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The unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution on Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi sends a tough warning to other hard-line regimes, including Burma’s military junta, the Irrawaddy has reported. The resolution “sends a strong message that the international community will no longer tolerate regimes . . . that kill their own citizens or commit gross human rights violations.”
The Bosnian War Crimes Court has indicted Veselin Vlahovic for crimes against humanity, including “murder, enslavement, rape, illegal detention, physical and psychological abuse” of civilians during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. Vlahovic, dubbed “the monster of Grbavica,” was extradited to Bosnia from Spain last year after being arrested there for robbery and assault with a firearm, the Canadian Press reported.
The Stanley Foundation has posted a video on YouTube by Edward Luck, UN special adviser for the Responsibility to Protect. Luck answers questions about how the UN is applying R2P in its response to atrocities in Libya.
At the 2005 World Summit, heads of state and government unanimously adopted the Responsibility to Protect in order to populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Security Council reaffirmed the principle in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674 (2006).
For a comprehensive understanding of the principle, see Deborah Mayersen’s “The Responsibility to Prevent: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies for Operationalisation,” which looks at the implementation and strategies behind the Responsibility to Protect, including specific tools the international community can consider, like no-fly zones, peace-keeping missions, and opening borders. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty has also released a report titled “The Responsibility to Protect,” which assesses the responsibility to protect, prevent, react and rebuild.
The Libyan regime’s attacks on its own civilian population are a test case for the international community’s commitment to the Responsibility to Protect principle. The Security Council’s press statement on Libya on February 22 refers to the concept as the Council “called on the Government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population.” The Security Council has also passed a unanimous resolution implementing sanctions against Libya, as reported by the BBC. They backed an arms embargo and asset freeze while referring Col. Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
Foreign Policy World Journal published an article by by Javad Heydarian on “Mainstreaming R2P in the Middle East: Opportunities and Challenges.” Heydarian notes the volunteeristic nature of implementing R2P and how it is “contingent on the ‘political will’ of those who wish to adopt it.” He especially notes how Libya will be a test for the international community and its commitment to protecting population from mass atrocities.
Foreign Policy further published an article by Josh Rogin titled “Biden: “When a state engages in atrocity it forfeits its sovereignty.” U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden recently highlighted the need for forceful and early international intervention to prevent governments from committing mass atrocities. “Too often in the past, these efforts have come too late, after the best and least costly opportunities to prevent them have been missed,” Biden said. “First, we must recognize early indicators of potential atrocities and respond accordingly, rather than waiting until we are confronted by massacres like those in Rwanda or in Srebrenica.” Within his speech, though, he did not explicitly make the case for intervention in Libya.
Vlastimir Djordjevic, a Serbian ex-police chief, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison in connection with the mass murder of more than 700 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999, the International Business Times reported. “In the large majority of cases the victims, including many women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict,” the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia stated in its verdict.
International efforts to stem the bloodshed in Libya are gaining momentum, with the United Nations Security Council scheduled to meet to discuss a draft proposal for sanctions against Libyan leaders and NATO convening an emergency session in Brussels. The New York Times reported that antigovernment demonstrators pledged to take to the streets of Tripoli on Friday, despite threats of a violent crackdown by pro-government mercenaries and security forces.
Protests in Iraq and across the Arab world show the need to resolve long-standing disputes between Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq before they trigger conflict, Reuters reported. “As long as these issues are lurking and are unresolved, they at any moment in time can just be the trigger for conflict and polarization,” said Ad Melkert, UN special representative in Iraq.
The AIPR blog is pleased to have Mary Stata of the Friends Committee on National Legislation posting this week as our first Guest Preventer:
On February 19, 1986, the United States Senate ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Significant pressure from Senator William Proxmire and the U.S. public paved the way for U.S. ratification. However, rather than meeting the aspirations of the Convention on Genocide to prevent future atrocities, the past 25 years have been witness to mass killings of civilians in the Balkans, Sudan, and Rwanda. The United States and the international community failed to prevent these atrocities despite access to intelligence on each escalating crisis. More recently, warning signs of impending violence in places like Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan did not lead to prompt policy reviews or preventive action.
