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Davies, Sara E., Teitt, Sarah, & Nwokora, Zim
Bridging the gap: Early warning, gender and the responsibility to protect.
Cooperation and Conﬂict, 50(2), pp. 228-249.
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http://doi.org/10.1177/0010836714545689 Bridging the Gap: Early Warning, Gender Inequality and the Responsibility to Protect Sara E. Davies, Zim Nwokora and Sarah Teitt 1 Abstract Women, Peace and Security (WPS) scholars and practitioners have expressed reservations about the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle because of its popular use as a synonym for armed humanitarian intervention. On the other hand, R2P’s early failure to engage with and advance WPS efforts such as United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325 (2000) has seen the perpetuation of limited roles ascribed to women in implementing the R2P principle. As a result, there has been a knowledge and practice gap between the R2P and WPS agendas, despite the fact that their advocates share common goals in relation to the prevention of atrocities and protection of populations. In this article we propose to examine just one of the potential avenues for aligning the WPS agenda and R2P principle in a way that is beneficial to both and strengthens the pursuit of a shared goal – prevention. We argue that the development of gender-specific indicators.– particularly economic, social and political discriminatory practices against women – has the potential to improve the capacity of early warning frameworks to forecast future mass atrocities.
In 2005, the United Nations (UN) World Summit adopted the concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P) in paragraphs 138-140 of its outcome document (UN 2005: paras.138-140). R2P’s roots lay in the repeated failure of the international community to prevent or halt genocides in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda during the 1990s (Ban 2010a: para.4). Informed by the earlier 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s In Larger Freedom report (2005) (ICISS 2001;
Annan 2005), Member States formally accepted their enduring responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. They also agreed that the international community should assist states to this end and that when states failed to protect their populations, the international community had a responsibility to take ‘timely and decisive action’ to protect populations until the sovereign is able and willing to do so (UN 2005). Notably, states’ The research in this paper was conducted as part of the activities of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect [DFAT Agreement 63684]. The Centre receives funding support from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
and the international community’s commitment to R2P included a specific commitment to prevent these four crimes.
A notable, but often overlooked, consequence of the delineation of R2P in relation to the four crimes is that UN Member States effectively recognized that ‘sexual and gender-based violence is as worthy of international attention as other forms of violence’ (Bond and Sherret 2012: 144). It could be argued, of course, that sexual and gender-based violence had little need for such political elevation; a series of United Nations Security Council Resolutions have linked women’s peace and security (WPS) to international peace and security since the landmark Resolution 1325 (2000) (S/Res/1325, 31 October 2000). i However, the inclusion of widespread and systematic sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) as acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide requires (ICC 2014: 10-16), we argue, that the prevention of these crimes be mainstreamed into R2P’s prevention agenda and, at the same time, R2P’s prevention agenda be mainstreamed into WPS.
To date, as Bond and Sherret (2012: 141) note, there has been a failure to connect the R2P and WPS agendas. Many WPS scholars and practitioners are cautious about the R2P principle because of its popular expression as a synonym for armed humanitarian intervention and the lack of gender inclusivity in the original formulation of R2P under ICISS (Charlesworth 2010; Shepherd 2012). As a result, WPS advocates in the field have been wary of R2P and concerned about its potential effects on their work.
As the UN Secretary-General has repeatedly explained, the popular representation of R2P as a contemporary euphemism for humanitarian intervention is inconsistent with what was agreed in 2005 and the UN’s implementation strategy (Ban 2009: para.10a;
also Ban 2010a, Ban 2011a, 2012a). On the other hand, R2P’s failure to engage with the protection and prevention agenda outlined within the WPS agenda (with exception of Ban 2009; Ban 2013) may also account for some of the caution of WPS advocates concerning R2P.
The failure to connect the two agendas has prompted criticisms that R2P has failed to incorporate a gender perspective, and, in particular, the requirements of the WPS prevention, protection and participation agenda, as laid out in Resolution 1325 (2000) (Stamnes 2012: 176-177). Similarly, concerns have been expressed about the need to expand the gender-focused protection and participation aspects of Resolution 1325 (2000) beyond the WPS community, in order to engage all actors and early warning mechanisms throughout the UN system (Skjelsbæk 2012: 162). Gaps and misperceptions have limited the exchange of knowledge between academics, policymakers and practitioners working in these two areas, despite the fact that they share common goals in relation to the prevention of mass atrocities and the protection of populations (George 2013). In this article we examine one potential avenue for connecting WPS and R2P in a way that is beneficial to both agendas and strengthens the shared pursuit of preventing mass atrocities in the first place: the development of gender-specific indicators in early warning frameworks to predict countries at risk of genocide and mass atrocities, specifically widespread and systematic sexual violence (Bond and Sherret 2012: 144). Like others, we are concerned that women-focused economic, social and political indicators remain relatively untested as factors that may inform conflict prevention and, of special interest to us, prevent mass atrocities (Schmeidl and Piza-Lopez 2002; von Joeden-Forgey 2013; UN Women 2014). ii Our focus on female indicators does not mean that we exclude the existence of gendered violence (sexual and gendered violence that targets both men and women), rather our particular focus is informed by earlier studies connecting gender norms (masculine/feminine social, economic and political roles) within a given society to women’s access to social, economic and political resources, to the occurrence of mass atrocities (Rehn and Sileaf 2002; Justino et al 2012; Skjelsbæk 2012).
