In this article we explore the relationship between pre-existing patterns of gender inequality and the occurrence of widespread and systematic sexual and gender based violence (sgbv). We ask three questions: What do we know about the status of gender inequality in high-risk situations prior to the outbreak of atrocities (which include sgbv)? What can be done to understand the relationship between systemic gender inequality and the use of sexual violence in the particular high-risk situations? And what long-term approaches are necessary to prevent sgbv?
Counting forced migrants runs into a number of hurdles related to their classification, to their experience of flight, and to the need to use myriad sources of data from governments, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations. To complicate matters, three organisations have mandates to count different groups – the un Relief Works Agency (unrwa) for Palestine refugees, the un High Commission for Refugees (unhcr) for refugees more generally, and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (idmc) for internally displaced persons (idps). All three face a range of common challenges in carrying out this vital aspect of their respective mandates. These include conceptual challenges, political concerns, competing interests and access. They also face their own political and institutional challenges, leading to individualised approaches and variance across and even within the organisations. In spite of these complexities, there have been significant improvements in the reliability of data and new technologies and registration methods are providing a way forward to a better understanding of forced migrant movements.
Nonviolent mass movements are the primary challengers to governments today. This represents a pronounced shift in the global landscape of dissent. Through 2010, such movements tended to be surprisingly effective in removing incumbent leaders from power, even when they experienced some repression from the government. But from 2010 through May 2016, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns declined dramatically. I speculate that although there are several probable reasons for this decline, repressive adaptations of authoritarian governments against such campaigns may be part of the story. I summarize some of the common methods of “smart” repression that many authoritarian governments have adopted in response to the growing effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. The article concludes by identifying the potential consequences of such trends for those concerned with atrocity prevention.
Civilian fatality figures are a limited, if important, data point that influences the ability of researchers to study patterns of violence and evaluate policy responses intended to end violence. However, across datasets that track such violence there are significant differences in how and what is counted, this has direct bearing on how atrocity endings are understood and what policies might best be applied. There are often good reasons for data variation that cannot always be resolved. Nonetheless, it is important to understand and itemize the factors that influence these differences. Highlighting the relationship between the evidence base for and the construction of research consensus about civilian fatality figures, this paper draws on case study research to demonstrate how variations in the evidence base that defines an ending can fundamentally alter the narrative about historical mass atrocity events, with significant implications for how protection is conceptualized.
Over 100,000 un peacekeeping personnel are deployed on missions with authority from the Security Council, under Chapter vii of the un Charter, to use force to protect civilians. Nevertheless, they have repeatedly failed to do so and yet there does not appear to be a single case where the un has taken disciplinary action against senior staff for failing to act in line with a mission mandate in this regard. This article argues that the ´positive´ and ´negative´ obligations of international human rights law, protecting the right to life and physical integrity, provide the most appropriate guidance to the tactical use of force by un peacekeeping soldiers. Mechanisms also need to be created to improve the accountability of un missions to those that they are responsible for protecting.
The emergence of the Responsibility to Protect (r2p) doctrine is part of a universal longing to prevent atrocities and to protect those affected by them. While its origins are quite distinct from international humanitarian principles, its links with humanitarian issues are clear. In fact, r2p emerged in response to humanitarian tragedies. This article traces the intersection of r2p and protection frameworks for refugees and internally displaced persons (idps), recognizing the important differences between them. r2p focuses on prevention, response and rebuilding – the first two tasks of which are inherently political. Conflicts cannot be prevented or resolved without engaging in political action of one kind or another. Responding to atrocities requires taking sides. Normative frameworks on refugees and idps, on the other hand, are based on the principle that people are to be assisted and protected on the basis of need alone and that humanitarian action is non-political in nature.