The 2008 Genocide Prevention Task Force found significant gaps in U.S. policy and capacities to help prevent atrocities and offered a blueprint for improvements. The Obama administration and Congress have taken some steps toward implementing these recommendations, including Senate passage in December 2010 of a resolution (S. Con. Res. 71) calling for specific steps to improve U.S. capacities to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
Despite these initial steps, the United States remains ill equipped to effectively prevent mass killings of civilians. Fortunately, a new movement of NGOs and grassroots activists is poised to work with Congress to translate the mantra “Never Again” into practical policy solutions. The Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby group in the public interest, convenes a working group focused on this policy agenda. The Prevention and Protection Working Group is an advocacy platform dedicated to preventing genocide and mass atrocities and protecting civilians threatened by this violence. Comprised of human rights, anti-genocide, humanitarian, peace, and faith-based organizations, the Prevention and Protection Working Group leverages its grassroots networks, media outreach, and Congressional and administration lobbying to strengthen U.S. civilian capacities to prevent genocide.
Significant work remains. The 112th Congress has yet to outline a human rights agenda, and no Proxmire-like leadership has yet stepped forward to champion the critical next legislative steps on genocide prevention. The solutions are known, but the practical policy steps have yet to be taken. The Prevention and Protection Working Group will work over the next year to enact policy that effectively prevents genocide before the killing starts.
To sign up for the FCNL newsletter on current legislation and other ways to take action on genocide prevention and related issues, click here.
Mary Stata is the Prevention and Protection Working Group Coordinator with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC.
The Libyan deputy ambassador to the U.N., Ibrahim Dabbashi, has stated in an interview with the BBC that genocide is occurring in Libya. Dabbashi spoke about the protests against the government and the violence being perpetrated against non-state actors by the government. Dabbashi urged the international community to establish a safe passage for medical supplies to get to Libya and for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to start investigating the crimes against humanity being committed by Gaddafi against his own people.
[Update: the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide (Francis Deng) and Responsibility to Protect (Edward Luck) issued a statement saying they were “alarmed by the reports of mass violence coming from the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.” They continued: “If the reported nature and scale of such attacks are confirmed, they may well constitute crimes against humanity, for which national authorities should be held accountable.”]
A mobile military court in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo investigating a case of mass rape has sentenced Lt Col Kibibi Mutware to 20 years in jail. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity for sending his troops to rape, beat up and loot from the population of Fizi on New Year’s Day, BBC News reported. The IntLawGrrls Blog commented: “If other crimes could be prosecuted as seriously as gender crimes, genuine progress on respecting the rule of law, maintaining order, and creating stability and prosperity is not only possible, but probable.”
Fresh clashes have erupted between supporters of Côte d’Ivoire’s rival presidents as the presidents of Chad, Mauritania, South Africa and Tanzania arrived to launch a new bid to break the impasse AllAfrica has reported. The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect commented in January on the dire situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
Welcome to the new blog of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation.
AIPR’s mission is to prevent genocide, and our blog aims to support that mission not only by informing followers about our work and its impact on the prevention of genocide (“From the AIPR Team”), but also by calling attention to news articles (“GenPrev in the News”) or reports, briefs, and policy papers (“Policy for GenPrev”) that highlight various aspects of prevention and offer some sort of lesson or take-away for those active in the field, whether as students, scholars, educators, activists, or policymakers.
Most of our posts will be handled by the dynamic Mona Mizikovsky (aka monamiz). But we also plan to feature posts by people outside AIPR who are working in the field (“Guest Preventer”). Our aim in doing so is to build a community (at least an online one) of genocide preventers who are aware of what each other are doing, and what is working and what is not, whether personally or professionally. This, we hope, will be both supportive and productive.
