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* 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.
* After months of debate, Israeli courts ruled in favor of extraditing Aleksandar Cvetkovic to Bosnia to stand trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Cvetkovic, who immigrated to Israel in 2006, was arrested in January by Israeli authorities after Bosnian-based courts accused him of participating in the Srebrenica massacre.
* Two Burmese men living in Australia admitted to committing crimes against humanity—including the arrest, torture, and execution of civilians—during Burma’s political turmoil of the late 1980s. The men reportedly admitted to the crimes out of guilt.
* A Sri Lankan government report said that while state forces may have caused civilian deaths during the final months of the country’s civil war, they did not violate international law. The report, issued by the Ministry of Defense, did admit to accidental civilian deaths, but a large portion was devoted to criticizing the conduct of the rebel Tamil Tigers. Said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch: “This is just the latest and glossiest effort to whitewash mounting evidence of government atrocities during the fighting.”
* Responding to reports that ICC charges against Muammar Qaddafi might be dropped if he agrees to step down, Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch wrote that “instead of putting a conflict to rest, a de-facto amnesty that grants immunity for crimes against humanity may just spur another cycle of grave abuses while failing to bring peace.”
Photos (from top): Interpol, topnews.in, tntmagazine.com
Goran Hadzic, the last person wanted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has made his first appearance before the court today after being arrested on July 20. He was required to submit a guilty or not guilty plea, but instead his lawyers asked for and received a thirty-day extension on this deadline. Hadzic was indicted on 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2004 for his role in the ethnic conflict that erupted in Croatia during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
From 1991 to 1993 Hadzic was leader of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), a group that fought for Serb independence from Croatia. During the fighting hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands displaced as RSK forces sought to clear about one third of the country of non-Serb ethnic groups in an attempt to establish a new state. The conflict was put to a halt only after a NATO intervention.
Hadzic’s 14 counts range from torture and unlawful imprisonment to persecution and murder of people of non-Serb ethnicity. He is also accused of helping to carry out the infamous Vukovar Massacre, in which 264 people, identified as wounded Croatian soldiers and non-Serb civilians, were removed from a hospital in the town of Vukovar and executed at a nearby farm.
Hadzic’s arrest comes only two-months after the arrest of suspected war criminal Ratko Mladic by Serbian police. Because the European Union has tied Serbia’s accession to the apprehension of all suspected war criminals, these arrests may have opened a new chapter in Serbian-EU relations by making the prospect of serious accession talks a real possibility. However, Belgrade denies that this was part of their motive. In a statement, Serbian president Boris Tadic said he believes the nation has finally “completed its most difficult chapter in cooperation with the ICTY.”
Photo: Associated Press
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has found two Croatian generals guilty (Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač) and acquitted one (Ivan Čermak) of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war for acts committed by Croatian forces during Operation Storm between July and September 1995. The three officers were sentenced to 24 and 18 years’ imprisonment respectively. The court found the crimes were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise whose objective was permanent removal of the Serb population by force or threat of force, which amounted to and involved deportation, forcible transfer, and persecution through the imposition of restrictive and discriminatory measures, unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian objects, deportation, and forcible transfer.
Rwandan Ambassador to the United States James Kimonyo, speaking to students and faculty of California Baptist University as part of the 17th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, called for genocide denial to be fought internationally, AllAfrica.com reported. “Denial is the last stage of genocide and it could be the beginning of another cycle of genocide, if left unchecked or stopped,” Kimonyo told the audience.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a compromise bill (H.R.1473) to fund the government until the end of the 2011 fiscal year. Save Darfur reported that, unfortunately, the Complex Crises Fund, which has enabled the United States to more effectively respond to situations where mass atrocities are occurring or likely to occur, was reduced by 20 percent compared to last year’s level. The Civilian Stabilization Initiative, which runs programs to mitigate conflict, was also reduced, by more than 70 percent. Funding allocated to the Civilian Stabilization Initiative serves to prevent violent conflict in areas critical to U.S. interests, inlcuding Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
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 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