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The Genocide Prevention Advisory Network recently issued a conference report from their advanced workshop at The Hague on March 14-15, 2012. Focusing on the emerging global and regional architectures aiming at the prevention of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, the conference addressed the following questions:
- What guiding principles are emerging to shape the architecture and community of genocide prevention and its relevant fields?
- What can GPANet offer to articulate those principles and strengthen these emerging capacities?
- How can GPANet work in partnership to support and facilitate local, national, regional and international prevention networks?
The papers presented at the conference dealt with the topics of early warning and data gathering and verification systems, case studies on Somalia, linkages with terrorism, and lastly, perspectives on genocide prevention. This final subject is what we’ll focus on, given the work of AIPR.
Discussing Holocaust education and genocide prevention, Yehuda Bauer spoke of the “problematic” text of the Genocide Convention and the resultant inefficacy of the United Nations to prevent or halt instances of genocide post-World War II: two examples being Rwanda in 1994 and Sudan at present. Given the structure of the Security Council, geopolitical interests often trump those of the humanitarian variety. Moreover, Bauer argues that race and ethnicity are modern social constructs, given the singular origin of the human species. This leads to the common “us vs. them” framing that serves to precipitate genocide. All of this is compounded by the fact that, “There is a dialectical development one can discern in international politics, reflecting two contradictory global trends: a tendency towards greater unification on the one hand, and an opposing tendency towards greater autonomy and independence of ethnic and/or national groups on the other hand.”
Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and formulator of the Eight Stages of Genocide model, noted Genocide Watch’s early warning system and how “[r]apid response by regional alliances has prevented or stopped several genocides: in East Timor, Kosovo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia , and Sierra Leone.” He also spoke of the success of international tribunals and the creation of the ICC. Having worked against genocide for 30 years, Stanton says he has learned two things about genocide prevention. He states:
- The first lesson is the direct result of our own human incapacity to comprehend or feel sympathy for large groups of people halfway around the world. Because individuals cannot do that, we need permanent institutions established that will watch out for precursors of genocide, take action to prevent it, intervene to stop it, and arrest and prosecute those who commit it.
- The second lesson I have learned is that genocide prevention must start and be led by people from countries at risk. It cannot be led by an American organization in Washington, DC, led by a pacifist director, that is unwilling to advocate the use of force to stop genocide. Prevention must especially begin from the ground up in countries at risk of genocide. A true International Alliance to End Genocide can support such local efforts and create an international mass movement to end genocide.
Daniel Feierstein then offered “A Critique of the Hegemonic View of the Current Genocidal Conflicts: A Perspective from the Latin American Margin.” His understanding of genocide seeks to dismantle a simplistic “Good People vs. Bad People” scenario and instead puts forth a perspective where genocide is “a technology of power used very successfully to destroy and reorganize social relationships and identities.” He believes “this would be a better explanation of why it continues beyond our collective calls of ‘never again.'” He went on to point out three different initiatives as possible alternatives to the military intervention model:
1. The UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) Experience
Since the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty was signed on May 23, 2008, UNASUR has helped four countries in the region that have experienced the possibility of new violent conflicts: Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009), Ecuador (2010), and the conflict between Colombia and Venezuela (2010). In each case there was a major crisis with strong potential to trigger atrocity crimes.
2. The Regional Fora on Genocide Prevention
Writes Feierstein, “The idea was to meet all the governments of a region to create an open exchange and debate on how to prevent possible genocidal conflicts. As every government is involved in the discussions, there is a possibility (only a possibility, but we should have little utopias, which are more possible to achieve than the big ones) that the real problems of the regions will appear. It is even possible that some approaches to resolve them will emerge, as there are few instances in which the governments are invited to debate on regional perspectives to analyze and prevent genocide.”
3. The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
AIPR has organized several meetings with mid- and low-level representatives, with the idea that governments change but there are some kinds of officers who continue in their key positions as professionals and/or bureaucracy. The objective of the AIPR is to train those people in early warning and genocide prevention as a challenge for the future.
The workshop concluded with a concept note by Alice Ackermann on emerging genocide prevention structures in Europe and Liberata Mulamula discussing the same in the context of the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Today, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released the fourth issue of their bimonthly bulletin, R2P Monitor. This issue features Syria, Sudan, and DR Congo, all in “Current Crisis,” and Libya, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Burma/Myanmar, South Sudan, Somalia and Central Africa, with situations of “Serious Concern.” Current crises are those where mass atrocity crimes are occurring and urgent action is needed; serious concern indicates that there is a significant risk of occurrence, or recurrence, of mass atrocity crimes within the foreseeable future if effective action is not taken.
