The Paris action plan (08.09.15)


The Paris Action Plan, presented during the September 8th, 2015 International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East, is intended to address the dramatic situation of persons belonging to communities targeted and threatened for ethnic or religious reasons by Daesh and other terrorist organisations. Beyond the solidarity that must benefit all victims of conflict and violence, there is a pressing necessity to protect and preserve those communities and cultures whose very existence is threatened in Iraq and Syria. Faced with this challenge, the Paris Action Plan will serve as a roadmap for the international community’s response. Participants are encouraged to draw on it to carry out concrete measures, ahead of the follow-up conference, announced for 2016 by the Spanish government.

PART 1 : Supporting affected populations and facilitating durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons, including voluntary return and reintegration.

In order to support affected populations and facilitate durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons, in or outside camps, all persons in need should benefit from aid and be protected. Actions must be determined according to the needs and the context, and be focused on the following areas: housing, livelihoods, education, health.

1) Ensuring protection and assistance to affected populations

• Promote respect for International Humanitarian Law and human rights by all parties in conflict, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality. Develop training and dissemination of International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian principles to all armed groups, including relevant modules on specific threats on the basis of religion and ethnicity;
• As part of the fight against terrorist groups, elaborate and promote "best practices" to be used by the relevant forces to alert groups targeted as a result of their religion or ethnicity of imminent threats ;
• Improve coordination and information exchange between humanitarian actors regarding population flows and possible risks upon their security, including by supporting United Nations call centres to provide displaced populations with information on humanitarian assistance. Take all lawful measures to prevent forced displacement of population. Ensure that needs of affected populations, including victims of ethnic and religious violence, are regularly assessed ;
• Ensure that protection mechanisms are in place, including for women and young girls, victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and for children at risk of recruitment into armed groups;
• Support and develop programs to bring psychological and medical support to victims of ethnic or religious violence, with specific emphasis on women and children;
• Ensure the delivery of basic services to affected populations and facilitate import of medicine and basic goods;
• Pay specific attention to the most vulnerable persons, especially women and children, persons with disabilities, and elderly, who have been victims, or at risk, of violence;
• Improve consideration of cultural specificities of affected populations within humanitarian or development projects, according to the “do not harm” principle;

2) Improving resilience of affected populations and supporting sustainable return and reintegration of displaced populations

• Design, implement and support vocational training programs and work opportunities for refugees in host communities; facilitate access to educational systems and health services for refugees and internally displaced persons;
• Improve access to education for young people belonging to ethnic or religious communities, taking into account their specific needs regarding language and culture;
• Continue humanitarian aid efforts, to support countries in the region most affected by the influx of refugees (Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq) and for host communities in those countries;
• Strengthen support to the Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan and the Iraq Multi-Partner Recovery and Stabilization Trust Fund for Iraq (Iraq MPTF), as well as for the refugee response plans, with specific emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable victims, without discrimination;
• Support national authorities, local governments, and communities hosting refugees and displaced populations through development programs that will partly alleviate their burden and increase their capacities;
• Design, implement and support livelihood and economic and social development plans for the concerned regions including basic housing, basic goods, health and education for returnees;
• Clear land and property of mines and Improvised Explosive Devices;
• Support reconstruction and rehabilitation of public and civilian infrastructure, especially hospitals and schools;
• Support measures taken to restore family links for displaced persons, in order to facilitate voluntary return and family reunification, especially for separated children;
• Take into account housing, land and property concerns of internally displaced persons. Ensure assessments regarding property transactions in occupied areas, land and property registrar services, and promote independent mechanisms to speedily resolve property issues.

PART 2 : Fighting impunity and ensuring justice

1) Documenting crimes

• Document crimes, in particular ethnic and religious crimes, as well as human trafficking, with a focus on abuses committed on sectarian, ethnic and religious basis. Ensure consistency and coordination regarding the collection of witness statements and preservation of evidence, in accordance with recognized protocols, to prepare for any future legal proceedings;
• Offer and strengthen, where possible, support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria for their work on documenting crimes from a legal perspective. Support, as appropriate, other documentation work, through legitimate and recognized organizations;
• Establish a data-base to cross-check the information and evidence gathered, in coordination with the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;
• Facilitate the flow of information on victims and potential witnesses of core international crimes, subject to the concerned individual’s consent;
• Ensure the integrity and security of survivors, witnesses and their families, with due respect for individual decisions on pursuit of prosecutions, and inform them of legal avenues and rights;

2) Prosecuting the perpetrators

• Support existing efforts and foster additional support in the fight against international crimes. Recall that international crimes must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured. Take measures at national level and enhance international cooperation towards achieving this purpose, in accordance with international law;
• Encourage all countries concerned to prosecute gross violations and abuses of human rights and international crimes, including those crimes committed by Daesh and other groups promoting religious-based violent extremism. Consider enhancing domestic legislation where needed;
• Pursue justice using all existing possibilities within the framework of national jurisdictions, promoting mutual legal cooperation and judicial assistance among States. Compile and exchange information, as appropriate, on the alleged perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence, including the structure, composition and modes of recruitment of the groups involved. Prosecute or extradite, in accordance with international law, all perpetrators of those crimes within the framework of national jurisdiction;
• Encourage the establishment of an international experts working group to devise on the best means to prosecute those responsible for grave international crimes. Lebanon offered to chair this working group.
• As necessary, request support from organisations with expertise in the investigation of serious crimes and human rights violations. Support civil society actions in support of judicial proceedings;
• Deny safe havens for the perpetrators, through improved identification of cases and case-relevant information;
• Encourage effective cooperation and increase the sharing of best practice and experience at national and regional level to enhance investigations and prosecutions of core international crimes. In particular, develop a set of practical guidelines and tools to investigate and prosecute those crimes, and develop a national or regional network of contact points;
• Establish, based on national capacities, dedicated international crimes units and teams of police and/or prosecutors, trained in the field of identification, investigation or prosecution of international crimes;
• Promote transitional justice in crisis-stricken countries by contributing to the United Nations Development Programme- and European Union-led programmes to support the judicial and prison systems and criminal proceedings, to bring them into line with international standards, in particular on the independence of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial. Cooperate in consolidating legal systems and strengthening the rule of law, including police and judicial capacity-building, and strengthening local media. Support local truth and reconciliation projects and initiatives.

