You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2011.

Tensions between southern and northern Sudan have escalated in recent weeks, the Independent reported. Talks between the areas ceased after southern Sudan accused Khartoum of arming and directing militia attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the South. The South further accused Omar al-Bashir’s government of deploying Darfur-style tactics and planning a genocide to reclaim power in southern Sudan.

Jayshree Bajoria, Senior Staff Writer for the Council on Foreign Relations has published an article titled “The Dilemma of Humanitarian Intervention.” This in-depth analysis discusses responsibility and sovereignty referencing current international legal instruments and the responsibility to protect (R2P). Bajoria uses the examples of Myanmar, Kenya, Kashmir and Libya to further her analysis on the application of R2P.

The Arab League on Saturday called on the UN Security Council to implement a no-fly zone over Libya, the Washington Post reported. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa described the no fly-zone as a “preventive measure” whose chief goal is to “protect Libyan citizens.” The Arab League further announced that it was recognizing the rebel movement as that country’s legitimate government.

Photo: rnw.nl

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The Genocide Prevention Task Force was jointly convened in 2007 by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. In December 2008, the GPTF released a report entitled “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers.” The report asserts that genocide is preventable, and that making progress toward doing so begins with leadership and political will. It offers 34 recommendations as part of a comprehensive approach, recommending improved early warning mechanisms, early action to prevent crises, timely diplomatic responses to emerging crises, greater preparedness to employ military options, and action to strengthen global norms and institutions. Download the report here.

The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and Genocide Prevention in Africa” outlines the outcomes of an expert roundtable convened by the International Peace Institute, the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and the InterAfrica Group, which took place in Addis Ababa in October 2008. The report discusses the scope of RtoP and genocide prevention, including how each is distinct from humanitarian intervention, the conceptual implications of applying RtoP in Africa, given the complex internal and external dynamics exerting pressure on the African state and the operational implications for RtoP at global, regional, and subregional levels. Download the report here.


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that Libya’s aerial bombing of civilians and use of heavy weapons on city streets must be investigated as possible crimes against humanity, Reuters reported. Pillay confirmed that “she had received accounts of executions, rapes and disappearances in the north African country.”

French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an emergency EU summit in Brussels that air strikes against Libya may soon be justified, the Guardian reported. “The strikes would be solely of a defensive nature if Mr. Gaddafi makes use of chemical weapons or air strikes against non-violent protesters,” Sarkozy said. The French president qualified his remarks by saying he had many reservations about military intervention in Libya “because Arab revolutions belong to Arabs.” David Cameron, the British prime minister, further commented at the EU summit: “I think it is the moment for Europe to understand we should show real ambition about recognising that what’s happening in north Africa is a democratic awakening and we should be encouraging these countries down a democratic path.”

Charles Taylor’s lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, made his concluding statements in Taylor’s trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Griffiths stated that the trial of the once-powerful Liberian leader was “politically motivated’’ to ensure he does not return to power in Liberia and he branded the war crimes case “neocolonialism’’ built on circumstantial evidence, calling on the judges at the trial yesterday to acquit his client on all counts, Boston.com reported. Verdicts in the case are expected later this year.

To celebrate International Woman’s Day on March 8, CNN published an article titled “To empower African women, turn words into action.” The article states that “urgent work is needed to address the ills of gender inequality, marginalization and social injustice currently endured by women in places like the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence against women is rife and rape has become a weapon of war.”

Photo: Foreign Policy Magazine

Today’s post “From the AIPR Team” comes from Operations Intern Mark Edwards:

One of the projects AIPR is developing right now is the Global Intern Project, and that has been the focus of my efforts in the past few months.

The purpose of the project is to create awareness of genocide prevention and education in the United States and abroad. The internship will be open to students and professionals alike, and AIPR will work with universities so that students will be able to get academic credit.

Interns will research individual countries, focusing on how the government educates people about genocide prevention. They will also monitor current events for possible signs of genocide, and interview state and local officials about their positions. Each intern will receive training from AIPR in using the Analysis Framework developed by the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG) and will submit monthly reports to AIPR on the progress of their work.

