Tag Archives: war

Peace and palliative care in the DRC

This article was first published on the Africa edition of ehospice

Dr Paul Pili Pili is a representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health. But like many people from the DRC, he has been affected by the war, knows people who have died and more than anything, wishes for peace and stability for his country. Steve Hynd from the African Palliative Care Association met up him to find out more.

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Filed under Health, War

How will the UK ensure only the good guys shoot the bad guys with the guns they are thinking of giving to the people they think are good guys?

If the UK government proceed and arm Syrian rebels, the very minimum they have to do is provide detailed answers to Amnesty International activist Kristyan Benedict’s 10 questions. 

“While we have no immediate plans to send arms to Syria, [the ending of the arms embargo] gives us the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate and worsen,” 

This was William Hague’s response to the EU’s failure to reach agreement around renewing the arms embargo on Syria.

The New York Times summarized the in rifts within the EU over arming rebels saying:

efforts to ease the arms embargo, led by Britain, exposed deep rifts on Monday over the issue of arming the rebels… Austria, the Czech Republic and Sweden came to the meeting strongly opposing arms shipments. They distrust large parts of the Syrian opposition and said they feared that the weapons would end up in the hands of jihadist groups.”

Many met this news with dismay:

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Foreign Minister was unequivocal in his government’s analysis of the situation saying:

“The only effect you could have — let’s be realistic about this — is that it will stimulate the Russians to provide even more arms,”

Timmermans hits on the same point that Kristyan Benedict asks in his article “10 questions“. The last of these 10 questions to the UK government about arming the Syrian opposition reads:

“What is the likelihood of an arms race occurring from increased arms supplies to the armed opposition?”

It is an important question.

It is widely understood that the UK and France are eager to provide armed support to the rebels.  As such, the crux of Benedict’s questions, “what adequate safeguards would the UK Government put in place to ensure any arms transferred would not be used to commit human rights abuses.” is more relevant than ever.

If the UK government does go ahead and arm the rebels, despite the very vocal criticism, the very minimum it has to do is to be able show it can effectively answer each of Benedict’s questions. How will they ensure rebels use the weapons in line with IHL? How will they ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands? etc etc…

Without these basic safeguards they leave themselves open to accusations of negligence and (according to the Austrian government) violations of International Law.

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Filed under Middle East, War

The arrest warrant for Gaddafi confirms that we were right to enter the Libyan conflict

Gadaffi, along with his son and his chief intelligence advisor have been accused of alleged crimes against humanity including persecution and murder.  Gaddafi has been accused of orchestrating waves of attacks against civilians. A number of opponents have been killed or have disappeared.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo alleged that the attacks were systematic in nature and aimed at civilians.  In the recent months Amnesty International has pointed to evidence that suggested war crimes and crimes against humanity such as the repeated attacks on residential areas in Misratah.

This further intrenches the international community’s original justification for entering into the Libyan conflict. With the operation in the Libya now being over 100 days old, it is important to remember the original justification of conflict, to protect civilians. UN resolution 1973 authorises ‘all necessary measures to protect civilians’. What this arrest warrant does not do however, is justify further mission creep. Indeed, the UN resolution specifically excludes a foreign occupation force of any form on Libyan territory

The UK (as a member of the UN) has an obligation to not offer safe haven for any of the wanted men, they do not have international legitimacy to go after Gadaffi’s life. This is extra judicial execution, just as the US’s operation against Bin Laden was simply an extra-judicial execution.

What the UK must do however is to ensure that all other members of the UN deny safe haven for Gaddafi. This is not the first time that an arrest warrant has been issued for a head of state, the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has faced arrest since 2009 on charges of genocide, crimes and humanity and war crimes. The UK has to use all its diplomatic channels to ensure the Libyan leader cannot travel freely to rally support for his regime.

Equally, the UK must continue to urge the Libyan Government to comply with these arrest warrants and hand the wanted men over. It is important to remember that a lot of people involved with the regime are there by chance opposed to ideology. There are amazing stories coming out of Libya of men and women who have taken a stance against the regime and refused to act against their own people or commit atrocities. The UK Government should also applaud and seek to support these individuals.

Most importantly, this arrest warrant sends a clear message to all the senior figures involved in this conflict that they cannot act with impunity.

The UK can take strength from this announcement as it shows that we were right to move to defend civilians. It remains as important as ever to make sure we do not over step this mark. We must live up to our international obligations the same way the any other Government must. I do not believe that this development justifies any further increase in military operations – unlike some.

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Filed under Human rights, Politics, War