In this article, we argue for integration of gender-specific indicators into early warning frameworks for prevention of genocide and mass atrocities (which, in essence, indicates those countries at risk of failing to uphold their responsibility to protect) for two reasons. First, if the best predictor of a country’s peacefulness is its level of violence against women - there should be efforts to analyze how women’s status in society relates to violence and, more generally, to the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (Hudson et al 2012). In particular, the inclusion of information about women’s human rights and violence against women into existing early warning frameworks should improve their capacity to predict not only widespread or systematic SGBV but also other atrocity crimes (Palermo and Peterman 2011; von Joeden-Forgey 2012). We argue that the WPS and R2P agendas can contribute to this goal, even more so when they align their focus on the value of gender specific early warning.
Second, scholars have yet to consider the extent to which gender-specific indicators may be useful for predicting the R2P crimes (Davies and Teitt 2012). Currently, there is little evidence to support or reject the inclusion of gender-specific indicators to improve early warning of the R2P crimes in general, and widespread and systematic sexual violence more specifically. What is certain is that this lack of systemic analysis has contributed to an inconsistent – essentially ad hoc – approach to prevention of these crimes, and understanding of their relationship to other mass atrocity crimes (Palermo and Peterman 2011; Ban 2011b; Security Council Report 2012). When is sexual violence in conflict a weapon of war, or, additionally, also a tool of ethnic cleansing or political attack used prior to conflict to escalate tensions within society, or to forcibly displace and disempower (Buss 2009)? As things stand, the literature offers no clear answer to this question.
The article proceeds in three parts. First, we briefly chart the mass atrocity crimes listed under the R2P principle to examine how and where alignment with WPS may be valuable. We highlight, as one such area, the mandated requirement for the UN Secretary-General to present annual reports on situations of widespread and systematic sexual violence to the Security Council (Ban 2011b; Ban 2012b;
S/Res/2106, 24 June 2013). In the second part of the article, we consider the added value of incorporating gender specific indicators to predict those countries where the risk of such atrocities is high. We compare one suggested gender-focused early warning framework that relies on open source data (Schmeidl and Piza-Lopez 2002;
Hill 2003) against two highly respected genocide and mass atrocities risk profiles – Gregory Stanton’s Genocide Watch and Barbara Harff’s Genocide Prevention Network (hereafter referred to as the ‘Genocide Watch’ and ‘Genocide Prevention’ lists) (Harff 2011; Genocide Watch 2012; see Butcher et al 2012). We consider the extent to which inclusion of gender specific indicators alters these general early warning lists. In the third, and final, part of the article we discuss our key findings.
We find that gender specific indicators, especially those relating to women’s experience of social, economic and political inequality, are underutilized in early warning frameworks for genocide and mass atrocities. We argue that the UN Secretary-General annual reports on situations of widespread and systematic sexual violence are an opportunity to promote dual WPS-R2P ambition of preventing such crimes through targeted prevention strategies at national, regional and international levels.
Women, Peace and Security and the Responsibility to Protect At the 2005 World Summit of the United Nations General Assembly, under the R2P principle, states agreed never to commit four crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. These crimes are commonly understood to reference the 1948 Genocide Convention, the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war, and the 1998 Rome Statute, which provides the legal foundations for the International Criminal Court (ICC), operational since 2002 (O’Brien 2012). As such, the 2005 summit document introduced clear parameters for the scope of R2P and the crimes to be prevented in order to protect civilians (Bellamy 2009: 75). As noted above, one of the consequences of the delineation of R2P in relation to these four crimes is that UN Member States have effectively recognized that ‘sexual and gender-based violence is as worthy of international attention as other forms of violence’ (Bond and Sherret 2012: 144). This requires attention to detail on the preventative measures states must adopt to meet their responsibility to prevent these crimes, as well as to address how the international community may assist states with this obligation. As noted in the UN Secretary-General’s fifth report on R2P, prevention requires addressing the relationship between gender inequality and atrocity crimes, specifically SGBV crimes (Ban 2013a: 7-8). This statement provides a political opportunity to outline a mutually reinforcing prevention agenda, by both R2P and WPS advocates.
As noted already in the introduction, one of the main sources of tension between the R2P and WPS agendas has been the prevailing view that R2P advocates are primarily concerned with armed humanitarian intervention (Charlesworth 2010). In this vein, some scholars have suggested that R2P reduces women to being victims that must wait to be ‘saved’ by armed (male) humanitarians and is thereby complicit in the risks faced by women by ignoring their agency and empowerment (Stamnes 2012). Such concerns about R2P are not unique to the WPS agenda. They have been echoed, for instance, in relation to R2P’s equally problematic relationship to the protection of civilians agenda (Strauss 2009: 48). However, as with its relationship with the protection of civilians, we suggest that R2P can serve as a mutually enforcing mechanism for these existing norms rather than challenge or undermine their existence.
When it comes to the inclusion of WPS, the version of R2P that was adopted by Member States in 2005 is significantly more open to a prevention and protection agenda promoted by WPS than its earlier definitions. The 2001 ICISS report argued that sexual violence was worthy of international attention only when it was used for ethnic cleansing (ICISS 2001: xii, 15, 32), while the World Summit’s delineation of four crimes as being the subject matter of R2P allowed widespread and systematic SGBV to be considered an ‘R2P problem’ in its own right (i.e. not contingent on the crime being an act of ethnic cleansing). What is more, R2P calls upon Member States to fulfill their legal obligations with respect to protecting populations from these crimes and demands that they receive international attention comparable to other forms of violence proscribed by the relevant laws. UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, among others, has sought to counter the one-dimensional view of R2P and argues that the implementation strategy of R2P prioritizes prevention and early warning to prevent and deescalate crises – a pillar of prevention much in common