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Mary Stata returns to the AIPR blog as guest preventer this week:

While the debt ceiling debate continues to dominate headlines, Congress will soon begin deciding on annual legislation that sets policies and funding for tools to help prevent genocide and other mass atrocities. The Friends Committee on National Legislation continues to lobby for greater investment in civilian tools that help avert crises that can result in mass killings of civilians.

Lobbying for these small yet vital accounts can be a tough sell in this budget climate. However, we’re not alone. FCNL coordinates the Prevention and Protection Working Group (PPWG), a coalition of human rights, religious, humanitarian, and peace organizations dedicated to preventing deadly conflict and protecting civilians. PPWG recently sent a letter to members of Congress who determine the funding levels for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. The letter argues that working with international partners and investing in prevention accounts like the Complex Crises Fund and Civilian Response Corps, will save the United States lives and treasure in the coming years.

On July 20, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to mark up the 2012 Foreign Affairs Authorization bill, which guides U.S. foreign policy and authorizes funding levels for the State Department, USAID, and contributions to international organizations like the United Nations. Then, on July 27, the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up the annual spending bill for diplomacy, development, and international cooperation. The Prevention and Protection Working Group believes that strong investments in these tools better equips the U.S. government to help prevent genocide and other mass atrocities.

Earlier this year, we succeeded in protecting the Complex Crises Fund from being eliminated in the fiscal year 2011 budget. However, it’s clear that we still have our work cut out for the next budget cycle. You can take action and support genocide prevention accounts by contacting your member of Congress. In the coming months, we’ll keep you updated on our progress and continue to lobby for strong prevention funding. Will you join us?

Mary Stata is the Prevention and Protection Working Group Coordinator with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC.

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, 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

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.


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

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.”

A Report by the Physicians for Human Rights from Cambridge shows that the Burmese military regime commits human rights abuses like forced labor, torture and religious and ethnic persecutions against the Chin in western Burma, as reported by Eurkalert. The authors carried out a population-based assessment of health and human rights in Chin State where multiple reports of human rights abuses were documented.

The trial of Charles Taylor, former Liberia president, was expected to conclude this week but was delayed as Taylor’s legal defense lawyers boycotted the final stage of the proceedings, contending the court was unfair and driven by politics.  The NY Times reported on February 8 that the source of their anger was the rejection by the judges of a 600-page trial summary by Mr. Taylor’s team that, despite frequent warnings, had missed a deadline.

Foreign Affairs reported on the recent succession of South Sudan by analyzing whether the South can part from the North without war. “One way to avert violence might be to encourage the two sides to cooperate in the name of their economic co-dependence” even though the state is still incredibly fragile, the authors stated.

Photo: RFI English


From January 24-31 the African Union Summit is being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The 2011 theme is “Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values.”  Daily Nation reported on the 29th that some critical issues during the summit will include the Cote d’Ivoire crisis, Kenya’s stance on the International Criminal Court and the recent referendum in Sudan inclusive of the continuing arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  Al Jazeera published an in-depth interview with Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s current president, focusing on the success of the country after the 1994 genocide.  The interview highlighted the issues of institution-building, corruption, human rights and the rule of law in building a successful and safe nation.

On January 28, Cambodia’s UN-assisted genocide courts (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) received a pledge from Japan for a further  $11.7 million contribution to assist with the proceedings.  The tribunal convicted its first defendant last year and is currently trying four members of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Associated Foreign Press reported on February 1 that three of these men applied to be released whilst they await trial for genocide.


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