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International response to increased violence in Syria, Civilians remain at risk as stalemate persists in Libya, Civil society voices support for new U.S. initiatives to prevent atrocities
 
 
1. Lara Yeo, Citizens for Global Solutions – Response to Violence in Syria: Why the UN Security Council Presidential Statement Matters
2. Amnesty International, Avaaz, Global Centre for R2P, Human Rights Watch - NGOs release letter supporting decision to send IBSA delegation to Syria
3. International Federation for Human Rights – Open letter to the members of the UN Security Council
 
1. Tim Dunne, Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P - Libya and the State of Intervention
2. Human Rights Watch - Handing Qaddafi a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card
 
1. Enough Project - New U.S. Policy Needed for Sudan, South Sudan
 
1. Burma: International Federation for Human Rights – Open letter: France must rally the European Union to support a UN inquiry into international crimes in Burma
2. Côte d’Ivoire: International Crisis Group – A Critical Period for Ensuring Stability in Côte d’Ivoire
 
1. United Nations – Secretary-General Welcomes ‘Promising’ Initiatives to Help Prevent Genocide, Mass Atrocities, Says Responsibility to Protect Bolstered by Strong National Measures
2. Human Rights Watch – Presidential Directives a Step to Ensuring ‘Never Again’
3. United States Institute of Peace – USIP’s Lawrence Woocher on the New Steps to Prevent Genocide
 
VI. RtoP Related Events
 1. Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats – Human Security and Responsibility to Protect: Global Responses to International Obligations
2. Montréal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies – The Promise of the Media in Halting Mass Atrocities
 

 
 
UN Response to indiscriminate attacks on civilians
Amid the sharp increase in violence in Syria, and following three days of internal debate, the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement
on 3 August condemning the situation in Syria while reaffirming its “strong commitment to the sovereignty…and territorial integrity of Syria.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded the statement, calling it a “clear message from the international community” to the Syrian authorities to cease their violent crackdown on civilians while adding that “those responsible should be held to account.” On 10 August, UN political officer, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco briefed the Security Council as part of the seven-day update period requested within the statement, informing that over 2,000 civilians have been killed to date. Member States made statements at the meeting, but no resolution or agreement was reached. 
 
On 5 August a group of United Nations human rights experts renewed their call for an immediate end to the violent strategies employed by the Syrian regime. UN Special Rapporteur, Christof Heyns reiterated , “no state is allowed to use its military force against an unarmed civilian population regardless of the situation prevailing on the ground.” 
 
Reaction of the Syrian government and continued attacks on protestors
Immediately following the Council’s presidential statement, Syrian President Assad 
decreed on 4 August   that he would allow a multi-party political system, effective immediately. However, Syrian activists dismissed this move claiming, “it was an attempt to divert attention from the violent repression of protests,” which continue to leave many dead. Amid attacks in town such as Deir ez-Zor, Hama, and Deraa, 300 people have died in the last week, according to an activist’s testimony given to Al Jazeera, as the government seeks to prevent large mosque gatherings from transforming into anti-government protests during the holy month of Ramadan. Civilians reportedly fear attacks if they leave their homes to take wounded to the hospital. Reports also say security forces posted on the outskirts of Hama have prevented the influx of needed foodstuffs. 
 
Regional responses to the crisis
The Arab League joined in calling for an end to the violence on 7 August, and urged a “serious dialogue” between Syrian authorities and protestors, but stressed that it would not take action itself. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have all withdrawn their ambassadors from Syria and condemned the crackdown on protestors. Jordan called the escalation of violence “disturbing” and the Gulf Co-operation Council urged an “end to the bloodshed.” Moreover, on 9 August, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a close ally of Syria, announced in a meeting with President Assad that Ankara had “run out of patience” with the situation. The India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) released a statement on 11 August that called for an “immediate end to all violence” in Syria and for all parties to exercise restraint; however, the statement did not call for further action to protect civilians and, in regards to the violent measures carried out by the Syrian government, merely noted that President Assad “acknowledged that some mistakes had been made by security forces.”
 
Calls from civil society
Human Rights Watch has 
called on the Security Council to press Syria to “comply with the Council’s demands to end attacks on peaceful protestors” and has urged the Assad government to fully cooperate with the Council’s statement as well with the investigation into human rights violations, led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Meanwhile, Amnesty International called the statement from the Security Council inadequate, remarking that after months of violence the Council had issued only a non-binding presidential statement without a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty International called for a resolution to freeze the assets of Assad and his senior associates and to impose an arms embargo.
 
