14 March 2012
People caught up in the massive wave of arrests in the wake of the Syrian uprising have been thrust into a nightmarish world of systemic torture, a new report by Amnesty International says today. The scale of torture and other ill-treatment in Syria has risen to a level not witnessed for years and is reminiscent of the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s. (…)
Released a day before the one-year anniversary of the start of mass protests in Syria, ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out, documents 31 methods of torture or other ill-treatment by security forces, army and pro-government armed shabiha gangs, described by witnesses or victims to Amnesty International researchers in Jordan in February 2012. (…)
Amnesty International said that the testimonies of torture survivors presented yet more evidence of crimes against humanity in Syria. (…)
In light of the failure to secure an ICC referral, Amnesty International said it wanted to see the UN Human Rights Council extend the mandate of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and reinforce its capacity to monitor, document and report, with a view to eventual prosecutions of those responsible for crimes under international law and other gross violations of human rights.
The organization also said it wanted to see the international community accepting its shared responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity in their national courts - in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty - and called for the formation of joint international investigation and prosecution teams to improve the chances of arrest. (…)
4. Open letter to the members of the UN Security Council - United for Syria: Stop one year of bloodshed
International Federation for Human Rights
12 March 2012
Forty-seven individuals, among them former government and UN officials and regional experts and advocates, signed an open letter to the members of the UN Security Council, calling for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and unity between Council members. The letter was published on 12 March in the Financial Times.
(…) One year after the start of the Syrian uprising, we are saddened to see divisions in the Security Council prevent a unified and proactive international response to the crisis. Responsibility for the current bloodshed ultimately rests with those in Syria ordering, permitting, or themselves committing, horrific crimes. However, splits among the international community have provided the Assad government with a license to kill. This license must be withdrawn.
(…) In light of the heavy shelling of civilian areas and increasing casualties among women and children, we reiterate the conclusion of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: that crimes against humanity have been committed and that those responsible must be brought to account.
We fear that the current impasse in international strategy is leading to an escalation in initiatives, such as arming the regime and the opposition, which could prolong the conflict and the suffering.
To break the stalemate, we must see Russia working alongside other international partners. We urge the Russian Government to join collective efforts to bring a swift end to the conflict and restore peace and stability to Syria and its surrounding region. (…) While we understand that there is no easy way out of this crisis, the moral obligation to bridge the current impasse lies with the members of the UN Security Council. (…)
See the list of signatories and full letter here. Read more about the campaign by over 200 NGOs marking one year of violence and calling on Russia to back Security Council action.
5. Now or Never: A Negotiated Transition for Syria
International Crisis Group
5 March 2012
(…) One year into the Syrian uprising, the level of death and destruction is reaching new heights. Yet, outside actors – whether regime allies or opponents – remain wedded to behaviour that risks making an appalling situation worse. Growing international polarisation simultaneously gives the regime political space to maintain an approach – a mix of limited reforms and escalating repression – that in the longer run is doomed to fail; guarantees the opposition’s full militarisation, which could trigger all-out civil war; and heightens odds of a regional proxy war that might well precipitate a dangerous conflagration. Kofi Annan’s appointment as joint UN/Arab League Special Envoy arguably offers a chance to rescue fading prospects for a negotiated transition. (…)
(…) Annan’s best hope lies in enlisting international and notably Russian support for a plan that: comprises an early transfer of power that preserves the integrity of key state institutions; ensures a gradual yet thorough overhaul of security services; and puts in place a process of transitional justice and national reconciliation that reassures Syrian constituencies alarmed by the dual prospect of tumultuous change and violent score-settling. (…)
The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya, established by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in February 2011, issued a report on 2 March 2012, finding that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by both pro and anti-Gaddafi forces. The report called for the establishment of mechanisms to address violations and curb impunity, specifically an independent judiciary. Commissioners also found that the NATO campaign in Libya was conducted with “demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties.”
