Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) the Citizens from the organized Crimes and Systematic killings

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth Both

Human Rights violators must be alerted that the days of non-accountability (Revolutionary bush days), where one can slaughter group of people without questions are over. Human rights are not a matter of domestic concern. These human rights discourses are elevated to a matter of international level. The international community is well aware that those dictators who fail to protect their own people from murdering and crime against humanity must be put on trail for justice to prevail one day.

In the wake of series man-made disasters, and the hopes to live in a peaceful society of non-political oppressive environment; South Sudanese citizens have been calling for viable solutions of insecurity and genuine policy of preventive measures that will allow individuals to live free from injustice. South Sudan is experiencing the culture of impunity and the nation has been internationally known to have been in an incredible state of chaos where tribal conflicts, corruption, nepotism, tribalism and racism is sculpted and embedded into the minds of the people through regionalism lenses since August 2005. These regional perceptions had resulted into regional cleavage among the very people that fought shoulder by shoulder during the revolutionary struggle (Jɛn tää ɛ jiäk ɛmɛ däkɛ nɛi ti ca kööri ti bɛ̈c bɛ̈ɛ̈c tɛ̈r kɛl).

The focus that the government supposed to do as to protect its population is fading away in the minds of civilians, and it is not longer expected in Juba since people whose their aim, are to eliminate the citizens of the country, are strategically advancing forward. Killing and disappearance of individuals in South Sudan is continuing until these days in the hands of “unknown armed officers.” Thus, it worth saying that sustainable peace that we were expecting in the country, and viable security system that should aims to protect the citizens within the country, will take time to effect in Juba where the “unknown killers” under the shadow of unknown murderous individuals are still advancing and pursuing their ambitious strategies with impunity.

The journey through the growth of human rights protection, the development of cardinal rules that could prevent the repeatedly occurrence of heinous murdering and slaughtering of individuals is yet to be realized here in Juba; due to the lack of preventive policy measures that may have obviate the needs for coercion, mass slaughtering and night murdering reference to Juba Jebel Market and Jebel Kunjur Areas. “Responsibility to protect the citizens” on streets, residences or in their dwelling centers always falls into the hands of laws enforcement agencies or National Military Intelligent Police Army Units. The issue of protection is a matter of concern in Juba, South Sudan, mi̱ laa pën Naath niën kɛ Wäär kɛ̈liw ni ciaŋ and not only the national citizens that are facing such an insecurity nightmare but also foreign citizens are driven behind the night garbage battle. They are repeatedly undergoing severe maltreatment under “the unknown people” and most of the cases of killing and brutal acts, gone uninvestigated for some reasons until these days.

The responsibility to protect the citizens is a phrase that “was coined by the international commission on intervention and state Sovereignty.” It literally became an international norm, which set forth that the State has “the primary responsibility to protect their population” from criminals, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. And when the State fails to protect her citizens, the R2P always falls into the hand of international community; for example, the acknowledged failure of the government in Somalia prior to 90s.

In this sense, the principle of state sovereignty is well recognized under the United Nation Charter, in article 2(1) and (7) and under customary International Law. The State as a subject of international Law is “recognized as a sovereignty with power of control over its territorial jurisdiction” without interference from United Nation or other states (“I am not under your command” reference to the recognition!). This power is well vested and recognized when the state become an independent or recognized internationally by UN General Assembly.

The background of Responsibility to protect (R2P) the citizens

The phrase “responsibility to protect the citizens known as R2P” refers to the fundamental duty of the State, imposed by its sovereignty rights to protect its people and its population from killing, murdering, disappearance and other grave harms within its national responsibility. If the State fail to protect its citizens reference to systemic and organized crime or international border dispute, “the coercive intervention for human protection” and prevention of international conflict escalation purpose, including the ultimate military interventions by others in the international community may be warranted in extreme cases.

Provision 138 of the United Nations 2005 World submit outcomes, states that “each individual State has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, murdering, mass slaughtering, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crime against humanity.” This provision entails the prevention of such a crime including their incitement through appropriate and necessarily means. Further more, provision 139 of UN Charter add that “international community, through United Nation body also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Chapters VI and VII of the charter to help protect population from crime against humanity, murdering, disappearance, genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

This United Nation doctrine is always based on the principle that the Sovereignty implies responsibility. The State always has the primary responsibility for the protection of its people, animals and the associates. Where the population is suffering a serious harm, as a result of insurgency, bandits, repression, the principle of non-intervention must yield to the international responsibility to protect the people. This measure is taken base on inherent obligation of the state “according to the principle of sovereignty under article 24 of the UN Charter in regards to maintenance of international peace.”

The Principle and Elements of Responsibility to protect the Citizens

Responsibility to protect the population entails the element of prevention before the worse occurs, responding to the situation and rebuilding or restoring peace. The responsibility to prevent human suffering is always “the first priorities which confers the duty on the national government to address both the root cause and immediate cause of disturbance or internal conflict/death and other man-made crisis that put the population at risks.”

On the other hand, the responsibility to react responds to the situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measure like sanction, international prosecution and in extreme case, military intervention. In this regard, responsibility to protect the citizens justifies the principle of Jus ad bellum - the right to wage war and when to wage it in the name of fulfilling the responsibility to protect individuals in a sovereign State. The doctrine does not prohibit force, but rather recognize just war or action to rescue the suffering of the people, and in exercising to their responsibility, the State or regional community must first pursue a peaceful measure before resorting to military intervention.

The current insecurity issue at night in Juba, South Sudan

Contemporary insecurity sometime confuses people as well as appalling them. Juba bandits, criminals and murderous individuals had been killing people in Jebel Market, Jebel Kujur and associated areas while nothing much has been done in the House of Common as to deploy police forces/platoon or recruit a trusted night curfew forces, mixed with different ethnic origin officers to protect the residence of Juba at night. One may wonder why the death of the people who die in the periphery does matter much then the death of the people who die in the Capital city in present of foreigners, international ambassadors and top officials of the country. Since I came here, I never see any drinkers or alcoholic persons sleeping or staying awake on the streets of Juba.

It would be a logical argument if one chooses to argue that all heavy drinkers always stay awake on streets in any countries only when there is a positive peace in the environment, and the availability of trusted law enforcements agent around. Although it may seem like a joke to individuals, the present or sign of alcoholic people on streets meant the availability of protection in peaceful environment. The drinkers in Juba usually push their ways home before the sun set- fearing for the death or attacks from unknown groups who take the law into their hands. They fear that one may shut them down to death or slaughtering them while unconscious. The bar or restaurants in Juba are always deserted before 9:30PM, fearing for invisible consequences.

The Republic of South Sudan government should take a serious specific preventive measure to prevent and protect civilians from unknown guns men in their dwelling centers in Juba. The great pain or killing done unto civilians/families may quickly surface to the international standard as the worse news ever if not contained well. This may unknowingly reflect something different to international community and the foreigners that live with us in the capital City. Juba is a capital city, inhabited by different people of colors and nationalities. It must be cleaned and reclaims back quickly from criminals and bandits whose aim is to spoil the name of the government in present of international foreigners. The recent killings in Jebel Market sends a very strong message that something needs to be done quickly, either to do a second round of disarmament in Juba city or deploy a heavy trusted forces, lead by trusted and mixed officers within the insecure areas.

Notwithstanding though that the Juba Residents always have a very great expectation that the Friday Council of Ministers’ meeting or legislative assembly’s meeting in the parliament should address the ongoing killing of the innocent citizens here in Juba; however, Friday after Friday comes and go without any major announcement to what will be done in order to safe the lives of innocent population. The innocent population of Juba, and foreigners at large are wondering about what are the ministers actually discussing in the Friday Council of Minister’s meeting or highest decision-making panel without addressing the insecurity agenda that supposed to be the first item in the high-level political discussion menu?

The responsibility to protect (R2P) the citizens can, therefore, be the first items to be endorsed by the highest legislative branch or in the Council of Ministers’ meeting (Highest decision-making level). Unfortunately, our government is leaning much on the rumors of ethnic political turmoil, racism and tribalism that would never effect on positive development. The endorsement and decisions that we were expecting since the start of insecurity in Juba; must reflect national consensus at least in abstract, that the resident should get the supreme protection from criminals and bandits who had an hidden agenda while in the system.

