Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, Global Centre brief on RtoP and Nigeria
16 April 2010 Web: www.responsibilitytoprotect.org
1. Statement from UN SG Ban Ki-moon
2. Special Adviser with Focus on RtoP, Edward Luck addresses prevention of atrocities and the legacy of the Rwandan genocide
1. Global Centre for R2P—Atrocities in Nigeria’s Plateau State and the Responsibility to Protect
1. Serbia apologizes for 1995 Massacre
2. Ramesh Thakur--Governments have duty to aid citizens caught in a nightmare
3. ASEAN ponders a new regional structure
1. 19 April: Cardozo Law School’s Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies panel on the ICC and Justice: Through the Lens of Sudan
2. 20 April: Center for Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum presents Genocide and Activism Lecture featuring Ruth Messinger
1. UN SG Ban Ki-moon’s statement on International Day of Reflection on the Rwandan Genocide
Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General
7 April 2010
UN SG Ban Ki-moon’s remarks commemorating the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, observed annually on 7 April:
Today, we observe the sixteenth commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda. We cherish the memory of more than 800,000 innocent people who lost their lives. Our thoughts are also with the survivors, whose haunting testimony woke us to the reality of a tragedy that was all too preventable.
The United Nations is fully committed to securing justice for the victims of genocide and to preventing future atrocities. The International Criminal Tribunalon Rwanda (ICTR) delivered the first-ever verdicts in relation to genocide by an international court. These and similar actions from the halls of justice have sent a clear message to the genocidaires and would-be genocidaires. Simply put, their heinous crimes will not go unpunished.
The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda continues to deliver justice and ensure accountability. I salute Member States for their continued support and urge cooperation with the ICTR to arrest and hand over the remaining 11 fugitives.
The countries of the region have also made important progress with the historic Pact on Security, Stability and Development for the Great Lakes Region, which includes a protocol on the prevention and punishment of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The UN is working to enhance cooperation with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, particularly in implementing critical aspects relating to peace and security. The Office of my Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities is also working to see these horrible crimes never happen again.
As we look forward, I have been encouraged by the General Assembly's response to my report on implementing the Responsibility to Protect, a concept endorsed by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit. Debates will continue on the three pillars of responsibility that I outlined in my report. But the international community stands firm and in solidarity against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.
Together, let us pledge our determination to prevent genocide as the best way to remember those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda.
Read full speech
Watch video and read statements in Commemorative Archive
2. Special Adviser with Focus on RtoP, Edward Luck, addresses prevention of atrocities and the legacy of the Rwandan genocide
7 April 2010
At the 16th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide at the United Nations, Dr. Edward Luck, Special Adviser with a Focus on RtoP addressed the audience on our past failures to protect and our future responsibilities to prevent.
It is a singular honor to be with you this evening to mark the sixteenth anniversary of the
Rwandan genocide, sadly one of the defining events of the 20th century. The macabre and deliberate acts of that April left an enduring stain on human history and on the noble aspirations of this world body. The funeral processions are still winding their way to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. Moved by his two visits to Rwanda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has tirelessly championed the responsibility to protect, insisting that we can and must do better in the 21st century.
This evening, we are moved by the accounts of survivors and uplifted by the voices of so many young people. Life triumphs over death. Those who would incite or commit genocide can no longer count on impunity.
For many religions, April is a time for remembrance, hope, and renewal. It is a time for faith and fellowship. In that spirit, tonight we will have the opportunity to view and discuss the documentary, “As We Forgive,” on the ongoing reconciliation efforts in Rwanda.
Yet, for all of the goodwill and sense of common purpose in this room, it is sobering to acknowledge that we are still struggling to find surer ways of preventing genocide and promoting the responsibility to protect. The United Nations and its Member States must learn from their failure either to prevent or to protect in Cambodia, Srebrenica, and Rwanda. We must find the will and the means to break the cycles of recurring violence, hatred, and retribution that still afflict too many parts of the world. Even as we gather here to mark the horrific events of sixteen years ago, their grim legacy is playing out elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, leaving an unconscionable toll of wanton killing, destruction, and sexual violence.
In honoring past victims and survivors, we cannot be indifferent to those suffering or being threatened by mass atrocity crimes today. We need to understand that the responsibility to protect is a continuing one, borne by governments, armed groups, international organizations, and individuals alike. It is about the future, not the past.
Nevertheless, it has been the representatives of countries that have suffered such traumas that have been the most determined and eloquent advocates for the responsibility to protect. By remembering the past, they are helping us to chart a better future. We are especially grateful, Ambassador Gasana, for the able and ceaseless efforts of your delegation to advance this principle. (...)