On 9 March 2012, the HRC held an interactive dialogue with the Commission, during which speakers addressed the remaining challenges in Libya. The Libyan delegation condemned all human rights violations, while most Member States present reiterated the importance of follow-up mechanisms to ensure accountability. Concerns regarding the NATO campaign in Libya arose in statements made by the delegations of Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela, and Russia, who claimed that Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for the protection of the civilian population, had been used as a pretext for regime change. Later that day, the Commissioners stated that they would hand an envelope to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, which held the names of human rights violators from both sides of the conflict. The HRC is expected to consider a resolution on 18 March. Human Rights Watch (HRW) gave an oral statement to the HRC on 12 March welcoming the Report and its conclusion that mass atrocities had been committed. HRW stated, “With the likely ongoing crimes against humanity occurring in Libya, the primary responsibility to protect the population rests with the Libyan government,” but reminded that, “the international community also has a duty to assist the government, speedily and fully, to implement its responsibility to protect and to end these crimes.”
For more information on the ongoing threat to civilian protection in post-conflict Libya, please see the recent ICRtoP blog post, “Libya, One Year On: NTC Struggles with Revolutionary Change.”
1. Libya: Human Rights Council Monitoring Needed
Human Rights Watch
16 March 2012
The UN Human Rights Council should condemn serious, ongoing human rights violations by militias in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today. The council should appoint an independent expert to document the abuses and monitor the government’s response. (…)
(…) A draft Human Rights Council resolution proposed by the transitional Libyan government is woefully weak, Human Rights Watch said. It only “takes note” of the Commission of Inquiry report and “encourages” the government to investigate human rights violations. Negotiations on the draft will continue until the voting, on March 22 or 23.
The resolution should include the appointment of an independent expert to monitor human rights violations and report back to the Council, Human Rights Watch said. At minimum, the Council should mandate the high commissioner for human rights to report on the human rights situation in the country publicly and regularly, Human Rights Watch said.
Libya’s friends, especially those that supported the NATO intervention there, should approach Libya at the highest levels of government and insist on continued monitoring and involvement by the Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said. (…)
To read the full article, see here.
III. Sudan/South Sudan: Violence persists in Jonglei State, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as two nations face nationality and border issue
Continued dire humanitarian situation in Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan
Over 80,000 refugees from Blue Nile have fled violence to South Kordofan since November 2011, and remain without access to the most basic of resources, such as water and shelter, Médecins Sans Frontières stated on 14 March. Reports on 10 March said hundreds of people have sought refuge in recent days as a result of the ongoing fighting in the region. Meanwhile, Mukesh Kapila, a former UN representative to Sudan, comparing the situation to crimes experienced in the Darfur region, warned that the government of Sudan is targeting non-Arab villages in South Kordofan.
In addition to the ongoing threat of violence, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile face an increasing humanitarian crisis as near famine conditions have been reported in rebel controlled regions. The government of Sudan has refused entry to humanitarian organizations despite the growing risk to civilians. In an effort to deliver aid to the people of Sudan, the United Nations, African Union, and League of Arab States agreed to a tripartite proposal in February which aims to create an oversight committee and assessment teams to initiate the delivery of aid. In its 6 March Presidential Statement the UN Security Council (UNSC) welcomed this proposal, emphasizing “the grave urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to avert a worsening of the serious crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile”. Nonetheless, President Omar al-Bashir rejected the idea as “biased”.
Recurring violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state results in displacement of thousands
Fresh fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups in the Akobo region of Jonglei state has caused approximately 15,000 Lou Nuer civilians to seek refuge in Ethiopia since mid-February reported the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Adrian Edwards on 13 March. Although violence over grievances has been recurring for years, clashes have affected over 120,000 people since December 2011 alone. To respond to the displacement crisis and increased hostilities, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) dispatched patrol units and medical teams to the border with Ethiopia, reported UN News on 13 March. Additionally, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, Hilde Johnson, called on the communities of Jonglei to cooperate, noting that UNMISS would monitor developments.