Although the government emphasize the need to protect the civilian though in low taken theoretically, the criminals are known to challenge the government system indirectly through the lens of crime, and this issue should have been the first item in the political high panel discussion rather than focusing on ethnic politics that is thriving under the cover of impossibilities. To the extent that the voices of the victims are not heard publicly; we must unite and stand together at least to pressure the policy makers to remedy the human disaster and assassination of our fellow citizens within the town. Let hope that our government deal urgently with the current insecurity issue that engulfed the lives of innocent citizens in Juba before we dwell much on 2015 unimaginable election.

The author of this article is a member of Jonglei Community and in the same time a member of international human rights groups. He holds a Master degree in International Law and Human Rights in United Nation University of Peace. Mr. Pitɔr Gatkuɔth is planning to release an observatory note and the reflection of his experience in South Sudan comes late summer. Please do not hesitate to visit his commentaries website at www.peterreat.blogspot.ca or contact him through peterreat@yahoo.com

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The principle of distinction in the Law of war, ought to be enforced and legalized internationally and nationally.

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth Both

“The chain reaction of evil — conflicts producing more wars — must be broken or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation”(Martin Luther King, Jr).
In these recent centuries, there has been an increased international and national concern over the impact of conflicts and wars associated concerns on the civilian populations. These wars and unplanned attacks on the civilian territories had brought the global society to experience an unimaginable destruction. This destruction has caused a great atrocity to the civilian as a result of indiscriminate attacks on the civilian dwelling centers that were connected with the military garrisons. In most cases, surprise attacks always resulted in heavy casualties especially to the innocent civilians in the villages or towns because they are always not aware of ongoing dispute between the warring parties.

The reciprocity and the principle of distinctions are of central importance in the conflicts scenario that involved non-state actors. Reciprocity in international law “refers to the expectation by belligerent states that other state parties to a conflict should respect similar and behavioural norms” such as non-use of prohibited weaponry, minimization of collateral damage, inhumane treatment of prisoners of war while Principle of distinction is “a legal concept proved by the international law society, and it imposes on commanders and soldiers the duty to distinguish military objects from the civilians objects.” Therefore, in an attempt to reflect on this commentary concept, the scope of this article argued that the principle of distinction is a legal framework, set forth for the improved protection of civilian populations - an understanding that allows for the greater application of international humanitarian law to the non-state actors.

“The principle of distinction is the cornerstone of the set of rules or norms of international Humanitarian law regulating the manner in which hostilities must be conducted.” It holds that civilians and combatants are clearly distinguishable protagonists on or near the battlefield. “This tendency exists not only in relations to non-international armed conflicts that take place within the territory of state, but also with regard to international armed conflicts, resulting from the third States.” Although violation of this principle of distinction from the combatants is clearly acknowledged in many cases such as the attacks of Donja Vieceriska in April 1993 by HVO (Bosnian-Croat Armed forces); the law of war as a system of military legal rule, regulated that “technical limits, at which necessities of war sought to yield the requirement of humanity,” ought to be respected as indicated in the legal procedure in international humanitarian law.

It worth knowing though that this principle of distinction in military operations have always been a steps to be taken in order to ensure the “principles of humanity, precaution and principles of discrimination and proportionality” when military personnel are conducting war or war associated actions in order to fulfill the expectations of civilians’ safety and protection of the others in army conflicts. Bosnian-Croat armed forces had once shown a severe example when they attacked many villages and killed “172 Bosnian-Muslim and destroyed 420 buildings.”

This massive violence or ethnic cleansing campaigns against Bosnian-Muslim civilian violated the first Additional Protocol of Geneva convention, art 48 which indicated that “in order to ensure respect, and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants; and between civilian objects and military objects, and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives or target.” Note that this provision sets out a dual obligation. The first is that the attackers must always distinguish between its own combatants and its own civilian populations. The responders must then direct its operations only against combatants and not civilians or civilians’ properties.

But in a nutshell and as an example to elaborate this commentary concept, the Bosnian-Croat armed forces finally failed not to distinguish between their own combatants and the civilians. The forces intentionally targeted the civilian population’s objects and failed to see the civilians as humanitarian agencies might wish them to do so, either because they decided that, innocent or not, killing the civilians is useful, mercy and perhaps necessary as a part of their “ethnic cleansing campaign” or inevitable options in their wars choice. Wider shocks at that time frame of the conflict remain often the hardest part for the poor Bosnian-Muslim community especially when their villages are repeatedly attacked and burn into ashes persistently. The Bosnian-Croat armed forces insisted on attacking and carried on, capturing towns while burning the villagers’ properties to ashes without limits on the conduct of warfare. This clearly demonstrated that not all national armed forces in the world are aware of the principle of humanity to protect human persons in a complex situation.

It was noticed that the forces did not recognize and accept the principle of distinction or the rule of engagement. They forced all the villagers by burning their houses, Mosques and churches across the dwelling centre. This act of burning mosque, churches and residential areas violated the first protocol, art 53 (a) that clearly stated that “all forces are prohibited to commit any acts of hostilities directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of the people.”

Notwithstanding though that the precaution in principles of humanity and distinction always highlighted and “prohibited the use of weapons that cause superfluous injuries such as poisoned projectiles, dum, dum bullets and so forth.” According to the international law perspective, “the contracting parties must always agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body; for instance, the bullets with hard envelope which does not easily cover the core or is pierced with incision.” The international military norms/rule stated that military operation should always aim at the target and differentiate the civilian from the combatants, simply because of the above concerns. This essence is one of good example of the principle of precaution that established the regulations that a “states must never use a weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilians and military objects such as shelling the villages or bombarding the congregated dwelling centers where vulnerable members dwell. Instantly, few cases and materials of international law study indicated that even the NATO forces had once violated such an international humanitarian law “when they attacked the federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 to enforce a solution to the dispute over Kosovo.”

In the aftermath of the war over Kosovo, many questions arose regarding their compliance with international Humanitarian standard and expectations because there were many casualties during their first bombardment against the civilians, simply because they had incapably distinguished the civilians and military objects. In their first two months of aerial bombardment attacks, NATO forces had “killed 500 civilians and wounded 800 people on ground.” This aerial bombardment of NATO forces against the Yugoslavia clearly violated the principle of distinctions stated in the first protocol; that “any attack directed against civilian might be considered an indiscriminate attack.” This aerial bombardment in the spring of 1999 “caused a severe incidental loss of civilian lives, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects and properties which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”

Although the NATO force intervened for the reasons to protect the civilians from the guerrilla forces as illustrated in the “responsibility to protect charter”, this act of aerial bombardment violated the first protocol, art 51 that indicated that “the civilian population and an individual civilian shall enjoy general protect against the danger arising from military operations and shall not be the objects of attack.” NATO interest at the time was to rescue the innocent children as indicated in UN security council resolutions; hence, the Yugoslavia civilians became subjected to maltreatment even when they adopted a zero-casualties strategy, which meant that the bombardment should be undertaken from height at which NATO aircrafts could not be hit by the enemy. The number of casualties increased higher as well than the first few months because of disproportional action taken in the height as to secure the safety of NATO pilots and aircrafts.

In the first Protocol to the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War which prohibits indiscriminate attacks, the principle of proportionality dictates that “launching an attack, which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian lives, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects/properties or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated is prohibited.” Although in some instance, there are noticed unusual circumstances that the military forces are exposed; “proportionality is not a separate legal standard but ways in which a military commanders may assess his/her obligations as to the Law of armed conflict principle of distinction while avoiding actions that are indiscriminate.”

It should be an international call with consequences or sanction thereof that the methods and the means to fight has to be in standard of the Law of armed conflict although some wars usually forced the armed forces to conduct war with the tension to inflict pain or cause a big destruction as to win the war. This is in reference to the current terrorists war of our modern time where some states attacks the other states with the notion of causing a great pain to the states that they deem practicing and supporting the terrorists activities such as in Afghanistan.

In this scenario, Civilians always pay the price or become the victims of military operations because few armies usually do not wanted to fight a war in absent of the civilians. They sometimes used civilian as shield, and few militias group always like to be with the civilians even if it’s a time of operation for some reasons. If the international community and particularly, leaders of nationalities are serious about the safety of harmless civilians, then they must enforced this norms as a legal military system with severe consequences to the violators in particular. They must train the national army and put it forth as a law that the principle of proportionality must be highly expected from all parties involving in any conflict, and all of them regardless of their status as international, national or unconfirmed groups should always be required to “take all feasible precaution training and orientations in the choice of means and methods of attacks with the view to avoid incidental loss of the innocent civilians’ live.”

