Monday, 23 March 2009

Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers

Micheál Martin, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, will today launch Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers by Dr Siobhán Wills (UCC Law Faculty), published by Oxford University Press. The launch will take place today, Monday 23rd March, at 7 pm in THE STAFF COMMON ROOM, Quad, North Wing, UCC. It follows the CCJHR Annual Lecture by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill which is being held in Aras na Mac Leinn at 6pm.
Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers examines the scope and nature of peacekeepers’ obligations to protect civilians from serious abuses of their human rights, such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
Peacekeeping and peace support operations have expanded considerably in scope and purpose, particularly over the last decade and a half. Professor Goodwin-Gill comments in his Foreward to the book that:

"the complexity and, indeed, the contradictions attaching to these initiatives are often all too apparent, as Dr Wills shows in her timely study. Alive to the issues and concerns and solidly grounded in the experience of fifty or so years of missions throughout the globe, the analysis here reveals clearly the problems and the tension that can arise between national interests, humanitarian concerns, and international law, when mandates are ill thought-out, or lacking in political commitment….

Dr Wills identifies and analyses closely the still worrying problems of the applicable law: Whether and to what extent UN operations are bound by international humanitarian law; how, if at all, rights and duties are transmitted through the legal responsibilities of troop contributing nations; how relevant or important is the consent of the State where operations take place; and what impact does human rights law have on the conduct and accountability of States and troops….

Drawing on the rich history of the present and the recent past, this study pinpoints numerous inadequacies in the mandate, objectives, and implementation of various peace support operations – inadequacies, often compounded by lack of political will and purpose, which failed to stop or to do anything to prevent, not only the atrocities in Rwanda and Srebrenica, but also the daily violence, abuse and humiliation suffered by civilians at the hands of armed forces, militias, even peacekeepers themselves.

Too often, peacekeepers have not protected the vulnerable, but have been required to look the other way, or have done so for want of clear direction. Of course, as Dr Wills explains, the nature of conflict and the type and location of combatants are forever changing, and many parties, not just non-State actors, will manoeuvre in the spaces left by ambiguity. But if the principles of the UN Charter and the underlying spirit of the law are to mean anything, then the moral and political imperative to protect civilians ought indeed to have crossed the line to legal duty. The present and continuing challenge is implementation – finding effective ways to ensure that international peacekeepers and UN operations, in all their variety, do not become abusers of those entrusted to their protection; and that any immunity from process is legitimated by openness and accountability.

This important work lays down solid foundations for that programme of action. It is essential reading for students of these critical times, it gives legal content to the rhetoric of the responsibility to protection, and it will make a substantial and positive contribution to the doctrine of peace support operations in the years to come."

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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

CCJHR Annual Distinguished Lecture - Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill


The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights in association with the International Law Association (Irish Branch) is pleased to announce that this years Annual Distinguished Lecture will be given by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College and Professor of International Refugee Law in the University of Oxford.

The title of the lecture is:


‘The Extra-Territorial Reach of Human Rights Obligations’

The event will take place in the Multi-Functional Hall, Aras na Mac Leinn, on Monday, 23rd March at 6pm

A L L W E L C O M E

Guy S. Goodwin Gill, MA, DPhil (Oxon), is a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and Professor of International Refugee Law in the University of Oxford. He was formerly Professor of Asylum Law at the University of Amsterdam, and served as a Legal Adviser in the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in various countries from 1976-1988. Since 1997, he has been President of the Refugee Legal Centre (a UK non-governmental organization providing legal advice and representation to refugees and asylum seekers). He is the Founding Editor of the International Journal of Refugee Law (Oxford University Press) and was Editor-in-Chief from 1989-2001. Professor Goodwin-Gill has written extensively on refugees, migration, elections, and child soldiers. Recent publications include The Refugee in International Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edn. (with Dr Jane McAdam), 2007; Free and Fair Elections, Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2nd edn., 2006; Basic Documents on Human Rights, with Ian Brownlie, eds., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 5th edn., 2006; ‘The Politics of Refugee Protection’, 27 Refugee Survey Quarterly 8-23 (2008); ‘Forced Migration: Refugees, Rights and Security’, in Jane McAdam, ed., Forced Migration, Human Rights and Security, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008, 1-18; ‘Migrant Rights and “Managed Migration”,’ in Chetail, V., ed., Mondialisation, migration et droits de l’homme: le droit international en question / Globalization, Migration and Human Rights: International Law under Review, Bruxelles: Bruylant, 2007, Vol. II, 161-187; ‘State Responsibility and the “Good Faith” Obligation in International Law’, in Fitzmaurice, M. & Sarooshi, D., eds., Issues of State Responsibility before International Judicial Institutions, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2004, 75-104; ‘Refugees and Responsibility in the Twenty-First Century: More Lessons from the South Pacific’, 12 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 23-46 (2003). Professor Goodwin-Gill is a Barrister and practices from Blackstone Chambers, London; among other cases, he has represented the UNHCR on a number of occasions, including in the House of Lords in R (European Roma Rights Centre and others) v. Immigration Officer at Prague Airport and another (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees intervening) [2005] 2 AC 1, [2004] UKHL 55; and in the Court of Appeal in R (on the application of Al Rawi and others) v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another [2007] 2 WLR 1219, [2006] EWCA Civ. 1279.

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