Measures taken by the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to address outstanding issues
As instability and violence rages in both states, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have sought to address the rights for citizens of South Sudan residing in the north and Northerners in the South as well as on border demarcation. As Human Rights Watch noted in its 2 March press release, the government of Sudan previously stated that Southerners would have until 8 April to return to South Sudan or risk being “treated as foreigners”. As the report notes, “under Sudanese law…Sudanese people automatically lose citizenship when they acquire ‘de jure or de facto’ the ‘nationality of South Sudan”, thus leading to fears that large numbers of Southerners would be stripped of citizenship and expelled after 8 April. In a Presidential Statement released 6 March, the UNSC called for both governments to take appropriate measures to allow civilians to acquire nationality in each state and to grant an extension if this could not be resolved prior to the 8 April deadline.
Although not addressing the question of citizenship, the governments of both states agreed to a framework agreement that would provide citizens of Sudan residing in South Sudan and vice versa the “freedom of residence, freedom of movement, freedom to undertake economic activity and freedom to acquire and dispose property”. An additional Agreement on the Demarcation of the Boundary and Related Issues was made, which will create mechanisms to initiate the establishment of a border between the two nations. Both agreements were reached with the assistance of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on 12 March, and were welcomed by the African Union in a 14 March press release.
1. Sudan: Don’t Strip Citizenship Arbitrarily
Human Rights Watch
2 March 2012
Sudan should not strip Sudanese nationals of southern origin of their Sudanese citizenship if they are unable or unwilling to acquire South Sudanese citizenship, Human Rights Watch said today.
The government should not presume that all Sudanese of southern origin are citizens of South Sudan and should revise its nationality law accordingly. People who wish to retain their Sudanese citizenship, rather than obtain South Sudanese citizenship, should be allowed to do so. (…)
Earlier in 2012, Sudanese authorities announced that southerners should either return to South Sudan or that they would be treated as foreigners and should adjust their legal status by April 8, at the end of a nine-month transition period following South Sudan’s independence. On February 12, Sudan and South Sudan re-affirmed the deadline in an agreement on modalities for returning people to South Sudan, but did not address the status of southerners wishing to remain citizens of Sudan. (…)
Although large numbers of southerners returned to South Sudan before and after the country gained its independence on July 9, 2011, an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people of southern origin still live in Sudan. Many fled the long civil war in the south and have lived in Sudan for decades, or were born there and have few ties to South Sudan. (…)
There are signs that Sudanese authorities have already begun to strip people of their citizenship, in violation of international law. In some cases they have refused to issue the new Sudanese national number to people because of their southern roots. The number is a required proof of identity for all Sudanese citizens. (…)
At the same time, hostile rhetoric from Sudanese government officials toward southerners, which began in the period leading up to the referendum, has stoked fears that large numbers of southerners will be expelled after April 8. President Omar Al-Bashir, who began calling southerners “foreign” during the referendum, has repeatedly vowed that Sudan’s new constitution will not provide any protections for non-Muslims or diversity, a threat that is widely understood in Sudan as directed against southerners and other ethnic minorities, many of whom are Christians. (…)
Although under international law, states have a right to control granting of citizenship, and the entry to and residency of non-citizens in their territory, a state can do so only subject to its human rights obligations. This prohibits a state from acting in a discriminatory or arbitrary manner that would result in leaving a person stateless and requires respect for the rights a person has acquired due to strong personal or family ties in the territory. (…)
Sudan should amend its nationality law to prevent people from becoming stateless and to ensure that the nationality criteria conform to international standards such as not excluding people on the basis of ethnicity, Human Rights Watch said. Sudan is also a party to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which guarantees equality between citizens and non-citizens in all core human rights. Therefore, anyone living in Sudan regardless of citizenship should be entitled to equal protection of basic civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, Human Rights Watch said.