For instance, the WWI and the WWII are good examples to human and environmental destruction. This indiscriminate attacks of the two world Wars had brought a great adverse and severe effect to the lives of innocent civilians and therefore, it is of great interest to lawmakers, human rights activists, social activists and academia that any armed forces must always follow the military principle of distinction during an armed conflict, locally, nationally and internationally in order to limits the damage and suffering caused by conflicts. This includes “the protection of the victims and POWs of armed conflicts and in particular, those who reside in areas under the control of a party to the conflict to which they are not affiliated.”

In summary, the principle of distinction is a legal framework for any combatants that ought to be enforced world wide to the men and women in uniforms. It regulates and prohibited all means and methods that cannot make a distinction between the civilians and those who take part in hostilities. It calls upon all combatants that the civilians and combatants must be distinguishable protagonists on or near the battlefield. “This tendency exists not only in relations to non-international armed conflicts that take place within the territory of state, but also with regard to international armed conflicts resulting from third States.” In the legal perspectives (principle of distinction) any attacks to the other State must have a “common agreement, fixed the technical limits at which the necessities of war ought to yield to the requirements of humanity.” Although the world is changing as technology is rapidly changing the lifestyle of all human being, our old traditional lifestyle taught us (this is in African perspective) that battlefields should always be distanced from vulnerable groups, women, children or non-participants in conflict.

In most instance and in the interest of the people, the contracting or acceding parties usually reserve to themselves to come hereafter to an understanding whenever or wherever a precise proposition shall be drawn up in view of future improvements which may effect in the armament of troops, in order to maintain the principles of distinction which they have established and to conciliate the necessities of war with the laws of humanity. In this perspective, President Clinton had once said it right that “we must always use military force selectively, recognizing that its use may do no more harms than provide a window of opportunity for a society and diplomacy to work. We; therefore, will send American troops abroad only when our interests and our values are sufficiently at stake. When we do so, it will be with clear objectives to which we are firmly committed and when combat is likely—we have the means to achieve decisively.” These requirements are as pertinent for humanitarian and other non-traditional interventions today as they were for previous generations during prolonged world wars.

Ubuntu Regards,

The author of this article is planning to write an article within few weeks to come, entitled “The responsibility to protect the citizens, internally and externally: An expectation that the international community wish South Sudan Government to perform in its national situation.” The writer of this article holds BA, and MA in International Law and Human Rights. He can be contacted at peterreat@yahoo.com or visit his commentaries site @ www.peterreat.blogspot.ca

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Emerging "Asian Value" in South East Asia Nations

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth

Human rights struggle is not always or partially connected with the economic success and function. Some nations had been very successful in economic development, yet there are a lot of grievance and violence due to the lack of human rights considerations and the respect of human value. The rights to be free from injustices and traditional mistreatments are partially not connected with the economic success. A nation could be economically developed but respect of human dignity and freedom may be under threat. The good example is Russia where it is economic function and development index is high as North America nations but yet security forces always engaged in killings, torturing people and/or humiliating citizens, often with impunity. Therefore, the scope of this analysis argue that the human rights system in ASEAN could not work well if they only look at the success of their economic development and promotion of “Asia value” as a functional step in order to implement the human rights system.

Human rights concept is an institutional discourse that need a special consideration before people looks at their economic progress. Although there is no system without economic consideration, it should be argued, on the other hand, that there is no better system without consideration of the pressing social issue of human rights and human dignity. The human rights in South East Asia countries had never been well established although they argued that their system of “Asian values and Asia ways” of life is equivalent with the international Universal human rights system (Bauer, 15). Establishment of recognizable human rights system should have been separated from the economic political unity of the ASEAN countries. The claims that they are economically better off is disputable by the other nations that had adapted the universal human rights systems since it does not reflect the progress of the human rights system in Asia society.

Looking back into the principle and the purpose of the AICHR, the author of this analysis came up with clear ideas that the main reasons behind the formation of this ASEAN network is to bring all ASEAN nations into an umbrella of economic progress, development and political unity of the ASEAN. This fact is reflected by the role played by foreign affairs leaders in dealing with the situation of everything; and perhaps it may send a clear message to all readers and international scholars that the organization is not meant for the promotion of human rights. It is a separate entity that does not deals for the mobilization of the public to accept and practice human rights issue but political unity within the South East Asian.

The argument contrast to the international Human rights system does not hold any substantive points. “Asian values” should reflect all Asian culture but in reality, the Asian values are government valued systems that subordinate and oppress women’s activities or the entire civilian population activities at large. The counter argument that human rights are “western phenomenon and ideology, imported through colonialization and aliened to the Asian culture” may be seen as a justification of skipping the reality in order to promote freedom and respect for human rights (Avonius, 41). If the ASEAN government allow the Asian societies as a community to debate on the issue of human rights and choose to go with the cultural perspective, then people in the international community may just challenges the people and not the government for their failure to respect and integrate some standard aspect of the human rights system, like the other regions in the world. However, the fact is that “political dissidents are still risking their lives to achieve political freedom” within the ASEAN society (Avonius, 42). This is reflected on the daily reality that majority of the population are living under the authoritarian threat; and yet they still have no ways to achieve the respect of human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom of political participation and opinion until these days.

The current debate of the “Asian ways and Asian value” is a political escapism of accepting the universal reality (Bauer, 14). African had traditional value (Ubuntu way of life), and yet they formed the regional human rights systems. The European and Inter-American also have the same human right wings. Would Asians objection still post the question of colonialism, then the question may also goes back to them that there is no one colonializing Asian through the recognition of universal human rights system and discourse.

African had gone through the toughest colonization than some of Asian countries. If the ideas of human rights meant imperialism, then African would have been the first society in the world to object the ideas of universal human rights system. However, the question and the promotion of the Universal Human rights systems is more linked to the rights of individuals as the person as well as the society, inclusively. Some rights are natural rights that everyone should have without conditions but Asian authorities do not allow anyone to practices his/her rights, simply for the fear that Western ideology may get room in the minds of the people, and allow the citizens to declare opposition war against the authoritarian principle.

This is the reasons why Asian States’ government do not open a public dialogue and “present Asians with an opportunity to promote an open discourse on human rights and its cultural relevance.” This is because they do not want the community to express their communal rights over the state authorities (Avonius, 42). Women’s rights in Asian community (ASEAN) are considered as their husband rights and girls are forced to respect the religious rights within the Asian countries. The good example was in Afghanistan in 1994 when the Taliban regime forced all girls not to attend the public school, simply because they thought that, attending the school violate the rights of their religious dignity.

This happened when the Taliban troops occupied the town in 1994 when they defeated the Afghanistan government out of the city. “The first edicts were to remove the girls from school, forbade women from employment outside the homes, and required women to wear garments totally covering themselves when they appeared in public” (Fraser, 853). This measure was a clear abrogation of the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. If this practice is the “Asia value,” then how would we expect the change to happen or the human rights discourses to be implemented when 70% of women population are denied access to education?

For the Asia leaders to compare the Asian values to the international Human rights standard is almost a sign that the governments is not willing to adopt and accept the international human rights instruments. What they should claim was an assertion of legitimacy of authoritarian political model, economic success and the unity of ASEAN community because all states in that particular region focus on “the level of national ideology, with the deprivation of the rights and freedom of their citizens” (Mutarbhom, 413). This has been indicated by the leader of ASEAN in the youtube that “the UN is like a market” and this tells us that they have no intention to accept the universal human rights system as an important instrument rather than promoting “Asian Value.”

Therefore, the author of this analysis argued that the emerging human rights mechanism in South Asia Nations will not have any practical and positive impact, because the rights and the interest of the family and the community have been underscored by the “Asian value”. This traditional of Asian value is rooted in various negative practices that subordinate women, and social activists to a various cultural demands. For the society to survive injustice and human right violation, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of political participation must be accepted to the extent of international universal standard. Limitation of accepting the rights of individuals will post a great challenge to all human being because “the States’ authorities have not yet acceded to other key international human rights instruments. They emphasize on the principle of respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-use of human rights as an instrument of political pressure” (Muntarbom, 408-409).

The author lives in North America. You can send him any comment at peterreat@yahoo.com/peterreat@att.net or visit his blog at www.peterreat.blogspot.ca

Sunday, 16 December 2012

National Reconciliation and Truth Commission: Dr. Machar’s idea of National Reconciliation should be endorsed country-wide.