Read full Speech
1. Atrocities in Nigeria’s Plateau State and the Responsibility to Protect
Global Centre for R2P
On 7 March 2010, between 1 and 3 am, groups of armed men launched simultaneous attacks on the villages of Dogo Nahauwa, Zot, and Ratsat, in Du District of Jos South Local Government Area, Plateau state, Nigeria. Driven from their homes by the sound of gunfire, villagers were maimed and killed by machete wielding men who also set homes on fire, displacing the survivors.
The attacks are the latest in intercommunal violence that has, according to estimates from the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, killed 13,500 in Plateau state since 1999. As with past violence, the death toll from the recent attacks is highly politicized and contested with estimates ranging from 109 to 500. (…)
Soldiers were deployed to the affected villages in the hours after the attacks to quell the violence and prevent it from spreading to neighboring states. This is a positive step in keeping with R2P. However sending troops once crimes have occurred is not in itself sufficient to uphold R2P – especially as concerns have been raised that the army was too slow to respond and failed to react to warnings that could have resulted in earlier deployment and saved lives. (…)
While the attacks have manifested themselves along ethnic and religious lines, the violence stems from a number of sources including:
A nationwide problem of official discrimination against populations labeled as non-indigenous. (…)
Conflict over control of political power between primarily ‘settler’ and ‘indigenous’ groups and the manipulation of ethnic and religious identities to serve political and economic interests. (…)
Competition between primarily Christian farmers and primarily Muslim pastoralists over access to cultivable land and water, with conflict over resources increasing due to demographic pressures and land degradation. (…)
A prevailing culture of impunity.
In response to the attacks troops were deployed and acting President Jonathon put the military on red alert. Unlikepast responses where the military and police – widely criticized for their corruption and poor-training – committed extra-judicial killings, few reports of such acts have emerged since 7 March. The deployment of troops to prevent additional crimes, the Police Minister’s pledge to deploy more police and open outposts in rural areas, and the restraint shown by soldiers, are all positive examples of upholding the responsibility to protect and an improvement on past responses.
However the challenge for Nigeria remains preventing foreseeable crimes before they occur as more could have been done to prevent the 7 March atrocities. (…)
The repeated resort to committing atrocities is facilitated by the culture of impunity. It is the responsibility of the government to uphold the rule of law and end impunity. In the absence of accountability, and where effective preventive measures are not in place, attacks and reprisals become plausible options for those contemplating perpetrating crimes. Many of the 300 arrested after the January attacks had previously been arrested (following the November 2008 violence) but were later released. Already at least 200 have been arrested on suspicion of having been involved in the 7 March massacres. These arrests will have little lasting effect if proper investigations do not occur, due process is not respected, and transparent prosecutions are not carried out. Both Christians and Muslims who participated in the January and March attacks must be prosecuted to avoid selectivity or bias towards one ethnic or religious group and thus fuel future violence. In addition, long-term structural changes are necessary to strengthen and reform the legal system and judiciary in order to adequately address the accountability deficit.
Similarly, accountability requires inquiry into government failures to prevent and react — and allegations of the involvement of military, police, and political officials in the March and January violence (especially in light of concerns that local politicians may have exploited socio-economic, ethnic and religious divisions contributing to the violence). This will also involve assessing how early warning information was gathered (including the existence of hate speech in the local media, text messages, leaflets and religious sermons that incite violence at the local level), analyzed, shared and acted on by local, state and federal intelligence and security agencies and policy makers. Preventing future crimes requires learning lessons about what happened and where the response broke down, as well as taking steps to remedy the weakness and gaps. (…)
In addition to addressing impunity, upholding R2P will necessitate that local, state and federal authorities work alongside religious and ethnic leaders and civil society to address discrimination against ‘non-indigenes,’ resource allocation challenges, and to foster reconciliation. Efforts must be taken to end discrimination based on ancestry, affording all Nigerians the same rights. Ethnic and religious groups also must seek solutions to competition over scarce resources and work together to implement them. Innovative examples of such solutions can be found in Nigeria itself. For example, grazing reserves have been demarcated in the northern states of Katsina and Bauchi, helping to reduce tensions between pastoralists and farmers over access to cultivable land. (…)
ECOWAS, the AU and the UN should assess their own early-warning of, and response to, the violence in Plateau. ECOWAS must gauge the effectiveness of its ECOWARN early warning system, and the organizations ability and willingness to respond to threats in a country that is its largest funder and contributor of troops. Both ECOWAS and the AU need to play a constructive and sustained role in urging domestic actors to secure a solution to Nigeria’s current political problems. (…)
Read the full policy brief.
