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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: After four dark years during which President Donald Trump systematically weakened the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, international law and universal human rights, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their impending inauguration. As an international civil society organization with its headquarters in New York, we join human rights defenders both here and abroad who view this historic moment with relief and hope. President Biden and Vice President Harris will be sworn in at a time of unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous suffering around the world and killed over 380,000 Americans. Globally, more than 80.3 million people are also currently displaced by conflict, persecution and atrocities, the highest number since the Second World War. In all too many countries the laws, institutions and individuals who defend human rights appear to be under threat. This includes the United States, where disturbing political developments over the last four years led to the proliferation of online hate speech, the criminalization of asylum seekers and a prejudicial “Muslim Ban” aimed at refugees.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: This year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. But celebrations recognizing this historical landmark will occur at a time when the entire post-1945 structure of human rights, humanitarianism and multilateral diplomacy are under threat. Not since the UN was first formed have so many people been displaced by persecution, conflict and war. Not since the peak of the Cold War has the UN Security Council appeared so bitterly divided and incapable of decisive action. And as a new decade begins, there are renewed threats to international peace and security, and fresh assaults on human dignity.
  • Topic: Genocide, Human Rights, Social Movement, Refugees, Syrian War, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: China, Yemen, United Nations, Syria, Chile, Myanmar, Global Focus, Xinjiang
  • Author: Karen Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Fifteen years since the adoption of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), I would like to reflect on what it is, at its core. R2P is essentially about preventing and protecting people from the most heinous atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This essence is sometimes undermined by debates in which criticisms about implementation deficits are used to discredit the entire principle. The disconnect between the UN World Summit in 2005, when UN member states unanimously committed to protect populations from atrocity crimes, and the disparity in its implementation is highly problematic, as it leaves open the door for atrocity crimes to continue to be committed, while effective national, regional and international action is displaced by what are essentially political arguments about lack of conceptual consensus. The grim reality of today’s ongoing crises is a stark reminder of the need to redouble efforts to effectively implement the responsibility to protect.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elisabeth Pramendorfer
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, on 18 June, Burundi swore in Évariste Ndayishimiye as the country’s new president, nearly one month after winning a contested election against Agathon Rwasa and other opposition candidates. The accelerated inauguration process followed the unexpected death of President Pierre Nkurunziza on 8 June. Amidst this rapid transition – initially set to take place in August – Burundians and the international community are waiting to see if the new government will seize upon this unique moment in the country’s history. Can President Ndayishimiye and the new government reverse the policies pursued by President Nkurunziza that deepened societal divisions and resulted in years of political conflict?
  • Topic: Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burundi
  • Author: Ivan Šimonović
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Fifteen years ago the Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity was unanimously adopted at the United Nations World Summit, the largest gathering of Heads of State and Government in history. To mark the 15th anniversary the Global Centre is publishing a series of reflections by key actors in the development of R2P. In this piece, Ambassador Ivan Šimonović shares lessons he learned regarding the prevention of atrocity crimes while serving as the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and as UN Special Adviser on R2P. While reflecting on various country situations, Ambassador Šimonović explains what can be achieved through “atrocity crimes prevention diplomacy.”
  • Topic: International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jahaan Pittalwala
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Since April 2019 Syrian government and Russian forces have carried out a brutal offensive in northwest Syria, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 civilians. As the bombings intensified in mid 2019, international outrage grew as airstrikes regularly hit health facilities, schools, displacement centers and other civilian objects, including those on a “deconfliction” list established by the UN to help facilitate their protection. Any joint action by the UN Security Council (UNSC) in response to these attacks was actively blocked by China and Russia, the latter of which was directly involved in the military offensive. Amidst frustration that perpetrators were being systematically shielded from accountability, and faced with few other diplomatic options, ten members of the UNSC issued a démarche to the UN Secretary-General requesting an investigation into attacks on civilian objects.
  • Topic: International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, Global Focus
  • Author: Gareth Evans
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: In a world as full of cynicism, double standards, crude assertions of national interest and realpolitik as ours has so long been, not least in these last few years, it is very easy to believe that ideas do not matter very much. Achieving fundamental change in the way states and their leaders think and behave is as hard as international relations gets. But that is exactly the dream that those of us involved in the creation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept set out to make a reality two decades ago.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Speech
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jared Genser
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: I was recently appointed to advise the Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest regional organization comprised of the 35 independent states of the Americas, to help design and build a more effective and efficient system to address mass atrocity crimes in the Western Hemisphere. Although proposing a detailed way forward will require my completing a wide range of consultations with member states, civil society groups, and other experts, much more can be done./Fui nombrado recientemente para aconsejar a la Organización de Estados Americanos, la organización regional más antigua del mundo compuesta de los 35 estados independientes de las Américas, para ayudar a diseñar y construir un sistema más eficaz y eficiente para responder a crímenes de atrocidades masivas en la región. Antes de que puedo proponer una manera de progresar específica, estoy llevando a cabo consultaciones amplias con estados miembros, grupos de la sociedad civil y otros expertos. Pero hay bastante que se puede hacer en el interino.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Organization of American States (OAS)
  • Political Geography: South America, Central America, North America
  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: In June this year, for the first time in our history, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect published an “Atrocity Alert” for the United States. That alert was issued just nine days after an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, was choked to death by police in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death led to massive protests in more than 100 US cities and towns, and some rioting. As we wrote at the time: “While the murder of George Floyd in police custody does not constitute a mass atrocity crime, it has exposed deep divisions in US society. All law enforcement officials involved in the extrajudicial killing of civilians should be held legally accountable and punished to the full extent of the law. Crowd control measures deployed against peaceful protests must be consistent with international standards. The security forces must also strictly comply with the principles of necessity, proportionality, legality and precaution to help prevent any further deaths or serious injuries.” Now the United States faces an even greater challenge. The election on 3 November is expected to be one of the most divisive and dangerous in US history. Since March the United States has not only endured the largest COVID-19 death toll in the world, but also crushing unemployment levels and a disturbingly fractured political discourse. While the structural problems in US society – such as its history of racial violence and overly-militarized policing – pre-date the presidency of Donald Trump, he has exacerbated them. Trump’s attempt to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the impending election, combined with his unwillingness to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, poses a threat to American democracy. Many Americans believe that existential issues of race, identity and civil rights are also on the ballot.
  • Topic: Race, Social Movement, Elections, Protests, Justice, Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Bellamy
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The Responsibility to Protect was adopted unanimously and without equivocation by the UN General Assembly in 2005. States accepted that each of them had a responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity – hitherto referred to as ‘atrocity crimes.’ They acknowledged their responsibility to assist one another to fulfil this primary responsibility. They declared they had a collective responsibility to protect populations in other countries using diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, and they promised to work through the UN Security Council to protect populations when national authorities were failing and peaceful means inadequate.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lisa Hultman
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: World leaders met recently in Berlin to discuss solutions for ending the civil conflict in Libya. The United Nations (UN)-backed government currently lacks control over large parts of the country, while the opposition is backed by several countries—Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others. Hundreds of people have been killed in the last year alone, and thousands displaced. This was surely not the anticipated outcome of the NATO-led military intervention in 2011—an intervention authorized by the UN and justified in the name of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a doctrine adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005, that commits countries and the international community to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Libya is the only time in history that military intervention has been justified on the grounds of R2P.
  • Topic: NATO, United Nations, Humanitarian Intervention, Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Political Geography: Libya