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  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Today and yesterday, 17-18 June 2020, the UN General Assembly elected India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway to the UN Security Council for the period of 2021-2022. With their election, 7 of the 15 members of the Council in 2021 will be “Friends of the Responsibility to Protect” – having appointed an R2P Focal Point and/or joined the Group of Friends of R2P in New York and Geneva. Despite its role as the UN body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, all too often the Security Council has been unable to take timely action on mass atrocity situations due to deep political divisions inside the Council over human rights, conflict prevention and national sovereignty. In recent years this has had a debilitating effect on the Council’s capacity to respond to atrocities in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. It is therefore more important than ever for Council members to work in creative ways to ensure that the international community is able to take timely, practical action to prevent atrocities and protect vulnerable populations. Since 2005 the Security Council has adopted 84 resolutions and 21 Presidential Statements that refer to the Responsibility to Protect, including with regard to situations in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and eight other country situations, as well as a number of thematic issue areas. As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect, it is our hope that the Security Council will consistently uphold their commitment to taking decisive action to avert emerging crises and halt atrocities wherever they are threatened.
  • Topic: United Nations, Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Kenya, India, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: According to the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), the treatment of the Rohingya population during the “clearance operations” amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the commission of which evoke specific obligations and responsibility under international law. In its final report, published in September 2019, the FFM concluded that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide” and found that Myanmar “continues to harbor genocidal intent” towards the Rohingya, emphasizing the need for accountability. This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the ongoing ICJ case, Myanmar’s responsibility for genocide and its impact on the Rohingya population. (Answers to questions about the early stages of the lawsuit are here.)
  • Topic: Security, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), International Court of Justice (ICJ), Rohingya
  • Political Geography: Myanmar, Global Focus, Gambia
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Since the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was unanimously adopted at the 2005 UN World Summit, the international community has looked to the UN Security Council in New York to respond when a government has been unwilling or unable to protect its population from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or ethnic cleansing. Paragraphs 138-139 of the World Summit Outcome Document recognize the Security Council’s unique role with regard to upholding the international community’s responsibility to protect as the body primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the Human Rights Council (HRC) and other Geneva-based mechanisms are also essential for preventing atrocity crimes. Since systematic or widespread human rights violations serve as early warning signs of possible atrocities, Geneva-based mechanisms are often the first to raise the alarm regarding situations where violations and abuses threaten to deepen or deteriorate. Such mechanisms play an important role in enabling the international community to assist states in preventing mass atrocities (R2P’s Pillar II) and respond in a timely and decisive manner to atrocity risks (Pillar III).
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Atrocities
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: FACTSHEET | NOVEMBER 2019: Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The operations, in particular those that started in August 2017, were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations on a mass scale. Survivors report indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Reports have also shown that security forces were systematically planning for such an operation against the Rohingya even before the purported reason for the violence — retaliation for small scale attacks committed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — occurred. As a result, an estimated 745,000 people — mostly ethnic Rohingya — were forced to flee to Bangladesh. According to the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), the treatment of the Rohingya population during the “clearance operations” amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the commission of which evokes specific obligations and responsibility under international law. In its final report, published in September 2019, the FFM concluded that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide” and found that Myanmar “continues to harbor genocidal intent” towards the Rohingya. On November 11, 2019, The Republic of The Gambia filed suit against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violating the Genocide Convention. This momentous lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for genocide and compliments ongoing investigations into individual accountability. This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the ICJ case, and seeks to clarify available avenues for justice for the crimes committed against the Rohingya population.
  • Topic: Genocide, Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, State Violence, Atrocities, International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The treatment of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has increased concerns over the risk of widespread and systematic human rights abuses and violations in China. The government’s approach to combatting religious extremism has resulted in the arbitrary detention of up to one million Uighurs, severe restrictions on religious practice, and pervasive surveillance and control of the entire Muslim population of Xinjiang. A new joint policy brief by the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect asserts that these policies may constitute crimes against humanity under international law. The policy brief provides an overview of China’s response to growing international pressure to halt the persecution of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region and offers recommendations on how to comprehensively address these issues.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Islam, Ethnicity, Freedom of Expression, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, Crimes Against Humanity
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Xinjiang
  • Author: Jared Genser
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: When it was adopted by the United Nations (UN) system in 2005, the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was meant to provide an implementation mechanism for the international community to respond to governments that were perpetrating the mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. As R2P is now in its second decade of existence, it is important to evaluate past implementation of R2P by the UN Security Council — the UN body charged with taking collective action when all other preventive efforts have failed and atrocity crimes are being committed or are imminent. This briefing paper is a summary of a more detailed law review article recently published in the University of Chicago Journal of International Law.
  • Topic: Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing, International Community, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council, Crimes Against Humanity
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: During the 2005 United Nations World Summit, heads of state and government accepted the responsibility of every state to protect its population from four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The first three crimes are legally defined in various international legal documents, such as the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Their status as international crimes is based on the belief that the acts associated with them affect the core dignity of human beings, both in times of peace and in times of war.