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth

“The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable right for all members of human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

The obstacle confronting our society in South Sudan has historical background that came along within our traditional societies, beginning from late 1970s. Impossibilities of better political life and cultural difference, rooted in the cattle driven interest in South Sudan had usually discourage harmony; and the advocacy groups always encountered criticism and obstructions as people who had benefited on conflict sometimes advocacy for political differences due to leadership interest, conflict of interest and so forth.

In such a way, bitter ethnic schisms, social tension and communal violent has discouraged a health way of life and kept the South Sudanese society apart for long time. Prior to the signing of peace agreement and the celebration of independent day, our country leaders did not realized that our society were not in peace even when we united against our external backyard enemy. This unfriendly behavior and traditional ways of life attributed mostly to current atrocities, political assassination and violent that had taken lives of innocent civilians in the country-wide.

War is the worst nightmare options in human history that always aims to reap and tear families and society apart. In the past decades, educated people have realized that war and violence could not only end through winning and losing fighting mechanism. Fighting is seen as the hardest options because it always leaves signs of grievance and emotional feeling to both enemies after the confrontation. Through the national reconciliation, transitional approach and truth commissions, people always come to address the large scale of human rights abuses of the past experience and the way forward. This usually allow people to challenges the historical cause of the problem through an arranged dialogues, and move on with an intention that they had acknowledged human rights concern and highlighted the issue that has gone wrong while recognizing the impact that they had brought to the families and society at large.

Communal healing, truth commission and Transitional justice as advocated by Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon are few of peaceful options for national reconciliation when people are torn apart because of the intended violent in society. Therefore, this commentaries article highlighted that the national Reconciliation, advocated by Dr. Riek and the truth commission are meant to tackle and handle injustice through the communal peaceful meant, while acknowledging the past and ensure harmony and mutual understanding between the people within the community at large.

Past historical experiences in South Sudan society and in many part of African continent had indicated that National Reconciliation and the Transitional Justice would have been the best options for many people who were torn apart because of the injustice, atrocities and violent within the community. South Sudan society, among many countries, had been in conflict even when we were fighting against the enemy. Although this conflict is seen as traditional habit and minor things that should be brought to end at the latest date, it worth noticing that thousands of live had lost through such a community disputed activities and the perpetrators are still actively engaging in unjustifiable attacks.

This attacks and political assassination had left the victims in pain while the perpetrators gone unpunished or without apologizing for their action. Perhaps it may be considered by the public that the attackers may have not realized the mistake he/she had done to the other families. It is always through this National Reconciliation and transitional justice that victims usually felt that the government and the community at large had done much and important steps to convey their condolences, apologies and acknowledge the pain that they had gone through and heal the wound caused by the perpetrators through violent ways.

Communal approach mechanism backed up by the government is very important for many reasons. First the community and spiritual team always had an intention to bring the society together through a mean that both parties may be happiest especially the victims. Doing so always serve as a bridge of yielding and reconciliation for the community rather than using justice straightforward. The community lauded this approach model because it “emphasizes the need for bespoke situation and assist conflicted groups to come to term with violent past.” It is also in the best interest of the community members because majority of them may have thought that good practice only emerge in community through cold-eyed and pragmatic assessment of risks and capacities which in turn buttress against those risks and build upon existing skills and abilities.

Dr. Riek Machar’s healing and national reconciliation advocacy for peaceful initiative and healing between the communities worth supporting although I had not heard the strategies plans in practice. What I literally meant here is that, strategic plans of national reconciliation plans should be developed first before the initiative is launched. This would motivate the public at large and send a clear message to citizens that our government system has spurred the advanced strategic plans for the nation and society betterment. It should be either through constituencies MPs or the government must launch a peace initiative for almost two months, marked to be peace initiative months. Perhaps, putting the strategies of mediating community would work well as it happened in Wunlit Peace Initiative and indeed, the Wunlit peace initiative has brought an end to the conflict at that period of time, but why in Lake State, Warrap State and Unity State today while Jonglei’s civilians were going through mercy of atrocities and unbelievable killing for years???

Dedication and sacrifice for the national reconciliation plan would have save more lives if endorsed and implement earliest through all states. Advocating for peace initiative in all regions/states that are in conflict against themselves should involve the Universities’ students, families, children, old and young or the community members in general to the venue of discussion and in communal gathering of healing the injustice and violent. Doing so will give a healing feeling and it will always meant that people stood behind the victims and condemns the act of violent. I believed that this national Reconciliation approach would promote harmony and relief the feeling while making the victims feel more comfort.

Direct court system always does not heal the wound as like the National Reconciliation, victim-centered approach and restorative justice should do because there is no enough time for the victims and the offenders to go through reconciliation and forgiveness process. The court system usually “reveals a shared disquiet that the voice of those affected are not always heard or accorded an adequate weight once the wheels of the court system begin to turn.” It worth saying that the justice does not usually put in place the sufficient robust transitional mechanisms to meet the relevant needs for truth, closure, healing or some form of accountability on the ground.

With such, the National Reconciliation approach and restorative justice perspective is a really ways of providing a different vantage point in order to see more clear interactions between the community members such as to resolve the divisions in society caused by the attackers or human rights violators. National forgiveness will firmly contribute to the healing process for victims and determine legal accountability to establish a historical record of the conflict. Wider national approach will contribute to restore the rule of law, democratize security institutions by promoting standard human rights systems and stable peace.

The new Nation had never had such a chance in years to bring these gaps together and failure to do such a thing will encourage differences for a longer period. It would be fair enough that the Victims and offenders plus the community members are given an opportunity to express clearly the experiences and what should be done to bring the life of the society back to normal. Acknowledging the mistake usually makes the victims happiest and relief as there is no one on earth that cannot make mistakes. This is also another ways for the national reconciliation in community to address the grievance in strongest sense and challenge the silence and impunity of the perpetrators; however, this approach sometime does not challenge the cultural norms in which violence or discrimination are sustained or made acceptable because it is sometimes poorly coordinated and organized base on the community levels if there are no law applied after the prior final agreements.

In Nutshell, it worth noticing that our communal violence always goes with certain societal norms that if my relatives are hurt, I should response with maximum force without even judging who was wrong and what has happened. On the other hand, offenders usually remain within the society without any good punishments and this always sends a message to the victim that the persons who had taken our brother or sister's life is living here.

Living within the same society with the offenders is one of the severe experiences to the family of the decease person even if an attempt was made to cease the tension within the community. Hence, fulfilling traditional justice requirement and acknowledging the pain and mistake always cease the feeling of avenging. Although it always been the best interest of the victims to pursue peace, it is very regrettable that peace that come without justice, be it traditional justice or standard, always can merely replicate broader social inequality and division within the society in some ways. Communal agreement usually lacks and ignores the problem that human rights abuse may still continue to take place in some circumstances because in the process, there always been a lack of access to reparation payment if it was done public without legal application designed to capture the sense of harmony and forgiveness while moving on.

This issue of reparation sometime create more misunderstanding in somehow because of the failure in the community-based initiative if the rule of law is not in place to put in place sufficiently robust transitional mechanism in order to meet the relevant needs for truth and national reconciliation commission. It happens sometime when the communities “lack a viable communal trust or have great lack to mobilize against the de facto impunity and parallel effort to establish local methods of community trust.”

Therefore, National Reconciliation, truth and reconciliation commission is important only when the community had much trust and condemned the act together with the sense of harmony while using the justice to seal off the prepared mechanism and strategic plans used by the National Reconciliation board in order to acknowledge the past and ensure harmony and mutual understanding between the people within the community at large.

*Peter Reat Gatkuoth is a trained Human Rights activist and scholars. He is currently living in Canada and reachable at peterreat@yahoo.com and peterreat@att.net

Friday, 10 August 2012

People: The Diaspora Basement Rebels are more Poisonous then the word Anya Nya Itself!

They are poor patriots whose their patriotism do not enable them to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.

Please accept this message as an expression of my disappointment about your allegations. I strongly disagree that we the South Sudanese who support our national government and our national interest are “tribalists, morons & appeaser-slave hearted folks.” I believe even Nyikang (the Shilluk God in the river) could dispute this allegations. Who should be labeled as a slave? Is it someone who fought against the foreign invasion/interests or someone whose tail is still in Khartoum and in Arab world?

During the ten days of Panthou/Malou Raar war, some of the people among the Diaspora Basement Rebels (DBR) were busy, changing the map of South Sudan through literature because the Islamic World Bank had paid them to act against the South Sudanese national interest. One of them (DBR) went up to Washington, DC to convince the foreign leaders to side up with old Sudan during South-North Ten Day War. I believed that the citizens’ duty and responsibilities is always majored when a crisis or external threat hit the national interest. Wherever you go, you can find all people of different political interests and affiliations in any countries, uniting against the foreign invasion and attacks. But did this happen to the South Sudanese backed opposition groups in Khartoum when our nationality was tested by the same enemy that killed our grand-fathers?