In analyzing the violence in Syria, the Centre touches upon mounting sectarian divisions (which we wrote about here back in February), as well as divisions within the United Nations Security Council. While they call on the Syrian government to “immediately cease attacks on civilians and adhere to [Kofi Annan’s] six-point plan,” collective action must also be taken by the Security Council, General Assembly, and the whole of the international community.
Similar necessary action is laid out for Sudan, where the government “should allow immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei and Darfur should be thoroughly investigated by a credible and independent body authorized by the UN.” The Security Council is also urged to take steps beyond an investigation in order to better secure a long-term conflict resolution.
In the case of Congo, the brunt of the responsibility for addressing the threat of terrorist factions and militias falls on the government and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Other parties charged with acting in this instance are international donors and countries with whom DRC shares borders.
As one would anticipate given the name and nature of the Centre and its publication, the key recommendations appear to be structured parallel to the pillars of R2P:
1. The State carries the primary responsibility for the protection of populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
2. The international community has a responsibility to assist States in fulfilling this responsibility.
3. The international community should use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State fails to protect its populations or is in fact the perpetrator of crimes, the international community must be prepared to take stronger measures, including the collective use of force through the UN Security Council.
Attention, GenPrev fans! Next week is your lucky week if you live in New York, as there are five events related to GenPrev happening over three consecutive days.
First and foremost (from our point of view) is a talk titled “What Does It Mean to Prevent Genocide?” by Auschwitz Institute executive director Tibi Galis (pictured here), at 6:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Tibi’s talk will emphasize that, although increasingly conflated and confused, genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention are two different things. He will then enter into conversation with Kyle Matthews of the Will to Intervene project. To attend the event in person, register by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Admission is $25. Otherwise you can watch the live webcast here.
Also on Tuesday, June 12, at 4:30 p.m, is a reception for civil society organizations engaged in the Responsibility to Protect, at the office of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (708 Third Avenue, 24th floor):
In preparation for the informal dialogue in the General Assembly on response measures available under the Third Pillar of the Responsibility to Protect, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) invites you to attend an informal reception with civil society colleagues on the Responsibility to Protect. This reception is being held in cooperation with New York–based ICRtoP member, Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW).
The reception will feature a short talk by Mr. Hermann Hokou, legal scholar and activist from Côte d’Ivoire, who will discuss the election violence of 2010–11, how the conflict was handled by the international community and what we can learn in addressing other crises. Also in attendance will be NGO colleagues from Brazil, Belgium, Armenia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Romania and Canada, in town next week to share the experiences of their organizations, working to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, as well as reflect on their efforts to entrench RtoP at the national and regional levels.
The third event on Tuesday, June 12, is a discussion on “Preventing War, Violence and Genocide: Critical New Approaches to Making Prevention Work,” at 1 p.m. at the Church Center for the United Nations (777 UN Plaza at 44th Street, 2nd floor). Guest speaker Kai Brand-Jacobsen, director of the Department of Peace Operations at the Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania, will address the following:
War, armed violence, genocide and mass atrocity have devastating impacts – costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians every year, destroying economic and human development and security, and devastating lives and societies. Yet major steps have been taken to advance the prevention of violence and armed conflict. This talk will review critical breakthroughs and practical experiences in the prevention of war, violence and genocide. Combining on the ground experience and practical evidence with critical breakthroughs in peacebuilding and prevention, this event will challenge and inspire policy makers, practitioners, diplomats, politicians, analysts, experts and all participants, and look practically at how to make prevention work.
Finally, on Monday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 13, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung will be presenting Global Civil Society Perspectives on the Responsibility to Protect:
FES New York supports a series of meetings organized by Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) and its partners from civil society organizations from various continents on the emerging norm of the “Responsibility to Protect.” The discussions on June 11 will address how various UN Mandates can contribute to prevention, and reflect on balanced and robust responses to the threat of mass atrocities. On June 13, special attention will be given to the proposal for a United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS).
We hope you can make some or all of these events. If not, be sure to stay tuned for recaps.
On October 3 the International Criminal Court approved an investigation by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights Watch said. The investigation centers on the events of last year’s disputed November presidential elections. On his impending investigation, Ocampo said, “from today, the Prosecution will collect evidence impartially and independently, and as soon as possible we will present our cases before the Judges, who will ultimately decide who should face trial. Our investigation should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in Côte d’Ivoire.” Ocampo has been ordered to return in a month to provide any additional information on crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.
The situation in Côte d’Ivoire has been under investigation by the ICC since 2003, when the Ivoirian government sent a letter to the ICC accepting its jurisdiction in accordance with article 12(3) of the Rome Statute. In December 2010 the newly elected president Alassane Ouattara sent a letter to the ICC accepting the Court’s jurisdiction, and sent another in May 2011 requesting an investigation into the crimes committed following the November 2010 elections. Ocampo requested authorization for said investigation on June 23 2011, a request that was approved on October 3 by the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court.