1. Interview: The Responsibility to Protect, Francis Deng
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Dr. Aidan Hehir
26 March 2010
Dr. Aidan Hehir interviewed UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Francis Deng in August 2009. Below are excerpts from the interview, which covered a range of RtoP-related issues including the norm’s relation to intervention, the political will of the international community and of the Security Council, and the added-value of the norm itself.
(...) JISB: Was the possibility of external intervention inherent in your idea of a sovereignty as responsibility seen as a threat to state sovereignty?
FD: I used to say that the only threats to governments posed by the idea of sovereignty as responsibility was when they failed to discharge their responsibilities. So if the government functions well in every way in terms of democracy, in terms of equitable distribution of resources, in terms of development, services, then this is the ideal structure of prevention and you are therefore not likely to witness escalating domestic disturbances. Ideally you come in early-on when the country may still be hoping to get help in dealing with situations. That is the kind of prevention where you are helping the country to discharge its own responsibility to its own people and this may generate more cooperation than if you wait until the situation become clearly genocidal, or when the government has failed and it is a collapsed state, or a very weak state, where you can just go in and dictate your will without any risks. Or waiting until the interests of the intervening parties are so high that they’re willing to risk the lives of their people. To wait until you need military intervention has its own problems but if we can get involved, once we begin to see that there is evidence of possible problems, then you can engage in constructive dialogue. For example the diplomatic initiatives which led to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Kenya in 2008 are now being used as an example of where this aspect of sovereignty as responsibility did work. (…)
JISB: Critics of R2P say that it has, in fact, changed very little; if there was an intra-state conflict or crisis prior to the emergence of R2P, the issue would have been publicized by NGOs and the international media, and ultimately possibly put on the agenda of the Security Council. The Security Council would have debated the issue and in certain cases concluded that under Chapter VII of the Charter this situation constituted a threat to international peace and security and necessitated some form of intervention. This happened a number of times in the 1990s; since the emergence of R2P you still have this exact same progression up to the Security Council which has the ultimate authority and, crucially, the discretion to act. So has R2P really changed anything?
FD: That’s a very good question and frankly it’s a question that I have begun to ask myself and not only in relation to R2P, but even with respect to my mandate on genocide protection. Now the answer I give to this question I haven’t said much about it to anybody but I’ve voiced it once or twice is that perhaps there is nothing new here. But, what we’re doing is sharpening our consciousness of the problem and rallying forces together with a sharper focus on how to act to resolve, to address these problems, to protect populations. It’s almost a restatement of resolve and perhaps a rearrangement of our tools or a mobilization of the relevant tools and relevant actors, to be alert to what needs to be done and to be mobilized to do it.(...)
Read the full interview.
2. Serbia apologizes for 1995 Massacre
31 March 2010
Serbia's parliament has passed a landmark resolution apologizing for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre - Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. The motion, approved by a narrow majority, says Serbia should have done more to prevent the tragedy. It stopped short of calling the Bosnian war killings a genocide. The murder of nearly 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces - allies of then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.The massacre, in what was supposed to have been a UN safe haven, became a symbol for the atrocities of the Balkan wars. Meanwhile, a Dutch court has rejected an attempt to hold the United Nations responsible for the killings.
The resolution - which the Serbian government sees as a crucial step in its attempts to join the European Union - was approved after almost 13 hours of heated negotiations in the Belgrade parliament.
The pro-Western governing coalition managed to pass the motion with a slim majority - 127 MPs voted in favour, out of a total of 250. Only 173 were present for the vote.
"The parliament of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995," says the text. It formally extends "condolences and an apology to the families of the victims because not everything was done to prevent the tragedy." The head of the governing coalition's parliamentary group said during the debate that approval would help close a tragic chapter in Balkan history.
"Condemning the crime against the Bosniaks of Srebrenica, while paying respect to the innocent victims and offering condolences to their families, will lift the burden off future generations," Nada Kolundzija was quoted as saying by Serbia's B92 website.