Intern reports will be validated by country experts and submitted to the OSAPG, which will use them to raise awareness about genocide prevention both within the UN system and in individual countries.

We will begin selection of interns as soon as the application form is approved by the OSAPG. If you are interested in applying, write to info@auschwitzinstitute.org.

A German court has ordered FDLR militia leaders Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni to stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Congolese territory, AllAfrica.com reports. Murwanashyaka, 47, and Musoni, 49, were arrested in November 2009 and indicted in December 2010 for 26 crimes against humanity and 39 war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Rwanda. Congolese Minister of Information Lambert Mende commented: “This is a very good achievement for the peace process in the Great Lakes region since the trial of these criminals will send a strong signal to those willing to go ahead with their diabolic projects in both the DRC and Rwanda.”

Over 100 people were killed in days of fighting in Sudan’s hotly contested Abyei area, while thousands have fled southward away from the carnage, Time magazine reported. The article discusses the recent referendum where South Sudan decided to succeed from the North and whether or not this fighting will signalize the “moment it all starts falling apart.”

Joe Olzacki, director of performing and visual arts in Bloomfield schools, will testify at a public hearing before the legislature’s education committee in support of a bill that would require Connecticut high schools to teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides.  The Hartfield Courant noted that only five states—California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York—mandate that schools provide genocide education. Olzacki  commented: “Today’s kids don’t know what ‘never again’ means.”

Photo: Reuters Africa

Today we present another Guest Preventer from Prof. Alex Hinton’s genocide prevention class at Rutgers–Newark:

Kaefer Garcia, Senior, Class of 2011. Political Science major, History and Anthropology minors.

I am taking this class because I founded an organization that helps refugee youth through education and soccer to help them progress and learn life lessons. By taking the course, I feel I can learn things that can help me relate to the stories the youth tell and better understand where they are coming from.

I have learned many things while taking the class, but so far two things have caught my attention. Fred Schwartz, of the Auschwitz Institute, opened his lecture in front of the class with a truth that never dawned on me. Genocide is not abnormal behavior, but something that has become a normal occurrence throughout our history. I think this acceptance and acknowledgment is key to preventing genocide, for to see this crime in this light makes it easier to try and understand and prevent it.

Moreover, the fact that when you look around the room in our class and see people from different walks of life, ethnicities, and ideas together to discuss such an important issue in society globally, it is hard not to feel the palpable hope that exists. It sheds light into the dark room of genocide. It speaks volumes of the future generation and its concern and willingness to be aware. This aspect is complimented by the fact that leading scholars in the field are coming to speak to us, which is remarkable to say the least.

So far the class has been very enjoyable and is a great way to highlight my last semester at Rutgers–Newark.

March 1, the UN General Assembly suspended Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Following the vote, U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice commented: “This is the first time that either the Human Rights Council or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, have suspended any member state for gross violations of human rights. And we think this is an important step forward in enhancing the credibility of the Human Rights Council.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States “continue[s] to demand an immediate halt to the violence perpetrated by the Qadhafi government against its own citizens.”

Rwanda’s minister of foreign affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, stated that the appointment of Alain Juppé as France’s foreign minister was a “bad surprise” for Rwanda, AllAfrica.com reported. During Juppé’s previous tenure as French foreign minister, from 1993 to 1995, an investigation found that he strongly supported the forces that committed the genocide.

The UN has again released reports warning of a civil war in the Ivory Coast. Most recently, security forces in the country shot dead seven women who were protesting against Laurent Gbagbo, ABC News reported. According to CBC News, soldiers allegedly “mowed down women protesting [Gbagbo’s] refusal to leave power in a hail of gunfire Thursday, killing at least six and shocking a nation where women’s marches have historically been used as a last resort against an unrestrained army.”

CNN has released an interactive site showing the current rebellion in the Middle East country by country, specifically noting the causes of the unrest.

Photo: CBC News

As part of our mission of identifying and educating the women and men who will become tomorrow’s leaders in preventing genocide, the Auschwitz Institute, in conjunction with Professor Alex Hinton of Rutgers University in Newark, has developed an undergraduate course in genocide prevention. This semester Prof. Hinton is teaching the course for the first time, and AIPR has invited the students to share about it on our blog.