The violence surrounding last year’s elections resulted in at least 3000 civilian casualties, 72 disappearances, and over 100 reported cases of rape. Radio Netherlands Worldwide said on October 3 that Ocampo had created a confidential list of suspects that he sent to the ICC judges along with his request for an investigation; Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Côte d’Ivoire, is thought to be on the list. This investigation will examine the actions of both Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters, both of whom are thought to have committed crimes against humanity during the post-election violence. This investigation is also to include crimes committed before the November 2010 elections, particularly after the 2002-2003 armed conflict and its aftermath.
In Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 2009 Report Implementing the Responsibility to Protect, he outlines the three pillars of the principle:
- The enduring responsibility of the State to protect its populations, whether nationals or not, from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and from their incitement.
- The commitment of the international community to assist States in meeting those obligations.
- The responsibility of Member States to respond collectively in a timely and decisive manner when a State is manifestly failing to provide such protection.
In response to the common misunderstanding of the third pillar as use of force, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect has created a new educational document detailing the third pillar’s range of measures and key actors.
And in furtherance of international commitment to the principle, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect this week wrote an open letter to the United Nations member states, urging them to prioritize setting goals for advancing R2P over the next year. Former diplomats and UN officials wrote how this year alone, lives were saved in Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Libya through international efforts to uphold R2P. Specifically, they called on member states to:
- Appoint a senior government official as a national focal point for R2P.
- Encourage all relevant UN agencies and departments to incorporate an R2P perspective into their activities.
- Use the tools available to the General Assembly to uphold R2P and take preventive and protective action.
- Work together to develop additional goals and benchmarks for advancing R2P.
Addressing the opening of the General Assembly this week, Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves (pictured above) spoke of the importance of international law, the International Criminal Court, and upholding the rule of law. He stressed the importance of developing common practices and the capacity to actually implement R2P.
* In discussing case studies of the use of the Responsibility to Protect concept (R2P) in Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alex Vines highlights the importance of regional bodies, such as the Economic Community of West African States, and the cohesiveness of interventionists. R2P was deployed in Côte d’Ivoire because of the fear that significant numbers of civilians were at risk, whereas R2P has not been applied in Congo because a UN mission partially charged with protecting civilians already exists. Vines maintains that R2P, despite the popular understanding of it, is about more than military force, since in many cases it is better not to engage militarily.
* In a novel attempt at genocide prevention, North Carolina State University researchers are hoping to use a population’s health and prenatal care as an identifying risk factor. In analyzing the remains of Bosnian Muslims from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and analyzing epidemiological data from the World Health Organization on Rwandan and Yugoslavian refugees, the researchers found high frequency of malnutrition, poor health, inadequate prenatal care, and related problems across these populations. NCSU researchers consider these conditions strong indicators of genocide risk because they are illustrative of the population’s marginalized societal status.
* In order to better prevent and respond to genocide and other mass atrocities, President Obama last month ordered an interagency review with the goal of creating an Atrocities Prevention Board. For the board to be effective, Professor Walter Reich of George Washington University argues that it must include independent experts from outside the government—such as specialists in international affairs, international law, and human rights.
Furthering AIPR’s long-term goal of having genocide prevention taught as part of the required curriculum at every college and university in the United States, AIPR and Professor Alex Hinton created a class on genocide prevention taught this spring at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Taught by Prof. Hinton in the anthropology department, the course examined genocide prevention in the realms of public policy and academia.
The following websites were created by students of the class in May; as such, they do not reflect more recent events.
1) Cambodia: Anatomy of a Genocide
Divided into five sections (Origins, Processes, International Response, Justice, and Memory and Education), this site critically approaches the Cambodian genocide, examining whether it could have been prevented, and if so, why not?
2) Côte d’Ivoire: Genocide Watch
This site explains the origins of the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), in addition to discussing current diplomatic efforts there. The site’s creators seek to provide varied perspectives on, and solutions to, the situation in the country.
3) LIBYA: [IN]ACTION
With a timeline that ends as NATO took control of the UN-backed no-fly zone over Libya earlier this year, these students discuss the international community’s inefficient and delayed response to the Libyan state’s atrocities against its own citizenry. They then go on to analyze whether or not Qaddafi’s actions are in fact genocide, using R2P as part of their framework.
4) Nuba Mountains, Sudan
With the recent genocide in Darfur and successful secession of South Sudan dominating news from that region, this site seeks to ensure that the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Nuba is not forgotten or overshadowed. This website also goes beyond the scope of the genocide to help explain and preserve the culture and identity of the Nuba.