From its founding, AIPR has viewed itself more as a facilitator than a direct actor in preventing genocide. Our primary focus is on education rather than advocacy; we give the leaders of tomorrow the tools and the knowledge they will need to make the right decisions when their turn comes. This blog, though not connected directly with any of our programs, seeks to steer by that same principle. We look forward to having you onboard.
For more on our programs, go to http://auschwitzinstitute.org/.
Yours in prevention,
AIPR Communications Officer
Preventing Mass Atrocities: an Agenda for Policymakers and Citizens is a booklet compiled by the Prevention and Protection Working Group, chaired by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. The booklet is an excellent resource, covering topics like early warning, diplomacy as the first line of prevention, international action, and security assistance in great detail. Access the entire booklet here, or access separate chapters here.
In 2008, the Stanley Foundation published a briefing memo titled Funders Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect. The foundation brought together key actors in the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) community to provide an overview of the principle, reflect on recent developments, and begin discussion on best next steps. The memo summarizes their findings, with the role of civil society specifically assessed concerning education, research and global advocacy.
Photo: Roosevelt Academy
The number of Chinese people immigrating to Tibet is increasing and the Dalai Lama has deemed the population shift a type of cultural genocide. The Tibet Post reported that Tibetan marginalization by mass migration will render the Tibetan people an “insignificant minority” that will be overlooked or ignored for the Han Chinese and/or authorities of the communist regime.
25 years ago, in February 1986, the U.S. Congress ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, The Hill’s Congress Blog stated. The blog post highlighted the achievement of Senator William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, for delivering a total of 3,211 speeches in order to push the Senate to ratify the convention. However, “two and a half decades later, the U.S. and international community still lack the ability to effectively fulfill the promise of ‘never again’ embodied in the Convention.”
The genocide survivors organization Ibuka has released a list of 265 Hutu individuals in recognition of their role in protecting Tutsi victims during the 1994 genocide. These righteous people, referred to as Indakemwa in Kinyarwanda, “did not agree with the genocide neither did they participate in the killings. They did everything they could to save Tutsis, at the risk of their lives,” Ibuka indicated as reported by Hirondelle News Agency.
Three Khmer Rouge leaders currently on trial will remain in detention whilst they await their atrocity crimes trial in Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Voice of America has reported. “Trial Chamber judge Nil Nonn said in the decision the three would continue to be held “to ensure the presence of the accused persons at the trial.”
Photo: RFI English
The prosecutors of the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have demanded harsh sentences for six former Bosnian Croat officials and military commanders: Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoje Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic. The men are accused of crimes against humanity during the 1992-1995 war, Adnkronos International has reported.
The term Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations, or MAPRO, is gathering momentum in the Pentagon, evidenced by its support of a new initiative to use drones and other overhead surveillance gear in order to prevent genocide. Wired states that drones will be used to “place watchful eyes on the perpetrators of mass atrocities,” jammers used to stop the radio transmissions of aspiring genocidaires, and text and social media to alert the American forces about civilians at risk.
Human Rights Watch has stated that the sentencing of a Rwandan opposition politician to four years in jail for inciting ethnic division by the High Court was a sign the country was using the judicial system to stifle criticism. Reuters Africa has reported that President “Paul Kagame has been praised for restoring stability after the genocide, implementing reforms and fostering robust economic growth in recent years, but critics say his leadership is authoritarian and intolerant of dissent.”
Photo: Crunch Gear
In November 2010, the International Peace Institute (IPI) published a report by I. William Zartman titled “Preventing Identity Conflicts Leading to Genocide and Mass Killings.” Published in cooperation with the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide at the United Nations, the paper discusses stages in the prevention of identity conflicts and the tools available for the international community to use. Read it here.
In “Putting Complementarity into Practice: Domestic Justice for International Crimes in DRC, Uganda, and Kenya,” published by the Open Society Foundations, Eric A. White argues that the “principle of complementarity, under the Rome Statute, not only sets forth a key test for admissibility of cases in The Hague; it also places a heavy burden on individual states to help achieve the Rome Statute’s overarching goal: ending impunity for grave atrocities.”