South Sudan, which has yet to provide consular services in Sudan, should also take steps to make sure anyone who is eligible for South Sudanese citizenship, and who wants it, can obtain nationality documents, said Human Rights Watch. (…)
On March 14, 2012 the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its first verdict in the landmark trial of ‘Prosecutor vs. Thomas Lubango Dyilo’. Thomas Lubango, who was the President of the Union des patriotes congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC), the Commander-in-Chied of its military wing, the FPLC, and its political leader was found guilty of committing war crimes – in particular the enlisting and conscription of children as soldiers - in the Democratic Republic of Congo between September 2002 and August 2003. In a press release following the verdict, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said the decision “will reach warlords and commanders across the world and serve as a strong deterrent”. Civil society, including Amnesty International and the Coalition for the ICC issued strong statements in support of the ruling; Human Rights Watch highlighted the importance of continuing the work of the court by ensuring others such as Lubango’s co-accused Bosco Ntaganda, a general in the Congolese army, are arrested and brought to justice. Under the framework of the Responsibility to Protect, the International Criminal Court serves as an important tool available to the international community, ensuring perpetrators of mass atrocity crimes are held accountable and contributing to the deterrence and prevention of these crimes altogether.
1. Guilty Verdict Delivered in First ICC Trial
Coalition for the International Criminal Court
14 March 2012
Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the world’s first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide—today delivered a guilty verdict in the Court’s first landmark trial, The Prosecutor Vs. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Lubanga’s defense, however, has the right to appeal today’s decision.
Thomas Lubanga, a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was found guilty of having committed the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the DRC between September 2002 and August 2003.
Sentencing is to take place on another date so that any additional evidence or information that might impact upon its duration can be taken into consideration by the judges. The time that Lubanga has already served in detention will also be taken into account. (…)
(…) The Lubanga trial is a milestone for the Rome Statute—the ICC’s founding treaty—which entered into force only ten years ago. The Lubanga case is one of the few international criminal cases in history to charge an individual with acts of enlistment and conscription of child soldiers. As such, the trial has done much to highlight the gravity of the crime of using child soldiers and has helped to bring the issue into international focus. During the proceedings, ten former child soldiers testified, as did a number of expert witnesses.
The trial is also noteworthy as the first instance of victim participation in an international criminal trial, with a total of 129 victims authorized by judges to participate through seven legal representatives. Reparations to victims for harms suffered may now be ordered by the ICC judges, which would be another groundbreaking first in international criminal jurisdictions. (…)
(…) Some 5.4 million people have died in the DRC since August 1998, making the conflict one of the world’s deadliest since World War II. For many years, victims and civil society in the DRC have demanded accountability. The opening of the Lubanga trial was considered a huge step forward for justice, but there is still a long way to go until peace is achieved in the country. (…)
To read the full press release, see here.
2. Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Reflecting on the Impact of the ICC in Ituri
International Refugee Rights Initiative
12 March 2012
On 14 March 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down its first verdict in the case of former rebel leader Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Iturians anxiously await the verdict, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the impact that the investigation and trial, alongside other activities of the ICC, have had in Lubanga’s native Ituri district. (…)
(…) The region of Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been one of the most heavily conflict-affected regions in the country over the last two decades. Violence in the DRC over this time has revolved around two national wars that have pitted numerous rebel groups and international actors against each other in a vicious struggle for resources, political control and security. In Ituri, these national dynamics have intersected with, and exacerbated, tensions between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups who live in the region. (…)
(…) For many in the DRC the intervention of the ICC offered significant hope. Impunity had been seen as a major obstacle to peace and democratic governance. (…) DRC civil society advocates saw the ICC as a useful tool in the larger battle to end impunity, and their advocacy was reportedly instrumental in ensuring that the situation in eastern DRC was ultimately referred to the ICC. (…)
(…) Following the referral, the Court began its investigations in Ituri. The investigation quickly focused on the leaders of ethnically aligned militias who were both fighting each other and participating in the broader national conflict.
Eight years later, and with the first trials winding to a close, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the Court’s involvement in the region and compare its impact to the aspirations and expectations that were raised by its initial engagement. (…)
(…) In an effort to bring the voices and concerns of Iturians to the fore in this reflection, the International Refugee Rights Initiative and our Iturian partner organization, the Association pour la promotion et la défense de la dignité des victims (APRODIVI), today launched a report Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Some Reflections on the Experience of the International Criminal Court in Ituri. (…)
V. RtoP-Related Publications and Op-eds
1. R2P Monitor
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
15 March 2012
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect has released the second issue of the, bi-monthly publication, the R2P Monitor which:
(…) - Provides background on the populations at risk, with particular emphasis on key events and actors and their connection to the threat, or commission, of mass atrocity crimes.
