This paper analyses the overt provision of assistance to opposition groups in the contemporary conflicts in Libya and Syria. Applying an R2P lens to this new and emerging State practice, the paper argues that R2P has served as the inspiration for a re-aligned conceptualisation of the limits of State responses to atrocity crimes, charting a way forward for the international community which is at once sensitive to State sovereignty but also responsive to humanitarian imperatives.
R2P is the international community’s organising principle for responding to mass atrocity crimes. It reflected and contributed to the shift from power towards norms as the pivot on which history turns. The old, discredited and discarded ‘humanitarian intervention’ represents the national interest and power end of the intervention spectrum. R2P is an effort to insert the global justice and normative end and has much better prospects of a convergence of legality and legitimacy in the use of force. It will be easier to prevent unilateral use of force by great powers if their interventionist instincts are moderated by the discipline of multilateral norms. R2P has a secure future because it is demand-driven. On the realism side of the ledger, many leaders rule on the basis of brute force and occasionally will commit atrocities. On the normative side, the better angels of most people in many countries will demand effective and timely action by governments and the UN to halt the atrocities and punish the perpetrators. R2P is the answer to the challenge of global justice being done and being seen to be done, both by states as the primary units of the global order but also by peoples in whom sovereignty ultimately resides. And it does so by reconciling several inherent tensions between competing interests, competing values, and competing interests and values: between the UN Security Council and the General Assembly; between human and national security; between states and the international community; between institutionalised indifference and unilateral intervention; and between the global North and South.
Arguably, more than any other state or interstate actor, German federal authorities, including the German Federal Public Prosecutor General (Generalbundesanwalt, gba) and German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt), have been at the forefront of issuing arrest warrants for senior members of the Syrian government suspected of atrocity crimes in the wake of the Arab Spring. This includes German federal authorities making the first arrest of a senior member of the Syrian government in February 2019 for crimes against humanity. This article argues that in relation to core international crimes, Germany’s concept of law reflects one based on a ‘standard’ and international rule of law. Moreover, German federal authorities have demonstrated a willingness to use international humanitarian and criminal law (ichl) in relation to those most responsible for core international crimes. In this way, Germany’s current investigations into alleged crimes against humanity in Syria since 2011 provides for an illuminating case for extending universal jurisdiction, as well as the ‘responsibility to prosecute’ as a legal obligation. It also indicates how a multiplicity of actors – including state and non-state actors – can extend the reach of international criminal law, when the International Criminal Court (icc) cannot act.
The failure of the international community to adequately respond to patterns of discrimination against the ethnic Rohingya minority in Myanmar (Burma) eventually led to a genocide. The so-called “clearance operations” launched by Myanmar’s military in August 2017 tested the resilience of the international community’s commitment to defending human rights and upholding its Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Two years later the UN Security Council has still not adopted a single resolution to name the crime committed against the Rohingya, or to hold the perpetrators accountable. Nevertheless, Rohingya survivors and international civil society have continued to campaign for justice under international law, and to advocate for targeted sanctions to be imposed on those responsible for atrocities. Faced with an inert Security Council, some UN member states have adopted inventive diplomatic measures to uphold their responsibility to protect.
M. Joel Voss
There is general agreement that families are considered an important building block of society. However, in international fora, there is significant disagreement about what constitutes family. This article discusses the development of the Protection of the Family initiative at the UN’s primary human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council. This article uses Protection of the Family resolutions at the Council to build upon theories of norm contestation in international relations and international law. Elite-level interviews and participant observation of Council meetings on the four Protection of the Family resolutions adopted at the Council show that both advocates and opponents of Protection of the Family argue that their positions adhere to universal rights and prior law while their opponents are revisionist. In addition, the article illustrates a series of new strategies adopted by advocates of Protection of the Family that may be used in other resolutions to advance human rights agendas.
Jayeel Cornelio and Robbin Charles M. Dagle
This article spells out the ways in which religious freedom has been deployed against proponents of same-sex marriage and gender equality in the Philippines. While the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies have appealed to religious freedom to gain equal rights under the law, conservative Christian entities have fought back by invoking the same notion. They have appropriated religious freedom, which has historically been interpreted by the courts in favour of individual liberties, to defend majoritarian values surrounding sexuality. This article describes this move as the weaponisation of religious freedom in defence of the dominant religion and an assumed majority of Filipinos whose moral sensibilities are purportedly under attack. Towards the end, the article relates this weaponisation to the experience of the Catholic Church in the contemporary public sphere and the militant character of Christianity that continues to view the Philippines as a Christian nation.
While international human rights law enshrines family life as a cornerstone of society, when it intersects with migration, issues and problems arise in countries where migration is high on the political agenda. This is true in a number of EU states. Both EU law and European human rights commitments, however, require states to provide for family reunification subject to a margin of discretion to the state. While family reunification for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection has been at the top of some political agendas in Europe, this article looks at family reunification (generally known as family reunion) for another group—nationals of the Member States. In particular it poses two questions: do EU Member States accept their own nationals to come back to their home state with third country national family members they have acquired while abroad? Secondly, to what extent do EU Member States discriminate against their own nationals in comparison with the generous EU rules of family reunion for nationals of other Member States who have exercised a free movement right in their country. This article is based on reports by experts from all EU Member States in light of the 2014 judgment in O & B (C-456/12) by the Court of Justice of the European Union.