1. Response to Violence in Syria: Why the UN Security Council Presidential Statement Matters
Lara Yeo
Citizens for Global Solutions
5 August 2011
  
(…) On Wednesday the Security Council released a presidential statement concerning Syria  by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India, who is the acting President of the Council this month. The statement calls upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to implement democratic reforms, demanding a peaceful Syrian-led transformation of government from one that perpetrates crimes against humanity to one that respects and protects fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and assembly.
 
The statement is the first formal UN document to condemn the violence and gross human rights violations that have occurred in Syria since March. (…)
 
(…) This is an important first step towards substantive UN action in Syria and comes after months of pressure from the international community.
 
However, a presidential statement is not a legally binding document and does not contain accountability measures or repercussions. Basically, it does not contain a blueprint for action. Security Council resolutions, on the other hand, are legally binding UN documents that hold criminal leaders accountable. For example, a resolution referring Assad to the International Criminal Court (ICC) would lead to the ICC taking action and issuing an arrest warrant. This sort of action will only come out of a resolution, not a presidential statement. Tyrannical rulers such as Assad are unlikely to respond to a statement, but are unable to ignore the passage of a resolution when it directly implicates their actions in the international legal system. (…)
 
(…) Citizens for Global Solutions urges the Security Council member states in opposition to a resolution on Syria to seriously consider the responsibility to protect civilians in cases where the government has failed to do so, and the responsibility not to veto Security Council resolutions in cases of humanitarian crises. As China and Russia have threatened to use their veto power in the past, we hope the U.S. will continue to push for a resolution regardless of the threat of veto by China or Russia, and work with other members of the opposition including India and South Africa to secure their support.
 
While the statement is a step in the right direction, we still need the resolution. Citizens for Global Solutions remains one voice of many calling on the Security Council to pass a resolution on Syria as soon as possible that refers President Bashar al-Assad to the ICC. (…)
 
See full article.
 
2. NGOs release letter supporting decision to send IBSA delegation to Syria
Amnesty International, Avaaz, Global Centre for R2P, Human Rights Watch
4 August 2011
 
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Avaaz issued an open letter on 4 August addressed to the IBSA delegation to Syria outlining their priorities for human rights protection.
 
(…) We welcome your governments’ decision to send a joint delegation to Syria. This is an important initiative of the IBSA countries with the potential to help end the human rights violations against civilians in Syria. (…)
   
We believe it is essential, now the Security Council has finally spoken, that the delegation amplifies the message of the Council’s Presidential Statement of August 3. Following on that statement, your discussions should of course center on urging the Syrian authorities to uphold their responsibility to protect and immediately cease the use of systematic violence against civilians. In particular, you should call on Syria to end the use of lethal violence and other excessive force against peaceful protestors, and respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
 
(…) We hope that you will urge the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the OHCHR mission and provide it immediate and unfettered access, especially to places of detention. It is also vital that you stress the importance of access for humanitarian missions, foreign journalists and independent human rights groups.
 
In addition, we hope that you will give high priority during your mission to seeking the release of political prisoners. (…)
 
We very much hope that the IBSA mechanism will help end the atrocities in Syria, thereby contributing to establishing the effectiveness of efforts by your countries to uphold international peace and security. (…)
 
Please see full letter.
 
3. Open letter to the members of the UN Security Council
International Federation for Human Rights
2 August 2011
 
FIDH and its members and partner organizations in Syria issued and open letter to the members of the UN Security Council on 2 August expressing serious concern about the augmented level of violence, the ongoing brutal repression, as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. The letter also urged them to act under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and apply the Responsibility to Protect in addressing what may amount to crimes against humanity.