- Offers analysis of the country’s past history in relation to mass atrocity crimes; the factors that have enabled their possible commission, or that prevent their resolution; and the receptivity of the situation to positive influences that would assist in preventing further crimes.
- Tracks the international response to the situation with a particular emphasis upon the actions of the United Nations (UN), key regional actors and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Suggests necessary action to prevent or halt the commission of mass atrocity crimes (…)
The second edition includes background and analysis on the following country-specific situations: Syria, Sudan/South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa/LRA, Libya, and Burma/Myanmar.
See publication here.
2. Don’t Allow Libya to Define R2P
15 March 2012
Ever since the military involvement in Libya there has been an increasing debate, even a buzz, about whether or not it sets a precedent for future action in protecting civilians against state violence. The debate is further complicated by the current stalemate on taking action in Syria. This leads some critics to claim that the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), as a concept, has been damaged or made more difficult, however, they are mistaken.
First, R2P should not be judged on the basis of the military response in Libya. Somewhere along the way, R2P has become synonymous with military intervention. Just last week, Alex de Waal made the argument in the New York Times against the perceived “idealism” of R2P. His argument relies on a misunderstanding of the concept as the use of military means towards the ends of democracy and justice. The reality is that the original International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report, released in 2001 made clear that the implementation of R2P is about the protection of civilians, should be considered primarily preventative and considers military action a very last resort.
To follow up from Garth Evans’ response to the article, the intention behind the doctrine is to reset the dialogue around sovereignty, as a responsibility, and to establish a set of criteria upon which to base any future intervention in humanitarian crisis – whether through diplomatic political and economic means, or if and when it is needed, the use of the military. Even with the current situation in Syria, it remains vitally important that employing the words “Responsibility to Protect “ in an international resolution need not mean military intervention. (…)
If anything, it is not the doctrine itself, but its misinterpretation which could cause the most harm, if it is to be discounted. This indeed is the case in the Middle East where there has been a variety of initiatives taken that have helped in the restraint on violence and in several cases changes in government or it’s behavior that have not yet been identified as falling under R2P. Take Yemen as an example, where negotiated amnesty for President Saleh led to a more or less peaceful ending to what may have otherwise been a lengthy crisis. This is R2P in action. As is Kofi Annan’s current involvement in Syria, so pointed out by Roland Paris yesterday.
Another question that is raised has to do with the Russian and Chinese veto on Syria. No question that this has set back the UN ’s credibility. There has to be a response to this quandary. Again, it seems appropriate to refer back to the original ICISS report. One of those ideas is working to create a “code of conduct” by the permanent members to refrain from using the veto on initiatives that are designed to protect people and apply R2P principles. (…)
There is a very real possibility that this rebellion in Syria could erupt into a civil war, which could have long term destabilizing and terrifying consequences for the region as whole. This increasing risk shows how closely R2P is linked to the fundamental mandate of the Security Council in promoting peace and stability. There needs to be active and purposeful action to try and restore credibility to UN Security Council and underline the necessity of the international community taking action against mass murder and serious threat to civilian lives — the very essence of the Responsibility to Protect.
Read the full opinion.
3. ‘Responsibility to protect’: the moral imperative to intervene in Syria
The Christian Science Monitor
8 March 2012
If ever there was a need for the use of the international legal doctrine known as “responsibility to protect,”the unfolding tragedy in Syria is it. Thousands of men, women, and children have been systematically shot, tortured, and killed by the Syrian government in its attempt to suppress what it sees as a dangerous and illegitimate uprising. The responsibility to protect doctrine (also known as R2P) is not, at this stage in its development, a full-fledged legal tenet; nevertheless, its status as an emerging norm in international law has had widespread acceptance. (…)
In the face of “gross human rights violations,” it is clear that Syria’s use of sovereignty as a shield is misplaced. The international community should now assume the responsibility that Syria has so flagrantly forfeited; that is, the Security Council, acting pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes the use of force in the face of a threat to the peace or a breach of the peace, must now act on behalf of the besieged and embattled people of Syria.
