International Educational Development and PARLIAMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP (UK) SPRING 2000
ISBN 1 901053 05 9
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Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development, Inc. (HLP/IED) is a non-sectarian, non-governmental organization granted consultative status at the United Nations by Dag Hammarskjöld. IED, originally founded by Jesuit brothers to assist hospitals and schools in developing countries, merged in 1989 with Los Angeles-based HLP and broadened its scope to advocate and promote world-wide compliance with humanitarian and human rights law.
Parliamentary Human Rights Group The Parliamentary Human Rights Group was founded in 1976 as an independent forum in the British Parliament concerned with the defense of international human rights. It now has over 100 members from all parties in both Houses of Parliament. The group undertakes human rights missions, publishes discussion papers, receives visitors and engages in dialogue with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and with international bodies to which the UK belongs. The chair is Ann Clwyd MP.
Karen Parker specialises in human rights and humanitarian law. She is HLP/IED chief delegate to the United Nations. Anne Heindel works with HLP/IED on issues of humanitarian law and self-determination. Adam Branch is a graduate student in Political Science at Columbia University.
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Preface to 1999 Edition by Lord Avebury, Vice-Chairman,
Parliamentary Human Rights Group UK 4
BOUGAINVILLE/PAPUA NEW GUINEA 13
CHECHNYA/RUSSIAN FEDERATION 20
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC 27
CONGO, REPUBLIC OF 29
EAST TIMOR 33
GUINEA BISSAU 40
ISRAELI OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTHERN LEBANON 48
SIERRA LEONE 70
SRI LANKA 74
WESTERN SAHARA 89
COUNTRIES WITH NASCENT INTERNATIONAL ARMED CONFLICTS 92
COUNTRIES IN SERIOUS VIOLENT SOCIAL UNREST 93
COUNTRIES WITH CURRENT UNITED NATIONS OBSERVERS/PEACEKEEPING 101
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 104
Preface to 1999 Edition by Lord Avebury, Vice-Chairman,
Parliamentary Human Rights Group UK
1998 witnessed a new international war, between Eritrea and Ethiopia; an escalation of the civil war in Republic of Congo; the eruption of a new civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with intervention by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the side of President Kabila, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting the rebels; disintegration of the fragile peace in Angola; intensification of the fighting in Sudan, leading to humanitarian crises in Bahr el Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains; a major offensive by the rebels in Sierra Leone, and continued slaughter of non-combatants in Algeria. Africa has had to endure the scourge of conflict more intensively than other continents. The fighting has been conducted with particular brutality in Sierra Leone, where the rebels randomly hacked off the limbs of civilians in their path, and the ‘peacekeeping forces’ and their local allies executed suspected rebels without judicial process. The prospects for a negotiated settlement appear dim, as the Nigerians prepare to withdraw following their transition to civilian government - one of the few bright spots on the landscape.
Africa has only weak and ineffective conflict resolution mechanisms, and as noted last year, the sub-regional mechanisms are hobbled by the rivalries of their member states. South Africa’s initial attempt to prevent outside involvement in the DRC was unsuccessful, and the current mediator, President Chiluba of Zambia, is handicapped by Angolan suspicion that Zambia is giving UNITA some military help. In Sudan, the spasmodic IGAD initiatives have come to a halt since war broke out between two of its member states.
In Europe, by contrast, there are plenty of supranational organisations with some conflict resolution capacity, ranging from the OSCE’s High Commissioner for National Minorities who works only in situations not involving violence, through the European Union, the Russian-led CIS and NATO to the OSCE’s Chairman in Office. Yet when it comes to the crunch, as in Kosovo, all these sophisticated institutions plus the US cannot be said to have been more successful than their African counterparts. The Serbian attacks on civilians have continued under the noses of foreign observers, and President Milosevic has sent additional armour and artillery into the territory in breach of the tattered peace agreement he reluctantly signed. The continuation of the 15-year civil war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish-populated southeast region, unnoticed by any of the regional peacemaking authorities, also demonstrates that if an OSCE state of any consequence decides to boycott the available mechanisms, there is no way of bringing it to book. Sanctions can be invoked against little Serbia, and military force threatened if they carry on with attacks on civilians in Kosovo; but when the Turks commit war crimes against Kurds, the international community describes the resistance as terrorists. We need to develop a more consistent taxonomy of armed oppositions, and to apply theories of the just war, jus ad bellum, to internal conflicts.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the big question is whether Indonesia will manage the transition to greater democracy and freedom without more and worse violence. Since the downfall of Suharto, they have come to terms politically with the possibility of East Timor’s independence, but the irresponsible creation of a pro-integration militia undermines the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to solve the question peacefully. Acheh and West Papua, both incorporated into Indonesia contrary to UN principles, are demanding a hearing on the world stage.
Most of these conflicts and potential conflicts stem from the UN’s failure to decide what groups qualify as a ‘people’, able to exercise the right of self-determination. The incompatibility between the principle of teritorial integrity and that of self-determination was left unresolved, and there was no attempt to create a tribunal to deal with individual cases. Instead, it was left to ‘state practice’. If a people managed to assert their right by superior military force, as in Bangladesh or Eritrea, they were accepted as having qualified. That was not a good recipe for world peace.