But opposition deputies criticised the text, describing it as "shameful" for Serbia. Some nationalist politicians voted against, while others abstained in protest. Velimir Ilic, an opposition MP, said: "Why do you want to put a mark on the future generations that they will never wash away?" Serbian nationalists had argued that any resolution must also denounce crimes committed by Bosniaks and Croats during the 1992-95 war.The BBC's Mark Lowen in Belgrade says the resolution comes after years of denial in Serbia that the Srebrenica massacre even took place. The resolution has been criticised by Bosniaks and Muslims in Serbia because it does not describe the Srebrenica massacre as an act of genocide. It has been recognised as such by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. (…)
Read full article here
3. Governments Have Duty to Aid Citizens Caught in a Nightmare
The Japan Times
5 April 2010
Australian businessman Stern Hu has been convicted of taking bribes and stealing state secrets and sentenced to 10 years jail in China. International standards of a free and fair trial do not seem to have been met. Did the Rudd government do all within its powers to help him? Did the Howard government do enough, and early enough, to help Australian citizen David Hicks who was caught up in the nightmare of Guantanamo? Canadians too have been caught up in nightmarish situations overseas — from being trapped in Lebanon during the 2006 war to being renditioned to Syria, sent to Guantanamo, imprisoned in Mexico and detained in Kenya. Seventeen Indians have just been sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates for the murder of one man. What is the limit of assistance that the Indian government should provide them? Last Tuesday, Delhi announced that it would help the 17 to file an appeal in a superior court.
Occasionally some Japanese individuals or nongovernment organization worker gets caught in life-threatening situations while overseas, sometimes as a consequence of their own irresponsible or reckless behavior. Does this absolve the Japanese government of all responsibility for their welfare? Given the numbers of people who travel internationally, it is easier for most of us to think "There but for the grace of God" for these types of problems than to empathize with foreign victims of atrocity crimes. The responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine was developed to help the latter. Does the notion of responsibility as sovereignty have anything to contribute to helping fellow-citizens trapped in difficulties abroad?
The idea of sovereignty as responsibility to people within and the world community without — rather than as a shield for internal abuses against external scrutiny — has been around for some time. Popularized by a Canadian-sponsored but independent international commission, it was adopted unanimously by world leaders at the U.N. summit in 2005 and reaffirmed by the U.N. General Assembly last year. Sovereignty confers domestic and international responsibility as well as rights on a state. When a state cannot honor this responsibility, for whatever reason, the responsibility to protect at-risk populations from mass atrocities trips upward to the international community acting through the United Nations.
But responsible sovereignty cannot be restricted just to one function. In an age when travel is increasingly commonplace, does not a government have a corresponding duty to protect citizens on foreign soil? If Israeli Jews are taken hostage and face being killed in a foreign land, does Israel have a right but not the duty to use all means necessary to save them?
There are five critical differences between R2P as we outlined it in our original commission and the duty to protect as argued here. First, R2P is about the responsibility of a state for actions within its own territory, whereas the duty to protect is about its responsibility in foreign jurisdictions. Second, R2P applies to everyone physically present in a state: citizens, immigrants, tourists, students, etc. The duty to protect would be limited to citizens when overseas. Third, R2P concerns mass atrocities (war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing). The duty to protect can be activated when crimes and injustices are committed against individuals.
Fourth, it is the large numbers and the gravity of the crimes (atrocities) that together would shock the international community's conscience and activate the international responsibility to protect if and when the host government is unwilling or unable to do so.
But where the numbers affected are just one or a few, and in cases where the harm falls short of atrocity crimes, for example being falsely charged and imprisoned but not tortured or killed, there is no international or global remedy available today. This becomes a matter for the country in whose jurisdiction the breach occurs and for the country whose national is being harmed.
Fifth, R2P was carefully chosen to emphasize the moral dimension without stepping over into a legal obligation as exists, for example, under the Genocide Convention (which is one reason why the United States was so resistant to calling the Rwanda killings in 1994 genocide). The duty to protect, on the other hand, does impose a legal obligation.
Therein lies the problem. Leaving it as a state prerogative would, from a government's perspective, permit it a welcome degree of discretionary latitude. It could choose to come to the assistance of citizens caught in nightmare situations in unpleasant or rogue regimes but stay away from cases in friendly countries. It could provide maximum help to "good" Australians or Canadians caught in bad countries but choose silence and indifference where they are held by allied governments for suspected terrorist offenses. The difficulty with this is how do we know the discretion is applied fairly, objectively and on reliable and credible ("slam dunk") evidence as opposed to willfully, whimsically and erroneously?