(…) It is incumbent upon the international community in general and the United Nations Security Council in particular to show that sovereignty not only implies responsibility but that there are serious consequences to be paid for flouting fundamental international norms.
If this means mobilizing military forces to assist the Syrian opposition, so be it. If Russia and China insist on blocking all Security Council resolutions, then other alternatives, including reliance on NATO and the Arab League, must be found. (…)
R2P presents the international community with a solution to this problem. It is up to them – particularly the US – to muster the political will.
4. Libya and the Responsibility to Protect: Between opportunistic humanitarianism and value-free pragmatism
Institute for Security Studies
6 March 2012
(…)In a poignant testament to its tragic origins and normative power, R2P was the discourse of choice in debating how best to respond to the Libya crisis in 2011.(…)
(…) The jury is still out on whether NATO military action in Libya will consolidate or soften the R2P norm. There were inconsistencies in the muted response to protests and uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where vital Western geopolitical and oil interests are directly engaged, and with the lack of equally forceful military action in Syria and Yemen. Western failures to defend the dignity and rights of Palestinians under Israeli occupation have been especially damaging to their claims to promote human rights and oppose humanitarian atrocities universally instead of selectively.
Despite the doubts, the alternative of standing idly on the sidelines yet again would have added to the shamefully long list of rejecting the collective responsibility to protect. Gaddafi would have prevailed and embarked on a methodical killing spree of rebel leaders, cities and regions alley by alley, house by house, room by room. Had the world shirked its responsibility, Libya could have been the graveyard of R2P and the UN might as well have sounded the last post for it.
(…) Russia and China led the chorus of dismay at the UN appearing to take sides in the internal conflicts in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. They may be less willing in future to permit sweeping endorsements for tough action, either by a coalition (Libya) or by UN peacekeepers (Côte d’Ivoire).
Value-free pragmatism is no more an answer to the challenge of reconciling realism and idealism than opportunistic humanitarianism. (…) Among others, one risk for the AU is that the new regime will highlight its Arab over its African heritage and identity. The reason this matters is that, following the Libya precedent, regional organisations may well acquire a critical ‘gatekeeping role’ in the global authorisation of R2P-type operations. As long as the rising new powers remain more concerned with consolidating their national power aspirations than developing the norms and institutions of global governance, they will remain incomplete powers, limited by their own narrow ambitions, with their material grasp being longer than their normative reach. (…)
The outcome is a triumph first and foremost for the citizen soldiers who refused to let fear of Gaddafi’s thugs determine their destiny any longer. It is a triumph secondly for R2P. It is possible for the international community, working through the authenticated, UN-centred structures and procedures of organised multilateralism, to deploy international force to neutralise the military might of a thug and intervene between him and his victims. NATO military muscle deployed on behalf of UN political will helped to level the killing field between citizens and a tyrant.
But the ruins of Libya’s political infrastructure and parlous state of its coffers mean that the third component of R2P – the international responsibility to rebuild and reconstruct – will also be called on. The willingness, nature and duration of outside help will help to shape the judgement of history on whether Western motivations were primarily self interested geopolitical and commercial, or the disinterested desire to protect civilians from a murderous rampage. As with the war itself, however, the lead role will have to be assumed by Libyans themselves, while the international community can assist without assuming ownership of the process or responsibility for the outcome. (…)
Read the full article and see Dr. Thakur’s 27 February article in the Japan Times, Find common ground with critics to work out norm for ‘responsibility to protect’ operations.
