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 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Alex Bellamy
    Policy Analysis Brief for
    The Stanley Foundation
    2011
    Mass Atrocities and Armed Conflict:Links, Distinctions and Implications for the Responsibility to Protect
  • 2. 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?
  • 3. 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)
  • 4. 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
  • 5. Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocities
  • 6. 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
  • 7. Mass Atrocity Prevention
  • 8. 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
  • 9. 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
  • 10. 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
  • 11. 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
  • 12. 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
  • 13. 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
  • 14. Steps of EscalationGuide only – real cases not so simple!
  • 15. Cycle of Impunity
  • 16. 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
  • 17. 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
  • 18. 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’
  • 19. Thanks for your time