If we want to live in a nation of laws, there is little practical alternative to grounding our protection in the majesty of laws. It is not possible to be tough on terrorists and crime. (…)
Read full article here
4. ASEAN Ponders A New Regional Structure
12 April 2010
After nearly two years of soul searching and sometimes emotional outbursts among concerned countries, Asean members have begun serious discussions on the shape of the regional architecture in East Asia that they would like to see evolving. (…)
The consultative process has placed Asean in an awkward position - a kind of wake-up call - as the grouping continues to stress its centrality in the overall scheme of things without providing its own initiative other than entrenched positions. Changes came last week at the just-concluded Asean Summit in Hanoi. Singapore proposed three variables of the new regional architecture that would maintain the centrality of Asean. But myriad questions remain unanswered.
(…) The other plan is the expansion of the five-year-old East Asian Summit (EAS) launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2005. Again, the US and Russia would be invited as dialogue partners with the EAS founding members. Their meeting could be more flexible. The so-called EAS+2 could be held every two or three years. Obviously, such an arrangement would not be welcomed in Washington and Moscow as it would downgrade their status in meeting the bloc'sleaders, even though such a two- or three-year interval makes possible their leaders' participation.
The final variable is to keep the EAS-plus formula with an open end. This would enable Asean to form a new regional architecture using its own existing institution. In all the frameworks, the US and Russia would feature in them. (…)
Throughout its 43-year history, Asean members have rarely shared common views on political and security issues, mainly due to different security perceptions and concerns over national sovereignty and integrity. During the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, Asean did hold a common position. So does it on the current struggle of the Palestinians for self-determination. On non-security issues, for instance, Asean is more inclined to stand together.
As Asean takes on a larger role and engages in transnational challenges such as climate change, non-proliferation, disaster management, oil and food security, international peacekeeping and terrorism, common Asean positions are necessary. Otherwise, Asean's future cohesiveness would be further eroded and its credibility threatened.
It remains to be seen how each member will define or in many cases readjust their positions on key issues to be identified as common Asean positions. For instance, both Singapore and Indonesia are more active in the field of climate change and wish to have their Asean colleagues on board. But there was no consensus. In peacekeeping, Indonesia and Thailand are pushing for a common Asean platform and policies as almost all members have already contributed to the UN operation. But they have never discussed or acted jointly. The two countries are also strong advocates of the principle of responsibility to protect.
Internationally, all Asean members are linked to the UN Human Rights Council and subjected to the universal peer reviews on human rights in their countries. Sad but true, the Asean Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights has not adopted this practice. Furthermore, the ongoing turf war between AICHR and the newly establish Asean Commission to Protect the Rights of Women and Children over which body can best protect human rights in Asean is another case in point. This kind of double standard is a mockery of the high-standard rule-based principles set forth by Asean.
Among the old Asean members, this realisation is getting stronger and more visible. They know full well that Asean centrality depends on actions, not verbal repetitions - something the other half of Asean is capable of doing. Asean has come a long way and has to deliver before it can proudly remain central in the larger scheme of things to come - such as the building of a new regional architecture.
Read for article here
1. Cardozo Law School’s Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies presents a panel on the ICC and Justice: Through the Lens of Sudan
19 April 2010, 6pm
The Jacob Burns Moot Court Room
55 Fifth Avenue, First Floor (at 12th Street) New York
On March 4, 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In February, the Court amended the charges to include genocide. Both the indictment and appeal have placed the ICC at the center of a very public and political conflict, eliciting strong reactions on all sides from the international community, and raising questions about both the future of the ICC as an institution and its role in bringing justice and sustainable peace to post-conflict states such as Sudan. What are the implications of the indictment? What has happened in the year since its issuance? Does seeking this type of justice conflict with the peace process? What should be the ICC's role in Sudan? Or in any conflict?
Please join us in a discussion with Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch; John Norris, Executive Director of Enough at the Center for American Progress, and Adam M. Smith, Associate at Covington and Burling, LLP and author of After Genocide: Bringing the Devil to Justice. The panel will be moderated by Cardozo Law student Nicholas Katz.
2. Center for Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum presents Genocide and Activism Lecture featuring Ruth Messinger
20 April 2010, 6:30pm
Center for Jewish History
New York, New York
Join us for a frank discussion about the current state of genocide around the globe. What can we do to confront these ongoing atrocities? How should we respond as individuals, as nations, and as human beings? And what does the life of Raphael Lemkin teach us about the power and potential of an individual in the face of a world gone mad? We will be joined by Ruth Messenger, President of American Jewish World Service, as well as other activists, to discuss the ongoing challenge of confronting genocide in our world. A tour of the related exhibition, "Letters of Conscience: Raphael Lemkin and the Quest to End Genocide," will precede the program at 6:00pm. Admission: $15 general, $12 members, $5 students.
For reservations, please call SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or visit