5. From idea to experience - Syria and the Responsibility to Protect
European Union Institute for Security Studies
28 February 2012
(…) The world is failing the people of Syria. Since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011, more than 5,000 people have been killed. (…) The world looked to the UN Security Council to take action, but members of the Council, yet again, failed to agree that systematic and large-scale violations of human rights committed by a government against its own people to maintain its power was no longer an internal matter of state sovereignty. Despite all the hype surrounding the much-touted Responsibility to Protect (R2P), enshrined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, the international community continues to be unable to act in concert when faced with mass atrocities. (…)
Syria today seems to confirm the concern held by many that the R2P is the emperor’s new clothes, unable to cover even the most basic nakedness of an international system unable to deal with mass atrocities. In an attempt to counter these arguments, since 2005, well-meaning advocates invoked R2P in every situation of human rights violations at a certain scale and called for Security Council intervention without clarifying even the most basic parameters of its application. Others claim that Syria today represents collateral damage from the forceful intervention in Libya, which sought to uphold the R2P. (…)
In the hopeless situation that many Syrians are currently caught in, R2P could demonstrate its real potential. The Security Council is the international organ capable of authorising military action, which has been ruled out by all its members. A Libyan-style intervention would not provide solutions for all of the different challenges within Syrian society, not to mention the future relationship between different sects. Instead, operational demands and political agendas of those providing the military assets would dominate the agenda and timeline of action.
The primary responsibility to protect its population rests with the national government. It is obvious that the government of Syria is manifestly failing in this respect: it is attacking its own people. Therefore, responsibility moves to the international community. However, national civil society participates in the Responsibility to Protect, in particular to the extent that the opposition, through continuing demonstrations, creates risks that civilians will be the victims of indiscriminate violence, however legitimately it may have acted. The international community also comprises actors other than states and the Security Council. It is time for civil society in Syria and abroad to apply the R2P and demonstrate its added value in Syria. (…)
Since R2P is not primarily about military intervention, Syria does not face a higher challenge, not because of the lack of Security Council agreement on the use of force but because of the lack of a jointly agreed way forward to protect its population. It is time for the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army, armed opposition elements, representatives of the different sects and people opposing the demonstrations to come together and agree on concrete measurable steps with timelines to protect the civilian population. (…)
1. Spring 2012 Newsletter
Global Action to Prevent War
14 March 2012
(…) Women as Solutions to and Victims of the Threat of Mass Atrocities
(…) On February 21, a group of 35 scholars and activists gathered at the UN for a
GAPW-sponsored event on Integrating Gender Perspectives into the Third Pillar of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). (…)
(…) Under the able guidance of Melina Lito and with the cooperation of many women leaders in peace and security at the United Nations, we have prepared a draft Background Concept Note on gender and RtoP that will be used at workshops in Caracas, Brussels, Beirut and other settings where policymakers are helping us prepare delegations for this summer‘s General Assembly debate on the ‘Third Pillar‘ of RtoP.
The hope is that the GA debate will spark more lively interest in the UN‘s preventive and reactive toolkit on RtoP. We also hope that the debate will motivate more intense discussion of how the skills and capacities of women can be made fully available to prevent deadly conflict, protect civilians in imminent danger of mass atrocity crimes, and heal the wounds of violence. (…)
Assessing RtoP in Caracas, Venezuela with WFUNA
(…) In the case of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) norm the tendency for advocates is to divide states into those who support the norm and those who are opposed. It seems to us more prudent to accept that much of the support for and criticism of the RtoP norm is relative. (…)
(…) Recently, Global Action was pleased once again to join the World Federation of UN Associations (WFUNA) in their efforts to engage local UN Associations and civil society on RtoP while discussing core objections of some of the more wary governments on RtoP.
This time, the workshop was in Caracas and attracted an inquisitive and largely enthusiastic group of 60 NGOs, journalists and government officials who seemed to find the norm compelling despite the Venezuelan government‘s largely critical (though evolving) reaction to RtoP. (…)
To read the full GAPW newsletter, see here.
2. Policy Brief: Preparatory Workshop for the Second Meeting of the R2P Focal Points Network
Stanley Foundation and Global Centre for R2P
12 March 2012
The 2005 United Nations World Summit Outcome Document outlined the unequivocal responsibility of states and the international community to protect populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes. In doing so, states committed to taking steps at the domestic, regional, and international level to protect populations from mass atrocities and making the promise of “never again” a reality.
In September 2010 the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, in association with the governments of Denmark and Ghana, launched an initiative to support governments in their efforts to operationalize the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) at the national level through the appointment of R2P Focal Points.
