A Lecture by Rebecca Tinsley (Founder & Director, Waging Peace) at the London International Human Rights Congress 2011
When it comes to genocide and women’s rights discourse, one can certainly not forget to mention Rebecca Tinsley – a renowned journalist and human rights activist who has worked in nine African countries. She is also the Founder and Director of Waging Peace – a London-based group campaigning for Darfur – and Network for Africa, a charity working with survivors of genocide who are left behind after aid agencies have moved elsewhere.
At the London International Human Rights Congress 2011, Rebecca Tinsley spoke about the “patterns” of genocide that keep repeating even in present times. The first is the manipulation of people with hate and fear that “unless you kill, they will kill you”. The second is the tendency of people to ignore the ideology and intent behind such crimes. The third pattern of genocide is reason. Ms. Tinsley distinguishes among three reasons: power, global warming and intent. Power is when one group has ruled for centuries and other groups are trying to take over. Due to global warming, some people are forced to resettle to other regions and look for resources. Intent is usually related to racism, racial purity and racial hierarchy.
Several times in her speech, Ms. Tinsley mentions the fact that the international community refuses to accept the reality of genocide. As such, there is a lack of political will to engage with a view to resolving the crisis, whether in Darfur, Sudan, Rwanda, or Syria. The lack of credibility of evidence makes it even more difficult to combat this crime. Ms. Tinsley also points out that women are the most affected victims of genocide; they suffer from severe physical and psychological abuse, as well as rape. She lays emphasis on the importance of empowering women in post-conflict communities, by strengthening their ability to participate equally in political, economic and social life.
But of course, this is not enough. In order to sustain long-term humanitarian efforts, Member States need to be held accountable to the treaties they have signed on to, and regular assessments need to be conducted to ensure that all countries are respecting and fulfilling their human rights obligations.