The SPLM members are quiet these days; simply because they thought the opposition groups would change their attitude and behaviors against their own brothers/sisters. And in some-how, we do ignore their allegations but not to the points of calling the citizens of South Sudanese as slave. Slave to who? The government whom they called as a “corrupt government” was the same government that fought harder to free the citizens of the South Sudanese from the Arab-backed government. Finally the struggle ended up with happy ending. We separated while smiling away from the oppressive regime though we lost heroes in the process. This was our vision and objective that we the marginalized community should form our own government and be free from the injustice, slavery of the Khartoum regime and oppression. If there are groups and associates who are still in doubt that Khartoum regime can do anything better, other than the experiences we went through, then those individuals can just pack their belongings and go to entertain ICC criminals in Khartoum.

Kiir had done the best a human being on earth should do but our problem, we the South Sudanese is that; we only count the bad things and weighted down the good things. Kiir has united our ranks, prior to final separation and extends the amnesty call to those who were still running for their personal interest including the Diaspora Basement Rebels. Kiir has also called upon the South-South dialogues; a problem-solving session that was meant to solve our structural barriers and the barriers faced within the political parties. However, it happened that the opposition groups are not interesting on anything than asking the ruling party to handover the power to them. How should we trust the people whose tails are still with Arab in Khartoum and in Middle East?

When we were attacked, did Dr. Lam Akol condemn the Khartoum government? And if not, do the DBR think Dr. Lam will ever entertain any reasonable South Sudanese? Any human that fail to differentiate bad thing and good things is not a leader. The South Sudan will never be ruled by Dr. Lam Akol, simply because Dr. Lam has an Arab interest. He entertains Omar El Bashir who had taken lives of our brothers and sisters. The South Sudan will remain under the SPLM leadership for 30 years to come If Dr. Lam is the only alternative leader to lead the South Sudan. Otherwise, chances are, if the oppositions group change Dr. Lam with another person who will always stand in foot with the South Sudanese during the foreign attack and national disasters.

If SPLM-DC, whose its leader share the same plate with Omar El Bashir will be the choice, then make no doubt that even the animals of the South Sudan would take guns to rescue the government not to be taken back to the same Khartoum regime. There is no one interesting these days in Dr. Lam’s ideas, simply because Lam has a link with Khartoum regime that had marginalized and dominated us for centuries. The Sudan government thought they will change the government with remote control or in YouTube through Dr. Lam.

Frankly speaking, if Dr. Lam wanted to lead the South Sudan, he has to stand with the South Sudanese when external enemies come to destroy our nation. He has to live in Juba with other South Sudanese opposition leaders. Doing so will bring the spirit of forgiveness If your groups become a true opposition that are able to fuel and take lead in term of lobbying for further democratic change. I personally believe that the technique of self-theories that you the Diaspora Basement Rebels are doing, is well acknowledged by the public (South Sudanese). Hence, I concurred with other that no opposition who side up with enemy will ever entertain the South Sudanese rather than barking days and night for the change that will never effect or materialized unless you join hands with the citizens of the South Sudan.

I had the great privilege of reading your mixed message about the issue at hand but sorry that I did not reply soon because I have other priorities. I saw your message while in my office but I have more things to do rather than looking at this nonsense debate. First, I thought you will be consistent and focus on the issue that made me to reply to your allegations. My reaction was that “we are not slave” in the South Sudan soil any more. No one will ever be slave again like what had happened in old Sudan. But one thing you should know is that food and materials gain always destroy and ruin an individuals’ credits, value and respect; this is in reference to those who choose to pursue food rather than national interest. The South Sudanese would never favour someone who only runs the job of hands to mouth between Arab nations and Arab embassies without looking at the issue that could endanger the lives of our children, women and animals plus others.

It’s not where people stand these days that matter but the direction and the unity of the people when external things come to test our unity and nationalism. Perhaps if you can recall back, you should know that I just denied the allegation that “we are slaves” to our own political organization (SPLM) and the government that was formed by the people and for the people through democratic election. These all propaganda are not true and they are not part of the reality. The issue of Dr. Riek Machar that was highlighted as a point to blindfold the Nuer society is a deceiving technique.

The Nuer as society is not Dr. Riek neither one person. It’s the society and no one will ever mislead these people around. They have their own ways of seeing things. Few of the people will go including the present politicians; however, the society will remain active. Some of the minorities these days use Tit for Tat policy as to use the Nuer in physical fight to achieve their hidden objective and goals, making the Nuer as shield. This happened in 1991 and during Anya nya two (reference to Akot Atem). The very leader who was the engineer of such a coup/split (1991) was Dr. Lam whom you the present DBR are advocating for as a true leader of the people.

As South Sudanese citizens, I thought we have priorities and most immediate things to be done accordingly. Seemingly pertinent options are always used when there is an obstacle that hit the nation. Priorities sometimes eliminate less appropriate options (parties’ battle and leadership interest). These priorities are used to identify the most appropriate ones such as defending of the land from the foreign countries and issue of our national resources. Prioritizing meant, forgetting the less or minor issues of the society and go for the big one that can threat the live of our women and children. This is the pure culture of Nuer and Dinka or perhaps Luo/Nilotic at large.

Prioritizing is the natural end result of validating each options in life because once the options are validated, prioritization automatically occurs and this is what President Kiir and his team has done back in the days. Kiir once ordered his team to pull out from the government of Khartoum when the Khartoum Arab-headed government violated the signed agreement. Kiir ordered the SPLA troops to fight-back the Khartoum regime regardless of the benefits of Oil flowing through their territories because they came beyond the sovereignty mandate while shelling our own territories such as the Land of Padang/Panaruu, Bentiu and Bhar El Ghazel States.

Leadership is to communicate to the people their worth and potential so that they come to the sense of seeing and knowing it. One of the good examples was the message Kiir told the public that “if I were to be asked as a citizen to vote, I would vote for separation.” These are public priorities, teaching and believe of the charismatic leader. Do you think Dr. Lam would drop his salaries and inceptive in the Arab world because of public matter?

Back to your points that there are “corrupted officials, thieves, and criminal in Juba, South Sudan.” People of goodwill (South Sudanese) will never be thieves to their own resources and properties. All this issue of corruptions are nothing than allegations, generated by you the Diaspora Basement Rebels (DBR) as to spoil the name of the country and its officials. You should also admit that the word corruption is a fashioned-word, just to keep the officials hands off anything deem public but its rather magical bell. It is the word that has been modernized as the 21 century vocabulary; and only smart people know what it meant and the use of it. The use of it has something to do with warning and keeping the red light on in the eye of public servants. Would this word mean anything other than keeping the officials informed, then the western power officials and leaders would have been indicted because of corruption.

Therefore, the statement that there are “thieves, corruption and war criminals” in Juba is just a joke and it is a Diaspora Basement Rebels (DBR) phrase that they use as to keep themselves busy when they ran out of anything to do. I never heard anyone being indicted in South Sudan to be named “war criminal,” for this word is not just used randomly without anything attached to it. The reason why I referred Bashir’s team as “criminals” is because most of the officials in Khartoum are indicted war criminal. I have a reason to argue and so do the others because Bashir, Aroun and others in old Sudan are known as international war criminals. This is a legal perspective and it is legally, officially and internationally acknowledged.

As a group, you had allegedly argued that “SPLM members are nothing but slave...”in our own country. I wonder if you know the word “slave” and what it meant when you said slave. There are no people that could be slave to their own making. SPLM is a political organization built upon with the principles of Unity, Progress and Equal opportunity. I would like to empathize and walk you thoroughly that this political organization has a public-centred approach which implies that the public play a very important role in term of appointing their representatives to the regional parliament as well as federal level. This mean that South Sudanese assume big responsibility within 12 months time or at least partial responsibilities for determining what is better and what should be done (priorities). The good example was the contribution made by EES as to help war disable or patients in hospitals……………..etc.

Subsequently, Dr. Lam and his team were acting contrary in Khartoum without identifying the pros and cons. It happened repeatedly that Dr. Lam always smile when South Sudanese had an issue with the North Sudan regime. North Sudan will never force South Sudanese to accept what they decide or suggest (we will always say No to something they suggest and say Yes to something they do not favor). For Dr. Lam to become a president of South Sudan as you advocated (DBR groups), it would be the last options that the members of goodwill parties will look at critically.