Focal Points are senior officials mandated to enable national efforts to improve mass atrocity prevention and response. (…) Costa Rica and Australia have since joined Denmark, Ghana, and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect as co-organizers of the initiative and the Focal Points Network.
In advance of the second formal meeting of this Focal Points Network, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Stanley Foundation convened R2P Focal Points and other national representatives, UN mission ambassadors and experts, UN officials, and mass atrocity specialists for a preparatory workshop to address the challenges faced by individual R2P Focal Points and their developing global network.
Held on February 24-26, 2012, as part of the Stanley Foundation’s 43rd United Nations Issues Conference, the workshop considered how countries with diverse forms of government, institutional capacities, and bureaucratic cultures might tailor their internal process—and the profile of an R2P Focal Point—to suit their national context. (…)
To read the full policy brief, see here.
3. Kenya at 50: unrealized rights of minorities and indigenous peoples
Minority Rights Group International
8 March 2012
On the 50th anniversary of Kenya’s independence, many minority and indigenous communities feel that despite some constitutional gains, increased ethnicization of politics has deepened their exclusion, making their situation worse today than it was in 2005, a new Minority Rights Group International (MRG) report shows.
The report titled ‘Kenya at 50’, reviews the current status of minority and indigenous groups in Kenya, particularly how legal and policy changes over the last five years have responded to the social, economic and political challenges confronting them. (…)
The present state of minority and indigenous groups within Kenya’s dynamic context has been shaped by conflicting forces of regression and progress responding to the 2007 post-electoral violence, the new Constitution and the forthcoming 2012 elections. (…)
Directed at non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policy actors and the media, the report warns that failure to ensure inclusion of minorities and address the anxieties of majorities, particularly in the context of county governments in the run-up to the 2012 elections and beyond, will lead to untold conflict, driving the reform agenda several years back.
1. Panel Discussion: Genocide, What Genocide? Issues and Forms of Denial
Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
20 March 2012, 7:30 PM
Concordia University Henry F. Hall Building, Room H763 1455, boul. De Maisonneuve West, Montreal, Canada
(…) Three experts discuss denial in its various forms and its implications in countries where a genocide took place, as well as in the international community.
Through examples of the Holocaust, the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda and the Armenian genocide we will see what issues lie in the heart of the denial of genocide and of its recognition. (…)
On Tuesday, 20 March at 7:30 PM Ara Sarafian of the Gomidas Institut of London (UK), Allan Thompson, journalist and professor at Carleton University, and Frank Chalk, director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies will speak on a panel about issues and forms of genocide denial. The panel will be moderated by Maya Smith of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre's Human Rights Committee.
The event, organized by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and Armenian National Committee of Quebec in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, will be held at Concordia University Henry F. Hall Building, Room H763 1455, boul. De Maisonneuve West.
See more information.
2. Policy Brief and workshop: Operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect: Building Trust and Capacities for the Third Pillar Approach
Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation, International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, Global Action to Prevent War, Global Governance Institute
26 April 2012, 8:30am – 5:30pm
Global Governance Institute, Vesalius College, 5, Pleinlaan, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
In January 2012, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation, Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) and the Global Governance Institute launched a call for papers to invite scholars, policy-makers and civil society representatives to submit papers to be presented at a workshop in Brussels, Belgium on the 26 April 2012. The workshop is an opportunity to bring together policy-makers from the United Nations, regional organizations and scholars to debate the challenges posed by pillar three of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle. The event’s two sessions will focus on enhancing the legitimacy and consistency of the third pillar approach and improving the effectiveness of RtoP’s civilian and military tools.
The workshop will be accompanied by publications that will report on the proceedings, highlight recommendations for the UN General Assembly (UNGA) dialogue and beyond, and catalogue the paper contributions presented at the workshop.
In February 2012, ICRtoP, the Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation, GAPW and the Global Governance Institute circulated a policy brief to inform the workshop. An excerpt of the brief is included below; for the complete brief, including an overview of the ten papers to be presented at the workshop, please see here.
Read the policy brief. For information on the 26 April workshop, see here. For further description on the workshop, see the concept note and draft programme.