Founded in January 2009, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRP) brings together NGOs from all regions of the world in an effort to “prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in “country-specific situations.” The Coalition’s goal is to help mobilize members of the international community to intervene collaboratively in the affairs of a sovereign state where such atrocities threaten to, or actually do, occur.[
According to ICRP, interventions ideally should be enacted before a crisis breaks out, and they should rely on “diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means” whenever possible. However, says the Coalition, “when a state ‘manifestly fails’ in its protection responsibilities, and peaceful means are inadequate, the international community must take stronger measures including … but not limited to the collective use of force authorized by the [United Nations] Security Council.”
ICRP’s founding steering committee consisted of 8 separate groups: Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales, the East Africa Law Society, Human Rights Watch, Initiatives for International Dialogue, the International Refugee Rights Initiative, Oxfam International, the West Africa Civil Society Institute, and the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP).
As of April 2011 the Coalition had 31 member organizations, which included the steering-committee constituents plus such high-profile entities as the International Crisis Group and the Stanley Foundation.
ICRP’s International Secretariat, based in New York, “works to facilitate communication and coordination among members.” It is hosted by WFM-IGP, whose executive director—William Pace—has served as the convenor of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court since 1995 and previously worked for Amnesty International.
In the spring of 2011, ICRP identified 14 locations around the world as regions of actual or potential crisis:
Darfur: “For more than seven years,” said ICRP, “the world has watched in horror as thousands of Darfuri civilians have been mercilessly massacred, brutally raped and violently separated from their families by government-supported janjaweed militias.”
Sudan: “The situation in Sudan remains extremely unstable. The fragile equilibrium … could shift anytime, [leading] to heinous human-rights violations including crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide.”
Burma: “Since the military coup d’état in 1962 that ended democratic rule in Burma, the Burmese people have been subject to widespread human-rights abuses….”
Zimbabwe: “Zimbabwe entered a state of violent political crisis in the aftermath of the presidential elections held in … 2008. President Robert Mugabe led a campaign of terror against the opposition party … including rape, torture, and forced disappearance. Despite winning the June election, President Mugabe continued to implement brutal attacks against the political opposition.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): “Although the five-year civil war in the DRC ended in 2003 with the formation of a transitional government, crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilian populations—including murder, rape and sexual slavery, recruitment and use of child soldiers, and forced displacement—continue unabated.
Sri Lanka: “The intensification of violence since the start of 2009, leading up to the end of the 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis.”
Kenya: “Kenya was swept by a wave of ethnic violence triggered by a disputed presidential election in December 2007…. [A] Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect policy brief depicts ‘lingering risks’ that may hamper the 2012 elections from unfolding peacefully …”
Guinea: The country has been plagued by persistent “tensions along ethnic lines” which have caused “acute concern over an imminent return to violence.”
Nigeria: “Political and social rivalries, religious tensions, inequitable resource allocation and increasing poverty have incited extreme and ongoing violence in Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.”
Kyrgyzstan: “Ethnic violence has recently escalated in Kyrgyzstan, following the uprising of 7 April 2010 that saw former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev flee to Belarus.”
Ivory Coast: “A disputed Presidential election … held on October 31, 2010 turned into a violent political crisis … As of January 2011, over 200 people had died as a result of clashes, more than 18,000 Ivorians have been forcibly displaced, and 30,000 Ivoirians fled to neighboring Liberia out of fear of violence.”
Soviet Georgia: “The Russian government maintained that its invasion of Georgia was necessary under the principles of RtoP, calling Georgia’s actions against populations in South Ossetia genocide. However, in cases where the State itself is not upholding its Responsibility to Protect, this responsibility is transferred to the international community, strictly as a collective response through the UN. It is unclear whether the degree of threat to Russians in Georgia represented actual or imminent mass atrocities … and also whether military force was the appropriate response.”
Gaza (December 2008-January 2009): “Most recently, the UN Fact Finding mission in Gaza found evidence of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, which amounted to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”
Somalia: “[I]nsecurity is still growing with escalating clashes between Ethiopian/Transitional Federal Government forces and anti-government elements. Both are responsible for a variety of attacks against civilians.”
ICRP’s mission is closely aligned with that of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.