If SPLM members have no one, qualify for presidency in the long run, then we would rather call upon white lady/foreign who would stand with South Sudanese during hard time. No joke, because Dr. Lam was politically seen as an individuals who preach for self-centred interest while leaning to the Arab rather than East Africa Community. He has politically and mechanically inclined to join hands with people and yet he walks opposite in the time people were about to think of forgiving him. Perhaps time will tell and I believe you know more than I do about Dr. Lam. If people were to go back and check the record of the politicians, Dr. Lam would not be free from corruption. Ask him why he defected from the SSIM/SSIA and form SPLM/SPLA-United contrary to the first movement he formed. Dr. Lam was the one in charge of foreign relation and everything coming from foreign nations and supporters in term of finance was in his hands. Had it not been because Dr. Riek is not a man of material gain, Dr. Lam would have been arrested because of the corruption activities he has made (1991-1995). A huge sum of money (billions), the movement’s money was taken by Dr. Lam himself. Records and background may have shown Dr. Lam’s capability and capacity to manage our own affairs.

Although I personally declined to mention the name of Shilluk in reference to my community you mentioned, I would like to tell you that Lam as a rare Shilluk will never misled the Nuer society again. This mobilization tactics from you the minorities is noticed and would never be entertained by any reasonable Nuer. If Dr. Riek has an issue with the government where he officially works as deputy President, then it has nothing to do with Nuer society or Shilluk neither. I know that Dr. Lam was not happy because he failed to blindfold Dr. Riek to join his party for the second time. Anyway, let wait for our own generational time in South Sudan. It will be a suicidal disaster, otherwise.

NB- this message is made readable to all audiences in simple term. You can reach the author of this comment at peterreat@yahoo.com or visit his blog at www.peterreat.blogspot.ca

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Gender Equality and the Human Rights Concern in South Sudan

Human Rights scholar Peter Reat Gatkuoth discusses the continued gender inequality in South Sudan, as well as Africa at large, despite the traditional veneration of women as mothers and caregivers, and the existence of legal documents (including national constitutions) which proclaim the equal rights of women. The author argues that a greater focus on gender equality, using existing human rights documents, will support the development and prosperity of the nation.

The discrimination against women means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by the women regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all sphere of life (Heyns et al, 62).

For many centuries, South Sudanese have had their cultural traditional systems, customs, values and beliefs, that have unfortunately devalued gender equality and the recognition of women’s rights in many tribal societies across the country. These traditional systems and beliefs vary across the clans and tribes. As a part of the greater African culture, the live of South Sudanese are influenced by the greater African culture. This is always true because most of the African societies have the belief that women should be highly respected as the mothers. They are the one expected to be cookers, nurturing or socializing the children; and on one hand, their role in society is always been significant in term of negotiation and settlement of dispute as well as taking care of home duties as traditionally assigned tasks.

The concept of considering female as a mother and the caretakers is the main problem and it has devalued their inherited rights, natural rights and neglected their role in political arena. This is obvious because most of individuals who had no experience in human rights system always fought off against the participation of women in politics. Examples of this political negligent behaviour is witnessed in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and South Sudan itself, where women who participate in political system are indirectly or directly marginalized and mistreated by officials themselves, sometimes to the point of sexual abuse. And in most instances, criminals usually hunt women down on streets, simply to make them quit the politics.

Gender Equality and the recognition of women as normal human beings is nothing in Juba but words of encouragement in the constitutional paper of “political parties’ leadership system.” The SPLM and other political parties (Male dominated patriarchal parties) usually called upon women to come for the rally only when there is an urgent issue and blindfolded them that women have 25% in any employments opportunity; and as well as the decree assignments positions which are political appointee posts. This is true perhaps in most countries in Africa because “the African politics is quite enmeshed in the politics of recognition as are the more familiar examples from other continents” (Nyamnjoh, 56).

The concept of gender equality has gained enough endorsement a long time ago in the Africa continent through the constitutional documents/papers. However, the women’s rights and their participation had been very minimal in practice. After the formation of the African Union and the other intergovernmental institutions; the rights of women and gender equality in term of political participation has been highly acknowledged in most governments’ institutional policies. Therefore, in an attempt to revisit the concept and examine the issue at hands, the scope of this article will argue that, gender equality and human rights of women is yet to be realized in fullest term in Southern Sudanese society. It is, therefore, perhaps realized in the constitutional documents but cultural setback and political patriarchal system still plays a very significant role that aims to eliminate the participation of female career politicians and academia female officials in the country’s politics.

In recent years, there has been a very significant increasing awareness of the status of women’s rights and gender equality in African continent at large. “This awareness is reflected in the Constitutive Act of the African Union and more significantly, in the 2003 adoption of an additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa”(Heyns, 475). The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women and gender equality in Africa is a ground-breaking women’s right of legal instrument which addressed the fact that women’s participation and freedoms must be accepted and respected without any hesitation in any governments or intergovernmental institutions.

The Protocol “takes the broader and significant view that the economic and social well-being of women is contingent on the rights to equality, health, education and political participation in economic, electoral and customary institutions” (Heyns, 67). This protocol (articles 10-14) is very significant and it serves as a blueprint for African Unity to engage States in revising their national constitutions and to pass the new equality legislation in order to incorporate a more fulsome recognition of gender equality and women’s right in the African governments and institutional systems.

South Sudan, among many states in Africa, is yet to realize in fullest term, the inherited rights of women and gender equality. Women suffer initially and directly through main party’s patriarchal political system that aim to alienate the women, isolated them from political participation and ignore their voices in the political system. One of the good examples was the case of Mrs. Awut Deng, the Minister of Labour who was made to quit and been abused indirectly by the political leaders within the current system. This happened because her voice and experience carried a heavy weight more than the others which lend her much more support from the political society.

The greater support Minister of Labor (Mrs. Awut Deng) has gained from the political society’s members made the SPLM Oyeeee big men to be suspicions for her political progress. The minister got disappointed and quitted simply because she has nothing to do rather than being there as a symbols while she has that much capabilities and capacity, academically to carry on the expectations of the public at large more than the male partners. As noted in many regional human rights systems including the Global Universal Systems, “women have the rights to peaceful existence and the rights to participate in promotion and maintenance of peace in many part of the world and this include, the right to expression and freedom of opinion” (Heyne, 62). The inherited right is not just for the half of the population (male dominated society) in the continents but for all human being equally.

The rights to freedoms: - freedom of political opinion and most importantly the right to political participation, peaceful existence and enjoyments should never be denied to any human being. Women in South Sudanese political system, suffered severely and simply because the traditional believe and customs have made them to be neglected as a part of the population that deal with certain roles such as nurturing, home duties or socialization of children (but isn’t the mother who become a female politicians- the mother whom we call “the mother regardless of sex?”). “Promotion of women” to perform and participate in the issue facing society is not only the recognition of their rights, but it is for the encouragement of mutual understanding and respect of the dignity of the human kind within the biggest frame, whereby gender equality discourse has to be realized and incorporated to the political system and institutional instruments appropriately.

Doing so, will help the victims (women) to survive and seek justice when they are discriminated base on political differences and sex. It is perhaps true that in South Sudan, women are seen to be more politically submissive (fear of male aggression) in the system and this is very regrettable that imbalance peace in society that came without justice can merely replicate broader social inequality and division within the gendered society in some ways, which will initially make us stuck in negative peace level. South Sudan lacks and will always ignore, if not contained well, the problem that violation of human rights and political abuse are taking places in some areas because the states/federal policy or institutional system at large does not strongly address this social concerns and inequalities. “There will always be a lack of access to seek appropriate justice which may aims to recapture the sense of harmony and forgiveness while moving on” (McGregor, 5). Women plus all scholars and academia will suffer deeply because of lack of due process in justice and as well as in the institutional system and regulations.

The traditional political system and customs in South Sudan that is rooted in patriarchal and patrilineal system has de-emphasized the role of women, academia and scholars in South Sudan society, be it in government or inter-governmental institutions that operate within the South Sudan. It should be noted that most of these customs and beliefs are result of the perceived inferior status of male domination, particular the SPLM born to rule big men and at the time, supposed worthlessness of women, academia and scholars; yet the society (patriarchy) wish to encourage this traditional ways of eliminating the women in the political systems as a way to justifies their domination in the institutional systems. When the African Union and other international organizations were formed, women in the world had opportunities to challenge the customs and their own cultural norms or believe that seem to discriminate them from daily activities. In this perspective, “the universal human rights law (regional or international) has becomes the substitute for traditional customs and beliefs that results to the establishment of the minimum standard of decency or treatment; a common denominator of what is morally acceptable in a civilized world” (Askin, 629).

