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March 2017
Editor-in-Chief: Nicola Giovannini
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Syria: Conference urged not to trade sustainable solutions for short-term gain, ensure a focus on accountability

The chemical attack that hit the Syrian town of Khan Sheikun yesterday, killing dozens of Syrians including more than 20 children, is just the latest episode of a cruel conflict which over the past six years has produced hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. In view of important decisions to be taken by the international community, we believe that some essential elements need to be taken into consideration urgently to ensure a long-term vision and a sustainable solution aimed at ending the conflict.

While the UN Security Council will convene today to deliberate on a draft resolution submitted by France, the US and the UK - which condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria and requires a clear identification of responsibility for this blatant violation of international law - the world leaders are gathering in Brussels to discuss possible strategies for the future of Syria and the region along three general guidelines: assessing implementation of the commitments made at the Supporting Syria and the region conference in London in February 2016 and any necessary additional efforts; reconfirming existing pledges and encourage additional support to people in need inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, as well as to the respective host communities; and highlighting the efforts of the international community to support a successful outcome of the intra-Syrian talks under the auspices of the United Nations. The conference is also expected to start considering the prospects for “post agreement assistance”, namely the reconstruction efforts that will be required to rebuild a country devastated by years of prolonged and violent conflict.
This post agreement assistance appears to be something of a postscript and is billed as being conditional upon the commencement of a genuinely inclusive political transition. To be sure, this kind of reconstruction will be needed: Syria’s people and infrastructure have been decimated. Entire cities lie in rubbles, schools destroyed, hospitals unable to function and the public services needed to sustain everyday life have been damaged immeasurably, which incidentally are also violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. These all need to be addressed. However, including this within talks designed to elicit support for humanitarian needs and the intra-Syrian talks seems to put the cart before the horse.
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Gianluca Eramo is Director of the Middle East and North Africa Democracy Program of No Peace Without Justice

Philippines: appeal calling for the immediate release of Senator Leila De Lima and UN side session to address extrajudicial killings in the "Drug War"

On 16 March 2017, a side session on “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War” was held at the Vienna International Centre, in the margins of the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna International Centre. The event was organised by DRCNet Foundation, with the support of AFEW International, Associazione  Luca  Coscioni, Council  of  Asian  Liberals  and  Democrats,  Drug  Policy  Alliance,  India  HIV/AIDS  Alliance,  Liberal  International,  No  Peace  Without  Justice, Persaudaraan Korban Napza Indonesia, Union C (Nepal).

The purpose of the meeting was to shed light on human rights abuses being committed in the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs. In a video message, Vice President Leni Robredo of the Republic of the Philippines mentioned the more than 7,000 people killed since the government launched its war against illegal drugs on July last year. No Peace Without Justice, together with Radicali Italiani and Associazione Luca Coscioni, also launched an appeal calling for the immediate release of the Senator Leila De Lima, a leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. De Lima, who was arrested on 23 February  2017 on charges of drug trafficking, could be sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment up to life imprisonment.

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International Women’s Day: NPWJ calls for enhanced commitment to protect women’s rights

Millions of women and girls worldwide are still victims or at risk of violations of their human rights, as both a result and a perpetuation of gender inequality and discrimination that denies them the most basic forms of personal autonomy and self-determination. They are victims of sexual abuseexploitation and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage. In many parts of the world, women who have the courage to fight for their dignity by challenging regressive social conventions are exposed to great personal risks, including social rejection, harassment, imprisonment and even death.

The human rights of women must be pursued without compromise, promoted and encouraged until they are enshrined in legislation, and protected and safeguarded over time as essential components of the rule of law. The fight is broad: for the right to self-empowerment, the freedom to make informed and autonomous choices about the course of one’s life, one’s sexuality, if and when to have children, whether and when to marry, and all within a context of public policies and structures that allow for real choice. Moreover, unless the legal framework that guarantees full equality between men and women is constantly strengthened, all advances will continue to be attacked, undermined, weakened or revoked.
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Alvilda Jablonko is Director for Gender and Human Rights of No Peace Without Justice

 NPWJ events

Syria: Advocacy events on “Solidarity with Syrian Civil Society and Social Movements”

On Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March 2017, No Peace Without Justice, in partnership with Un Ponte Per, is organised a series of advocacy events in Rome for Syrian civil society activists and human rights defenders, connected to various communities inside Syria. The purpose of these events was to advocate for stronger support for Syrian civil society by Italian institutions both in terms of international cooperation and in terms of Italian political engagement in international fora which tackle Syria, such as the ongoing Geneva negotiations and the EU Summit on Syria, scheduled on 5 April in Brussels.

