Isocracy Submission to the UN on Responsibility to Protect

Please find attached the response of the Isocracy Network, Inc. based on the request for inputs for the 2013 Report of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect.

We understand that submissions were due on 19 April 2013, but have been informed that there has been an extension.

The Isocracy Network, Inc. is primarily an organisation of political and economic ideas. Nevertheless, the issues raised by the legal norms encapsulated as the responsibility to protect are of particular importance to us, thus our contribution. Due to our limited involvement in international preventative activity our contribution is limited to the first three and question eight.

Civil Society Inputs for the 2013 Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect

1. Beyond what is already identified in the Analysis Framework of the Office, what factors or trends contribute to increasing the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity? Which factors are specific to certain crimes and which factor could apply to all four atrocity crimes? Under what circumstances is a situation more likely to deteriorate?

The Analysis Framework, operating from a legal definition of genocide, contributes four contributing factors (i) existing discriminatory intergroup relations., (ii) circumstances and the capacity to prevent genocide., (iii) the presence of illegal arms and armed elements., (iv) motivation of leading State and other regional actors., (v) dynamic factors that facilitate the perpetration of genocide.

It is the considered opinion of the Isocracy Network that these factors are actually secondary to one of the most important principles of the United Nations, that is, the right of self-determination of nations to form their own political entities (c.f., United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514) as a component of the wider requirements of the implementation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This must not be interpreted as the self-determination of States, but rather the self-determination of ethnic, national, and linguistic groups who are targeted in the definition of genocides, and that self-determination of national groups is but a subcomponent of universal rights.

A sixth factor that should also be included, is the failure of the international community to intervene to prevent genocide when State actors cannot or will not engage in the responsibility to protect. Whilst the fourth factor of the Analysis Framework is orientated towards the motivations of regional actors, however as should be clear from historical examples (e.g., Rwandan genocide) circumstances do exist where there international community does not intervene due to political interests of that community. Whilst complete solutions are beyond the scope of this contribution, the Analysis Framework would do well to acknowledge the seriousness of this problem as a factor in its own right.

2. What measures or policy options do you believe could be taken to address the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity? What combination of measures or policy options do you believe would contribute to preventing atrocity crimes?

For this second question, the Isocracy Network reiterates the statements of the first, as the risk factors of genocide, are also contributing factors to those of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. That is, national self-determination as having priority over State sovereignty, and the failures of the international community to intervene due to actions based on vested political interests rather than humanitarian principles.

Two additional factors are introduced here by the Isocracy Network.

The first refers to the legal and preferably constitutional incorporation of civil protections for ethnic minorities, especially in consideration for regions where national self-determination cannot be equated with geographical self-determination. This is increasingly common in a globalised world and can only be resolved with a framework of multi-ethnic political units. A particular case in point can be the ethnic composition of Afghanistan, and the claims of genocide against the indigenous people of Australia, United States, & etc.

The second makes refers to item (iii) of the Analysis Framework. Analysis of recent conflicts (e.g., Syria) make it clear that, contrary to much conventional wisdom, certain war crimes (e.g., the indiscriminate targeting of civilian non-combatants) are much more significant when carried out with heavy weapons (artillery, air power etc), rather than small arms. Whilst particularly challenging to the old notions of State sovereignty and especially a supposed right to engage in internal and external military endeavours, the Isocracy Network emphasises the benefits of a substantially reduced State military forces with preference to international peacekeeping forces. Recognising the presence and size of State and other military forces and their composition (heavy weapons vs small arms) should be a risk metric.

3. What are the key challenges to undertaking preventive action?

A distinction is drawn here between "preventative action" and "curative action", with recognition of the well-known adage. However contributions in questions #1 and #2 are preventative as well as curative depending on circumstances. For example, the legalisation of the Universal Declaration national self-determination in an institutional framework with a high level of embedded civil rights may prevent war crimes and, if they have already occured, act as a curative response. The situation of the Noxçiy (Chechnyan) people serves an an illustrative example.

It is well recognised that institutional issues are a key preventative factor. Member States can indicate their seriousness to the norms of the Responsibility to Protect by instituting a public department expressly for this interest to ensure their integration throughout the whole of government. Whilst it should be a matter of course for all governments to act in a manner that reduces the possibility of the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity, regrettably the claim must be made that without institutional authority these concerns will not be sufficiently addressed or protected. Such a body would require a significant degree of statutory independence to ensure that it has the authority to conduct both internal investigations as well a comment on regional and international affairs when appropriate.

8. What further measures can Member States undertake to address risk factors for atrocity crimes? List key recommendations for Member States to strengthen atrocity prevention efforts.

As previously mentioned, a key and oft-unspoken challenge, refers to the geo-political balance that is embodied in law as the UN Security Council which, inevitably, will fail to act when members with veto powers disagree with preventative or curative actions. Whilst initially this may seem to be significantly outside the scope of the Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, radical recommendations are of course acceptable under the aegis of the assigned task. Reducing the political influence of member states can be raised, even if it is likely to be resisted by some powerful members. Specifically, Security Council powers (i.e., sanctions, peacekeeping forces, military action) are of such import on this matter that an elected body, representative of the people of the world rather than states, may be the better option. Explorations of elected international body have been explored by the former Australian member of parliament and minister, Duncan Kerr (Elect the ambassador! Democracy in a globalised world, Pluto Press Australia, 2001). Kerr refers to a 'democracy deficit' in a world where global government is a fact.

Perhaps even more radically, is the proposal raised in the response to question #2, concerning the military constitution of Member States. Effective preventative action by Member States can be achieved by reduce military expenditures and reorient them towards providing social welfare and institutional infrastructure, as well as redirecting the military composition so that increasingly sovereign forces consist of defensive small arms (in the model of a "well regulated militia", to use the famous phrase from the United States of America) with heavier weapons increasingly under the aegis of international forces. It is of course improbable that many regimes will concur with such an orientation, which says more of their motivations rather than the veracity of the proposition.

Commenting on this Story will be automatically closed on June 28, 2013.


*UN Secretary-General Report on the Responsibility to Protect *
*/State Responsibility and Prevention /**and ICRtoP Overview of

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon published his fifth report since 2009 on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), /State Responsibility and Prevention,/ in advance of the UN General Assembly informal interactive dialogue on the same subject to take place in early September 2013.

Recent and ongoing events, such as the ever-deteriorating crisis and civil war in Syria, illustrate the critical importance of early preventive action and the consequences that can arise should such action not be taken or fail. As such, the Secretary-General has focused his report on the responsibility of States to protect their populations by developing the necessary national capacity to build societies resilient to atrocity crimes.

The report identifies six risk factors that have been evident to varying degrees in situations where atrocities were committed, as well as reflects on the range of preventive measures available to governments, featuring over 40 examples as implemented by Member States. Such policy options listed within the report include, but are not limited to, ensuring constitutional protections; holding inclusive, fair, electoral processes that involve the participation of all sectors of the population and meet international human rights standards; fostering political pluralism through the diffusion and sharing of power, as well as through the establishment of self-regulating political parties that promote national cohesion and participation rights for all; and ensuring accountability for the commission of atrocities and ratifying, domesticating and
implementing relevant legal instruments. Additionally, the Report outlines targeted measures, such as establishing early warning mechanisms or designating an atrocities prevention or RtoP focal point, to prevent atrocities.

ICRtoPs has produced a 4-page overview of the report available here