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Why Crimes Against Humanity .....

PRESS NOTE > INDIA

Why Crimes Against Humanity and State's Terrorism Rising Day by Day?


Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The first prosecution for crimes against humanity took place at the Nuremberg trials. Crimes against humanity have since been prosecuted by other international courts such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, as well as in domestic prosecutions. The law of crimes against humanity has primarily developed through the evolution of customary international law. Crimes against humanity are not codified in an international convention, although there is currently an international effort to establish such a treaty, led by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative. Unlike war crimes, crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or war. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. War crimes, murder, massacres, dehumanization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, unethical human experimentation, extrajudicial punishments, use of WMDs, state terrorism or state funding of terrorism, death squads, forced disappearances, military use of children, kidnappings, unjust imprisonment, enslavement, cannibalism, torture, rape, nd political, racial, or religious repression may reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.


Regarding State Terrorism, there is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the proper definition of the word "Terrorism". Many scholars believe that the actions of governments can be labelled "Terrorism". For example, using the term 'Terrorism' to mean violent action used with the predominant intention of causing terror, state terrorism against non-combatants and state terrorism against combatants, including 'Shock and Awe' tactics; Shock and Awe as a subcategory of rapid dominance is the name given to massive intervention designed to strike terror into the minds of the enemy. It is a form of state-terrorism. The concept was however developed long before the Second Gulf War by Harlan Ullman as chair of a forum of retired military personnel. However, others, including governments, international organisations, private institutions and scholars, believe that the term is only applicable to the actions of violent non-state actors. Historically, the term terrorism was used to refer to actions taken by governments against their own citizens whereas now it is more often perceived as targeting of non-combatants as part of a strategy directed against governments. Over the course of time, and due diligence on the part of the targeted subject, those non-state actors attempting to commit terrorism or use tactics to manipulate interested parties of the state into believing that they are indeed parties within the state become transparent to the party that seeks interest of the state. The unfortunate part is that by that time the terrorists have already set up devastating foreseeable actions against that person. There are instances where terrorists have gained familiarity of the state's language and for whatever their reason, usually personal financial gain or anger over non-entry to the state, are exploiting others in search of the same. The outcome of encountering such terrorists predicts death or imprisonment of victims due to the terrorists' obvious perfection of their exploitation tactics. By the time the subject realizes that they are not part of the actual state, it is too late. The terrorists have already set the outcome of the subject into motion and ran off with the financial gains of their manipulation.


When definitions of terrorism allow for state terrorism, state actions in this area tend to be seen through the prism of war or national self-defense, not terror. While states may accuse other states of state-sponsored terrorism when they support insurgencies, individuals who accuse their governments of terrorism are seen as radicals, because actions by legitimate governments are not generally seen as illegitimate. Academic writing tends to follow the definitions accepted by states. Most states use the term "Terrorism" for non-state actors only. Terrorism generally as the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective, and that terrorism is not legally defined in all jurisdictions. The establishment terrorism, often called state or state-sponsored terrorism, is employed by governments or more often by factions within governments against that government's citizens, against factions within the government, or against foreign governments or groups. While the most common modern usage of the word terrorism refers to civilian-victimising political violence by insurgents or conspirators, several scholars make a broader interpretation of the nature of terrorism that encompasses the concepts of state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism. The use of terror tactics is common in international relations and the state has been and remains a more likely employer of terrorism within the international system than insurgents. It is important to understand that in terrorism the violence threatened or perpetrated, has purposes broader than simple physical harm to a victim. The audience of the act or threat of violence is more important than the immediate victim. State terrorism as terrorism committed by governments and quasi-governmental agencies and personnel against perceived threats, which can be directed against both domestic and foreign targets. The state terrorism, based on the openness/secrecy with which the alleged terrorist acts are performed, and whether states directly perform the acts, support them, or acquiesce in them.

Who Should Intervene?

The question is who should intervene continues to be contentious. A variety of options exist for example; UN peacekeeping missions, which have increased dramatically since the 1990; regional organizations, which have implemented perhaps a dozen non-UN authorized interventions as well as several authorized ones; and unilateral efforts. Non-governmental organizations also play a role in protecting civilians. In addition to providing humanitarian relief in conflict situations, which is in itself a form of intervention, organizations such as Peace Brigades International operate on the principle that the very presence of international NGO workers can act as a deterrent to targeted attacks. If the national authorities are unwilling or unable to take adequate measures to protect their own citizens, who, exactly, can intervene?

Non-governmental Organizations:

Among other things, NGOs can provide humanitarian assistance, monitoring, advocacy, track two diplomacy, and peace building. One important role they play is sometimes referred to as field presence or presence as protection. 8 Key methods include regularly scheduled visits, unscheduled visits as part of rapid response during crises, and accompanying high risk individuals when necessary. Peace Brigades International, for example, has provided unarmed protective accompaniment to threatened individuals and groups in Colombia, Indonesia, and Nepal. In addition to its well-known relief activities, the International Committee of the Red Cross works to protect civilians by monitoring conflicts, publicizing abuses, visiting prisoners of war and other detainees, and helping families trace missing persons. Other International Human Rights organisations focus more on mobilizing public opinion and direct lobbying on human rights issues. In Darfur, for example, several dozen NGOs have been active, including the Genocide Intervention Network, Enough, and Save Darfur.