(…) The UN High Commissioner for Human rights, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN Secretary General have all called the Syrian authorities to put an end to the repression, but this has not had an impact on the situation. On July 22, United Nations watchdogs, Francis Deng, the UN Special Adviser of the Secretary General on the prevention of Genocide and Edward Luck, the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect alerted that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed. (…)

We thus call upon members of the United Nations Security Council to intervene urgently in application of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as well as of their Responsibility to Protect, which world leaders affirmed at the World Summit of 2005, in order to prevent the commission of further crimes, protect the civilian population and prosecute those responsible, in adopting a resolution which, inter alia,
 
• Calls upon the Syrian government to 
 
• Immediately put an end to the use of force and violence against the civilian population, and to put an end to the perpetration of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law;
 
• Release all the individuals arrested and detained since the beginning of the uprising;
 
• Respect in all circumstances the right to peaceful assembly;
 
• Ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies, and humanitarian agencies and workers, into the country;
 
• Enable unrestricted access, including to all places of detention, to Syrian and international human rights monitors, notably the mission dispatched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in application of the UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/S-16/1 of 29 April 2011;

• Decides to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in application of Article 13b of the Rome Statute;

• Establishes an embargo to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related material to Syria or through Syrian officials;

• Establishes a list of individuals and authorities responsible for these violations and their submission to a travel ban and the freezing of their financial assets and economic resources. (...)
 
Read complete open letter.
 
 
Violence in Libya continues as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement reiterating that the international community must work together to prevent further loss of life in Libya, and saying he is, “deeply concerned by reports of the unacceptably large number of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Libya.” UN Envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib met with the Benghazi-based Libyan Transitional National Council in late July to discuss a political solution to the conflict, but no firm initiative has yet been reached. Both sides continue combat, while senior opposition official, Mahmoud Jibreel promises to reject any initiative that does not involve removing Gaddafi from power. The US is urging several African states to give up support for Gaddafi, and on 10 August the EU imposed new economic sanctions on “two further entities linked to the perpetrators of the serious human rights abuses in Libya.” Meanwhile, as of 26 July the Guardian reported that the governments of the UK and France offered Gaddafi the option to stay in Libya if he relinquishes power. The suggestion to allow Gaddafi to escape justice was refuted by the ICC, which stated that a new Libyan state would be obliged to arrest him, and that any deal would need to respect Resolution 1970 and the ICC arrest warrant.
 
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) issued an open letter to ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo on 29 July urging him to continue investigations into crimes committed in Libya and to maintain a strong commitment to accountability. Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch also reaffirmed the ICC’s sentiments, arguing that to grant Gaddafi amnesty is only a short sighted solution, and that international law should be upheld and justice pursued. In another report from 10 August, Amnesty International called upon NATO to investigate recent air strikes following allegations of heavy civilian casualties by Libyan officials, showing that both sides must be held accountable for upholding their responsibility to protect populations.
 
1. Libya and the State of Intervention
Tim Dunne
R2P Ideas in brief: Vol. 1 No. 1 (2011)
Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
August 2011
 
Tim Dunne, Research Director at the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, has contributed to R2P IDEAS in brief, focusing on difficult issues related to Libya and state intervention, including the hard question about RtoP and regime change.  It also provides a brief background on past humanitarian actions, and the context of Australia's activism on RtoP.
 
The ‘revolution’ in moral consciousness that is symbolized by the acceptance of universal human rights and their protection through the doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P), is at best incomplete. For every case of protective intervention there are instances of nonintervention (for Libya, why not Syria?), and for every articulate defender of the doctrine there is a profoundly pessimistic voice (Ed Luck for R2P, and David Rieff against). (…)
 
As this briefing has shown, Libya is in many ways an exemplar of coercive ‘pillar 3’ action undertaken by a humanitarian coalition after the manifest failure of the host government to live up to its responsibilities to safeguard the basic rights of its citizens. (…) Libya proves, to Rieff and others, that internationalists’ adherence to process is superficial and that the endgame for NATO action is regime change (citing UK General Richards’ claim that consideration had to be given to widening the range of targets). An obvious response to the critics is that it is too soon to tell, and Libya might yet prove to be a successful example whereby a limited humanitarian war is fought within the mandate and for specific purposes. Achieving this becomes a prelude to disengagement and a transfer of full sovereignty – over land and air – back to the Libyan people.
 
Critics and advocates of the Libya case all agree that R2P works best when it is preventive, they disagree on what happens when prevention has failed, and in a situation where ‘every hour and day that goes by increases the burden of responsibility on our shoulders’, as the French ambassador to the United Nations put it just prior to the vote on Resolution 1973. (…)
 
Read full briefing here
 
2. Handing Qaddafi a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card
Human Rights Watch
1 August 2011
 
(…) When the United Nations Security Council unanimously referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court prosecutor on Feb. 26, it made clear that impunity for crimes against humanity threatens international peace and security. The referral sent a strong message that systematic attacks with deadly force against peaceful protesters have criminal consequences.
Now, the governments that took the lead in the 15-to-0 Security Council vote — Britain, France and the United States — seem to be negotiating a deal that, if it goes through, would short-circuit justice by sidelining the court’s proceedings for victims in Libya.
 
Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, said recently that it was important for Muammar el Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, to relinquish all power, but that after that: “What happens to Qaddafi is ultimately a question for the Libyans.” This turnabout is enough to set even the nimblest diplomatic head spinning.
 
After setting the wheels of justice in motion, all Security Council members — and these three countries in particular — should be reaffirming the message that impunity is no longer an option, instead of proffering a get out of jail free card to end a military stalemate. Amnesty for mass atrocities, whether explicit or de facto, has no legal validity internationally. (…)
 
Now that there is an independent international judicial process in place the process should be allowed to play out. Moreover, the I.C.C. prosecutor should apply the law impartially and investigate alleged crimes by the Libyan rebels as well as any committed by NATO forces. It is simply too late to turn back the clock.
 
An offer of amnesty to an accused sitting head of state can make the situation a lot worse by sending a signal that there will be no cost for slaughtering as many people as possible in the effort to cling to power. If more brutality works, the leader is home free. If it doesn’t keep him in power, there’s no penalty for having tried. This is an awful message to abusive leaders around the world — if they hang on long enough, tiring out the opposition forces, all will be forgiven. (…)
 
In addition to renouncing judicial principle and creating a troubling precedent, a plan that gives Qaddafi a comfortable retirement (inside or outside of Libya) is short-sighted. Qaddafi, who holds no official government post and exercises enormous power through his presence, would remain a destabilizing figure, and the Libyan people would probably not feel free from fear and intimidation. Moreover, effectively amnestying the top leaders would also make it difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute anyone else in the regime for crimes committed there over 40 years of Qaddafi’s rule.
 
In the short-term, it is easy to understand the temptation to forego justice in an effort to end an armed conflict. But instead of putting a conflict to rest, a de-facto amnesty that grants immunity for crimes against humanity may just spur another cycle of grave abuses while failing to bring peace. (…)
 
See full article
 
 
Humanitarian Situation and Developments in South Sudan
UNISFA Peacekeepers have begun taking up their posts in the region of Abyei, in an effort to stabilize the region and protect the population. Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations stated on 27 July that 113,000 persons remain displaced in the area, but noted, “while the security situation in Abyei remains tense, both sides appear to be committed to avoiding an escalation of violence and ready to cooperate with UNISFA.”
  
Meanwhile, on 3 August the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) declared a ceasefire, announcing intentions to integrate into the southern army under amnesty offered by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to various militias fighting in the south. However, the populations in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains continue to suffer ethnic-based violence from mass killings, air strikes and the withholding of food by the Sudanese government.
 
Calls for Action to Protect Civilians
Civil society organizations, such as the Enough Project and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), continue to call for action to protect civilians. FIDH and its Sudanese member organizations have also called for the serious human rights and humanitarian law violations to be addressed. As John Prendergast of the Enough Project noted, both Sudans still face serious challenges despite the peaceful separation. Mr. Prendergast advocated for new U.S. policy to be rooted in the norm of the Responsibility to Protect and to address the crimes against humanity committed in the Nuba Mountains in the report, “A New U.S. Policy for Two New Sudans.” Bishop Andudu Elnail of South Kordofan capital, Kadugli, testified at an emergency hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Africa in Washington D.C. on 4 August about the violence in South Kordofan in an effort to inform U.S. policy in Khartoum, stating “the United States and the international community, including the African Union, must act. The U.S. and others committed to the responsibility to protect must stop the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.” 
 
International effort was underway during a two-day seminar finishing on 26 July when UN officials, public servants, and representatives from civil society convened in South Sudan in an effort to, create awareness about genocide prevention and response, and propose concrete measures to bolster political will to fight mass atrocities based on possible policies established by the Office of the UN Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect.
 
Continued Concern for Situation in Darfur
Concern also stretches to the Darfur region where, on 8 August, an alliance was sealed between the SPLM of Southern Kordofan and two factions of the SLM in Darfur allowing all political and military means necessary to overthrow the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The UN has extended the mandate of the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) for another twelve months, and demanded that all parties engage in immediate talks without preconditions to reach a peace agreement. This move was disputed by the Sudanese government, which threatened to cancel UNAMID’s mandate on 9 August on the grounds that its renewal seeks to change its original mandate.
  