Gender equality and the recognition of inherited rights of women would take few more years in South Sudan to effect. Although the international community expectations was high that South Sudan should have learnt from the examples of other states in Africa; it is very impossible, regrettable or difficult for the gender equality to be accepted or incorporated smoothly in the system, simply because of patriarchal orientations within the society and within the born to rule political system. The women in South Sudan parliament have ministers, few MPs representatives including the advisor for gender affairs but their voices are not counted to any outgoing concern or in the system, be it political, economic or social matters.

Past experiences in South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and in many parts of the world had indicated that gender equality and the promotion of women’s right would have been the best options for South Sudanese people who had just emerged from war torn environment as this community had endured injustice, atrocities and violent within the country together. Leaving the women behind without acceptance and proper integration of gender balance or consideration of gender equality would initially ruins, risk or setback the smooth democracy transition because women plus academia officials and scholars by themselves have a big role to play politically and socially in the South Sudanese contemporary society and in the international level to inform and influence the other within the international community at large about the ongoing violation of human rights.

South Sudanese should familiarize themselves with the regional human rights instruments (African Commission for Human and people’s Rights, the Banjul rights) that had highlighted the concern of women in details. The protocol to African Charter on Human and people’s rights on the rights of women does not only encourage the promotion of the women’s participation in politics but it guarantee a very important “non-derogable rights that include rights to be free from racial and political discrimination, the right not to be torture or enslave and the rights to be free from crime against humanity and genocide” (Askin, 628).

These rights are more important in regard to the life of woman and to the implementation of justice and national system that care much for all human kind. By then, this system of human right, if contained or established well in the institutions of South Sudan, it would have help to reduce the discrimination against women within the society at large. Otherwise, it will be true that political recognition based on the male bias of using the logic of cultural relativist arguments in South Sudan had added more value that is attached to patriarchal and male domination policy in society in order to detriment of females. “This belief that boys are inherently more valuable than girls is not only negatively affecting the women or the girl-child’s health, education and psychological well-being but also commonly results in her social and psychological depression or death in some circumstances” (Askin, 630).

Although South Sudanese societal traditional system is significantly valuable to their lives and customs in term of managing some societal disputes; the role of women by then is not that important in political systems and also in the local grass-route. It’s off course the people’s culture but when it comes to the reality, women are much more disadvantaging socially, politically and economically in the society while they are part of the greater community. The female child is usually not considered important with exception of cultural investment concept and this leads into unfair treatment and gender inequalities within the community. The politics of female recognition within communities is known to be “one of those felicitous phrases and it resonated with other political, economic and cultural trends that fully alienated them” (Nyamnjoh, 15). Therefore, this fact illustrated that some communities within South Sudan have had isolated ladies and use girls only as liability or an investment income for families in the future. The States or federal constitutions of South Sudan had not address this issue appropriately, and they do not make any attempt to adequately define each customs and examines its relevance to women in particular within the society.

Since the country became an international subject on July 9/2012, it worth to revisit the international human rights instruments that govern the international community and beyond. The Vienna Declaration, adopted in 1993 U.N. world conference “state that all human rights: civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural aspects should be implemented simultaneously and that neither set of rights should take precedence over the others.” These rights include freedom to “sexual and reproductive health” but South Sudanese traditional belief lies on the fact that women should reproduce more kids even if they are not willing or unhealthy. The choice and freedom to control their fertility is not always a women’s choice in society especially in local rural community areas. Men always wish the wife to have more kids and if the women choose to control their fertility, it may be a ground for divorce. If these rights are to effect and result into practice, then the South Sudanese national human rights commissions and other organizations working on women’s rights must mobilize the people in rural communities and in the villages to “respect the rights of women” (Heyne, 62).

The demands base on cultural perspective in South Sudanese community had put the women in the position of the second class citizens for so long as their specific rights and need are not addressed strongly and accordingly in the institutions or in the government departments. Although the constitutional had models and modernized the structure of the society in the document, there is still much more gap in practice to be looked at in order to tackle all these pressing social issues. Therefore, for the society to stand tall against the discrimination and gender inequality, they should not only implement the gender equality on paper but in a more practical ways because eliminating discrimination required the combating of traditions, customs and usages which thwart the advancement of women in society.

The constitution seems to address and highlighted the issue partially that there is no excuse for policies or practices that are harmful to women but to the great extends of my doubts; the discriminatory customary act and traditional practices remain prevalent in South Sudan, thus preventing women from inheriting or acquiring the same rights enjoyed by men. My experience in South Sudan tells me that women had a long ways to go in South Sudan society; it doesn’t matter what level they reach educationally. “Breaking tradition, defying custom and overcoming the discrimination, requires courage and democratic leadership.

Leaders that bent on effecting change must develop a new vision of South Sudan while accepting inclusive contribution and participation from those who had once gained academic experiences, skills and international human Rights discourse. “A leader that is willing to bring change in South Sudan must articulate the problems of the status quo and create a new theory of social and political order and over time, must mobilize a critical mass of supporters from the qualify people who share the new vision for the people and new articulation of the problems” (Fraser, 855). South Sudanese would be better off only if they involve women, scholars and the community members at large in the institutional and constitutional design (democracy perceptions) regardless of tribes and political affiliation. Doing so will give the people an opportunity to stand together and in harmony in creating policy that aims to condemn the act of gender inequality and gender violent. This will also reduce the gender discrimination and allow the women to feel more comfortable and fit in to the government system and in society.

Subsequently, South Sudan will be a rich nation as it may be in term of resources but facts tell us that there will always be a lot of gender grievance and violence due to the lack of human rights considerations, respect of human value and human kind. The rights to be free from political injustices and traditional maltreatments would not just disappear simply without launching a strong institutional policy that involves the communities in a people-driven agenda. A nation could be well economically developed but if respect of human dignity and freedom of political opinions and expression are not respected and contained well, people will always live with grievances and unhappiness, socially and politically. The new country should learn from the old African states and condemn the gender inequalities, political abuse and political assassination of the opposition leaders, violence and other brutal or humiliating treatment. The reality indicated that there is no better system in the world without consideration of the above social pressing issue of human rights and human dignity. The human rights in South Sudan had never been well established. Establishment of recognizable human rights system should help the entire society instead of chanting daily with the slogan of freedoms and human rights that had no strong bases and support in the system.

Verbal condemnation of gender inequalities and discrimination does not do much to help the women in South Sudanese society. Simply because it is just by words from the leader and it will always reveal a shared disquiet that the voice of those affected through the patriarchal political discrimination and political system of born-to-rule men are not always heard or accorded “an adequate weight in the systems” (McGregor, 2). This is true because the constitution in South Sudan had not clearly laid out the legal consequences, or availible legal actions, and it does not put in place sufficiently robust legal mechanisms for the protection and freedom of all people regardless of gender. Therefore, it worth to argue constructively that the gender equality and human rights of women or generally the rights of the people is yet to be realized in fullest term in Southern Sudan society. It is, therefore, been implemented and realized perhaps in the documents but cultural setback and the political patriarchal system still plays a very significant role that aims to eliminate the women’s freedom of political opinion and participation of female career politicians in the country’s politics.


Askin, Kelly D. Women and International Human Rights Law. Volume 1, Transitional Inc., New York, 1999.

Heyns, Christof et al. Compendium of Key Human Rights Documents of the African Union. 4thed. Pulp, South Africa, 2010

Nyamnjoh, Francis B. Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa. Zed books, London, 2004

Fraser, Arvonne S., Becoming Human: The Origins and Development of Women's Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly 21.4 (1999) 853-906

McGregor, McEvoy. Transitional Justice from Below: Grassroots Activism and the Struggle for Change. Oxford, New York, 2008

Peter Reat Gatkuoth hold BA in sociology and Political Science. He has just graduated with Master Degree in the school of International Law and Human Rights. You can reach him at peterreat@yahoo.com

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Role of Inter-American Commission for Human Right in Americas

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over past decades, some of American states were politically unstable in the region-wide. The region had experienced unusual political differences and political turmoil, littered with civil wars, political conflicts and coups for decades. This conflict within Central and South American states had caused many death and disappearance of political members and human rights activists which resulted into a great human rights violation. This human right abuse and disappearance of political figures in some countries in Central America and Latino communities resulted into continent wide concerns which led to the formation of human rights organizations. “The need and the desirability of a regional Commission for the Americas were based on the existence of the body of American international law, built up in accordance with the specific requirements of the countries of this hemisphere”(Goldman, 865). That need and desirability also followed from “the close relationship that exists between human rights and regional economic development and integration in accordance with the statements of the Chiefs of States made at the meeting in Punta del Este” (Goldman, 865).

