UNTIL ALL ACHIEVE WELL-BEING

Welcome to the May 29, 2016 edition of the UWAA Peace/Justice action email!

Last month was Genocide Prevention Month. Part of this newsletter will highlight threes aspects from that focus: (a) a prolonged failure {Darfur; but including a worthy action); (b) an encouraging success; (c) Dynamics to keep an eye on. At the end there will be some brief reflections on the topic.

In the last newsletter I indicated that I would provide a more detailed analysis of "Fear, Part II". Unfortunately that will have to wait for more time to finish.


The blog associated with this newsletter is at: http://untilall.org/blogs/newsletter/. Feel free to comment on any topic.

THE FAILURE OF DARFUR; ACTION: THE HOPE OF NEW SANCTIONS

The topic of genocide in Darfur - to use colloquial language - is "so last decade." The original 4- 5 years of international outrage and protest starting in 2004 could neither coalesce the international pressure needed nor dislodge President Bashir from power. The world moved on.

Within Sudan, after a period of lower levels of violence (2011 - 2013) the government reconstituted the Janjaweed as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Since then the levels of violence and displacement almost rose to the original repugnant levels. More ominous, Bashir has settled thousands of Arab foreigners in the villages of the displaced Darfurians. Given Bashir's recent push again to remove UN peacekeepers, the twisted referendum on Darfur's provincial status among other things, it is not completely implausible that someday Darfur will cease to exist, although economic weakness and widespread unrest throughout Sudan lessens the traction for such an agenda.

To counter these destructive patterns, the Enough Project teamed together with others to develop a new scheme of sanctions against the leaders of Sudan that is worthy of support. It is highly targeted towards the leaders while having minimal negative impact on innocent civilians.

Take Action (US citizens only):
http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51595/c/314/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18143

RADOVAN KARADZIC IS CONVICTED OF GENOCIDE

The International Criminal Tribunal: has convicted Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb, of Genocide. He was sentenced for his role in lethal ethnic cleansing operations, the siege of Sarajevo and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. Over 100,000 people died in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Of the two other leaders originally on trial, Milosevic died in his cell in 2006 before his trial ended; Ratko Mladic is being tried separately.

Background:
Karadzic Convicted of Genocide [NYT, free access]

ICC INVESTIGATES GENOCIDE OUTSIDE OF AFRICA

The International Criminal Court (ICC; not to be confused with the International Criminal Tribunal that convicted Karadzic) has started its first investigation outside Africa. The ICC was created in 1998 when the UN adopted the Rome Statute, creating the first permanent international court. It has issued arrest warrants for 31 people; seven are in detention; three have been convicted and detained; several remain at large. Until recently they were all from African countries.

Recently however the ICC started war crimes investigation in Russia-Georgia, its first investigation outside Africa. For its many flaws, the ICC needs to be seen as a necessary court in a global world; in the coming decades it will continue to mature.

Background:
ICC and Russia-Georgia war crimes investigation [BBC]

U.S. JOHN KERRY DECLARES ISIS ACTION AS GENOCIDE

John Kerry, the Secretary of State, said that "Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims". This is the first formal pronouncement by the U.S. administration of genocide since Darfur in 2004. A brief analysis of motives and effects do not indicate any particular change in direction.
U.S. Declares ISIS' attacks on Religious Minorities as Genocide [The Economist]

BRIEF REFLECTIONS ON GENOCIDE

Background : The Definition of Genocide

Identical to the wording of the 1948 Convention, Article 6 of the Rome Statute defines the crime of genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". There are five such acts which constitute crimes of genocide under article 6:

For a more decent world we need to continue grappling with the notion of genocide. Here are a couple of the basic issues:

  1. One of the chief criticisms of the ICC is that there are insufficient checks and balances in the whole process. While this aspect has self-serving agendas, there is nonetheless some merit to this concern which should be addressed.

  2. The most problematic word in the genocide definition is 'intent'. You can have two situations where the actions are identical and the harm is equally devastating. But one could be classified as genocide and the other as ethnic cleansing.

    The point is that the Convention needs to be updated. Currently only 'genocide' formally obligates nations to take action. The original Convention was written before ethnic cleansing gained coinage. Thus it is much preferable to have both above examples treated at the highest level of international obligation. It is then only after the perpetrators have been stopped and captured should the court make the determination of genocide or not. To be clear, the distinction does need to be made - while both are heinous, genocide is more vile and needs to be treated as such in the courtroom.

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    === FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ACTIONS AND ARTICLES ===
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    Indonesia and Shackling:

    After the Human Rights Watch petition which this newsletter participated in, Indonesia's minister of health in mid-April committed to providing mental health medication in all 9,500 community health centers across the country. This commitment is a positive step. HRW will be monitoring the situation to ensure the crucial follow-through occurs.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/16/dispatches-turning-tide-shackling-indonesia

 

 

 


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