Peace processes

    Ukraine accuses Russia of terrorism at the International Court of Justice
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Ukraine and Russia are this week facing off against each other before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Kiev accuses Moscow of violating two international Conventions, one on funding terrorism and one on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. It is asking the Court for urgent measures. Ukraine wants the ICJ to order Moscow to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine immediately and also stop violating the rights of ethnic Tatars in Crimea. It is asking the Court to do this urgently, before making any pronouncement on the substance of the case,...

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    Week in Review: Tunisia’s difficult transition, no justice for Syria and Sri Lanka
    François Sergent,

    In Tunisia, a lawyer is fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis use. The issue might seem marginal in comparison with war crimes and crimes against humanity. But for him, imprisonment of mostly young cannabis users under a law of the former Ben Ali regime, is proof that the country’s democratic transition still has a long way to go.  Lawyer Ghazi Mrabet is fighting to scrap “Law 52”, and he is not alone. Both Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and President Beji Caied Essebsi also say they want the law revoked. “This lawyer and human rights activist is now urging a presidential pardon for...

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    Sri Lanka’s victims demand justice, while government plays for time
    Julia Crawford,

    Sri Lanka’s government this week asked the UN Human Rights Council for more time to fulfil its promises under a 2015 Resolution on justice for civil war victims. The international community welcomed the surprise election of President Maithripala Sirisena in early 2015 and his promises of justice and reconciliation, but a new report from international jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP) says the government has done little and is acting in bad faith. The civil war, pitting majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and...

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    In Myanmar, "transition has to be built on the voices of the people"
    Arnaud Dubus

    From 2009 to 2015, Matthew Mullen, a lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies of Mahidol University, in Thailand, tracked the diverse and complex pathways through which political change came to Myanmar. Instead of focusing only on the well-known picture of a highly vocal opposition movement confronting an entrenched military regime, he paid attention to more discreet endeavors which were going on in the local communities, where a myriad of small organizations and individuals were working for change, not in a directly confrontational way, but through a wide array of...

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    Lessons from The Gambia to end the impasse in South Sudan
    The Conversation

    Not for the first time, South Sudan appears on the International Crisis Group watch list of the world’s most volatile conflicts to watch. This is on top of climbing to second on Transparency International’s index of the most corrupt countries. The world’s newest nation is bedevilled by multiple conflicts and faced with major challenges to establish peace and stability. The most recent UN mission report warns of a conflict that’s reached “worrying proportions”. South Sudan is in the fourth year of open conflict sparked in December 2013 by the falling out between President Salva Kiir and...

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    Preparing for the next peace conference in Myanmar

    Plans are underway to hold the next Union Peace Conference at the end of this month, but the government and non-signatories of a 2015 peace agreement cannot agree how to tackle the thorny issue of how to bring peace to Myanmar. February 12 marks 70 years since independence hero Bogyoke Aung San met with Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders in the Shan State town of Panglong and signed an agreement that would grant their territories full autonomy within 10 years. But the pact was never fulfilled. Shortly after achieving independence in January 1948, the country plunged into a decades-long...

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    Can the African Union save South Sudan?
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Two years after independence in 2011, South Sudan descended into a war which continues to rage, with analysts fearing a possible genocide. In January alone, more than 52,000 South Sudanese fled to Uganda as continued fighting risks creating a situation of mass atrocities, the UN's special adviser on genocide prevention Adama Dieng said this week. In a recent article in the New York Times, Mahmood Mamdani, Professor of government at Columbia University (US) and director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala (Uganda) put forward a radical proposal. Saying South Sudan is “a...

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    New challenges for transitional justice on the path to peace
    Pierre Hazan

    “The times are they are a-changing”, Bob Dylan used to sing. The winner of the 2016 Nobel prize for literature was surely not thinking about transitional justice when he wrote those lines back in the 1960s. Yet times are also changing for transitional justice, which has become a key component of peace accords. But with new objectives come new challenges, and they are considerable. Transitional justice was developed during the late 1980sand the following decade in the wave of optimism that followed the end of the Cold War. Defence budgets were falling, political and economic liberalism...

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    Gambia: Will justice one day catch up with Yahya Jammeh?
    Maxime DOMEGNI, regional correspondent

    It was under threat of a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia for 22 years, finally decided to cede power to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election. Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea, is counting on the protection of his host country to avoid accountability for the many crimes and human rights abuses committed under his regime. As he went into exile on the night of Saturday January 21, Yahya Jammeh left behind him a wounded nation whose scars will take time to heal. Under the regime of the man who...

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    Week in Review: Africa and the International Criminal Court, Tunisia and  Myanmar
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Once again this week, Africa and its relations with the International Criminal Court were in the spotlight.  During the African Union summit this week, AU leaders recommended a mass withdrawal of African States from the International Criminal Court. But this declaration, coming after announcements by South Africa, The Gambia and Burundi that they are withdrawing from the Court, hides deep divisions within the AU, explains a Human Rights Watch analyst. Important countries like Senegal and Nigeria reiterated their support for the ICC, along with Cape Verde, Zambia, Tunisia and Malawi. New...