It worthy acknowledging that “the persistent intervention of the United States and Canada into the domestic affairs of its Latin American neighbors in the early part of the twentieth century influenced and stimulated Latin American efforts to accept a regional system based on the principles of non-intervention and the sovereign equality of states” (Goldman, 857). In these countries, some Scholars and other intellectuals in the Caribbean and Latino communities tried harder, criticizing the issue of human right abuse and violations in the region. Some also argued that the problems that led to many conflict within Latino and Central America was because these countries were divided politically by the hidden parties and therefore, political interests and differences began downing on them.

Although there were a great misunderstanding and challenges in some states in order to accept and implement a democratic policy that aim to promote justice, and protect the people within the system, North America leaders had pushed and called for the implementation of human right court and commission within the continents-wide. This huge support made many leaders and scholars within the South America and Central America to struggle strongly in order to accept the reality that human rights system should be promoted region-wide. In April 1948, “the inter-American human rights system was born with the adoption of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man which had resulted into a public great aspiration of having an instrument to govern a regime of human right” (Ledesma, 27).

As the system proceeds with great expectation, the IACHR was created and held its first session in 1960 and started to observe the general human rights situation in all American States (North America, Central America and South America). Therefore, this analytical article will argue that the Inter-American Commission for Human rights plays a very legitimate role of promoting and encouraging public awareness, investigating individuals’ petition alleging violation and the protection of human rights. The objective of the commission was to tackle and handle injustice through the court process while ensuring harmony and mutual understanding between the people within the American community at large (North America, Central America and South America).

The rise of globalized culture of human rights and democracy system around the world had helped many systems globally to be successful as many global citizens were more willingly to adapt to the standard system of universal human right systems. Inter-American Human Right Commission had found its easiest ways to mobilized all community to defense human right discourse within the institutions and nongovernmental organizations. These rights and concepts were meant for the well-being of individuals, the public at large and for the promotion of the understanding of the importance of human rights discourse through teaching, research and public awareness in all parts of the American continents. Some criticism emerged in between as to whose ideas are those universal rights but to the best interest of the American people and Inter American Commission for Human Rights in particular; they fully managed to promote a full awareness to what it means for individuals to be free from injustices, discrimination and denial of certain rights. They provide independent research and assistance to the victims of deliberately killings; and work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment while encouraging mutual understanding between the members of the communities.

Despite inherent limitations, the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court have proven to be courageous and principled allies of the victims, civil society, and states alike, as “transitional justice initiatives have both stumbled and succeeded over the years” (Dulitzky et al, 4). This process came into the reality because the Inter American Commission for Human Rights has taken a bold decision of mobilizing the public while using victim-centered approach and justice for national reconciliation in the areas where people are torn apart because of the violent within society. Most victims within the American communities usually felt that the government and the community had not done much steps to acknowledge the pain they had gone through or heal the wound caused by the perpetrators through violent ways; however, Inter-American Commission for Human Rights has assured the doubt hereinafter.

The victims only became successful in pursuing their rights when the Inter-American Commission for human rights was established. The community lauded this Intern America Commission for Human rights approach model because it is one of the motivational factors for them which emphasize the need for bespoke situation and assist conflicted societies to come to term with “violent past and to different transition rather than off-the-shell model” (McGregor, 2). This initiatives has help the victims who wanted their voice to be heard first because most of the time, the national court system usually reveals a shared disquiet that the voice of those affected are not always heard or accorded an adequate weight once the wheels of the national or domestic justice begin to turn (McGregor, 2).

During the December 1996 Peace Accord in Guatemala, many states within the American State accepted the role of the Inter American commission for Human Rights to visit and investigate the cases of forced disappearance and individual petition alleging violation. The interest of many states at that time “began shifting dramatically when the Alfonso Portillo government decided to admit responsibility in a large number of the cases then before the Commission and the Court. This resulted into acceptability and cooperation by some States to pledge a more cooperative attitude, raising hopes for a new era of accountability and justice” (Dulitzky, 7).

Subsequently, the Inter America Commission has held many cases of forced disappearance and torturing in many parts of Central and South America especially the case of Peru in which “the commission admitted many cases and determined that the Peruvian government is responsible for the extrajudicial execution of some of the victims and the forced disappearance of all others. The Commission opened each of the cases and processed them individually, keeping with the provisions of the American Convention and the Regulations of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.” This step was one of the functional steps that marks an effective investigation and punishment of the individuals responsible for the violation of human right abuses and forced disappearance. In a number of instances, the inter-American Commission for Human rights had also fought harder to bring many cases of indigenous community to justice and most of the appeals were successful such as the case of “the Mayagna Indian Community of Awas Tingni on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast”(Conaway, 1). This community fought for many years to regain their land rights, resources and environmental concern but the national government of Nicaragua has never accept the appeal of “the Mayagna Indian Community of Awas Tigni” until when the Inter-American Commission for human Rights has stepped in to investigate the case. After the investigation and hearing, the Court found that the Nicaragua violated the community land rights and property rights “by granting concessions to a foreign company to log on traditional Mayagna lands without Awas Tigni’s consultation” (Conaway, 1). The court decision at the time made the indigenous peoples to live freely on their own lands and to preserve their cultural heritage without any other interruption but the process was quite difficult and long because the government was not willing to accept the appeal and the real claim made by the indigenous society.

Although the process is quiet long as usual in legal system, most experts and scholars in these particular communities, where political unrest ruins the lives of the people; agreed that the role of Inter-America Commission for Human right is very legitimate in term of protecting of the individual rights and investigation of hidden human right abuse and issues in the conflicted society. In most cases, “the commission issued many resolutions and recommendations as well as requests for precautionary measures to protect the people against the threats or imminent danger to the lives of indigenous persons associated with systematic violations, committed against indigenous persons and communities particularly in the cases that occurred in Guatemala and Peru.”

The Inter American Commission for Human Rights’ role was acknowledged in “many cases of alleged violations of rights of indigenous people who have been harmed or killed by agents of the state in the course of the repression of dissident movements.” This allowed the commission to give a strong recommendation to “the respective governments in order to clarify the matter while provided compensation to the families and adopt adequate legislative measures in some countries such as in Guatemala and Peru.” This policy of protection was approved and reviewed many times in the Conferences and most of the states signed the declaration especially during Inter-American Conference, held in Caracas. The American states whole-heartedly “approved the resolutions on Racial Discrimination, Universal Suffrage, and the Strengthening of the System for the Protection of Human Rights.” The groups went on to condemn any violations hereafter which include “the practice of forcible recruitment in conditions of servitude to form self-defense patrols, imposed on rural and indigenous populations in several countries during periods of conflict against subversive groups” (Goldman, 861).

Even though some major delays and procrastination usually occurred in the process of many cases, Inter American Commission for human rights has done a very significant and important role to “save the lives of many persons who were under serious threat of harm from state agents, their proxies and other violent actors”(Goldman, 876). It has helped the victims by issuing a numerous precautionary measures, “requiring the government to take concrete actions to protect hundreds of human rights defenders, labor union leaders and Journalist reporters as well as members of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities” (Goldman, 876). This role of Inter-American Commission for human rights clarifies the doubt to many people in the region-wide, by indicating that the organization has taken an appropriate step, needed in the continents-wide “to develop an awareness of human rights among the peoples of Americas”(Goldman, 862). It always give a strong “recommendations to the governments of the member states general for the adoption of progressive measures in favor of human rights within the framework of their domestic legislation and in accordance with their constitutional precept to further the faithful observance of those rights” (Goldman, 862). Therefore, it worth to say that Inter-American system of human rights has strongly promoted and encouraged the public understanding of human right system while investigating individuals’ petition alleging violation. The objective of the commission has come to reality until these days to tackle and handle injustice through the court process while ensuring harmony and mutual understanding between the people within the American community at large.

The author of this article has attended and witnessed the court case of inmates issue in Inter-America Court of Human Rights at San Pedro. For instance, The case of prisoners who had burned into prison in Honduras. You can reach him at peterreat@yahoo.com for any clarification or questions.