1. New U.S. Policy Needed for Sudan, South Sudan
Enough Project
4 August 2011
 
(…) The partition of Sudan creates a major opportunity for a re-set in U.S. policy toward both Sudan and South Sudan, the Enough Project said in a new paper. The urgent human rights crisis in the Nuba Mountains, the continuing emergency in Darfur, the successful secession of the South, and the political reforms sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East provide unprecedented entry points for the U.S. and other interested parties to finally address the root causes of Sudan's cyclical conflicts.
 
The paper, “A New U.S. Policy for Two New Sudans,” explains the region’s disparate conflicts in the Nuba Mountains, Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and within South Sudan and calls on a comprehensive approach to ending these crises and dealing with the instigators in the Khartoum government. (…)
  
The essay asserts that U.S. policy towards Sudan and South Sudan needs to be rooted in the responsibility to protect civilians. Prendergast calls on the Obama administration to consider all options to protect civilians from terrorizing airstrikes. Options that should be considered include a no-fly zone, targeted strikes against government air assets that are carrying out attacks, and the provision of appropriate air defense capabilities for the Nuba.  Absent this, the cycle of war crimes will continue, moving from region to region as it fits Khartoum’s strategy, he said.
 
“A specific focus on the responsibility to protect civilian populations must drive and inform international action. (…) It is time to intensify a robust examination and discussion of all the options available to fulfill the international responsibility to protect mandate, with a focus on ending the air attacks and denial of food that are two of the primary tactics of the Khartoum regime in the Nuba Mountains.” (…)
 
See full press release
See full report,  “A New U.S. Policy for Two New Sudans” by John Prendergast.
See earlier report, “Rethinking Sudan After Southern Succession” by Amanda Hslao and Laura Jones.
 
 
1. Burma: France must rally the European Union to support a UN inquiry into international crimes in Burma
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
8 August 2011
 
Info-Birmanie, the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (LDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) and the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) issued an open letter on 8 August addressed to Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic of France, Mr. Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Thierry Mathou, Ambassador of France to Burma urging them to address the “deteriorating human rights situation in Burma as well as the impact of the ongoing conflict in ethnic nationalities areas.”

(…) In order to address impunity which is the country’s biggest obstacle to reconciliation and democratic transition, our organizations call on your authority to urge the international community, especially the European Union, to act to establish a United Nations-mandated Commission of Inquiry into international crimes committed in Burma. (…)

The abuses documented by UN institutions and procedures and their description in past General Assembly resolutions provide prima facie evidence that points to the commission of numerous different types of war crimes and crimes against humanity. (…) 

The EU is responsible for drafting this year’s General Assembly resolution on Burma. FIDH, LDH, Altsean-Burma, Info-Birmanie and BLC call on France to mobilize all EU Member States to fully support the inclusion in the resolution of a request to set up a Commission of Inquiry. We believe it is high time that the international community recognize and confront the unwillingness of the Burmese authorities to end impunity for international crimes which continue unabated after the sham elections in November 2010. (…)
 
The EU, as a key stakeholder, has both the moral leadership and imperative to heed the calls of the UN and uphold their responsibility to protect the people of Burma from international crimes. The EU has also traditionally supported efforts for accountability around the world. It is therefore time for the EU to demonstrate political will and leadership in establishing a Commission of Inquiry through a UNGA resolution. As far as ASEAN is concerned, it is only sensible for it to stop being complicit in prolonging impunity in Burma, since it has been dealing with the regional consequences of international crimes committed there. Once established, a Commission of Inquiry and Burma’s cooperation with it will assist ASEAN in determining whether Burma is  appropriately qualified to chair ASEAN, and in evaluating Burma’s commitment to democracy. (…)
 
See full letter
 
2. Côte d’Ivoire: A Critical Period for Ensuring Stability in Côte d’Ivoire
International Crisis Group
1 August 2011
 
(…) The coming to power of the elected President Ouattara should not mask reality. Côte d’Ivoire remains fragile and unstable. The atrocities after the second round of the presidential elections on 28 November 2010 and Laurent Gbagbo’s attempt to retain power by all means despite losing the election exacerbated already acute tensions. The next months are crucial. The new government must not underestimate the threats that will long jeopardise peace and must avoid the narcotic of power that has caused so many disastrous decisions over recent decades. The international community must keep careful watch during the transition and stay involved with security, the economy and humanitarian aid. The president must make courageous decisions on security, justice, political dialogue and economic revival, imbuing each with a spirit of national reconciliation.
 
