Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention
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Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention

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Presentation from a brown bag lunch discussion organized by the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action on "Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for ...

Presentation from a brown bag lunch discussion organized by the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action on "Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention", held on 23 March 2011.

Please note that the designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by the United Nations in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

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  • Presentation from a brown bag lunch discussion organized by the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action on 'Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention', held on 23 March 2011.

    Please note that the designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by the United Nations in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.
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    Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict: Links, Distinctions and Implications for Prevention Presentation Transcript

    • Alex Bellamy
      Policy Analysis Brief for
      The Stanley Foundation
      2011
      Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict:Links, Distinctions and Implications for the Responsibility to Protect
    • Key issue -
      How to give effect to the prevention component of RtoP
      What is the relationship between mass atrocities and armed conflict?
      How does RtoP relate to existing prevention agendas?
      What are the key similarities, differences and pitfalls to avoid?
      How might we implement RtoP?
    • Key argument -
      Atrocity prevention best achieved by adding an ‘atrocity prevention lens’ to inform, and where appropriate, direct decision-making across the full spectrum of preventive activity
      Principal purposes of the ‘lens’
      Identify countries at risk and specific factors that increase/mitigate risk in a given country
      Advise decision-making and program planning
      Structural and direct components:
      Providing advice that helps tailor existing programs (e.g. development, rule of law, governance, environment, displaced persons) to addressing atrocity-risk factors and identifies related areas where such programs might add value to prevention
      In crises, the ‘lens’ would foreground atrocity prevention and coordinate coherent multidimensional prevention strategies (much like the convening authority)
    • Prevention DilemmaAre conflict prevention and atrocity prevention linked?
      The debate:
      ICISS and Annan – conflict prevention part of atrocity prevention
      IPI, Ban, Evans (more recent) – agendas should not be conflated
      Problem 1 – what is the relationship between war and atrocities?
      Problem 2 – how distinct are the prevention agendas?
      Conflict prevention
      Genocide prevention
      RtoP prevention
      ICISS
      Ban Ki-moon
    • Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocities
    • Key points -
      Findings -
      Implications -
      67% of all major cases of mass atrocities occurred in a context of armed conflict
      33% occurred outside context of armed conflict
      Common contexts for peacetime atrocities:
      State-directed suppression
      Communal violence
      Post-war retribution
      Peacetime atrocities have become less frequent
      All except five began prior to 1980
      Of these, four had recent experience of armed conflict/atrocities (DRC, Burundi [twice], Myanmar)
      Since 1980 only 15% of new episodes occurred outside armed conflict
      Strong link between armed conflict and mass atrocities – and getting stronger
      But:
      Not all armed conflicts produce atrocities
      Many atrocities occur outside armed conflict
      Atrocity prevention should:
      1. Reduce risk of armed conflict (reducing overall risk of atrocities)
      2. Reduce risk of peacetime atrocities
      3. Reduce risk of atrocities being committed within context of armed conflict
    • Mass Atrocity Prevention
    • Swiss Cheese...Graphic by Jakob von HoldersteinHoltermann (Human Rights Review 2010)
      Cheese = layers of societal resilience to mass atrocities
      Holes = failures in local, national, international institutions
      When they align, the hazard materialises
      Human institutions are fallible (always have holes)
      Best way to reduce risk: add additional layers of resilience
    • Contending Prevention Agendas
      Tendency to compartmentalise prevention agendas:
      Conflict prevention
      Genocide prevention
      Atrocity prevention
      Strong overlap between them – especially conflict prevention and atrocity prevention (c. 85% the same)
      Similar structural measures identified by both (spanning economic, governance, security human rights, social)
      Similar direct measures(early warning, diplomacy, sanctions, inducements, legal, military)
      Why can’t we separate the agendas?
      Structural conditions that give rise to armed conflict (esp. civil wars) are similar to those that give rise to mass atrocities
      These conditions are interconnected and not easily separated
      Direct prevention of all varieties is about changing behaviour
      It makes no sense to consider reducing the tools available to policy makers
      There is no need, therefore, for a new repertoire of preventive measures to serve RtoP
      BUT: this does not means that conflict prevention tools and methods can be simply carried across to atrocity prevention
    • An Atrocity Prevention ‘Lens’
      Preventive activity should be guided by atrocity-specific advice – because
      Atrocities and conflicts are not perfectly related
      Preventing conflicts and atrocities may require different things (e.g. accommodation v. coercion)
      Undue attention to conflict prevention may obscure the needs of atrocity prevention (e.g. Rwanda (Arusha), Bosnia)
      Conflict prevention may inadvertently create incentives for atrocities (groups seeking ‘place at the table’)
      This should be fed into existing prevention frameworks and should aim at producing cohesive and carefully tailored policies and programs
      An atrocity prevention lens would:
      Carefully assess individual situations to:
      Identify specific risk factors
      Identify local sources of resilience
      Utilise existing capacities and tools through tailored programs to address risks and support resilience
      Make the most effective use of scarce resources by targeting and tailoring existing capacities
      Be applied at every stage of the conflict cycle – providing a ‘moving picture’ rather than ‘one-off snapshot’
      Ensure that prevention measures and capacities are carefully tailored to suit:
      Specific context
      Risk factors
      Goal of atrocity prevention
    • Step 1: Identifying the Risk
      Existing literature points to these as most common risk factors associated with atrocities
      We can use this to generate a reasonably accurate picture of risk
      E.g. based on data available in 1997, we identified 10 countries as ‘extreme risk’. Of those, 9 experienced atrocities in the following decade (exception – Burundi)
      20 countries identified as ‘high’ risk – 47% succumbed to atrocities
      This type of modelling helps identify areas needing closer field-based analysis BUT CANNOT
      Identify when or where atrocities will erupt
    • Tailoring Structural Prevention
      Structural prevention
      Most UN in-country programs contribute to structural prevention
      Private business, NGOs and bilateral aid also contribute
      Tailored prevention involves examining the prevention value of this work and coordinating it effectively
      Atrocity prevention lens should help UN system ‘deliver as one’ on atrocity prevention
      Step 1: Needs assessment: Develop a shared methodology to inform planning across UN system
      Identify the presence and nature of local/national/regional risk factors
      Identify and assess sources of resilience
      Assess national capacity and identify protection gaps
      Map existing preventive activities (local and international)
      Identify areas needing additional support
      Needs assessment needs to be a rolling program of assessment and reassessment that feeds into existing program/policy planning
      OSAPG/RtoP is most obvious as lead office but the process needs to be consultative
      Initial research and drafting could be sub-contracted by OSAPG/RtoP
      Method might be usefully shared with regional partners
    • Step 2: Monitoring and Assessing Escalation
      Identifying when and where risk will escalate to imminent threat requires careful monitoring and field-based research
      Manifesting Risk requires
      Reason – perpetrators must have a purpose
      Means – require a sufficient number of people with capacity and will to commit atrocities
      Opportunity
      weakened internal/international restraints
      Chaos /war makes mass killing easier to hide (eg. Armenia 1915; RPF/ADFL in DRC)
      Where risk is high and these conditions exist, atrocities very likely UNLESS:
      Regime has capacity to end crisis before resorting to atrocities
      International engagement either:
      Resolves problem
      Deters atrocities by increasing costs associated with them
    • Steps of EscalationGuide only – real cases not so simple!
    • Cycle of Impunity
    • Responding to Escalation – Late and Later Prevention
      Responding to Crises
      Preventing Atrocities after Armed Conflict has Begun
      Important that atrocity-specific analysis be fed directly into policy making process at every stage
      OSAPG/RtoP advise UN policy planning
      Dialogue with member states and regional arrangements
      Use of convening authority when danger judged to be acute
      OSAPG/RtoP advice directly to the SG
      OSAPG/RtoP most appropriate lead in developing system-wide (‘narrow but deep’) responses for atrocity-specific
      Important to calibrate measures with long-term programming
      Key challenges:
      Much greater risk; short escalatory timeframe
      Pitfalls of pursing conflict resolution when atrocity prevention needed
      More clarity needed on relationship between prevention and reaction, humanitarian aid, and PoC
      Key capacities:
      UN staff on the ground should be able to detect and communicate warning signs of future atrocities
      UNHQ (OSAPG/RtoP?) should have capacity to monitor and assess field information in real time
      Capacity for fast-tracking early warning, assessment, advice and decision-making
    • Recommendations
      UN – build on the strengthening of the OSAPG/RtoP
      Strengthen capacity to advise on BOTH imminent crises and areas of risk where longer-term strategies required
      Build capacity to provide detailed assessments of individual country risks and needs – develop and share methodology
      Provide advice to UN agencies, funds and programs about risks
      Identify new and emerging conflicts that contain risk of atrocities and inform conflict prevention policymaking
      Serve as a convening authority and enable coordinated atrocity-prevention planning in crisis situations
      Use information from the field to provide ‘live’ advice to field missions and peace operations
      Develop a lessons learned capacity to identify best practice
      Regional organizations
      Strengthen dialogue and partnership with UN
      Two-way provision of atrocity prevention related information
      Cooperation in responding to imminent emergencies
      Facilitate cooperation in implementing UNSC decisions
      Examine ways of building an atrocity prevention lens
      Incorporate regional arrangements into strategic planning/implementation of programs with structural prevention component (poss: expansion of regional offices)
      National governments
      Establish national RtoP/atrocity prevention focal points
    • Further research needed -
      Prevention of atrocities once armed conflict under way
      What factors influence whether a conflict, once started, will produce atrocities?
      What measures (other than terminating the armed conflict) might be taken to mitigate this risk ?
      Global audit of preventive capacity –
      Where are the relevant capacities?
      Where are the gaps?
      Tailoring programs for structural prevention –
      A methodology for risk assessment
      How this works in practice (case studies)
      Policies and programs to address specific threats
      Best practice in direct prevention –
      Large ‘n’ studies of (a) success; (b) failures; (c) not tried
      Detailed case studies to see how it all ‘hangs together’
    • Thanks for your time