So today we present our first Guest Preventer from Rutgers–Newark:

My name is Konrad Ratzmann, and I am an anthropology major at Rutgers–Newark looking to graduate in 2012. The topic of genocide has intrigued me for several years, although mostly in a nonacademic sense. I had long wondered how humans could possess the capacity to inflict such vast amounts of suffering and death on the basis of identity alone. Coming to Rutgers and studying war, colonialism, violence, and genocide in various courses and disciplines provided me with some insights toward the systematic processes and psychological aspects that make such atrocities possible, but none of them seemed to discuss what could be done to prevent such horrors in the future. This always irritated me. After all, what good was studying such things if nothing was being done to stop them? Purely academic studies can provide meaningful insights to the fields in which they are performed, but I feel that there should be, at the very least, an attempt toward an academic activism of sorts. When I had to register for classes and I saw Genocide Prevention, I knew that I had found a class that could provide me with the experience I was looking for.

Of course some traditional academic concepts and theories were addressed at the beginning of the semester, such as the varying definitions of genocide and the conflicts that arise due to disparities between definitions. This frustrated me, to some degree, because I felt that genocide is an atrocity that is far too horrid to ever be defined to complete satisfaction—the academic quibbling about the semantics of genocide seemed to miss the importance of the issue and fall into self-centered patterns that hinder progress. After all, what is the use of debating whether or not something is “technically” genocide when the death tolls continue to rise? However, my outlook was soon changed as the course progressed. As noted by Adam Jones, who addressed the class on February 15, such discussions are important because they signify an increase and continuous interest in the field of genocide studies, and thus allow for more minds to focus on working toward prevention in a multitude of manners.

The opportunity to interact with the minds behind genocide study and prevention makes this course unlike any other I have taken before. It is in such meetings that the true beauty of this course exists. Being exposed to new approaches toward genocide studies and prevention efforts every week is not only enlightening and informing, but also inspiring. In actually meeting the minds behind conflicting definitions and approaches to genocide, I see the importance of the academic conflicts—different conceptions of what constitutes genocide allow for different approaches toward prevention; disagreements inspire greater focus on issues of contention. In this sense, such discussions allow for genocide prevention efforts to be more encompassing. If nobody was concerned with whether or not gendercide or politicide could be considered as aspects of genocide, then perhaps efforts to combat such sufferings would be overlooked. A lack of academic consensus does not hinder progress, as I had previously felt; instead, it is one of the most valuable tools at our disposal in ensuring that our efforts to reduce suffering and genocidal violence are as encompassing as possible.

Today, we have our first report “From the AIPR Team,” featuring Samantha Horn, AIPR’s legal and operations associate:

Things are extremely busy right now at AIPR. Our next Raphael Lemkin Genocide Prevention Seminar for CGSC students from Fort Leavenworth is coming up in April, and so we are in the midst of logistical details and last-minute curriculum changes for the program. All is going very well, though, and we are excited to be back in Poland soon.

Our founder and president, Fred Schwartz, will be traveling to South America this month, so I have been scheduling meetings for him with ministries of foreign affairs and justice, as well as with U.S. embassies. Mr. Schwartz will be traveling to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, so it will be quite a trip. AIPR works very closely with the governments of Argentina and Brazil and has had participants in our seminars from these countries, as well as from Chile, but we are looking to expand our reach in the region, as in 2012 we are planning to launch a Raphael Lemkin Genocide Prevention Seminar for Latin America, which will be dedicated solely to the Latin American region with the program tailored to meet the needs of these countries, touching upon issues such as politicide and transitional justice. We are very excited about this initiative, and have the great help of the governments of Argentina and Brazil for this endeavor. Hopefully, this upcoming trip will expand our base.

I am also working on recruitment for our standard Lemkin Seminar, for government officials from around the world. The application deadline is March 1, and so I am in the midst of reviewing applications and calling those countries that have confirmed their intent to participate but have not sent in their applications.  A great variety of countries will be attending, including Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Niger, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Germany, and Sweden. I believe this will prove to be an incredible seminar, and the beginning for many of them of their work in genocide prevention. All in all, we are busy at work here at AIPR!

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