You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

Former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, was captured in Serbia on May 26 after evading arrest for almost 16 years. He is awaiting transfer to The Hague, where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He faces charges of genocide in connection with the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. His capture is a positive step towards ending impunity for genocide, Al Jazeera reported.

Bernard Munyagishari, a former Hutu militia leader suspected of masterminding the Rwandan genocide, was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo after evading capture for nearly 17 years. He is wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. “The prosecutor [Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow] hailed the DRC authorities for their co-operation in executing the warrant of arrest, despite the hurdles encountered in tracking down the fugitive,” the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said. The ICTR indictment states that Munyagashari helped prepare and plan the 1994 genocide.

Satellite images provided by the Enough Project have confirmed that the Sudanese government has been attacking Abyei. “Images show the destruction of a southern-aligned base at Todach by tanks or other armored vehicles, fires burning at the town of Dungop, and the presence of northern attack aircrafts and bombers capable of reaching Abyei town within an hour. Images also show that a former Misseriya encampment at Goli has largely been vacated, confirming reports of Misseriya movements further south.” The Satellite Sentinel Project produced a ‘human security crisis alert’ detailing their findings.

Photo: BBC.co.uk

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Libya set the stage for a full-blown test of the Responsibility to Protect principle, adopted by the UN in 2005. The Economist published an in-depth article discussing the positives and negatives of the application of R2P in Libya, and the power politics that accompanies it.

Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara has reiterated that his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, must be tried for crimes committed during the deadly standoff that followed last year’s disputed election. Ouattara told France 24: “Justice must be rendered. Impunity must be ended in Ivory Coast. Especially for war crimes; crimes against humanity. These are very serious matters.”

After a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed in Côte d’Ivoire since 28 November 2010. The case has been assigned to pre-trial chamber II.

Photo: justiceinconflict.com

The International Criminal Court said it would investigate possible crimes against humanity in the upheavals that followed last year’s presidential election in Ivory Coast. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said reasonable suspicion exists that serious crimes were committed in the West African state. Associated Press reported that rights groups believe both sides in the conflict may have committed crimes.

Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda’s justice minister, said the country’s gacaca grassroots courts, which have judged the bulk of people suspected of taking part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, will officially close in December, Agence France-Presse reported. “Through gacaca we have been able to judge and resolve up to 1.4 million dossiers,” Karugarama said. “A great achievement that would have been impossible otherwise.”

Georgia’s parliament voted on Friday to recognize the 19th-century killings of ethnic Circassians by czarist Russia as genocide. The New York Times reported that the move was “likely to inflame tensions between the two countries,” as Moscow is extraordinarily sensitive to any anti-Russian movements in the North Caucasus. The vote has been hailed as historic, given that no other country has recognized the killing of Circassians as genocide. The statement passed on a vote of 95 to 0, with only one lawmaker speaking against it in debate.

Photo: Reuters

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

Jade Adebo, Class of 2012, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Anthropology

When I heard about a class being offered on genocide prevention, I was skeptical. In my experience, classes on the subject of genocide usually focused almost entirely on the violence, devastation, and reconciliation efforts. If ever there was any talk of preventative measures, it was presented in a cynical way, as if every other option had been exhausted. The ever-present discussions and debates over definitions and autonomy of nations left me cynical and burned out. Why was it so necessary to argue about phrasing or over protected groups? Taking the Genocide Prevention class with Dr. Hinton, which was developed in association with AIPR, helped me to fully comprehend the differing dynamics and issues that need to be addressed if proper and effective intervention, and eventually prevention of genocide, can occur.

With all my prior knowledge in genocide studies through the broader scope of human rights, I always supported a change in the study of intervention, based on analyzing and understanding different dynamics within the culture and history of a given country or region. I disagreed with the Genocide Convention’s attempt to create a blanket definition that would dictate how preventative measures would be achieved. From the broader study of human rights, which is still newly accepted as a widespread right, the convention, in its rigid structure and language, assumes that human rights is an international basic human right. This was a discourse brought into many a discussion, and was addressed very well by Fred Schwartz, who referred not to the universality of human rights, but the universality of self-interest. This approach can be easily applied to mandates such as the Responsibility to Protect, or the early warning model.