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    Gao attack highlights fragility of Mali peace process
    Ephrem Rugiririza, with Mamadou Ben Chérif Diabaté and Studio Tamani in Bamako

    The target of January 18’s terrorist attack in Gao, northern Mali, was highly symbolic: a camp housing members of the Malian armed forces and various armed groups who used to fight each other. The attack left dozens dead in this pilot camp where former enemies were learning to live and work together to implement the Algiers peace accord. It is a tough blow for Mali’s already fragile peace process. According to the UN, application of the agreement signed 18 months ago is complicated by the lack of trust that persists between the parties. Some 60 people were killed in the attack, according to...

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    One man’s struggle for a Palestinian museum in Israel
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Said Abu Shakra is a man of convictions and rarely hesitates to realize them. One of his goals is that visitors coming from Tel Aviv do not stop on the road to Haifa just to get some hummus, but that they get lost in the town of Umm-el-Fahem before arriving at his art gallery. He hopes they will ask their way in the winding streets of this town populated by 50,000 Arabs and so overcome their apprehension of being in hostile territory, even if this municipality is officially part of Israel. Said Abu Shakra explains how the fact of getting lost can be a way for Jews and Arab Israelis to meet...

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    Myanmar: Warrior for peace reflects on troubled times

    U AUNG Naing Oo spent years in the jungle fighting the government before he become a warrior for peace on the staff of the Myanmar Peace Center after it was established by President U Thein Sein in October 2012. After the 1988 national uprising, he fled to the border with thousands of other students, joining the newly formed All Burma Students’ Democratic Front to wage armed struggle against the military regime. He spent 11 years on the Thai border and joined the MPC as a senior member of its peace dialogue program after returning to Myanmar in 2012. The 24 years he spent in exile...

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    Deal reached to end DRCongo political crisis
    Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA, AFP

    The government and opposition parties in the DR Congo on Saturday clinched a hard-won deal over President Joseph Kabila's fate, ending a political crisis that sparked months of deadly unrest. Under the terms of the deal, Kabila will stay until the "end of 2017" but a transition council will be established, headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. In addition, a prime minister will be named from the opposition ranks. The talks were launched by the Roman Catholic Church to ward off violence as Kabila's second and final mandate ended on December 20 with no sign of him stepping...

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    Lawmakers in Colombia pass FARC amnesty law

    Colombia's Congress on Wednesday passed a law granting amnesty to Marxist FARC rebels as part of the country's peace deal, a development the government hailed as "historic." "Thanks to the Congress which in a historic vote approved the amnesty law, first step toward consolidating peace," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter. The measure grants special legal treatment, amnesty and pardons to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) accused of political and related crimes. The Senate passed the bill 69-0, after the House of Representatives approved it...

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    Who's behind the massacres in Congo's Beni region?
    Marc Jourdier, AFP

    The official explanation for a two-year wave of massacres in a restive corner of DR Congo centres on a shadowy rebel group accused of having ties to the global jihadist underground. But some basic details about the alleged killers of more than 700 victims -- the latest over the Christmas weekend -- haven't quite convinced observers and experts.  The truth, they say, is more complicated and may lead all the way to the halls of power in the vast, mineral-rich and chronically unstable central African nation.  UN experts, referring to the claimed jihadist links in past reports, have...

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    Journey through a battle zone in Myanmar
    Mratt Kyaw Thu, Frontier Myanmar

    Fear, rumours and the sound of fighting accompanied Frontier on a precarious journey through the battle zone in Myanmar’s northeastern Shan State. The disruption and fear created when an alliance of ethnic armed groups went on the attack in northeastern Shan State last month was clearly evident during a journey through the battle zone.The fighting began on November 20 when the Alliance of the Northern Brotherhood launched coordinated attacks on government and other targets, disrupting traffic on the main highway to Muse, a busy trading town on the border with China. The alliance,...

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    Israel moves to “legalize” all West Bank settlements
    Aude Marcovitch, correspondent in Jerusalem

    Next to Route 60, a road that crosses the length of the West Bank, to the northeast of Ramallah lies the Israeli settlement of Ofra. If you go through this place peopled by some 3,000 inhabitants, a ribbon of tarmac climbs up a nearby hill. From there you have a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. It is there that a group of radical young Israelis who say they want to “live in a community on our Biblical land”, settled in 1996. This is the outpost of Amona, which now has 40 families living there. It is the biggest “outpost” (unauthorized settlement) in the West Bank and is now...

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    Week in Review: A difficult path to truth and remembrance
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    This week showed some of the different faces of transitional justice. In Colombia, a new peace accord was finally ratified, whilst Tunisia continued public hearings of former regime victims, and debate continued in Rwanda over the role of the Catholic Church in the 1994 genocide. After signing the Colombian peace accord, President Juan Manuel Santos and the main rebel movement FARC now have six months to implement it. Justice and impunity are central issues in the process.  “The revised accord details the way transitional justice is to work,” explains JusticeInfo’s Bogota correspondent...

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    Kigali deems Catholic Church genocide apology “inadequate”
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    In a pastoral letter read out on November 20 in most Rwandan churches, the bishops of nine dioceses in the country asked forgiveness for all “people of the Church and Christians” implicated in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The nine prelates nevertheless stress that the Church “did not send anyone” to commit genocide. The Rwandan government called the statement “profoundly inadequate”, and urged an apology from the Vatican.  “Given the scale of the crimes, there is ample justification for an apology from the Vatican,” says a Rwandan government statement. “As they apologise on behalf of a few...

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