Other International Organizations:

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development , part of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund can play a role by, for example, providing emergency financing to offset the effects of dramatic increases in food or fuel prices that threaten to destabilize countries at risk of mass atrocities. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conducts human rights activities that focus on freedom of movement and religion, preventing torture, and trafficking in persons. It has missions in Kosovo and Montenegro. Each type of actor has certain advantages and disadvantages. The United Nations has the clearest claim to the most legitimate authority, and the World Summit Outcome Document of 2005 reinforced that claim. Study Guide Series on Peace and Conflict Confronting Crimes Against Humanity But because each of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council has the right to veto any resolution, the Security Council often fails to take effective action. It is also overextended at present. Regional organizations can be effective, especially if endorsed by the United Nations. They often lack adequate resources and training, however. Major states like the United States are most likely to have the necessary resources and trained personnel. Their involvement may invite resistance because of perceived political bias or the desire to advance their economic interests. Neighbouring states have the greatest motivation to intervene, since they are usually directly affected. The risk is that they may be motivated more by self-interest than by the interests of the endangered civilian population.

Early Warning and Monitoring:

One key to confronting crimes against humanity is effective early warning and monitoring of emerging conflicts. The earlier one knows about abuses or potential atrocities, the easier it is to stop them. A number of NGOs devote considerable time to monitoring mass atrocities and their web sites provide up-to-date information. There are also numerous "Watch lists" developed by NGOs and government agencies, but they seem to have been of limited usefulness. The issue is not necessarily a lack of information, but a lack of action based on that information. In other words, watch lists are important, but not sufficient. There are also genocide risk models developed by academics but they seem to have limitations too. The consensus seems to be that they are useful as one tool among many. One recommendation is to establish internationally agreed upon watch list criteria to promote multilateral cooperation on high-risk situations. The ICISS report recommends a "system-wide coordination of early warning mechanisms.

Good Offices:

The term "good offices" refers to efforts by a third party, such as another government or a nongovernmental organization, to encourage fighting parties to sit down and negotiate. This third party derives its influence primarily from its reputation and moral authority with the competing factions, rather than from its own capacity to influence events on the ground. One recent example is the U.S.-brokered ceasefire in North Kivu province of Eastern Congo in January 2008. Clearly, if one can get the parties to talk rather than fight, one reduces the opportunities for atrocities.

Other Political and Economic Measures:

Non-military options include economic carrots and sticks, media campaigns, and a host of other political actions, in addition to the non-military interventions to deliver humanitarian assistance mentioned earlier. In terms of prevention, short-term efforts include such political measures as problem-solving workshops, diplomatic isolation, travel restrictions, and media campaigns such as naming and shaming. Economic measures include promises of new funding, withdrawal of investment, and curtailment of aid. Legal measures include mediation and human rights monitoring. More long-term measures include help with democratic institution building, power-sharing arrangements, and promotion of civil society including independent media; development and technical assistance, including a pool of unrestricted development funds; and support for human rights groups. As for reacting to crimes against humanity that occur in ongoing conflicts, the options include such sanctions as arms embargoes, restrictions on income-generating activities, and restrictions on diplomats such as expulsion. Note, however, that many scholars argue for caution in the use of sanctions, since they sometimes harm citizens more than officials, and often can be circumvented.

Interventions Involving the Military:

As noted earlier, the international community's willingness to intervene militarily in internal conflicts increased dramatically in the 1990s.11 These interventions tended to be more clearly for humanitarian reasons and were more often multilateral, frequently involving the United Nations. Some countries experienced several missions in succession. Missions have been mounted in Liberia (ECOMOG), Sierra Leone (ECOMOG, UNAMSIL), Cote d'Ivoire (France), Kosovo (NATO, KFOR), East Timor (INTERFET), and Bosnia (IFOR, SFOR). In 2003, the European Union conducted its first mission outside Europe Operation Artemis in the eastern DRC and in 2008 the European Union sent a mission to eastern Chad to act as a buffer for Darfur refugees. The European Union has also provided funds for protection and psychosocial support in Chechnya and to Palestinian refugees. The African Union sent missions to Burundi in 2003, Darfur in 2004, and Somalia in 2007. ECOMOG, in addition to intervening in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has sent a mission to Guinea-Bissau, as noted earlier. Despite the increased willingness to intervene, there has been ongoing resistance within the international community to developing a standing capacity for humanitarian intervention. The idea of a UN standing army has been discussed and continues to be rejected. However, there are efforts underway to improve training for peacekeeping and develop doctrine that would guide their actions. At the regional level, it is too early to tell if the EU Battle groups described above will prove effective, and whether the planned AU standby force will come to fruition.

Dr. Prithvi Singh Ravish
Ambassador at Large IHRC in Asia Region
www.sg-ihrc.org


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