  • Topic: Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing, Crimes Against Humanity
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: After more than fifty years of military rule, in 2011 Burma/Myanmar embarked upon a historic transition with the new civilian government, led by President Thein Sein, undertaking a series of political and economic reforms. Burma/Myanmar has been congratulated by the international community for its attempt to end gross human rights abuses and establish a more tolerant and peaceful society.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, Islam, Regional Cooperation, Governance, Minorities, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: George A. Lopez
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The cases where sanctions have been applied to protect populations experiencing on-going or impending mass atrocities are few and have produced mixed results. The UN Security Council imposed various targeted sanctions in 2005 in the case of Darfur, and in Côte d'Ivoire and Libya in 2011.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, War, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Libya, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: On 4 March Kenyans will vote in highly anticipated elections. These elections will be Kenya's first since widespread violence following the December 2007 presidential election shocked the country and world. The 2007/8 violence lasted two months, during which time 1,133 Kenyans were killed, over 600,000 driven from their homes and more than 110,000 private properties were destroyed. The stakes during the upcoming elections are high and, while not inevitable, there is a serious risk of a recurrence of widespread violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Governance
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: In 2005 at the United Nations World Summit, states unanimously committed to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity by adopting the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). R2P affirms an individual state's primary responsibility to protect its population from these four crimes along with the collective international responsibility to take appropriate measures to help protect populations at risk.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, War
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) holds an open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (POC) twice yearly. Following the UNSC's reaffirmation of the World Summit agreement on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Resolutions 1674 (2006) and 1894 (2009) on POC, discussion of R2P has been an important component of these debates. This is reflected in government statements, presentations by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and in the Secretary-General's 2007 report on POC where he referred to the agreement on R2P as a "cardinal achievement."
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Human Rights, Human Welfare, War, Armed Struggle
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Since 1996, conflict in the DRC has claimed, according to the International Rescue Committee, over five million lives, either as a direct result of hostilities or because of disease and malnutrition associated with the fighting. Considered the deadliest conflict since World War II, the targeting of civilians has been a hallmark of the violence. Millions have been killed and forcibly displaced. Women, men and children have been brutally raped, children have been abducted and forcibly conscripted, and towns have been pillaged. Committed with impunity and perpetrated by foreign and domestic armed groups, and by state and non - state actors including the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC), these crimes pose an ongoing threat to populations in the DRC, with those in the east facing the greatest threat.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Genocide, Health, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) holds an open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (POC) twice yearly. Following the UNSC's reaffirmation of the World Summit agreement on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Resolutions 1674 (2006) and 1894 (2009) on POC, discussion of R2P has been an important component of these debates. This is reflected in government statements, presentations by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and in the Secretary-General's 2007 report on POC where he referred to the agreement on R2P as a "cardinal achievement."
  • Topic: Political Violence, Genocide, Human Rights, Human Welfare, War, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: On 9 January the people of South Sudan will begin voting in a highly anticipated referendum on independence. As described in the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect's policy brief dated 6 October 2010, “Sudan: Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect,” there has been concern that mass atrocities would be perpetrated in the period surrounding the referendum. At that point the Global Centre called on the Government of Sudan (GoS), the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), and key international actors to implement a “coordinated and comprehensive strategy to address risks” of violence and atrocities, in keeping with their commitment to the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • Topic: Civil War, Genocide, Human Rights, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Sudan
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The core underlying idea that states have an obligation to protect men and women from the worst atrocities is well established. Basic human rights principles were adopted in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and there is a substantial body of international human rights law. The United Nations adopted the Convention on Genocide in 1948. The protection of civilians during armed conflict is well established in international humanitarian law. But with the advent of R2P, the international community accepted for the first time the collective responsibility to act should states fail to protect citizens from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. R2P thus imposes two obligations—the first upon each state individually, the second on the international community of states collectively. With the embrace of the responsibility to protect, a long and unresolved debate over whether to act became, instead, a discussion about how and when to act.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare, International Law, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: This brief seeks to clarify how the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) applies to the threat posed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and examines the measures that should be taken by regional governments, the African Union (AU), donor governments and the UN Security Council in order to protect populations under threat.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: R2P, like all norms, is bound to see its capacity to deliver on its intended goals tested by real experience. Ever since R2P was endorsed by member states at the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, a number of cases have helped define the boundaries of its application. Well before Libya, R2P had already made a discrete difference in a number of cases: from the most cited example of the political and diplomatic response to the outbreak of ethnic violence in Kenya in early 2008; to the patchy response to signs of ethnic cleansing in Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2010; to the more forceful regional and international efforts in Guinea at the end of that year.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, United Nations, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Strong support for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing was clearly evident at the opening of the 66th United Nations (UN) General Assembly between 21 and 27 September 2011. From the Secretary-General's reference to R2P as a priority for his second term, to the re-affirmation of government support for the norm in opening statements and the holding of a Ministerial meeting on R2P, clear consensus exists about the critical importance of R2P. At a moment when some were anticipating a backlash in the aftermath of the Security Council authorized civilian protection operation in Libya, the opening of the General Assembly reaffirmed that the imperative today is for states to work together to operationalize R2P.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Genocide, Government, Human Rights, Torture, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Libya