By Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Founder and CEO, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
Who should be but isn’t at the peace talks table for the many wars afflicting the daily lives of millions? Women. They do the work on the ground but are cut out of negotiations for peace.
This 11 July, Bosnians commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, when Serb militias killed 8,000 Muslims. In 1995 Srebrenica was meant to be a safe zone, where Bosnian Muslims could seek refuge with UN peacekeepers as protectors. As Serb forces advanced, the outnumbered Dutch peacekeepers stood down and Serb forces took charge. They bussed women and girls away, then killed 8,000 men and boys. Bodies are still being exhumed and identified.
That massacre, like the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when UN Security Council responses were inadequate and driven by member states’ political interests, prompted a new determination among world leaders to prevent atrocities. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) became a globally accepted norm in 2005. Its idea was clear: states committed to protecting their populations, preventing atrocities and genocide, and to taking ‘collective action [should] national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.’ R2P was the modern iteration of the UN’s original purpose: the powerful have a responsibility to protect those with least power from war and violence.