Security is the first challenge. The murderous events between December 2010 and April 2011 shattered the security apparatus. The military hierarchy was split between desperate, violent Gbagbo defenders, his less zealous supporters, discreet Ouattara supporters and opportunists, all in an atmosphere of mistrust. The new Forces républicaines (FRCI) remains an uncertain project. The priority is to integrate several thousand Forces Nouvelles (FN) fighters into the new army.
 
The FN former rebels, who helped Ouattara take power by force in Abidjan, play a disproportionate role in the FRCI. Soldiers from Prime Minister Soro’s movement dominate Abidjan and the west, in addition to the north of the country they controlled for the last eight years. They are badly trained, disorderly and commanded by warlords not in a good position to establish rule of law. If the government cannot prevail over FN area commanders quickly and re-establish order before the legislative elections, the president’s standing will be irreparably damaged. Large numbers of weapons must be surrendered (…)
 
In a country where more than 3,000 were killed in five months, often cruelly and not in combat, reconciliation and justice are imperative. This is the second priority. (…)
 
The government seems to be focusing on punishing the defeated. Several Gbagbo associates have been charged, and the justice system is investigating economic crimes of his clan. There is no doubt about the seriousness of crimes committed by Gbagbo’s military and civilian allies before and during the crisis or the need for investigation. But no charges have yet been brought against supporters of the new president who also committed serious crimes. Statements by President Ouattara at home and abroad, notably in the U.S., clearly indicate a desire for impartial justice. (…)
   
The international community must help make a smooth passage through a delicate period. (…) UNOCI peacekeepers must increase patrols, work with the civilian authorities and the local population and coordinate deployment of the blue helmets with humanitarian agency personnel. Finally, the UN must work with Côte d’Ivoire’s international partners and the government to quickly re-establish the police and gendarmerie forces. (…)
 
At the political level, the UN must help install a climate favourable to holding legislative elections by promoting dialogue between all Ivorian parties. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative should define new criteria for his mandate to certify those elections. He could also work to prevent and mitigate local conflicts by focusing on his roles as mediator, facilitator and adviser to the government. And in the short term, the UN, African organisations and donors must prioritise economic development projects that also promote reconciliation, with emphasis on the regions and communities most affected by the recent conflict. (…)
 
See full report (en français)
 
  
1. Secretary-General Welcomes ‘Promising’ Initiatives to Help Prevent Genocide, Mass Atrocities, Says Responsibility to Protect Bolstered by Strong National Measures
United Nations
9 August 2011
 
The Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on 8 August.
 
(…) The Secretary-General welcomes the steps announced by the President of the United States on 4 August to strengthen his Government’s capacity to help prevent genocide and other mass atrocity crimes.  If the responsibility to protect is to become fully operational, the solemn commitments undertaken by Member States at the United Nations will have to be matched by innovative and sustained measures at the national level. (…)
 
Under a responsibility to protect framework, Costa Rica, Denmark and Ghana have established a network of focal points in Member State capitals for the prevention and halting of mass atrocities.  Argentina, Switzerland and Tanzania have convened a series of regional conferences on the prevention of genocide.
 
The Secretary-General looks forward to working with all Member States, regional and subregional arrangements and civil society on early and coordinated action to prevent mass atrocities. (…)
 
See full statement
 
2. Presidential Directives a Step to Ensuring ‘Never Again’
Human Rights Watch
4 August 2011
 
(…) US President Barack Obama has issued two directives that will, if vigorously implemented, strengthen the US government’s commitment and capacity to prevent mass atrocities and other grave human rights violations around the world, Human Rights Watch said today.
 
The presidential directives, issued on August 4, 2011, create a high-level Atrocities Prevention Board within the US government to provide early warning of impending atrocities and human rights crises abroad and to recommend early action to prevent such crimes. (…)
 
“Streamlining the system won’t resolve the difficult question of whether and how the US should respond when a Rwanda-type genocide happens,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “But these directives should help to overcome the bureaucratic resistance and indifference that often delays steps that might prevent such catastrophes in the first place.”
 