3) Handling the most serious crimes

• Support a role of the International Criminal Court, in particular regarding crimes committed on the basis of religion or ethnicity. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is encouraged to pay particular attention to information and documentation received about those crimes that may fall within the competence of the Court;

• Promote the universality of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, affirming that the effective prosecution of international crimes must be ensured. Call on all States of the region that have not already done so to accept the jurisdiction of the Court;
• Call on the United Nations Security Council to explore referring these crimes to the International Criminal Court.

PART 3 : Preserving the diversity and plurality of the Middle East

1) Improving security

• Support the Iraqi government, local authorities and Iraqi security forces as they secure the areas won back from Daesh, in order to facilitate the voluntary return of all displaced populations to their homes, under sufficient security conditions. Encourage an inclusive representation in the security forces from all components of Iraqi society;
• Develop and utilize early warning signals to prevent violations of human rights and protect people at risk before atrocities occur, as provided in the Secretary-Generals Human Rights up Front initiative;

2) Promoting inclusiveness and plurality in political processes

• Support inclusive political solutions as the way forward to solve the region’s crises and conflicts.
• Strengthen the rule of law and provide all citizens with equal representation and rights, regardless of ethnic or religious identity, and support UN efforts to that effect;
• Guarantee that human rights are effectively implemented and upheld, including in particular the freedom of religion or belief. Develop projects supporting respect for human rights during counter-terrorist operations;
• Ensure that women take part in all political processes for peace building, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000);
• Promote democratic governance. Establish inter-parliamentary cooperation to develop laws and regulations that respect the rule of law, and prioritize respect for human rights, including freedom of religion or belief;
• Support relevant authorities in drawing up certificates of civil status and nationality, as well as land and property registrars.

3) Preventing and fighting radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism

• Implement the relevant UNSC resolutions, with a view to fighting terrorism and preventing radicalization and recruitment of individuals by terrorist groups;
• Promote literacy, citizenship and critical thinking in line with standards for freedom of expression and information under international human rights law, and raise awareness and promote education, in particular among young people, against the dangers of hate speech and incitement to terrorism and violence, with a special focus on the Internet. Increase accountability of hosts and administrators of social websites and accounts in this context;
• Strengthen cooperation between media professionals and practitioners and create new narratives against radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism;
• Strengthen dialogue between people from different cultures and religions on these issues, by supporting and guiding the work of UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and the Anna Lindh Foundation, particularly with regard to young people;
• Educate young people, ensure that school books, education reflect diversity of cultures and promote tolerance and dialogue. Raise awareness about cultural diversity, in the region and beyond. Support prominent initiatives in that regard, highlighting in this context initiatives put forward by Jordan including the “Amman Message”, “Common Word” and the UN proclaimed “World Interfaith Harmony week”, and efforts by moderate religious leaders, figures and institutions;
• Support efforts to better integrate young people in their communities through socio-cultural, conflict mitigation and psycho-social interventions and employment activities;
• Support the productive role of young people in drawing a brighter future for the region and the world, including as reflected in the Amman Youth Declaration, issued in August 2015, which aims to provide a common vision and roadmap towards a strengthened policy framework to support the young people in transforming conflict, preventing and countering violence, and building sustainable peace.

4) Strengthening legal protection

• Promote the universal ratification of the two major covenants and the eight main conventions on human rights and their protocols, as well as instruments to fight human trafficking;
• Promote the ratification, by countries in the region that have not already done so, of the UNESCO Conventions on the protection of cultural heritage and ensure effective implementation of these Conventions, including in situations of armed conflict and combating terrorism;
• Promote the importance of respecting heritage in United Nations texts, especially resolutions on peacekeeping operation mandates.

5) Protecting and promoting the cultural heritage of the communities concerned

• Take appropriate measures to identify, protect, safeguard and promote cultural heritage (architectural, movable, written and intangible heritage) linked to affected ethnic and religious communities as part of the national heritage of each country, as provided for in the UNESCO Conventions;
• Draw up an inventory of the cultural and religious buildings of these communities, including of the destruction already committed, and create maps based on satellite images of these sites and monuments. Draw up an inventory of public and private collections of manuscripts, archives, books and works of art, and other collections that are of cultural and spiritual interest for these communities;
• Assist with the surveillance of sites and collections and supporting the experts and religious authorities responsible for the conservation of property, and offer technical assistance;
• Fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property and, in particular, ensure the implementation at national levels of UN Security Council Resolution 2199. Draw up and publishing a “red list” of missing cultural and religious objects suspected of being illegally exported. Train local actors in the countries concerned and in neighbouring countries, and raise awareness on the art market (circulation of the “red list”);
• Strengthen specific international surveillance system, based on cooperation between UNESCO, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other relevant international organizations. In particular, set up an electronic warning system to report the disappearance of cultural objects or their appearance on the black market;
• Draw up and distribute to armed forces after training a heritage passport indicating the cultural sites and property to be spared, protected and safeguarded during land and air operations.

More info :
International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East – Co-Chairs’ Conclusions (Paris, 09.08.2015)

Understanding the Paris conference on the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East