As the course concluded, I was left with a better sense of direction as to what I personally could do in the area of genocide prevention, which had been the primary interest for my attempted major. The various speakers we had left me inspired and optimistic, particularly Sheri Rosenberg, Gregory Stanton, and Tibi Galis, all of whom were either political scientists or lawyers. Through them, I was able to see how much the legal aspect of genocide prevention ties in with the grassroots work and activism, giving me creative insights as to how my future pursuit of a legal career could still influence intervention, and ultimately prevention.

One area often overlooked in prevention of genocide is arms policy.

David Hamburg, in his 2008 book Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps Toward Early Detection and Effective Action, singles out restraints on weaponry as one of six key “pillars of prevention.”

As Hamburg notes in one interview, “The ultimate is nuclear weapons, but there’s a huge problem with ‘small arms and light weapons,’ which is a euphemism. AK-47 automatic weapons, mortars, and so on can kill thousands—millions—of people in a short time; and the world is covered wall to wall with such weapons.”

The website Global Issues has a useful guide to issues connected with small arms, as well as a section on efforts to develop a code of conduct for arms sales, which highlights the risks of selling arms to known human rights violators, with obvious implications for prevention of genocide.

Internationally, the most important effort right now is work on an Arms Trade Treaty, a multilateral, legally binding document that would regulate the transfer of conventional weapons and small arms and light weapons (SALW). The treaty is scheduled for agreement in July 2012.

In addition to the governments negotiating the ATT, many nongovernmental organizations are also involved. Visit the website of Control Arms to see a list.

Today’s post “From the AIPR Team” comes from Operations Intern Jessica Lemire:

The last time I wrote for the AIPR blog, I was preparing to go to Poland to attend the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention with students from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Now that the seminar has ended and we have returned from Auschwitz, I can firmly say that these seminars are an invaluable resource and an extremely important contribution to the work of preventing genocide and other mass atrocities.

In terms of the educational modules, all of the information and tools given to participants are excellent sources of reference to use if they should find themselves in a position to apply it in their future employment. Additionally, the classroom environment of the seminar provided for a lot of stimulating debate and conversation that spilled over into free time outside the classes. However, the one experience that seemed to have the deepest impact on participants and instructors alike was their tours of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Having the tours of the camps combined with the educational courses on genocide studies and prevention gave the participants a unique historical vantage point to refer to and feel connected to, especially since several of the modules took place on the camp grounds. I believe that being in Auschwitz helped to encourage a more open discussion on the issue of preventing future genocides.

Through this seminar I was able to see just how important the work of AIPR is and it made me proud to have even a minuscule role in this organization. In some small way we are making a difference. Even if only one participant from this seminar takes away the messages of the lessons and uses them to change the opinions or actions of others so as to promote more peace rather than conflict, then we have succeeded.

Jessica Lemire is graduating in May from Fordham University with a B.A. in International Political Economy and a Certificate in Peace and Justice Studies.

The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation is proud to announce that on April 29, 2011, AIPR Executive Director Tibi Galis and Deputy Consul General of the German Permanent Mission to the United Nations Oliver Schnakenberg signed an agreement in which the German Federal Government pledged to provide funding for AIPR’s 2011 Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention. Germany’s support for genocide prevention will provide four government officials the opportunity to participate in the upcoming seminar. AIPR would like to express its thanks to the German Mission and Federal Government for helping to spread the mission of genocide prevention and aiding to make the goal of “Never Again” a reality.

In other genocide prevention news, the Madariaga College of Europe Foundation (MCF) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), with the support of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union and the cooperation of the European External Action Service and the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, are organizing a workshop called Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, May 12 and 13 in Brussels. Representatives from many international organizations, the European institutions, NGOs and experts in the field will gather next week to discuss the topic of genocide prevention. This event, part of a larger MCF-FBA program called “Building coherence, skills and synergies in conflict prevention,” is aimed at promoting deeper interaction among “international representatives” in order to create a stronger forum for dialogue on conflict prevention, as well as a space for reflection on the challenges facing policymakers in the realm of preventing genocide and mass atrocities.

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