Obama also directed the US State Department to deny US visas to those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of human rights. (…)
 
These measures are a helpful example of the concrete steps governments can take to carry out the “responsibility to protect,” Human Rights Watch said. (…)
 
Human Rights Watch expressed hope that this effort will elevate the prevention of serious international crimes to a higher plane among the United States’ many competing international priorities, and create permanent structures that will speed needed action in this and future US administrations.
 
Human Rights Watch also called on the Obama administration to carry out the new policy for denying visas consistently, including with respect to political officials responsible for serious human rights abuses in countries with which the United States maintains close relationships. (…)
 
See full article
 
3. USIP’s Lawrence Woocher on the New Steps to Prevent Genocide
United States Institute of Peace
4 August 2011
 
(…) USIP’s Lawrence Woocher discusses President Barack Obama’s major announcement Thursday on new steps to prevent mass atrocities, including the creation of an interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and other initiatives.
 
What will the interagency Atrocities Prevention Board do? What role will it play in policymaking?
 
The White House announcement states that the new board will “coordinate a whole-of-government approach to engaging ‘early, proactively, and decisively’” in situations at risk of mass atrocities. It remains to be seen how it will operate in practice, but one important role indicated in the White House announcement would be to link risk assessments with the development of interagency preventive strategies. No systematic process currently exists to fill this critical function. As a result, despite the benefits of preventive action, a reactive culture prevails. (…) Therefore, a more systematic and coordinated interagency approach should ensure that a fuller range of options are presented to senior decision-makers before crises become full blown. (…)
 
What are some implications of President Obama’s announcement to bar entry people who “organize or participate in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of human rights”?
 
Most directly, this proclamation will help ensure that the United States cannot be used as a haven for perpetrators of these heinous crimes since suspected perpetrators will be denied entry. (…)
 
How does this White House initiative complement the work and findings of the Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF)?
 
(…) President Obama’s unambiguous statement that “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America” is precisely the kind of clarity that the Task Force recommended.
 
There are several other themes in the presidential directive that echo findings of the GPTF and ongoing work by the Institute, including the need to improve the use of intelligence and early warning assessments to support policy development, to conduct “an inventory of existing tools and authorities across the government that can be drawn upon to prevent atrocities,” and to improve training for frontline practitioners of diplomacy, development and defense. (…)
 
Finally, why is prevention a global responsibility? How can the U.S. engage key regional allies, as the president’s directive requests?
 
The United States is just one of 140 states that has a legal obligation to “undertake to prevent” genocide, based on its ratification of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Furthermore, at the 2005 World Summit, all member states of the United Nations accepted the “responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”—a concept known as “R2P.” (…)
 
Read full analysis
 
 
1. Human Security and Responsibility to Protect: Global Responses to International Obligations
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
7 September 2011 3:30pm-6:30pm
Altiero Spinelli 3G3, European Parliament, Brussels
 
The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats will hold an event on 7 September in Brussels, Belgium entitled Human Security and Responsibility to Protect: Global Responses to International Obligations. S&D Group panelists will include: Martin Schulz – President, Veronique De Keyser - Vice-President for Foreign Affairs; Human Rights, Development and International Trade, Richard Howitt - DROI Coordinator, and Ana Gomex – Mep. 
 
And guest speakers will include: Yukio Takasu - Ambassador, UN Special Advisor on Human Security, Edward Luck - UN Special Advisor on Responsibility to Protect, Mary Kaldor - Professor of Global Governance at London School of Economics and Co-director of LSE Global Governance, Eric David - Professor of International Law and expert in International Humanitarian Law, Free University Brussels (ULB), EU Commissioner, and EEAS Representative.
 
The following is an excerpt from the event:
 
(…) Panel 1 discussion - Human Security: A People Centred Approach
The first panel will be a presentation of the paradigm of Human Security, its core elements and its added values. A special insight will focus on how it can contribute to the promotion of the peace and development process and on the role played by the European Union for its legitimization within the international community
 
Panel 2 discussion - Responsibility to Protect: Time to Implement
The second panel will present the international norm of the Responsibility to Protect population from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing adopted by the UN World Summit in 2005: questions and answers on actions by the EU and the international community (…)
 
 
See full event listing.
 
2. The Promise of the Media in Halting Mass Atrocities
Montréal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
20-21 October 2011
 
Marking the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect, this event will amass leading journalists, social media experts and politicians to discuss the role of the media in halting mass atrocities.
 
See complete tentative plan for the event.
 
 
 
  
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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www.responsibilitytoprotect.org
 
 


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