In Syria, Invoking "R2P"

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“With the increasing violence and deepening sectarian tensions, the risk of further mass atrocity crimes is high. The time for action is now,” was the united message of the Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect, Francis Deng and Edward Luck, They called on the international community to take action to meet its ‘responsibility to protect’ populations at risk of further atrocities in Syria, taking into consideration “the full range of tools available under the United Nations Charter,” and citing the “Syrian Government’s “manifest” failure in this regard.


Agreed at a summit of world leaders in 2005 and sometimes known as ‘R2P,’ the principle of the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met.  It should be highlighted that R2P as not being so clearly institutionalized during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Further, the big-powers and Contact Group on Bosnia & Herzegovina did all they could not to use the term “genocide” and thus sought the international obligations contained within such under Treaty and the UN Charter. Evolution of international legal institutions and legality may make that same avoidance of responsibility a bit more difficult. The action by Mr. Deng and Mr. Luck makes evasive action at least in context of international law a bit more difficult.


Systematic Shelling/Massacres of Civilians:

“These massacres underscore the Syrian Government’s manifest failure to protect its population,” citing both shelling of civilian neighborhoods and alleged crimes against men, women and children committed by Government militias. The mass killings of civilians in Houla and Mazraat al-Qubeir, including the brutal assault and murder of women and children at close range, represent an alarming escalation in targeted attacks against civilians, they said, adding, “They must cease immediately.” Along with unimpeded access to for UNSMIS, they also called on all parties to immediately end all acts of violence and commit to implementing the six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan. Read our Blog for Film“Can Annan/UN Afford to Look Away from Syria Crimes”.


“Srong Stench of Dead Bodies”

Today also UNSMIS personnel finally were able to reach another small Syrian town from which they had been blocked/threatened. “A strong stench of dead bodies was in the air and there appeared to be pockets in the town where fighting is still ongoing,” according to the spokesperson for UNSMIS, Sausan Ghosheh speaking of the town al-Haffeh. “The number of casualties is still unclear.”


Amnesty International Demands that Syria be Referred to the ICC.

We have been consistent in underscoring the critical role of the International Criminal Court for delivering a sustainable peace as well as the rule of law and justice. See our Blog for Film: “How Many Ways Can UN & Annan Say Same Thing But do Same Nothing”. Amnesty International has also become more vocal in holding not only the Syrian Regime more accountable for grave violations of international humanitarian law but asking why the matter has not been referred to the ICC by the UNSC, particularly the failure of the UNSC’s Permanent Members in this regard.


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About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect ( provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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