To date, peace talks, irrespective of who is leading them, have not produced tangible results for the Syrian people. Most citizens in Europe do not understand the conflict lines, seeing Syrians either as victims making up the ever-increasing tragic body counts and refugees, or as combatants, soldiers, terrorists. Italian institutions dedicate resources to humanitarian aid but have not yet produced a plan to go beyond emergency programs. Against this backdrop, Syrian civil society is trying to act as a counterbalance to traditional political, military and economic circles of formal and informal Syrian powers and promote a longer-term vision for resolving the conflict in Syria by prioritising human rights issues in peace negotiations, while simultaneously avoiding being dragged into the ongoing armed and geopolitical confrontations.

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Syria: Side-event on "Using Universal Jurisdiction for Accountability"

In the margins of the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Canada and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein, in cooperation with No Peace Without Justice, convened a side-event on "Using Universal Jurisdiction for Accountability", which wa held on 15 March 2017 at the Palais des Nations.
The purpose of the side-event was to promote political visibility within the UNHRC for efforts to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria on the part of national magistrates and prosecutors. The discussion will also highlight how civil society, in particular Syrian organisations working on documenting war crimes in Syria, can and should contribute to the newly established "UN International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011” (IIIM).
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 NPWJ on Radio Radicale

Stay tuned with No Peace Without Justice

No Peace Without Justice and Radio Radicale, the foremost Italian nationwide all-news radio, have an ongoing partnership to provide news and information on our activities to a broad Italian audience. This partnership features an in-depth weekly program on NPWJ’s current campaigns and activities. The program is broadcast in Italian every Wednesday evening at 23.30.

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 NPWJ press releases

Syria: Advocacy events on “Solidarity with Syrian Civil Society and Social Movements”
Rome, 30-31 March 2017

Syria: NPWJ supports side-event on "Using Universal Jurisdiction for Accountability"
Geneva, UNHRC, Palais des Nations, 15 March 2017

International Women’s Day: NPWJ calls for enhanced commitment to protect women’s rights
Brussels – Rome, 8 March 2017

NPWJ advocates for political and financial support to the UN General Assembly’s Syria Accountability Mechanism
Geneva, Palais des Nations, 2 March 2017

NPWJ welcomes South African Court decision on illegality of ICC withdrawal
Brussels, 22 February 2017

Protecting Children from War: 10 years of the Paris Principles
Brussels, 21 February 2017

Syria: NPWJ calls on the UN Member States to support the Mechanism for investigation and prosecution of serious crimes
Brussels – Rome, 13 February 2017

 NPWJ in the news


Siria: si lavora per la democrazia. Gruppo attivisti a Roma per incontrare istituzioni italiane
Radio In Blu, 30 March 2017

Group says Duterte, not Robredo, upsetting int‘l community
By DJ Yap, Inquirer, 29 March 2017

Filippine, liberiamo Leila de Lima
Marco Perduca, 15 March 2017

Tutto il mondo contro Duterte: pioggia di critiche sulla guerra alla droga
di Andrea Spinelli Barrile, International Business Times, 13 March 2017

Tanzania: a Dar es Salaam seminario su mutilazioni genitali femminili
OnuItalia, 23 February 2017

Cooperazione: Tanzania, a Dar es Salaam seminario su mutilazioni genitali femminili
Agenzia Nova (Nairobi), 23 February 2017

South Africa: ICC withdrawal bid unconstitutional say judges
CICC News, 22 February 2017

La giornata di riflessione per dire stop alla tortura delle MGF
di Giada Gramanzini, La Voce di New York, 7 February 2017

"Medicalisation is one of the biggest threats against the programme to eliminate FGM", the experts said
Reuters / The Indian Express / All Africa, 7 February 2017

Masooma Ranalvi: We need stringent laws to ban practice of khatna
by Gaurav Sarkar, Mid Day (India), 6 February 2017

HR Groups Urge UK Foreign Secretary to Call for Nabeel Rajab's Release
Bahrain Mirror, 6 February 2017

Approvata alla Camera la risoluzione sui Difensori dei Diritti Umani
Agenpress, 1 February 2017

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