2014 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the group took place on November 25th, 2014. At this occasion we received Steve Cornish, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Canada, and Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes for UNICEF.

Summary of Presentations:

Humanitarian action

– Save lives and protect rights

– Address underlying causes of vulnerability and conflict through:

Monitoring and reporting on grave violation of children’s rights

Follow up on actions and commitments

Convention on the rights of the child

Children are both directly targeted and indirectly affected by mass atrocity crimes worldwide

Children, not soldiers’ campaign

– Galvanize support to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by national security forces by 2016

– Countries concerned: Afghanistan, DRC, Myanmar, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen

Disregard of rules of war

– Old norms are under attack

– Armed conflict between non-state actors

– Proliferation of small arms

Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

– Prevention

– Protection at a macro-level

– Reconstruction

– R2P is being increasingly interpreted in primarily military fashion; a more nuanced approach is required that incorporates humanitarian principles without reducing R2P

– The preventive element of R2P requires capitalizing on opportunities to build justice and stability in peacetime

– Countries contemplating an R2P mandate need to take all elements of that responsibility seriously

 Concern about the risk for under-resourced intervention to simply reverse the direction of brutality and atrocities (e.g. Libya, CAR)

 This year marks the 3rd anniversary of the Libyan conflict

– 1st time R2P was used in order to set up the no-fly zone and an embargo

Central African Republic

– Rise in the violence and there is still no intervention from peace builders

– Collapse of government services

– Lack or inappropriate use of resources for protection from the military

– Protection camps were not effective leading many to flee and 8 to 10% of them ended up dying while fleeing

Syria

– Issues with the distribution of aid that is centralized in Damascus and does not always get through to small villages that need it the most.

– Refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey

– Aid distribution in response to the Syrian refugee crisis is unequal: Jordanian appeal 60% funded, Lebanon 40% funded, Turkey 28% funded

– Syrian refugees in Lebanon are lucky to get food aid, while refugees in Jordan have access to institutionalized credit to buy food in dignity at a supermarket

South Sudan

– Effective humanitarian aid from countries and NGOs

– Issue of overcrowded and flooded camps which leads to an increase in mortality rates

– Similar violence to CAR

Questions to think about:

– What does civilian protection actually means?

– How can governments and parliaments best help overcome the dilemmas of humanitarian organizations working in conflict situations, through policy, funding, or diplomacy?

– In responding to mass atrocity situations, should governments develop specific strategies to assist children and other vulnerable groups, or include these groups in an integrated approach?

– In what ways can Canada contribute to international efforts during the R2P cycle of prevention, protection, and rebuilding?